January 31, 2012
This year I’m reading through a synopsis of the Gospels. Conveniently, the Gospels are divided into 367 passages, which makes it possible to read a passage a day and finish by the end of the year. I found one of my readings last week very interesting. The only way I could figure out how to show you was by taking a picture for you to see:
This passage is about the cleansing of the temple and is included in all four Gospels. On the far right side of the picture is Luke’s narrative, which in very few words explains that he (Jesus) went into the temple and began to cast out those selling goods. When you look at the middle column, it quickly becomes clear that the wording in Mark favors Luke in this part rather than Matthew: Mark and Luke both say in the exact same way that Jesus entered in the temple and began to cast out the sellers. Matthew’s language, however, is slightly different. The strange part is that after this introductory clause in which Mark and Luke are identical, Mark and Matthew then become identical, recounting how Jesus overturned the tables and the chairs.
The reason this is interesting to me is that it relates to the question of which Gospel was written first. Most would say that Mark was first. If that’s the case, then Luke and Matthew both borrowed from Mark in this passage. One can see, however, how things could be argued the other way; if Matthew was the first written, then Luke, and finally Mark, who pieced together segments from both Gospel.
One other point that is interesting about this passage (the above picture is from the next page, where the cleansing of the temple continues), is how each author tells the story from a slightly different angle. Notice that in Matthew, Jesus says “You are making it [the temple] a den of thieves.” Thus, Matthew emphasizes the present continuation of their (sinful) actions. In Mark, however, Jesus says, “you have made it a den of thieves,” emphasizing that their past action has results that continue in the present — i.e., because of what you did, it is still a den of thieves even now. Luke writes, “you made it a den of thieves,” viewing their action as a whole. Finally, John (whose passage could not fit in the above picture) writes, “stop making it a place of business.”
So, these are two simple observations I made while reading a synopsis of the Gospels. I hope to make many more while reading the Gospels this year.
December 19, 2010
“Luke’s gospel is the longest book in the NT. Like Matthew, it follows the basic outline of Jesus’ ministry established by Mark” (Carson, Moo, Naselli, Introduction to the NT, 41).
Does this strike anyone as circular reasoning? What the authors are saying is that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all follow the same basic outline. But what they assume is that Matt and Luke follow Mark. It could just as easily be said that Matt and Mrk follow Lk, or vice versa. I’m writing a review of this book and plan on bringing out such issues; the authors have made careless assumptions throughout their work and I don’t plan on letting such assumptions go unnoticed. If the authors had based their statements on sound argumentation that would be another story, but in this work we find logical argumentation seriously lacking.