I have been reading the Fourth Gospel, almost exclusively, for most of a year - deliberately avoiding (so far as is possible) the other Gospels, the New Testament, and indeed the whole of the rest of the Bible. I found the Gospel wholly convincing, at the deepest level of which I am capable.
Over the past couple of days I have read quickly through the Synoptic Gospels (in the order Mark, Matthew then Luke) - to try and get a sense of how they strike me; having come to what feels like a secure and true understanding of Jesus's nature and teaching from the Fourth Gospel.
The experience, so far, is very shocking. The Synoptics, each in somewhat different ways, seem to have missed the point and made something very different than Jesus intended. Unlike the unity and coherence of the Fourth, none of the other Gospels make sense of Jesus's teaching.
Mark reads as incomplete, a collection of notes from various sources, not integrated - and without a take home message; set it aside for now. Matthew seems to be fitting Jesus into the Old Testament expectations, without taking any note of what Jesus actually said. Luke tells a good story - but the teachings are all over the place, and again it is unclear what the core implications are supposed to be.
When the same events are reported as we can read-about in the Fourth Gospel; the other three evangelists consistently misunderstand the significance; and get them in the wrong (and a meaningless) order.
My feeling is that Matthew and Luke are not very concerned about stating clearly what Jesus actually said, nor are they troubled about the contradictions between their reported deeds and teachings - because both have apparently seized upon the imminence of Jesus's Second Coming when all such minutiae will be swept away.
Even misrepresentations of God's basic Goodness are scattered here and there, as if casually and without comment. And the reason for such apparent carelessness seems to be that Jesus will very soon be coming again (in clouds of glory etc) to end this world. For Matthew and Mark, the imminent Second Coming is The Big Message.
Yet in light of the Fourth Gospel, the Second Coming is clearly a false invention, and one that would serve no role in the work of Jesus. An invention that could only have been made by someone who fundamentally misunderstood the nature of Jesus's teaching and gift. Plus, It Didn't Happen - so one might have supposed that this would put an end to any notion of the Synopic Gospels pretence to primary authority...
(And the Second Coming is only the largest of numerous dissonant and inappropriate additions to Jesus's teachings that are found in the Synoptics.)
Shocking indeed; especially when it is realised that it was the Synoptics which 'won' authority in the Christian churches; and the supreme Fourth Gospel which was wrongly relegated to the status of a kind of optional extra appendix to the Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts and the Epistles of Paul.