Question: How accurate are the Buddhist sutras, as documentation of Sakyamuni Buddha’s teachings?
Answer: Not all texts claimed to be Buddhist ‘scriptures’ are true ‘teachings’ of the Buddha, for if it was so, simply naming any text as a ‘sutra’ taught by the Buddha will do, which will easily confuse the masses. There is, however, this remarkably simple way of gauging authenticity for believability: https://thedailyenlightenment.com/2013/05/the-double-insurance-of-the-buddhas-teachings Also, the network of thousands of Buddhist scriptures are interconnected in their teachings, with their cross-referencing concepts.
Thus, we have the permission to question any Buddhist scripture, while we can look for the connected nature of the scriptures with deeper study, to check if the unparalleled ingenuity of their teachings come from the same source – the fully enlightened Buddha himself. The historicity of specific scriptures can also be traced through records on the great scholar-practitioner monastics, who painstakingly retrieved and mindfully translated them, often with the assistance of hundreds of other monastics. In many ways, they were much more qualified and careful than today’s scholars.