An interesting and most uncomfortable thought has crossed the vast empty echoing spaces inside my vacant skull.
Homogeneity of the scriptures is widely taken as evidence of veracity. The model runs something like:
The Buddha taught the Dharma. This was passed on to his students, among whom there were sufficient numbers of people with perfect memories and morals to transmit it to the next generation of students completely unaltered. Those students committed the Dharma to writing, again unaltered, and this process continued for some fifteen generations in which no one involved in the transmission of dharma was corrupt, had an axe to grind, or tried to modify the Dharma in any way.
The scriptures themselves describe a rather different situation, one in which in the Buddha's own lifetime Devadetta was trying to modify the Dharma and was willing to go so far as to attempt to kill the Buddha to get his way and take charge. Anyone with even the most passing familiarity with Tibetan Buddhism cannot help but be aware of the appalling conduct of the lamas down the centuries as they tried to control the religious institutions and the estates that went with them. And it was just a few years ago that once again the blood of lamas was spilled in Dharamsala. One can cite almost the entirety of human history as evidence that there are always people willing do just about anything, abuse any office, break any vow, violate any principle or betray friends and family in the pursuit of wealth, power and Being Right.
So if one assumes that people are people and always have been, an alternate possibility arises, one that also ends in the homogeneity of scripture. It is possible the homogeneity points to a single source, and that source is not the Buddha, but an intermediate writer. Something like this occurred in Christianity at the Council of Nicea, where many competing and conflicting ideas about Christianity were simply thrown overboard, and the natural diversity of opinions was artificially repressed, resulting in a pleasing state of affairs to those in charge. Homogeneity did not arise naturally, it was imposed.
It is possible that, in the four or five centuries that separate the Buddha from the historical record, this sort of thing occurred not once but several times, each one incorporating radical alterations in doctrine. But I really don't think this is what happened.
Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.