The Fourth Gospel vs the Synoptics
The Fourth Gospel vs the Synoptics

The Fourth Gospel vs the Synoptics

Christian Critical Scholarship

Jesus Remembered, Christianity in the Making, Volume 1

James D. G. Dunn, Paperback Edition, 2019

“Few scholars would regard John as a source for information regarding Jesus life and ministry in any degree comparable to the Synoptics. It is worth noting briefly the factors which have been considered of enduring significance on this point.

One is the very different picture of Jesus ministry, both in the order and significance of events (particularly the cleansing of the temple and the raising of Lazarus) and the location of Jesus ministry (predominantly Jerusalem rather than Galilee).

Another is the striking difference in Jesus style of speaking (much more discursive and theological, in contrast to the aphoristic and parabolic style of the Synoptics). As Strauss had already pointed out, this style is consistent, whether Jesus speaks to Nicodemus, or to the widow at the well, or to his disciples, and very similar to the style of the Baptist, as indeed of 1 John. The inference is inescapable that the style is that of the Evangelist rather than that of Jesus.

Probably most important of all, in the Synoptics Jesus’ principal theme is the Kingdom of God and he rarely speaks of himself, whereas in John the Kingdom hardly features and the discourses are largely vehicles for expressing Jesus’ self-consciousness and self-proclamation. Had the striking ‘ I am’ self-assertions of John been remembered as spoken by Jesus, how could any evangelists have ignored them so completely as the gospels do?

On the whole then, the position is unchanged: John’s gospel cannot be regarded as a source for the life and the teaching of Jesus of the same order as the Synoptics… We shall certainly want to call upon John’s gospel as a source, but mostly as a secondary source to supplement or corroborate the testimony of the Synoptic tradition.” (Page 165-167)

Neither Jew nor Greek: A Contested Identity, Christianity in the Making, Volume 3.

Dunn, James D. G., Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Kindle Edition.


Dunn, James D. G.. Neither Jew nor Greek: A Contested Identity (Christianity in the Making, Volume 3) (p. 613). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Kindle Edition.

As David Friedrich Strauss pointed out long ago, the style of Jesus’ speech in John’s Gospel is consistent, whether Jesus is depicted as speaking to Nicodemus, or to the woman at the well, or to ‘the Jews’, or to his disciples. And the style is very similar to that of the Baptist, as indeed to that of 1 John. The inference is inescapable that the style is that of the Evangelist or of the Evangelist’s tradition, rather than that of Jesus. And it can hardly be judged other than scarcely credible that Jesus was remembered as having uttered the ‘I am’ assertions, so vividly descriptive and self-assertive, and yet not one of the Synoptic Evangelists bothered to recall or use them. How could such self-identifying assertions made by Jesus during his mission have been so ignored or blanked out by the earlier Gospel writers? The only obvious conclusion is that the ‘I am’ sayings, so characteristic of John’s Gospel, and so distinctive of John’s Gospel, cannot be traced back as such to Jesus himself. This is Jesus tradition developed well beyond its roots in Jesus’ own mission. (PP. 615-616)

So far as the final form of the Gospel itself is concerned, it would appear that John felt free to mould the tradition available to him in his own distinctive way. (PP. 632-633)
Of this raising of Lazarus from the dead (11.1-44), none of the other Evangelists show any awareness. One could conceive that the earlier tradition set that episode on one side, for fear that the authorities might act against Lazarus (cf. John 12.10). But the Synoptics were most probably written about forty or more years after the event. Would that still be a factor then, when the vicinity of Jerusalem had been devastated during the siege and conquest of Jerusalem, and its residents widely scattered? Moreover, the Johannine presentation seems to reflect the beliefs and concerns of the later Johannine churches (PP. 635-636) 
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that John moved the account of the cleansing of the temple to the beginning of his Gospel to provide a window through which the unfolding of Jesus’ mission and revelation should be seen. And that he did so also to make room for his own version of the climax to Jesus’ mission, the climax which triggered the decisive action against Jesus. More has to be said about the raising of Lazarus, but it is best said in the context of John’s account of Jesus’ signs. (P. 636)
In short, it is hard to doubt that John’s version of Jesus’ teaching is an elaboration of aphorisms, parables, motifs and themes remembered as characteristic of Jesus’ teaching, as attested in the Synoptic tradition. (P. 642)
It is quite possible, then, to envisage how the Johannine Word/Wisdom christology is the product of long reflection on such features of the earlier Jesus tradition. In the light of Jesus’ resurrection and exaltation to the right hand of God, as they believed, it was natural to see fuller and deeper significance in such features, and natural to develop a richer expression of them within the Gospel framework already established by the Synoptic Gospels. Were the question of historicity a real one for John and his audiences, in the same way as is the case today, he would probably have confirmed that he was not attempting to provide a historical record of what Jesus did and said. His concern was rather to bring out the truth of Jesus as they now perceived it, the fuller significance of the historical life and mission of Jesus which only became clear to them with the passing of some decades. 
For John the truth of Jesus was much fuller and richer than the historical facticity of what he said and did during the three years of his mission. To miss this probable conclusion and to insist that John has to be read on the same terms and level as the Synoptics is most likely to miss what John saw himself as doing. (PP. 670-671)

The Johannine and the Synoptic Representation,  The Problem of the Fourth Gospel, Chapter 5, 

Henry Latimer Jackson, Cambridge [Eng.] : University press, 1918

Now, where objection is raised, the marked peculiarity of the Fourth Gospel is highly accentuated. It is regarded, not as the record of historical events, but as a manual of instruction of which the theme is Jesus, the divine Logos manifested in the flesh. The view further is that the Synoptic Jesus, human in his every lineament and child of his own age and people, is altogether unrecognizable in the Johannine Christ… it is further urged that our Gospel and the Synoptics part company in the case of other personages, and that they are utterly at variance on matters, amongst others, of locality and date. (P. 50)

With the Synoptics the scene is mainly laid in Galilee ; with the Fourth Gospel it is largely transferred to Judaea and Jerusalem ; in the former case the events are crowded into one short year, in the other the Ministry is extended over three Passovers. In the one case the Jewish people are described with picturesque variety of type and class and section; not so in the other case, with ‘John’ they dwindle down to Pharisees and Priests and rulers of the people; as for the Pharisees they have become the very core of unbelieving Judaism in its hostility to Jesus. The Jews are pictured as in hopeless case ; away with them to the devil, the Greeks for Jesus and for God ! And again, the difference between the Johannine and the Synoptic representations of the Passion, the Death, and the Resurrection is regarded as fundamental. (PP. 50-51)

For reasons such as these there is wide-spread agreement that whatever be its interest and value as a early Christian document, the Fourth Gospel must be ruled out as a source for the Life of Jesus… the Fourth Gospel does, in many respects, present a striking contrast to its three companions. Common features and resembles there may be; the fact remains that discrepancies are both numerous and of such a nature as to stare the instructed reader in the face. (P. 51)

Of our Four Canonical Gospels ‘John’ is certainly the latest — and perhaps the latest by a long way ; as for the remaining three, they are nearer to the events they purport to relate, and it is safe to say of the Synoptic tradition that it stretches back to Apostolic times and to the very days of Jesus. (P. 52)

Christian’ thought is no longer fettered by outworn mechanical theories of inspiration and interpretation in the case of the Bible literature. To narrow down to the Gospels; in the old and disastrous view the Evangelists were passive agents, men who could not choose but write down words from divine dictation, ‘living pens grasped and guided by an Almighty hand.’ A more enlightened view obtains… Neither to the men themselves nor to their respective writings does infallibility attach. (PP. 52-53)

Neither he nor the Synoptics are infallible. If he corrects them and makes his alterations in them, it is exactly what two of them have already done with a third ; Matthew and Luke have treated Mark with a very free hand. Let us add that mere priority is not in itself an absolute guarantee of accuracy, nor is inaccuracy necessarily connoted by lateness of date. (P. 53)


The independent attitude of the Fourth Evangelist is manifested in his extension of the duration of the Ministry and in his bold transpositions of events and dates. (P. 53)

It certainly appears from the Synoptic representation that the public Ministry of Jesus began and ended within a single year; otherwise the Fourth Evangelist, who expands it to a period which includes at the least three Passovers….To turn to the Cleansing of the Temple. According to the Fourth Gospel it occurred at the beginning of the Ministry, while it is placed by the Synoptics at the close of the Ministry ‘, and is evidently regarded by them as the decisive act which precipitated the Death of Jesus. Harmonists have struggled to escape the difficulty… The balance of probability is surely against the Johannine dating; for the position of the story in the Synoptics is natural, while in the case of our Gospel it has rather the effect of an anti- climax. (PP. 54-55)

Another instance of ‘violent alteration,’ as it would appear, is that of the respective datings of the Death-Day of Jesus. Take first the Synoptic representation. Jesus, it would appear, celebrates the Passover with the Twelve. They depart from the Upper Room; the scene changes from the Mount of Olives to ‘a place which was named Gethsemane’; quickly there follows the Arrest. As for the Crucifixion, it takes place the day after the Celebration of the Passover. Not so, says the Fourth Evangelist; he tells of a Supper partaken of by Jesus and his friends while nowhere stating that the number of the latter was limited to The Twelve. Far from identifying that Supper with the Paschal Meal, he is at pains to make it understood that the Passover lay still ahead; and that, when the night of its celebration had arrived, the body of Jesus was already in the tomb… in regard to the day of the month ; the Synoptics assign it to the 15th of Nisan, ‘John’ to the 14th. They are, accordingly, in flat contradiction in regard to date. (P. 55)

The Scene of the Ministry

This, by the Synoptics, is laid in the Galilaean homeland of Jesus ; and, recording certain journeys outside Galilaean territory , they have nothing to say of visits paid to Jerusalem save only the one which issued in his death. In sharp contrast is the representation of the Fourth Evangelist; for with him the scene on which Jesus moves during the period of his Messianic activity is Judaea ‘, and in particular Jerusalem; but rarely does he appear in Galilee, and when there his stays are of brief duration. No wonder that the discrepancy is insisted on. (P. 58)

John the Baptist

The contention here is that the Baptist who figures in the Fourth Gospel wears but slight if any resemblance to the Baptist of the Synoptic representation ; that the two portraits are singularly unlike… it is possible that the real Baptist at no time definitely attached himself to the cause of Jesus, but went his own way and rushed to a self-invited fate. (P. 60)


The contention is raised that the Fourth Gospel is in contrast with the Synoptics in that, along with changed motives and with significant omissions, the element of the miraculous is strongly enhanced. (P. 61)

We will observe in the first instance that one particular class of miracles is excluded by the Fourth Evangelist. In the case of the Synoptics there is frequent mention of demoniac-cures performed by Jesus ; and, by the way, it is widely conceded that he did actually heal many a sufferer who, in the conception of the age, was possessed by an evil spirit. No such narratives occur in the Fourth Gospel; ‘John knows nothing whatsoever of the most frequent wonder- works of Jesus, the healing of demoniacs’; or rather, he declines to admit such Synoptic stories into his own Gospel. (PP. 62-63)

It must be said, then, that there is enhancement^. With the works of healing the effect is heightened; in one case the cure is performed from a considerable distance, in another blindness is from birth, in a third it is emphatically said of the sick man that he had been no less than ‘thirty and eight years in his infirmity’ … the very climax is reached with the Raising of Lazarus.. the narrative which, pointing to Bethany, suggests unmistakably that the corpse already four days in the tomb had seen corruption ‘. (P. 64)

It is true to say that * whereas the miracles of healing in the Synoptics are miracles of mercy and compassion, wrought because Jesus had sympathy with the sufferers, the miracles recorded by the Fourth Evangelist tend to the glory of him who wrought them. They are proofs, not of his humanity, but of his divinity.’ (P. 66)


Here, again, the Synoptic and Johannine representations are held to be mutually exclusive: — ‘Jesus must have spoken just as the Synoptics make him speak’; the Christ of the Fourth Gospel adopts ‘the theological and philosophical language of the schools.’ So, briefly stated, run multitudinous objections; and, as has been noted in another connection, there is a strong family likeness between the criticisms of time past and time present. Let two specimens be placed side by side:- — ‘Here (in the Synoptics) the popular form of oriental proverb-wisdom and inventive parable, there (in the Fourth Gospel) the profound allegory with appeal to profound reflection; instead of pithy and concise sayings alike luminous and easy to retain, a series of witnessings and disputings in exalted tone and with utter disregard for the capacity of the hearers. (P. 68)

According to the Synoptics the demands of Jesus are for self-renunciation, for compassionate love, for a taking of one’s self in hand, for work for others ; his warnings are directed against the danger of riches, worldly desires and anxieties; above all he preaches about the Kingdom of God and the conditions of entrance therein. Not so in the Fourth Gospel; the preaching of the Kingdom recedes, while Jesus becomes the dialectician… In both cases he figures as teacher; in the Fourth Gospel the subject-matter of his teaching is [almost] exclusively himself. (PP. 68-69)

Jesus, as pictured in the earlier Gospels, whether he be speaking, preaching, or disputing, never has resort to dialectic skill, to the ambiguity of artifice, to a mystical style ; on the contrary, there is utmost simplicity and clearness, a certain natural eloquence which owes far more to mental genius than to painfully acquired art. In the Fourth Gospel he disputes as the dialectician; ambiguous is his language and mystical his style; he deals to such an extent in obscurities that even very learned people are quite in the dark as to the real significance of many of his words. In the one case there are short and pregnant sayings, parables so full of beauty and of inward truth as to grip attention and to sink deep into the soul ; in the other the parabolic mode of teaching is practically absent. Here the question turns on conduct, rules of life, the Mosaic Law, errors of the Jewish people; there the speaker is concerned with dogma, with meta- physics, with his own [identity] (P. 69)

There is an absence of variety in the manner of the discourses generally, no matter who the speaker may be; the several characters, that is, hold converse in Johannine phraseology, and without individuality whether of idea or speech; conversations are reported at length when, apparently, there was no third person at hand. The question here being narrowed down to a single issue, the discourses placed by the Evangelist in the lips of his Christ, the fact must be reckoned with that, if ‘some actual sayings of the historic Jesus’ be embedded in our Gospel, it is certainly not throughout a depository of genuine utterances of Jesus. (P. 70)

Now, the position has been aptly stated thus: ‘Jesus cannot have had, at the same time, the style and method of teaching which the Synoptics describe and that which the Fourth Gospel reflects. We must therefore attribute the language, the colour, and the form of these Johannine discourses to the Evangelist. The Gospel of John is a distillation of the life and teaching of Jesus from the [conduit] of the Apostle’s own mind. It is his interpretation of the meaning of Christ’s words, deeds and person derived from intimate personal relations with him, and coloured and shaped by a long life of Christian thought and experience.’ (PP. 70-71)

‘a Jesus who preached alternately in the manner of the Sermon on the Mount and of John 14-17 is a psychological impossibility.’ (P. 71)

What is it that God looks for and what is alone decisive for life or death? The answer of the Fourth Gospel is this : believe on the Son of God who came down from heaven and believe that he is Jesus — an answer which has had a baneful effect on Christendom, for it is only too easy to make such a profession of belief without drawing nearer to God and becoming a better man. Very different is the answer of the Synoptic Jesus ; with him everything is contingent on that doing the Will of God which involves uprightness, brotherly love, trust in God, humility, yearnings for God’s Kingdom; of those who do the Will of God he says that they are for him mother or sister or brother. (P. 72)

‘say what we will about differences of audience and of situation demanding different forms of address, and allowing for exceptional instances, the contrast between the terse axiomatic sayings, the simple parables of the Synoptics, and the elaborate arguments of the Johannine discourses, is too great to be explained away.’ (P. 73)

The contrast is sharp. It is recorded of the Synoptic Jesus that men ‘heard him gladly,’ and small wonder that they did so when, ‘being so much in earnest with the matter, he had in a unique degree the manner at command’; of the Johannine Christ it was reported that ‘never man so spake,’ and the phrase, scarcely explained by the context, has been regarded as generally significant of abstruseness in the matter and manner of his discourse. In the one case he so speaks as to attract and often win sympathy; in the other he talks above people’s heads, he positively invites misunderstanding : ‘there is an argumentativeness, a tendency to mystification, about the utterances of the Johannine Christ which … is positively repellent … it is quite inconceivable that the historic Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels could have argued and quibbled with opponents as he is represented to have done in the Fourth Gospel.’ (P. 74)

‘In the Johannine discourses … we feel that it is not the visible and audible Jesus who is speaking, but the Christ who is the life of the Church’  and the only possible explanation is that the Fourth Gospel ‘is not history, but something else cast in an historical form.’ (P. 74)

The Synoptic and Johannine portraits of Jesus 

It is here contended that there is no escape from a categorical ‘ either — or’ … the sharp contrast, it is said, is reducible to ‘ the simple formula : here man — there God.’ While the Synoptic Jesus ‘advances practically nothing as to his divine nature, and judging from his utterances, solely holds himself endowed with divine gifts, sent by God, Messiah,’ the Johannine Christ ‘makes everything turn on himself’ … Therein speaks the criticism of a century ago; in like manner that of more recent times: never does the Synoptic Jesus ‘step outside the bounds of the purely human’; as for the Christ of the Fourth Evangelist, he is ‘complete from the outset, for Him there is neither childhood nor youth. He is throughout the divine word manifested in the flesh.’ And so again, when it is said that in the Fourth Gospel … we have ‘ a version— or perversion — of the Master’s life by a disciple who has portrayed him, not in his self-sacrificing love, . . . but as the mighty super- human being demanding recognition of the divine Sonship and Messianic glory.’ (P. 75)

He who looks down from the Synoptic canvas is assuredly true man. To drop metaphor, the Jesus of at any rate the Marcan representation has already reached manhood when he comes on the scene, and it is clear from the manner of the allusions that he shares the experiences which are common to the race. He is conscious of physical needs; the strain of continued action tells on him; stirred by emotions manifold lie is moved to compassion by the spectacle of suffering and pain; he both wins and displays affection; capable of sternness he gives vent to wrath. Rebuff astonishes him, and he finds himself powerless to act; he disclaims omniscience; if he puts questions it is because he has need to be informed. Great spiritual crises are experienced by him, and the meaning of temptation is realized to the full. He cannot do without prayer; hence, seeking strength, he goes apart to be alone with God. Yet strength fails him; in Gethsemane deep terror seizes him, and he pleads as hoping for deliverance to the last. Bitter is the cry wrung from him in his dying moments. (PP. 75-76)

To turn from it to the portrait of the Johannine Christ; A portrait of ‘sweet, unearthly beauty’ as it has been called, it is certainly of an exalted personage. There is an air of imperiousness about the Christ of our Evangelist, as, issuing his commands, he expects obedience from those who are rather summoned as his subjects than invited as his friends. The multitudes are eager to make him a King; precisely because they own him a force to be reckoned with, his destruction is compassed by his foes. His discourse is of high matters, and it is with conscious dignity that he refers to himself. Majestic is the part played by him in the closing scenes; whether in the Garden, in the high priest’s court or in the praetorium his [appearance] is stately and his speech serene. He ‘decides His own fate.’ (P. 78)

But the Johannine representation does not stop short here; on the contrary, it is plain that the regal personage depicted transcends mere manhood. He manifests a celestial glory. He knows all men as knowing what is in man. If he tell of heavenly things it is as having seen and known them; he has come down from heaven, and thither he will soon return. He can say: ‘ My Father worketh hitherto and I work’; if eternal life be for him know- ledge of ‘the only true God,’ it is equally to know himself; dishonor done to him is dishonor done to God ; with deliberation does he say; ‘The Father is in me and I in him’; recognizing a distinction, he affirms that he and the Father are ‘one.’ Pre- existent as he claims to be, he is conceived of as ‘the Word’ that was with God from all eternity. (P. 78)

It must nevertheless be owned that a contrast is presented which finds no sufficient explanation. (P. 81)

When every allowance has been made for powers of adaptation and varied environment, it is impossible to believe that the historic Jesus was really accustomed to discourse after the manner of the Johannine Christ. The former lives and moves in the Synoptic Gospels. (P. 82)

The modern student cannot but feel that to turn from the ‘Synoptics to the Fourth Gospel is to breathe another atmosphere, to be transported to another world, The contrast is, indeed, sharp… ‘Another world.’ The world, to a certainty, of Greek life and thought’; the world of Asia Minor, of Ephesus. (P. 82)

Select Contradictions of John with The Synoptic Gospels

John 1:29-34 (ESV) – Yes

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”


Luke 7:18-23 (ESV) – No

18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” 21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

John 1:40-42 (ESV) – His Brother Simon

40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

Matthew 16:13-17 (ESV) – The Father who is in heaven

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

John 11:43-54 (ESV), The Raising of Lazarus

43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. 54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples.

Luke 19:45-48 (ESV), Cleansing of the Temple

45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.” 47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, 48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.

Additional Notes:

In John 2:13-17, the cleansing of the temple occurs near the beginning of the ministry, not at the end as the Synoptic gospels indicate. 

In the Synoptic Gospels there is no mention of the Raising of Lazarus, which, according to John, was the event set the Pharisees off plan to kill Jesus.

John 19:14 (ESV)

Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”

Mark 14:12 (ESV)

And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?”

John 19:14-16 (ESV)

14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.

Mark 15:25 (ESV)

And it was the third hour when they crucified him.

Additional Inconsistencies 

MT 3:16, MK 1:10 It was Jesus who saw the Spirit descending.
JN 1:32 It was John who saw the Spirit descending.

MT 4:1-11, MK 1:12-13 Immediately following his Baptism, Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness resisting temptation by the Devil.
JN 2:1-11 Three days after the Baptism, Jesus was at the wedding in Cana .

MT 11:7-15, 17:12-13 Jesus says that John the Baptist was a prophet, and more.
JN 1:21 John himself says that he is not a prophet, nor is he Elijah.

MT 12:39, MK 8:12, LK 11:29 Jesus says that he will give no “sign.”
JN 3:2, 20:30 , Jesus proceeds to give many such “signs.”

MT 21:2-6, MK 11:2-7, LK 19:30-35 The disciples follow Jesus instructions and bring him the animal (or animals, in the case of MT).
JN 12:14 Jesus finds the animal himself.

MT 21:12-13 The cleansing of the temple occurs at the end of Jesus’ career.
JN 2:13-16 It occurs near the beginning of his career.

MT 26:7, MK 14:3 The oil is poured on Jesus’ head.
JN 12:3 On his feet.

MT 28:6-8 The women ran from the tomb “with great joy.”
JN 20:1-2 Mary told Peter and the other disciple that the body had been stolen. (Would she feel “great joy” if she thought the body had been stolen?)

MT 26:14-25, MK 14:10-11, LK 22:3-23 Judas made his bargain with the chief priests before the meal.
JN 13:21-30 After the meal.

JN 13:21-30 Jesus forecasts his betrayal prior to the communion portion of the supper.
LK 22:14-23 After the communion portion.

JN 13:38 Peter was to deny Jesus before the cock crowed.
MK 14:66-72 The cock crows after both the first and second denials.
(Note: These discrepancies have been “translated out” in some Bible versions.)

MT 26:49-50, MK 14:44-46 Jesus is betrayed by Judas with a kiss, then seized.
LK 22:47-48 Jesus anticipates Judas’ kiss. No actual kiss is mentioned.
JN 18:2-9 Jesus voluntarily steps forward to identify himself making it completely unnecessary for Judas to point him out. No kiss is mentioned.

MT 26:57, MK 14:53, LK 22:54 After his arrest Jesus is first taken to Caiphas, the high priest.
JN 18:13-24 First to Annas, the son-in-law of Caiphas, then to Caiphas.
MT 26:18-20, 57-68, 27:1-2, MK 14:16-18, 53-72, 15:1 Jesus’ initial hearing was at night on Passover. In the morning he was taken to Pilate.

MT 26:59-66, MK 14:55-64 Jesus was tried by the entire Sanhedrin (the chief priests and the whole council).
LK 22:66-71 There was no trial but merely an inquiry held by the Sanhedrin.
JN 18:13-24 There was no appearance before the Sanhedrin, only the private hearings before Annas and then Caiphas.

MT 27:11, MK 15:2, LK 23:3 When asked if he is King of the Jews, Jesus answers: “You have said so,” (or “Thou sayest”).
JN 18:33-34 He answers: “Do you say this of your own accord?”

MT 27:11-14 Jesus answers not a single charge at his hearing before Pilate.
JN 18:33-37 Jesus answers all charges at his hearing before Pilate.

MT 27:28 Jesus is given a scarlet robe (a sign of infamy).
JN 19:2 A purple robe (a sign of royalty).

MT 27:46-50, MK 15:34-37 Jesus’ last recorded words are: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
LK 23:46 “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.”
JN 19:30 “It is finished.” 

MT 27:48, LK 23:36, JN 19:29 Jesus was offered vinegar to drink.
MK 15:23 It was wine and myrrh, and he did not drink it.
JN 19:29-30 Whatever it was, he did drink it

MT 27:55, MK 15:40, LK 23:49 The women looked on from afar.
JN 19:25-26 They were near enough that Jesus could speak to his mother.

MT 28:1 The first visitors to the tomb were Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (two).
MK 16:1 Both of the above plus Salome (three).
LK 23:55 – 24:1, 24:10 Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and “other women” (at least five).
JN 20:1 Mary Magdalene only (one).

MT 28:1 It was toward dawn when they arrived.
MK 16:2 It was after sunrise.
LK 24:1 It was at early dawn.
JN 20:1 It was still dark.

MT 28:9 On his first appearance to them, Jesus lets Mary Magdalene and the other Mary hold him by his feet.
JN 20:17 On his first appearance to Mary, Jesus forbids her to touch him since he has not yet ascended to the Father.
JN 20:27 A week later, although he has not yet ascended to the Father, Jesus tells Thomas to touch him.

MK 1:14 Jesus began his ministry after the arrest of John the Baptist.
JN 3:22-24 Before the arrest of John the Baptist.

MK 6:53 After the feeding of the 5000, Jesus and the disciples went to Gennesaret.
JN 6:17-25 They went to Capernaum .

MK 15:25 It was the third hour when Jesus was crucified.
JN 19:14-15 It was after the sixth hour since Jesus was still before Pilate and had not yet been sentenced at that time.

MK 16:1-2 The women came to the tomb to anoint the body.
JN 19:39-40 The body had already been anointed and wrapped in linen cloth.

MK 16:5, LK 24:3 The women actually entered the tomb.
JN 20:1-2, 11 They did not.

LK 22:3-23 Satan entered Judas before the supper.
JN 13:27 It was during the supper.

LK 23:55-56 The women followed Joseph to the tomb, saw how the body had been laid, then went to prepare spices with which to anoint the body.
JN 19:39-40 Joseph brought spices with him (75 or a 100 lbs.) and anointed the body (as the women should have noticed).

2KI 2:11 Elijah went up to heaven.
JN 3:13 Only the Son of Man (Jesus) has ever ascended to heaven.

JN 7:38 Jesus quotes a statement that he says appears in scripture (i.e., the OT). (No such statement is found in the OT.)

JN 18:14 Caiaphas is said to be the high priest that year. High priests were anointed for life.