I have been reading lately about the “life” of Paul (Saul of Tarsus) and was struck by the fact the founder of Christianity and Christian scripture, a well-educated supple writer, never met Jesus, never spoke to Jesus, and if his writings are any clue, knew very little about Jesus, although Paul did claim to have an intimate and ongoing spiritual relationship with Jesus. Good writers were few and far between in Palestine at that time, but I am struck by the fact that there are no surviving written works by any of the disciples, most of whom seem to have been illiterate. But scribes were available fairly readily so if one wanted to have words put down on “paper” it was not impossible to have it done for you. (Surely among the thousands of Christians in Jerusalem following the resurrection, as claimed in Acts, there were a few scribes who would have surely donated their services, so it would not even have been costly.)
If the literature that has survived is any indication, the “Jerusalem church” was led by Jesus’ brother James who was quite respectable and capable of creating a written record preserving the perceptions and experiences of the illiterate disciples, but either that was not done (more likely) or it didn’t survive (less likely). Be aware that all of the writings under the name of this disciple or that disciple were really written anonymously and an author ascribed to the works later (often much later) and are therefore quite unlikely to have been written by the person ascribed.
So, we end up with a religion, Christianity, some sects of which claiming that the written works of scripture were in essence written by Jesus/God and are thus holy and some go farther to claim are inerrant. This brings up the question as to whether such scriptures were ever intended. If they were, the question that comes to mind would be “What would Jesus do/have done?”
Obviously, if Jesus were divinely inspired or a manifestation of Yahweh in himself, he could have written down what he wanted preserved and followed himself. If he didn’t want to seem to be putting on airs in front of his illiterate acolytes, he could have gotten a scribe to do the work for him. But Jesus seems to be represented as also being illiterate in Christian scripture, hardly a viable characteristic for an all-powerful god.
Compare Jesus’ actions with those of the Prophet Mohammed. Mohammed wasn’t quite what you might describe as being literate. Most claim that his wife did the accounts for his businesses. So, when Mohammed started to have revelations, what did he do? He acquired a passel of scribes and had the stuff written down. Even so, there has apparently been more than a few problems identifying what the original script was as there are multiple versions of what the Prophet said, but the mere fact that Mohammed troubled to have his channeled experiences transcribed indicates that he thought that such would become a guide for future Muslims.
With regard to Palestine circa 30 CE, we have documents that have survived that were written well before that time and apparently in circulation. The Jewish Bible wasn’t compiled until the second century, CE and the Christian Bible in the fourth century, CE but many of the documents appearing as “chapters” in those books were available as separate documents well before that. If Jesus were knowledgeable enough to preach in the temple (he didn’t require a license, just had to attract an audience) it is highly unlikely that he was unaware of the tradition of written scripture.
So, if Jesus intended for his teachings to be followed in the future, don’t you think he would have made an effort to have them written down as just sending disciples or other acolytes out to “spread the good news” was not going to be anywhere as effective as supplementing that with documentary instruction. Think of a mammoth game of “Telephone,” the message would have become garbled beyond all recognition.
Either Jesus wasn’t expecting for any such church to be needed (as the “End” was coming soon) or he thought that such a church was not desirable. (The comment about Peter being the “rock” (biblical dudes liked to pun) upon which his church was to be built is clearly a much later addition to the Gospels.)
So, how did we end up with the right end of the Christian spectrum being wedded to unchangeable, timeless scripture? Because … Paul. It should not be called Christianity, it should be called Paulianity, as it has little to nothing to do with Jesus’ teachings.