The Vatican organisation called the Pontifical Biblical Commission has been regarded as a sort of watchdog of Catholic Biblical studies. Here is a quotation from a review of the Commission’s document “Instruction Concerning the Historical Truth of the Gospels” by Joseph A. Fitzmyer S.J. one of America’s leading Catholic New Testament scholars who sadly died in December. He writes:
“The most significant thing in the whole document, when all is said and done, is that the Biblical Commission calmly and frankly admits that what is contained in the Gospels as we have them today is not the words and deeds of Jesus in the first stage of tradition, nor even the form in which they were preached in the second stage, but only in the form compiled and edited by the Evangelists.”
Joseph Fitzmyer, S.J. (died December 2016)
When the Church admits that it no longer has the actual unvarnished words of Jesus: “what is contained in the Gospels as we have them today is not the words and deeds of Jesus in the first stage of tradition”, but only the words as they have been changed and modified by later unknown/anonymous scribes – we have cause to be concerned.