"The gospels themselves, we are learning more and more, are full of imagination. They are full of Jesus' followers putting words into his mouth. Indeed, it is estimated that 80 to 85 percent of the gospels are of this kind - not words straight from the historical Jesus but words that later writers put into his mouth.
Is this a scandal? By no means. The early writers were not modern historians nor were they striving to be. They were excited witnesses of those who had heard Jesus speak or had heard the stories of those who had. Things got embellished; things got retold; stories grew; different authors were adapting the stories to different audiences and different ideologies. The bottom line is this: The gospels were put together by amazing artists and even amazing poets. We have underestimated once again the power of the artists, the leadership of the artists, and in this case the teachers (more than scribes or theologians) of the church, who are the gospel-makers. The gospel-makers were imitating the historical Jesus, at least in this respect: They were being creative. And in doing so they put together stories, texts, and sayings that have nourished hearts and souls for two thousand years."
Matthew Fox, Creativity