Therefore they especially cling to two main arguments:
– They say that the Gospels were written many years after the death of Jesus when popular imagination had already placed a halo around him. And so, they do not reveal the reality of Jesus to us, but rather the faith of the Church in the first century. (Let us remember what we said about the date when the Gospels were written.)
– They also say that the Gospels were writings destined for the catechesis and teaching of Christians: the facts they relate are aimed at supporting what is taught. Hence it is not important whether Jesus walked on the water or not; the episode was written to show that Jesus possessed divine power.
But what about the apostles? They had been Jesus’ witnesses, and their function was to remain his official witnesses within the Church. They knew what had actually happened; would they have remained silent while some were distorting the history of Jesus? The guarantee of the Gospel is found in the very structure of the Catholic Church, which was never a group of spontaneous believers carried away by enthusiasm or opportunism.
The Gospels came from the tradition of the apostles, and the Church retained them because it recognized this tradition in them. In those very years and during the following century, other “gospels” were written: “the gospel of Peter,” “the gospel of Thomas,” “the gospel of Nicodemus,” “the proto-gospel of James.” The Church, however, did not accept them because of the fantastic events recorded in them, or because of theological orientation which did not conform to the teaching received from the apostles.