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Would there be any interest is a discussion of the synoptic gospels. I am thinking about an open discussion about similarities and differences.
Perhaps we could read Mark as a base and compare Matthew and Luke as we progress.
I think it is a good idea to "read Mark as a base and compare Matthew and Luke. . ."
Mark being (as generally agreed) the earliest of the Gospels is one reason. But I think the most important question that comes up in the study of the Synoptics is
whether or not the Markian Resurrection passage is authentic. The general affinities within the Synoptics that such a study brings out argue FOR authenticity; and yet most authorities have bracketed it -- in effect relegated it to the footnotes-- as questionable, or have even bluntly declared it NOT authentic.
Iʻve been in Bible studies most of the time since the 1980s, all of them ecumenical, but sposnsored by Methodists ("Wesleyans" in Tongan usage), by the UCC, and
by Lutherans. In the 80s, I had no doubts that John was the greatest Gospel of the four. Iʻve
since leaned increasingly to Luke as, overall, the greatest. Roughly, I rank them: 1. Luke 2. John
3. Matthew 4. Mark. But, since what they have in common is more important than their differences, fourth place, here, doesnʻt mean unimportant.
Those are interesting comments. Mark is my favorite gospel.
But the Marcan Resurrection accounts seem to me additions - just by the writing, but of course it is textual criticism that makes the case against the various endings.
If there is interest in this topic on comparing the synoptics, it will be good to hear the various perspectives on the Marcan endings.
Using Mark as the comparative base, the first thing that is noticable is that Mt and Lk have different introductory narratives before they take up the Marcan material.
Mt has his geneaology, the birth narrative around Isaiah 7.14, the wisemen narrative around Micah 5.2, the flight to Egypt around Jeremiah 31.18.
Lk has the angelic announcements, the birth narrative with shepherds, the presentation, and the story about Jesus left in the Temple.
Each of these can be compared with each other and with the omission of any such material in Mk.
Comparing Mt and Lk, it is interesting to see how the different accounts show Jesus to be associated with Bethlehem and Nazareth.
In Matthew, Joseph seems to be from Bethlehem and the family moves to Nazareth for fear of Archelaus, after their return from Egypt.
In Luke, Joseph is from Nazareth and goes to Bethlehem for the purposes of a census, then the family returns to Nazareth after the presentation in the Temple.
Mark only refers to Nazareth, I think. Mk 1.9 "Jesus from Nazareth" and apparently does not know of the Bethlehem traditions.
As an aside, though the topic is about the synoptics, is it interesting that GJohn does not seem to know of the Bethlehem birth tradition? John 1.45; 7.42, 52.
Perhaps Bethlehem is part of the Q tradition?
Lk and Mt share that they both have Bethlehem as the birthplace for Jesus and that they add genealogies and birth narratives, despite the differences of the accounts - which I cannot reconcile at all.
Picking up with the Marcan account Mt and Lk add some detail about the baptism. The Q hypothesis seems to me the best explanation.
Comparing Mt 3.7 with Lk 3.7 raises for me a couple questions.
1. It does not seem clear to me in Mt that the Pharisees and Sadduccees are coming to be baptized. I think the more natural reading is that they merely came upon the baptism of John or even came against the baptism of John.
If they did in fact come out against the baptism then John's reply in the Matthean version seems more appropriate.
2. The object of John's rebuke in Mt is the Pharisees and Sadducees (whether they came to be baptized or to oppose the movement). The object of John's rebuke in Lk is the crowd who came out explicitly to be baptized.
If Matthew shows the Pharisees and Sadducees coming out against the baptism, rather than as many translations have, coming to be baptized, then Luke would have changed much on the Q material. He would have extended the object from the Pharisees and Sadducees to the whole crowdswho were coming out. He also would have explicitly changed it to have the crowds whom John criticizes come out to be baptized.
I think though it seems more appropriate with Matthew's version that John's rebuke is to the Pharisees and Sadducees who have come out against the baptism movement, rather than Luke's rebuke to the crowds coming to be baptized.
But in Luke's version, John's words bring repentance to many in the crowd. His rebuke is shown as being effective.
>6. Both Matthew and Luke expand considerably on Mark's account of John's call to repentance, which really boils down to prophesying the coming of Jesus as the one who will baptize with the "holy spirit" -- not "fire & holy spirit" as Matthew and Luke both phrase it.
Mt & Luke contain a portion of the Baptist's animadversions, which, as you say, appear to be addressed to different audiences. Both include the business about God making children of Abraham out of stones, which seems to mean that being one of the chosen people is not all that meaningful any more.
Matthew then expands on what Jesus will do after baptizing with fire & holy spirit; viz. separating the wheat from the chaff and throwing the chaff on a fire that will never be put out. So already, in Matthew, we see the introduction of the theme, so popular among evangelicals today, of Jesus' role as judge and the consequent damnation of the unworthy.
Luke alludes to this judgment as well, but he adds some additional material by having the Baptist answer some questions from the crowd about what they should do to avoid the wrath. Since Luke mentions two specific groups among the crowd, tax collectors and soldiers, I think we can assume that the audience in Luke is not composed solely of Pharisees and Sadducees.
Interesting that the Baptist admonishes the crowd to perform "good works." Apparently, he didn't understand that good works get you zilch.
"MANY translations have . . .
. . .Pharisees and Saducees coming . . . TO BE BAPTIZED" (emphasis added). (7)
So far, in what Iʻve looked at, I would say ALL
the translations, not just "many". I agree that the original Greek does allow for the interpretation that
the P. and S. arrived to oppose the baptism, (as "epi
CAN = "against". But the translation that they merely "Came upon" the baptism is also possible.
The translations tend to use
verbs rather than just the noun baptism, whereas the original has no verb in this except the participle
"tis erkhomenois", which is structurally a noun-phrase, to describe those who attended the baptism. The Tongan Bible says they went TO (ki) the baptism, but not "to be baptized". The Hawaiian implies "to be baptized." The French (Protestant)
Geneva is one of those that are more literal, in that they avoid using a verb; it supplies the word "his" (meaning Johnʻs probably) (a son bapteme).
Can you quote a translation (not just a commentary) where their being "against" the baptism is stated or implied?
No. I have not found any translations that read EPI as "against" in this verse. So I would agree that, as far as I can tell, all translate as the Pharisees and Sadducees came out to be baptized.
I have not even read any commentaries that might suggest the possibility of reading "against" or "come upon"
I could not tell in your comment whether you think a plain "come upon" is a reasonable rendering. It actually seems to be the most straight forward. Of course Luke removes all question about how he understood things, but then Luke replaces the Pharisees and Sadducees with the crowds who came out.
All that said, I still think EPI = against, makes the most sense.
> 8. The New Living Translation reads: "But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, he denounced them. "You brood of snakes!" he exclaimed. "Who warned you to flee God's coming wrath?"
Although this doesn't state, or even directly imply, that they are "against" the baptism, there is the implication that they are not subscribers to the goings on.
Frankly, I don't believe can make a case for them being overtly hostile to John, since the Baptist himself interprets their presence as an attempt on their part to avoid the judgment, or at least to mitigate their culpability.
I did a quickie check in Mt. Mostly he seems to use KATA in cases that translators render "against," but there are at least a few places that EPI is translated as "against" - 3.24-25, 24.7 and 26.55.
You are probably correct. The Baptist sees the hypocrisy in their presence, more than any overt opposition on their part. If my reading is possible, then perhaps they are out to look things over and the Baptist chastizes their hypocrisy based on a lack of fruitful repentance from the religious leaders.
But I don't think they came out to be baptized by a wilderness prophet in camel's hair. The translation you found comes closer to my understanding of Matthew's version.
Based on a check with biblestudytools. It looks like about half of the translations have something like "coming out to the place of John's baptism" and about half have something like "coming out to be baptized."
None have "against," but I may have overstated the number translations that suggest the Pharisees and Sadducees came out to be baptized. It looks like half or so translate it with a more neutral sense. Their presence is neither for or against, just checking it out?
Mk "baptize with a holy spirit/the Holy Spirit"
Mt and Luke"Baptize with a holy spirit/the Holy Spirit and with fire"
How do you understand these variations?
It does not seem required by the texts that the writers understood the Holy Spirit in the way readers of the gospels today understand the Holy Spirit today.
Luke probably makes the point clear that he is referring to the Holy Spirit in 3.22 - TO PNEUMA TO hAGION
Mark seems to me though to contrast water with spirit, not requiring spirit to be part of the Trinity.
Matthew has the spirit of God.
How does baptizing with water compare to baptizing with spirit, in the 1st century? What about baptizing with spirit and fire?
Why do you think Luke places his genealogy between the baptism and the temptation? It seems to separate and to slow down the immediacy that Mark gives the two events.
Luke even has Jesus return from the Jordan before the spirit leads him into the desert.
Mark has the spirit drive Jesus to the desert, immediately after God tells Jesus "With you I am pleased"
". . .whether a just plain "come upon" (the baptism) is a reasonable rendering?" (9)
Yes, definitely reasonable. And it is the way that
the more literal translators have seemed to take it--those, that is, who express it with the NOUN "baptism" and without a verb or a clause of purpose.
The difference to me is that with Matthew, the Baptist seems to be in a dispute with the religious leaders and in Luke, the Baptist seems to be challenging the crowds to true repentance that involves visible change in behavior.
Different treatments of the Q baptism tradition?
> 14. Why do you think Luke places his genealogy between the baptism and the temptation?
During the baptism, God has just spoken to Jesus and called him His Son. So it probably seemed natural to Luke to reinforce this by: (1) providing a genealogy that traces Jesus back to Adam, "son of God", and (2) reminding the reader that "people thought" or "it was supposed" that Jesus was Joseph's child, but Luke and the reader are aware of Jesus' real parentage. It's likely that Luke thought that this gilding the lily would doubly impress the reader without quite thinking through the fact that a genealogy through Joseph would be specious if Joseph wasn't Jesus' father.
Here's a question -- Luke singles out tax collectors and soldiers for special admonitions. Why? Could it be because both professions play important roles later in the tale and he's introducing them early to start a chain of associations?
Luke is a good enough writer to have make use of such foreshadowing. But also it could be those professions held special places in the hearts of Luke's initial audience.
This is a good point to watch for along the way in Luke, as we read.
More on the rest later - but what I learned in my (Catholic) Scripture for lay ministry class was that the 'added' ending to Mark (16:9-20) does not appear in the earliest manuscripts. The 9-20 section, if added later, was perhaps an addition to counter skeptics who questioned the resurrection or a way to make it even clearer to later readers of Mark's Gospel that yes, Jesus really DID come back.
I like either reading. With the longer ending, we get what the other Gospels have - Jesus back in the flesh and blood. With the shorter ending, we get a more suspenseful note. We look up from reading the text to find Jesus returned in there and are left to look for Jesus resurrected not in the flesh 2000 years ago, but around us in our every day lives. We are also left in the worry that Jesus might not come back or the anxiety of the thought that Jesus is not back - all things we modern Christians face as surely as the early Christians who wrote this gospel did.
I guess I would say that rather than worry about whether or not the longer ending is correct, I recognize that both have value as part of the tradition. By appreciating both we can experience more facets of Jesus' journey through this world.
More on Matthew and Luke later. Interesting stuff here.
What are the ethics in Mark?
Contrast to Matthew, which seems to have more emphasis on ethics teaching.
Let your light so shine before men so that they may see your good works and glorify you father in heaven.
A light is not brought out, is it, so that it may be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not brought out so that it may be put upon a lamp stand? For nothing is secret except that it may be made manifest.
For Matthew the idea is that good works should be made known to show the world about the Father (but compare Mt 6.1). For Mark, the warning is that what you do in secret will be made known, so watch out.
Same metaphor, different interpretation.
Mt and Lk make use of a similar metaphor, with yet another interpretation. Mt 6.22 and Lk 11.34, from Q?
grieving, meek, desirous of righteousness, merciful, pure, peace making - are these descriptions of the same character?
Is grieving a character trait, or maybe Matthew is just suggesting that encouragement is present for those who grieve? But grieve over what? Is this a loss of a loved one grief, or is this a larger type of grief, such as grief over a lost humanity or a lost society, or a lost something other of grand scale?
Is righteousness in the beatitudes defined by the litany of righteous examples which describe the righteousness that exceed the Pharisee and scribes, Mt 5.20?
Do the Beatitudes teach an ethic: grieve, meekness, desire righteousness that exceeds the law, mercy, purity, make peace?
> 23. grieving, meek, desirous of righteousness, merciful, pure, peace making - are these descriptions of the same character?
These are the attributes of those who suffer, those who neither have nor seek influence and esteem within their society, those who value other people enough to mourn for them and humble themselves before them; people with the nature of Christ, in other words. This is what Jesus means when he says, "I am the way, the truth and the life." Those who share in Christ's nature will "come to the Father." Whether they call themselves Christians or not.
>24 Agreed. It is also one of the foundations of the preferential option for the poor, where "poor" is interpreted not simply as materially poor but in terms of marginalisation, oppression, discrimination, suffering, victimhood, etc.
The Beatitudes describe the character. Is the ethic of Matthew then outlined by the points of emphasis in 5.17 through chapter 7?
The guiding principle is that to enter the kingdom of heaven the demands of the law must be exceeded.
1. Control the passions of anger and lust
3. Be reconciled to others
3. Marriage is to be honored
4. Commitment is bound with a person's word, the person's honor is the guaranty of the commitment
5. Exceed obligations
6. Seek the good for everyone, including those against you
7. Do not judge the actions of another
8. Judge a prophet or a teacher by the fruits of the prophecy or teaching
9. Pray for prayer, not for show
10. Live without anxiety
Matthew's kingdom of heaven and Mark's kingdom of God
I have read that it is likely that Matthew changed the kingdom of God to the kingdom of Heaven because of Jewish sense of awe for the name of God that is evidenced by not writing the Name.
It seems to me though that Matthew has made this change because he views the kingdom with a more eschatological perspective. He is talking about the kingdom in heaven, in contrast to the kingdom of God here on earth.
Mark 1.45/Matthew 8.4/Like 5.14
As a testimony to them
For a proof to them
As witness to them
How do you understand the meaning and intent of this phrase?
Compare the context for the same phrase in Mk 6.11. (Luke 9.5 clarifies by adding the word "against.")
for witness to them
for witness against them
23 and 24 I once heard NT scholar Alan Cadwallader explain that Matthew was writing initially in and for a community of Jewish Christians who escaped Jerusalem and were living in exile in modern Syria. The first part of each beatitude DESCRIBES their situation/feeling - grief, pushed around, merciful (in the face of Roman oppression and its lack of mercy), peace-makers etc. and the second part describes the comfort and strength that God gives them - including, for example, that this dispossessed community will "possess the land". Amazing promises to that community, which Matthew extends to a wider readership, including us.
Reading the 3rd beatitude as "land" instead of "Earth" is very intriguing, and I think a very reasonable alternative.
That small change might impact the interpretation of the entire section, for me. It brings in the promises to Abraham and more closely expresses Jewish hopes.
Blessed are the poor in spirit (those not prideful), theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Blessed are those who grieve (maybe compare to Mt 2.18?), you will be comforted (as Rachel was not comforted, for the loss of the land and the promise)
Blessed are the meek, they will inherit the land (of Israel and hence the promises to Abraham)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, they will be filled (when the kingdom of heaven brings forth perfect righteousness)
Perhaps a connection between the idea of Mt 5.4 and Lk 2.25 with Simeon who was waiting for the consolation (comforting) of Israel?
Does Luke change the Beatitudes to point at actual personal poverty?
Blessed are the poor, the hungry, and those crying
(For some reason Luke's "those crying" seems to me to be a more individually felt pain that Matthew's "those who grieve/mourn.")
Does Matthew change the Beatitudes to point at a more corporately felt experience of the loss of the promise? perhaps a more ethic approach in Matthew?
the merciful, the sincere, the peace maker
Do they both make changes, each to develop their own insights into the meaning and purpose of the kingdom?
(I am assuming a Q source of both versions. It is possible to argue that Jesus gave both versions at different times.)
"He taught with authority."
It seems like the three evangelists understand this saying differently.
Mk 1.22 "For he was teaching them as having authority and not as the scribes"
Lk 4.32 "because his word was with authority"
With Mk and Lk the teaching seemed to have authority, but it is the command of the unclean spirit that confirmed the power and authority of his teaching.
For Matthew, the teaching itself seems to confirm the authority. Mt 7.29 For he was teaching them as having authority follows the Sermon on the Mount, with only a bare non specific mention of healing ministry in 4.23.
Mk and Lk have very little specific about Jesus teaching to support the claim for authority in his teaching. The authority is grounded in the healing power and command over the unclean spirit. Matthew has the Sermon of the Mount in evidence for the authority of the teaching.
> 34. For Matthew, the teaching itself seems to confirm the authority. Mt 7.29 For he was teaching them as having authority follows the Sermon on the Mount, with only a bare non specific mention of healing ministry in 4.23.
Or, it could be pointed out that immediately after the Matthew verse in question, Jesus is shown healing a leper and curing a centurion's servant. The latter healing is particularly significant as it relates to "authority," since the centurion pointedly compares Jesus to himself, a military commander who is accustomed to giving orders and having them carried out implicitly.
So it seems to me that the concept of authority is validated by the healings in all three synoptics.
The two healings though in Matthew's story line do not have the same immediacy to the statement about the authority of Jesus' teaching as the Mk and Lk accounts of the exorcism of the unclean spirit. The leper healing happens after they come down from the mountain.
I think you are correct about Matthew's placement of the healing of the centurion's servant and its emphasis on authority.
Luke has the centurion servant's healing placed differently and perhaps uses it to make a different point.
Call of Peter, Andrew, James and John - Mk and Lk comparison
There are some interesting narration differences between Mk and Lk with the call of the first disciples.
Very quick story about calling Simon and Andrew, they are fishing, no introduction, no previous meeting, "I will make you fishers of men, they leave their nets and follow Jesus.
James and John, Jesus calls them, no prior meeting, immediately they leave their father mending the nets.
Later Jesus enters Capernaum and heals Simon Peter's mother in law.
Jesus enters Simon's house, heals mother in law, preaches some more, meets Simon after day of futile fishing, uses Simon's boat to get back from the crowd, tells Simon to go out further and recast net. Simon hauls in large catch.
James and John are partners with Simon.
The three leave their boats and follow Jesus.
Simon follows Jesus after mother in law is healed and after he witnesses the miraculous catch of fish. James and John probably have the same experience, being friends of Simon.
Matthew follows Mark's version.
Does Luke just rearrange things so the narrative flows better by providing a reason for the fishermen to up and leave to follow Jesus?
Luke relates a very dramatic story in Simon's call.
Luke shows Jesus having a relatively extensive ministery before calling the first disciples. And because he as yet has no disciples he tells the crowd that he must preach to other cities in Lk4.43.
In Mark Jesus tells his disciples that he must preach to other cities. (Mt does not have that exchange.)
I think it's interesting to note that the kingdom of God might be considered a reward for people with these attributes, but even more, this world would become that kingdom when people begin acting in these ways. This is how we are called to help make it come about.
Can you imagine stumbling into a civilization where everyone is looking out for the other guy? I would call it heaven.
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