It could have been by no means so easy as some form-critics seem to think to invent Sayings of Jesus in those early years, when so many of His disciples were about, who could remember what He had said and not said. As Dr. Vincent Taylor says, “If the Form-Critics are right, the disciples must have been translated to heaven immediately after the Resurrection”. Besides, so far as our definite information goes, the early Christians were careful to distinguish between Sayings of Christ and their own inferences or judgments. Compare Paul’s careful distinction in 1 Cor. vii: “I, not the Lord,” and again, “not I, but the Lord”.
The early preachers had not only friendly eyewitnesses to reckon with; there were others less-well disposed who were also conversant with the main facts of the ministry and death of Jesus. The first proclaimers of the Kerygma could not afford in their preaching to risk inaccuracies (not to speak of wilful manipulation of the facts), which might at once be exposed by some who would be only too glad to do so. On the contrary, one of the strong points in the original apostolic preaching is the confident appeal to the knowledge of the hearers: “as ye yourselves also know” (Acts ii. 22), said Peter at Pentecost when narrating the evangelic facts; even the house of the Gentile Cornelius was presumed to be acquainted with the main outline of the story of Jesus from the baptism of John onwards (Acts x. 36ff.). Had there been any tendency to depart from strict historical accuracy, this would have served as a further corrective. [p.274]
Mr. Douglas Jerrold tells us that when he approached Dr. W. R. Inge to write a Life of Christ for Benn’s Sixpenny Library, he received a terse post-card to this effect: “As there are no materials for a life of Christ, I regret that I cannot comply with your request.” The answer, though paradoxical, was wise. We cannot know Him kata sarka. We must either know Him as He is presented to, us in the Gospel, or not know Him at all. If we choose the earliest of the four Evangelists as our teacher, he will lead us to confess with the centurion under the shadow of. the Cross, “Truly this Man was the Son of God the same goal in reality as we reach then under the guidance of the latest Evangelist we say with Thomas in the presence of the risen Saviour, “My Lord and my God”. [p.278]