In Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know about Them), Bart D. Ehrman writes about one of his ‘favourite apparent discrepancies’ in John’s Gospel:-
It ‘comes in Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse,” the last address that Jesus delivers to his disciples, at his last meal with them, which takes up all of chapters 13 to 17 in the Gospel according to John. In John 13:36, Peter says to Jesus, “Lord, where are you going?” A few verses later Thomas says, “Lord, we do not know where you are going” (John 14:5). And then, a few minutes later, at the same meal, Jesus upbraids his disciples, saying, “Now I am going to the one who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ ” (John 16:5).’
‘Either Jesus had a very short attention span or there is something strange going on with the sources for these chapters, creating an odd kind of disconnect.’
But ‘hold you hard’ (as we like to say in Norfolk).
In his recent book Can We Trust the Gospels? Peter Williams has an intriguing section on some apparent ‘contradictions’ in the writings attributed to the apostle John. As it turns out, there is quite a few of them, all involving sayings attributed to Jesus.
Can you see a pattern here? It doesn’t look like muddled sources, stitched together by an incompetent editor, does it?
It looks far more as if we are dealing with paradox: the presentation of two or more statements that are superficially incompatible, but together point to a deeper truth.
Just like Charles Dickens, in the opening words of A Tale of Two Cities:-
‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of time.’
Ehrman, in his enthusiasm for presenting the Gospels as hopeless inconsistent and unreliable, has simply missed the irony.
And coming from a distinguished New Testament scholar, it reminds us, once again, that you can have a bucketful of knowledge and less than a thimbleful of wisdom.