History in microcosm
The uniqueness of each gospel
One of the pleasures of reading John’s gospel is the inclusion of small details from his personal observation. His first-hand evidence is enhanced by what seems to be insignificant information but which adds first hand authenticity and gives the reader a sense of being there themselves. In this way John differs from writers such as Luke who got his information from interviewing first hand witnesses but was not present himself. This is living history from a personal perspective it feels at times like reading a witness statement or a private diary. The different approaches adopted by the gospel writers are important indicators as to their reliability in an age when their historical reliability may be questioned. They are simply not written in the way their contemporary writers would write either an invented story or a fable. They are rooted in the detail of the life and times that demonstrate familiarity with everyday life and places that are frequently verifiable through archaeology. John’s account of Jesus’ arrest is as if he were simply recounting events to friends, including small asides that help fill out the picture.