“They Didn’t Dare” (Matt 22:46; Mark 12:34; Luke 20:40): A Window on the Literary and Redactional Methods of the Synoptic Gospel Writers

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Mark's placement of Jesus' "no longer dared" comment is very awkward: first, because the comment comes in the middle of a lovefest between Jesus and a scribe; and second, because the comment immediately follows Jesus' appreciation of the scribe's wisdom: "You are not far from the Kingdom of God."

Revised: 08-Jul-2013

Mark’s placement of Jesus’ “no longer dared” comment is very awkward: first, because the comment comes in the middle of a lovefest between Jesus and a scribe; and second, because the comment immediately follows Jesus’ appreciation of the scribe’s wisdom: “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”

The Texts

Here are the three “no longer dared” texts in Greek and in literal English translation, from the shortest to the longest:

Luke 20:40: οὐκέτι γὰρ ἐτόλμων ἐπερωτᾶν αὐτὸν οὐδέν (ouketi gar etolmon eperotan auton ouden; For no longer were they daring to keep questioning him anything).

Mark 12:34c: καὶ οὐδεὶς οὐκέτι ἐτόλμα αὐτὸν ἐπερωτῆσαι (kai oudeis ouketi etolma auton eperotesai; And no one no longer was daring him to question).

Matt 22:46: καὶ οὐδεὶς ἐδύνατο ἀποκριθῆναι αὐτῷ λόγον οὐδὲ ἐτόλμησέν τις ἀπ᾽ ἐκείνης τῆς ἡμέρας ἐπερωτῆσαι αὐτὸν οὐκέτι (kai oudeis edynato apokrithevai auto logon oude etolmesen tis ap’ ekeines tes hemeras eperotesai auton ouketi; And no one was able to answer him a word nor dared anyone from that day to question him any longer).

The Terrain

Let’s look at the terrain in which these three texts are found: “The Question about the Resurrection” (Aland pericope no. 281); “The Great Commandment” (Aland 282); and “The Question about David’s Son” (Aland 283). Here are the observable details:

Luke, Mark and Matthew conclude successive pericopae with similar words, “No one dared to question him [that is, Jesus] any longer” (Matt 22:46; Mark 12:34; Luke 20:40). Luke places the phrase at the conclusion of the “Question about the Resurrection” (Luke 20:27-40). Mark positions the phrase at the end of the discussion of the “Great Commandment” (Mark 12:28-34), and Matthew uses it to conclude the “Question about David’s Son” (Matt 22:41-46). Not only does the “no longer dared” statement appear in a certain sequence, but it is always one gospel writer who has the statement against the other two, who do not have it. All three gospels agree in placing the statement during the events of Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem, and each of the Evangelists places the statement at the conclusion of a series of dispute episodes between Jesus and the religious leaders in Jerusalem.

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