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2. PREFERENCE FOR THE SYNOPTICS ON THE WHOLE.

When we address our question, Do the Synoptics or Jn. deserve the preference? to those who do not care to make such a distinction between “sacred” and ordinary human history, who, though they are quite prepared to find in the history of Jesus and especially in his inmost character much that is unfathomable, would like even here to see as much that is clear and humanly intelligible as it is possible to see, we are almost inclined to conjecture that the decision has already been made. Much as we have tried, in enumerating the distinctions between the two stories of the life of Jesus, to make the facts alone speak, we could not help it if these made the scale turn in favour of the Synoptics: and the review of the attempts which have been made to reconcile the two accounts could hardly fail to strengthen this impression.

Our task is now therefore merely to sum up the matter as briefly as possible, and then to give a rather more detailed treatment of some further points in which the trustworthiness of Jn. really needs to be more thoroughly investigated or in which it is still necessary to explain how it is that Jn. has come to make statements differing so widely from the truth. When we do this it will be time to say plainly what we think of these statements, whereas so far we have refrained from doing so, and have faithfully followed our purpose of giving in the first instance only the facts (p. 4).

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