Reading Alan Dundes' book has given me a whole new insight into this topic so I've decided to do a second part.
Between the death of Jesus and the time the gospels were written as I mentioned last time, Paul was the only person to write about Christianity. Paul's writings only contained a small number of the details that are known as the story of Jesus, and they are often slightly different to the what is contained within the gospels (which differ from one another), the point of this post is to highlight the origin of these variant texts.
Just to give you an idea of the kind of thing I'm talking about I'll give some examples.
How many women visited Jesus' tomb?
Mark - 3: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome
Matthew- 2: Mary Magdalene and the other Mary
Luke - more than 3: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the others with them
John - 1: Mary Magdalene
When was the Stone Rolled away?
Mark, Luke and John- The stone had been rolled away when they arrived
Matthew- After they arrived, an angel appeared, rolled the stone away and sat on it.
I'm not going to spend any more time showing you more of these, but here's a short list of variant texts to do with the resurrection of Christ. You can take my word for it that the gospels are full of this kind of thing, or you can go look them up yourself, they aren't exactly hard to find.
Apologists have tried to reconcile these apparent contradictions by saying things like "they're divergent accounts, and prove that it's correct!" as a mantra. I believe Josh Mcdowell was a huge proponent of that idea. The problem with this idea is that it is just plain wrong. We've established that none of the new testament writers were eye-witnesses to anything that happened, so where did the textual variations come from? The details of the story were passed down 2-4 generations before they were written down, which is more than enough time for discrepancies and errors to creep in. How much of the story is genuine? We'll probably never know. As far as I'm concerned, there are only 4 details that are almost certainly true, that he lived, had a crowd of followers, was influential and that he died.