So, let me get this straight, if Frank and Clarence both copied from Steve and another source, whom we could refer to as “Bubba” (they often copied verbatim in a way most folk would consider flat out plagiarism — but they wrote in a different time…), and then Frank and Clarence and, perhaps, Steve, made a few changes to their texts in an attempt to communicate some particular “emphasis”, can we take their words to be completely faithful portrayals of the central topic they all share?
The short answer is “no”, I suppose. Next question?
Seriously, though, whatever Frank and Clarence copied would end up being hearsay, yeah? How do we know that Steve knows the story? Sure, Steve tells an interesting story, but is it factual? Very hard to say. They don’t leave a lot of breadcrumbs that would point toward anything but hearsay.
And Bubba? We know nothing! We don’t even know that Bubba even existed. For all we know, “Bubba” is just a composite of a century-old mythology accepted by some population.
Oh, but all four of these guys are taken by some as “eyewitnesses”! Not everyone thinks this, but still, I find that beyond belief. Frank, Clarence, Steve, and Bubba even disagree on many, many details. These are trivial in isolation, but it is fairly easy then to show that none of them was directly involved in the original story (or, “stories”) that they synthesized.
All four tell the story of how George Washington chopped down a cherry tree when he was a boy. No one takes that story seriously, but still, the way they tell it, one is tempted to believe it really happened!! All four writers agree on this point! Well, that doesn’t mean anything, as it turns out.
Did you know that all of the writers continue to repeat that old story about Lizzie Bordon and the axe?? Yes! All four of Frank, Clarence, Steve, and Bubba!! And they clearly did not even write at the same time. The thing about it that’s an outrage, you know, is the fact that a jury found her innocent! But, they repeat it still. Ugh.
Here is the ultimate outrage. I don’t need to tell you, but bear with me on this: This business with Bordon happened only about a hundred years ago!! It was in 1892! You’d think that the person who knew the person who was actually there would be able to clear up the story. But that isn’t the way that integral myths work. Once the story is out there, it just keeps going and going, especially if there is something hanging on the purported “fact” — some doctrine or dogma.
The problem is identical to those found while analyzing Biblical stories (and Qur’anic) except for the fact that in the late Roman Republic/Empire era — in the eastern Mediterranean of that time period, that is — the metric for what was considered “true” was somewhat different than that which we routinely rely upon today.