Sending the Twelve: Commissioning

Matt. 9:35; 10:1, 5a; Mark 6:6b-7; Luke 9:1-2; 10:1

(Huck 58, 72, 109, 139a; Aland 49, 98-99, 142, 177; Crook 72, 102-104, 162, 196)[1]

Revised: 16-November-2017

וַיִּקְרָא לִשְׁנֵים עָשָׂר שְׁלִיחָיו וַיִּתֶּן לָהֶם רָשׁוּת עַל כֹּל הַשֵּׁדִים לְהוֹצִיאָם וּלְרַפֵּא כֹּל מַדְוֶה וְכֹל חֳלִי וַיִּשְׁלַח אוֹתָם שְׁנַיִם שְׁנַיִם לְפָנָיו אֶל כֹּל עִיר וָעִיר אֲשֶׁר הוּא הִקְרִיב לָבוֹא שָׁמָּה

Yeshua summoned his twelve emissaries to Israel and he commissioned them to drive out every demon and to heal every disease and sickness those demons had caused. Then he sent them on ahead in pairs to every city he intended to visit.[2]










To view the reconstructed text of Sending the Twelve: Commissioning click on the link below:

Download (PDF, 130KB)

Story Placement

We have included Sending the Twelve: Commissioning in the “Mission of the Twelve” complex, as its second pericope. To see an overview of the entire “Mission of the Twelve” complex, click here.



Click here to view the Map of the Conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua.


Conjectured Stages of Transmission

LOY 121a TransmissionThe Sending the Twelve discourse has a complex transmission history. Luke records two missions: Sending the Twelve (Luke 9:1-6) and Sending the Seventy-two (Luke 10:1-12, 16). The two sending accounts in Luke share nearly the same form and similar content, but vary considerably with respect to wording. What is more, each of Luke’s sending accounts ascribes the mission to a different group of disciples, the Twelve (Luke 9) and the Seventy-two (Luke 10). Despite these differences, it is likely that the two mission accounts in Luke stem from parallel sources that described the same event.[3] The author of Luke probably copied the longer—and frequently more Hebraic—version which appears in Luke 10 from the Anthology (Anth.). The abbreviated version in Luke 9, on the other hand, was probably derived from Luke’s second source, the First Reconstruction (FR), which was itself a redacted version of Anth.[4]

Mark based his version of the Sending the Twelve discourse on Luke 9 in accordance with his usual preference for pericopae derived from FR.[5] However, this did not prevent Mark from borrowing certain details, such as sending the apostles two by two (see below, Comment to L30), either from the version in Luke 10 or directly from Anth.

Matthew’s Sending the Twelve discourse is a conflation of Mark’s Choosing the Twelve[6] with the versions of Sending the Twelve that the author of Matthew found in Mark and Anth. His reliance on Anth. accounts for the many similarities between the Matthew 10 and Luke 10 versions of the Sending discourse.[7] In addition, Matthew supplemented Jesus’ instructions to the Twelve with teaching material from other portions of Mark and Anth. in order to create the second of his five major discourses.[8]

Crucial Issues

  1. Did a mission of the apostles actually take place during Jesus’ lifetime, or is the apostles’ mission a literary construct that projects the missionary activity of the early Church back into the lifetime of Jesus?
  2. Did Luke invent the mission of the Seventy-two in order to prefigure the later mission to the Gentiles?


L1-7 Mark’s introduction to the Sending the Twelve pericope (Mark 6:6b) has no parallel in either of Luke’s Sending accounts. However, there is a distinct similarity between Mark 6:6b and Luke 13:22, as both verses describe Jesus passing through villages on a teaching tour.[9] We believe that Mark 6:6b is a paraphrase of Luke 13:22a, which the author of Mark used as a narrative bridge between his reports of Jesus’ visit to the Nazareth synagogue (Mark 6:1-6a) and his account of the mission of the Twelve (Mark 6:7-13).[10]

The first part of Matt. 9:35 is an expansion of Mark 6:6b[11] with vocabulary similar to that in Luke 8:1, while the final portion of Matt. 9:35 is nearly identical with the final portion of Matt. 10:1. In addition, the entirety of Matt. 9:35 strongly resembles Matt. 4:23, both of which introduce major discourse units in Matthew.

Matthew 9:35 Matthew 4:23 Mark 6:6b Luke 8:1 Matthew 10:1
Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ καθεξῆς
Καὶ περιῆγεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς Καὶ περιῆγεν Καὶ περιῆγεν καὶ αὐτὸς διώδευεν
τὰς πόλεις πάσας καὶ τὰς κώμας ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Γαλειλαίᾳ τὰς κώμας κύκλῳ κατὰ πόλιν καὶ κώμην
διδάσκων ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς αὐτῶν διδάσκων ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς αὐτῶν διδάσκων.
καὶ κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας καὶ κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας κηρύσσων καὶ εὐαγγελιζόμενος τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ
καὶ οἱ δώδεκα σὺν αὐτῷ Καὶ προσκαλε-σάμενος τοὺς δώδεκα μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ
ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν πνευμάτων ἀκαθάρτων ὥστε ἐκβάλλειν αὐτὰ
καὶ θεραπεύων πᾶσαν νόσον καὶ πᾶσαν μαλακίαν. καὶ θεραπεύων πᾶσαν νόσον καὶ πᾶσαν μαλακίαν ἐν τῷ λαῷ. καὶ θεραπεύειν πᾶσαν νόσον καὶ πᾶσαν μαλακίαν.

The minor agreements in Matt. 10:1 and Luke 9:1 suggest that these verses derive from a pre-synoptic source (Anth.). It is therefore likely that the final portion of Matt. 9:35 is based on the source of Matt. 10:1. Thus, the author of Matthew wove together verses from Anth. and Mark in order to create the introduction to his discourses in Matt. 4:23 and 9:35. The similarity of Matt. 4:23 and 9:35 to Luke 8:1 is probably the result of Matthew’s weaving yet another passage of Anth. into his redactional introduction.

Davies and Allison mention the pleasing balance the author of Matthew achieved in Matt. 9:35 with the three participial phrases introduced with διδάσκων (didaskōn, “teaching”), κηρύσσων (kērūssōn, “proclaiming”) and θεραπεύων (therapevōn, “healing”).[12] This balance is a product of Matthew’s intense reworking of his sources. A similarly-structured sentence is found in Matt. 28:19-20 (“going…baptizing…teaching”).

The weaving of sources in Matt. 9:35 is a microcosm of his procedure in the creation of Matthew’s Sending discourse (Matt. 9:35-11:1). The author of Matthew gathered disparate materials from Mark and Anth. and combined them in a new way in order to create a lengthy sermon on the proper behavior of Jesus’ emissaries and the conditions and outcomes they should anticipate as a result of their endeavors.[13]

L6 ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς αὐτῶν (Matt. 9:35). A measure of distance and dissociation seems to be implied by the mention of “their synagogues.” The phrase συναγωγή αὐτῶν appears once in Luke,[14] 2xx in Mark, and 5xx in Matthew.[15] Matthew also has Jesus refer to “your synagogues” in Matt. 23:34.[16] The greater frequency of “their synagogue” and “your synagogue” in Matthew is symptomatic of the anti-Jewish tendency of the author of Matthew.[17] The present instance, however, may be due to the influence of Mark 1:39. Compare Mark 1:39 with Matt. 9:35 and 4:23:

Matthew 9:35 Matthew 4:23 Mark 1:39
Καὶ περιῆγεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὰς πόλεις πάσας καὶ τὰς κώμας διδάσκων ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς αὐτῶν καὶ κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας καὶ θεραπεύων πᾶσαν νόσον καὶ πᾶσαν μαλακίαν. Καὶ περιῆγεν ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Γαλειλαίᾳ διδάσκων ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς αὐτῶν καὶ κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας καὶ θεραπεύων πᾶσαν νόσον καὶ πᾶσαν μαλακίαν ἐν τῷ λαῷ. Καὶ ἦλθεν κηρύσσων εἰς τὰς συναγωγὰς αὐτῶν εἰς ὅλην τὴν Γαλειλαίαν καὶ τὰ δαιμόνια ἐκβάλλων.

If so, then we have identified yet another thread that Matthew wove into the verses that introduced his first two major discourses.

L8 τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας (Matt. 9:35). “The gospel of the Kingdom” is a redactional phrase peculiar to Matthew.[18] Lindsey noted that there is no clear equivalent to εὐαγγέλιον (evangelion, “gospel”) in Hebrew.[19] He therefore supposed that the term “gospel” did not occur in the pre-synoptic sources, but was imported into the synoptic tradition by Mark who had picked up this word from Acts and/or the Pauline Epistles.[20]

L12 Matthew 9:36 is a reworking of Mark 6:34, which the author of Matthew incorporated into the narrative framework for his Sending discourse.

Matthew 9:36 Mark 6:34
Ἰδὼν δὲ τοὺς ὄχλους Καὶ ἐξελθὼν εἶδεν πολὺν ὄχλον
And seeing the crowds, And coming out, he saw a great crowd
ἐσπλαγχνίσθη περὶ αὐτῶν καὶ ἐσπλαγχνίσθη ἐπ᾿ αὐτούς
he had compassion for them and he had compassion on them
ὅτι ἦσαν ἐσκυλμένοι καὶ ἐριμμένοι ὅτι ἦσαν
because they were troubled and downcast because they were
ὡσεὶ πρόβατα μὴ ἔχοντα ποιμένα. ὡς πρόβατα μὴ ἔχοντα ποιμένα,
like sheep not having a shepherd. like sheep not having a shepherd,
καὶ ἤρξατο διδάσκειν αὐτοὺς πολλά.
and he began to teach them many things.

In Mark the words “like sheep without a shepherd” come in the wake of the report of John the Baptist’s execution and allude to Num. 27:17 where Moses prays for a successor (i.e., Joshua = Ἰησοῦς in LXX). The function of the allusion is to present Jesus as the natural and legitimate successor of John the Baptist.[21] It is not clear whether the author of Matthew understood the allusion to Num. 27:17, but in any case the function of the crowd’s description as being “like sheep without a shepherd” is different in Matt. 9:36 than in Mark 6:34—the desperate plight of the sheep has become in Matthew the motivation for sending the apostles on their mission. Mark 6:34 was particularly apt for incorporation into the narrative framework of Matthew’s Sending discourse since Mark states that in response to the people’s condition Jesus began to teach them. Mark does not report the content of Jesus’ teaching, whereas the author of Matthew, who reworked Mark 6:34, omitted the reference to teaching but used the verse as the introduction to a major teaching discourse.

L13 At this point the author of Matthew inserted “The Harvest Is Plentiful” saying. Since this saying also appears in the context of sending the apostles in Luke (Luke 10:2), there is good cause for supposing that the harvest saying appeared in the Sending the Twelve discourse in Anth. Given the extent of editorial activity we have observed in the narrative framework of Matthew’s Sending discourse, we have decided to follow Luke’s placement for “The Harvest Is Plentiful.”[22]

L14-23 The high concentration of Lukan-Matthean agreements against Mark in these lines (L14, L17, L22) shows that Luke and Matthew each relied on a non-Markan pre-synoptic source when composing this section.[23] However, this is a fascinating case where Luke and Matthew did not rely upon the same pre-synoptic source. The Sending the Twelve pericope in Luke 9 comes from FR, while Matthew’s sources were Mark and Anth. Thus, Luke and Matthew were able to achieve agreement against Mark only insofar as 1) FR resembled Anth. and 2) Luke and Matthew adhered to the wording of their non-Markan sources.

L14 καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος (GR). Luke and Matthew agree against Mark’s use of the “historical present,”[24] each using a participial form of a compound of καλεῖν (kalein, “to call”). Choosing between Matthew’s προσκαλεσάμενος (proskalesamenos, “summoning”) and Luke’s συγκαλεσάμενος (sūnkalesamenos, “calling together”) is difficult. Against accepting Luke’s reading, we find that the verb συγκαλεῖν occurs 8xx in NT, all but one of which is in Luke-Acts.[25] Therefore, συγκαλεσάμενος in Luke 9:1 could be due to Luke’s editing. On the other hand, if Matthew had found συγκαλεσάμενος in Anth., he could have replaced it with προσκαλεσάμενος under the influence of Mark’s προσκαλεῖν.

In LXX, συγκαλεῖν is used to translate a Hebrew verb 11xx; in ten of these instances, συγκαλεῖν translates קָרָא (qārā’, “call,” “summon”).[26] In LXX, προσκαλεῖν translates a Hebrew verb 12xx; in ten of these instances, προσκαλεῖν translates קָרָא.‎[27] We have accepted Matthew’s προσκαλεσάμενος for GR since in Luke 9:1 there are more redactional layers (Anth.→FR→Luke)—and therefore more opportunities for changes to creep into the text—than in Matt. 10:1 where the author of Matthew may have copied directly from Anth. Happily, whether we accept προσκαλεσάμενος from Matthew or συγκαλεσάμενος from Luke, the best option for HR is -קָרָא לְ. In LXX, συγκαλεῖν translates קָרָא לְ-/אֶל‎ 9xx, while προσκαλεῖν translates קָרָא לְ-/אֶל‎ 8xx. See Choosing the Twelve, Comment to L6.

L15-16 לִשְׁנֵים עָשָׂר שְׁלִיחָיו (HR). In L16, where Mark and most manuscripts of Luke have nothing, Matthew adds μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ (mathētas avtou, “his disciples”). Lindsey noted that “the Twelve,” when used as a title for the college of Jesus’ apostles, is difficult to reconstruct in Hebrew since Hebrew ordinarily requires a noun for “the Twelve” to modify.[28] Since the Lukan-Matthean agreements in this section indicate that Matthew was using his non-Markan source in Matt. 10:1, it is possible that Matthew avoided the un-Hebraic reference to “the Twelve” under the influence of Anth. But if Matthew relied on Anth., then he must have modified its wording slightly. Matthew is unique among the Gospels in suggesting that Jesus had only twelve disciples (see Choosing the Twelve, Comment to L7). The other evangelists are clear that Jesus had many disciples, twelve of whom he made apostles. Matthew usually avoided the term ἀπόστολος (apostolos, “emissary,” “apostle”)[29] and we suspect that Matthew replaced “apostle” in Anth. with “disciple.” The presence of ἀποστόλους in some manuscripts of Luke, including Sinaiticus, opposite Matthew’s μαθητάς is suggestive.[30]

L17 ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς (GR). Matthew’s word order (ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν; edōken avtois exousian, “he gave to them authority”) is more Hebraic than Luke’s order (ἔδωκεν δύναμιν αὐτοῖς; edōken dūnamin avtois, “he gave power to them”).[31] We have therefore accepted Matthew’s word order for GR.

L18 δύναμιν αὐτοῖς (Luke 9:1). Whereas according to Matthew Jesus gave the apostles “authority,” Luke writes that he gave them “power and authority.” We have omitted δύναμις (dūnamis, “power”) from GR and a corresponding word in HR since “power” seems to be a later addition from the First Reconstructor (the creator of FR) or the author of Luke.

L19 רָשׁוּת (HR). In rabbinic sources when an emissary (shāliaḥ or shālūaḥ in Hebrew) is commissioned with a task, this is often expressed with the phrase נָתַן רָשׁוּת (nātan rāshūt, “give authority”), as we see in the following examples:

מִי שֶׁנָתָן רְשׁוּת לִשְׁלוּחוֹ לְקַדֵּשׁ אֶת בִּתּוֹ

The one who gave authority to his emissary to arrange the marriage of his daughter…. (m. Kid. 4:9)

וְכֵן הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁנָּתְנָה רְשׁוּת לִשְׁלוּחָ{י}הּ לְקַדְּשָׁהּ

And likewise, the woman who gave authority to her emissary to arrange her marriage…. (m. Kid. 4:9)

ונפל ממנו רב מלמד שנתנה רשות לשלוחים לחבל

and many fall on account of it [Exod. 19:21]: This teaches that authority was given to emissaries to destroy. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, BaḤodesh chpt. 4 [ed. Lauterbach, 2:310])[32]

Since in the present pericope Jesus is commissioning his emissaries, there is no more fitting reconstruction of ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν (“he gave them authority”) than וַיִּתֶּן לָהֶם רָשׁוּת (“and he gave them authority”).[33]

L20 ἐπὶ πάντα τὰ δαιμόνια (GR). It is difficult to decide whether “impure spirits” or “demons” appeared in Anth. In Luke 9:1 the author of Luke was copying FR, and it is possible that the First Reconstructor changed “impure spirits” to “demons” for the sake of his non-Jewish Greek-speaking audience. In addition, the high concentration of Lukan-Matthean agreements against Mark in Matt. 10:1 (// Luke 9:1; L14; L17; L22) demonstrate that the author of Matthew relied heavily on Anth.’s wording in this verse, which lends greater weight to Matthew’s “impure spirits” in L20. On the other hand, it is possible that Matthew wrote “impure spirits” under the influence of Mark 6:7 (L36).

Two main considerations led us to accept Luke’s reading, “demons,” for GR. First, the author of Mark proliferated the use of the term “impure spirit” in his Gospel.[34] Three Lukan-Matthean agreements against Mark’s use of “impure spirit”[35] suggest that, at least in those instances, “impure spirit” was added by the author of Mark. Mark’s tendency to proliferate “impure spirit” casts doubt on the derivation of “impure spirit” in L20 from Anth. Moreover, in the Return of the Twelve pericope, when the apostles report their success in performing exorcisms (Luke 10:17), the term the apostles use is “demons,” not “impure spirits.” Since the author of Luke copied the Return of the Twelve from Anth., and since Luke 10:17 refers directly back to the Commissioning (Luke 9:1), it is likely that the same term, “demons,” occurred in both places. We have therefore accepted ἐπὶ πάντα τὰ δαιμόνια (“over all the demons”) for GR, concluding that πνευμάτων ἀκαθάρτων (“of the impure spirits”) in Matt. 10:1 is an example of the author of Matthew’s tendency to blend the wording of his two sources, Mark and Anth.

עַל כֹּל הַשֵּׁדִים (HR). In rabbinic literature עַל + רָשׁוּת is used in the sense of “authority over,” for example:

יש רשות אחרים עליה

…there is the authority of others over her. (t. Kid. 1:11; Vienna MS)

הרי רשות אבא עלי

Behold, my father’s authority is over me. (t. Nid. 5:16; Vienna MS)

In the Hebrew Scriptures the word שֵׁד (shēd, “demon”) occurs only twice, each time in reference to sacrifice to foreign gods (Deut. 32:17; Ps. 106:37). Both instances of שֵׁד are translated in LXX with δαιμόνιον (daimonion, “lesser deity,” “demon”). Whereas in Greek δαιμόνιον may have positive connotations,[36] in Hebrew שֵׁד always refers to a malevolent spirit.

Jesus’ investiture of the apostles with authority over the demons (cf. Luke 10:19) is a dramatic reversal of the status quo, for ancient Jewish sources indicate that many Jews before and after the time of Jesus perceived themselves to be (at least potentially) under the dominion of demonic forces. In the book of Jubilees, for instance, Moses is depicted as praying:

O Lord, let your mercy be lifted up upon your people, and create for them an upright spirit. And do not let the spirit of Beliar rule over them to accuse them before you and ensnare them from every path of righteousness so that they might be destroyed from before your face. (Jub. 1:20; Charlesworth)

Also in Jubilees, Noah prays for his family members when “polluted demons” (Jub. 10:1) began “leading astray and blinding and killing his grandchildren” (Jub. 10:2):

Let your grace be lifted up upon my sons, and do not let the evil spirits rule over them, lest they destroy them from the earth. (Jub. 10:3; Charlesworth)

So too, prior to setting out for the Land of Promise, Abram is depicted in Jubilees as praying:

Save me from the hands of evil spirits which rule over the thought of the heart of man, and do not let them lead me astray from following you, O my God…. (Jub. 12:20; Charlesworth)

In a non-canonical psalm referred to as “Plea for Deliverance,” which was discovered at Qumran, we find this prayer:

אל תשלט בי שטן ורוח טמאה מכאוב ויצר רע אל ירשו בעצמי

Do not cause a satan [or “adversary”] or an impure spirit to rule over me, neither let pain nor the evil inclination take possession of my bones. (11Q5 [11QPsalmsa] XIX, 15-16)[37]

Variations of this prayer also appear in rabbinic literature. In the Babylonian Talmud it is recorded that Rabbi Yehudah ha-Nasi taught that when a guest prays for his host he should say:

ואל ישלוט שטן לא במעשי ידיו ולא במעשי ידינו, ואל יזדקר לא לפניו ולא לפנינו שום דבר הרהור חטא ועבירה ועון מעתה ועד עולם

…and do not permit a satan [or “adversary”] to rule over the works of his [i.e., the host’s—DNB and JNT] hands or over the works of our hands, and permit neither him nor us to be confronted with any thoughts of sin or transgression or iniquity either now or in the future. (b. Ber. 46a)

Likewise, in the prayer that was to be recited upon lying down to sleep we find:

וישלוט בי יצר טוב ואל ישלוט בי יצר הרע

…and let the good inclination have dominion over me, but do not let the evil inclination rule over me…. (b. Ber. 60b)

These prayers attest to a shift of emphasis from external influences that lead to sin in the earlier Second Temple sources to internal impulses in the rabbinic texts. All of the prayers allude to a verse in the Psalms which says:

וְאַל־תַּשְׁלֶט־בִּי כָל־אָוֶן

…and do not cause any iniquity to have dominion over me. (Ps. 119:133)

Other rabbinic sources refer to the dominion of the Angel of Death:

רבי יוסי אומר על תנאי כך עמדו ישראל לפני הר סיני על תנאי שלא ישלוט בהם מלאך המות שנאמר אני אמרתי אלהים אתם וגו′ חיבלתם מעשיכם אכן כאדם תמותון

Rabbi Yose says, “It was upon this condition that Israel stood before Mount Sinai: on condition that the Angel of Death should not have dominion over them, as it says, I said you are gods… [Ps. 82:6]. But you corrupted your ways and therefore you will die like a human being [Ps. 82:7].” (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, BaḤodesh chpt. 9, on Exod. 20:19)[38]

The dominion of Satan, of demons or impure spirits, of the evil inclination or of the Angel of Death represents a complex of closely related ideas.[39]

A central tenet of Jesus’ message was that that through his his own mission of healing and exorcism God’s reign was breaking into the world and breaking down the strongholds of evil. The powers of sin and death, the powers that enticed human beings to idolatrous worship and that stood behind the thrones of the world’s empires were crumbling in the face of Jesus and his emissaries.[40] By sending out the apostles carry on his mission of healing and exorcism in other towns and villages Jesus was extending the limits of God’s redeeming reign.

The conceptual pairing of illness with evil spirits in Second Temple Jewish sources such as the “Plea for Deliverance” from Qumran (11Q5 [11QPsalmsa] XIX, 15-16),[41] in the Genesis Apocryphon (1Qap Genar XX, 26), and in the writings of Josephus[42] demonstrate that healing and exorcism were two sides of the same coin in the minds of many first-century Jews. It is therefore only natural that the same pairing should occur here in the commissioning of the apostles and in other Gospel narratives (cf., e.g., Luke 13:11).[43]

L21 ὥστε ἐκβάλλειν αὐτά (Matt. 10:1). In Luke 9:1 and in Mark 6:7 there is no parallel to Matthew’s “in order to cast them out.” Was this phrase penned by the author of Matthew to explain what having authority over impure spirits means, or did the author of Matthew copy these words from his source? In LXX, ὥστε (hōste, “so that,” “in order that”) occurs 178xx, 118xx in books that also appear in MT. Seventy-seven of those 118 instances (well over half) occur in the construction ὥστε + infinitive where the underlying Hebrew text has an infinitive construct.[44] Thus ὥστε ἐκβάλλειν in Matt. 10:1 could reflect the translation of a Hebrew infinitive construct.

On the other hand, there are several places in the Gospel of Matthew where ὥστε + infinitive appears without support from the parallels in Mark and/or Luke.[45] While it is possible that in each of these cases the author of Matthew added ὥστε + infinitive on the basis of Anth., we have to contend with the possibility that at least sometimes in Matthew ὥστε + infinitive is redactional.

In the end, and with a great deal of uncertainty, we decided to accept Matthew’s ὥστε ἐκβάλλειν αὐτά for GR since in L17-23 the author of Matthew seems mainly to have relied on Anth.

לְהוֹצִיאָם (HR). In an unpublished essay[46] Lindsey expressed his opinion that although Delitzsch and other early translators of NT into Hebrew used גֵּרֵשׁ (gērēsh, “drive out”) as the equivalent of ἐκβάλλειν (ekballein, “to cast out”) in exorcism contexts, he considered הוֹצִיא (hōtzi’, “cause to go out,” “bring out”) to be preferable. According to Lindsey, previous translators based their decision on the fact that in LXX ἐκβάλλειν is more frequently the translation of ג-ר-שׁ than any other Hebrew root.[47] Nevertheless, Lindsey preferred הוֹצִיא as the equivalent of ἐκβάλλειν because the root ג-ר-שׁ never appears in exorcism contexts.

In support of Lindsey’s opinion, we note that י-צ-א in both pa‘al and hif‘il forms with רוּחַ (rūaḥ, “wind,” “spirit”), a synonym for demon, is attested in BH and MH. In Jer. 10:13; 51:16; and Ps. 135:7, for example, we find hif‘il forms of י-צ-א with רוּחַ in descriptions of God causing wind to go out from his storehouses, while in Prov. 29:11 we find כָּל־רוּחוֹ יוֹצִיא כְסִיל (“a fool causes his entire spirit to go out”). A similar usage is found in rabbinic literature:

עד שנתייגעו והוציאו את רוחו ואחר כך בא יוסף והחזירה

…until they [i.e., the magicians—DNB and JNT] wearied him [i.e., Pharaoh—DNB and JNT] and caused his spirit to go out, and afterward Joseph came and restored it…. (Gen. Rab. 89:6)

We also find an example where a member of the heavenly retinue says:

אֵצֵא וְהָיִיתִי רוּחַ שֶׁקֶר בְּפִי כָּל־נְבִיאָיו

I will go out[48] and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his [i.e., Ahab’s—DNB and JNT] prophets. (1 Kgs. 22:22; cf. 2 Chr. 18:21)

Finally, in a story that describes an exorcism, Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai says צא צא (“Go out! Go out!”) to a demon (b. Meil. 17b).

These examples demonstrate that the root י-צ-א was used to describe the movement of spirits. Nevertheless, there remains some uncertainty regarding our reconstruction, which is partly due to the paucity of exorcism accounts in Hebrew and the lack of an exact parallel for “to cast out a spirit/demon.”

L22-23 καὶ θεραπεύειν πᾶσαν νόσον καὶ πᾶσαν μαλακίαν (Matt. 10:1). Luke and Matthew agree against Mark to include healing as part of the commissioning of the apostles.[49] As we have already noted, the numerous Lukan-Matthean agreements against Mark in L14-23 indicate that Luke and Matthew copied this section from non-Markan pre-synoptic sources. The wording of this section in Matt. 10:1 is consistently more Hebraic than the parallel in Luke 9:1, which we believe is the result of Matthew’s use of Anth., which was characterized by a Hebraic Greek style, whereas Luke copied this passage from FR, which adopted a more polished Greek style. Here in L22-23 we observe that Luke, or more likely the First Reconstructor, reduced the Hebraic doublet “every disease and every sickness” to “diseases” (plur.) and adopted a less Hebraic word order than in Matt. 10:1.[50]

וּלְרַפֵּא כֹּל מַדְוֶה וְכֹל חֳלִי (HR). In LXX the verb θεραπεύειν (therapevein, “to treat,” “to heal”) is quite rare; in only six instances does θεραπεύειν translate a Hebrew word in the underlying text, and in none of those instances is that verb רִפֵּא (ripē’, “heal”).[51] However, since none of Hebrew words that are translated with θεραπεύειν mean “heal” the LXX cannot guide our reconstruction.[52] For HR we have selected the most natural Hebrew equivalent for “heal,” the root ר-פ-א.

In MT, pa‘al forms of the root ר-פ-א predominate, but in the Mishnah pi‘el forms are more common.[53] We have reconstructed θεραπεύειν with a pi‘el infinitive construct since it would probably be a more natural choice for a speaker of MH even when he was attempting to write in a BH style.

On reconstructing πᾶς (pas, “all,” “every”) with כֹּל (kol, “all,” “every”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L26.

The combination of νόσος (nosos, “disease”) with μαλακία (malakia, “sickness”) in a single verse occurs only once in LXX, in a passage that promises blessings to Israel in return for keeping the Torah’s commandments:

καὶ περιελεῖ κύριος ἀπὸ σοῦ πᾶσαν μαλακίαν· καὶ πάσας νόσους Αἰγύπτου τὰς πονηράς, ἃς ἑώρακας καὶ ὅσα ἔγνως, οὐκ ἐπιθήσει ἐπὶ σὲ καὶ ἐπιθήσει αὐτὰ ἐπὶ πάντας τοὺς μισοῦντάς σε

And the Lord will remove from you every illness [πᾶσαν μαλακίαν], and all the dread diseases [πάσας νόσους] of Egypt that you have seen and that you experienced he will not inflict on you, but he will inflict them on all who hate you. (Deut. 7:15; NETS)

In this verse μαλακία is the translation of חֳלִי (oli, “sickness”) and νόσος translates מַדְוֶה (madveh, “disease”). Note that the order of these terms is the reverse of that in Matt. 10:1.

Another passage in Deuteronomy brings the two terms “sickness” and “disease” together, this time in a litany of curses that will result from failure to observe the Torah’s commandments:

אִם־לֹא תִשְׁמֹר לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת־כָּל־דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת…. וְהֵשִׁיב בְּךָ אֵת כָּל־מַדְוֵה מִצְרַיִם אֲשֶׁר יָגֹרְתָּ מִפְּנֵיהֶם וְדָבְקוּ בָּךְ׃ גַּם כָּל־חֳלִי וְכָל־מַכָּה אֲשֶׁר לֹא כָתוּב בְּסֵפֶר הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת יַעְלֵם יי עָלֶיךָ עַד הִשָּׁמְדָךְ׃

If you are not careful to do all the words of this Torah…. Then he [i.e., the LORD—DNB and JNT] will bring upon you every disease of Egypt [כָּל־מַדְוֵה מִצְרַיִם] that you were afraid of and they will cling to you. Also every sickness [כָּל־חֳלִי] and every plague that was not written in this book of the Torah the LORD will raise up against you until he has destroyed you. (Deut. 28:58-61)

The two biblical passages we have cited are the only two places in Scripture where כָּל־חֳלִי and כָּל־מַדְוֶה occur together.

The author who composed the conjectured Hebrew narrative describing the commissioning of the apostles may have intended his readers to catch the allusion to these verses in Deuteronomy. The curses for disobedience had already come about: the kingdoms of Israel and Judah had been destroyed and the people had gone into exile. But although some Jews had returned to their homeland and the Temple had been rebuilt, the redemption of Israel had not yet been completed.[54] Only three of Israel’s twelve tribes remained,[55] and Israel was still ruled by foreign idolatrous empires. Demonic forces continued to plague God’s people and Israel’s faithfulness had yet to be vindicated. By sending the apostles to heal “every disease and every sickness,” Jesus sent a strong message that the longed-for redemption of Israel was taking place at last.

L24 (Matt. 10:2-4). At this point the author of Matthew departed from his non-Markan pre-synoptic source in order to insert the names of the apostles. For a discussion of the names appearing in the apostolic lists, see Choosing the Twelve.

L26-28 The account of the apostles’ mission in Luke 10 comes from Anth. However, since Luke had already included the FR version of the apostles’ mission in chapter 9, Luke composed a new introduction to the Anth. version of the commissioning account consisting of L26-28 that ascribed the Anth. version of the apostles’ mission to “seventy-two others.”[56] This new introduction allowed Luke to include both versions of the apostles’ mission in his Gospel.

L28 ἑβδομήκοντα δύο (Luke 10:1). Although the manuscript evidence is divided between seventy and seventy-two emissaries, seventy-two is probably the original reading in Luke 10:1.[57] Luke probably chose the number seventy-two because it preserves the relationship between the number of apostles and the twelve tribes of Israel (72 = 6 apostles per tribe).[58]

L29 καὶ ἤρξατο αὐτοὺς ἀποστέλλειν (Mark 6:7). Mark used the grammatical construction ἄρχειν + infinitive 26xx in his Gospel.[59] Luke agrees with Mark to use ἄρχειν + infinitive 2xx,[60] and Matthew agrees with Mark to use ἄρχειν + infinitive 6xx.[61] Mark used ἄρχειν + infinitive 18xx without the support of Luke or Matthew. There are no examples where all three Synoptic Gospels agree to use ἄρχειν + infinitive.

A view of Arbel and Sea of Galilee from Horns of Hattin. Photograph by David Bivin from the collection "Views That Have Vanished: The Photographs of David Bivin."
A view of Arbel and the Sea of Galilee from the Horns of Hattin. Photographed by David N. Bivin on May 17, 1965. From the collection “Views That Have Vanished:
The Photographs of David Bivin.”

Matthew used ἄρχειν + infinitive 12xx: 6xx in agreement with Mark, 2xx in agreement with Luke (both in DT), and 4xx without Mark or Luke’s agreement.[62] It appears that when Matthew used ἄρχειν + infinitive it was usually taken over from his sources, but the author of Matthew did not always adopt this construction even when it appeared in his source.[63]

The distribution of ἄρχειν + infinitive in Luke raises questions about the interrelationship between Mark and Luke. Despite agreeing with Mark to use ἄρχειν + infinitive only 2xx, which might lead one to expect that Luke would avoid this construction, we have counted 26 instances of ἄρχειν + infinitive in Luke’s Gospel.[64] Luke used ἄρχειν + infinitive 13xx in TT pericopae without support from Mark or Matthew, 3xx in DT without Matthew’s agreement, and 6xx in unique Lukan pericopae.[65] This shows that Luke was not averse to using ἄρχειν + infinitive. Why then can Mark and Luke agree to use ἄρχειν + infinitive in only two instances? Lindsey observed that there are certain words and grammatical constructions that occur in Mark and Luke, but rarely in the same places. Often Mark used these words and grammatical constructions with inordinate frequency, which is why Lindsey referred to them as “Markan stereotypes.” It was Lindsey’s opinion that the reason Mark and Luke do not agree on the use of these terms and grammatical constructions was that, although the author of Mark used Luke’s Gospel as his main source, he consciously avoided certain Lukan words and phrases in the places where Luke had used them, only to insert them at different points in his own Gospel.

In support of Lindsey’s opinion, we note first that the dramatic drop-off of instances of ἄρχειν + infinitive in Acts (there are only six),[66] compared to the 26 instances in Luke, suggests that ἄρχειν + infinitive is more characteristic of Luke’s sources than of Luke’s personal writing style. We also note that Luke and Matthew agree 7xx against Mark’s use of ἄρχειν + infinitive.[67] These Lukan-Matthean agreements against Mark’s use of ἄρχειν + infinitive suggest that ἄρχειν + infinitive did not occur at those points in the pre-synoptic source shared by Luke and Matthew. Since Mark likely added ἄρχειν + infinitive in these instances, it is reasonable to suspect that many other instances of ἄρχειν + infinitive in Mark are also redactional.

In the present instance, it is difficult to decide whether Mark’s “and he began to send” (Mark 6:7) or Matthew and Luke’s “and he sent” (Matt. 10:5; Luke 9:2; 10:1) is more likely to reflect the reading of a pre-synoptic source. In favor of Mark’s reading, we note the following parallel:

בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם הֵחֵל יי לְהַשְׁלִיחַ בִּיהוּדָה רְצִין מֶלֶךְ אֲרָם וְאֵת פֶּקַח בֶּן רְמַלְיָהוּ‎ (2 Kgs. 15:37)

ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις ἤρξατο κύριος ἐξαποστέλλειν ἐν Ιουδα τὸν Ραασσων βασιλέα Συρίας καὶ τὸν Φακεε υἱὸν Ρομελιου (4 Kgdms. 15:37)

In those days the LORD began to send Retzin, king of Aram, and Pekah, Remalyahu’s son, into Judah.

Since Mark’s ἤρξατο…ἀποστέλλειν (ērxato…apostellein, “he began…to send”) is so similar to ἤρξατο…ἐξαποστέλλειν (ērxato…exapostellein, “he began…to send out”) in 4 Kgdms. 15:37, we cannot rule out the possibility that Mark’s phrase reflects a Hebraic source. On the other hand, the construction ἄρχειν + infinitive is not itself a Hebraism,[68] and could reflect Mark’s own editorial style. Given that ἄρχειν + infinitive is an editorial feature of Mark’s Gospel, and given the Lukan-Matthean agreement against Mark in L29, we have accepted καὶ ἀπέστειλεν αὐτοὺς for GR.[69]

L30 δύο δύο (Mark 6:7); ἀνὰ δύο δύο (Luke 10:1). Sending the apostles in pairs fits with Jesus’ usual practice of sending two disciples to perform a particular task,[70] and conforms to broader Jewish custom.[71]

Establishing the text of Luke 10:1 is problematic. Vaticanus, which we use as the basis for our reconstruction, reads ἀνὰ δύο δύο, but most manuscripts have only ἀνὰ δύο. Is the double δύο a copyist’s error, an assimilation to Mark 6:7, or the original reading? In LXX there is but a single example where ἀνά precedes a number. It is found in 3 Kgdms. 18:13 where ἑκατὸν ἄνδρας ἀνὰ πεντήκοντα ἐν σπηλαίῳ (“a hundred men, by fifty to a cave”; NETS) is the translation of מֵאָה אִישׁ חֲמִשִּׁים חֲמִשִּׁים אִישׁ בַּמְּעָרָה (“a hundred men: fifty fifty each in a cave”; 1 Kgs. 18:13). However, in other places where MT has שִׁבְעָה שִׁבְעָה or שְׁנַיִם שְׁנַיִם LXX has ἑπτὰ ἑπτά or δύο δύο (cf. Gen. 7:2, 3, 9, 15). In the writings of Josephus we find ἀνὰ μίαν (“one each”; Ant. 9:65), ἀνὰ τρία (“three each”; Ant. 12:102), ἀνὰ δέκα (“ten each”; Ant. 12:216), ἀνὰ πέντε (“five each”; Ant. 3:138), ἀνὰ πέντε καὶ εἴκοσι (“twenty-five each”; Ant. 17:322), ἀνὰ πεντήκοντα (“fifty each”; J.W. 1:658; 5:225; Ant. 17:172), ἀνὰ ἑξακοσίους (“six hundred each”; J.W. 3:67), ἀνὰ χιλίους (“a thousand each”; J.W. 3:67; 6:131) and ἀνὰ δισχιλίους (“two thousand each”; J.W. 2:500; 3:68), but no examples of ἀνὰ with the number doubled as with ἀνὰ δύο δύο. Does this strengthen or weaken the argument in favor of Vaticanus’ reading?[72] In any case, HR is reasonably certain.[73] We find שְׁנַיִם שְׁנַיִם‎ 3xx in MT (Gen. 7:9, 15; 1 Chr. 26:17), 2xx in Hebrew fragments of Ben Sira (Sir. 33:15; 42:24), 2xx in DSS (CD V, 1 [quoting Gen. 7:9]; 4Q365 23 I, 9), and frequently in the Mishnah (cf., e.g., m. Shev. 3:6, 7; m. Eruv. 10:1; m. Yom. 2:6; m. Suk. 5:6 [6xx]; m. Bab. Metz. 8:9; m. Sanh. 5:5; m. Men. 11:1; m. Meil. 6:1; m. Tam. 4:3 [2xx]; m. Par. 3:5).[74]

L31 πρὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ (Luke 10:1). Apart from biblical quotations, πρό προσώπου + personal pronoun occurs in NT only in the writings of Luke (Luke 9:52; 10:1).[75] Fitzmyer (1:115) regards πρό προσώπου + personal pronoun in Luke to be a “Septuagintism,” an attempt by the author of Luke to imitate LXX style. However, it is more likely that πρὀ προσώπου αὐτοῦ is a Hebraism copied from Anth.[76]

לְפָנָיו (HR). In LXX, πρὸ προσώπου + personal pronoun occurs 96xx,[77] where it usually translates לִפְנֵי + pronominal suffix (e.g., לְפָנֶיךָ)[78] or sometimes מִפְּנֵי + pronominal suffix (e.g., מִפָּנֶיךָ),[79] and very rarely עַל פְּנֵי + pronominal suffix (e.g., עַל פָּנָיו).[80] The combination שָׁלַח לִפְנֵי occurs in Gen. 24:7; 32:4; 45:5, 7; 46:28; Exod. 23:20, 27, 28; 33:2; Deut. 1:22; Josh. 24:12; Mic. 6:4; Ps. 105:17 (cf. 2 Kgs. 6:32). Our reconstruction reflects the normal way to describe sending someone ahead (cf. m. Bik. 3:3).

L32 אֶל כֹּל עִיר וָעִיר (HR). Luke’s “city and place” (Luke 10:1) is a bit unusual, with no parallels in the rest of NT, LXX, or in the writings of Philo and Josephus. In Hebrew we find no examples of עִיר וּמָקוֹם, but in the late books of the Hebrew Bible, in Ben Sira and in DSS we find the phrase עִיר וָעִיר meaning “every city.”[81] The translators of Ezra and 2 Chronicles rendered עִיר וָעִיר woodenly, but the translators of Esther and Ben Sira avoided the repetition of “city,” suggesting that Greek speakers found this Hebraism to be vulgar and redundant. Perhaps Anth. preserved a more literal translation of עִיר וָעִיר, which the author of Luke subsequently changed to “city and place” for the sake of his Greek readers. Reconstructing with עִיר וָעִיר seems preferable to reconstructing τόπος with כְּפָר (kefār, “village”)[82] or חָצֵר (ḥātzēr, “village”), which is archaic.

L33 אֲשֶׁר הוּא הִקְרִיב לָבוֹא שָׁמָּה (HR). The verb μέλλειν (mellein, “to be about to”) occurs 43xx in LXX, but only 13xx in books included in the Hebrew Bible. Of those 13 instances, μέλλειν frequently has no counterpart in the underlying Hebrew text; consequently, L33 is exceedingly difficult to reconstruct. It is possible that the author of Luke changed the wording of his source to provide a more elegant sentence for his Greek readers, or perhaps the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua encountered an unusual Hebrew construction in his source and, against his usual practice, decided to give the sense of the Hebrew Ur-text instead of a literal translation. Two Hebrew constructions that might have prompted a Greek translator to opt for a less-than-literal translation are עָמַד + infinitive and הִקְרִיב + infinitive.[83] The former construction is known from rabbinic sources, such as:

קמה עומדת להיקצר וגפנים עומדות להיבצר

…grain that is about [lit., “standing”] to be harvested and vines that are about [lit., “standing”] to be plucked…. (y. Yev. 15:3 [78b]; cf. y. Ket. 4:8 [29b]; 8:4 [48a])

Thus, reconstructing ἤμελλεν…ἔρχεσθαι in L33 with עָמַד לָבוֹא is possible. However, the construction עָמַד + infinitive with the sense “about to” is rare and, except for a few variant readings,[84] is not attested in any sources earlier than the Jerusalem Talmud. Moreover, in narrative portions of the Gospels, as here in L33, we expect a biblical style of Hebrew. Therefore, we have not adopted עָמַד + infinitive for HR.[85]

The second possibility, הִקְרִיב + infinitive, occurs, albeit rarely, in MT. The best example is found in the story of Abram’s sojourn in Egypt:

וַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר הִקְרִיב לָבוֹא מִצְרָיְמָה וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל שָׂרַי אִשְׁתּוֹ הִנֵּה נָא יָדַעְתִּי כִּי אִשָּׁה יְפַת מַרְאֶה אָתְּ

And when he was about [lit., “drew near”] to enter Egypt he said to Sarai his wife, “Now look, I know that you are a woman of beautiful appearance….” (Gen. 12:11)

Other examples include:

כְּמוֹ הָרָה תַּקְרִיב לָלֶדֶת תָּחִיל תִּזְעַק בַּחֲבָלֶיהָ כֵּן הָיִינוּ מִפָּנֶיךָ יי

As a pregnant woman who is about [lit., “will draw near”] to give birth will writhe and cry out in her labor, so were we because of you, O LORD. (Isa. 26:17)

וְאַתֶּם הָרֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל עַנְפְּכֶם תִּתֵּנוּ וּפֶרְיְכֶם תִּשְׂאוּ לְעַמִּי יִשְׂרָאֵל כִּי קֵרְבוּ לָבוֹא

And you, mountains of Israel, put out your branches and bear your fruit for my people Israel for they are about [lit., “draw near”] to enter. (Ezek. 36:8)

We have modeled our reconstruction of οὗ ἤμελλεν αὐτὸς ἔρχεσθαι as אֲשֶׁר הוּא הִקְרִיב לָבוֹא שָׁמָּה on Gen. 12:11. On reconstructing ἔρχεσθαι with בָּא (bā’, “come”), see Demands of Discipleship, Comment to L4.

L34-36 ἐδίδου αὐτοῖς (Mark 6:7). In Luke 9 and Matt. 10 Jesus first gives the apostles authority and then sends them out. The order of giving and sending in Mark 6:7 is reversed. The Lukan-Matthean agreement against Mark indicates that the author of Mark is responsible for the change. Transpositions of this sort are a common feature of Mark’s editorial style.[86]

L37-39 “To proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal” may have been penned by the First Reconstructor as a condensed paraphrase of the Anth. material found in Luke 10:9:

Luke 9:2 Luke 10:9
κηρύσσειν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἰᾶσθαι καὶ θεραπεύετε τοὺς ἐν αὐτῇ ἀσθενεῖς καὶ λέγετε αὐτοῖς· ἤγγικεν ἐφ᾿ ὑμᾶς ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ.

The FR version of the instructions to the apostles in Luke 9:3-5 omits the command to heal and announce the arrival of the Kingdom of Heaven which appears in the Anth. version of the instructions in Luke 10:9. To compensate for this omission, the First Reconstructor summarized these instructions in the introductory narrative (Luke 9:2). The instructions in Luke 10:9 are closer to Jesus’ mindset, according to which healings are evidence of the arrival of God’s Kingdom. Therefore, in Jesus’ instructions healing preceeds teaching about the Kingdom.

Redaction Analysis

Attempting to reconstruct in Hebrew the apostles’ commissioning is a useful tool for detecting the editorial activity of the authors of the Synoptic Gospels. Sections that revert easily to Hebrew probably indicate that these passages were transmitted faithfully from the original Greek translation of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua, whereas the difficulty we encounter in reconstructing other passages is likely the result of Greek editorial activity on the part of the authors of the Synoptic Gospels or their sources. Each of the synoptic writers made changes to their sources in order to integrate the commissioning pericope into the narrative frameworks of their respective Gospels.

Luke’s Versions

In Luke there are two apostolic missions, that of the Twelve (Luke 9) and that of the Seventy-two (Luke 10). The reason Luke reported two missions is probably because he had two versions of a single mission, one from each of his pre-synoptic sources (Anth. and FR), and, unlike the author of Matthew who wove parallel sources together, the author of Luke preferred to copy his sources en bloc. It is unlikely that Jesus sent different groups of apostles out on separate missions on two different occasions.

The version of the apostles’ mission in Luke 9 likely stems from FR, since this version is shorter, has a stronger focus on narrative than teaching, and has a more polished Greek style. Luke 9:1, which contains a number of agreements with Matt. 10:1 against Mark 6:7, probably reflects the original introduction to the commissioning pericope. Nevertheless, comparison with Matt. 10:1 shows that the First Reconstructor made numerous little changes to improve the Greek style, such as omitting the purpose clause “to cast them out” in L21, adopting a more natural Greek word order in L22, and eliminating the second half of a Hebraic doublet in L23. The author of Luke probably made a few additional adjustments of his own, such as changing καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος to συγκαλεσάμενος δὲ in L14 and maybe adding “power” in L18. Luke 9:2 looks like it could be FR’s attempt to summarize Anth. material now preserved only in Matt. 10:7-8.

The version of the apostles’ mission in Luke 10 probably stems from Anth. It preserves an overt Hebraism in L31 (πρὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ) and culturally appropriate information in L30 (sending the apostles in pairs). In order to integrate the Anth. material into the framework of his Gospel, however, the author of Luke rewrote the introduction (L26-28) and he may have made changes to avoid phrases that sounded awkward in Greek (e.g., ἀνὰ δύο instead of δύο δύο in L30, or πόλιν καὶ τόπον instead of πόλιν καὶ πόλιν in L32). Why would Luke remove the Hebraisms in L30 and L32 but not πρὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ in L31? Perhaps Fitzmyer was correct in supposing that πρὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ would have been familiar to Luke from LXX. Unlike Fitzmyer, however, we do not believe that πρὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ was an attempt on the part of Luke to imitate LXX style. It seems much more plausible that πρὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ reflects the wording of Anth., Luke’s Hebraic source.

Mark’s Version

When the author of Mark, who used Luke and Anth. as the main sources of his Gospel, encountered doublets in Luke he usually preferred to copy Luke’s FR material, which he was able to identify easily due to its absence in Anth. Mark’s version of the apostles’ commissioning, accordingly, is a paraphrase of the FR version in Luke 9. The author of Mark made characteristic changes to Luke, using the historical present in L14, transposing the order of giving authority and sending, and omitting the command to heal (L22). Despite his reliance on Luke 9, it is clear that Mark was familiar with both of Luke’s commissioning accounts since he added the detail about sending the apostles in pairs (L30), found in Luke 10:1.

Matthew’s Version

The author of Matthew used the apostles’ mission as the occasion for the second of his major teaching discourses. He also chose to conflate the Choosing the Twelve account with the description of the apostles’ commissioning. As a result of this decision, a great deal of editorial activity is evident in Matthew 9:35-10:5. Probably only Matt. 10:1 reflects the commissioning pericope as it appeared in Anth. In Matt. 10:1 we find important agreements with Luke 9:1 against Mark 6:7, and it is likely that Matt. 10:1 preserves the wording of the Greek translation of the conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua even better than does Luke 9:1. This achievement is due to Matthew’s reliance directly on Anth., whereas Luke 9:1 derives from FR, a revision of Anth. Thus, there are fewer literary stages between the Greek translation and Matt. 10:1 than between the Greek translation and Luke 9:1.

Results of This Research

1. Did a mission of the apostles actually take place during Jesus’ lifetime, or is the apostles’ mission a literary construct that projects the missionary activity of the early Church back into the lifetime of Jesus? Some scholars have questioned the historical veracity of the apostles’ mission.[87] In large part their skepticism is due to the almost complete lack of information about the apostles’ experiences while on their mission, the absence of any discernible effects of the mission, and Jesus’ minimal response to the apostles upon their return in Mark 6:30 and Luke 9:10 (Matthew does not report the apostles’ return at all!).[88] We believe that Jesus’ full response to the mission became fragmented in the pre-synoptic sources, so that it appears in sayings scattered throughout Matthew and Luke. The reconstructed complex that goes back to early material translated from a conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua suggests that a mission carried out by the apostles did, indeed, take place during Jesus’ lifetime.[89]

2. Did Luke invent the mission of the Seventy-two in order to prefigure the later mission to the Gentiles? Although we believe Luke did invent the idea of a mission of seventy-two apostles, it seems he did not do so in order to allude to a Gentile mission, but rather to maintain the essential link between the number of apostles and the tribes of Israel. If Luke chose the number seventy-two because it is a multiple of twelve—the number of Israel’s tribes—then this would seem to rule out prefigurement of a Gentile mission. Luke knew that the mission of Jesus’ apostles was a mission to spread the news of Israel’s redemption that was taking place through the inbreaking of God’s reign, which was manifest in and through Jesus’ itinerating band of full-time disciples.


Jesus sent the apostles on a mission to Israel to herald the longed-for redemption when God would set his people free from the rule of foreign empires and the diabolical powers that energized them, when the twelve tribes would be miraculously restored, and when Israel’s faithfulness to the Torah would be vindicated in the sight of the nations who had ridiculed and sometimes persecuted them. Israel’s redemption had already been taking place through Jesus’ healing of the sick, casting out of demons, and teaching about God’s character. Now it was beginning to take place through a wider group of Jesus’ followers, a select college of twelve fully-trained, full-time disciples, who were commissioned as emissaries to carry out the same redemptive activities that Jesus had initiated.


Click here to return to “The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction” main page.


  • [1] For abbreviations and bibliographical references, see “Introduction to ‘The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction.’
  • [2] This translation is a dynamic rendition of our reconstruction of the conjectured Hebrew source that stands behind the Greek of the Synoptic Gospels. It is not a translation of the Greek text of a canonical source.
  • [3] Two clues in Luke’s text suggest that there was but a single mission of Jesus’ emissaries. First, while describing the return of the Seventy-two, Jesus states that he had given the apostles authority over the power of the enemy, for which reason the spirits submitted to them (Luke 10:19-20). However, it is only in the Sending the Twelve pericope that Jesus gives apostles authority over demons (Luke 9:1; cf. Matt. 10:1); see J. Green, 410. Second, in the Two Swords pericope, Jesus asks, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” (Luke 22:35). However, the prohibition against sandals appears only in the Sending the Seventy-two story, whereas Jesus’ question in Luke 22:35 appears to be addressed solely to the Twelve; see T. W. Manson, 257. It appears that Luke desired to preserve both versions of the Sending account, and therefore ascribed one of them to the Seventy-two. The numbers 12 and 72 (= 6 x 12) are both related to the tribes of Israel; see T. W. Manson, 257; Ze’ev Safrai and Peter J. Tomson, “Paul’s ‘Collection for the Saints’ (2 Cor 8-9) and Financial Support of Leaders in Early Christianity and Judaism,” in Second Corinthians in the Perspective of Late Second Temple Judaism (ed. Reimund Bieringer, Emmanuel Nathan, Didier Pollefeyt, and Peter J. Tomson; Leiden: Brill, 2014), 182 n. 163. Ascribing one account of the mission to seventy-two apostles was a literary device that allowed Luke to preserve the inextricable link between the number of apostles and the twelve tribes and yet also to include both the Anth. and FR versions of the mission in his Gospel.
  • [4] Lindsey noted that a common feature of the Lukan Doublets is that one version is typically longer and more Hebraic, while the other version is usually shorter and written in a more polished Greek style. This observation led Lindsey to the conclusion that Luke used two sources that were parallel to one another, and that the doublets are the result of Luke’s decision to occasionally copy both versions of a story that appeared in those parallel sources. Lindsey dubbed the longer, Hebraic source Anthology (Anth.), and the abbreviated, polished Greek source First Reconstruction (FR). Lindsey also suggested that much of the material in Luke 9:51-18:14, a section commonly referred to by scholars as Luke’s Greater Interpolation, stems from Anth. See Robert L. Lindsey, “From Luke to Mark to Matthew: A Discussion of the Sources of Markan ‘Pick-ups’ and the Use of a Basic Non-canonical Source by All the Synoptists,” under the subheading “Lukan Doublets: Sayings Doublets.”
  • [5] According to Lindsey, the author of Mark typically preferred Luke’s FR pericopae. See Lindsey, “From Luke to Mark to Matthew,” under the subheading “Lukan Doublets: Narrative Doublets”; idem, “Unlocking the Synoptic Problem: Four Keys for Better Understanding Jesus,” under the subheading “The Power of the Anthology.”
  • [6] See Choosing the Twelve.
  • [7] Martin noted that the Matthew 10 and Luke 10 versions of the Sending discourse are much more Semitic than either the Luke 9 or Mark 6 versions, which from the perspective of Lindsey’s solution to the Synoptic Problem is unsurprising since Matt. 10 and Luke 10 are based on Anth. See Raymond A. Martin, Syntax Criticism of the Synoptic Gospels (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen, 1987), 67.
  • [8] On the formation of Matthew’s Sending discourse, see Burnett H. Streeter, “On the Original Order of Q,” in Studies in the Synoptic Problem (ed. W. Sanday; Oxford: Clarendon, 1911), 141-164, esp. 149; Bundy, 333; Knox, 2:48; Francis Wright Beare, “The Mission of the Disciples and the Mission Charge: Matthew 10 and Parallels,” Journal of Biblical Literature 89 (1970): 1-13, esp. 3; Fitzmyer, 2:842. Commenting on the different redactional styles of Luke and Matthew, Streeter (210-211) wrote, “when Mark and Q overlap, Matthew carefully conflates the two,” and suggested that “perhaps the best illustration of the difference in their method is the conflation by Matthew (x. 1 ff.) of the Charge to the Seventy (Lk. x. 1-10) with Mark’s Charge to the Twelve (Mk. vi. 7 ff.), as contrasted with Luke’s presentation of the same material as two distinct episodes.”
  • [9] Lindsey suggested that the author of Mark frequently supplemented his narrative with words and phrases from the portions of Luke he omitted. See Robert L. Lindsey, “A New Approach to the Synoptic Gospels,” thesis 10; idem, “The Major Importance of the ‘Minor’ Agreements,” under the subheading “Hebraic Texts and Synoptic Interdependence.”
  • [10] Cf. Bundy, 251.
  • [11] Bundy (155) writes, “Mk 6:6b has a teaching tour precede the mission of the twelve, and in 9:35 Matthew seems to be borrowing this idea from Mark, but he expands this purely editorial notice of Mark to suit his own literary plan and purpose.” Cf. Montefiore, TSG, 2:140-141; Beare, “The Mission of the Disciples,” 6.
  • [12] See Davies-Allison, 2:146.
  • [13] Robert Morosco provides a detailed diagram of the Markan and Lukan parallels to Matthew’s Sending discourse. See Robert E. Morosco, “Matthew’s Formation of a Commissioning Type-Scene out of the Story of Jesus’ Commissioning of the Twelve,” Journal of Biblical Literature 103.4 (1984): 539-556, diagram on 540-541.
  • [14] The phrase συναγωγή τῶν Ἰουδαίων (sūnagōgē tōn Ioudaiōn, “synagogue of the Jews”), which occurs 4xx in Acts (Acts 13:5; 14:1; 17:1, 17), hints at the non-Jewish identity of the author of Luke-Acts and his audience, but does not necessarily have a negative connotation.
  • [15] We find συναγωγή αὐτῶν in Matt. 4:23; 9:35; 10:17; 12:9; 13:54; Mark 1:23, 39; Luke 4:15.
  • [16] On the equally dissociative references to “your Torah” in John, see David Flusser, “The Gospel of John’s Jewish-Christian Source,” under the subheading “The Author of the Fourth Gospel.”
  • [17] On anti-Jewish sentiment in the Gospel of Matthew, see David Flusser, “Two Anti-Jewish Montages in Matthew” (Flusser, JOC, 552-560); idem, “Matthew’s Verus Israel” (Flusser, JOC, 561-574); idem, “Anti-Jewish Sentiment in the Gospel of Matthew” (Flusser, JSTP2, 351-353); R. Steven Notley, “Anti-Jewish Tendencies in the Synoptic Gospels”; Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, under the subheading “Redaction Analysis: Matthew’s Version.”
  • [18] The term εὐαγγέλιον occurs 8xx in Mark (Mark 1:1, 14, 15; 8:35; 10:29; 13:10; 14:9; 16:15), 4xx in Matthew (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; 26:13; the first three instances are part of the phrase τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας), and 0xx in Luke.
  • [19] See Robert L. Lindsey, “A New Approach to the Synoptic Gospels,” under the subheading “Personal Encounter with the Problem”; cf. Buchanan, 1:426.
  • [20] See Joshua N. Tilton and David N. Bivin, “LOY Excursus: Catalog of Markan Stereotypes and Possible Markan Pick-ups,” under the entry for Mark 1:1.
  • [21] See Rainey-Notley, 315.
  • [22] See Sending the Twelve: “The Harvest Is Plentiful” and “A Flock Among Wolves,” under the subheading “Story Placement.”
  • [23] See Luz (2:66 n. 6), who writes, “The minor agreements are so numerous…that one may ask whether the original Q introduction to the sending discourse is to be found behind Matt. 10:1 and Luke 9:1.”
  • [24] On Mark’s use of the historical present, see the table in the footnotes to David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: Mark’s Editorial Style.”
  • [25] In NT, the verb συγκαλεῖν appears in Mark 15:16; Luke 9:1; 15:6, 9; 23:13; Acts 5:21; 10:24; 28:17.
  • [26] In LXX, συγκαλεῖν translates קָרָא in Exod. 7:11; Josh. 9:22; 10:24; 22:1; 23:2; 24:1; Prov. 9:3; Zech. 3:10; Isa. 62:12 (variant reading); Jer. 1:15.
  • [27] In LXX, προσκαλεῖν translates קָרָא in Gen. 28:1; Exod. 5:3; 1 Kgdms. 26:14; Esth. 4:5; Ps. 49:4; Prov. 9:15; Job 17:14 (variant reading); Amos 5:8; 9:6; Joel 3:5.
  • [28] Lindsey explained that in Hebrew it is unusual to have a number like “twelve” function as a stand-alone noun. It is more usual for the number to modify a noun like “tribes” or “apostles.” In Hebrew one can refer to “the twelve tribes” or to “the twelve apostles,” but normally not to “the Twelve.” See Lindsey, HTGM, 69-70; cf. Choosing the Twelve, Comment to L10-11.
  • [29] The sole occurrence of ἀπόστολος in the Gospel of Matthew is in Matt. 10:2.
  • [30] Commenting on Luke 9:1, Bovon (1:344 n. 8) writes, “Some good mss. add the title ‘Apostles’ to ‘the Twelve.’ See Metzger (Textual Commentary, 146), who speaks too critically of ‘later copyists.’”
  • [31] Here, as elsewhere, we are using Vaticanus as our base text. In N-A, Matthew and Luke have the same word order (ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς). On our rationale for using Vaticanus for our base text, see David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “Introduction to ‘The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction,’” under the subheading “Codex Vaticanus or an Eclectic Text?”
  • [32] In addition we find examples of emissaries acting by the authority of their commissioner expressed as בְּרָשׁוּת (berāshūt):

    שלוח בית דין שהכה ברשות בית דין והזיק בשוגג פטור במזיד חייב מפני תיקון העולם

    An emissary [שלוח] of the court who strikes a blow by authority of the court and he does [permanent] harm unintentionally is exempt, but if intentionally, he is liable because of the public good. (t. Git. 3:8; Vienna MS)

    שליח בית דין שהכה ברשות בית דין והזיק פטור מדיני אדם ודינו מסור לשמים

    An emissary [שליח] of the court who struck [a person while carrying out his sentence] by authority of the court and he did [permanent] harm is exempt from human judgment and his judgment is handed over to Heaven. (t. Bab. Kam. 6:17; Vienna MS; cf. t. Bab. Kam. 9:11; t. Mak. 2:5)

  • [33] In the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, with respect to the eschatological priest, we read:

    καὶ δώσει ἐξουσίαν τοῖς τέκνοις αὐτοῦ τοῦ πατεῖν ἐπὶ τὰ πονηρὰ πνεύματα

    And he shall grant to his children the authority to trample on wicked spirits. (T. Levi 18:12; Charlesworth)

    The language in this passage is strikingly similar to the description of the commissioning of the apostles in L17-20.

  • [34] The author of Luke used the term “impure spirit” 6xx in his Gospel and 2xx in Acts (Luke 4:33 [πνεῦμα δαιμονίου ἀκαθάρτου], 36; 6:18; 8:29; 9:42; 11:24; Acts 5:16; 8:7. The author of Mark accepted every instance of Luke’s use of “impure spirit,” except for Luke 11:24, which appears in a pericope not included in Mark (Mark 1:23 = Luke 4:33; Mark 1:27 = Luke 4:36; Mark 3:11 = Luke 6:18 [cf. Matt. 12:15]; Mark 5:8 = Luke 8:29; Mark 9:25 = Luke 9:42 [cf. Matt. 17:18]) but Mark also has “impure spirit” where the Lukan and/or Matthean parallels have synonyms such as “demon” or “demonized.” In all, Mark refers to “impure spirits” 11xx in his Gospel. See Joshua N. Tilton and David N. Bivin, “LOY Excursus: Catalog of Markan Stereotypes and Possible Markan Pick-ups,” under the entry for Mark 1:23.
  • [35] The three points at which Luke and Matthew agree against Mark’s use of impure spirit are Mark 3:30 (TT pericope but the entire verse is omitted in Luke and Matthew); Mark 5:2 (cf. Luke 8:27; Matt. 8:28); Mark 5:13 (cf. Luke 8:33; Matt. 8:31).
  • [36] See T. H. Gaster, “Demon, Demonology,” in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (4 vols.; ed. George A. Buttrick et al.; Nashville: Abingdon, 1962), 1:817; Werner Foerster, “δαίμων, δαιμόνιον,” TDNT, 2:2-3. Even in NT δαιμόνιον is not necessarily a negative term. In the phrase ξένων δαιμονίων (“foreign deities”; Acts 17:18) it is the adjective ξένος, not the noun δαιμόνιον, that has the negative connotation. Likewise, among Jewish authors δαιμόνιον is sometimes used in a positive sense. Thus, of a Jewish high priest Josephus could write:

    ὡμίλει γὰρ αὐτῷ τὸ δαιμόνιον ὡς μηδὲν τῶν μελλόντων ἀγνοεῖν, ὅς γε καὶ περὶ δύο τῶν πρεσβυτέρων υἱῶν ὅτι μὴ διαμενοῦσι κύριοι τῶν πραγμάτων προεῖδέν τε καὶ προεφήτευσεν.

    For so closely was he in touch with the Deity [τὸ δαιμόνιον], that he was never ignorant of the future; thus he foresaw and predicted that his two elder sons would not remain at the head of affairs. (J.W. 1:69; Loeb)

    In the above quotation Josephus used δαιμόνιον as a synonym for the God of Israel. So, too, in the following example:

    τῷ γὰρ ὄντι πλεῖστα μὲν τῶν ἔξωθεν καὶ παρ᾿ ἐλπίδας εἰς εὐτυχίαν αὐτῷ τὸ δαιμόνιον προσετίθει….

    In truth, a divine power [δαιμόνιον] had given him [i.e., Herod—DNB and JNT] a great many instances of good fortune, even more than he had hoped for, in external affairs…. (Ant. 16:76; Loeb)

  • [37] Flusser believed that this non-canonical psalm was not composed by members of the Qumran community, since it does not use terminology typical of sectarian literature. See David Flusser, “Qumran and Jewish ‘Apotropaic’ Prayers” (JOC, 214-225, esp. 215); idem, “Psalms, Hymns and Prayers,” in Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period (CRINT II.2; ed. Michael E. Stone; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984), 551-577, esp. 561.

    Compare the “Plea for Deliverance” to a line from the Prayer of Levi preserved in its original language and in Greek translation:

    [ — ו]אל תשלט בי כל שטן

    καὶ μὴ κατισχυάτω με πᾶς σατανᾶς πλανῆσαί με ἀπὸ τῆς ὁδοῦ σου

    And do not cause any satan to have dominion over me to make me wander from your way. (4QLevib ar [4Q213a] 1 I, 17; T. Levi after 2:3 in the Mount Athos MS)

    See Michael E. Stone and Jonas C. Greenfield, “The Prayer of Levi,” Journal of Biblical Literature 112.2 (1993): 247-266.

  • [38] Rabbi Yose’s comment may be compared to Rom. 5:14, where Paul writes that from the time of Adam until Moses Death had dominion over human beings. On this passage in Romans, see Gary A. Anderson, “The Status of the Torah in the Pre-Sinaitic Period: St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans,” in Biblical Perspectives: Early Use and Interpretation of the Bible in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls (ed. Michael E. Stone and Esther G. Chazon; Leiden: Brill, 1998), 1-23.
  • [39] According to one rabbinic sage, the above mentioned names are all synonymous:

    אמר ר″ל הוא שטן הוא יצר הרע הוא מלאך המות

    Resh Lakish said, “Satan is [the same as] the evil inclination, which is [the same as] the Angel of Death.” (b. Bab. Bat. 16a)

    See Flusser, “Qumran and Jewish ‘Apotropaic’ Prayers” (JOC, 219-220); Ishay Rosen-Zvi, “Yetser Ha-Ra and Daimones: A Shared Ancient Jewish and Christian Discourse,” in Jews and Christians in the First and Second Centuries: How to Write Their History (CRINT 13; ed. Peter J. Tomson and Joshua Schwartz; Leiden: Brill, 2014), 431-453.

  • [40] For a discussion of the political implications of exorcism, see Richard A. Horsley, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence: Popular Jewish Resistance in Roman Palestine (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987), 184-190.
  • [41] On the connection between demons and illness in the “Plea of Deliverance,” see the comments of Menahem Kister, “Demons, Theology and Abraham’s Covenant (CD 16:4-6 and Related Texts),” in The Dead Sea Scrolls At Fifty (ed. Robert A. Kugler and Eileen M. Schuller; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1999), 167-181, esp. 170.
  • [42] In his account of King Solomon’s reign, Josephus links the power to perform exorcisms with the ability to heal:

    παρέσχε δ᾿ αὐτῷ μαθεῖν ὁ θεὸς καὶ τὴν κατὰ τῶν δαιμόνων τέχνην εἰς ὠφέλειαν καὶ θεραπείαν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις· ἐπῳδάς τε συνταξάμενος αἷς παρηγορεῖται τὰ νοσήματα καὶ τρόπους ἐξορκώσεων κατέλιπεν, οἷς οἱ ἐνδούμενοι τὰ δαιμόνια ὡς μηκέτ᾿ ἐπανελθεῖν ἐκδιώκουσι.

    And God granted him [i.e., Solomon—DNB and JNT] knowledge of the art used against demons for the benefit and healing of men. He also composed incantations by which illnesses are relieved, and left behind forms of exorcisms with which those possessed by demons drive them out, never to return. (Ant. 8:43; Loeb)

  • [43] On the possibility that a demon was the cause of the fever in the story of Shimon’s mother-in-law, see Healing Shimon’s Mother-in-law, Comment to L18.
  • [44] The construction ὥστε + infinitive is the LXX translation of an infinitive construct in Gen. 1:15 (ὥστε φαίνειν = לְהָאִיר)‎; Gen. 1:17 (ὥστε φαίνειν = לְהָאִיר); Gen. 9:15 (ὥστε ἐξαλεῖψαι = לְשַׁחֵת); Gen. 15:7 (ὥστε δοῦναι = לָתֶת); Gen. 23:8 (ὥστε θάψαι = לִקְבֹּר)‎; Gen. 34:22 (ὥστε εἶναι = לִהְיוֹת)‎; Gen. 34:30 (ὥστε πονηρόν με εἶναι = לְהַבְאִישֵׁנִי)‎; Gen. 45:27 (ὥστε ἀναλαβεῖν = לָשֵׂאת); Exod. 5:2 (ὥστε ἐξαποστεῖλαι = לְשַׁלַּח); Exod. 6:4 (ὥστε δοῦναι = לָתֵת); Exod. 6:13 (ὥστε ἐξαποστεῖλαι = לְהוֹצִיא); Exod. 7:24 (ὥστε πιεῖν = לִשְׁתּוֹת)‎; Exod. 12:4 (ὥστε μὴ ἱκανοὺς εἶναι εἰς πρόβατον = מִהְיֹת מִשֶּׂה); Exod. 12:42 (ὥστε ἐξαγαγεῖν αὐτούς = לְהוֹצִיאָם); Exod. 23:2 (ὥστε ἐκκλῖναι = לְהַטֹּת); Exod. 25:27 (ὥστε αἴρειν = לָשֵׂאת); Exod. 29:1 (ὥστε ἱερατεύειν = לְכַהֵן); Exod. 29:36 (ὥστε ἁγιάσαι αὐτό = לְקַדְּשׁוֹ); Exod. 29:42 (ὥστε λαλῆσαί = לְדַבֵּר); Exod. 30:4 (ὥστε αἴρειν = לָשֵׂאת)‎; Exod. 30:18 (ὥστε νίπτεσθαι = לְרָחְצָה);‎ Exod. 30:38 (ὥστε ὀσφραίνεσθαι = לְהָרִיחַ); Exod. 36:2 (ὥστε συντελεῖν = לַעֲשׂת)‎; Exod. 36:10 (ὥστε συνυφᾶναι = לַעֲשׂוֹת [Heb. 39:3]); Exod. 36:38 (ὥστε ἐπικεῖσθαι = לָתֵת [Heb. 39:31]); Exod. 38:4 (ὥστε αἴρειν = לָשֵׂאת [Heb. 37:5]); Exod. 38:10 (ὥστε αἴρειν = לָשֵׂאת [Heb. 37:14]); Exod. 39:12 (ὥστε λειτουργεῖν = לְשָׁרֵת [Heb. 39:1]); Exod. 40:15 (ὥστε εἶναι = לִהְיֹת); Lev. 5:22 (ὥστε ἁμαρτεῖν = לַחֲטֹא); Lev. 7:30 (ὥστε ἐπιθεῖναι = לְהָנִיף)‎; Lev. 8:34 (ὥστε ἐξιλάσασθαι = לְכַפֵּר); Lev. 14:21 (ὥστε ἐξιλάσασθαι = לְכַפֵּר)‎; Lev. 15:32 (ὥστε μιανθῆναι = לְטָמְאָה)‎; Lev. 16:10 (ὥστε ἀποστεῖλαι = לְשַׁלַּח); Lev. 17:4 (ὥστε ποιῆσαι = לְהַקְרִיב); Lev. 20:5 (ὥστε ἐκπορνεύειν = לִזְנוֹת); Lev. 20:6 (ὥστε ἐκπορνεῦσαι = לִזְנוֹת); Lev. 22:33 (ὥστε εἶναι = לִהְיוֹת); Lev. 23:37 (ὥστε προσενέγκαι = לְהַקְרִיב); Lev. 25:28 (ὥστε ἀποδοῦναι = הָשִׁיב)‎; Lev. 25:38 (ὥστε εἶναι = לִהְיוֹת); Lev. 26:15 (ὥστε ὑμᾶς μὴ ποιεῖν = לְבִלְתִּי עֲשׂוֹת); Lev. 26:15 (ὥστε διασκεδάσαι = לְהַפְרְכֶם); Lev. 26:44 (ὥστε ἐξαναλῶσαι αὐτοὺς = לְכַלֹּתָם); Num. 5:8 (ὥστε ἀποδοῦναι = לְהָשִׁיב); Num. 7:1 (ὥστε ἀναστῆσαι = לְהָקִים)‎; Num. 8:11 (ὥστε ἐργάζεσθαι = לַעֲבֹד); Deut. 4:35 (ὥστε εἰδῆσαι = לָדַעַת)‎; Deut. 5:15 (ὥστε φυλάσσεσθαι = לַעֲשׂוֹת)‎; Deut. 5:29 (ὥστε φοβεῖσθαί = לְיִרְאָה); Deut. 12:20 (ὥστε φαγεῖν = לֶאֱכֹל); Deut. 28:55 (ὥστε δοῦναι = מִתֵּת); Josh. 8:3 (ὥστε ἀναβῆναι = לַעֲלוֹת); Josh. 10:14 (ὥστε ἐπακοῦσαι = לִשְׁמֹעַ); Josh. 22:23 (ὥστε ἀποστῆναι = לָשׁוּב); Josh. 22:23 (ὥστε ἀναβιβάσαι = לְהַעֲלוֹת); Josh. 22:23 (ὥστε ποιῆσαι = לַעֲשׂוֹת); Josh. 22:29 (ὥστε οἰκοδομῆσαι = לִבְנוֹת)‎; Josh. 24:16 (ὥστε λατρεύειν = לַעֲבֹד); Judg. 3:1 (ὥστε πειράσαι = לְנַסּוֹת); Judg. 3:4 (ὥστε πειράσαι = לְנַסּוֹת); Judg. 7:2 (ὥστε μὴ παραδοῦναι με = מִתִּתִּי); Judg. 9:24 (ὥστε ἀποκτεῖναι = לַהֲרֹג); Judg. 16:5 (ὥστε ταπεινῶσαι αὐτόν = לְעַנֹּתוֹ); Ruth 4:5 (ὥστε ἀναστῆσαι = לְהָקִים)‎; 1 Kgdms. 10:9 (ὥστε ἐπιστραφῆναι = כְּהַפְנֹתוֹ [Heb. 1 Sam. 10:9])‎; 2 Kgdms. 13:2 (ὥστε ἀρρωστεῖν = לְהִתְחַלּוֹת [Heb. 2 Sam. 13:2])‎; 2 Kgdms. 14:7 (ὥστε μὴ θέσθαι = לְבִלְתִּי שִׂום [Heb. 2 Sam. 14:7])‎; 2 Chr. 6:6 (ὥστε εἶναι = לִהְיוֹת); Ps. 36:8 (ὥστε πονηρεύεσθαι = לְהָרֵעַ); Prov. 30:14 (ὥστε ἀναλίσκειν καὶ κατεσθίειν = לֶאֱכֹל); Isa. 10:2 (ὥστε εἶναι = לִהְיוֹת)‎; Isa. 16:12 (ὥστε προσεύξασθαι = לְהִתְפַּלֵּל); Isa. 33:19 (ὥστε μὴ ἀκοῦσαι = מִשְּׁמוֹעַ); Jer. 32:28 (ὥστε πιεῖν = לִשְׁתּוֹת); Dan. 1:4 (ὥστε εἶναι = לַעֲמֹד).
  • [45] The following table shows all the instances of ὥστε + infinitive in the Gospel of Matthew and their Markan and Lukan parallels (if any):

    Matt. 8:24 TT = Mark 4:37 (cf. Luke 8:23)
    Matt. 8:28 TT (cf. Mark 5:4; Luke 8:[–])
    Matt. 10:1 TT (cf. Mark 6:7; Luke 9:1)
    Matt. 12:22 TT (cf. Mark 9:33; Luke 11:14)
    Matt. 13:2 TT = Mark 4:1 (cf. Luke 8:4)
    Matt. 13:32 TT = Mark 4:32 (cf. Luke 13:19)
    Matt. 13:54 TT (cf. Mark 6:2; Luke 4:22)
    Matt. 15:31 Mk-Mt (cf. Mark 7:37)
    Matt. 24:24 TT (cf. Mark 13:22; Luke 21:[–])
    Matt. 27:1 TT (cf. Mark 15:1; Luke 22:66)
    Matt. 27:14 TT = Mark 15:5 (cf. Luke23:[–])

    TT = verse has parallels in all three Synoptic Gospels; Mk-Mt = Markan-Matthean pericope

    From the above presentation we see that the author of Matthew sometimes copied ὥστε + infinitive from Mark but more frequently either added ὥστε + infinitive on his own initiative or on the basis of Anth. It is significant that Matthew’s use of ὥστε + infinitive never finds support in the Gospel of Luke.

  • [46] Partially quoted in Sending the Twelve: “The Harvest Is Plentiful” and “A Flock Among Wolves”, Comment to L46.
  • [47] The verb ἐκβάλλειν occurs 96xx in LXX, 78 of those instances occurring in books from MT. Of the 78 instances of ἐκβάλλειν where we have an underlying Hebrew verb, that verb is from the root ג-ר-ש‎ 36xx: pi‘el 29xx (Gen. 3:24; 4:14; 21:10; Exod. 2:17; 6:1; 10:11; 11:1; 23:28, 29, 30, 31; 33:2; Num. 22:6, 11; Deut. 33:27; Josh. 24:12, 18; Judg. 6:9; 9:41; 11:2, 7; 1 Kgdms. 26:19; 3 Kgdms. 2:27; 1 Chr. 17:21; 2 Chr. 20:11; Ps. 77[78]:55; 79[80]:9; Prov. 22:10; Hos. 9:15); pa‘al (qal) 6xx (Exod. 34:11; Lev. 21:7, 14; 22:13; Num. 30:10; Ezek. 44:22); pu‘al 1x (Exod. 12:39).
  • [48] Here י-צ-א appears in the pa‘al stem because the spirit expresses its own intention to go out, whereas in exorcism contexts spirits are forced to go out, which is expressed with the hif‘il stem.
  • [49] See Bovon, 1:344 n. 13.
  • [50] The Hebrew language delights in using doublets when in other languages, including Greek, a single word would suffice. In the specific case of “sickness” we frequently find חֳלִי (oli, “sickness”) paired with a synonym such as מַדְוֶה (madveh, “disease”; Deut. 7:15), מַכָּה (makāh, “injury”; Deut. 28:59, 61; Jer. 6:7), מַכְאוֹב (mach’ōv, “pain”; Isa. 53:3, 4), מָזוֹר (māzōr, “wound”; Hos. 5:13), or קֶצֶף (qetzef, “anger”; Eccl. 5:16).
  • [51] In LXX θεραπεύειν translates a Hebrew word in 2 Kgdms. 19:25 (עָשָׂה); Esth. 2:19 (יָשַׁב);‎ 6:10 (יָשַׁבחִלָּה);‎ 29:6 (בִּקֵּשׁ); Isa. 54:17 (עֶבֶד).
  • [52] The most common verb for “heal” in LXX is ἰᾶσθαι (iasthai) which usually translates the root ר-פ-א.
  • [53] For examples of רִפֵּא in the Mishnah, see m. Ket. 4:9 (2xx); m. Ned. 4:4; m. Bab. Kam. 8:1 (3xx). The only pa‘al example occurs in m. Sanh. 10:1 in a biblical quotation. There are, indeed, several examples in the Mishnah of the pa‘al participle רוֹפֵא, but these are used as a substantive meaning “physician.”
  • [54] On the Jewish perception in the Second Temple period that the exile had yet to be ended, see Michael A. Knibb, “The Exile in the Literature of the Intertestamental Period,” Heythrop Journal 17.3 (1976): 253-272.
  • [55] In the Second Temple period Jews traced their ancestry to the tribes of Judah, Benjamin or Levi. See Choosing the Twelve, Comment to L10-11.
  • [56] Note that the two instances of ἀναδεικνύειν (anadeiknūein, “to appoint”) in NT occur in Luke-Acts (Luke 10:1; Acts 1:24). In LXX ἀναδεικνύειν occurs 18xx (1 Esd. 1:32, 35, 41, 44; 2:2; 8:23; 2 Macc. 2:8; 9:14, 23, 25; 10:11; 14:12, 26; 3 Macc. 2:14; 6:8; Hab. 3:2; Dan. 1:11, 20). All but three of these instances are in books composed in Greek, and only one instance of ἀναδεικνύειν corresponds to a word in the underlying Hebrew text (Dan. 1:11). As a general rule, compound verbs like ἀναδεικνύειν are indicative of less Hebraic, more sophisticated Greek. Probably ἀναδεικνύειν in Luke 10:1 comes not from a source, but from Luke’s own pen.
  • [57] The number seventy-two is quite rare in LXX. Seventy-two cattle are to be set aside as the LORD’s tribute in Num. 31:38, and in 1 Esd. 8:63 seventy-two lambs are mentioned as an offering. Seventy appears more frequently and as a more significant number in LXX: Israel had seventy elders (Exod. 24:1, 9; Num. 11:16, 24-25); seventy souls went down to Egypt (Deut. 10:22); Gideon had seventy sons (Judg. 8:30; 9:18, 24, 56), as did Ahab (4 Kgdms. 10:1, 6-7); a normal lifespan was considered to be seventy years (Ps. 89[90]:10); and there were seventy years during which the Temple lay in ruins (2 Chr. 36:21; 1 Esd. 1:55; Jer. 36:10; Dan. 9:2). As Aland argued (Metzger, 151), given the prominence of the number seventy in the biblical tradition, it is easy to understand why seventy-two in Luke 10:1 might have been changed to seventy by later scribes (see also Marshall, 414-415; Nolland, Luke, 2:546; Safrai and Tomson, “Paul’s ‘Collection for the Saints,’” 182 n. 163). Nevertheless, the instances where the number seventy becomes seventy-two and vice versa in various traditions are striking. For example, the seventy names in the table of nations in Gen. 10 in MT expands to seventy-two names in LXX. According to MT, Adonibezek subjugated seventy kings (Judg. 1:7), but Josephus (Ant. 5:123) and some LXX manuscripts have seventy-two. According to Let. Aris. §50 and Jos., Ant. 12:39 there were seventy-two translators of the Septuagint, but in Ant. 12:57 and Justin Martyr, Hortatory Address to the Greeks chpt. 13, the number is seventy. What was it about the numbers seventy and seventy-two that caused the ancients so much confusion?
  • [58] The tradition that there were seventy-two translators of the Septuagint explicitly links this number to the tribes of Israel (Let. Aris. §47-50; Jos., Ant. 12:39).
  • [59] We find ἄρχειν + infinitive in Mark 1:45; 2:23; 4:1; 5:17, 20; 6:2, 7, 34, 55; 8:11, 31, 32; 10:28, 32, 41, 47; 11:15; 12:1; 13:5; 14:19, 33, 65, 69, 71; 15:8, 18. All of these appear in Triple Tradition pericopae with the exception of Mark 6:55 (cf. Matt. 14:35) and Mark 15:18 (cf. Matt. 27:29). On the use of ἄρχειν + infinitive in Mark, see C. H. Turner, “Marcan Usage: Notes, Critical and Exegetical, on the Second Gospel VIII Auxiliary and Quasi-auxiliary Verbs,” Journal of Theological Studies 28 (1927): 349-362, esp. 352-353; Taylor, 48, 63-64; Joshua N. Tilton and David N. Bivin, “LOY Excursus: Catalog of Markan Stereotypes and Possible Markan Pick-ups,” under the entry for Mark 1:45. On the use of ἄρχειν + infinitive in the Synoptic Gospels generally, see Randall Buth and Brian Kvasnica, “Critical Notes on the VTS” (JS1, 259-317, esp. 261-268).
  • [60] The two instances of Lukan-Markan agreement to use ἄρχειν + infinitive are in Mark 11:15 = Luke 19:45; Mark 12:1 = Luke 20:9.
  • [61] The six instances of Markan-Matthean agreement to use ἄρχειν + infinitive are in Mark 2:23 = Matt. 12:1; Mark 8:31 = Matt. 16:21; Mark 8:32 = Matt. 16:22; Mark 14:19 = Matt. 26:22; Mark 14:33 = Matt. 26:37; Mark 14:71 = Matt. 26:74.
  • [62] Of the four instances in Matthew of ἄρχειν + infinitive that do not have the support of Mark or Luke, one appears in a TT context (Matt. 4:17), one appears in a DT context (Matt. 11:20), one appears in a Mark-Matt. context (Matt. 14:30), and one appears in a unique Matthean pericope (Matt. 18:24).
  • [63] See Buth and Kvasnica, “Critical Notes on the VTS” (JS1, 265).
  • [64] We find ἄρχειν + infinitive in Luke 3:8; 4:21; 5:21; 7:15, 24, 38, 49; 9:12; 11:29, 53; 12:1, 45; 13:25, 26; 14:9, 18, 29, 30; 15:14, 24; 19:37, 45; 20:9; 21:28; 23:2, 30.
  • [65] Luke used ἄρχειν + infinitive in TT contexts without the agreement of Mark or Matthew in Luke 4:21; 5:21; 7:38, 49; 9:12; 11:29; 12:1; 13:25, 26; 19:37; 21:28; 23:2, 30. Luke used ἄρχειν + infinitive in DT without Matthew’s agreement in Luke 3:8; 11:53; 14:18. Luke used ἄρχειν + infinitive in unique Lukan pericopae in Luke 7:15; 14:9, 29, 30; 15:14, 24.
  • [66] The six instances of ἄρχειν + infinitive in Acts are: Acts 1:1; 2:4; 11:15; 18:26; 24:2; 27:35.
  • [67] The Lukan-Matthean agreements against Mark’s use of ἄρχειν + infinitive are Luke 8:37 = Matt. 8:34 against Mark 5:17; Luke 9:2 = Matt. 10:5 against Mark 6:7; Luke 18:28 = Matt. 19:27 against Mark 10:28; Luke 18:31 = Matt. 20:17 against Mark 10:32; Luke 18:37-38 = Matt. 20:30 against Mark 10:47; Luke 21:8 = Matt. 24:4 against Mark 13:5; Luke 22:58 = Matt. 26:71 against Mark 14:69.
  • [68] See Buth and Kvasnica, “Critical Notes on the VTS” (JS1, 264). Examples of ἄρχειν + infinitive in the writings of Philo and Josephus are numerous. In the writings of Philo we find ἤρξατο ποιεῖν (Leg. 1:18); ἤρξατο μετρεῖν (Cher. 31); ἤρξατο εἶναι (Gig. 66); ἤρξατο διαιρεῖν (Her. 134); ἤρξατο κατασκήπτειν (Mos. 1:176); ἤρξατο προφητεύειν (Mos. 2:69); ἤρξατο προσφέρειν (Decal. 13); ἤρξατο φέρεσθαι (Spec. 2:142; 4:85); ἤρξατο μεταβάλλειν (Virt. 76); ἤρξατο διοίγνυσθαι (Praem. 37); ἤρξατο κονίεσθαι (Flacc. 104); ἤρξατο λωφᾶν (Legat. 18); ἤρξατο πρυτανεύειν (Legat. 48). In the writings of Josephus we find ἤρξατο σωφρονίζειν (J.W. 2:493); ἤρξατο λέγειν (J.W. 6:327; Ant. 7:289; 8:3, 276, 295; 11:38, 43, 55, 300); ἤρξατο ὑποβαίνειν (Ant. 1:90); ἤρξατο κατηγορεῖν (Ant. 1:314); ἤρξατο προσκυνεῖν (Ant. 7:95); ἤρξατο πυνθάνεσθαι (Ant. 7:268; 11:160); ἤρξατο οἰκοδομεῖσθαι (Ant. 8:62); ἤρξατο θρησκεύειν (Ant. 8:192); ἤρξατο εὔχεσθαι (Ant. 8:342); ἤρξατο τιμᾶν (Ant. 9:256); ἤρξατο δεῖσθαι (Ant. 11:265); ἤρξατο ποιεῖσθαι (Ant. 12:110); ἤρξατο διαφθείρειν (Ant. 13:120); ἤρξατο νοσεῖν (Ant. 18:25); ἤρξατο πολιορκεῖν (Ag. Ap. 1:159).
  • [69] The omission of αὐτοὺς in Vaticanus’ text of Luke 10:1 is probably a copyist’s error. N-A consider αὐτοὺς to be so secure that it is not even put in brackets.
  • [70] Jesus sent two disciples to procure a donkey in advance of his entry to Jerusalem (Matt. 21:1; Mark 11:1; Luke 19:29), and two disciples to make preparations for eating the Passover lamb (Mark 14:13; Luke 22:8; cf. Matt. 26:19). See Preparations for Eating Passover Lamb, Comment to L11.
  • [71] See Flusser, Jesus, 48. John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to question Jesus (Luke 7:18; cf. Matt. 11:2). See Yohanan the Immerser’s Question, Comment to L9. For examples of rabbinic sages sending out disciples in pairs, cf. m. Sot. 1:3; m. Mak. 2:5.
  • [72] According to Plummer (Luke, 272), “The reading ἀνὰ δύο δύο (B K) seems to be a combination of ἀνὰ δύο and δύο δύο.”
  • [73] Note, however, that Milligan cited a third-century C.E. papyrus (P. Oxy. 886) with the construction κατά δύο δύο as evidence that Luke’s ἀνὰ δύο δύο (“two by two”) is not necessarily a Hebraism. See George Milligan, Selections from the Greek Papyri (2d ed.; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1912), 111. Cf. Moulton-Howard, 439; Moule, 182.
  • [74] On the repetition of a number in Hebrew to express distribution (e.g., “two by two” or “two at a time”), see Segal, 197. Cf. שָׁלוֹשׁ שָׁלּוֹשׁ (“three each”) in m. Rosh Hash. 4:6; אַרְבַּע אַרְבַּע (“four by four”), [חָמֵשׁ [חמשׁ‎ (“five by five”), שֵׁשׁ שֵׁשׁ (“six by six”) and שֶׁבַע שֶׁבַע (“seven by seven”) in m. Kil. 5:5; שְׁמוֹנֶה שְׁמוֹנֶה (“eight by eight”) in m. Kil. 4:9; תשע תשע (“nine each”) in y. Taan. 4:5 [24b]; עֶשֶׂר עֶשֶׂר (“ten at a time”) 2xx in m. Men. 6:5.
  • [75] We find πρὀ προσώπου σου in Matt. 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:27, evidently a hybrid quotation of Exod. 23:20 and Mal. 3:1.
  • [76] For a critique of the view that Luke attempted to imitate LXX style, see Raymond A. Martin, Studies in the Life and Ministry of the Historical Jesus (New York: University Press of America, 1995), 3-5.
  • [77] We find that πρὸ προσώπου + personal pronoun also occurs 5xx in books for which we have no Hebrew text, but which may have been composed in Hebrew (Jdt. 3:3; 10:13; 1 Macc. 3:22; 5:7, 43). In 3 Kgdms. 12:10 and Jer. 30:27 (= 49:32 MT), there is no underlying Hebrew for πρὸ προσώπου + personal pronoun in MT. In these cases LXX may reflect a different recension of the Hebrew text.
  • [78] Cf., e.g., Exod. 23:20; 32:34; 33:2; Num. 27:17 (2xx); Deut. 1:21, 30; 2:31, 33; 9:3; 22:6; 23:15; 28:7; 30:1, 15, 19; 31:3 (2xx); 3 Kgdms. 12:8; 2 Chr. 19:11; Ps. 56[57]:7; Eccl. 2:26; 9:1; Mic. 2:13 (2xx); 6:4; Joel 2:3, 10; Hab. 3:5; Zech. 3:4, 8; Mal. 3:1; Isa. 62:11; Jer. 9:12; 15:1, 19; 21:8; Ezek. 4:1; 8:11; 14:1; 16:18, 19; 20:1; 22:30; 23:24; 23:41; 36:17; 44:15.
  • [79] Cf., e.g., Exod. 34:11, 24; Lev. 18:24; Num. 33:52; Deut. 2:21; 4:38; 6:19; 8:20; 9:4; Job 23:17.
  • [80] In LXX πρὸ προσώπου + personal pronoun translates עַל פְּנֵי + pronominal suffix in Exod. 34:6 and Deut. 5:7.
  • [81] Examples of עִיר וָעִיר with the meaning “every city” appear in Esth. 8:11, 17; 9:28; Ezra 10:14; 2 Chr. 11:12; 28:25; 31:19; Sir. 10:3; 11QTa [11Q19] XLVIII, 14; t. Shek. 3:16; t. Sanh. 3:5[10].
  • [82] We find כְּפָרִים וַעֲיָירוֹת (“villages and cities”) 4xx in the Mishnah (m. Meg. 1:1 [4xx]), but always in that order, which is opposite of Luke’s order, and always in the plural, also unlike Luke 10:1. Cf. 1 Chr. 27:25, where we read וְעַל הָאֹצָרוֹת בַּשָּׂדֶה בֶּעָרִים וּבַכְּפָרִים וּבַמִּגְדָּלוֹת יְהוֹנָתָן בֶּן־עֻזִּיָּהוּ (“and over the treasuries in the field, in the cities, and in the villages and in the towers: Yehonatan ben Uziyahu”). Here, too, the plural number and word order is different from Luke 10:1.
  • [83] The construction עָתִיד + infinitive is well attested in the Mishnah (see Segal, 167), but in narrative contexts such as in L33 we expect a more biblical style of Hebrew and, more importantly, the phrase עָתִיד לָבוֹא (‘ātid lāvō’) invariably means “future to come,” not “about to enter.”
  • [84] In printed editions of the Mishnah and in the Cambridge MS we find פָּרָה הָעוֹמֶדֶת לֵילֵד (“a cow that is about to give birth”) in m. Bab. Kam. 9:1. However, the Kaufmann and Parma MSS have פָּרָה [[מ]]עוּבֶּרֶת לֵילֵד (“a cow that is big from pregnancy”). There are also variant readings in t. Bab. Kam. 6:9[20] between עתיד לחתכה and עומד לחתכה (both phrases meaning “about to chop off”). In this case, too, the former reading is to be preferred since it stands in parallel with עתיד לקצוץ (“about to cut down”) in the same passage. The variant readings do not prove that the construction עָמַד + infinitive was current in the period of the Mishnah or Tosefta. They only establish that the construction was current in the time of the copyists who were responsible for the variant readings.
  • [85] Note, too, that in all instances of the construction עָמַד + infinitive that we have identified, the root ע-מ-ד always appears as a participle in sentences where the point of view is the present tense, whether in statements of fact (“you are destined to stumble”) or in descriptions of hypothetical scenarios (“grain that is about to be harvested”), which is quite different from narration of past events as in L33.
  • [86] On editorial features characteristic of the Gospel of Mark, see David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: Mark’s Editorial Style.”
  • [87] See Beare, 125; idem, “The Mission of the Disciples,” 12-13.
  • [88] Brown suggested that the author of Matthew made the Twelve “into a transparency for the members of Matthew’s own community,” and therefore omitted any details about the apostles’ mission that were not applicable to the conditions his readers faced. This included omitting the report of the apostles’ return, because for Matthew’s community the mission was still ongoing. See Schuyler Brown, “The Mission to Israel in Matthew’s Central Section,” Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 69.1 (1978): 73-90, esp. 74-75, 79.
  • [89] Click here to see an overview of the entire “Mission of the Twelve” complex.

Demands of Discipleship

Matt. 10:37-38; 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; 14:25-27, 33
(Huck 62, 171; Aland 103, 217; Crook 118, 260-261)[1]

Revised: 28-December-2017

הַבָּא אֵלַי וְאֵינוֹ שׂוֹנֵא אֶת אָבִיו וְאֶת אִמּוֹ וְאֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ וְאֶת יְלָדָיו וְאֶת אֶחָיו וְאֶת אַחְיוֹתָיו וְאַף אֶת נַפְשׁוֹ אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִהְיוֹת תַּלְמִידִי מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ נוֹשֵׂא אֶת צְלוּבוֹ וְהוֹלֵךְ אַחֲרַי אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִהְיוֹת תַּלְמִידִי מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַנִּיחַ כָּל מַה שֶׁיֵשׁ לוֹ אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִהְיוֹת תַּלְמִידִי

“Anyone who wants to join me but puts family ties or love of self ahead of me cannot possibly be my full-time disciple. Anyone who is not prepared to die cannot possibly be my full-time disciple. Anyone who does not renounce his possessions cannot possibly be my full-time disciple.”[2]










To view the reconstructed text of Demands of Discipleship click on the link below:

Download (PDF, 106KB)

 Story Placement

The Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident contains very little of the instruction Jesus gave in similar situations. Lindsey theorized that the Hebrew source from which the Synoptic Gospels are descended contained narrative-sayings complexes that were broken apart in the process of transmission from the Greek Translation of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua to the authors of Matthew, Mark and Luke.[3] According to Lindsey’s view, a Greek editor detached teaching sections from the description of the events that occasioned them.[4] The content of the Demands of Discipleship discourse fits one of the central themes raised in the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident: the rigorous demands of discipleship.[5]

We believe there is linguistic and literary evidence to support Lindsey’s suggestion that the Demands of Discipleship discourse and the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident originally belonged to the same narrative-sayings complex, a complex we have entitled “Cost of Entering the Kingdom of Heaven.”[6] For example, Jesus’ statement that a disciple must be willing to “say farewell to all his possessions” (L17-18; Luke 14:33) directly corresponds to the rich man’s unwillingness to part with all his possessions in order to become a disciple, as well as Peter’s exclamation, “We have left everything and followed you” (Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, L96-98; Matt 19:27; Mark 10:28; cf. Luke 18:28). In addition, Jesus’ statement that a disciple must “hate” his father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters (Demands of Discipleship, L5-8; Luke 14:26; cf. Matt. 10:37) seems to be an amplification of Jesus’ response in the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, L112-118 (Matt. 19:29; Mark 10:29; Luke 18:29) about “leaving house” (i.e., family) for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven (i.e., in order to join Jesus’ band of disciples). Other key phrases in this pericope that fit the context of the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident include “comes to me” (L4; Luke 14:26), “comes after me” (L13; Luke 14:27) and “be my disciple” (L14; Luke 14:27). These phrases are similar to, and probably synonymous with, καὶ δεῦρο ἀκολούθει μοι (“and come, follow me”; Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, L50; Matt. 19:21; Mark 10:21; Luke 18:22). The points of contact between the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident and the Demands of Discipleship discourse strongly suggest that at a pre-synoptic stage these pericopae belonged to the same literary context.



Click here to view the Map of the Conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua.


Conjectured Stages of Transmission

LOY 48-Five AttestationsThere are five canonical attestations to parts of the Demands of Discipleship discourse that appear to reflect two pre-synoptic versions of Jesus’ cross-bearing saying.[7] The best preserved version of Jesus’ sayings are found in Luke 14:26-27, 33. The version in Matt. 10:37-38 is very similar to Luke 14:26-27 and probably stems from the same source (Anth.). Another version of Jesus’ cross-bearing saying, which stems from a different source, appears in Luke 9:23. This version of Jesus’ cross-bearing saying has a more refined Greek style and therefore probably stems from FR.[8] The Luke 9:23 version of Jesus’ cross-bearing saying was subsequently copied by the author of Mark (Mark 8:34), and Mark’s form of the saying was then copied by Matthew (Matt. 16:24).[9]

(Anthology) (First Reconstruction)
Luke 14:26-27, 33 Matt. 10:37-38 Luke 9:23 Mark 8:34 Matt. 16:24
L1 Εἴ τις ἔρχεται πρός με Εἴ τις θέλει ὀπίσω μου ἔρχεσθαι, Εἴ τις θέλει ὀπίσω μου ἐλθεῖν, Εἴ τις θέλει ὀπίσω μου ἐλθεῖν,
L2 καὶ οὐ μεισεῖ τὸν πατέρα ἑαυτοῦ καὶ τὴν μητέρα ὁ φιλῶν πατέρα μητέρα ὑπὲρ ἐμὲ
L3 οὐκ ἔστιν μου ἄξιος
L4 καὶ τὴν γυναῖκα καὶ τὰ τέκνα καὶ τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς καὶ τὰς ἀδελφάς, καὶ ὁ φιλῶν υἱὸν ἢ θυγατέρα ὑπὲρ ἐμὲ
L5 ἔτι τε καὶ τὴν ψυχὴν ἑαυτοῦ, ἀπαρνησάσθω ἑαυτὸν ἀπαρνησάσθω ἑαυτὸν ἀπαρνησάσθω ἑαυτὸν
L6 Οὐ δύναται εἶναί μου μαθητής. οὐκ ἔστιν μου ἄξιος.
L7 ὅστις οὖν βαστάζει τὸν σταυρὸν αυτοῦ καὶ ὃς οὐ λαμβάνει τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀράτω τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀράτω τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀράτω τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ
L8 καθ’ ἡμέραν,
L9 καὶ ἔρχεται ὀπίσω μου, καὶ ἀκολουθεῖ ὀπίσω μου, καὶ ἀκολουθείτω μοι. καὶ ἀκολουθείτω μοι. καὶ ἀκολουθείτω μοι.
L10 οὐ δύναται εἶναί μου μαθητής. οὐκ ἔστιν μου ἄξιος.
L11 οὕτως οὖν πᾶς ἐξ ὑμῶν ὃς οὐκ ἀποτάσσεται πᾶσιν τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ ὑπάρχουσιν οὐ δύναται εἶναί μου μαθητής.
  • Pink = Lukan-Matthean agreement in columns 1 and 2.
  • Red = Agreement in all five columns.
  • Blue = Agreement in Luke’s Anth. and FR versions.
  • Green = Agreement in columns 3-5.
  • Cranberry = Agreement between Luke’s Anth. version (column 1) and all three FR versions (columns 3-5).
  • Purple = Agreement between Matthew’s Anth. version (column 2) and all three FR versions (columns 3-5).
  • Light Blue = Agreement between the Markan and Matthean FR versions (columns 4 and 5).

The version of Jesus’ cross-bearing saying in Matt. 10:37-38 and the versions derived from FR (Luke 9:23; Mark 8:34; Matt. 16:24) are, from a linguistic and literary point of view, inferior to the version in Luke 14:26-27.[10] While this is to be expected in the case of the versions derived from FR, it is surprising in the case of Matt. 10:37-38, which, like the version in Luke 14:26-27, was derived from Anth. The reason for the inferiority of the Matt. 10:37-38 version seems to be that Matthew reworked the verses from Anth. in order to fit them into the new context of Matt. 10, where Jesus gives instructions to the Twelve as he prepares them for their preaching and healing mission and predicts persecutions and hardships they will suffer.[11]

To further complicate matters, it appears that Luke inserted the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes (Luke 14:28-32) between the second and third demands of discipleship. The two similes are very different in terms of style and vocabulary from the verses surrounding them (Luke 14:26-27, 33).[12] The similes also interrupt the three-part parallelism of Jesus’ demands for discipleship. Moreover, the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes do not really illustrate the demands of discipleship Jesus describes in Luke 14:26-27, 33. The Tower Builder and King Going to War similes describe a situation in which someone begins a task, but finds himself unable to complete it because he lacks the necessary resources. Within the conjectured context of the “Cost of Entering the Kingdom of Heaven” complex, having sufficient resources is not the problem. The rich man who declined Jesus’ invitation to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (i.e., to become a full-time disciple)[13] had extensive resources—resources with which he was unwilling to part. The rich man was not like the farmer who had insufficient funds to complete his building project after the foundation was laid, or like the king who lacked enough men to match his enemy in battle.[14] The rich man’s decision—whether it is worth it to give up beloved activities, relationships and belongings in order to become Jesus’ disciple—is better illustrated by the Hidden Treasure and Priceless Pearl parables in which a person exchanges everything he has in order to obtain something of infinitely greater value.

With the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes removed, Luke 14:26-27 and Luke 14:33 fit together smoothly and logically.[15] The three demands of discipleship Jesus describes in this pericope share the same form and they relate to key issues raised in the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident and reiterated in the Hidden Treasure and Priceless Pearl parables.

Crucial Issues

  1. What is the meaning of “hate” in Jesus’ saying?
  2. What is the meaning of “to carry one’s cross”?
  3. Were all disciples required to give up their possessions in order to follow Jesus?


L1-3 συνεπορεύοντο δὲ αὐτῷ ὄχλοι πολλοί καὶ στραφεὶς εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς (Luke 14:25). This verse has been omitted from GR because it does not appear to reflect a Hebrew Ur-text. We believe that the author of Luke composed this verse in Gk. to provide a setting for Jesus’ teaching in Luke 14:26-33.

L4 הַבָּא אֵלַי (HR). In LXX the verb ἔρχεσθαι (erchesthai, “to come”) was used to translate a variety of Hebrew verbs, but none so often as בָּא (bā’, “come”).[16] In addition, we find that while בָּא was translated with a number of different Greek verbs, ἔρχεσθαι was by far the most common.[17] Our reconstruction, therefore, rests on solid ground.

According to Lieberman, the verb בָּא can be used in rabbinic literature as a shortened technical term for someone coming to adopt new principles.[18] One of the examples Lieberman cites is the following passage from the Jerusalem Talmud:

תני כל הבא צריך לקבל עליו שכבר קיבל עליו משעה שישב

It was taught [in a baraita]: Whoever comes [to become a haver] must take upon himself [the obligations of haverut] since he has already [taken them upon himself] from the moment that he sat [i.e., became a haver]. (y. Dem. 2:3 [9b])

Might Luke 14:26 be an early attestation of this rabbinic usage?[19] We would then understand Jesus’ statement to mean, “If someone comes to me in order to study my halachah (i.e., my interpretation of the Torah)….”

L5 שׂוֹנֵא (HR). The verb μισεῖν is the most common translation of שָׂנֵא (sānē’, “hate”) in LXX. In the present context, Jesus did not employ “hate” in its absolute sense. Rather, he meant to teach his disciples that whoever did not love him more than his own family, or even his own life, could not be his disciple.[20] Observe the way Matthew paraphrases Jesus’ saying: “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.”[21] In Heb. “hate” can mean “love less” or “put in second place.” For example, Gen. 29:31 states that Leah was “hated,” but the context indicates that Leah was not unloved, but rather loved less than Jacob’s other wife, Rachel. Notice that the preceding verse specifically says that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah.

A second illustration of this Hebraic use of the word “hate” is found in Deut. 21:15: “If a man has two wives, one loved and the other hated….” Here, too, the context shows that the “hated” wife is only second in affection, and not literally hated.[22]

Another Hebraic use of the word “hate” is “leave, give up, put aside, distance oneself from, renounce.”[23] S. Safrai suggested that “hate” is used in this sense in Luke 14:26 (personal communication to David Bivin). Safrai gave two examples of this usage in rabbinic literature: “Love labor and hate mastery” (m. Avot 1:10) and “Love the ‘What if?’ and hate the ‘What of it?’” (Derech Eretz Zuta 1:11 [ed. Higger, 63]).[24]

“Hate” in the sense of “forsake” can mean “give up something one loves.” The thing a person forfeits—for example, the protective environment of home—is often more comfortable or convenient than the thing to which that person chooses to adhere; however, he or she chooses the latter in the realization that it is much more important, real or moral than the thing that is forfeited. Used in this way, “hate” does not describe a feeling, but an action. The person acts as though he or she hates the thing that is given up, even though the person’s feelings might be quite different. By leaving the thing one loves, one “hates” that which he or she has forsaken.

If, in Luke 14:26, Jesus uses “hate” in the sense of “forsake,” as Safrai suggests, it is one more reason to connect Luke 14:25-27, 33 and the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident. In this incident, Jesus says to his disciple Peter, “There is no one who has left house…” (Luke 18:29), while in the Luke 14 passage he tells his disciples to hate “father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters [i.e., family].” Since in Heb. “house” can mean “family,” and “hate” may sometimes be a synonym for “leave,” both passages could be dealing with the same theme.

τὸν πατέρα ἑαυτοῦ (Luke 14:26). The extreme demands Jesus made of prospective disciples must be seen in the context of first-cent. Jewish society. In that society, the disciple was his teacher’s full-time apprentice or attendant, and the disciple’s total allegiance to his teacher was expected.[25] A special relationship developed between teacher and disciple in which the teacher became like a father.[26] In fact, the teacher was more than a father, and was to be honored above the disciple’s own father, as the following passage from the Mishnah indicates:

When one is searching for the lost property both of his father and of his teacher, his teacher’s loss takes precedence over that of his father since his father brought him only into the life of this world, whereas his teacher, who taught him wisdom [i.e., Torah], has brought him into the life of the world to come.[27] But if his father is no less a scholar than his teacher, then his father’s loss takes precedence….

If his father and his teacher are in captivity, he must first ransom his teacher, and only afterwards his father—unless his father is himself a scholar, and then he must first ransom his father. (m. Bab. Metz. 2:11)

If it seems shocking that someone would ransom his teacher before his own father, it is only because we do not understand the tremendous love and respect that Jewish disciples, and the community at large, had for their teachers. Consider the words of the man who said to Jesus, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say good-bye to my family” (Luke 9:61). Jesus’ reply shows that only those who were prepared to totally commit themselves to him would be accepted: “No one who puts his hand to the plow and then looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God.”[28] The same prioritization of discipleship over family ties is emphasized in Jesus’ response to another man who offered to follow him, but only after burying his father. “Let the dead bury their dead,” Jesus told him (Luke 9:60; Matt. 8:22).Pursuing the life of a disciple was not always welcomed by the disciple’s family. According to rabbinic tradition, Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus went to study under Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai in Jerusalem against his father’s wishes. Rabbi Eliezer’s father even threatened to prohibit his son from the benefit of any of his possessions (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, chpt. 6 [ed. Schechter, 31]). In the case of Rabbi Eliezer, his master, Rabban Yohanan, brought about a happy ending by reconciling Hyrcanus to his son’s decision, but the story illustrates the potential dilemma envisioned in Jesus’ saying and highlights the connection between “hating” one’s father (L5) and renouncing one’s possessions (L17-18).

The Jewish sages expected their disciples to emulate the behavior of the Levites that Moses commended:

He [Levi] said of his father and mother, ‘I have no regard for them.’ He did not recognize his brothers or acknowledge his own children, but he watched over your word and guarded your covenant. (Deut. 33:9; NIV)

L6 καὶ τὴν γυναῖκα (Luke 14:26). In first-cent. Jewish society, marriage took place at a relatively early age (usually by age 18, according to m. Avot 5:21). This cultural norm posed a difficulty for would-be disciples who had to be away from home for extended periods. A disciple had to choose between a long betrothal, a lengthy separation from his wife after marriage, or the postponement of marriage altogether.[29] There was no uniform solution to this problem. We know, for example, that Peter was married at the time he became Jesus’ disciple.[30] All three options were difficult for the disciple, and if he chose a prolonged betrothal or an extended absence from his wife, his time away was a hardship for his bride, as well. On the other hand, some women took great pride in their husband’s efforts. Such was the case with Rabbi Akiva’s wife, who consented to their betrothal only on condition that he go away to study Torah prior to the consummation of their marriage (b. Ket. 62b). But even for Rabbi Akiva’s wife, the long absence of her husband was a true hardship. For this reason, the sages ruled that, if he was married, a man needed his wife’s permission to leave home for longer than thirty days to study Torah (m. Ket. 5:6).

L7 καὶ τὰ τέκνα (Luke 14:26). Rabbinic literature reports cases of disciples who did not recognize their own children as a result of being away from their families for so long (cf. b. Ket. 62b). These stories often emphasize the pride returning fathers express toward their children upon the discovery of their identity. These tales may support our interpretation of “hate” in the sense of “forego,” as well as our contention that “hate” in Jesus’ saying does not exclude feelings of love and affection.

L9 ἔτι τε καὶ (Luke 14:26). Davies and Allison comment that, “With the exception of ἔτι δε [sic] καί this [version of the saying—DNB and JNT] contains nothing characteristically Lukan.[31] Mt 10.37 is probably a heavily redacted version of what appears in Luke” (Davies-Allison, 2:221).

וְאַף (HR). Although the phrase ἔτι τε καὶ does not occur in LXX, the nearly identical ἔτι δε καὶ does occur 5xx in a Hebrew context as the equivalent of אַף כִּי (Neh. 9:18); אַף (Ps. 15[16]:7, 9); וְגַם (Ps. 8:8); and גַּם (Ps. 70[71]:24). Since in dialogue we prefer a MH style, we have elected to reconstruct with וְאַף, which occurs 13xx in the Mishnah,[32] as opposed to וְגַם‎, which occurs 4xx in the Mishnah, all of which are biblical quotations.[33] For examples of וְאַף אֶת followed by a noun with a pronominal suffix, cf. Lev. 26:42 and 4Q397 6 XIII, 15.

τὴν ψυχὴν ἑαυτοῦ (Luke 14:26). The Greek noun ψυχή (psūchē), often translated “soul,” can mean either “self” or “life.”[34] Since “hate his soul” is parallel to “carry his cross” (i.e., “lay down his life”) in the next verse, we should probably interpret ψυχή here in the sense of “life.” Thus, Jesus warns that discipleship must be dearer to a disciple even than life itself.[35]

נַפְשׁוֹ (HR). In LXX the vast majority of instances of ψυχή are the translation of נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “soul”),[36] Among the many nuances of the Hebrew noun נֶפֶשׁ are “self” (Isa. 44:20: וְלֹא־יַצִּיל אֶת־נַפְשׁוֹ [“and he cannot save himself”; JPS]) and “life” (Gen. 19:17: הִמָּלֵט עַל־נַפְשֶׁךָ [“flee for your life”; JPS]; 1 Sam. 20:1: מְבַקֵּשׁ אֶת־נַפְשִׁי [“he seeks my life”; JPS]).[37] Luke’s use of ψυχή may be colored by the semantic range of נֶפֶשׁ.‎[38]

In the Mishnah there is an interpretation of Deut. 6:5 that illuminates Jesus’ demands of disciples:

וְאָהַבְתָּ אֶת יָיי אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְכָל לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁךָ וּבְכָל מְאוֹדֶיךָ בְּכָל לֶבָבְךָ בִּשְׁנֵי יְצָרֶיךָ בְּיֶצֶר טוֹב וּבְיֶצֶר רָע בְּכָל נַפְשְׁךָ אֲפִילֻּ הוּא נוֹּטֵל אֶת נַפְשֶׁךָ בְּכָל מְאוֹדֶיךָ בְּכָל מָמוֹנֶיךָ

And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. With all your heart—with your two inclinations, with the good inclination and the evil inclination. With all your soul—even if he [i.e., God—DNB and JNT] takes away your soul [i.e., life—DNB and JNT]. With all your strength—with all your wealth. (m. Ber. 9:5)

In this text, נֶפֶשׁ is equivalent to “life” (cf. y. Ber. 9:5 [67b]; b. Ber. 61b). This rabbinic tradition expresses the Jewish perception that, under the condition of foreign domination, loving God may entail risking one’s life.

Notice that the rabbinic interpretation of Deut. 6:5 includes both life and wealth among the possessions that a person must put at God’s disposal.[39] Perhaps Jesus was acquainted with an early form of this rabbinic tradition,[40] which would explain the logical flow from the renunciation of wealth in the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident to the (potential) renunciation of life in the Demands of Discipleship discourse. Jesus could make such demands of his disciples because joining his band of disciples meant participating with God in his mission to rescue Israel, humankind and the whole of creation. There could be no greater expression of love for God than joining God in his redemptive activity.

L10 οὐ δύναται εἶναί μου μαθητής (Matt. 10:37). Matthew’s “is not worthy of me” is less Hebraic than Luke’s “cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Nolland (Matthew, 441) notes that ἄξιος recurs repeatedly (7xx) in Matt. 10.

אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִהְיוֹת תַּלְמִידִי (HR). The LXX translators rendered יָכוֹל (yāchōl, “able”) with δύνασθαι (dūnasthai, “to be able”) far more often than with any other verb.[41] Conversely, δύνασθαι in LXX almost always represents יָכוֹל‎.[42] For examples of אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל (’ēnō yāchōl, “he is not able”), see Tower Builder and King Going to War, Comment to L6; Friend in Need, Comment to L14.

On תַּלְמִיד (talmid, “disciple”) as the reconstruction of μαθητής (mathētēs, “disciple”), see Lord’s Prayer, Comment to L4.

L11-14 In these lines we not only have a Matthean parallel, we also have two forms of the saying in Luke. Such repetitions of Jesus’ sayings in Luke are known as Lukan Doublets. Lindsey suggested that Lukan Doublets are the result of Luke’s having copied parallel material from his two sources, Anth. and FR, at different spots in his Gospel.[43] Lindsey observed that often one component of a Lukan Doublet shows signs of Greek improvement, whereas the counterpart is much more Hebraic. In this instance, the counterpart in Luke 9:23 shows signs of Greek editing, whereas Luke 14:27 shows Hebraic characteristics.[44] For this reason Lindsey attributed Luke 14:27 to Anth. and Luke 9:23 to FR.

L11 ὅστις οὐ βαστάζει (GR). Although we use Codex Vaticanus as the basis for our commentary, the reading οὖν at Luke 14:27 seems to be a scribal error.[45] Our Greek reconstruction reflects this assumption.

L11-12 βαστάζει τὸν σταυρὸν ἑαυτοῦ (Luke 14:27). Bivin and Tilton disagree over the interpretation of Jesus’ imagery in this saying. In Bivin’s opinion, carrying one’s cross is a metaphor primarily for the daily hardships and deprivations of discipleship (שִׁמּוּשׁ חֲכָמִים, shimūsh ḥachāmim, “service of sages”).[46] Tilton, on the other hand, believes that the imagery of cross-bearing refers to the necessity to accept the possibility of martyrdom as a consequence of following Jesus.

Bearing one’s cross is a potent and visceral image. During the first century C.E. in the land of Israel, the cross was a chilling symbol of the Roman occupation, a warning to the empire’s conquered peoples of the lengths the empire would go to maintain its grip on power.[47] For Jews living in the land of Israel, the cross symbolized their crushed hopes for freedom and peace, and reinforced their status as a conquered people.[48] In a culture where crucifixion was a reality, and in a context where the cross already had a deafening political message, it seems to Tilton unlikely that Jesus would have spoken of cross-carrying so lightly as Bivin suggests.[49] Although giving up one’s livelihood in order to itinerate with a sage as a full-time disciple could, indeed, be difficult, the image of a tortured soul affixed to a cross seems grossly disproportionate.[50] In Tilton’s opinion, it is more likely that Jesus used the cross to symbolize the risk of martyrdom at the hands of the Roman Empire.

Why might following Jesus involve the risk of running afoul of the Roman government?[51] Probably because the people who joined Jesus’ movement believed that through following Jesus and practicing his teachings, God would miraculously liberate Israel from foreign oppression. Despite his opposition to armed insurgence against the Roman Empire, Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven carried with it an implied critique of Caesar’s reign.[52] Jesus’ depiction of God as a king who is actively bringing his reign to bear over the people of Israel cannot have escaped unfavorable comparison with Caesar’s often brutal reign. And from his prophecy of the liberation of Jerusalem after “the times of the Gentiles have been fulfilled” (Luke 21:24), we learn that, like many in Israel, Jesus held on to the hope for political redemption from foreign domination.[53] Since it was the policy of the Roman Empire to stamp out messianic movements, Jesus knew that his message of redemption through the Kingdom of Heaven was a dangerous business.[54] Jesus, who was certainly aware of the political implications of his message, warned would-be disciples of the dangers involved. In this respect, Jesus’ outlook was much more realistic than many of the false messiahs who (whether intentionally or not) deceived people into expecting a glorious military victory against Rome. Jesus knew that a military revolt would be disastrous for the people of Israel, but he believed that redemption could be achieved through other means: through repentance, acts of mercy, and universal love.

This is the folio of the Bodmer Papyrus in which Luke 14:27 is written with the staurogram.

That some early Christians understood Jesus’ saying to imply that his followers might have to endure crucifixion for the sake of discipleship is vividly illustrated in certain early Gospel manuscripts. In the Bodmer Papyrus XIV-XV (P75; early third cent. C.E.), for example, the Greek word for “cross” in Luke 14:27 is written with an abbreviation that graphically represents crucifixion.[55] The abbreviation, written σϼος, incorporates the monogram ϼ, a combination of the letters τ (tav) and ρ (rho) from the word σταυρός (stavros, “cross”).[56] The ϼ monogram, which scholars refer to as a staurogram, resembles the shape of a crucified person. As Hurtado observes, “The tau is confirmed as an early symbol of the cross,[57] and the loop of the superimposed rho in the tau-rho suggested the head of a crucified figure.”[58] The ancient scribal practice of writing “cross” in Luke 14:27 and Luke 9:23 with a visual representation of a crucified person indicates that some early Christians understood Jesus’ warning about the necessity of carrying one’s cross literally.

Close up of the Bodmer Papyrus containing Luke 14:27 with the staurogram circled in red.

מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ נוֹשֵׂא אֶת צְלוּבוֹ (HR). On reconstucting βαστάζειν (bastazein, “to carry”) with נָשָׂא (nāsā’, “carry”), see Sending the Twelve: Conduct on the Road, Comment to L63.[59] In our reconstruction there is a wordplay on שׂוֹנֵא (sōnē’, “hate”; L5) and נוֹשֵׂא (nōsē’, “carry”; L11). In MH, the words for cross are צְלוּב (tzelūv)[60] and צְלִיבָה (tzelivāh).[61] We have adopted the former for HR.

L13 καὶ ἔρχεται ὀπίσω μου (Luke 14:27). Black (277-278) notes that the phrases ἔρχεται ὀπίσω μου (Luke 14:27) and ἀκολουθεῖ ὀπίσω μου (Matt. 10:38) are equivalent phrases with no difference of meaning.

וְהוֹלֵךְ אַחֲרַי (HR). Following after a sage is a classic description of the behavior of disciples in rabbinic literature,[62] and it appears that the Hebrew expression הָלַךְ אַחַר sometimes has the specific meaning of “to follow a sage as his disciple.”[63] This is how Josephus understood the phrase הָלַךְ אַחַר (hālach ’aḥar, “walk after”) in the story of Elijah’s calling of Elisha,[64] as becomes clear when we compare Josephus’ paraphrase of 1 Kgs. 19:21 to the original Hebrew verse and its LXX translation:

וַיֵּלֶךְ אַחֲרֵי אֵלִיָּהוּ וַיְשָׁרְתֵהוּ

…and he walked behind Elijah and served him. (1 Kgs. 19:21)

καὶ ἐπορεύθη ὀπίσω Ηλιου καὶ ἐλειτούργει αὐτῷ

…and [he] went after Eliou and ministered to him. (3 Kgdms. 19:21; NETS)

καὶ ἦν Ἠλίου τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον τοῦ ζῆν καὶ μαθητὴς καὶ διάκονος.

…and so long as Elijah was alive he was his disciple and attendant. (Ant. 8:354; Loeb)

Josephus’ paraphrase indicates that it was natural for a first-century Jew from Jerusalem to understand הָלַךְ אַחַר in the Elijah-Elisha story as a technical term for discipleship.

L15 Unlike Luke 14:26-27, 33, which are relatively easy to reconstruct in Hebrew, Luke 14:28-32, which make up the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes, are much more challenging. This fact, together with the way the twin similes interrupt the three part parallelism of the Demands of Discipleship saying, leads us to conclude that the author of Luke spliced the twin similes into the Demands of Discipleship context from another source (FR).[65] We have therefore dealt with the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes separately.

L16-19 Some scholars are of the opinion that Luke 14:33 was composed by the author of Luke.[66] Their conclusion is based on the following observations: 1) poverty and giving up one’s possessions are Lukan themes (cf. Luke 6:20; 12:33); 2) the verb ἀποτάξασθαι appears 4xx in Luke-Acts, but only 1x elsewhere in the synoptic tradition (Mark 6:46); 3) Luke 14:33 is an unnatural conclusion to the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes; and 4) there is no parallel to Luke 14:33 in Mark or Matthew. These are weighty considerations, however we have chosen to retain this verse for the following reasons:

  1. Luke 14:33 has basically the same structure and much of the same vocabulary as the sayings in Luke 14:26-27, which are deemed to be original.
  2. Although Matthew has no parallel to Luke 14:33, this does not prove that the source from which both Luke 14:26-27 and Matt. 10:37-38 are derived did not have a verse corresponding to Luke 14:33. We have demonstrated above that Luke 14:26-27 is closer to the conjectured Ur-text than Matt. 10:37-38. In addition to the other changes the author of Matthew made to this passage, it is possible that he chose to omit the third rib of a tripartite parallelism.
  3. The content of Luke 14:33 is in harmony with Jesus’ requirement that the rich man divest himself of his possessions in order to join Jesus’ itinerating band of disciples, as well as with Peter’s observation that the disciples had left everything in order to follow Jesus.
  4. Jesus’ requirement that individuals must renounce their possessions in order to gain entry into his movement is not unprecedented in first-century Judaism (see below).
  5. Parting with one’s possessions in order to travel with Jesus is a logical necessity. Disciples could not bring their possessions with them on the road.

The difficulties with Luke 14:33 do not seem sufficient to exclude this verse from our reconstruction of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua.

L16-17 οὕτως οὖν πᾶς ἐξ ὑμῶν ὃς οὐκ ἀποτάσσεται (Luke 14:33). The first two lines of this verse, L16-17, have undergone considerable redaction, which we attribute to the author of Luke. The Lukan redaction is a consequence of the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes (Luke 14:28-32), which the author of Luke sandwiched between the second and third parts of Jesus’ saying about the demands of discipleship. Luke rewrote the beginning of Luke 14:33 in order to make it into a more fitting conclusion to the similes.

L16 οὕτως οὖν πᾶς ἐξ ὑμῶν (Luke 14:33). The phrase οὕτως οὖν (“so therefore”) is Luke’s way of presenting this verse as a logical consequence of the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes. Luke’s attempt, however, was not entirely successful; whereas the similes describe scenarios in which a person makes a calculation about whether he has enough resources to embark on an endeavor, according to Luke 14:33 a prospective disciple must part with everything he has, whether his possessions be numerous or few.[67]

The words ἐξ ὑμῶν (ex hūmōn, “from of you”) are another adaptation of Luke 14:33 to the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes, which open with the phrase τίς γὰρ ἐξ ὑμῶν (tis gar ex hūmōn, “for which one of you”; Luke 14:28).

ὅστις οὐκ (GR). We believe that in Luke’s source the third demand in the series would have had the same pattern as those it followed. Just as Luke 14:27 opens with ὅστις οὐ (hostis ou, “whoever does not”), so in Anth. the third of Jesus’ demands probably opened with ὅστις οὐκ.[68]

L17 ὃς οὐκ ἀποτάσσεται (Luke 14:33). The verb ἀποτάξασθαι (apotaxasthai, “to bid farewell”) occurs 6xx in NT, four of which are in the writings of Luke.[69] This is the only NT instance where ἀποτάξασθαι is used in the sense “to renounce,” however this usage is attested in the writings of Philo (cf. Leg. 3:142, 145) where ἀποτάξασθαι is applied to Moses’ renunciation of food prior to receiving the revelation at Sinai.[70]

מַנִּיחַ (HR). Although the verb ἀποτάξασθαι occurs 7xx in LXX, it appears only 2xx in a Hebrew context (Jer. 20:2; Eccl. 2:20),[71] and only in Eccl. 2:20 does ἀποτάξασθαι translate a Hebrew word (יֵאֵשׁ [yē’ēsh, “to despair”]). Since ἀποτάξασθαι appears to be a Greek editorial improvement that cannot easily be put back into Hebrew, we have modeled our reconstruction on Peter’s claim that the disciples “left everything” to follow Jesus (Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, L96-98; Matt. 19:27; Mark 10:28; cf. Luke 18:28). On our preference for הִנִּיחַ over עָזַב see Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, Comment to L97.

ἀφίησι (GR). The Greek Reconstruction represents how the conjectured Greek Translation of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua may have read. In situations such as Luke 14:33, where we do not have a version in Matthew or Mark for comparison, and the text appears to be heavily redacted, we arrive at GR by imagining how the verse might have been written in Hebrew and then translating this Hebrew reconstruction into Greek in a literal style.[72] This approach allows us to imagine how the Greek Ur-text was worded before undergoing successive stages of editing.[73] In the present case, since ἀποτάξασθαι appears to have been introduced by the author of Luke, we conjecture that Luke’s source read ἀφίησι (afiēsi, “he leaves”), the same verb that appears in Peter’s claim to have “left everything” in order to follow Jesus. Another option for GR would be καταλείπει (kataleipei, “he leaves”), the verb used to describe Levi’s action in Call of Levi, L18 (Luke 5:28).

L18 πᾶσιν τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ ὑπάρχουσιν (Luke 14:33). This statement links the Demands of Discipleship discourseto the other pericopae in this narrative-sayings complex (Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident; Hidden Treasure and Priceless Pearl parables). In each of these pericopae Jesus implies that it is necessary to leave one’s possessions in order to join his itinerating band of disciples.

Numerous sources reflecting divergent streams of ancient Judaism attest to the austere lifestyle of those who devoted themselves to full-time Torah study. The members of the Qumran community, who went out into the desert to engage in the study of Torah (1QS VIII, 15), gave up the private ownership of property upon their admission to the Yahad (1QS VI, 18-22; cf. 1QS I, 11-13). Rabbinic traditions about the Rechabites, which may reflect the practices of the Essenes, or a group close to the Essenes,[74] mention that the Rechabites left their possessions in order to study Torah.[75] Rabbinic traditions also describe the privations their own disciples endured.[76] Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai, for instance, commented upon the austere lifestyle of full-time disciples:

לא נתנה תורה לדרוש אלא לאולכי המן הא כיצד היה יושב ודורש ולא היה יודע מהיכן הוא אוכל ושותה ומהיכן הוא לובש ומתכסה הא לא נתנה תורה לדרוש אלא לאוכלי המן

The Torah was not given for study except to the eaters of manna. For how can someone be sitting and studying and not know where his food and drink will come from, or where his clothes and coverings will come from? Thus, the Torah was not given for study except to the eaters of manna.” (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael Vayassa chpt. 3, on Exod. 16:4 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:235])[77]

Likewise, Ben Azzai offered assurances that the rigors of full-time discipleship are worth the discomforts involved:

אם מנבל אדם עצמו על דברי תורה ואוכל תמרים חרובים ולובש בגדים צואים ויושב ומשמר על פתח של חכמים כל עובר ושב אומר שמא שוטה הוא זה לסוף אתה מוצא כל התורה כולה עמו.‏

[Ben Azzai said] If one wastes away over the words of the Torah, eats dried-out dates and wears soiled clothing and sits faithfully at the door of the Sages, every passerby says, ‘Probably that’s a fool!’ But in the end thou wilt find the whole Torah at his command. (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, chpt. 11 [ed. Schechter, 46]; Goldin trans.)[78]

There are also many allusions to the disciples’ poverty in the Synoptic Gospels. In addition to Peter’s statement that the disciples had left everything to follow Jesus (Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, L97; Matt. 19:27; Mark 10:28; cf. Luke 18:28), Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry (Matt. 6:25-34; Luke 12:22-32) is probably best understood in the context of the austere conditions of discipleship. The Lord of Shabbat incident (Matt. 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5) may have been occasioned by the disciples’ poverty.[79] And Jesus’ statement that “the son of man has no place to lay his head” is also best understood as an allusion to the difficult lifestyle of full-time discipleship (Not Everyone Can Be Yeshua’s Disciple; Matt. 8:20; Luke 9:58).

Jesus’ requirement that disciples must renounce everything they own (Luke 14:33) fits harmoniously with what we know about Jesus from other Gospel narratives and sayings and with the picture of discipleship in the first century.

כָּל מַה שֶׁיֵשׁ לוֹ (HR). On reconstructing πᾶς (pas, “all,” “every”) with כָּל (kol, “all,” “every”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L26. In LXX the combination of πᾶς + τὰ ὑπάρχοντα frequently represents some variation of כָּל אֲשֶׁר לוֹ,‎[80] while in rabbinic literature we find that the Rechabites made a claim similar to Peter’s, that for the sake of Torah study they left everything they owned: הנחתי כל מה שהיה לי (Sifre Zuta 10:29; cf. Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, chpt. 35 [ed. Schechter, 105]). Our reconstruction attempts to reflect this linguistic background.

Redaction Analysis

Luke 14:26-27, 33 preserves a three-part saying in which Jesus describes the difficult demands of discipleship. This saying has many Hebraic features (e.g., “hate” in the sense of “leave behind” in L5; “soul” in the sense of “life” in L9; “go after” in the sense of “become a disciple” in L13) that indicate that the source of this saying was Anth. In order to provide what he regarded as an appropriate setting for Jesus’ saying, the author of Luke composed Luke 14:25. For some reason, the author of Luke inserted the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes (Luke 14:28-32) between the second and third of Jesus’ demands. This interpolation interrupts the flow of the Demands of Discipleship discourse, and has led some scholars to doubt the authenticity of Luke 14:33.

In comparison with the version of Jesus’ saying preserved in Luke 14:26-27, 33, the version preserved in Matt. 10:37-38 appears to have undergone thorough redaction by a Greek editor, probably by the author of Matthew himself. Matthew dropped the third rib of Jesus’ triple parallelism, changed “whoever does not hate…” into “whoever loves…more than me,” and made “cannot be my disciple” into “is not worthy of me.” These stylistic changes were probably for the benefit of non-Jewish Greek readers or to assimilate Jesus’ saying into the context of Matt. 10.

The author of Luke primarily relied on two written sources for the material in his Gospel. Since one of these sources (FR) was an epitome of the other (Anth.), Luke often had two versions of the same story or narrative from which to choose. Sometimes Luke copied both versions at different points in his Gospel—these are the Lukan Doublets. This is what happened with Jesus’ cross-bearing saying. The highly Hebraic version from Anth. was copied at Luke 14:27, while the more refined Greek version from FR was copied at Luke 9:23. Mark, who used Luke as a source for the composition of his Gospel, copied Luke’s FR version of Jesus’ cross-bearing saying (Mark 8:34), and Matthew subsequently copied this version from Mark (Matt. 16:24). Thus, both Matthew and Luke have a version of Jesus’ cross-bearing saying derived from Anth. as well as a version stemming from FR.

Although the Demands of Discipleship discourse is best preserved in Luke 14:26-27, 33, even there we find signs of Greek editorial activity, which should probably be attributed to the author of Luke. These include the insertion of the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes between Luke 14:27 and Luke 14:33 (L15), the phrase οὕτως οὖν in L16, which Luke added in order to make Luke 14:33 into a conclusion to be drawn from the interpolated similes, and the verb ἀποτάξασθαι in L17.

Results of This Research

1. What is the meaning of “hate” in Jesus’ saying? Jesus did not require his disciples to have feelings of animosity or disdain toward their parents, their wives or their children. “Hate” has this connotation in Greek and in English, but in Hebrew “hate” can mean “to put second” or “to forsake” in favor of something else. What Jesus required was not a feeling of contempt, but an extremely difficult action: to part with one’s family in order to join Jesus’ band of disciples as they itinerated throughout the Galilee and Judea. This difficult requirement would not have been considered extraordinary within first-century Jewish society.

2. What is the meaning of “to carry one’s cross”? Two main possibilities exist for the interpretation of Jesus’ cross-bearing saying: it can either refer to the daily difficulties all first-century disciples endured as they itinerated with their masters, or it can refer to the likelihood that individuals associated with Jesus’ movement will risk execution at the hands of the state.[81] If the former interpretation is accepted, then Jesus used cross-bearing as a figure of speech unparalleled in contemporary sources. If the latter interpretation is accepted, we must grapple with the political implications of Jesus’ mission.

3. Were all disciples required to give up their possessions in order to follow Jesus? By definition, full-time discipleship required giving up one’s ordinary means of income. Full-time disciples could not work their fields or ply their trades because they were constantly in the presence of their master. And if their master was an itinerating teacher, as Jesus was, they had to leave behind their belongings and their families in order to travel with him from place to place. It is not certain that all Jesus’ disciples were required to sell their possessions and distribute the proceeds to the poor as Jesus required of the rich man (Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, L45-50; Matt. 19:21; Mark 10:21; Luke 18:22). Perhaps other disciples were permitted to entrust their belongings to a family member or a friend for the duration of their discipleship, but this must remain speculative. What is certain is that all full-time disciples who itinerated with Jesus could not bring their possessions along with them.

The demands of full-time discipleship may sound extremely harsh, but it should be borne in mind that Jesus did not demand full-time discipleship as a condition for inheriting eternal life.[82] Many individuals who were close to Jesus and who accepted his message did not become full-time disciples.[83] Among these are the people whom Jesus healed; Zacchaeus, who remained in Jericho after his encounter with Jesus; the landlord in Jerusalem who welcomed Jesus and his disciples into his home for Passover (cf. Preparations for Eating Passover Lamb, Comment to L22-33); Nicodemus; Joseph of Arimathea; and, doubtless, many others. The rigorous demands of full-time discipleship were not for everyone, and their failure to leave everything in order to follow Jesus did not prevent non-disciples from experiencing the healing, renewal and redemption that God was bringing about through the Kingdom of Heaven. But for those who were ready and able to accept the challenge, full-time discipleship offered immeasurable rewards (cf. Blessedness of the Twelve).


The Demands of Discipleship discourse is a fitting comment on the Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven incident. In that pericope, Jesus discusses the necessity of leaving one’s home (i.e., family) in order to become a full-time disciple. In that same pericope, Peter exclaims, “We have left everything and followed you.” In Demands of Discipleship Jesus states that anyone who does not “hate” his family cannot be a disciple and anyone who does not renounce his possessions cannot be his disciple. Giving up everything a potential full-time disciple had in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven is also the theme of the Hidden Treasure and Priceless Pearl parables. Together, these three pericopae appear to constitute a narrative-sayings complex that may have existed as a single literary unit in the Hebrew Life of Yeshua.



Click here to return to “The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction” main page.

  • [1] For abbreviations and bibliographical references, see “Introduction to ‘The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction.’
  • [2] This translation is a dynamic rendition of our reconstruction of the conjectured Hebrew source that stands behind the Greek of the Synoptic Gospels. It is not a translation of the Greek text of a canonical source.
  • [3] See Robert L. Lindsey, “Unlocking the Synoptic Problem: Four Keys for Better Understanding Jesus”; idem, “From Luke to Mark to Matthew: A Discussion of the Sources of Markan ‘Pick-ups’ and the Use of a Basic Non-canonical Source by All the Synoptists.”
  • [4] See Robert L. Lindsey, “From Luke to Mark to Matthew: A Discussion of the Sources of Markan ‘Pick-ups’ and the Use of a Basic Non-canonical Source by All the Synoptists,” under the subheading “Restoring Narrative Sayings Complexes”; idem, TJS, 38-39, 42-43.
  • [5] Lindsey dated his discovery of the literary link between Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven and Demands of Discipleship to 14 March 1978 (LHNS, 135).
  • [6] See Robert L. Lindsey, “From Luke to Mark to Matthew: A Discussion of the Sources of Markan ‘Pick-ups’ and the Use of a Basic Non-canonical Source by All the Synoptists,” under the subheading “Restoration of Narrative-Sayings Complexes.”
  • [7] The non-canonical Gospel of Thomas also attests to two versions (logion 55 and logion 101) of Jesus’ cross-bearing saying:

    Jesus said: Whoever does not hate his father and his mother will not be a disciple to Me, and (whoever does not) hate his brethren and his sisters and (does not) take up his cross in My way will not be worthy of Me. (Gos. Thom. §55 [ed. Guillaumont, 31])

    <Jesus said:> Whoever does not hate his father and his mother in My way will not be able to be a [disciple] to me. And whoever does [not] love [his father] and his mother in My way will not be able to be a [disciple] to me, for My mother [ ] but [My] true [Mother] gave me the life. (Gos. Thom. §101 [ed. Guillaumont, 51])

    The versions in the Gospel of Thomas share similarities with the versions in Luke 14:26-27 and Matt. 10:37-38. Like Luke 14:26, the Gospel of Thomas uses the verb “hate,” but like Matt. 10:38, Gos. Thom. logion 55 uses the adjective “worthy.” The versions in Thomas are likely dependent, either directly or indirectly, on the canonical versions of Matthew and Luke. The version in logion 101 may be an adaptation of Jesus’ saying to a Hellenistic proverb. Theon of Alexandria (first cent. C.E.) reports that Isocrates advised students to honor teachers above parents, since parents only give life, whereas teachers are the cause of living nobly (Progymnasmata chpt. 3 Chreia), which may be similar to “[My] true [Mother] gave me the life” (Gos. Thom. logion 101). The Gospel of Thomas adapted other sayings of Jesus to Hellenistic models. For instance, logion 102 is the adaptation of the Aesopic fable about the dog in the manger into a woe against the Pharisees.

  • [8] The two versions of Jesus’ cross-bearing saying in Luke 14:27 and Luke 9:23 constitute a Lukan Doublet. According to Lindsey’s hypothesis, Lukan Doublets are indicative of Luke’s dependence on two pre-synoptic sources. One of these sources (Anth.) was highly Hebraic, the other (FR) is characterized by a more refined Greek style. Several times in his Gospel Luke copied both the Anth. and the FR versions of Jesus’ sayings, resulting in the Lukan Doublets. See Robert L. Lindsey, “From Luke to Mark to Matthew: A Discussion of the Sources of Markan ‘Pick-ups’ and the Use of a Basic Non-canonical Source by All the Synoptists,” under the subheading “Lukan Doublets: Sayings Doublets.”
  • [9] Compare all these versions of the cross-bearing saying in the Synoptic Gospels to John 12:25-26.
  • [10] Commenting on Matt. 10:37-38, Beare writes: “the Lucan version probably stands closer to the original form of the saying, as it reproduces a peculiarly Semitic locution…. Matthew’s version…conveys the sense better in Greek (and in English)” (Beare, 86). Cf. Johannes Schneider, “σταυρός κτλ.,” TDNT, 7:578; C. H. Dodd, Historical Traditio in the Fourth Gospel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965), 343.
  • [11] Allen (110-111) writes: “It is clear that in the Synoptic Gospels we have three recensions of this saying, viz. (a) Mk 834 = Mt 1624 = Lk 923, a positive form, εἴ τις θέλει ὀπίσω μου ἐλθεῖν (Lk. ἔρχεσθαι), ἀπαρνησάσθω ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἀράτω τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ (Lk. adds καθ᾽ ἡμέραν) καὶ ἀκολουθείτω μοι. (b) Mt 1038, a negative form, ὃς οὐ λαμβάνει τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀκολουθεῖ ὀπίσω μου, οὐκ ἔστιν μου ἄξιος. (c) Lk 1427, another negative form in a different context, ὅστις οὐ βαστάζει τὸν σταυρὸν ἑαυτοῦ καὶ ἔρχεται ὀπίσω μου. The two latter look like independent translations of a Semitic original.” Cf. Albright-Mann, 132.
  • [12] The Tower Builder and King Going to War similes have a high frequency of words that appear only in this passage in the Synoptic Gospels (ψηφίζειν [Luke 14:28]; δαπάνη [Luke 14:28]; ἀπαρτισμός [Luke 14:28]; ἐκτελεῖν [Luke 14:29, 30]), as well as words and phrases that do not appear in LXX (ψηφίζειν [Luke 14:28]; ἀπαρτισμός [Luke 14:28]; εἰ δυνατός [Luke 14:31]). Thus, the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes stand out linguistically from their Lukan context.
  • [13] On equating becoming a disciple with entering the Kingdom of Heaven, see Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, Comment to L64-65; David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: The Kingdom of Heaven in the Life of Yeshua,” under the subheading “The Kingdom of Heaven in the Teachings of Jesus: Jesus’ Band of Itinerating Disciples.”
  • [14] Moore pointed out that in the Tower Builder and King Going to War similes, “The men are not asking themselves whether they are willing to pay the cost. But ‘desiring’ (ver. 28. θέλων), to do a certain thing, they are considering whether they are able, with the resources at hand, to accomplish it.” See Thomas Verner Moore, “The Tower-builder and the King,” The Expositor 8.7 (1914): 519-537, quotation on 522. The Tower Builder and King Going to War similes are poor illustrations of the rich man’s dilemma, for whereas the tower builder and the king were willing to pursue their tasks if they had the necessary resources, the rich man who had abundant resources was unwilling to accept Jesus’ invitation.
  • [15] According to Jarvis, “if vv. 28-32 are removed the continuity of the remainder is improved.” See Peter G. Jarvis, “Expounding the Parables: V. The Tower-builder and the King going to War (Luke 14:25-33),” Expository Times 77 (1965-1966): 196-198, quotation on 196. Cf. Snodgrass (384): “if the parables are omitted, the text that remains (Luke 14:26-27, 33) reads smoothly.”
  • [16] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:548-553.
  • [17] See Dos Santos, 22-23.
  • [18] See Saul Lieberman, Greek in Jewish Palestine: Studies in the Life and Manners of Jewish Palestine in the II-IV Centuries C.E. (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1942), 80.
  • [19] Cf. the tradition about the Rechabites who said: באתי…ללמוד תורה (“I came…to study Torah”; Sifre Zuta 10:29).
  • [20] Cf. Flusser, Jesus, 35.
  • [21] See R. Steven Notley, “Jesus’ Command to ‘Hate’.”
  • [22] Another illustration of this nuance—“to hate” in the sense of “to put in an inferior position in terms of affection”—is found in Jesus’ own words: “No servant can serve two masters…he will hate the one and love the other…” (Luke 16:13; Matt. 6:24). The point of this teaching is that any attempt to be God’s slave and at the same time to be a slave to money will fail. It is not that in such a situation a person actually hates God, but rather, that he tries to love both God and money. Inevitably, a conflict of interest will arise in which the person will sometimes prefer money to God.
  • [23] See Marshall, 592.
  • [24] These two rabbinic sayings are exhortations to prefer one thing and put aside another. The second saying enjoins that one should prefer the “What if?” that is, weigh or consider carefully one’s actions, but flee the “What of it?” that is, avoid the attitude that one’s actions do not matter.
  • [25] See Isaac Newman, “Talmudic Discipleship,” in Encyclopedia Judaica Yearbook (Jerusalem: Keter, 1989), 33-40.
  • [26] See David N. Bivin, “At the Feet of a Sage”; idem, “First-century Discipleship.”
  • [27] Compare Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah’s words of comfort to Rabbi Eliezer recorded in Sifre Deut. § 31 (on Deut. 6:5), and compare these rabbinic traditions to Theon of Alexandria’s statement (first cent. C.E.) regarding Isocrates (436–338 B.C.E.): “We object to…Isocrates’ saying that one should honor teachers before parents, since the latter have offered us the chance to live but teachers the chance to live nobly” (Progymnasmata chpt. 3 Chreia). Translation according to James R. Butts, The Progymnasmata of Theon: A New Text with Translation and Commentary (Claremont, Calif.: Claremont Graduate School, 1987), 213.
  • [28] Compare Elijah’s response to Elisha’s request to say good-bye to his parents (1 Kgs. 19:20). See Not Everyone Can Be Yeshua’s Disciple, Comments to L32, L35-36.
  • [29] See Newman, “Talmudic Discipleship,” 38.
  • [30] See Healing Shimon’s Mother-in-law, Comment to L11.
  • [31] While it is true that in NT the phrase ἔτι τε καὶ occurs only in the writings of Luke, even in Luke-Acts this phrase only occurs 2xx (Luke 14:26; Acts 21:28). To describe the phrase as “characteristically Lukan,” therefore, seems to be a bit of a stretch.
  • [32] For examples of וְאַף in the Mishnah, cf., e.g., m. Ter. 5:4; m. Yom. 3:10; m. Sot. 7:3, 4; m. Bab. Kam. 2:5; m. Bab. Metz. 2:5 [2xx]; m. Edu. 6:3 [2xx].
  • [33] The four instances of וְגַם in the Mishnah are: m. Maas. Sh. 5:10 (in a quotation of Deut. 26:13); m. Sot. 8:6; m. Bab. Kam. 3:9 (in a quotation of Exod. 21:35); m. Sanh. 1:4 (in a quotation of Exod. 21:29).
  • [34] An example of ψυχή (“soul”) carrying the sense “self” appears in a mid-first-cent. C.E. Greek novel, where a prospective husband advises himself to be patient as he anticipates marriage: καρτέρησον ψυχή (“be patient, soul,” i.e., “be patient, self,” “be patient, my heart”) (Chariton, De Chaerea et Callirhoe 3.2.9).
  • [35] Understood in the sense of “self,” the meaning of Jesus’ saying would be that disciples must put their interests, concerns and comforts second to serving Jesus as his disciple. The two senses are not mutually exclusive, since anyone who is prepared to die has, by definition, put his or her personal interests beneath the call to discipleship.
  • [36] See Hatch-Redpath, 2:1486-1490.
  • [37] Cf. HALOT, 712.
  • [38] For the semantic range of ψυχή, cf. Luke 12:19, “I will say to myself [ψυχή]: ‘Self [ψυχή], you have many good things…’”; and Luke 12:20, “Your life [ψυχή] will be demanded from you.” See also Moule, 185.
  • [39] It is possible that the identification of מְאוֹדֶיךָ as wealth is also witnessed in DSS. See Serge Ruzer, “The Double Love Precept in the New Testament and the Community Rule” (JS1, 89-94).
  • [40] As Kister wrote, “notwithstanding significant changes in style, tone, context, and content, aggadic statements in rabbinic literature should be regarded principally as traditions, and the sages to whom these utterances are attributed as tradents of ancient material. Studies that consider rabbinic literature together with writings of the Second Temple period (such as Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Qumran, Philo, Josephus, Gospels) validate time and again this assertion.” See Menahem Kister, “Allegorical Interpretations of Biblical Narratives in Rabbinic Literature, Philo, and Origen: Some Case Studies,” in New Approaches to the Study of Biblical Interpretation in Judaism of the Second Temple Period and in Early Christianity (ed. Gary A. Anderson, Ruth A. Clements, and David Satran; Leiden: Brill, 2013), 133-183, quotation on 141-142.
  • [41] See Dos Santos, 81.
  • [42] See Hatch-Redpaht, 1:353-354.
  • [43] See Robert L. Lindsey, “Unlocking the Synoptic Problem,” under the subheadings “Pre-synoptic Sources” and “Lukan Doublets”; idem, “Measuring the Disparity Between Matthew, Mark and Luke”; idem, “From Luke to Mark to Matthew: A Discussion of the Sources of Markan ‘Pick-ups’ and the Use of a Basic Non-canonical Source by All the Synoptists,” under the subheading “Lukan Doublets: Sayings Doublets.”
  • [44] See Brad Young, “A Fresh Examination of the Cross, Jesus and the Jewish People” (JS1, 202).
  • [45] The insertion of a final ν (nu) by copyists, even when this changed the meaning of the word, was a fairly common error. For an analogous example in the writings of Josephus, see Daniel R. Schwartz, Reading the First Century: On Reading Josephus and Studying Jewish History of the First Century (Tübingen: Mohr [Siebeck], 2013), 38. On the rationale for basing our commentary on Vaticanus, see David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “Introduction to ‘The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction’,” under the subheading “Codex Vaticanus or an Eclectic Text?”
  • [46] On the term shimush in the context of discipleship, see Newman, “Talmudic Discipleship,” 33-34.
  • [47] See N. T. Wright, “Paul and Caesar: A New Reading of Romans,” in A Royal Priesthood? The Use of the Bible Ethically and Politically: A Dialogue with Oliver O’Donovan (ed. Craig Bartholomew, Jonathan Chaplin, Robert Song, Al Wolters; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 173-193, esp. 182.
  • [48] See David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: The Kingdom of Heaven in the Life of Yeshua,” under the subheading “The Kingdom of Heaven in the Teachings of Jesus: Political Aspect.” Although there are reports of Jewish authorities who practiced crucifixion (e.g., Jos., J.W. 1:97; 4Q169 [4QpNah] 3-4 I, 6-8; Gen. Rab. 65:22; y. Sanh. 6:6 [23c]; y. Hag. 2:2 [78a]), and despite the evidence that the Essenes may have sanctioned crucifixion for certain crimes (11Q19 [11QTemplea] LXIV, 6-13), only the Roman governor had the legal authority to impose the death penalty during Jesus’ lifetime (cf. John 18:31; Jos., J.W. 2:117-118; y. Sanh. 18a, 24b). See Brad H. Young, “A Fresh Examination of the Cross, Jesus and the Jewish People” (JS1, 196-199); Jean-Jacques Aubert, “A Double Standard in Roman Criminal Law?” in Speculum Iuris: Roman Law as a Reflection of Social and Economic Life in Antiquity (ed. Jean-Jacques Aubert and Adriaan Johan Boudewijn Sirks; Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Press, 2002), 123.
  • [49] Cross-bearing is used once in rabbinic literature to portray the plight of Isaac, who carried the wood for the whole burnt offering on his shoulders (Gen. Rab. 56:3). Strictly speaking, this example is not a metaphorical usage of cross-bearing, rather the image of a man carrying his cross shares a point of comparison with the story of Isaac: both Isaac and the cross-bearer carry an instrument of their own deaths to the place where their doom will be carried out.
  • [50] Tilton agrees with France, who writes: “The metaphor of taking up one’s cross is not to be domesticated into an exhortation merely to endure hardship patiently…. While it may no doubt be legitimately applied to other and lesser aspects of the suffering involved in following Jesus, the primary reference in context must be to the possibility of literal death” (France, 340). In Tilton’s opinion, the point of comparison in Jesus’ warning between disciples and cross-bearers is not the action of carrying a burden, but one’s status as an enemy in the eyes of the state. Had Jesus said, “Anyone who wishes to be my disciple must take his seat in the electric chair” or “must wear a noose around his neck,” no one today would have supposed that the force of the imagery was focused on the sitting in the chair or the swinging on the rope. (Cf. Plummer [Luke, 248], who noted that the image of carrying one’s cross “represents…not so much a burden as an instrument of death.”) Likewise, in a culture where crucifixion was a practiced mode of execution, the point of Jesus’ imagery is that discipleship involves accepting risk to life and limb (cf. Allen, 182; W. Manson, 110-111; Nolland, Matthew, 442).
  • [51] Bivin regards the Roman Empire as more tolerant than does Tilton. See David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: The Kingdom of Heaven in the Life of Yeshua,” under the subheading “Bivin Rebuts Tilton’s View of the Political Aspect of the Kingdom of Heaven in Jesus’ Teaching.”
  • [52] See Tilton’s discussion of the political aspect of Jesus’ message in David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “LOY Excursus: The Kingdom of Heaven in the Life of Yeshua,” under the subheading “The Kingdom of Heaven in the Teachings of Jesus: Political Aspect.”
  • [53] On the political aspect of this prophecy, see David Flusser, “The Times of the Gentiles and the Redemption of Jerusalem,” under the subheading “Solidarity with Israel.”
  • [54] Tilton can see no reason to suppose that the Roman Empire would have made a distinction between violent insurgents and peaceful resisters, any more than the British Empire made an exception for Gandhi’s non-violent resistance in the twentieth century. On the usefulness of comparing the behavior of empires separated in time by several centuries, see Daniel R. Schwartz, Reading the First Century, viii.
  • [55] On P75, see Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament (trans. Erroll F. Rhodes; 2d ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 87. The staurogram also appears at Luke 9:23 in P75.
  • [56] This abbreviation is unusual in that Greek monograms typically combine adjacent letters, for example, χ (chi) and ρ (rho) were combined in the monogram , which stands for the word χριστός (christos, “anointed one”) in Christian writings. The pictographic quality of the staurogram may account for the unusual combination of non-adjacent letters to form the monogram.
  • [57] Cf., e.g., Barn. 9:7-9; Clement of Alexandria, Strom. 6:11 §278-280; Tertullian, Adv. Marc. 3:22.
  • [58] See Larry W. Hurtado, “The Staurogram in Early Christian Manuscripts: The Earliest Visual Reference to the Crucified Jesus?” in New Testament Manuscripts: Their Texts and Their World (ed. Thomas J. Kraus and Tobias Nicklas; Leiden: Brill, 2006), 207-226, quotation on 223.
  • [59] On the basis of a rabbinic parallel in Gen. Rab. 56:3, Young proposed reconstructing Luke 14:27 as: מי שלא יטען את צלובו ויבוא אחרי אינו יכול להיות תלמידי (“whoever does not load [on his back] his cross and come after me is not able to be my disciple”). See Brad H. Young, “A Fresh Examination of the Cross, Jesus and the Jewish People” (JS1, 191-209, esp. 202). According to the Genesis Rabbah passage, when Isaac carried the wood on his shoulders as he ascended the slope of Moriah (Gen. 22), “…it was like a condemned man who took his cross upon his shoulders.” Some scholars have even suggested that Jesus alluded to an early version of the tradition preserved in Gen. Rab. 56:3 when he spoke of carrying one’s own cross. While it is difficult to prove that the comparison between Isaac and a man carrying a cross existed in the time of Jesus, we do find that this comparison is made in the writings of the church fathers. Davies-Allison (2:223 n. 51) cite Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 4:5.4, which states: “Righteously also do we, possessing the same faith as Abraham, and taking up the cross as Isaac did the wood, follow Him.” Cf. Augustine, De Trinitate 2:2.11, who refers to “Isaac, who became [a symbol of—DNB and JNT] Christ when he carried the wood for his own sacrifice.” Are these examples of cross-pollination between Christian and Jewish interpretations of Scripture later witnesses to a pre-Christian tradition, or independent developments in separate faith communities?
  • [60] Examples of צְלוּב are found m. Yev. 16:3; t. Sanh. 9:[7]3; Gen. Rab. 56:3; y. Yev. 16:3 [83a]. See Jastrow, 1286; Kaufmann Kohler, “Cross,” JE 4:368-369.
  • [61] An example of צְלִיבָה is found in b. Gittin 70b). See Jastrow, 1283.
  • [62] Descriptions of disciples following their master are common in rabbinic literature. See, for example:

    כבר היה רבי ישמעאל ורבי אלעזר בן עזריה ורבי עקיבא מהלכין בדרך ולוי הסדר וישמעאל בנו של רבי אלעזר בן עזריה מהלכין אחריהם

    Once Rabbi Ishmael and Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah and Rabbi Akiva were walking along the road and Levi the netmaker and Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah’s son Ishmael were walking behind them…. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Shabbata chpt. 1, on Exod. 31:13)

    מעשה ברבן יוחנן בן זכאיי שהיה רוכב על גבי החמור והיו תלמידיו מהלכים אחריו

    An anecdote about Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, who was riding on a donkey and whose disciples were walking after him…. (Sifre Deut. § 305, on Deut. 31:14; cf. b. Ket. 66b)

    פעם אחת היה רבן יוחנן בן זכאי יוצא מירושלים והיה ר′ יהושע הולך אחריו וראה בית המקדש חרב

    One time Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai was going out of Jerusalem and Rabbi Joshua walked after him and he saw the Temple in ruins…. (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, 4:5 [ed. Schechter, 21])

    ר″ג הוה מטייל מן עכו לכזיב והיה טבי עבדו מהלך לפניו ורבי אלעאי מאחוריו

    R. Gamaliel was once walking from Acco to Chezib, Tabbai his servant walking in front, and R. Ila’i behind him. (Lev. Rab. 37:3; Soncino)

    רבה בר בר חנה אמר רבי יהושע בן לוי פעם אחת הייתי מהלך אחר ר′ אלעזר הקפר בריבי בדרך ומצא שם טבעת ועליה צורת דרקון

    Rabbah son of Bar Hanah said in the name of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi: “One time I was walking after the eminent Rabbi Eleazar Hakkappar in the road, and there he found a ring and on it was the form of a dragon.” (b. Avod. Zar. 43a)

  • [63] Cf. Lachs 258, 66 n. 2; Morton Smith, Tannaitic Parallels to the Gospels (Philadelphia: Society of Biblical Literature, 1951), 30, 44 n. 101. For the opposite view, see Martin Hengel, The Charismatic Leader and His Followers (trans. James Greig; New York: Crossroads, 1981), 50-57.

    Smith mentions the story about Rabbi Yehoshua’s disciples where parallel versions equate אחריך רבי (“We are after you, Rabbi”) with תלמידיך (“We are your disciples”):

    מעשה בר′ יוחנן בן ברוקה ור′ אלעזר חסמא שבאו מיבנה ללוד והקבילו פני ר′ יהושע בפקיעין אמ′ להן מה חידוש היה לכם בבית מדרש היום אמרו לו תלמידיך

    An anecdote about Rabbi Yohanan ben Berokah and Rabbi Eleazar Hisma, who came to Lod from Yavneh and who greeted Rabbi Yehoshua of Pekiin. He said to them, “What was the innovation you had today in the bet midrash?” They said to him, “We are your disciples.” (t. Sot. 7:9)

    כבר שבתו תלמידים ביבנה ולא שבת שם רבי יהושע וכשבאו התלמידים אצלו אמר להם מה דבר חדש היה לכם ביבנה אמרו לו אחריך רבי

    Once the disciples spent the week in Yavneh, but Rabbi Yehoshua did not spend the week there, and when the disciples came to him, he said to them, “What new thing did you learn in Yavneh?” They said to him, “We are after you, Rabbi.” (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Pisha chpt. 16 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:90])

    Evidently, then, being “behind” a sage meant the same thing as being his disciple.

    On the translation of שבת in this story, see Marc Hirshman, A Rivalry of Genius: Jewish and Christian Biblical Interpretation in Late Antiquity (trans. Batya Stein; Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1996), 145-146 n. 44 and the literature cited there.

  • [64] The expression הָלַךְ אַחַר occurs twice in the biblical account of Elijah’s calling of Elisha (1 Kgs. 19:19-21). In response to Elijah’s call, Elisha says וְאֵלְכָה אַחֲרֶיךָ (“and I will walk after you”; 1 Kgs. 19:20), and after Elisha slaughters his oxen and makes a feast for his companions we read וַיֵּלֶךְ אַחֲרֵי אֵלִיָּהוּ (“and he walked after Elijah”; 1 Kgs. 19:21). LXX translated these phrases as καὶ ἀκολουθήσω ὀπίσω σου (“and I will follow after you”; 3 Kgdms. 19:20) and καὶ ἐπορεύθη ὀπίσω Ηλιου (“and he went after Elijah”; 3 Kgdms. 19:21).
  • [65] See above under the subheading “Conjectured Stages of Transmission.”
  • [66] Among such scholars is Bovon (2:385).
  • [67] Bovon (2:349) writes: “At the point where the parables invite readers to take stock of the means at their disposal to find out what their capacities are and take the measure of them, v. 33 concludes (‘so therefore,’ οὕτως οὖν) paradoxically with an order of renunciation.”
  • [68] The negative adv. οὐ becomes οὐκ when it is followed by a vowel with smooth breathing (BDAG, 733).
  • [69] The NT instances of ἀποτάξασθαι are: Mark 6:46; Luke 9:61; 14:33; Acts 18:18, 21; 2 Cor. 2:13.
  • [70] Note that Moses’ fast, though lengthy, was temporary. Thus, ἀποτάξασθαι does not imply permanent renunciation.
  • [71] The other instances of ἀποτάξασθαι in LXX occur in 1 Esdr. and 1 Macc., where ἀποτάξασθαι has the sense “to station [troops].”
  • [72] On this approach, see David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton, “Introduction to ‘The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction’,” under the subheading “Guiding Principles.”
  • [73] In certain Triple Tradition pericopae there might be as many as four layers of editorial activity: that of FR, Luke, Mark, and finally Matthew.
  • [74] See Ze’ev Safrai, “The Sons of Yehonadav ben Rekhav and the Essenes,” Annual of Bar-Ilan University Studies in Judaica and Humanities 16 (1979): 37-58 (Hebrew; English summary, 131).
  • [75] Cf. Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, chpt. 35 (ed. Schechter, 105); Sifre Zuta 10:29, cited in Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, Comment to L97. For these sources, we are indebted to Ze’ev Safrai and Peter J. Tomson, “Paul’s ‘Collection for the Saints’ (2 Cor 8-9) and Financial Support of Leaders in Early Christianity and Judaism,” in Second Corinthians in the Perspective of Late Second Temple Judaism (ed. Reimund Bieringer, Emmanuel Nathan, Didier Pollefeyt, and Peter J. Tomson; Leiden: Brill, 2014), 212 n. 252.
  • [76] See Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, Comment to L112-129.
  • [77] In the Mechilta, Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai’s comment is juxtaposed to a saying of Rabbi Yehoshua about those who work for a living and only manage to study two halachot in the morning and two halachot in the evening. According to Rabbi Yehoshua, “it is as if he fulfilled the whole Torah.” Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai describes the life of those who give up their secular occupations in order to study full time, whereas Rabbi Yehoshua emphasizes the merit of those who manage to fit study into their busy work lives.
  • [78] Cf. Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version B, chpt. 22 (ed. Schechter, 46).
  • [79] In the Lord of Shabbat incident the disciples help themselves to the gleanings because they are hungry. This may be an indication of the disciples’ poverty.
  • [80] Cf. the following examples:

    וַיִּתֵּן אַבְרָהָם אֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר־לוֹ לְיִצְחָק

    ἔδωκεν δὲ Αβρααμ πάντα τὰ ὑπάρχοντα αὐτοῦ Ισαακ τῷ υἱῷ αὐτοῦ

    And Abraham gave all he owned to Isaac. (Gen. 25:5)

    וַיְהִי בִּרְכַּת יְהוָה בְּכָל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר יֶשׁ־לֹו בַּבַּיִת וּבַשָּׂדֶה

    καὶ ἐγενήθη εὐλογία κυρίου ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς ὑπάρχουσιν αὐτῷ ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ καὶ ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ

    And the LORD’s blessing was on all that he owned in the house and the field. (Gen. 39:5)

    פֶּן־תִּוָּרֵשׁ אַתָּה וּבֵיתְךָ וְכָל־אֲשֶׁר־לָךְ

    ἵνα μὴ ἐκτριβῇς σὺ καὶ οἱ υἱοί σου καὶ πάντα τὰ ὑπάρχοντά σου

    lest you be disinherited: you and your house and all that you own. (Gen. 45:11)

    וַיִּקַּח יְהֹושֻׁעַ אֶת־עָכָן בֶּן־זֶרַח…וְאֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר־לֹו

    καὶ ἔλαβεν Ἰησοῦς τὸν Αχαρ υἱὸν Ζαρα…καὶ πάντα τὰ ὑπάρχοντα αὐτοῦ

    And Joshua took Achan son of Zerah…and all that he owned. (Josh. 7:24)

  • [81] We suppose that some form of the cross-bearing saying did originate with Jesus, but not everyone agrees with this conclusion. Some scholars presume that the cross-bearing saying did not originate with Jesus, but was composed by the early Church. If the cross-bearing saying did not originate with Jesus, this would expand the range of interpretive possibilities.
  • [82] See Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, Comment to L15-16.
  • [83] Cf. John P. Meier, “The Circle of the Twelve: Did it Exist During Jesus’ Public Ministry?” Journal of Biblical Literature 116.4 (1997): 635-672, esp. 636-637.

A New Approach to the Synoptic Gospels

It is easy to claim new solutions and new approaches to familiar problems. But in the field of New Testament research it is much harder to make these claims stick. Some years ago I wrote an article in which I attempted to correct the prevailing view that Mark was the first of the Gospels.[1] When the article was discussed in a seminar at Cambridge, the objection was raised that there was nothing new in my contentions or approach. Perhaps not. Perhaps I am simply unable to find in the enormous mountain of scholarly contributions to our knowledge of the Synoptic Gospels the special line of solution and methodology to which I found myself driven as early as 1962. In any case, let me set down here, as simply as I can, my reasons for calling my approach new.

New or Modified Observations

I will begin by listing several observations or conclusions arrived at through my years of studying the Synoptic Gospels and their relationships.

1. Extensive parts of the synoptic material show strong evidence of having descended from literal Greek translations of a Hebrew document that included many sayings of Jesus and stories from his life. These have been beautifully preserved in much of Luke in particular, but also in the parts of Matthew not influenced by Mark.

2. There is no evidence that the story and sayings units of our Gospels circulated independently before being written down in a continuous Greek story such as we have in each of the Synoptic Gospels. Supposed evidence to the contrary is built on careful—but much too limited—observation of the ever-present factor of verbal disparity.

3. The line of interdependence between the Synoptic Gospels runs from Luke to Mark to Matthew. It is not true that Matthew and Luke equally depend upon Mark as their primary source.

4. Matthew and Luke were unacquainted with each other’s writings, but both knew a source other than Mark, but unlike Q, as it is typically described by Markan priorists. This source included most of the Markan pericopae, as well as much other material.

5. Luke did not know the text of Mark, but Mark normally followed Luke in pericope order and just as normally changed more than fifty percent of Luke’s wording. Luke used two sources. The first was an anthologically rearranged document that is sometimes labeled Q, but which I call the Anthology, or, Reorganized Scroll. It is best seen in the units Matthew and Luke share that are not parallel to Mark, and in the unique pericopae found in Matthew and Luke. The second source, which I call the First Reconstruction, gave Luke his basic unit outline.[2] I refer to this source as a reconstruction because, apparently, someone condensed a number of the anthological stories into this shorter document. Mark, who could detect this chronologically arranged shorter text in Luke, mostly followed it. The basic synoptic material is ultimately derived from the Anthology, which in turn goes farther back to a first Hebrew-Greek source.[3]

6. As a rule, Matthew closely followed the pericope order of Mark, but used the same written source material known to Luke from the Anthology when making minor corrections to Mark’s highly redacted text, when recording non-Markan parallels to Luke, and when copying down most of his unique passages.

7. The generally common pericope order of the Synoptic Gospels is not due to the independent and common use of Mark by Matthew and Luke, but to the fact that Mark broke with Luke’s order only rarely and that Matthew, although acquainted with another unit arrangement through his second source, opted to follow Mark’s order in most instances.

8. The real “synoptic problem” is the meaning to be given to the intense verbal disparity running throughout the Triple Tradition. This disparity has been inadequately assessed. Once the full picture is obtained, it is clear that only one writer is responsible for the kind of deliberate, often seemingly capricious, change and rewriting everywhere present.

9. When the literary habits of Mark are examined in isolation from Matthew and Luke, it is readily seen that the writer’s style includes constant repetition of stereotypical terminology, frequent redundancy, homilizing, dramatizing, and other editorial methods which suggest that the author may well be the Evangelist responsible for the unceasing verbal change.

10. When the hundreds of Mark-Luke synonyms (used in parallel) are examined, it becomes clear that Mark first studied the text of Luke before rewriting each pericope, then searched for word and subject parallels in other written texts, and finally used these “pick-ups” in writing his own version. By careful concordance study it is possible to discover the sources of many of these Markan “pick-ups.” These sources include, at the very least, the non-Markan portions of Luke, Acts, the first five epistles of Paul, and the epistle of James.

11. This source analysis is confirmed by the remarkable fact that the majority of Luke’s text can be translated word for word to idiomatic Hebrew. The same is true for the non-Markan portions of Matthew. From the standpoint of this Hebrew translation control, it is clear why the whole text of Mark and most of the materials in Matthew parallel to Mark present much greater difficulties to the Hebrew translator than unique or Double Tradition sections of Luke and Matthew. Matthew and Luke copy excellent Hebraic-Greek sources wherever they can. It is Matthew’s dependence on Mark that causes the essential difficulty in Matthean materials and this difficulty is confined almost totally to the Matthean pericopae that have parallels in Mark.

12. By following Luke and the non-Markan portions of Matthew, a Hebrew translator is able to reconstruct, with considerable success, the details of the Hebrew text from which our earliest Greek sources were derived. This means that the basic story in our Gospels is textually sound and there is no reason to deny its essential historicity.

Here it may be helpful to mention the principal kinds of criticism scholars have applied to the Synoptic Gospels and the points at which my suggestions differ from the results of their investigations.

Textual Criticism

Textual criticism has to do with the discovery and establishment of the earliest text of each of our Gospels. It remains an elemental science of great importance in defining our written sources and sometimes in interpreting them. However, most of the problems in the field of textual criticism may be considered solved. The Gospels, especially since they are like all ancient works in having been transmitted in manuscript form, were beautifully preserved.

Source Criticism

Source criticism has to do with the delineation of the sources and relationships of our Gospels. It tries to answer questions like the following: Have our evangelists used oral traditions, or have they used written sources? What can we surmise about these sources? Are the authors dependent upon each other’s writings? If so, what is the pattern of dependency? If it is true that one writer has used the writings of another, how does this affect our knowledge of the earliest forms of Gospel traditions?

A few scholars continue to devise new source theories, and I am one of these. But, as we know so well, it is usually taken for granted today that Mark wrote the first Gospel. According to this view, Matthew and Luke, quite independently, used Mark as a principal source. These writers also used a second source called Q for the materials they share in common. (This is the simplest form of the theory of Markan priority.)[4] Whether Mark knew Q is a question for debate. Both Matthew and Luke have extensive passages that do not parallel each other. Many scholars have suggested that these unique passages may simply originate from a document like Q, or from Q itself. Although the unique Lukan and Matthean pericopae could have derived from different sources, there is no reason not to posit the anthological “Q” as a source for (1) Matthean-Lukan “Double Tradition”; (2) Matthean-Lukan agreements against Mark; and (3) a number of the unique passages in Matthew and Luke.

The division of the synoptic sources into two principal documents is based on the observation that Matthew and Luke share with each other and with Mark some seventy-seven recognizable pericope divisions, on the one hand, and, on the other, that Matthew and Luke share a further forty-two story or sayings units that may be described as parallel.

SynopticStatsIn other words, scholars long ago noted that the Synoptic Gospels share many common stories and that it is possible to divide these into two kinds: those found in all three Synoptic Gospels, 77 pericopae, and those found only in Matthew and Luke, 42 pericopae (counting according to the Matthean ordering of the stories). The groupings are, respectively, called the Triple Tradition and the Double Tradition.[5]

From these facts alone, there is no necessity for supposing that our writers, or at least Matthew and Luke, used two different sources. Indeed, the simplest theory would be that Matthew, Mark and Luke copied the same source for their 77 common pericopae, and that Matthew and Luke then went on to copy a further 42 pericopae from this source. Theoretically, there is no reason to assume an interrelationship of any kind.

What changes the situation is the addition of two further facts about the 77 and the 42. Fifty-nine of these 77 pericopae appear in the same general order in all three Gospels. This fact allows us to talk about a “common pericope skeleton.” On the other hand, only one of the 42 common Matthean-Lukan pericopae (Matt. 3:7-10; Luke 3:7-9) appears in the same sequence.

This lack of agreement in the placement of Double Tradition pericopae suggests that Matthew and Luke did not know (or at least did not care) where the other placed the Double Tradition pericopae, but they were influenced by Mark in the placement of many of their Triple Tradition pericopae. We must, therefore, suppose that the Synoptic Gospels are indeed interrelated. Probably, Matthew and Luke did not influence each other’s writings, but it seems certain that Mark somehow stands between these works causing a common pericope order.

If we ask how Mark could be responsible for this common order, we might easily arrive at the conclusion that Matthew and Luke copied from him. They would then have copied from some other source, but perhaps, due to Mark, they chose not follow the order of the second source, but attempted to fit its stories into the outline borrowed from Mark.

This is exactly the way the theory of Markan Priority, otherwise known as the Two-Source Hypothesis, came into being. According to this theory, the document lying behind the Triple Tradition material is none other than Mark. The Double Tradition material derives from a document which came to be called Q. Almost all New Testament scholars had accepted this basic division into two sources by the beginning of the twentieth century.

Personal Encounter with the Problem

In 1959, taking for granted this accepted conclusion of scholarship, I began a translation of the Gospel of Mark from its Greek text to modern Hebrew. At first it seemed to me that Mark’s Greek was more like Hebrew than Greek. It was relatively easy to translate it to Hebrew by simply establishing the Greek-Hebrew equivalents and then translating word for word from the original. I wondered whether Mark had translated his text from some written Hebrew story. But I soon discarded this possibility because I ran into a strange phenomenon that made such a theory impossible. Mark’s Greek text had numerous words that kept appearing and reappearing for which I could find no easy Hebrew equivalent. For instance, I was unable to find a suitable equivalent for the expression καὶ εὐθύς (“and immediately”) which Mark repeats over and over again. This made me wonder if there was any textual evidence that Mark’s Gospel may once have existed in a more Hebraic form, one unaccompanied by these odd stereotypes I could not easily translate. But I could find no such evidence in the manuscript tradition.

However, I did find an interesting clue when I finally decided to compare the exact wordings of Mark, Matthew and Luke. I noticed that Luke’s text showed almost no suggestion of the Markan oddities. For example, the Greek phrase behind Mark’s “and immediately” appeared only once in Luke’s Gospel, and this single instance occurred in a passage completely unparalleled in Mark! Luke has parallels to no less than 82 of Mark’s pericopae. So if Luke were copying from Mark, I reasoned, how could he have known to leave out exactly those Markan expressions I was having trouble with? And why was he able to avoid more than 40 occurrences of “immediately” while using Mark, only to turn around and use this expression once in a passage he could not have copied from Mark?

When I checked the parallels in Matthew, I noticed that Matthew sometimes used Mark’s word for “immediately” in exactly the way Mark did, or he would substitute another Greek word meaning “immediately” parallel to Mark’s use of this word. It thus looked very much as if Matthew had indeed followed Mark, but had often refused to copy Mark’s stereotypic non-Hebraism. Luke had either not copied from Mark or had for some reason deliberately rejected each Markan use of “immediately.” Yet Luke seemingly had not objected to this word, for he had used it in a passage he could not have copied from Mark.

Checking other Markan expressions that seemed odd to me as a Hebrew translator, I often found the same pattern. For instance, Mark opened his Gospel with the sentence: “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Mark used the word εὐαγγέλιον (evangelion, “good news,” “gospel”) seven times. Early in his first chapter, at a place (Mark 1:14-15) where Luke simply says that Jesus went to Galilee and taught in the synagogues, Mark writes: “And Jesus went into Galilee and preached the gospel of God and said…’Repent and believe in the gospel.’”

Hebrew translators of the New Testament have perhaps always given as the equivalent of evangelion the Hebrew noun בְּשׂוֹרָה (besōrāh). Yet in non-Christian Hebrew texts besōrāh never bears the specific meaning Mark intends. Besōrāh means only “message” or “news” to the modern Hebrew speaker,[6] and this seems to have been true of mishnaic Hebrew as well as biblical Hebrew. Therefore, if we translate evangelion as besōrāh in the above passage, we leave the Hebrew reader who is not acquainted with New Testament phraseology wondering what this undefined “message” could have been. The Hebrew reader will probably say to himself on seeing besōrāh: “This must be a positive use of the word, but what can ‘the Gospel’ mean?” Mark never bothers to define evangelion for his readers.

The epistles of Paul are full of the term evangelion, but the rest of the New Testament, with a few notable exceptions, is strangely silent at the places we might expect such a rich expression to appear. Revelation once uses it (Rev. 14:6). Peter’s first epistle once employs it (1 Pet. 4:17). But the Johannine literature, the epistle of James, Hebrews and the Gospel of Luke never use the expression even once. Yet Luke uses the word twice in Acts: once in the mouth of Paul (Acts 20:24) and once in the mouth of Peter (Acts 15:7).

Why did Luke not use evangelion in his Gospel? From Acts we can see clearly that he knew Peter (Acts 15:7) and Paul (Acts 20:24) had used the term. It is likely that Paul coined the word and, in the New Testament books, the term had not become a general Christian nomination. But if Luke’s sources, including, supposedly, the Gospel of Mark, had used the term, would Luke have rejected it? There seems no reason to suppose that he would have done so. We must therefore conclude that evangelion did not appear in Luke’s sources.

Matthew, by contrast, appears to have picked up the term from Mark, using evangelion four times (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; 26:13), but (with the exception of Matt. 26:13) evangelion always appears in the longer phrase, “the gospel of the Kingdom.” Matthew’s expansion suggests that he was uncomfortable with Mark’s unspecified use of the term evangelion, and felt that some sort of explanation was necessary.

We have thus located another “non-Hebraism” (evangelion) in Mark. It is not found in Luke, and its usage in Acts is limited to two occurrences, one in the mouth of Peter, and one in the mouth of Paul. Matthew accepted evangelion in a modified form, as though he was aware that Mark had used the term in an unusual manner that required elucidation.

This evidence strongly suggests that Luke did not know Mark’s Gospel. Matthew, on the other hand, shows signs of Mark’s influence. We are left to conclude, therefore, that Luke wrote first using excellent early sources, that Mark copied from Luke, and that Matthew in turn copied from Mark but, having access to other sources, hesitated to accept every usage of each Markan stereotype.

Mark Secondary to Luke

This above description of the interrelationship of the Synoptic Gospels is the only solution that seems possible to me. The evidence clearly points to the existence of an early Hebrew story of the life of Jesus, from which at least one very literal Greek translation was made. This Greek document was copied and disseminated. At some point a different version (the Anthology) appeared that separated narrative parts of the earlier stories from the teachings of Jesus and from the parables that supplemented these teachings. This new arrangement of the materials on Jesus’ life and teaching prompted yet another writer to compose a shorter and more chronological version (the First Reconstruction). Luke used the First Reconstruction along with the Anthology.[7] Because Mark knew the Anthology he was able to see in Luke’s Gospel the chronologically arranged units and separate them from the Anthology’s units. Mark copied from Luke, but constantly changed Luke’s wording by inserting certain expressions, some of which, like evangelion, he picked up from Acts and the Pauline Epistles.

Matthew knew the same basic anthological material we see in Luke. He did not know Luke’s Gospel, except the hints of it that came through Mark. Matthew also did not know the First Reconstruction that Luke used, except as he saw it in Mark. Matthew was greatly influenced by Mark, but knew from the Anthology that many of Mark’s stereotypes were not original. Matthew’s method was to weave together the wording of Mark and that of the Anthology. This resulted in an interesting phenomenon: in Markan contexts Matthew frequently preserves phrases and words which match the parallel text of Luke but not the parallel text of Mark.

An Early Hebrew Gospel Story

When I began my research, I felt the tension between what seemed to be a basically Hebraic-Greek text and the non-Hebraic, repetitious stereotypes of Mark. This led me to look for a proto-Mark of some kind. I supposed this proto-text might be found in the research of scholars into the history of the textual transmission of the Synoptic Gospels. But a proto-Mark was not there. Instead, it lay at my fingertips in Luke, albeit in two forms: material that had come from the Anthology and material that entered Luke from the First Reconstruction. Yet the proto-text was discernible not only in Luke, but also in Matthew wherever Matthew followed the Anthology. Thus Matthew, although later than Mark, is also an important gold mine from which nuggets of early wording can be extracted.


My hypothesis frees us from the closed circle of textual tradition and chronology created by the Markan hypothesis. The essential picture is not that of two independent sources—Mark and Q—from which Matthew and Luke descended, but of a single Hebraic-Greek source that ultimately stands behind each of the Synoptic Gospels. We are not obliged to talk about a special “theology of Q,” which differs from the “theology of Mark.” Even more importantly, we are not obliged to detect in each Lukan and Matthean divergence from Mark’s wording a “theological” break from Markan construction. (If Matthew and Luke deviate from Mark in Markan contexts in even the slightest way, the modern school of “redaction criticism” suspects theological motivation.)[8]

Luke and Matthew have preserved remarkably beautiful Hebraic texts that can often be translated word for word into elegant Hebrew. These texts clearly antedate Mark’s redaction. It is thus Mark who brought about the intense disparity (mainly word disparity) so ever-present in our synoptic parallels. His methods, which I have discussed elsewhere at length,[9] throw great light on the freedom and value of this fascinating author, but are ultimately of little use in our search for the earliest written tradition. It is in Matthew and Luke that we must search for the earliest form of the original biography of Jesus.

Nor do these two Gospels disappoint the researcher. Let him or her lay the parallel texts of Matthew, Mark and Luke side by side. First, let the researcher translate Luke’s version to Hebrew, then that of Matthew, and lastly, that of Mark. Now let him or her note whether Mark’s special wording has been copied by Matthew. Finally, let the researcher check for Matthean-Lukan agreements in wording against Mark, for in them he has clear evidence of the ancient wording.

If the researcher duplicates my research, he or she will find that, as a rule, Luke’s text has best preserved the older version. However, sometimes Matthew will display a word or phrase or whole story unit which is clearly the original. Even Mark will occasionally have hints of an earlier text than Luke’s, and sometimes Matthew will confirm Mark’s wording. Use of my methodology is not easy, but it is rewarding.

Form Criticism

Rudolf Karl Bultmann
Rudolf Karl Bultmann

Just as the theory of Markan priority threw its stifling source blanket over the essential Semitic exploration of the Synoptic Gospels, so the emergence of form criticism[10] brought intelligent Gospel criticism to a grinding halt. Most New Testament scholars no longer supposed that we have in the Synoptic Gospels Semitic materials that take us back to the earliest Jewish-Christian community, but took it for granted that the stories in the Synoptic Gospels evolved orally in Greek over several decades before being written down by Mark, then Matthew, and finally Luke.

Form critics maintain that the early Church remembered for a period of time some of the more famous sayings Jesus uttered. Around these sayings early catechists and preachers constructed short stories for pedagogical purposes. In this way the Greek-speaking church produced a series of short doctrinal and homiletic narratives about Jesus for its own needs. These units were told and retold so often that they took on certain definable “forms” (miracle stories, pronouncement stories, etc.). Finally, around 70 A.D., various writers, including the Synoptic Gospel writers, put these floating, oral traditions into writing. In order to make a continuous story, say the form critics, these writers were obliged to attach to each short narrative unit or saying an historical note of time or place.

From the form critical point of view, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke are, therefore, not reliable sources for the historical actions and teachings of Jesus. The only elements that may go back to Jesus himself are a few of the sayings attributed to him. Even these have been stamped with the “faith” of the later Church and we cannot easily restore their original meaning.[11]

Martin Dibelius
Martin Dibelius

Even scholars who timidly voice suspicions that some tiny part of this overwhelming explanation may be in error approach the Gospels as form critics. One reads everywhere in scholarly books and journals that the Gospels are a “unique and different form of literature” otherwise unknown to antiquity. They are “not biography.” The Gospels are assumed to be expanded sermons, the enlarged and enriched kerygma (message) the apostles and early believers in Jesus used when calling upon Jews and Gentiles to repent and accept God’s new way. “In the beginning was the sermon,” one early form critic used to say.[12]

It goes without saying that I cannot fit the results of my own study of the Gospels into this picture. Take, for example, the persistent evidence that only a written tradition can explain the similarities in pericopae and wording in any justifiable analysis of the interrelations of the Synoptic Gospels. Before Mark stands Luke, but after Mark, Matthew confirms much of Luke. Mark modifies and redacts Luke and other written sources, but he does so by inserting words and phrases from written sources still discernible. Luke’s text, when translated to Hebrew, shows Hebrew idiom and verbalism and rabbinic sophistication. Matthew’s text does so, too, both in parallel to Luke and in his unique pericopae.

Why is Luke so often easy to translate to Hebrew, despite a few very dramatic exceptions? Why does Matthew show remarkably Hebraic materials precisely in the passages he gives that are not from Mark? These questions cannot be answered by assuming that our Gospels are compilations of pericope units that developed orally and independently through the telling of them by Greek-speaking teachers. It is inconceivable that a series of Greek-speaking story-tellers could create, repeat, interpret, modify and retell these Greek stories in such a fashion that, when finally recorded in writing, they would translate back into sophisticated Hebrew.

Greek word order is not Hebrew word order. Greek words that are normally used to translate Hebrew words do not bear the same range of meaning when used by a Greek writer as their Hebrew equivalents bear when used by a Hebrew writer. Anyone who examines such New Testament words as “wisdom,” “behold,” “brother,” “son,” “age,” “ear,” “amen,” “see,” “sit,” “stand,” “man,” “mouth” and “all,” will find the Synoptic Gospels loaded with words that are used in Hebraic senses unknown to Greek literature. The evidence suggests that back of the Synoptic Gospels lie Greek texts that were literal translations of Hebrew. The Synoptic Gospel writers have not always preserved the wording of these documents—Mark being the author who changes the wording of his sources most radically. The majority of Luke’s text, however, and much of Matthew’s, can be retranslated to Hebrew with great ease.

Moreover, to the extent that we can recover pre-synoptic sources through the Synoptic Gospels, there is the strongest evidence that the original materials represented a continuous story modeled linguistically and literarily along the lines of normal biblical Hebrew narrative. Like the stories of Moses, Saul or Elijah, the Hebrew gospel began either, as in Mark, with the advent of Jesus in the shadow of John the Baptist, or, as in Matthew and Luke, with stories of Jesus’ birth and childhood. Events were then recorded, sometimes with notes of place and time and sometimes without these. Direct conversations occurred and are recorded. The story moved on with emphasis on things done and said: there is the arrest, the interrogation, the crucifixion, the resurrection and the final instructions of Jesus to his disciples. All this is valid Hebrew biography, even if we sometimes find the need to join units (such as the two parables on prayer found in the eleventh and eighteenth chapters of Luke) to get an earlier, connected story. There is no need to apologize for the Gospels as lengthened sermons. That is exactly what they are not.

Basic Errors of Scholarship

The first error of most modern New Testament research is the acceptance of Markan priority. The essential mistake of those who accept the Markan hypothesis lies in the naive conclusion that by studying the facts related to pericope order alone it is possible to determine the interdependence of our Gospels. Facts about pericope order are important, but not decisive for determining whether Mark is responsible for creating the order because Matthew and Luke independently used his Gospel, or whether Mark has depended upon one of the Evangelists only to be followed by the third Evangelist.[13] The common story skeleton could have arisen under any of these scenarios.

To settle this question, one must add to the observations about pericope order the facts of verbal identity and disparity. Scholars failed at this point, not so much because they did not notice there was a problem, but because they failed to line up these facts with those of pericope order before arriving at a solution to the synoptic question. The ghost of this failure lifts its pale face each time a modern scholar learns, to his or her amazement, that Matthew and Luke appear to be heavily dependent on Mark’s pericope order, but radically divergent from Mark’s wording. The same ghost rises silently in condemnation when scholars shortsightedly sweep under the rug the Matthean-Lukan minor agreements.[14]

If we study the 42 pericopae that Matthew and Luke share without Mark, we find that their wording is often identical for whole sentences and even paragraphs; however, in the 77 stories they share with Mark, we find that Matthew and Luke occasionally agree on a word or short phrase against Mark, but never agree for more than a few words with each other, even when Mark has the same wording as one of them.

To put it another way, Matthew and Luke are able to copy the words of one of their sources (Q, according to the theory of Markan priority) with great exactitude, but they cannot copy the other source (Mark, according to Markan priority) without making significant verbal changes. We may call this phenomenon the Markan Cross-Factor (as I have suggested in A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark),[15] for it seems clear that Mark stands chronologically between the 77 pericopae of Matthew and Luke, causing both the common pericope order of the synoptic materials and the severe verbal disparity between Luke and Matthew. It is also observable that in 18 of the 42 pericopae Matthew and Luke share from the Anthology, verbal identity is often nearly exact,[16] whereas with one or two exceptions these 42 do not appear in the same pericope order in Matthew and Luke. There is a stark contrast between verbal agreement and sequential disparity in the Double Tradition. Put again, Luke and Matthew share common story order where Mark is present, but differ verbally with each other rather severely opposite Mark; yet they are able to agree closely with each other in verbal matters when transcribing their non-Markan parallels, but disagree in pericope order. This is the Markan Cross-Factor.[17]

Why do Matthew and Luke show such fidelity to one source and such infidelity to the other, especially when the second source (i.e., Mark) supposedly provides them with their common order? And how can they independently agree to use many short phrases and words against Mark?

The answer to these questions cannot proceed along the usual lines of the Markan hypothesis. It cannot be true that Matthew and Luke often agree with each other verbally against Mark in Markan contexts if they are only using Mark’s text at these points. It is likewise highly improbable that they could independently come to the exact way of treating one source with verbal respect and the other with verbal disrespect. Much the simplest answer, if we are to retain any of the insights of the Markan priorists, is to conclude that it is Mark’s redactic activity that is responsible for the Matthean-Lukan verbal distance in Markan contexts. This point of view will confirm the Markan priorists’ contention that Matthew and Luke were not acquainted with each other’s text. But it also will insist that Matthew and Luke did not equally follow Mark. Instead, Mark depended on either Matthew or Luke and radically reworded this Gospel’s text in his own version. This rewording disturbed the third writer and caused the serious Matthean-Lukan verbal disparity in Triple Tradition material.

And how did Matthew and Luke manage to agree with each other on so many words against Mark in Markan contexts? The answer must be that the chronologically third writer used a text (a document I term the Anthology) that was known to the writer who was chronologically first, but the writer who was chronologically third also knew Mark’s divergent text and attempted to combine Mark’s redacted wording with the earlier text form that he saw in the Anthology.

Which Gospel, Matthew or Luke, has Mark used?

We must ask which Gospel, Matthew or Luke, was chronologically third and therefore knew Mark’s text.[18] It is between Luke and Mark that the greatest amount of verbal disparity exists. Indeed, this word-divergence is phenomenal. Mark and Luke present story after story in the same order (as a rule), yet they cannot manage to agree on more than fifty percent of the actual words in any given story. We are forced to assume that one of them is using the text of the other. Yet this same Gospel writer is deliberately refusing to copy the other writer’s text word for word. If Mark uses ἐκ (out of), Luke will use ἀπό (from). If Luke uses ἐκ, Mark will use ἀπό. If Mark uses the Greek word for “how,” Luke will often use “what.” If Luke uses “how,” Mark will use “what.” If Luke writes “teaches,” Mark will give a synonym; yet Mark uses “teaches” opposite Luke’s synonym. The examples of this kind of synonymic exchange are manifold.

The only logical explanation for this phenomenon is that one writer has changed the text of the other. It is Mark who fills the bill as the author who is responsible for these variations. It is Mark who is constantly editing, homilizing, stereotyping and generally rewriting. Luke is decidedly not this kind of writer, nor is Matthew.

We therefore must conclude that it is Mark who stands both logically and chronologically between Luke and Matthew. He is the author who made constant, radical and deliberate change to the Lukan text. Matthew, although not completely dependent upon Mark, was deeply influenced by him. That is why, wherever Mark is present, Matthew and Luke only manage to agree verbally in minor ways. On the other hand, Matthew and Luke, when not in a Markan context, often agree at length on wording.

Karl Ludwig Schmidt and Form Criticism

Karl Ludwig Schmidt
Karl Ludwig Schmidt

It was the failure to settle the problem of verbal divergence before accepting a final solution to the “synoptic problem” that set modern research on the wrong path. The next wrong turn of great moment came in its wake. In 1919 a German scholar, Karl Ludwig Schmidt, published his findings on the Rahmen (i.e. framework) of the Synoptic Gospels.[19]

In his book Schmidt explored the geographical and chronological notations of the common synoptic pericopae and pointed to their wide divergence. He labeled these and other words of introduction and ending to pericopae the “framework” of the Gospels. His book proved beyond doubt that the disparity of pericope introductions and endings is radical.

The conclusions Schmidt drew from his observations, however, had disastrous consequences. Schmidt concluded from the discrepancies in the “framework” that the Synoptic Gospel writers actually knew nothing about the setting and chronology of events in Jesus’ life. “On the whole, therefore,” said Schmidt, “… there is no such thing as the Life of Jesus in the sense of an unfolding life’s story; there is no chronological outline of the story of Jesus; there are only individual stories, pericopae, which have been inserted into a framework.”[20]

How did Schmidt arrive at such a conclusion? His reasoning is impressive. Schmidt noted the fact that the Synoptic Gospels show many parallel stories. Usually (in 61 contexts) these pericopae show the same order. Such a fact, he suggested, can be explained as due to Mark’s prior ordering of the stories before the writing of Matthew and Luke. In 17 instances, however, the pericope order differs. This divergence of sequence, Schmidt argued, can be attributed to the independent decisions of Matthew and Luke to break occasionally from Markan order. But this implies that each writer felt free to shift the position of a pericope more or less at will. Therefore, the Evangelists did not have an historical basis for the arrangement of their pericopae.

If all this is true, Schmidt reasoned, we can think of each pericope as a fixed, independent unit, like a page in a looseleaf notebook. These units had developed by a long process of oral repetition. Perhaps they were written down now and then as separate little narrative sheets. In any case, by the time our Gospel writers used them, they had become a “fixed” tradition that the Greek Church knew by heart.

Now, thought Schmidt, how do you make a book out of a series of anecdotes? You lay them out in front of you on separate sheets (or do the same in your memory), decide which comes first, second, etc., and then proceed to add “connecting-links” that mention place or time according to your own ideas of the story you wish to tell. On the basis of this hypothesis, Schmidt then reasoned: If I investigate these connecting notes (Rahmen) and they turn out to differ radically in the Gospel parallels, that will prove that the looseleaf hypothesis is correct.

The important contribution Schmidt is considered to have made was the investigation of the supposedly artificial geographical and chronological notes. He easily showed that the parallel versions of these connecting links in Matthew, Mark and Luke differ greatly. It has been almost universally accepted that Schmidt conclusively proved the rationale of the form criticism position. But such is not the case.

Schmidt’s error lay in treating “framework” as separate from his “units of tradition.” In concentrating on framework disparity, he failed to take account of the much larger problem of total disparity. It does not matter where you start comparing the common pericopae of Matthew, Mark and Luke, because when each verse, each phrase and each word is studied, the same radical verbal divergence is proved to be ubiquitous. There is no justification for pleading that framework disparity is some special kind of disparity. Thus, Schmidt’s careful analysis cannot be used to prop up the theory that the Synoptic Gospel materials developed as oral units before being written down. The hypotheses of form criticism remain unproven and cannot be proved until the prior problem of the verbal disparity between the Synoptic Gospels is solved.

The problems of pericope and verbal disparity largely revolve around the presence of Mark. Take Mark out, and Matthew and Luke show unity of approach. Put Mark in, and the whole picture changes. The synoptic problem’s solution lies in realizing from Mark’s redactic activity that he is the middle man between Matthew and Luke. We can add, with Schmidt, that one must recognize the possibility that units can be shifted from location to location. The Anthology was not itself a narrative, chronological document, but presented parts of earlier, more complete stories.


My solution to the synoptic problem leads to a very different assessment of the Gospels than is common in New Testament scholarship today. One of the results of this new way of looking at the Synoptic Gospels is the anachronous fact that we can see far more divergence between Matthew, Mark and Luke (but especially between Mark and Luke) than ever before, yet this disparity is of a much less serious nature than scholars have supposed.

Only one of the Synoptic Gospel writers is the principal cause of the verbal divergence and his literary method of dramatizing, replacing and exchanging words and expressions does not suggest that he had special “theological” interests. Mark’s methods may be foreign to us, but they are common in the Jewish literary genre known as midrash.

When we view the synoptic relationships in this way, we have no need to apologize for the seeming shakiness of the Gospel account. The story is sound. We have nearly two hundred excellent story and sayings pericopae, and these cover all but about five percent of our total synoptic material. The historicity of the story is assured by the remarkable Hebraic-Greek materials preserved by Luke and Matthew. Even the minor agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark demonstrate the accuracy of the pre-synoptic sources.

In the original story there is theology. There is eschatology. There is Christology. It rings with the resonance of Hebrew. Jesus’ teaching, translated to Hebrew, takes on new meaning as tiny hints of scriptural contexts are revived. Jesus’ conversations teem with terminology taken from the rabbis and, sometimes, from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Jesus heals like Elisha, but forgives like the Son of God. He exorcises demons, treading on the head of the Serpent. He searches for the sinner and the outcast as the God of Ezekiel sought for and delivered the lost sheep of Israel. He prophesies, challenges, preaches and exhorts as did the God of the prophets.

The story is laconic, brief, non-dramatic, like all Hebrew narrative, and cannot therefore be understood completely in Greek or in any later translation, but it is basically sound. Jesus is from Nazareth, but comes to the Jordan and Judea to identify with John’s baptism of repentance. He goes back to Galilee alone, as Luke says, to teach and heal in its synagogues. His fame spreads and he returns to Judea for a teaching period. When he arrives again in Galilee he begins to call those who will itinerate with him and later chooses twelve from them. He sends them out to preach that, with his appearance, the Kingdom has come, to heal, and to exorcise demons. He teaches his disciples and begins to prophesy his own rejection in Jerusalem. Finally, he makes a last journey to Jerusalem. The things that happen in Jerusalem are given in much detail. Jesus is crucified and buried, but God raises him from the dead. After his resurrection, he talks to “those who have been with me in my trials” (Luke 22:28), warns them, bids them farewell and tells them to wait for God’s coming new direction. Then Jesus leaves them as he ascends to heaven from the Mount of Olives.

This is the story that still is a story. It is Hebrew biography at its best, despite the obvious apocopation and pericope realignment we observe in the Gospels. If we study this biography sufficiently and use the right tools as we do so, it will yield its treasures like scrolls rediscovered in a cave of a dry wadi.

*This article has been emended and updated by Lauren S. Asperschlager, David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton.
  • [1] R. L. Lindsey, “A Modified Two-Document Theory of the Synoptic Dependence and Interdependence,” Novum Testamentum 6 (1963): 239-263.
  • [2] For a description of the seven steps in the conjectured process of Gospel transmission as outlined by Lindsey (including suggested dates for the composition of the seven canonical and non-canonical documents), see David Bivin, “Discovering Longer Gospel Stories.”
  • [3] See “The Power of the Anthology” diagram and caption in Lindsey, “Unlocking the Synoptic Problem: Four Keys for Better Understanding Jesus.”
  • [4] Cf. Léon Vaganay, Le problème synoptique (Paris and Tournai: Desclée, 1954), 10.
  • [5] For more details about the “Triple” and “Double” Traditions, see the subheadings “Triple Tradition” and “Double Tradition” in Lindsey, “Unlocking the Synoptic Problem.”
  • [6] If a man comes into a room and addresses another with the statement, “I have a besōrāh for you,” the immediate reaction of the person will be, “Is it good or bad?”
  • [7] The Lukan Doublets confirm that Luke used two sources. A Lukan Doublet is a saying of Jesus appearing twice in the Gospel of Luke, apparently the result of Luke’s copying from two sources, each of which had a different version of the saying. The first of each pair is found in Luke 8:16-18 and Luke 9:23-27. The second of each pair is embedded in a longer context: Luke 11:33; 12:2-9 (vss. 2, 9); 14:26-33 (vs. 27); 17:22-37 (vs. 33); and 19:12-27 (vs. 26). See Lindsey’s articles, “Unlocking the Synoptic Problem” (subheadings “Pre-synoptic Sources” and “Lukan Doublets”); and “Measuring the Disparity Between Matthew, Mark and Luke.”
  • [8] Cf. G. Bornkamm, G. Barth, and H. J. Held, Tradition and Interpretation in Matthew (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1963); H. Conzelmann, The Theology of St. Luke (Philadelphia: Augsburg Fortress, 1982).
  • [9] Robert L. Lindsey, A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark (2nd ed.; Jerusalem: Dugith Publishers, 1973), 39-56.
  • [10] Form criticism of the New Testament blossomed in the second quarter of the twentieth century. Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976) was the most influential form critic.
  • [11] For an excellent, short summary of the assumptions of form criticism, see Robert Cook Briggs, Interpreting the Gospels: An Introduction to Methods and Issues in the Study of the Synoptic Gospels (Nashville: Abingdon, 1969), 74-76.
  • [12] Cf. Martin Dibelius, Die Formgeschichte des Evangeliums (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1919), 8-34.
  • [13] For diagrams of the three possibilities of literary relationships offered by B. C. Butler, see Lindsey, “Measuring the Disparity Between Matthew, Mark and Luke.”
  • [14] For a discussion of these agreements, see the subheading “‘Minor’ Agreements” in Lindsey, “Unlocking the Synoptic Problem.”
  • [15] Lindsey, A Hebrew Translation, 19-22, 41.
  • [16] In the other 24 Double Tradition pericopae, Matthew and Luke agree only about 25% of the time.
  • [17] See the diagram, “The Markan Cross-Factor,” and the subheading, “Markan Cross-Factor,” in Lindsey, “Unlocking the Synoptic Problem.”
  • [18] See Lindsey, “Measuring the Disparity Between Matthew, Mark and Luke.”
  • [19] Karl Ludwig Schmidt, Der Rahmen der Geschichte Jesu: literarkritische Untersuchungen zur ältesten Jesusüberlieferung (Berlin: Trowizsch, 1919).
  • [20] Schmidt, Der Rahmen, 317.

From Luke to Mark to Matthew: A Discussion of the Sources of Markan “Pick-ups” and the Use of a Basic Non-canonical Source by All the Synoptists



The first article I wrote on the interrelationships of Matthew, Mark and Luke to each other and to other canonical and non-canonical sources appeared in the journal Novum Testamentum.[1] The article discusses the conclusions I reached concerning the “Synoptic Problem” over several years spent translating the Gospel of Mark into Modern Hebrew.

The basic solution offered in that article includes the suggestion that the line of interdependence of the Synoptic Gospels runs from Luke to Mark to Matthew. At the time, I supposed that the three Synoptic Gospels were not merely interrelated, but that each had access to a shared non-canonical Hebraic-Greek source. Luke, I supposed, had utilized this source when composing his Gospel. Mark utilized Luke and the non-canonical Hebraic-Greek source, and finally Matthew had based his Gospel on Mark and that same Hebraic-Greek Source. This hypothesis allowed me to account for the Hebraic style of much of Luke’s material, the apparent rewriting of Luke’s material by Mark, and the minor agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark in the Triple Tradition, since Matthew and Luke used the same non-canonical Hebraic-Greek text as one of their sources. Mark’s middle position allowed me to account for the common pericope order, but at the time I still believed that the Double Tradition, that is, the shared Matthean and Lukan pericopae not paralleled by Mark, derived from a separate source generally referred to as Q.

With further research, however, I refined my hypothesis. I reached the conclusion that Luke depended heavily on not one, but two earlier sources, which I term the Anthology and the First Reconstruction. I will describe the distinctive characteristics of these two sources below. For now, however, let me continue to describe my conclusions regarding the line of synoptic interdependence. I still maintain that Mark followed Luke, but I now believe that Mark had access to the Anthology as a separate text, whereas his knowledge of the First Reconstruction is derived solely from Luke. Nevertheless, by comparing Luke to the Anthology, Mark was able to detect the presence of the First Reconstruction, for he observed Luke departing from the Anthology’s order and wording. This observation inspired Mark to do editing and rewriting of his own, according to his peculiar and unique style. Matthew still comes in the third position. Like Mark, Matthew also consulted the Anthology, the first of Luke’s two sources, and the only source known independently to all three Synoptists. But although Matthew utilized the Anthology, he followed Mark as his principal source for pericope order and phraseology in the stories he held in common with Mark. Thus, both of Luke’s sources exerted their influence on all three of the Synoptic Gospels, although in different ways. The Anthology was known directly to Luke, Mark and Matthew. The First Reconstruction, on the other hand, was known directly only to Luke. Mark was influenced by the First Reconstruction via Luke, and Matthew, who depended on Mark, was likewise influenced by the First Reconstruction at a third remove.

One final aspect of my hypothesis must be noted before I can explain what fruit my approach to the Synoptic Gospels can yield. I have concluded that the two sources that served as the basis of Luke’s Gospel were not independent witnesses. It appears, rather, that the First Reconstruction is a revision and rearrangement of the Anthology.

SynopticHypothesisThe Anthology was a descendant of a highly literal Greek translation of a Hebrew account of the actions and teachings of Jesus. This Hebrew source and its literal Greek translation consisted of literary complexes occasioned by incidents in Jesus’ life. For some reason, the Greek translation was reorganized according to literary genre by the Anthologizer. Thus, parables were separated from their original positions within longer sections of teaching, and these teaching sections were often separated from the narrative descriptions of the incidents that had occasioned them. The result was that the narrative-sayings complexes that existed in the original Hebrew biography of Jesus and its Greek translation were reshuffled into new arrangements. The fragmentation of the original narrative-sayings complexes was the work of the Anthologizer, but the Anthologizer preserved the individual fragments remarkably well. The fragments continue to bear the marks of a highly literal Greek translation of an original Hebrew story.

The First Reconstruction came into being when someone desired to create a continuous narrative from the fragments of story and teaching contexts found in the Anthology. Perhaps it was common knowledge that the Anthology consisted of fragments of larger literary complexes, or perhaps this was the First Reconstructor’s own insight. In any case, the author of the First Reconstruction succeeded in creating a continuous narrative. The First Reconstruction, however, is marked by editorial activity. In many places the Hebraic-Greek wording of the Anthology was preserved, but often, especially where fragments from the Anthology were joined to create a continuous narrative, the First Reconstructor’s hand is evident. His editing can also be observed when he improved the Greek style of his source or attempted to interpret the meaning of his source for his Greek readers.

The refinement of my synoptic hypothesis began when I realized I had overlooked important evidence pertaining to Luke’s sources. Originally, I thought that Luke had utilized two sources: 1) a source I referred to as the proto-narrative, which was the source of the Triple Tradition narratives, and 2) Q, the source of the Double Tradition sayings known to Matthew and Luke. As I continued to study the synoptic relationships, however, I realized that support for Q as an independent document had begun to collapse under the weight of the so-called “minor agreements” of Luke and Matthew against Mark. It was simpler to suppose that the minor agreements in the Triple Tradition, and the parallel material of the Double Tradition, represent a single Greek text that was known to all the Synoptists. This basic source accounts not only for the minor agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark, and the non-Markan materials Matthew and Luke share, but also for much of the unique materials of Matthew and Luke, as well as the unique material found in Mark 6:45-52 and 7:1-30. I referred to this Hebraic-Greek source that was utilized by each of the Synoptic writers as the “Basic Source.” But then the problem of the Lukan Doublets[2] was brought to my attention, which forced me to distinguish this non-canonical source, known directly to all three Synoptic Evangelists, from Luke’s second source which influenced all three of our Synoptic writers, but only indirectly via Mark’s utilization of Luke, and Matthew’s utilization of Mark. After the distinctive characteristics of Luke’s two sources became clear to me, I began referring to the Basic Source as the Anthology, and to Luke’s second source as the First Reconstruction.

Lukan Doublets: Sayings Doublets

One set of the Lukan Doublets appears to have been modified by a Greek editor. This set of doublets is found in lists of pithy sayings of Jesus in Luke 8:16-18 and 9:23-27, while their counterparts are found in longer contexts in a section known as the Greater Interpolation (Luke 9:51-18:14).[3] This observation was brought to my attention by David Bivin, who was one of my students in Jerusalem. After testing his observation in collaboration with my colleague and mentor, Professor David Flusser of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, I became convinced that Bivin’s proposal was sound. Let me illustrate this point by juxtaposing one example of a Lukan Doublet:

The lefthand column shows that the version in the longer context of Luke 12:2-10, like its parallel passage in Matthew 10:26-33 (righthand column), has a perfect Hebrew-style speech parallelism: “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, and (nothing) hidden that will not be made known.”[4] This saying is easily translated into Hebrew.[5] However, Luke’s version of this saying in the middle column is less Hebraic: “For nothing is hidden that will not become known, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” Moreover, in Luke 12 and Matthew 10, this saying introduces a series of sentences related to bold witnessing, so that the saying is more appropriate in this context than in the Luke 8 context.

Let us examine a second Lukan Doublet:

Here we observe that the saying in the lefthand column gives the inverse of the saying that immediately precedes it in Luke 12:8: “Everyone who confesses me before men, the Son of Man will confess before the angels of God.” The version in the middle column, on the other hand, appears to have taken the positive “whoever confesses me” and the negative “whoever denies me” and rendered the idea “whoever is ashamed of me.” Luke’s version in the middle column has also connected this saying to the coming of the Son of Man (L3), whereas the expression “the Son of Man” appears only in the positive part of the saying that precedes the version in the lefthand column. Moreover, there is no hint in Luke’s version in the lefthand column of a coming of the Son of Man, and likewise no such hint in the Matthean parallel in the righthand column. Luke’s version in the middle column has not only imported the idea of the Second Coming into this saying, the Second Coming was also imported into the saying that follows (Luke 9:27), which probably has its origin in Luke 21:31-32.

The final doublet we will examine in this section is comprised of Luke 14:27 and Luke 9:23:


This comparison shows the same saying in a highly Hebraic version in the lefthand column and in an improved Greek version in the righthand column. The version in the lefthand column is so Hebraic in form that it can easily be translated back almost word for word into idiomatic Hebrew.[6] The improved Greek version has turned a disqualifying statement, “Whosoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27), into a requirement for discipleship, “If anyone wants to follow me let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). The improved Greek version in the righthand column appears to have lifted the phrase εἴ τις (“if anyone”) from the saying in Luke 14:26 that immediately precedes the version of the doublet in the lefthand column: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother….” The version in the righthand column also picks up “deny himself” from the Luke 12:9 context and uses it in this revised saying, and even adds the word “daily,” which is recognized as secondary by most exegetes.

After studying these and other examples of the same pattern by comparing each component of a given doublet, it became clear to me that the versions of Luke’s doublets that appear in the lists of pithy sayings come from a different source than the versions appearing in the longer contexts. The versions from the lists of pithy sayings are not from a document that originated in Hebrew, but were derived from a redaction of Luke’s Hebraic-Greek source. I refer to this redacted source as the First Reconstruction. The Hebraic-Greek source, which I refer to as the Anthology, was the source of the Hebraic versions of Luke’s doublets that appear in the longer contexts. But the Anthology was also the text that the First Reconstructor revised. In other words, the two sources of Luke’s doublets are related. The First Reconstruction is a direct descendant of the Anthology.

With respect to Luke, therefore, I have arrived at a non-canonical Two-Source hypothesis: Luke based his Gospel on a Hebraic-Greek source, the Anthology, and on an improved Greek source, the First Reconstruction. With respect to Mark and Matthew, my hypothesis postulates two sources as well, but whereas Luke relied on two non-canonical sources, Mark and Matthew each depended on a different canonical source: Mark was influenced by the First Reconstruction via Luke, but his sources were Luke and the Anthology. Matthew was influenced by the First Reconstruction via Mark, but his sources were Mark and the Anthology.

My revised hypothesis accounts for the hyphenation and realignment of sayings that we find both in their original contexts as well as in their reorganized form in Luke by attributing the two versions of the Lukan Doublets to separate sources. My revised hypothesis also accounts for the fact that the reorganized sayings manifest patterns of redaction that show a Greek hand modifying an earlier Greek text, since the First Reconstruction was a redaction of the Anthology. The identification of Luke’s two sources also has the advantage of explaining the origin of the narrative skeleton common to all three Synoptic Gospels. For if we suppose 1) that Mark was able to detect First Reconstruction material in Luke because he also knew the differently organized text of the Anthology, and 2) he chose deliberately the shorter, connected and reorganized series of sayings and stories he found in Luke while still retaining enough hints of both texts to impress Matthew, then we can understand why it was the secondary operation of our First Reconstructor that brought about the common outline of our Synoptic Gospels.

Defining the outlines of two sources in an ancient book such as Luke is admittedly a difficult task, but the Lukan doublets provide a useful clue. Since we have observed that the improved Greek versions of the doublets appear in sections of Luke that show strong story-continuity, in contrast to the Hebraic versions of the doublets, which appear in contexts that are only loosely connected, we may find a further clue. As a rule, the tightly-connected areas in Luke 4-9 show roughly the outlines of the First Reconstruction, whereas the loosely-connected areas in Luke 9:51-18:14 show roughly the outlines of the Anthology. If, in addition, we search for possible story doublets, as well as the more easily recognized sayings doublets, we may find another clue.

Lukan Doublets: Narrative Doublets

A possible candidate for a story doublet is the so-called Dispute About Greatness in Luke 9:46-48 (cf. Mark 9:33-37 and Matt. 18:1-5) and the Blessing of the Children in Luke 18:15-17 (cf. Mark 10:13-16 and Matt. 19:13-15):


The above two versions of this story are essentially the same. The version in the lefthand column is a straightforward story of persons bringing children to Jesus to be blessed but being challenged by Jesus’ disciples for doing so. Jesus accepts the children and teaches his disciples that “of such [persons as these]” is his Kingdom movement. The version in the righthand column occurs a few verses prior to the Greater Interpolation of Luke (Luke 9:51-18:14), a section we already have suggested may have been based on the Anthology. In this version, Jesus chooses a child, stands him by his side, and makes a quite different point: “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me and whoever receives me receives him who sent me; he who is smallest among all of you is the greatest.”

The wording of the version in the righthand column is directly related to the argument recorded in Luke 22:24-30 where the disciples disagree over who will be the leader after Jesus is no longer with them. Indeed, it appears that the author of the First Reconstruction, which is the source for Luke’s version in the righthand column, has picked up the story of the disciples’ Passover night argument and combined it with the Blessing of the Children story in order to create this new version. The First Reconstructor has thus combined stories in a manner similar to the way he combined sayings into lists.

Not recognizing that the redacted version in the righthand column, which he found in the First Reconstruction, is essentially the same story as his Blessing of the Children in the lefthand column, which he found in the Anthology, Luke recorded both versions. We further observe that Luke continued quoting the First Reconstruction until at least Luke 9:48. Luke then began quoting the Sending Out of the Disciples from the Anthology (Luke 10:1-16), even though he had already copied a version of this story from the First Reconstruction (Luke 9:1-6). This example is a further indication that Luke 4-9 was copied from a different text (i.e., the First Reconstruction) than that standing behind Luke 9:51-18:14 (i.e., the Anthology).

Mark succeeded in separating the First Reconstruction material dealing with the Sending Out of the Disciples he found in Luke, but he did not succeed in separating and rejecting one version of The Children and Jesus, and, consequently, copied both (Mark 9:33-37; 10:13-16). Matthew, following Mark, did recognize the identity of the two stories, and therefore inserted the Childlikeness of the Kingdom into the first version (Matt. 18:3), yet opposite Mark 10:13-16 (see Matt. 19:13-15), he recorded the story again. Although Matthew was aware that the two “children” stories are essentially the same, Matthew was so devoted to Mark that he recorded them both because Mark did.

We have seen that the First Reconstruction was a short narrative that did not reject sayings, but edited and limited their use. This source was the work of an editor who knew a text (the Anthology) that was full of remarkable sayings units, parables and narrative openings that could stand on their own as stories. But the First Reconstructor attempted to create a continuous story of Jesus from the fragmented units of the Anthology. In his reconstruction he combined some of the fragmented units. He tried to emphasize narrative continuity and added interpretations and notes of his own in the form of short summaries to keep the narrative in motion. Because Mark was largely successful in isolating the First Reconstruction from the rest of Luke, Mark showed less interest in Jesus’ sayings and focused more on action. As a consequence, Mark’s Gospel is a fast-paced narrative. Matthew recognized that Mark was an important tool for reconstructing the fragmented materials of the Anthology, and managed to preserve the Markan outline while often responding to Mark’s secondary text by weaving phrases from the Anthology together with Mark’s wording, and inserting lengthy units of the Anthology at convenient points in the Markan outline.

My analysis shows that in the First Reconstruction sections of Luke we should expect an editing of units from the Anthology by the First Reconstructor and a recombination of the Anthology’s fragments into a new, narrative form. The new narrative created by the First Reconstructor was not necessarily the original story order of the Greek Translation of the original Hebrew biography of Jesus, nevertheless, Hebraisms originating in the Anthology still permeate the First Reconstruction’s passages. However, some Hebraisms disappeared due to the First Reconstructor’s editorial activity. Mark made additional word and phrase changes in his own unique manner. Matthew gave texts opposite Mark that respected Mark’s changes. However, Matthew often altered Mark’s wording because of the parallels he knew from the Anthology. Matthew’s corrections of Mark’s text sometimes correspond to the text of the First Reconstruction found in Luke because the First Reconstruction often retained the Anthology’s wording.

The observations we have discussed thus far are of great importance for understanding the similarities and differences between Matthew and Luke in their common, non-Markan parallels. For instance, sometimes there are lengthy passages shared only by Matthew and Luke that are so identical in wording[7] that all synoptic theorists must either say one is using the text of the other, or that both are faithfully copying a common non-canonical text. On the other hand, one sometimes sees non-Markan Matthean-Lukan parallels (Double Tradition pericopae) that have significantly different wording and details.[8] Bussmann thought this phenomenon was caused by two versions of Q. But once the presence of the First Reconstruction is detected in Luke, and it is recognized that the First Reconstructor edited materials from the Anthology, we understand why some of Matthew’s parallels are so much more original than Luke’s version. An example of this phenomenon is the secondary character of Luke’s Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:20-49) in comparison with Matthew’s parallels in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7). Luke depended on the First Reconstruction as his source for the Sermon on the Plain, and could not help but copy its secondary editing. Matthew, on the other hand, copied the Sermon on the Mount from the Anthology, and was not influenced by the First Reconstruction in these places, because Matthew knew the First Reconstruction only through Mark’s loose treatment of Luke’s First Reconstruction materials. On the other hand, in sections such as Luke 9:51-18:14, it is not surprising that Luke and Matthew manage to agree word for word and sometimes paragraph by paragraph, because in this section both Luke and Matthew depended on the Anthology.

These collations facilitated my discovery that it is sometimes possible to recombine fragmented stories scattered throughout the Synoptic Gospels into narrative-sayings complexes that originated in the Hebrew biography of Jesus.

Restoration of Narrative-Sayings Complexes

Many of the fragmented units of original stories have been preserved so well in Matthew and Luke that there is still almost complete congruency between the individual fragments. Thus, it remains possible to restore a number of original story complexes that originated in the Hebrew Life of Jesus simply by selecting verses from Matthew and Luke that have common themes and vocabulary and piecing them together.

I realized that the restoration of narrative-sayings complexes is possible in the late 1970s while participating in Professor Flusser’s synoptic seminar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. At the time, seminar participants were discussing whether the Matthean or the Lukan form of the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Matt. 18:12-14; Luke 15:4-7) was more original. In Luke, the Parable of the Lost Sheep appears in conjunction with the Parable of the Lost Coin, where the parables are told in response to the Pharisees’ criticism of Jesus’ behavior. In Matthew 18:12-14, by contrast, the Parable of the Lost Sheep is sandwiched between two sayings about μικροί (mikroi, “little ones”), without the Parable of the Lost Coin. The Matthean context, moreover, does not match the interpretation of the parable found in Luke 15.

Flusser contended that Matthew’s version of the parable was more likely to be original because Luke 15:1-3 was obviously an added introduction to the parable. But I argued that the Lukan version of the parable was more original, despite the editorial opening. In this secondary introduction to the Lukan version (Luke 15:1-3), the Pharisees and the scribes complain that Jesus “receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2). After a month of weekly seminars in which Flusser and I (and the other seminar participants) discussed these parables, it suddenly occurred to me that the two parables of Luke 15 might originally have stood at the end of the Calling of Levi story (Luke 5:27-32). This was because I noticed that the phrase οὐ χρείαν ἔχουσιν (“no need [they] have”) appears in both the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:4-7) and the Calling of Levi[9] where Jesus says, “the healthy have no need of a physician” (Luke 5:31). In the story of the Calling of Levi, Jesus justifies his willingness to dine with tax collectors and other persons of dubious character by saying, “I have not come to call righteous [persons], but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). This saying is similar in form and vocabulary to the interpretation of the Parable of the Lost Sheep, where Jesus says, “So there is greater joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who have no need of repentance” (Luke 15:7). Thus, in addition to the common theme of eating with sinners, the twin parables in Luke 15 and the story of the Calling of Levi are united by the expressions οὐ χρείαν ἔχουσιν (“no need [they] have”), δίκαιοι (“righteous [persons]”), ἁμαρτωλοί (“sinners”) and μετάνοια (“repentance”).[10]

Observe the congruity between the Lost Sheep parable and the Levi story when combined into one contiguous account:

And after these things he went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at the tax booth and said to him, “Follow me!” And he left everything, stood up and followed him. And Levi made him a great feast in his house and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were dining with them. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured and said to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors?” [Codex Bezae omits “and sinners”]. And Jesus answered and said to them, “The healthy have no need of a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call righteous [persons], but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:27-32)

“What man among you with a hundred sheep, having lost one, does not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go to the lost one until he finds it? Then, having found it, will not put it on his shoulders rejoicing, come home and call his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me for I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you, in the same way, there is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents more than over ninety-nine righteous [persons] who have no need of repentance. And what woman who has lost a drachma….” (Luke 15:4-10)

When the two fragments are thus pieced together, it becomes clear that the secondary introduction to Luke’s version of the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1-3) was influenced by the story of Levi in Luke 5:27-32. The Levi story and the parables must originally have belonged together. In response to the complaints of the establishment, Jesus offered a gentle joke, “I have not come to call saints, but sinners to repentance.” Then Jesus illustrated his point with the use of two supporting parables. The full record of Jesus’ response is found in remote contexts (Luke 5 and 15), making it appear as if the Pharisees’ criticism was repeated. It makes better sense to explain the common vocabulary of these distant texts in terms of the possibility that the passages originally appeared within the same context.

Within hours of this discovery, I came across another example of a story complex that could be restored from fragmented units preserved in the Synoptic Gospels. This example involved the joining of Luke 18:18-30 (The Rich Man) with Luke 14:26-33 (The Cost of Discipleship):

…Jesus said to him, “One thing you lack. Sell all you have and give to [the] poor…and follow me”…for he was very rich. And Jesus…said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to come into the kingdom of God….” Peter said, “We have left everything we own and followed you.” And he said, “Amen! I tell you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God who will not receive much more in this age and in the age to come life everlasting.” (Luke 18:22-30)

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters and his own ‘soul’ [Hebrew: nephesh, i.e., life] also, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Which of you wanting to build a tower…? And what king going out to meet another king in war…? Just so, everyone of you who does not forego all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-33)

The joining of these two passages provides its own evidence that these now-separated contexts originally stood together. In the above example, the laconic mention of possessions in Luke 14:33 in connection with the need to treat family relationships as secondary (Luke 14:26) becomes understandable when we realize that Jesus is talking both of the abandonment of home, because Peter has mentioned the “leaving of all,” and of the abandonment of wealth, because of the incident with a wealthy man who indeed had great “possessions.”[11]

In the examples of literary restoration presented above, we have gathered one fragment from the Triple Tradition and combined it with another fragment from the Double Tradition.[12] The congruity of the two parts is not essentially affected in Luke even though the evidence indicates that Luke 5:27-32 and Luke 18:18-30 are from parts of Luke dependent on the First Reconstruction, while Luke 15:4-10 and Luke 14:26-33 are dependent on the Anthology. This is the strongest possible evidence that the First Reconstruction is derived from the Anthology.

These reconstructions provide us with early narrative-sayings complexes. The first example gives us a story of Jesus’ calling a disciple (Luke 5:27-28), which serves as a very short introduction to the resulting complaint and Jesus’ defense of his actions (Luke 5:29-32). This is followed by Jesus’ use of two parables (Luke 15:3-10) which appear to be his “punch-line,” meant to drive his point home. Thus we have 1) an incident (Jesus says to Levi, “Follow me”); 2) criticism from outsiders; 3) Jesus’ answer as a teacher-sage; and 4) the application of the teaching in the form of twin parables.[13]

The fragmentation of the original narrative-sayings complex was the result of the Anthological reorganizer’s decision that it was best to retain story parts (1), (2) and (3), but to separate the accompanying twin parables (4) and record them in some other place. The reason the twin parables were recorded in a new location is not clear, but the pattern of cutting off the parables from teaching occurs often in the Synoptic Gospels.

In the case of the restored Rich Man complex (Luke 18:18-30 and 14:26-33), another discipleship story, there is 1) an incident involving a conversation with a would-be disciple; 2) Jesus’ comment about wealth and his Kingdom movement; 3) a response from the disciples; 4) further comment by Jesus; 5) Peter’s comment; 6) Jesus’ teaching and promise as a response; and 7) two parables with short application.

The editor of the Anthology appears to have felt he could only cut this story into sections by separating Jesus’ promise about the now and the hereafter from other sayings that included a parable about discipleship. The editor’s rule seems to have been to make sure that the parables would find a non-teaching setting and, in this case, he apparently was unable to cut the parables off entirely from the teaching.

From further restoration of literary complexes, I discovered that the fragmentation sometimes involved dividing the original story into as many as four or five pieces with the result that sections of the original complex were widely scattered. An example of a complex that suffered multiple divisions starts with the incident of Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42, where Jesus warns Martha that she is “anxious and troubled about many things,” but that only one thing, like that sought by Mary, is necessary.[14] The same word for “anxious,” μεριμνᾶν (merimnan), appears repeatedly in Luke 12:22-26, a passage that opens with, “And he said to his disciples.” The Matthean parallel (Matt. 6:25-34) to Luke 12:22-31 is more Hebraic, and therefore likely more original, than Luke’s version. In this teaching complex, the “one thing” is probably to “seek first the kingdom of God/Heaven and his [God’s] righteousness.” If to this fragment we were to add two parables about fear for food and fear for clothing the complex would be complete. In Luke 12:16-21 we find a parable about a man who had too much food and was not “rich towards God,” while in Luke 16:19-31 we have a story about a man who had too much to wear. The expressions τὰ ἀγαθά μου (ta agatha mou, “my goods/good things”; Luke 12:18; Hebrew: טוּבִי [tuvi]) and τὰ ἀγαθά σου (ta agatha sou, “your goods/good things”; Luke 16:25; Hebrew: טוּבְךָ [tuvcha]) bind these parables together with the other fragments that make up this complex,[15] and the parables themselves serve as a fitting conclusion to Jesus’ warning against being anxious about food and clothing.

In this restored narrative-sayings complex we see: 1) an incident that can stand alone as a story-unit; 2) an extended teaching by Jesus; 3) two parables making the same basic point. Matthew retained only the teaching section (Matt. 6:25-34), yet his version of this section is more complete than Luke’s parallel (Luke 12:22-31), and when we restore the original order, the fragments are:

  • Luke 10:38-42
  • Matthew 6:25-34
  • Luke 12:22-31
  • Luke 16:19-31

The portions of Luke and Matthew derived from the Anthology are fully congruent with each other, or near enough to allow restoration with relative ease.

I believe it is now possible to restore as many as fifteen narrative-sayings complexes of this kind. Furthermore, the congruity of the fragments is such that we often find that missing links essential for the restoration of a complex are preserved only in unique Matthean or Lukan passages. Although Mark followed Luke’s First Reconstruction sections as a rule, he is of no help in this kind of restoration. Mark not only enlarged and expanded on the editorial habits of the First Reconstructor, but Mark thoroughly revised and redacted every text with which he worked. Matthew, although greatly influenced by the redactic operation of Mark in Triple Tradition contexts, is at times a valuable corrector of the Lukan-Markan stories in minor details. Matthew’s knowledge of the Anthology, although best observed in his non-Markan parallels with Luke or his unique sections, is occasionally helpful in Triple Tradition contexts as well.

An Examination of the Editorial Activity of the First Reconstructor

The fact that it is still possible to restore whole complexes from the literary fragments now scattered about in Matthew and Luke indicates how carefully these fragments have been preserved. This insight, however, presented me with a new challenge: to assess the secondary character of the First Reconstruction, and ascertain to what degree the text of the Anthology can be restored in places where the Anthology is not attested except as it is preserved by the First Reconstruction (e.g., in the Calling of Levi [Luke 5:27-32] and the Rich Man story [Luke 18:18-30]). To do so, one first has to identify those parts of Luke that were influenced by the Anthology and separate them from the passages in Luke that were influenced by the First Reconstruction. One then has to show to what extent Mark, via Luke, was influenced by the First Reconstruction with respect to wording and pericope order. Finally, one has to determine the extent to which Matthew corrected Mark on the basis of the Anthology in places where Mark retained a secondary phrase or sentence of the First Reconstruction.

In the following examples I will attempt to demonstrate the difficulty caused by the First Reconstructor, for the editorial activity of this writer, who first attempted to piece together a brief, continuous narrative from the fragmented units of the Anthology, appears to have triggered Mark’s expanding and rewriting activity.

We begin with the prophecy in Luke 21:5-36, and its parallels in Matthew and Mark. This prophecy appears to be a composite of three independent, oracular statements uttered by Jesus, which the First Reconstructor combined into a single literary unit. However, it is not difficult to separate the three prophecies from each other if we carefully follow the Lukan account. Let us call them Prophecy A, Prophecy B and Prophecy C.

Prophecy A can be reconstructed from Luke 21:5-7, 18-24[16] and 29-33, which foretells the Destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Prophecy B can be reconstructed from Luke 21:8-11, 25-28 and 34-36, which foretells the Coming of the Son of Man. Originally, Prophecy B must have been attached either to the front of or to the rear of Luke 17:22-37. Prophecy C can be reconstructed from Luke 21:12-17, which deals with the future testimony of the disciples that will occur after Jesus has departed. Reconstituted, the prophecies look like this:

Prophecy A

And as some spoke of the Temple, saying that it was adorned with beautiful and aesthetic stones, he said, “You see these things? Behold, the days are coming when not one stone that has not been cast down will remain.”

And they asked him, saying, “Rabbi, when will these things be and what is the sign when they are about to happen?”

“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by soldiers know that its destruction has arrived. Then let those in Judea flee to the mountains and those in her [Jerusalem] depart. Those in the outlying areas should not come back to her [Jerusalem], because those are the days when all the Scriptures will be fulfilled. Woe to those pregnant and those nursing in those days for great anguish and wrath will be on this land and this people and they will fall by the sword and be led away to all the Gentiles and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles have come to their conclusion.”

And he spoke a parable to them: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they put their leaves out you notice and know from them that the harvest [summer] is near. So you also, when you see these things happening know that near is the kingdom of God. Amen! I tell you this generation will not pass by until all this is fulfilled.” (Luke 21:5-7, 20-24, 29-33)

Prophecy B

And he said, “See that you be not led astray, for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near [that is, has arrived].’ Do not go after them. And when you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be terrified. It is necessary that these things happen first, but the end is not immediate.”

He then said to them, “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and great earthquakes, famines and pestilences will occur in various places, and there will be fearful and great signs from heaven. And there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on earth great anguish and confusion among the Gentiles as the sea and its waves roar, men going out of their minds as fear and expectancy for the things to come to pass on the inhabited earth seize them, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with great power and glory. When these things begin to take place rise up and lift up your heads for your redemption has arrived. Beware lest at any time your hearts be overcharged by wild and drunken living and the cares of this life and that day come upon you suddenly as a snare, for it will descend upon all who live on the face of the earth. Watch and pray that you will manage to escape all the things to come and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:8-11, 25-28, 34-36)

Prophecy C

“But before all these things they will lay hands on you and persecute you and hand you over to synagogues and prisons as you are taken before kings and rulers for my name’s sake—it will turn out for witness for you. Settle it in your hearts not to premeditate an apology. I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all those who stand against you will be unable to withstand or refute. You will be handed over by parents and brothers and relatives and friends and some of you they will kill. And you will be hated by all because of me.” (Luke 21:12-17)

The ease with which these clearly interwoven sections can be reassembled to complete the three prophecies is striking. The present form of the prophecy in Luke 21 appears to be the work of the editor of the First Reconstruction, who must have found Prophecies A and B intact in the Anthology. His method was to make from these fragments a new and longer prophecy, apparently with the intention of dating the return of Jesus to the same generation as that in which the Temple was destroyed. To accomplish this, he wove together portions from each original prophecy with the result that, by a slight change to verse 31 where he introduced the expression “the kingdom of God,” he was able to suggest that, just as when one sees a fig tree begin to put out new leaves one knows that summer is near, so when one “sees these things”[17] one will know that the kingdom of God (by which the First Reconstructor means the Second Coming) is “near.”

The editor of the First Reconstruction apparently did not hesitate to cut up a prophecy of some length in order to string its pieces together paragraph by paragraph with other prophecies he had likewise dissected. However, in doing so, he surprisingly made relatively few verbal changes. The secondary usage of “the kingdom of God” as the equivalent of “the Return of Jesus” appears to be the work of the First Reconstructor.[18]

But whereas the editor of the First Reconstruction made so few changes to the interwoven texts that we can easily separate them into their component prophecies, Mark went much further: Mark left the setting of the prophecy about the destruction of the Temple (Mark 13:1-4; parallel to Luke 21:5-7 and Matt. 24:1-3) more or less as Luke left it, but by picking up expressions concerning the Second Coming in 1 and 2 Thessalonians, introducing allusions to Daniel, and leaving out every mention of Jerusalem, etc., Mark succeeded in so changing the wording of the entire section that the earlier and simpler combination of prophecies is barely discernible. Let us observe Mark’s operation in this passage:

Luke 21:5-33 Mark 13:1-31 Matthew 24:1-35; 10:17-22
L1 Καί τινων λεγόντων περὶ τοῦ ἱεροῦ, Καὶ ἐκπορευομένου αὐτοῦ ἐκ τοῦ ἱεροῦ Καὶ ἐξελθὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἀπὸ τοῦ ἱεροῦπορεύετο,
L2 λέγει αὐτῷ εἷς τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ· καὶ προσῆλθον οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ
L3 Διδάσκαλε,
L4 ὅτι λίθοις καλοῖς καὶ ἀναθήμασιν κεκόσμηται ἴδε ποταποὶ λίθοι καὶ ποταπαὶ οἰκοδομαί. ἐπιδεῖξαι αὐτῷ τὰς οἰκοδομὰς τοῦ ἱεροῦ·
L5 εἶπεν· καὶ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτῷ· δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς·
L6 Ταῦτα ἃ θεωρεῖτε, Βλέπεις ταύτας τὰς μεγάλας οἰκοδομάς; Οὐ βλέπετε ταῦτα πάντα;
L7 ἐλεύσονται ἡμέραι ἐν αἷς
L8 ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν,
L9 οὐκ ἀφεθήσεται λίθος ἐπὶ λίθὃς οὐ καταλυθήσεται. οὐ μὴ ἀφεθῇ ὧδε λίθος ἐπὶ λίθον ὃς οὐ μὴ καταλυθῇ. οὐ μὴ ἀφεθῇ ὧδε λίθος ἐπὶ λίθον ὃς οὐ καταλυθήσεται.
L10 Καὶ καθημένου αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸ Ὄρος τῶν Ἐλαιῶν Καθημένου δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τοὌρους τῶν Ἐλαιῶν
L11 κατέναντι τοῦ ἱεροῦ
L12 Ἐπηρώτησαν δὲ αὐτὸν λέγοντες· ἐπηρώτα αὐτὸν κατ’ ἰδίαν Πέτρος καὶ Ἰάκωβος καὶ Ἰωάννης καὶ Ἀνδρέας· προσῆλθον αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ κατ’ ἰδίαν λέγοντες·
L13 Διδάσκαλε,
L14 πότε οὖν ταῦτα ἔσται, Εἰπὸν ἡμῖν πότε ταῦτα ἔσται, Εἰπὸν ἡμῖν πότε ταῦτα ἔσται,
L15 καὶ τί τὸ σημεῖον ὅταν μέλλῃ ταῦτα γίνεσθαι; καὶ τί τὸ σημεῖον ὅταν μέλλῃ ταῦτα συντελεῖσθαι πάντα. καὶ τί τὸ σημεῖον τῆς σῆς παρουσίας καὶ συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος.
L16   δὲ εἶπεν· δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἤρξατο λέγειν αὐτοῖς· καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς·
L17 Βλέπετε μὴ πλανηθῆτε· Βλέπετε μή τις ὑμᾶς πλανήσῃ· Βλέπετε μή τις ὑμᾶς πλανήσῃ·
L18 πολλοὶ γὰρ ἐλεύσονται ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου λέγοντες· πολλοὶ ἐλεύσονται ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου λέγοντες ὅτι πολλοὶ γὰρ ἐλεύσονται ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου λέγοντες·
L19 Ἐγώ εἰμι Ἐγώ εἰμι, Ἐγώ εἰμι
L20 ὁ χριστός,
L21 καί· Ὁ καιρὸς ἤγγικεν· μὴ πορευθῆτε ὀπίσω αὐτῶν.
L22 καὶ πολλοὺς πλανήσουσιν. καὶ πολλοὺς πλανήσουσιν.
L23 ὅταν δὲ ἀκούσητε πολέμους καὶ ἀκαταστασίας, ὅταν δὲ ἀκούσητε πολέμους καὶ ἀκοὰς πολέμων, μελλήσετε δὲ ἀκούειν πολέμους καὶ ἀκοὰς πολέμων· ὁρᾶτε,
L24 μὴ πτοηθῆτε· μὴ θροεῖσθε· μὴ θροεῖσθε·
L25 δεῖ γὰρ ταῦτα γενέσθαι πρῶτον, δεῖ γενέσθαι, δεῖ γὰρ γενέσθαι,
L26 ἀλλ’ οὐκ εὐθέως τὸ τέλος. ἀλλ’ οὔπω τὸ τέλος. ἀλλ’ οὔπω ἐστὶν τὸ τέλος.
L27 10 τότε ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς·
L28 Ἐγερθήσεται ἔθνος ἐπ ἔθνος καὶ βασιλεία ἐπὶ βασιλείαν, ἐγερθήσεται γὰρ ἔθνος ἐπ ἔθνος καὶ βασιλεία ἐπὶ βασιλείαν, ἐγερθήσεται γὰρ ἔθνος ἐπἔθνος καὶ βασιλεία ἐπὶ βασιλείαν,
L29 11 σεισμοί τε μεγάλοι καὶ κατὰ τόπους λιμοὶ καὶ λοιμοὶ ἔσονται, ἔσονται σεισμοὶ κατὰ τόπους, ἔσονται λιμοί· καὶ ἔσονται λιμοὶ καὶ σεισμοὶ κατὰ τόπους·
L30 ἀρχὴ ὠδίνων ταῦτα. πάντα δὲ ταῦτα ἀρχὴ ὠδίνων.
L31 φόβητρά τε καὶ σημεῖα ἀπ’ οὐρανοῦ μεγάλα ἔσται.
L32 12 Πρὸ δὲ τούτων πάντων ἐπιβαλοῦσιν ἐφ’ ὑμᾶς τὰς χεῖρας αὐτῶν καὶ διώξουσιν,
L33 βλέπετε δὲ ὑμεῖς ἑαυτούς· Matt.10:17 προσέχετε δὲ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων·
L34 παραδιδόντες εἰς παραδώσουσιν ὑμᾶς εἰς Matt. 24:9 Τότε παραδώσουσιν ὑμᾶς εἰς παραδώσουσιν γὰρ ὑμᾶς εἰς
L35 θλῖψιν καὶ ἀποκτενοῦσιν ὑμᾶς,
L36 καὶ ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι ὑπὸ πάντων τῶν ἐθνῶν
L37 τὰς συναγωγὰς καὶ φυλακάς, συνέδρια καὶ εἰς συναγωγὰς δαρήσεσθε συνέδρια, καὶ ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς αὐτῶν μαστιγώσουσιν ὑμᾶς·
L38 ἀπαγομένους ἐπὶ βασιλεῖς καὶ ἡγεμόνας καὶ ἐπὶ ἡγεμόνων καὶ βασιλέων σταθήσεσθε Matt. 10:18 καὶ ἐπὶ ἡγεμόνας δὲ καὶ βασιλεῖς ἀχθήσεσθε
L39 ἕνεκεν τοῦ ὀνόματός μου ἕνεκεν μοῦ διὰ τὄνομά μου. ἕνεκεν μοῦ
L40 13ἀποβήσεται ὑμῖν εἰς μαρτύριον. εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς. εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς
L41 10 καὶ εἰς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη καὶ τοῖς ἔθνεσιν.
L42 10 καὶ τότε σκανδαλισ-θήσονται πολλοὶ καὶ ἀλλήλους παραδώσουσιν καὶ μισήσουσιν ἀλλήλους·
L43 11 καὶ πολλοὶ ψευδο-προφῆται ἐγερθήσονται καὶ πλανήσουσιν πολλούς·
L44 12 καὶ διὰ τὸ πληθυνθῆναι τὴν ἀνομίαν ψυγήσεται ἡ ἀγάπη τῶν πολλῶν.
L45 13 ὁ δὲ ὑπομείνας εἰς τέλος οὗτος σωθήσεται.
L46 πρῶτον δεῖ κηρυχθῆναι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον. Matt. 24:14 καὶ κηρυχθήσεται τοῦτο τὸ εὐαγγέλιον
L47 τῆς βασιλείας ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ οἰκουμένῃ
L48 εἰς μαρτύριον πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν,
L49 καὶ τότε ἥξει τὸ τέλος.
L50 11 καὶ ὅταν ἄγωσιν ὑμᾶς παραδιδόντες, Matt. 10:19 ὅταν δὲ παραδῶσιν ὑμᾶς,
L51 14 θέτε οὖν ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν μὴ προμελετᾶν ἀπολογηθῆναι, μὴ προμεριμνᾶτε τί λαλήσητε, μὴ μεριμνήσητε πῶς ἢ τί λαλήσητε·
L52 15 ἐγὼ γὰρ δώσω ὑμῖν στόμα καὶ σοφίαν ᾗ οὐ δυνήσονται ἀντιστῆναι ἢ ἀντειπεῖν ἅπαντες οἱ ἀντικείμενοι ὑμῖν. ἀλλ’ ὃ ἐὰν δοθῇ ὑμῖν ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ τοῦτο λαλεῖτε, δοθήσεται γὰρ ὑμῖν ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ τί λαλήσητε·
L53 οὐ γάρ ἐστε ὑμεῖς οἱ λαλοῦντες ἀλλὰ τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον. Matt. 10:20 οὐ γὰρ ὑμεῖς ἐστε οἱ λαλοῦντες ἀλλὰ τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ πατρὸς ὑμῶν τὸ λαλοῦν ἐν ὑμῖν.
L54 16 παραδοθήσεσθε δὲ καὶ ὑπὸ γονέων καὶ ἀδελφῶν καὶ συγγενῶν καὶ φίλων, 12 καὶ παραδώσει ἀδελφὸς ἀδελφὸν εἰς θάνατον καὶ πατὴρ τέκνον, Matt. 10:21 παραδώσει δὲ ἀδελφὸς ἀδελφὸν εἰς θάνατον καὶ πατὴρ τέκνον,
L55 καὶ θανατώσουσιν ἐξ ὑμῶν, καὶ ἐπαναστήσονται τέκνα ἐπὶ γονεῖς καὶ θανατώσουσιν αὐτούς· καὶ ἐπαναστήσονται τέκνα ἐπὶ γονεῖς καὶ θανατώσουσιν αὐτούς.
L56 17 καὶ ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι ὑπὸ πάντων διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου. 13 καὶ ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι ὑπὸ πάντων διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου. [Matt. 24:9b καὶ ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι ὑπὸ πάντων τῶν ἐθνῶν διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου.] Matt. 10: 22 καὶ ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι ὑπὸ πάντων διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου·
L57 18 καὶ θρὶξ ἐκ τῆς κεφαλῆς ὑμῶν οὐ μὴ ἀπόληται.
L58 19 ἐν τῇ ὑπομονῇ ὑμῶν κτήσασθε τὰς ψυχὰς ὑμῶν. ὁ δὲ ὑπομείνας εἰς τέλος οὗτος σωθήσεται. [Matt. 24:13 ὁ δὲ ὑπομείνας εἰς τέλος οὗτος σωθήσεται.] ὁ δὲ ὑπομείνας εἰς τέλος οὗτος σωθήσεται.
L59 20 Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε 14 Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε Matt. 24:15 Ὅταν οὖν ἴδητε
L60 κυκλουμένην ὑπὸ στρατοπέδων Ἰερουσαλήμ,
L61 τότε γνῶτε ὅτι ἤγγικεν ἡ ἐρήμωσις αὐτῆς. τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως
L62 τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου
L63 ἑστηκότα ὅπου οὐ δεῖ, ἑστὸς ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ,
L64 ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω, ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω,
L65 21 τότε οἱ ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ φευγέτωσαν εἰς τὰ ὄρη, τότε οἱ ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ φευγέτωσαν εἰς τὰ ὄρη, 16 τότε οἱ ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ φευγέτωσαν ἐπὶ τὰ ὄρη,
L66 καὶ οἱ ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῆς ἐκχωρείτωσαν,
L67 15 ὁ ἐπὶ τοῦ δώματος μὴ καταβάτω μηδὲ εἰσελθάτω τι ἆραι ἐκ τῆς οἰκίας αὐτοῦ, 17 ὁ ἐπὶ τοῦ δώματος μὴ καταβάτω ἆραι τὰ ἐκ τῆς οἰκίας αὐτοῦ,
L68 καὶ οἱ ἐν ταῖς χώραις μὴ εἰσερχέσθωσαν εἰς αὐτήν, 16 καὶ ὁ εἰς τὸν ἀγρὸν μὴ ἐπιστρεψάτω εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω ἆραι τὸ ἱμάτιον αὐτοῦ. 18 καὶ ὁ ἐν τἀγρμὴ ἐπιστρεψάτω ὀπίσω ἆραι τὸ ἱμάτιον αὐτοῦ.
L69 22 ὅτι ἡμέραι ἐκδικήσεως αὗταί εἰσιν τοῦ πλησθῆναι πάντα τὰ γεγραμμένα.
L70 23 οὐαὶ ταῖς ἐν γαστρὶ ἐχούσαις 17 οὐαὶ δὲ ταῖς ἐν γαστρὶ ἐχούσαις 19 οὐαὶ δὲ ταῖς ἐν γαστρὶ ἐχούσαις
L71 καὶ ταῖς θηλαζούσαις ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις· καὶ ταῖς θηλαζούσαις ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις. καὶ ταῖς θηλαζούσαις ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις.
L72 18 προσεύχεσθε δὲ ἵνα μὴ γένηται χειμῶνος· 20 προσεύχεσθε δὲ ἵνα μὴ γένηται ἡ φυγὴ ὑμῶν χειμῶνος
L73 μηδὲ σαββάτῳ·
L74 ἔσται γὰρ 19 ἔσονται γὰρ 21 ἔσται γὰρ
L75 ἀνάγκη μεγάλη ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ ὀργὴ τῷ λαῷ τούτῳ, αἱ ἡμέραι ἐκεῖναι θλῖψις οἵα οὐ γέγονεν τοιαύτη ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως ἣν ἔκτισεν ὁ θεὸς ἕως τοῦ νῦν καὶ οὐ μὴ γένηται. τότε θλῖψις μεγάλη οἵα οὐ γέγονεν ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς κόσμου ἕως τοῦ νῦν οὐδ’ οὐ μὴ γένηται.
L76 24 καὶ πεσοῦνται στόματι μαχαίρης καὶ αἰχμαλωτισθήσονται εἰς τὰ ἔθνη πάντα, καὶ Ἰερουσαλὴμ ἔσται πατουμένη ὑπὸ ἐθνῶν, ἄχρι οὗ πληρωθῶσιν καιροὶ ἐθνῶν.
L77 20 καὶ εἰ μὴ ἐκολόβωσεν κύριος τὰς ἡμέρας, 22 καὶ εἰ μὴ ἐκολοβώθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι ἐκεῖναι,
L78 οὐκ ἂν ἐσώθη πᾶσα σάρξ. οὐκ ἂν ἐσώθη πᾶσα σάρξ·
L79 ἀλλὰ διὰ τοὺς ἐκλεκτοὺς οὓς ἐξελέξατο ἐκολόβωσεν τὰς ἡμέρας. διὰ δὲ τοὺς ἐκλεκτοὺς κολοβωθήσονται αἱ ἡμέραι ἐκεῖναι.
L80 21 καὶ τότε ἐάν τις ὑμῖν εἴπῃ· Ἴδε ὧδε ὁ χριστός, Ἴδε ἐκεῖ, μὴ πιστεύετε· 23 τότε ἐάν τις ὑμῖν εἴπῃ· Ἰδοὺ ὧδε ὁ χριστός, ἤ· Ὧδε, μὴ πιστεύσητε·
L81 22 ἐγερθήσονται γὰρ ψευδόχριστοι καὶ ψευδοπροφῆται 24 ἐγερθήσονται γὰρ ψευδόχριστοι καὶ ψευδοπροφῆται,
L82 καὶ δώσουσιν σημεῖα καὶ τέρατα πρὸς τὸ ἀποπλανᾶν εἰ δυνατὸν τοὺς ἐκλεκτούς· καὶ δώσουσιν σημεῖα μεγάλα καὶ τέρατα ὥστε πλανῆσαι εἰ δυνατὸν καὶ τοὺς ἐκλεκτούς·
L83 23 ὑμεῖς δὲ βλέπετε· προείρηκα ὑμῖν πάντα. 25 ἰδοὺ προείρηκα ὑμῖν.
L84 26 ἐὰν οὖν εἴπωσιν ὑμῖν· Ἰδοὺ ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ ἐστίν, μὴ ἐξέλθητε· Ἰδοὺ ἐν τοῖς ταμείοις, μὴ πιστεύσητε·
L85 27 ὥσπερ γὰρ ἡ ἀστραπὴ ἐξέρχεται ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν καὶ φαίνεται ἕως δυσμῶν, οὕτως ἔσται ἡ παρουσία τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου·
L86 28 ὅπου ἐὰν ᾖ τὸ πτῶμα, ἐκεῖ συναχθήσονται οἱ ἀετοί.
L87 24 Ἀλλὰ ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις μετὰ τὴν θλῖψιν ἐκείνην 29 Εὐθέως δὲ μετὰ τὴν θλῖψιν τῶν ἡμερῶν ἐκείνων
L88 25 Καὶ ἔσονται σημεῖα
L89 ἐν ἡλίκαὶ σελήνῃ ἥλιος σκοτισθήσεται, καὶ σελήνη οὐ δώσει τὸ φέγγος αὐτῆς, ἥλιος σκοτισθήσεται, καὶ σελήνη οὐ δώσει τὸ φέγγος αὐτῆς,
L90 καὶ ἄστροις, 25 καὶ οἱ ἀστέρες ἔσονται ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ πίπτοντες, καὶ οἱ ἀστέρες πεσοῦνται ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ,
L91 καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς συνοχὴ ἐθνῶν ἐν ἀπορίᾳ ἤχους θαλάσσης καὶ σάλου,
L92 26 ἀποψυχόντων ἀνθρώπων ἀπὸ φόβου καὶ προσδοκίας τῶν ἐπερχομένων τῇ οἰκουμένῃ,
L93 αἱ γὰρ δυνάμεις τῶν οὐρανῶν σαλευθήσονται. καὶ αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς σαλευθήσονται. καὶ αἱ δυνάμεις τῶν οὐρανῶν σαλευθήσονται.
L94 27 καὶ τότε 26 καὶ τότε 30 καὶ τότε
L95 φανήσεται τὸ σημεῖον τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, καὶ τότε κόψονται πᾶσαι αἱ φυλαὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ
L96 ὄψονται τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ὄψονται τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ὄψονται τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου
L97 ἐρχόμενον ἐν νεφέλ ἐρχόμενον ἐν νεφέλαις ἐρχόμενον ἐπὶ τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ
L98 μετὰ δυνάμεως καὶ δόξης πολλῆς. μετὰ δυνάμεως πολλῆς καὶ δόξης· μετὰ δυνάμεως καὶ δόξης πολλῆς·
L99 27 καὶ τότε ἀποστελεῖ τοὺς ἀγγέλους 31 καὶ ἀποστελεῖ τοὺς ἀγγέλους αὐτοῦ
L100 μετὰ σάλπιγγος μεγάλης,
L101 καὶ ἐπισυνάξει τοὺς ἐκλεκτοὺς καὶ ἐπισυνάξουσιν τοὺς ἐκλεκτοὺς αὐτοῦ
L102 ἐκ τῶν τεσσάρων ἀνέμων ἐκ τῶν τεσσάρων ἀνέμων
L103 ἀπ’ ἄκρου γῆς ἕως ἄκρου οὐρανοῦ. ἀπ’ ἄκρων οὐρανῶν ἕως τῶν ἄκρων αὐτῶν.
L104 28 ἀρχομένων δὲ τούτων γίνεσθαι ἀνακύψατε καὶ ἐπάρατε τὰς κεφαλὰς ὑμῶν, διότι ἐγγίζει ἡ ἀπολύτρωσις ὑμῶν.
L105 29 Καὶ εἶπεν παραβολὴν αὐτοῖς·
L106 Ἴδετε τὴν συκῆν 28 Ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς συκῆς μάθετε τὴν παραβολήν· 32 Ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς συκῆς μάθετε τὴν παραβολήν·
L107 καὶ πάντα τὰ δένδρα·
L108 30 ὅταν προβάλωσιν ἤδη, ὅταν ἤδη ὁ κλάδος αὐτῆς ἁπαλὸς γένηται καὶ ἐκφύῃ τὰ φύλλα, ὅταν ἤδη ὁ κλάδος αὐτῆς γένηται ἁπαλὸς καὶ τὰ φύλλα ἐκφύῃ,
L109 βλέποντες ἀφ’ ἑαυτῶν
L110 γινώσκετε ὅτι ἤδη ἐγγὺς τὸ θέρος ἐστίν· γινώσκετε ὅτι ἐγγὺς τὸ θέρος ἐστίν· γινώσκετε ὅτι ἐγγὺς τὸ θέρος·
L111 31 οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς, 29 οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς, 33 οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς,
L112 ὅταν ἴδητε ταῦτα γινόμενα, ὅταν ἴδητε ταῦτα γινόμενα, ὅταν ἴδητε πάντα ταῦτα,
L113 γινώσκετε ὅτι ἐγγύς ἐστιν γινώσκετε ὅτι ἐγγύς ἐστιν γινώσκετε ὅτι ἐγγύς ἐστιν
L114 ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ. ἐπὶ θύραις. ἐπὶ θύραις.
  • Red = Luke / Mark / Matthew agreement
  • Orange = Luke / Mark agreement
  • Blue = Mark / Matthew agreement
  • Green = Luke / Matthew minor agreement

L1 τοῦ ἱεροῦ (tou hierou, “the Temple”). In all three Gospels, the opening scene takes place in the Temple. In Mark and Matthew, however, Jesus and his followers are portrayed as leaving the Temple (Mark: ἐκπορευομένου, ekporevomenou; Matt.: ἐπορεύετο, eporeveto), whereas in Luke there is no reason to suppose that there was a change of location.

L3 Διδάσκαλε (Didaskale, “Teacher!”). Luke and Matthew agree to omit the word “teacher” at this point in the narrative. The word appears in Luke 21:7 (L13), but there it is not clear who addressed Jesus. Here, Mark has one of the disciples address Jesus as “Teacher.” Since elsewhere in Luke the disciples always call Jesus “lord,” and since Luke locates Jesus’ prophecy in the Temple, it is likely that Luke intended his readers to understand that a member of the public had questioned Jesus, not one of the disciples. Matthew generally confirms the distinction maintained by Luke, even when Mark’s parallel has “teacher.” Mark simply treats “teacher” as a synonym for “lord.” Here, Matthew agrees with Mark that it was the disciples who showed Jesus the stones.

L4 λίθοις (lithois, “stones”). According to Luke, the mention of stones by an anonymous individual elicits from Jesus the response that “no stone will be left on another.”[19] Mark retains the mention of stones, but instead of Luke’s “gifts,” Mark inserts οἰκοδομαί (oikodomai, “buildings”). Matthew accepted Mark’s “buildings,” but has dropped the mention of “stones,” which makes Jesus’ response, with its focus on “stones,” somewhat unusual. In this instance, we see Mark’s middle position among the Synoptic Gospels, since Mark has an agreement with Luke against Matthew, and an agreement with Matthew against Luke. Matthew’s omission of “stones” marks him as the furthest removed from the original tradition.

L9 This line shows strong agreement between the three Synoptists. The strongest agreement, however, is between Mark and Matthew. Nevertheless, Matthew and Luke agree to write ὃς οὐ καταλυθήσεται (hos ou katalythēsetai, “that will not be demolished”; Matt. 24:2; Luke 21:6) against Mark’s ὃς οὐ μὴ καταλυθῇ (hos ou mē katalūthē, “that will not be demolished”; Mark 13:2).

L10 Ὄρος τῶν Ἐλαιῶν (Oros tōn Elaiōn, “Mount of Olives”). According to Luke, Jesus delivers the prophecy publicly in the Temple. This seems appropriate if, as we suppose, the subject of destruction was a part of Jesus’ general challenge to the gathered multitudes in the Temple.[20] Mark, however, relocated Jesus’ prophecy to the Mount of Olives “opposite the Temple” (L11) as part of a private discourse with Jesus’ disciples.

L12 This line shows the complexity of the interrelationship of the Synoptic Gospels. Luke and Mark agree to use forms of the verb ἐπερωτᾶν (eperōtαn, “to ask”) against Matthew. However, Mark and Matthew agree that it was the disciples who approached Jesus. Mark alone includes the names of individual disciples, an example of Markan “freshness.” Mark and Matthew also agree against Luke that the interview with Jesus took place “in private” (κατ’ ἰδίαν, kat’ idian; Mark 13:3; Matt. 24:3). It is surprising to find that Luke and Matthew agree against Mark to use the word λέγοντες (legontes, “saying”; Luke 21:7; Matt. 24:3), a Matthean-Lukan “minor agreement.”

L14 There is strong agreement between all three Synoptists in this line. We note, however, that Matthew accepts the changes Mark has made to Luke’s text. We observe the same procedure, e.g., in L17, L24, L28, L34, L70, L114, etc., where in areas of high verbal agreement between all three Synoptic Gospels, Matthew follows Mark’s changes against Luke.

L15 According to Luke the question is “What is the sign when this is about to take place?” Mark has rewritten the ending of the question, “What is the sign when these things are all to be accomplished?” but it is clear that the question still refers to Jesus’ statement that not one stone will be left upon another. Matthew revised the Markan-Lukan question to explicitly include the Second Coming: the disciples approach Jesus and say, “What is the sign [in agreement with Mark and Luke] of your coming and the end of the age? [unlike either Mark or Luke].” Matthew’s question no longer refers to Jesus’ statement about the Temple. Matthew’s version of this prophecy is dominated by the theme of the Parousia, the Coming of the Son of Man. It is clear, however, from his use of the word συντελείας (sūnteleias, “completion”; Matt. 24:3), a cognate of Mark’s verb συντελεῖσθαι (sūnteleisthai, “to be completed”; Mark 13:4), that Matthew based his revision on Mark’s text.

L24 μὴ θροεῖσθε (mē throeisthe, “Do not be alarmed”; Mark 13:7). Mark substitutes mē throeisthe opposite Luke’s μὴ πτοηθῆτε (mē ptoēthēte, “Do not be terrified”; Luke 21:9) in order to allude to Paul’s expression of comfort to the Thessalonians concerning the Second Coming: μηδὲ θροεῖσθαι (mēde throeisthe, “and not to be disturbed”; 2 Thess. 2:2). Matthew follows Mark in this substitution.

L25 Matthew agrees with Luke in the use of γὰρ (gar, “for”), however he follows Mark’s omission of ταῦτα (tavta, “these things”) and πρῶτον (prōton, “first”).

L30 ἀρχὴ ὠδίνων ταῦτα (archē ōdinōn tavta, “these are the beginning of birth pains”). Here, too, Mark alludes to Paul’s writings. In 1 Thess. 5:3 Paul states: “then sudden destruction comes upon them like birth pains upon a pregnant woman” at the coming of the Lord. The word Paul used for birth pains is ὠδίν (ōdin, “pain,” “birth pains”), so Mark writes “these are the beginning of birth pains” (Mark 13:8). Note that Matthew follows suit, as he does almost word for word throughout the entire passage.

L32 Πρὸ δὲ τούτων πάντων (pro de toutōn pantōn, “but before all these things”). Luke 21:12 makes clear that the prophecy that has to do with what will happen to the disciples after Jesus has left them (Prophecy C) will be fulfilled “before all these things,” that is, before the Second Coming, but Mark smooths out the wording and leaves out this explanation.

L33-58 Matthew separated most of what we identified as Luke’s Prophecy C (Luke 21:12-17) and recorded it in his tenth chapter (Matt. 10:17-22), an indication of his thoughtful use of his sources. Since he already had recorded this material, Matthew preferred not to repeat it here, and therefore Matthew departed from the Lukan-Markan order beginning at Matt. 24:9 (L34) and returned to the Lukan-Markan order at Matt. 24:15 (L59).

L34 Τότε παραδώσουσιν ὑμᾶς εἰς (tote paradōsousin hūmas eis, “then they will hand you over to”). This is the point where Matthew begins reworking Mark’s version of the prophecy. At this point he is still in agreement with Luke, and even more strongly in agreement with Mark. This line is almost an exact doublet of Matt. 10:17b, but here, in Matt. 24:9, Matthew begins the sentence with tote, a word used more frequently by Matthew than any of the other synoptic writers, and indicative of Matthew’s editorial activity, especially when tote is used at the beginning of a sentence.[21] Matthew’s unique use of tote reappears in this rewritten section at L42 and L49. It also appears in a Matthean addition at Matt. 24:30 (L95).

L36 Matthew’s rewriting of this section of the prophecy is not an original creation, but a summary of Mark’s parallel section. This line, though out of Lukan-Markan order, is nearly identical to Luke 21:17, Mark 13:13 and even Matt. 10:22 (L56), except that here Matthew has added τῶν ἐθνῶν (tōn ethnōn, “the Gentiles”), who would otherwise have gone without mention in Matthew’s rewritten portion, but who figure so prominently in Mark 13:10 (L41). Evidently, Matthew chose to place this line here, despite its being out of the Lukan-Markan order, because the end of this sentence (L39) lines up with parallel phrases in Luke and Mark at this point. We see another such point of contact with Mark’s order in Matthew’s summary section in L46. These points of contact with Mark’s order show that even as Matthew was doing his rewriting and summarizing in this section, Matthew carefully kept track of Mark’s text.

L38 Originally, “kings” probably referred to Jewish authorities such as King Herod or King Agrippa I, while “rulers” probably referred to Gentiles, the occupying Roman authorities, but this distinction seems to have been obscured in the later stages of transmission. In Matt. 10:18 we see that Matthew agrees with Luke against Mark in the form of the nouns βασιλεῖς and ἡγεμόνας, but Matthew agrees with Mark’s order, placing ἡγεμόνας before βασιλεῖς, unlike Luke.

L39 Luke’s reading, ἕνεκεν τοῦ ὀνόματός μου (heneken tou onomatos mou, “for the sake of my name”; Luke 21:12), appears to be more Hebraic than either Mark or Matthew’s ἕνεκεν ἐμου (heneken emou, “for my sake, because of me”; Mark 13:9; Matt. 10:18), since “my name” is a Hebrew idiom for “me.”

L40-41 εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς καὶ τοῖς ἔθνεσιν (eis martūrion autois kai tois ethnesin, “for a testimony to them and to the Gentiles”; Matt. 10:18). The reading in Matt. 10:18 appears to be more original than the parallels in Mark and Luke. According to Matt. 10:18, the disciples’ faithfulness to Jesus in the face of persecution is itself the testimony that is given to the Jews and Gentiles together (αὐτοῖς καὶ τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, “to them [i.e., the Jews] and to the Gentiles”). Luke appears to have misunderstood his source at this point, because for Luke the persecutions have become an opportunity for the disciples to testify about Jesus to Jews (in the synagogues) and to Gentiles (before kings and governors) separately.[22] Mark subtly changed the original reading of the Anthology (cf. Matt. 10:18) in order to introduce the notion that “first the gospel must be proclaimed to all the Gentiles” (L41, L46). Matthew 24:14 (L46-48) takes Mark’s novel idea one step further; for Matthew, the preaching of the gospel itself has become the content of the testimony.

Thus we see four stages of development regarding the “testimony”:

  1. The first stage is in Matt. 10:18 where the faithfulness of the disciples despite persecution is a testimony to the Jewish accusers and to the Gentile rulers before whom the disciples are accused.
  2. The second stage is in Luke 21:13 where the appearance of the disciples before synagogues and kings/governors is an opportunity for the disciples to bear testimony about Jesus to Jews and Gentiles separately.
  3. The third stage is in Mark 13:9-10 where the disciples’ faithfulness is a testimony, but first the gospel has to be preached to all the Gentiles (it is only at this stage that “the gospel” is introduced).
  4. The fourth stage is in Matt. 24:14 where the idea of testimony has been fused to the proclamation of the gospel, such that the preaching of “the gospel of the kingdom”[23] in all the world is the testimony given to all the nations.

Thus the first and final stages of this literary development are preserved in the same Gospel, Matthew!

L41, 46 καὶ εἰς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη πρῶτον δεῖ κηρυχθῆναι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον (kai eis panta ta ethnē prōton dei kērūchthēnai to evangelion, “and to all the nations first must be preached the gospel”). Mark, who was following the Anthology, took the mention of Gentiles (Matt. 10:18) as an opportunity to introduce the mission to the Gentiles into his version of the prophecy. Mark was partly inspired to do so by Luke’s mistaken belief that it was the disciples’ words that would be a testimony. Mark associated the notion of a spoken testimony with the proclamation of the gospel to the nations. Thus Mark subtly moved from “as a witness to them [the kings, rulers] and to the Gentiles” (Matt. 10:18) to “…as a testimony to them. And to all the nations first must be preached the gospel.” Mark accomplished this by picking up wording from Luke 24:44-49 and inserting it into his version of the prophecy:


 L46 πρῶτον (prōton, “first”). Mark’s method was to always work with written texts, even while he thoroughly edited and revised them. We have here an example of Mark’s unwillingness to depart from Luke’s text without hinting at it in some way. Since Luke wrote πρὸ δὲ τούτων πάντων (pro de toutōn pantōn, “before [pro] all these things”) in Luke 21:12 (L32), Mark has πρῶτον (prōton, “before”) in Mark 13:10 (L46), although Luke’s idea of what will happen “before” is the apostolic witnessing before the Second Coming, whereas Mark refers to the mission to the Gentiles.

L49 καὶ τότε ἥξει τὸ τέλος (kai tote ēxei to telos, “and then will come the end”). Matthew writes: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to the Gentiles, and then will come the end” (Matt. 24:14), which is his way of agreeing with Mark’s idea (in Mark 13:10; L46) that “before” the Second Coming the whole world must have the gospel preached to it. The “end” refers back to L26 where it states, “the end is not yet.”

L58 εἰς τέλος (eis telos, “to the end”). Mark’s replacement for Luke’s Hebraic ἐν τῇ ὑπομονῇ ὑμῶν κτήσασθε τὰς ψυχὰς ὑμῶν (en tē hūpomonē hūmōn ktēsasthe tas psūchas hūmōn, “in your patience you will buy up your souls”; Luke 21:19) is ὁ δὲ ὑπομείνας εἰς τέλος οὗτος σωθήσεται (ho de hūpomeinas eis telos houtos sōthēsetai, “but the one waiting patiently [ὑπομείνας for Luke’s ὑπομονῇ] to [the] end, this one will be saved”; Mark 13:13). Mark’s inclusion of the words εἰς τέλος is an allusion to the prophecy in Daniel 9:27. In the Septuagint’s translation of Daniel 9:27, the word for “end” is συντέλεια (sūnteleia), which is not the same as the word Mark uses. Nevertheless, the notion of “the end” is present in both passages, and Mark’s allusion to Daniel 9:27 becomes more explicit in the following verse. Matthew 24:13 (out of the Lukan-Markan sequence [cf. L45]) and Matt. 10:22 both agree exactly with Mark’s version of the saying.

L59 This is the point (Matt. 24:15) at which Matthew resumes the Markan order, his departure having begun in Matt. 24:9 (L34).

L61 τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως (to bdelūgma tēs erēmōseōs, “the abomination of desolation”). Mark dropped Luke’s reference to the soldiers who will surround Jerusalem (Luke 21:20) in order to introduce “the abomination of desolation” (Mark 13:14), a clear allusion to Daniel 9:27. Mark’s inspiration was undoubtedly Luke’s ἡ ἐρήμωσις, (hē erēmōsis, “the desolation”; Luke 21:20), a strong indication that Mark used Luke when he constructed his version of the prophecy.

L62 τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου (to hrēthen dia Daniēl tou prophētou, “spoken through Daniel the prophet”). Matthew gives away his dependence on Mark by his addition of “spoken through Daniel the prophet” (Matt. 24:15), proving that he recognized the allusion to “the abomination of desolation,” yet Matthew also retained Mark’s “let him who reads understand” (Matt. 24:15; L64).

L65-66 Mark’s secondary operation is again especially visible as he retains “those who are in Judea” (Mark 13:14), but discards the other half of Luke’s Hebraic parallelism, “those who are inside the city [i.e., Jerusalem]” (Luke 21:21).

L67 In all original contexts about the Second Coming, Jesus describes his return as a global, rather than a localized, event. Evidently Mark was aware of this, for he replaced Luke’s “those who are inside the city, let them flee” (Luke 21:21) with “the one who is on the roof [of his house], let him not go down” (Mark 13:15), which Mark borrowed from Luke 17:31 (a Second Coming context).

L72-73 In the foregoing discussion Matthew’s dependence on Mark’s secondary revisions is clear, but this is one point at which Mark (and even more so Matthew) appears to correct the Lukan text by copying from the Anthology. Where Luke has nothing, Mark writes, “Pray that it may not happen in winter” (Mark 13:18), and Matthew writes, “Pray that your flight may not be in winter nor on the Sabbath” (Matt. 24:20). This reading is likely to be original, for it appears in Mark and Matthew in a context where leaving it out would have better served their purpose.

L74-75 ἔσονται γὰρ αἱ ἡμέραι ἐκεῖναι θλῖψις οἵα οὐ γέγονεν τοιαύτη (esontai gar hai hēmerai ekeinai thlipsis hoia ou gegonen toiavtē, “these will be days of tribulation such as have not been”; Mark 13:19). In L69, where Luke spoke of “days of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written” (Luke 21:22), Mark and Matthew have no parallel. Here, opposite Luke’s words about the agony preceding the “Destruction of Jerusalem,” Mark, who was inspired by Luke’s idea of days of fulfillment, alludes to a prophecy in Daniel 12:1 that speaks of days of tribulation.[24] In this way Mark avoids making reference to Jerusalem and the people of Israel while maintaining a literary connection with the prophecy he read in Luke. Matthew follows Mark’s revision, but not without important reworking of his own. Perhaps missing the allusion to Daniel, Matthew drops the reference “these days” and simply writes “then there will be great tribulation” (τότε θλῖψις μεγάλη, tote thlipsis megalē), with tote being highly characteristic of Matthew’s unique style. Significantly, Matthew preserves the word μεγάλη (megalē, “big, great”) in agreement with Luke, which he must have seen in the source he shared with Luke (i.e., the Anthology). Apparently, Matthew wanted to retain at least some of the wording of his second source while following Mark who departed from Luke’s text. This attempt at harmonization is characteristic of Matthew’s method of weaving his sources together.

L75-76 These lines are unique Lukan material that deal with the fate of Jerusalem and its inhabitants. Mark has no interest in the Jewish nationalist concerns of the author of Luke’s prophecy, and discusses instead the fate of the elect in L77-83.

L81 ψευδοπροφῆται (psevdoprophētai, “false prophets”). Matthew had already mentioned false prophets in Matt. 24:11 (L43), and he does so again here in agreement with Mark. Evidently, in his summary section (Matt. 24:9-14), Matthew included materials from many parts of Mark’s version of the prophecy, and not only those that were parallel to Matt. 10:17-21. In addition to this example, we find Matthew alluding to tribulation in his summary section (L35), only to mention it again in parallel with Mark (L75, L87); and Matthew warns against being led astray in his summary section (L43), only to pick up the theme again in parallel with Mark (L82).

L84-86 Matthew introduced a section of material unparalleled in the immediate context pertaining to the Coming of the Son of Man (Matt. 24:26-28). Perhaps Matthew recognized Mark’s incorporation of material from Luke 17:31 and decided to expand Mark’s quotation. Since Matthew did not know Luke, his source for this material must have been the Anthology: Matthew 24:26 = Luke 17:23 (L84); Matt. 24:27 = Luke 17:24 (L85); Matt. 24:28 = Luke 17:37 (L86). Later, in Matt. 24:37-39, in a section beyond the scope of the present discussion, Matthew returned to this material to supplement the prophecy he copied from Mark.[25]

L89-90 Instead of Luke’s “signs in sun and moon and stars” (Luke 21:25), Mark alluded to Isaiah 13:10 (Mark 13:24-25), “The stars and constellations of heaven shall not give off their light; the sun shall be dark when it rises, and the moon shall diffuse no glow” (JPS), and probably also to Isaiah 34:4.

L104 Luke 21:28, which pertains to the redemption of Jerusalem, has no parallel in Mark or Matthew. It was Mark’s practice to drop every reference to Jerusalem since he was no longer interested in the fate of the Jewish people, but only in the elect who will be gathered in heaven (Mark 13:27). Matthew, who has followed Mark’s change of focus from the people of Israel and the city of Jerusalem to the fate of the elect, has no parallel to Luke’s verse.

L107 καὶ πάντα τὰ δένδρα (kai panta ta dendra, “and all the trees”). This is likely to be a secondary addition since the description in the parable applies only to fig trees.

L114 ἐπὶ θύραις (epi thūrais, “at [the] doors”). Perhaps the original conclusion of the parable was simply “when you see these things happening, you know that it is near” (L112-113).[26] In Luke “it” would naturally refer to the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 21:28). Luke’s mention of “the kingdom of God” seems out of place, and was likely introduced because Luke did not understand the original meaning of the parable. Mark’s replacement for Luke’s secondary “near is the kingdom of God” (Luke 21:31; L114) is “near is he, at the doors” (Mark 13:29; L114), an allusion to James 5:9, where we read: “Behold the judge is standing before the doors.”[27] Evidently, Mark intended a play on words between θέρος (theros, “summer”; L110) and θύρα (thūra, “door”; L114).[28]

This discussion has shown how difficult it is to solve the riddle of the synoptic interrelationship and to identify the sources of the Synoptic Gospels. That an interrelationship of some kind exists is undeniable. Of the 114 lines in the table above, approximately a third show at least some verbal agreement between all three Synoptic Gospels.[29]

The strongest relationship between the Gospels is between Mark and Matthew. The table shows Mark and Matthew agreeing against Luke in 46 of the 114 lines,[30] sometimes only for a word or two, but sometimes for long phrases or even entire sentences. The Markan-Matthean agreements against Luke are observable in lines where there are also agreements with Luke,[31] and in lines where Mark and Matthew are independent of Luke. Here we see a general pattern that if Mark agrees with Luke, Matthew also agrees with Luke, but where Mark is independent of Luke, Matthew still agrees with Mark. In other words, whether Mark deviated from Luke or Luke deviated from Mark, Matthew followed Mark.

Compared to the strong relationship between Mark and Matthew, the relationship between Luke and Mark and the relationship between Luke and Matthew seem weak. Let us begin with the relationship between Luke and Mark: in the above table there are 11 lines where Luke and Mark agree against Matthew, usually only for a word or word form.[32] The Lukan-Markan agreements against Matthew almost always appear in lines that also include Lukan-Markan-Matthean verbal agreements.[33] This is a strikingly different pattern from the Markan-Matthean agreements against Luke, where we see Mark and Matthew agreeing where Luke is present and also agreeing where Luke is not present. The pattern of Lukan-Markan agreements existing mainly where Matthew is also present is a result of Matthew following Mark wherever Mark goes. Matthew never departs from Mark except to insert his own unique material.

Concerning the relationship between Luke and Matthew, the table shows that there are 13 lines where Luke and Matthew agree against Mark. These agreements consist of a word or sometimes only of a word form. In each of the lines where there are Lukan-Matthean minor agreements, Mark also has agreements with Luke, with the one exception of L75. In L75 Matthew has the word megalē in agreement with Luke, but this is the only word in L75 that Matthew shares with Luke, and Matthew’s idea in L75 is shared with Mark, not with Luke.

Each synoptic writer had his own unique material. The table shows 22 lines in which Luke has no verbal agreement with Mark or Matthew.[34] Of those 22 lines, two (L51, L52) may be said to have parallel ideas in Mark and Matthew despite not sharing common vocabulary.

Matthew also has considerable unique material. The table shows 18 lines in which Matthew has no direct parallel in Mark or Luke. However, the unique material in L36 nearly matches Mark in L56, the unique material in L45 exactly corresponds to Mark in L58, and the unique material in L48 closely corresponds to Mark in L39-40. Thus some of what appears to be unique Matthean material is really rearrangement of Mark’s material. We also note that L84, L85 and L86 are unique to Matthew in the context of Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction, but are parallel to verses in Luke 17.

Mark has the least amount of unique material, consisting mostly of words or phrases, not entire verses as is the case with Luke and Matthew. L3, L11 and L33 are the only lines where Mark has no parallel.

From these observations it is clear that either Luke rewrote Mark’s version of the prophecy or Mark rewrote Luke’s version. The fact that Luke alone presents a prophecy that answers the disciples’ question about the destruction of the Temple cannot be ignored. From L60 onward Luke speaks of the destruction and the future redemption of Jerusalem. Mark, on the other hand, discusses eschatology (the abomination of desolation, the fate of the elect, signs in the heavens, and the Son of Man), but never mentions the destruction or liberation of Jerusalem. Luke’s version of the prophecy is infused with a Jewish nationalist spirit that is not native to Luke, but which seems to reflect the authentic attitude of Jesus. It is difficult to imagine how Luke could have produced such a prophecy had he begun with Mark’s version. On the other hand, it is conceivable that Mark could so rework the prophecy in Luke that it eliminated concern for Jerusalem and the people of Israel and focused instead on the fate of the elect in the end times. Matthew clearly rewrote Mark, and followed Mark’s trajectory away from concern about the Temple and Jerusalem and toward hope for the Parousia and end of days.

Mark’s Editorial Method: An Examination of Mark Chapter 1

We have examined one important Triple Tradition context. Lest it be thought that the passage is seriously different from other Matthew-Mark-Luke passages, let us investigate the first half of Mark’s opening chapter, and its parallels in Matthew and Luke.

Detail from folio 10 (verso) of the Bamberg Apocalypse, an 11th cent. illuminated manuscript. The winged lion symbolizes Mark the Evangelist.
Detail from folio 10 (verso) of the Bamberg Apocalypse, an eleventh-century illuminated manuscript. The winged lion symbolizes Mark the Evangelist.

Mark begins his Gospel opposite the opening of the third chapter of Luke’s work. However, this does not mean that Mark has not read the first two chapters of Luke, and we find support for this assertion in the “pick-ups” Mark lifted from these chapters. For instance, where Luke says, “This is, after all, the son of Joseph” (Luke 4:22), Mark writes, “Is not this man the craftsman, the son of Mary…?” (Mark 6:3). Mark thereby betrays his acquaintance with Luke’s Infancy Narrative. Mark’s story of the healing of a man who was deaf and mute (Mark 7:31-37) contains an oddity that helps us discover an early text of Luke 1:63-64. According to the printed Greek texts of Luke, Zechariah wrote out the name “John,” and this amazed everyone. Much more probable is the text of one of the variant readings for Luke 1:63-64:

και εθαυμασαν…παραχρημα και ελυθη ο δεσμος της γλωσσης (kai ethavmasan…parachrēma kai elūthē ho desmos tēs glōssēs, “and they were amazed…and was loosed the bonds of the tongue”), attested by ƒ1 and a handful of other manuscripts, and και παραχρημα ελυθη η γλωσσα αυτου και εθαυμασαν παντες· ανεωχθη δε το στομα (kai parachrēma elūthē hē glōssa avtou kai ethavmasan pantes; aneōchthē de to stoma, “and immediately was loosed his tongue and they all were amazed; his mouth was opened”), attested by manuscripts D (Codex Bezae), a, b, vgms, (sys).

It appears that Codex Bezae preserves an original reading, since it is probable that the thing that amazed the people was not that Zechariah called his son “John,” but that “his tongue was loosed and all were amazed” because he began to speak.

In his story of the Deaf Mute, Mark writes:[35] καὶ ἠνοίγησαν αὐτοῦ αἱ ἀκοαί, καὶ ἐλύθη ὁ δεσμὸς τῆς γλώσσης αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐλάλει ὀρθῶς (kai ēnoigēsan avtou hai akoai, kai elūthē ho desmos tēs glōssēs autou kai elalei orthōs, “and his ears were opened, and immediately the bond of his tongue was loosed, and he was speaking correctly”; Mark 7:35). Mark betrays knowledge of Luke 1:64 (in its variant form) by picking up its vocabulary in constructing his Healing of the Deaf Mute story.

Mark 1:1. When we turn to the opening verse of Mark’s Gospel, we observe how Mark revised Luke 3:1, and following. Mark 1:1 reads:

Ἀρχὴ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (Archē tou evangeliou Iēsou Christou, “[the] beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ”).

Luke 1:1-4 reads:

Ἐπειδήπερ πολλοὶ ἐπεχείρησαν ἀνατάξασθαι διήγησιν περὶ τῶν πεπληροφορημένων ἐν ἡμῖν πραγμάτων, καθὼς παρέδοσαν ἡμῖν οἱ ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς αὐτόπται καὶ ὑπηρέται γενόμενοι τοῦ λόγου, ἔδοξε κἀμοὶ παρηκολουθηκότι ἄνωθεν πᾶσιν ἀκριβῶς καθεξῆς σοι γράψαι, κράτιστε Θεόφιλε, ἵνα ἐπιγνῷς περὶ ὧν κατηχήθης λόγων τὴν ἀσφάλειαν.

Luke 3:1-3 reads:

Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος, ἡγεμονεύοντος Ποντίου Πιλάτου τῆς Ἰουδαίας, καὶ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Γαλιλαίας Ἡρῴδου, Φιλίππου δὲ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Ἰτουραίας καὶ Τραχωνίτιδος χώρας, καὶ Λυσανίου τῆς Ἀβιληνῆς τετρααρχοῦντος, ἐπὶ ἀρχιερέως Ἅννα καὶ Καϊάφα, ἐγένετο ῥῆμα θεοῦ ἐπὶ Ἰωάννην τὸν Ζαχαρίου υἱὸν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ. καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς πᾶσαν [τὴν] περίχωρον τοῦ Ἰορδάνου κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν.

Hosea 1:2 (Septuagint) reads:

Ἀρχὴ λόγου κυρίου πρὸς Ωσηε (Archē logou kūriou pros Hōsēe, “[the] beginning of [the] word of [the] LORD to Hosea”).

Luke 3:1-3 is a typical opening of the kind we often find in the Hebrew prophets. For instance, Haggai begins his book: “In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, came the word of the LORD by the hand of Haggai the prophet…saying….” (Haggai 1:1). This is the style of Luke’s introduction. Mark looked for a different way to begin, but Mark’s method was to always follow a written model for his revisions. Noting that Luke 1:2 mentions ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς (ap’ archēs, “from the beginning”) and οἱ…ὑπηρέται γενόμενοι τοῦ λόγου (hoi…hūpēretai genomenoi tou logou, “those who have become servants of the word”), Mark was reminded of the opening of Hosea (Hos. 1:2, Septuagint): archē logou kūriou, “the beginning of the word of the LORD”), not a common way for a Hebrew prophet to begin a book. Mark’s reasoning was apparently: logos (“word”) is the equivalent of evangelion (“gospel”), so why not begin my book as Hosea did, and write: archē tou evangeliou Iēsou Christou (“the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ”)?

Mark 1:2. Καθὼς γέγραπται ἐν τῷ Ἠσαΐᾳ τῷ προφήτῃ (Kathōs gegraptai en tō Ēsaia tō prophētē, “as is written in Isaiah the prophet”). Luke states that John the Baptist came into “all the region of the Jordan preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Luke 3:3) and then quotes from “the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet” (Luke 3:4). Mark follows his habit of deliberate change, and in this case chiasmically moves from the quotation to a description of John and what he preaches. As he does so, Mark is reminded of another context in which Jesus mentioned John, and, combining references to Malachi 3:1 and Exodus 23:20 (see Luke 7:27; Matt. 11:10), writes, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face who will prepare your way” (Mark 1:2). The quotation is not exact, but Mark now picks up the statement in Luke 7:27 and adds it to the other quotation from Isaiah, not bothering to change the reference to Isaiah. And, of course, Mark will not agree exactly with Luke’s “the words of the book of Isaiah,” which is an excellent Hebraism (like so much else in the Lukan passage), so he used the form “in Isaiah,” a use that cannot be paralleled in Hebrew literature, but is perhaps similar to בַּתּוֹרָה (batōrāh, “in the Torah”).

Mark 1:5. καὶ ἐξεπορεύετο πρὸς αὐτὸν πᾶσα ἡ Ἰουδαία χώρα καὶ οἱ Ἱεροσολυμῖται πάντες (kai exeporeueto pros avton pasa hē Ioudaia chōra kai hoi Hierosolūmitai pantes, “and went out to him all of Judea and all the Jerusalemites”). From Luke 3:7 Mark took the verb ἐκπορεύεσθαι (ekporevesthai, “to go out”), while leaving out Luke 3:7-14, and picked up Acts 26:20 as his model for “the entire country of Judea and all the Jerusalemites.” Mark recalled Acts 19:18 where the people were “confessing…their actions” (ἐξομολογούμενοι…τὰς πράξεις αὐτῶν, exomologoumenoi tas praxeis autōn), and here, perhaps in conjunction with his memory of James 5:16, ἐξομολογεῖσθε οὖν ἀλλήλοις τὰς ἁμαρτίας (exomologeisthe oun allēlois tas hamartias, “confess therefore to one another the sins”), portrayed the people as “confessing their sins” (ἐξομολογούμενοι τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν [exomologoumenoi tas hamartias autōn]).

Mark 1:6. In the Septuagint’s translation of 2 Kings 1:8 we read that Elijah wore a ζώνη (zōnē, “belt”) of leather around his waist. Mark evidently felt John would have dressed like Elijah since he came “in the spirit of Elijah” (Luke 1:17) and, therefore, he included this detail in his description of John the Baptist’s appearance. Matthew accepted most of Mark’s secondary changes, but Matthew’s occasional agreements with Luke show he knew the text of the Anthology.[36] A striking secondary reading of Matthew’s creation is his partial acceptance of Mark 1:15 where Jesus is said to have preached “the kingdom of God has arrived” and “repent [imperative, 2nd-person plural],” and attributed these words to John the Baptist (Matt. 3:1-2).[37]

Mark 1:9-11. See my discussion of the way Mark rewrites the Baptism of Jesus pericope (Mark 1:9-11) by borrowing words from Acts 10:11-16 in my “Introduction to A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark,” subheading “The Markan Stereotypes.” It was from Acts 10:16 that Mark picked up his εὐθύς (evthūs, “immediately”) and turned it into his most famous stereotype (using the word over 40 times in his Gospel).

Mark 1:12-13. καὶ ἦν μετὰ τῶν θηρίων, καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι διηκόνουν αὐτῷ (kai ēn meta tōn thēriōn, kai hoi angeloi diēkonoun autō, “and he was with the wild animals, and the angels were serving him”). Mark dramatically shortened the Temptation narrative, yet he succeeded in finding two synonyms, ἐκβάλλειν (ekballein, “to drive out”; Mark 1:12) and σατανᾶς (satanas, “Satan”; Mark 1:13), to replace the Matthean-Lukan ἀναχθῆναι (anachthēnai, “to be led up”; Matt. 4:1) and ἄγεσθαι (agesthai, “to be led”; Luke 4:1) and διάβολος (diabolos, “devil”; Matt. 4:1; Luke 4:2). Where did Mark get the “wild beasts” and “angels” in Mark 1:13? The most likely answer was proposed by Montefiore,[38] who noted the amazing parallel to Mark 1:13 in the Testament of Naphtali:

And behold, my child, I have shown to you the last times, that everything will come to pass in Israel…If you work that which is good, my children, both people and angels will bless you, and God will be glorified among the nations through you, and the devil will flee from you, and the wild beasts will fear you, and the Lord will love you, and the angels will help you. (T. Naph. 8:1-6)

Apparently, Mark intended to allude to this source as he rewrote his account of Jesus’ temptation.

Mark 1:14. In Luke’s description of John the Baptist he added that Herod the tetrarch put John in prison (Luke 3:19-20). Probably, Luke did not intend to make his report chronological, but only recorded the information about John’s imprisonment as an aside. However, Mark refers to John’s imprisonment as if it preceded Jesus’ departure for Galilee. Matthew picked up this Markan innovation and therefore reported that Jesus “heard” that John had been imprisoned (Matt. 4:12). Later in his Gospel Matthew opened his story of John’s sending the two disciples to Jesus by adding that John “heard in prison of the works of the Christ” (Matt. 11:2), a point not made in Luke’s account of the same story (Matt. 11:2-6; Luke 7:18-23).

Mark 1:15. There are good reasons to suppose that Jesus received his fame at first as a miracle worker, not as a teacher. Therefore, the secondary summary in Luke 4:14-15, “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to the Galilee,” and his fame increased “and he taught in their synagogues being glorified by all,” appears to depend on a summary of the first encounter Jesus had with demons in the synagogue (Luke 4:31-37). Mark developed an equivalent to the Lukan summary in a way that demonstrates his literary inventiveness (Mark 1:14-15). Mark says that Jesus went “declaring” the gospel of God (his equivalent for “the word of God”) and that he said: 1) “the time has been fulfilled”; 2) ”the kingdom of God has arrived”; 3) “repent”; and 4) “believe in the gospel.” Jesus indeed taught the disciples he sent out to say, “the kingdom of God has come near” (Luke 10:9)[39] to explain their healing and exorcizing activities, but Mark generated the rest of these expressions from non-contextual models: to evangelion tou theou (Mark 1:14) is Pauline (cf. Rom. 15:16; 1 Thess. 2:2, 8, 9); we do not find καιρός (kairos, “time”) in an expression that means “fulfilled time,” as here in Mark 1:15, although Mark may have picked up the idea from Luke 4:21. Jesus probably taught that repentance was essential to all, but we have no other example of Jesus using the exact word “repent” in an exhortation to repentance. Mark’s “believe in the gospel” probably was generated from Paul’s “the gospel, for it is the power of God to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). Matthew’s “repent” and “the kingdom of Heaven has arrived” (Matt. 4:17) is an example of Matthew’s acceptance from Mark of a secondarism, and also the reason for Matthew’s attribution of the same words to John the Baptist (Matt. 3:2).

Mark 1:16-20. Mark’s story of the calling of the disciples is the equivalent of Luke’s lengthier and more complete original in Luke 5:1-11. Mark has moved it forward, probably because he realized that Luke’s account of the Rejection in Nazareth made reference to Jesus’ activity in Capernaum (Luke 4:23) despite the fact that Luke had not yet mentioned Capernaum in his Gospel. Mark’s rearrangement of his materials resulted in the exclusion of all miracle stories from the period in which Jesus operated alone, and hastened the period when he began to call disciples. It seems almost certain that Jesus had a personal career of healing and casting out demons before beginning to gather disciples, but both Luke and Mark, each in his own way, made this fact unclear. Such pericope reordering is indicative of the problems the First Reconstructor faced when attempting to join fragments from the Anthology into a continuous narrative.

Mark 1:16. For Luke’s “Lake of Gennesaret” (Luke 5:1), Mark invents[40] a synonym, “Sea of Galilee” (Mark 1:16), perhaps because in Hebrew this lake was called “Sea of Kinneret.”[41] Luke’s Call of the Disciples (Luke 6:13-16) focuses first on Simon, but since Mark knew that Simon had a brother named Andrew (Luke 6:14), Mark wrote Andrew into the story, along with James and John, against Matthew and Luke (Mark 1:29; 13:3).

Mark 1:17. ποιήσω ὑμᾶς γενέσθαι ἁλιεῖς ἀνθρώπων (poiēsō hūmas genesthai alieis anthrōpōn, “I will make you to be fishers of men”). Mark reached out for a synonym to a very distant parallel: Luke reports that Jesus said to Peter, “You will be taking alive men” (Luke 5:10). Mark writes that Jesus says, “you [plural] will be fishers of men” (Mark 1:17; compare Matt. 4:19). By making this change, Mark apparently intended to allude to Jeremiah 16:16, where we find the idea of God’s hunting out and fishing the people of Israel. It may be that Jesus hinted at this passage in the Lukan version of the story (Luke 5:1-11). If so, Mark picked up on the hint and adopted “fishers” as a synonym for “hunters.”

Mark 1:19. καὶ προβὰς ὀλίγον (kai probas oligon, “and [Jesus] going forward a little”). One of the rare words Mark picked up from Luke 5:1-11 is ὀλίγον (oligon, “a little, a bit”; Luke 5:3). For Luke, the word was used in connection with a boat moving out a bit, but for Mark it refers to Jesus’ moving on a bit.

Mark 1:20. καὶ εὐθὺς ἐκάλεσεν αὐτούς (kai evthūs ekalesen autous, “and immediately he [Jesus] called them”). Here Mark used the word “to call” in the way Paul used it, and in the way that English speakers sometimes do. Mark says that Jesus “called them” (Mark 1:20). Hebrew requires that this verb be a call to something, as in Luke 5:32, “I have not come to call saints but sinners to repentance.” Matthew follows Mark’s non-Hebraic use of καλέσαι (kalesai, “to call”).[42]

Mark 1:21-28. The Lukan version of the first story of Jesus’ casting out a demon (Luke 4:31-37) illustrates how the author of the First Reconstruction edited the Anthology. This story-unit, which must also have existed in the Anthology, really begins in Luke 4:33, but apparently the First Reconstructor is responsible for having equipped the story with an introduction about Jesus’ teaching in a synagogue “on the Sabbath.” The original story is straightforward: Jesus goes into the synagogue, perhaps only to participate in the service, although this is not stated. The demons in the man who is the subject of the story are annoyed by Jesus’ presence and erupt in vocal challenge of Jesus. Jesus commands the demons to keep quiet and come out of the man. When they do so the worshippers speak in amazement to each other and say, “What is this λόγος [logos]? He commands the unclean spirits with…authority….” (Luke 4:36).

It is clear that here the word logos represents the Hebrew דָּבָר (dāvār). However, dāvār would not mean “word” here, as it often does elsewhere, but “thing,” due to the sentence’s word order. The people say, “What is this thing? For he commands…and they obey him.” However, since logos would normally be read by a Greek speaker as “word” or “speech,” the First Reconstructor has understood that the people marveled not that the demons left, but that they left on command, by the power of speech. In the redacted introduction to the story created by the First Reconstructor and copied by Luke, the editor wrote as the equivalent of “his word” the word διδαχή (didachē, “teaching”). Thus we read in the summary before the story: “He was teaching them…and they were amazed at his teaching, for his word was with authority” (Luke 4:31-32). In this fascinating misunderstanding of a Hebraic usage, the Reconstructor supposed that Jesus’ authority lay in his ability to “teach,” just as his authority was “to command demons with power and authority.” With the correct understanding of logos as “thing,” we realize that the Reconstructor has first supposed Jesus’ word or speech had special authority and then has supposed this must mean he first of all went about teaching because the didachē itself had authority. This understanding on the part of the First Reconstructor also probably lies behind the summary in Luke 4:15: “And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.” Jesus certainly did teach, but Luke 5:3 suggests that his teaching began only after he commenced gathering disciples.[43]

Mark’s famous phrase, “he taught them as one having authority, but not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22), is Mark’s replacement for Luke 4:32. Mark has taken the redaction of the First Reconstruction one step farther: not only is Jesus’ fame already that of a teacher, but the people are amazed that he does not teach with the methods of the scribes because he has authority where they do not have it! Anyone who has a knowledge of first-century Judaism realizes that this statement may be Mark’s theological opinion, but it is hardly typical of the scribal scene. The scribes were, of course, looked up to as authorities.

Matthew does not give the story of the casting out of the demon in the Capernaum synagogue, but in Matthew 7:28-29 he uses the idea of Jesus’ authority as a teacher to close his Sermon on the Mount: “the ὄχλοι [ochloi, ‘crowds’] marveled at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one possessed with authority and not as the scribes.” This is Matthew’s further development of Mark 1:22.

Mark 1:27 likewise shows evidence of Mark’s editorial activity. Whereas in Luke 4:36 the people say, Τίς ὁ λόγος οὗτος ὅτι ἐν ἐξουσίᾳ καὶ δυνάμει ἐπιτάσσει τοῖς ἀκαθάρτοις πνεύμασιν, καὶ ἐξέρχονται; (Tis ho logos houtos hoti en exousia kai dūnamei epitassei tois akathartois pneumasin, kai exerchontai, “What is this word, that in authority and power he commands the impure spirits, and they come out?”), in Mark they say, Τί ἐστιν τοῦτο; διδαχὴ καινή· κατ’ ἐξουσίαν καὶ τοῖς πνεύμασι τοῖς ἀκαθάρτοις ἐπιτάσσει, καὶ ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ (Ti estin touto, didachē kainē kat’ exousian kai tois pneumasi tois akathartois epitassei, kai hūpakouousin autō, “What is this? A new teaching with authority, he even commands impure spirits and they obey him!” ). Mark seems to have worked as follows: in Luke 4:32 he noted that didachē and logos were treated as synonymous. When he read in Luke 4:36, “What is this word…?” Mark decided to replace logos with didachē. This would have produced the phrase Tis hē didachē (“What is this teaching?”), but in order to preserve something of the idea of logos, Mark wrote instead, “What is this? A new teaching….” Nevertheless, the phrase Tis hē didachē reminded Mark of Acts 17:19 where the Athenians ask Paul, “What is this new teaching…?” and therefore Mark described Jesus’ teaching in the synagogue as “new.” Finally, the en exousia of Luke 4:32 reminded Mark that Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 13:10 kata tēn exousian (kata appears with exousia only in 2 Cor. 13:10 and Mark 1:27 in the New Testament). Therefore, opposite Luke’s Hebraic en exousia (a literal rendering of the rabbinic בִּרְשׁוּת [bireshūt, “with permission,” hence, “with authority”]), Mark wrote kat’ exousian, a more sophisticated Greek equivalent.


This pattern of Markan replacement, chiastic change, synonymity and word expansion is characteristic of Mark’s Gospel. It is relatively easy to trace the Markan “pick-ups.” However, it is not enough to determine the lines and details of Mark’s redactic methods. One must look for the outlines of Luke’s use of his two sources. From there, one must check the editorial methods of the source of Luke’s narrative outline, the First Reconstruction. The solution to the Synoptic Problem depends on this kind of careful work. The delineation of Markan redaction provides the clue to Matthean involvement. The synoptic interdependence moves from Luke to Mark to Matthew, but the Anthology stands behind all three Synoptic Gospels, and makes it possible for Matthew to correct Mark, and for Mark to correct the First Reconstruction Mark saw through Luke. We can rejoice that much of the synoptic material has escaped the difficulties of the Triple Tradition where Luke is influenced by the First Reconstructor and Matthew is influenced by Mark. Much of Luke, as well as the non-Markan parallels in Matthew, provide remarkable testimony that, even though the original order of story contexts has been disturbed, it is still possible to observe the congruency of the materials and recover much of the earliest text.

Lauren S. Asperschlager, David N. Bivin, Joseph Frankovic and Joshua N. Tilton collaborated to make this article available to our readers. Dr. Lindsey was able to complete only a first or second draft of this article. Although we could not preserve Dr. Lindsey’s writing style, great effort was made to preserve faithfully the content of this article. We are responsible for many of the article’s footnotes. Pieter Lechner created the tables and graphics.
  • [1] R. L. Lindsey, “A Modified Two-Document Theory of the Synoptic Dependence and Interdependence,” Novum Testamentum 6 (1963): 239-263. The article was emended and updated by Lauren S. Asperschlager, David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton and published on Jan. 20, 2014 as “A New Two-source Solution to the Synoptic Problem.”
  • [2] A Lukan Doublet is a saying of Jesus appearing twice in the Gospel of Luke, apparently the result of Luke’s copying from two sources, each of which had a different version of the saying.
  • [3] For more on the Lukan Doublets, see the section “Lukan Doublets” in Robert L. Lindsey, “Unlocking the Synoptic Problem: Four Keys for Better Understanding Jesus.”
  • [4] Matthew and Luke, here in a Double Tradition pericope, preserve a beautiful Hebrew parallelism in almost identical wording: οὐδὲν γάρ ἐστιν κεκαλυμμένον ὃ οὐκ ἀποκαλυφθήσεται (“for nothing is covered up that will not be revealed”) = καὶ κρυπτὸν ὃ οὐ γνωσθήσεται (“and [nothing is] hidden that will not be known”). The parallelism is “covered up | revealed; hidden | known.” Luke’s compound verb συγκεκαλυμμένον (L2) is a Greek improvement of Matthew’s κεκαλυμμένον. We may assume that this Greek improvement was carried out by the author of Luke since we view the First Reconstruction’s less-Hebraic reading, ἐστιν κρυπτόν, in the doublet of Luke 8:17 (L2).
  • [5] Franz Delitzsch rendered Luke 12:2 (and Matthew 10:26) as: אֵין דָּבָר מְכֻסֶּה אֲשֶׁר לֹא יִגָּלֶה וְלֹא סָתוּם [וְאֵין נֶעְלָם] אֲשֶׁר לֹא יִוָּדֵעַ.
  • [6] In Demands of Discipleship, L11-14, David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton have proposed the following reconstruction: מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ נוֹשֵׂא אֶת צְלָבוֹ וּבָא אַחֲרַי אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִהְיוֹת תַּלְמִידִי. Brad Young reconstructed this verse in the following manner: מי שלא יטען את צלבו ויבוא אחרי אינו יכול להיות תלמידי (Brad H. Young, “A Fresh Examination of the Cross, Jesus and the Jewish People,” in Jesus’ Last Week: Jerusalem Studies in the Synoptic Gospels 1 [JCP 11; ed. R. Steven Notley, Marc Turnage and Brian Becker; Leiden: Brill, 2006], 202.).
  • [7] E.g., Luke 13:34-35 = Matt. 23:37-39; Luke 3:7b-9 = Matt. 3:7b-10; Luke 11:29-32 = Matt. 12:39-42.
  • [8] E.g., Luke 6:20-23 = Matt. 5:3-12; Luke 6:27, 28, 32-36 = Matt. 5:43-48; Luke 6:43-45 = Matt. 7:16-19.
  • [9] The phrase οὐ χρείαν ἔχουσιν appears only in Luke 5:31 and Luke 15:7 in Luke’s Gospel.
  • [10] See David N. Bivin, “Discovering Longer Gospel Stories.”
  • [11] For full Greek and Hebrew reconstructions of this literary complex, along with a detailed commentary, see David N. Bivin, “Counting the Cost of Discipleship.”
  • [12] It is clear that in both instances of Matthew’s preservation of Double Tradition his text is shorter and less complete than Luke’s (cf. Matthew’s version of the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Matt. 18:12-14 and his version of the Conditions of Discipleship in Matt. 10:37-38 with their Lukan parallels: Luke 15:4-7 and Luke 14:26-27, respectively).
  • [13] Some scholars have claimed that it was later tradition that added the second parable in an unoriginal imitation of the first parable. But there is no basis for this suggestion. Joseph had double dreams (Gen. 37:5-9), and he made the point that the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream meant that God would cause its certain fulfillment (Gen. 41:32). Gideon put out not one fleece, but two (Judg. 6:36-40), and the Torah lays down the principle that by the mouth of two or more witnesses evidence is corroborated (Deut. 19:15). Thus, there is ample cultural and literary precedent for Jesus’ practice of buttressing his argument by the use of twin parables.
  • [14] Cf. Papyrus 45 and other manuscript evidence.
  • [15] For a full explanation of the words in common that tie the fragments of this complex together, see Robert L. Lindsey, Jesus, Rabbi and Lord: A Lifetime’s Search for the Meaning of Jesus’ Words, 101-105; David N. Bivin, “Mary and Martha: The Rest of the Story.”
  • [16] Verses 18 and 19 appear to be inconsistent with this prophecy and may be the result of Luke’s editorial activity. Verse 18 is a promise of survival, despite Jesus’ having said in verse 16 that some will be put to death. The promise in verse 18 appears to have been based on Luke 12:7, which is not a promise of survival. Verse 19 is also a promise of survival with Hebraic overtones. For example, “you will acquire τὰς ψυχὰς ὑμῶν” (tas psychas hymon, “your souls”; no doubt reflecting the idiomatic Hebrew נֶפֶשׁ [nephesh, “soul” in the sense of “life”]), that is, “you will save your lives.” This verse may have been derived from the teaching context dealing with flight from Jerusalem.
  • [17] I.e., the non-signs of verses 10 and 11, as well as the appearances before kings and governors, being hated, soldiers around Jerusalem, Jerusalem’s fall and the heavenly portents at the Advent.
  • [18] The First Reconstructor’s secondary usage of “the kingdom of God” as though it means “the Return of Jesus” can also be observed in the Parable of the Pounds/Talents, which appears in Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:11-27. The parable has nothing to do with the kingdom of God in the Matthean version, but in the Lukan version it is introduced by the idea that some people thought “the kingdom of God was about to appear.” Another example of this secondary usage of “the kingdom of God” appears in the introduction to the long passage on the Day of the Son of Man in Luke 17:22-37. The introduction (Luke 17:20) suggests that the Pharisees were interested in the coming of the kingdom of God, a truly unrabbinic way of talking about this subject, and which makes sense only if we understand that the First Reconstructor confused the Second Coming with the kingdom of God. Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees’ question likewise illustrates the First Reconstructor’s conflation of the Second Coming (a future event) with the kingdom of God (a present reality): “The kingdom of God [as if it meant “the Coming of the Son of Man”] is not coming with observation [by watching out for it/him]. They will not [are not going to be able to] say, ‘Here it is,’ or, ‘There it is,’ for behold the kingdom of God is among you” (Luke 17:20-21). According to this rephrasing by the First Reconstructor, Jesus is merely saying the same thing he says when he tells his disciples (in Luke 17:23) not to follow anyone who says, “Here he is!” or “There he is!” Modern New Testament translators were led astray by supposing that Jesus first quoted those who would say, “Behold here or there,” then turned and spoke directly to the disciples as he added, “For behold the kingdom of God is among you,” an idea often bandied about today by teachers and preachers as a prooftext that Jesus said his kingdom was in us. Luke 17:20-21, where the expression “the kingdom of God” is made the equivalent of the “Coming of the Son of Man,” is secondary: it is simply a rephrasing of what Jesus says in Luke 17:22-37 concerning his Second Coming.
  • [19] In Luke the speaker mentions stones in conjunction with gifts. Both Song of Songs Rabbah and Ecclesiastes Rabbah open with the story of Hanina ben Dosa who presented a stone as a gift to the Temple. The speaker in Luke also emphasizes that the stones are “beautiful.” Rabbinic literature, likewise, records the impression the Temple’s beauty made on those who saw it:

    It used to be said: “He who has not seen the Temple of Herod has never seen a beautiful building.” Of what did he build it? Rabbah said: “Of yellow and white marble.” Some say, of blue, yellow and white marble. Alternate rows [of the stones] projected, so as to leave a place for cement. He originally intended to cover it with gold, but the Rabbis advised him not to, since it was more beautiful as it was, looking like the waves of the sea. (b. Bava Batra 4a; cf. b. Sukkah 51b)

    This tradition places emphasis on the beauty of the Temple’s stones.

  • [20] Compare Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple (Matt. 21:12-16; Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45-48) and his words to the “daughters of Jerusalem” as they followed him on the way to his crucifixion (Luke 23:28-32).
  • [21] See Randall Buth, “Matthew’s Aramaic Glue.”
  • [22] On Luke’s misunderstanding of his source, see David Flusser, “The Times of the Gentiles and the Redemption of Jerusalem” under the subheading “Lindsey’s Hypothesis and Jesus’ Prophecy.”
  • [23] Is “gospel of the kingdom” an echo of the testimony before kings in Mark 13:9?
  • [24] Ἐκείνη ἡ ἡμέρα θλίψεως οἵα οὐκ ἐγενήθη ἀφ’ οὗ ἐγενήθησαν ἕως τῆς ἡμέρας ἐκείνης (Ekeinē hē hēmera thlipseōs hoia ouk egenēthē af’ hou egenēthēsan heōs tēs hēmeras ekeinēs, “That is a day of affliction, which will be such as has not occurred since they were born until that day” [NETS]).
  • [25] A comparison of Luke 17:22-37 with Matthew 24:26-28, 37-39 shows that Luke’s version is more complete and comprehensible than the verses Matthew selected from this portion of the Anthology:

    Luke 17:22-37 Matthew 24:26-28 Matthew 24:37-39
    L1 22 Εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς τοὺς μαθητάς· Ἐλεύσονται ἡμέραι ὅτε ἐπιθυμήσετε μίαν τῶν ἡμερῶν τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἰδεῖν καὶ οὐκ ὄψεσθε.
    L2 23 καὶ ἐροῦσιν ὑμῖν· Ἰδοὺ ἐκεῖ· Ἰδοὺ ὧδε· μὴ ἀπέλθητε μηδὲ διώξητε. 26 ἐὰν οὖν εἴπωσιν ὑμῖν· Ἰδοὺ ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ ἐστίν, μὴ ἐξέλθητε· Ἰδοὺ ἐν τοῖς ταμείοις, μὴ πιστεύσητε·
    L3 24 ὥσπερ γὰρ ἡ ἀστραπὴ ἀστράπτουσα ἐκ τῆς ὑπὸ τὸν οὐρανὸν εἰς τὴν ὑπ’ οὐρανὸν λάμπει, οὕτως ἔσται ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ αὐτοῦ. 27 ὥσπερ γὰρ ἡ ἀστραπὴ ἐξέρχεται ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν καὶ φαίνεται ἕως δυσμῶν, οὕτως ἔσται ἡ παρουσία τουἱο τοῦ ἀνθρώπου·
    L4 25 πρῶτον δὲ δεῖ αὐτὸν πολλὰ παθεῖν καὶ ἀποδοκιμασθῆναι ἀπὸ τῆς γενεᾶς ταύτης.
    L5 26 καὶ καθὼς ἐγένετο ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις Νῶε, οὕτως ἔσται καὶ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου· 37 ὥσπερ γὰρ αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ Νῶε, οὕτως ἔσται ἡ παρουσία τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου·
    L6 27 ἤσθιον, ἔπινον, ἐγάμουν, ἐγαμίζοντο, ἄχρι ἧς ἡμέρας εἰσῆλθεν Νῶε εἰς τὴν κιβωτόν, 38 ὡς γὰρ ἦσαν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ταῖς πρὸ τοῦ κατακλυσμοῦ τρώγοντες καὶ πίνοντες, γαμοῦντες καὶ γαμίζοντες, ἄχρι ἧς ἡμέρας εἰσῆλθεν Νῶε εἰς τὴν κιβωτόν,
    L7 καὶ ἦλθεν ὁ κατακλυσμὸς καὶ ἀπώλεσεν πάντας. 39 καὶ οὐκ ἔγνωσαν ἕως ἦλθεν ὁ κατακλυσμὸς καὶ ἦρεν ἅπαντας,
    L8 28 ὁμοίως καθὼς ἐγένετο ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις Λώτ· ἤσθιον, ἔπινον, ἠγόραζον, ἐπώλουν, ἐφύτευον, ᾠκοδόμουν·
    L9 29 ᾗ δὲ ἡμέρᾳ ἐξῆλθεν Λὼτ ἀπὸ Σοδόμων, ἔβρεξεν πῦρ καὶ θεῖον ἀπ’ οὐρανοῦ καὶ ἀπώλεσεν πάντας.
    L10 30 κατὰ τὰ αὐτὰ ἔσται ᾗ ἡμέρᾳ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἀποκαλύπτεται. οὕτως ἔσται καὶ ἡ παρουσία τουἱο τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.
    L11 31 ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ὃς ἔσται ἐπὶ τοῦ δώματος καὶ τὰ σκεύη αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ, μὴ καταβάτω ἆραι αὐτά, καὶ ὁ ἐν ἀγρῷ ὁμοίως μὴ ἐπιστρεψάτω εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω.
    L12 32 μνημονεύετε τῆς γυναικὸς Λώτ.
    L13 33 ὃς ἐὰν ζητήσῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ περιποιήσασθαι ἀπολέσει αὐτήν, ὃς δ’ ἂν ἀπολέσῃ ζῳογονήσει αὐτήν.
    L14 34 λέγω ὑμῖν, ταύτῃ τῇ νυκτὶ ἔσονται δύο ἐπὶ κλίνης μιᾶς, ὁ εἷς παραλημφθήσεται καὶ ὁ ἕτερος ἀφεθήσεται·
    L15 35 ἔσονται δύο ἀλήθουσαι ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό, ἡ μία παραλημφθήσεται ἡ δὲ ἑτέρα ἀφεθήσεται.
    L16 [36 Omitted in the best manuscripts.]δύο ἔσονται ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ· εἷς παραλημφθήσεται καὶ ὁ ἕτερος ἀφεθήσεται 40 τότε δύο ἔσονται ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ, εἷς παραλαμβάνεται καὶ εἷς ἀφίεται·
    L17 37 καὶ ἀποκριθέντες λέγουσιν αὐτῷ· Ποῦ, κύριε; ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς·
    L18 Ὅπου τὸ σῶμα, ἐκεῖ καὶ οἱ ἀετοὶ ἐπισυναχθήσονται. 28 ὅπου ἐὰν ᾖ τὸ πτῶμα, ἐκεῖ συναχθήσονται οἱ ἀετοί.

    The most telling detail in this comparison is Matthew’s treatment of the word ἡμέρα (hēmera, “day”). In the Lukan column above, the word hēmera appears ten times. The repeated use of “day” in Luke makes sense, because here Jesus compares the days of Noah and the days of Lot to the day of the Son of Man. Matthew, by contrast, is willing to mention the days of Noah (twice, L5-6), but he consistently replaces “day of the Son of Man” with “Coming of the Son of Man” (L3, L5, L10). We have already noted above that Matthew introduced the idea of the παρουσία (parousia, “coming; advent”) into the disciples’ question that prompts Jesus’ prophesy (Matt. 24:3), a strong indication that “Coming of the Son of Man” is also secondary in this context (Matt. 24:26-28, 37-39).

    Matthew’s use of tote at Matt. 24:40 (L16) to start a new sentence is also noteworthy. This use of tote may be an indication of Matthew’s reworking of his sources (see the comments on L34 of Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of the Temple).

    Finally, we note that whereas Matthew’s saying about the gathering of vultures (Matt. 24:28; L18) is nearly incomprehensible, in Luke it comes as a natural response to the disciples’ question, “Where, Lord [will they be taken]?” (Luke 17:37; L17). This question refers to Jesus’ warning that “two will be in one bed, one will be taken….” In Luke’s context, “being taken” is clearly an undesirable possibility, comparable to those who “were taken” (i.e., drowned) in Noah’s flood, or those who “were taken” (i.e., perished) in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Those who are “taken” on the Day of the Son of Man will likewise come to an unpleasant end. Where will they be taken? Jesus offers a cryptic response: “Where a body [is], there the vultures will gather on it.” Apparently, those who are taken on the Day of the Son of Man will be taken to a place of death.

    These observations indicate that Luke has preserved his source material (whether taken from the First Reconstruction or from the Anthology) about the “Day of the Son of Man” more completely and faithfully than Matthew, who redacted the Anthology to suit his purposes. Matthew’s method was to splice excerpts of the Anthology into Mark’s prophecy, whereas Luke quoted his sources en bloc.

  • [26] See R. Steven Notley, “Learn the Lesson of the Fig Tree,” in Jesus’ Last Week: Jerusalem Studies in the Synoptic Gospels 1 (JCP 11; ed. R. Steven Notley, Marc Turnage and Brian Becker; Leiden: Brill, 2006), 107-120.
  • [27] Matthew followed Mark’s allusion to James about the “doors” (Matt. 24:33). Mark picked up other words from James. For example, Mark wrote, in contrast to Luke and Matthew, that during their famous “Sending Out” the disciples “anointed with oil many that were sick” (Mark 6:13; cf. James 5:14).
  • [28] R. Steven Notley, “The Season of Redemption.”
  • [29] A total of 38 lines excluding the verses from Matt. 10, or 45 lines if the verses from Matt. 10 are included.
  • [30] If the verses from Matt. 10 are included, the number grows to 58 out of 114 lines.
  • [31] 21 of the 46 lines that show Markan-Matthean agreements against Luke are in lines that also have agreements with Luke. (The number rises to 28 out of 58 lines if the verses from Matt. 10 are included.)
  • [32] The one exception is L15 where Luke and Mark agree for a short phrase.
  • [33] There are two exceptions: in L4 there is Lukan-Markan verbal agreement, but not Lukan-Markan-Matthean verbal agreement; in L37 Luke and Mark agree where there is no parallel in Matt. 24, but there is a parallel in Matt. 10.
  • [34] Two additional lines (L61, L75) show verbal agreement between Luke and the other synoptists, but without sharing parallel ideas. In L61 Luke speaks of the desolation of Jerusalem whereas Mark and Matthew write about the abomination of desolation. In L75 Luke writes about great distress on the earth, whereas Matthew speaks about great tribulation. Therefore, these lines could still be considered unique Lukan material.
  • [35] There is no parallel to this Markan story (Mark 7:31-37) in Luke. Matthew’s parallel, Matt. 15:29-31, mentions Jesus’ healing of deaf mutes along with other types of disabled and injured, but does not record the healing of this deaf mute.
  • [36] Compare, for example, πᾶσαν τὴν περίχωρον τοῦ Ἰορδάνου (pasan tēn perichōron tou Iordanou, “the entire circle of the Jordan”; Luke 3:3; cf. Matt. 3:5), which is obviously a translation of כִּכַּר הַיַּרְדֵּן (kikar hayardēn), as in Genesis 13:10.
  • [37] John’s preaching shows affinity with the Dead Sea Scrolls, which makes it seem unlikely that he would have used rabbinic terminology such as malchūt shāmayim (“kingdom of Heaven”), given the Essenes’ hatred of the Pharisees.
  • [38] Claude G. Montefiore, The Synoptic Gospels: Edited with an Introduction and a Commentary (2 vols.; 2nd ed.; London: Macmillan, 1927), 1:9.
  • [39] The Hebrew idiom is קָרַב (qārav, “come up to; arrive”).
  • [40] “Invents,” rather than “chooses,” may be the correct word here, since Mark is the earliest witness for the toponym “Sea of Galilee.” See R. Steven Notley’s discussion under the subheading, “The Sea of Galilee: Development of an Early Christian Toponym,” in Anson F. Rainey and R. Steven Notley, The Sacred Bridge: Carta’s Atlas of the Biblical World (Jerusalem: Carta, 2006), 352ff. However, in his article, “The Sea of Galilee: Development of an Early Christian Toponym,” JBL 128 (2009): 187, Notley states that “The place-name was not the creation of any of the evangelists. Instead, the Gospels are a repository of a pre-Synoptic development.”
  • [41] One of the ways to study Mark’s method of replacement is to note words such as “lake” in Luke, and their Markan equivalents in parallel. Mark changed Luke’s λίμνη (limnē, “lake”; Luke 5:1) to θάλασσα (thalassa, “sea”; Mark 1:16). When Mark copied opposite Luke two further uses of “lake” (in Luke 8:22, 23), he deftly avoided all mention of the body of water (Mark 4:35-37). Mark replaced Luke’s final occurrence of “lake” (Luke 8:33) by using “sea” (Mark 5:13). Typical, too, of Mark’s method is his refusal of the word “Gennesaret” in Mark 1:16, yet in a passage with no parallel in Luke (Mark 6:53, parallel to Matthew 14:34), Mark describes Jesus’ coming to “Gennesaret.” This practice of skipping a word to choose a synonym for his text at one place only to bring the word back as a replacement in another place is easily traceable in Mark’s Gospel. In a similar manner, Mark made note of Luke’s unique use of the word πλοιάριον (ploiarion, “small boat”) in Luke 5:2, but refused to use the word until Mark 3:9 (against both Matthew and Luke).
  • [42] Compare Mark 1:20 and 2:17 with Matt. 4:21 and 9:13.
  • [43] I am indebted to David Flusser for this analysis.

A New Two-source Solution to the Synoptic Problem

Shortly after Robert L. Lindsey’s eureka moment (“Luke is first!”) on February 14, 1962, and at Professor David Flusser’s urging, Lindsey submitted the following article to the editors of Novum Testamentum. The article was published in the journal’s November 1963 issue as “A Modified Two-Document Theory of the Synoptic Dependence and Interdependence,” Novum Testamentum, Vol. 6, Fasc. 4 (November 1963): 239-263. Lauren S. Asperschlager, David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton have updated and emended the article to bring it in line with the modifications Lindsey made to his hypothesis over the following 30 years. Pieter Lechner has created the tables and graphics.

Despite the continuing debate between Matthean and Markan priorists, some form of the widely-accepted Two-Source Hypothesis seems necessary for a proper understanding of the synoptic relationships. The Two-Source Hypothesis as generally conceived, however, cannot cover the evidence of dependence and interdependence found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. The same must be said for the theory of Matthean priority.

Both Markan and Matthean priorists are guilty of trying to solve the synoptic problem by over reliance on evidence for the interdependence of the Synoptic Gospels. These theorists’ basic error stems from their failure to recognize the necessity of positing the existence of a document other than Q, a document that is not completely present in any of the canonical Gospels. The interdependence of the Synoptic Gospels is a fact from which no theory of origins can escape, but the evidence of dependence on an additional document no longer extant, yet known to each of the synoptic writers, demands an adequate literary explanation.

Very few twentieth-century synoptic theorists can be said to have wrestled seriously with the question of whether a Mark-like, extra-canonical authority may not be necessary to explain unsolved problems of synoptic relationships. Instead, the tendency has been to abandon all hope of finding a literary solution.[1]

The ghost of the much-maligned Ur-Marcus[2] continues to rear its head. Bultmann wrote:

It is….probable that the text of Mark which the two other evangelists used lay before them in an older form than that in which we have it today. This Ur-Marcus (as it is usually called) was altered and enlarged at certain points; but it cannot be distinguished from the present text of Mark in any important way.[3]

Likewise, Taylor wrote:

We may feel compelled to reject all known forms of the Ur-Markus Hypothesis, but there is something unseemly in an investigation which ends with Requiescat Urmarcus. The same also may be said of the rejection of redactional and compilation hypotheses. There is no failure in synoptic criticism, for, if we reject a particular suggestion worked out with great learning and ability, we are compelled to reconsider the evidence on which it is based and seek a better explanation, knowing that a later critic may light upon a hypothesis sounder and more comprehensive still.[4]

Whatever the failures of Ur-Marcus theories, and they are many, it needs to be admitted that only in the direction of such hypotheses can there lie any hope of a solution to the present impasse in synoptic studies. We may indeed be able to correct a few more items related to the Jewish, first-century setting of our documents by the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and rabbinic sources, but until the literary connections of our extant Gospels are clarified, we will remain in the state of uncertainty in which we now find ourselves. It is my conviction that the situation is not as hopeless as it seems, and that if the right tools of literary criticism are employed the synoptic problem can be solved. This is a bold claim. It would have been such a hundred years ago. In today’s atmosphere it may be considered overly bold.

The three most important results of synoptic criticism in the nineteenth century are: 1) the isolation of source Q; 2) the perception that Matthew and Luke used a narrative much like Mark as the skeleton of their works; and 3) the conclusion that Matthew and Luke cannot have influenced each other directly. Unfortunately, it cannot be said that twentieth-century scholarship has added much more than refinements to these foundations.

The clearest of these axioms is the third: Matthew and Luke did not know each other’s work. The diversity of ways in which Matthew and Luke splice Double Tradition pericopae into their narrative outline is so dramatic that the attempt by Matthean priorists to derive Mark and Luke from Matthew must be abandoned.

The first axiom, which concerns the nature and extent of source Q, is slightly less clear than the third axiom. Harnack’s The Sayings of Jesus[5] remains the best work on Q, but it is vitiated by the supposition that Matthew and Luke used Mark as their narrative skeleton and that Q is responsible for the longer Matthean-Lukan parallels to Mark 1:1-13. With Augustine, the simplest reader of the Gospels must often suppose that the first thirteen verses of Mark, when compared with Matthew and Luke, can only be understood as an abridgement of a longer narrative. Far the simplest explanation of the Markan version is that Mark excised or shortened some longer narrative. The suggestion that a Mark-Q “overlap” occurred here, such that Matthew and Luke were able to supplement Mark’s account from their knowledge of Q, is the invention of the dogma of Markan priority, by which Mark is identified with the narrative source standing behind Matthew and Luke. The same can be said of the Markan Beelzebub Controversy (Mark 3:22-30).

Least clear, although quite certain when critically defined, is the second axiom: Matthew and Luke used a narrative much like the Gospel of Mark as the skeleton of their Gospels. Here the error of Markan priorists lies in their failure to see that the nature of the relationship of Matthew and Luke to Mark is not one of complete dependence in Markan contexts. To correct the error it is necessary to adopt a more radical form of the Ur-Marcus theory than that maintained by Bultmann. My hypothesis proposes that 1) Luke did not know Mark. Luke did, however, know a source much like Mark. 2) Mark did not know Matthew. However, Mark did know Luke and one of the sources upon which Luke was based. Luke gave Mark his narrative skeleton, but Mark also used one of Luke’s primary sources, which allowed him to detect some of Luke’s editorial activity. Mark was then able to revise and redact Luke with the assistance of their shared non-canonical source. 3) Matthew knew Mark, but he also knew the same non-canonical source common to Mark and Luke. Matthew did not know Luke, but his knowledge of one of Luke’s sources as well as his use of Mark, which was directly influenced by Luke, created strong Matthean-Lukan affinities. Often we find that Matthew preserved the wording of the shared non-canonical source better than either of the other two synoptic writers. Wherever we observe this source’s influence we discover indications that it was a highly Hebraic-Greek document, possibly the descendant of a literal Greek translation of a Hebrew biography of Jesus.

Lindsey's Stemma. (Graphic created by Pieter Lechner.)
Lindsey’s Stemma. (Graphic created by Pieter Lechner.)

The advantages of my hypothesis are the following:

1. My synoptic hypothesis keeps the number of sources utilized by the synoptic writers to a minimum. Due to the extreme complexity of the synoptic problem, theorists tend to multiply sources. Grant’s theory of multiple sources is perhaps the most elaborate ever devised. He is obliged to posit not only Q, Mark, M and L,[6] like Streeter, but other written sources as well.[7] It would obviously be preferable to diminish rather than enlarge the number of sources, since the simplest solution that explains all the data is usually the best.

Moreover, if Q could be accepted by scholars as a near-certainty, we must ask ourselves why a more comprehensive source known to all three of the synoptic writers should not also be accepted by scholars as a theoretical possibility. There is no serious reason to deny this possibility, especially if positing its existence makes unnecessary the multiplication of sources.

This is not to say that my hypothesis obviates the necessity of supposing that each of our Synoptists had access to other sources than the shared, non-canonical, Hebraic-Greek source I refer to as the Anthology. Each of the three authors adds a small amount of material that must be presumed to come from oral knowledge. However, the vast majority of the common material of Matthew, Mark and Luke is derived either directly or indirectly from the Anthology.

2. My hypothesis solves the problem of Mark’s relationship to Q. It was noted by Bacon that certain Q passages in Mark show proximity to the Lukan text of Q.[8] The earliest appearance of Q is the misplaced Malachi quotation in Mark 1:2 (cf. Matt. 11:10; Luke 7:27). The next is “and they were silent” in Mark 3:4 (cf. Luke 14:3-4). The Beelzebub Controversy of Mark 3:22-30, lifted mainly out of Luke 11:15-23, is shortened, revised and topped off with a quotation (Mark 3:29) from Luke 12:10. In the list of short sayings that closed the discussion about the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:21-25; Luke 8:16-18) and to which, as Luke shows, no additional parables were appended, Mark has inserted the saying, “with what measure you mete….” from Luke’s Shorter Interpolation (Mark 4:24; Luke 6:38).[9] The Parable of the Mustard Seed, which, as both Matthew and Luke show, was originally a partner-parable to the Parable of the Leaven, is edited and added by Mark from Luke 13:18-19 (Mark 4:30-32). These parable additions by Mark constitute the reason Mark is obliged to speak of “parables” in Mark 4:2, 13 instead of a single parable as in Luke (cf. Luke 8:4, 11). My hypothesis, therefore, obviates the need for Mark-Q overlaps. Material in Mark supposed by Markan priorists to overlap with Q actually comes from the Gospel of Luke.

There are a number of other Markan pick-ups from passages he found in Luke, but here we will discuss only those found in Mark’s Little Apocalypse (Mark 13:1-37). Lockton was the first to detail the remarkable pattern of Markan conflation in this passage.[10] A diagram will aid in showing the pattern:

Markan Pick-ups in chapter 13
Markan Pick-ups in chapter 13


Each space in the Markan column represents a verse. The shaded areas represent material not found in Luke or in other parts of the New Testament except Matthew. Several verses toward the end of the passage show that Mark borrowed words or ideas from Acts 1:6-7 and 1 Thessalonians 4:6-7. In accordance with his custom of omitting references to Jerusalem, Mark excised “Jerusalem” in verses 14 and 20 (cf. Luke 21:20, 24). Lockton’s argument that it would be far more reasonable for an editor to collect scattered verses and group them together around a central theme than to break up a series of extended stories into verses and create an appropriate framework for each verse is convincing.[11] Luke’s practice was to quote his sources in blocks. Mark’s practice was to edit and conflate, a practice he turned to because he sought to harmonize verse by verse his two principal sources (i.e., the Anthology and Luke). Matthew’s practice, a practice he learned from Mark, was to conflate Mark and the shared non-canonical source.

3. My hypothesis provides a solution to the problem of Matthean-Lukan minor agreements against Mark. The tendency of Markan priorists to hide or explain away these agreements is inexcusable. McNeille’s statement that they “do not amount to very much”[12] is difficult to comprehend, there being approximately 800 such agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark. Besides these, there are numerous meaning contacts and short and long omissions agreed upon by Matthew and Luke against Mark. No amount of appeal to independent Matthean-Lukan correction of Mark’s text or to textual variants can do away with this evidence. Piper correctly remarks: “Canon Streeter’s attempt to explain away all these agreements as textual variants rests upon mere conjectures rather than on manuscript evidence.”[13] Had Streeter used the Matthean-Lukan agreements against Mark as positive data for establishing his Greek text, he would have been far nearer the truth than to attempt to establish a text against these agreements.

4. My hypothesis clarifies the independent witness of each of the Synoptists against the other two regarding Semitic word order, construction and thought. The Synoptic Gospels are not translations of a Semitic document. Even the Anthology was known to Matthew, Mark and Luke only in Greek. But there are many indications that this undertext was based on a literal translation of a Hebrew document. To the extent that each Synoptist used the Anthology, he was influenced by the immediate wording before him. In Luke we see the strongest attempt to improve the Hebraic-Greek word order and syntax and make them into idiomatic Greek, nevertheless Luke preserves many Semitic elements against Mark and Matthew in immediate Markan contexts. Luke was particularly careful not to change the utterances of Jesus in Anthology contexts if these were not too heavily Hebraic.

As generally recognized, Matthew sometimes shows a more Hebraic text than either Mark or Luke, but this is not because he was a Jewish Christian. Matthew almost certainly did not understand Hebrew or Aramaic. He accepted non-Hebraisms from Mark, some of which are Pauline and/or Lukan. He also occasionally made small changes in the Hebraic word order of his undertext, even in immediate contexts with Mark and Luke where these attest to normal translation Greek. Matthew’s most Hebraic texts often occur where Mark followed Luke in the excising or alteration of the Anthology. On the whole, as Moffatt saw (in regard to Q),[14] Matthew was like a textual critic who carefully preserves the more literal readings of the undertext. Comparing Mark verse by verse with the Anthology, Matthew normally adopted the Markan story-order, but frequently preferred the Anthology’s wording. When he detected an Anthology conflate in Mark, Matthew usually located the verses in the Anthology and corrected the Markan version, often adding additional verses from the Anthology. The author of Matthew was a montage expert. He did not rewrite the Anthology.[15] Matthew was not a translator of Hebrew. The Hebraic influence on his Gospel comes from the translation Greek of his sources.[16]

Mark independently witnesses to translation Greek underlay. His word order is often Hebraic and he sometimes shows Semitisms against both Luke and Matthew, although usually against Luke only. Nevertheless, Mark’s text is stylistically mixed. Much influenced by Luke, Acts and some of the Pauline epistles, Mark borrowed many non-Hebraic constructions and compounded them with comments of his own. When quoting from memory, he wrote with the ready hand of a Greek-speaking preacher.[17] Mark obviously knew Aramaic, for he translated at least once from an Aramaic Targum,[18] but he may not have known Hebrew.[19] Mark’s Semitic Greek is taken mainly from the Anthology, although sometimes from Luke, or possibly, as in his frequent asides, from a knowledge of Aramaic.

While we are on the subject of Semitic influence, it should be remarked that the undertexts of the Synoptic Gospels are almost certainly translations of Hebrew, not Aramaic, documents. Grintz correctly argued this point,[20] but he collected only part of the evidence. Birkeland concluded that Jesus probably gave his teachings in Hebrew.[21] Dalman, who is perhaps more responsible than any other for the time-honored practice of looking to Aramaic when Semitic influence is suspected in the Gospels, wrote:

For my own part I do not see more than a high probability for an Aramaic primary gospel, and dare not speak of a certainty resting on proofs… Genuine proofs of an Aramaic, as opposed to a Hebrew, written source of the Synoptists are the harder to produce, because the same idioms and the same constructions of clauses as are found in Aramaic are possible even in biblical Hebrew, and still oftener in the style of the Mishna.[22]

Were Dalman living today, following the discoveries in the Judean Desert, it seems probable that he would find himself explaining the Semitic base of the Gospels as Hebrew rather than Aramaic. The burden of proof now lies on those who hold the Aramaic theory. This is not to say that Jesus did not know Aramaic or use it on occasion.

5. My hypothesis clarifies the relationship between Matthew and Mark. Matthean priorists have produced significant evidence for the greater originality of Matthew vis-à-vis Mark. On the other hand, Markan priorists have quite properly countered with weighty evidence in favor of Matthew’s dependence on Mark. Both are right. What the Matthean priorists have observed is simply Matthew’s preference for the wording of the Anthology. What the Markan priorists have correctly noticed is Matthew’s dependence on Mark for his pericope order and Matthew’s insertion of material from the Anthology. However, Matthean and Markan priorists are in error in supposing that the fact of interdependence is the principal criterion for determining the relationship of these two Gospels.

It is to the credit of the Matthean priorists that they have seen more clearly than their opponents the importance of the Hebraic elements in determining the Matthean-Markan relationship. Schlatter was so conscious of these elements that he refused to argue the subject of priority.[23] Specialists in Semitic languages such as Gustaf H. Dalman, Charles F. Burney and Matthew Black have tended to avoid questions of priority and interdependence. (Wellhausen, in his strong support for Markan priority, is an exception.) Matthean priorists have found support for their position in the work of Semitists,[24] but considerable Semitic evidence points both ways—some towards Matthean priority and some towards Markan priority. The relevance of the Semitic evidence can be evaluated only when it is correlated with the evidence obtained from studying the interrelationship of the synoptic texts. My analysis of the combined evidence has forced me to posit a Hebraic-Greek source (i.e., the Anthology) as the only possible explanation for the Matthean wording where Matthew’s dependence on Mark can be ruled out, but Matthew’s use of Mark is equally clear from the many indications in Matthew’s text of common vocabulary and pericope order.

6. My hypothesis agrees with and underlines the results of scholars who point to the redactic nature of Mark and his apparent dependence on Acts and the Pauline epistles. The roughness and redundancy of Mark’s editorial connections and style have been noted by many scholars. So distinctive are these features of Mark’s Gospel that, when wedded to the theory of Markan priority, they led certain scholars to develop a discipline known as Form Criticism. Their argument runs as follows: Since Mark was used by Matthew and Luke as the first of their two principal sources, it is unnecessary to look for authenticity in the parallel Matthean and Lukan texts. If we look into the earliest Gospel (i.e., Mark), we observe a series of stories rather poorly connected by repetitious and unskilled editorial phrases to which have been added numerous suspect topographical references. It seems obvious that these references are the inventions of a later editor to whom the tradition had become dim. This editor collected floating oral stories and stitched them together with the help of these topographical references, adding comments and emphases that were engendered by the needs of the Christian communities of the last quarter of the first century. Therefore, the form critics reasoned, if we are to recover historical details about Jesus and his first disciples, we must discard any notions about an authentic series of historical events and concentrate on finding out whatever we can about individual pericopae. (Source critics faced the problem of Markan “roughness” with the same presupposition of Markan priority, but sought the problem’s solution through the delineation of multiple written sources.)

If Matthew and Luke did depend solely on Mark for their narrative skeleton, then the approaches of Form Criticism may be valid. The signs of editing, commenting and catechising are everywhere evident in Mark. Moreover, as Bacon insisted, there are words, phrases and ideas that can only be explained as showing some kind of dependence on Acts and the Pauline epistles.[25]

My contention that the text of Mark is a partly Hebraic, partly Aramaic and partly “improved Greek” only emphasizes the secondary nature of the connecting phrases and topographical references that Mark used to link his pericopae. However, the numerous Matthean-Lukan agreements against Mark, the independent witness of Hebraisms in each Gospel, and the mixed text of Mark throw a different light on the redactional nature of Mark. Mark was decidedly not a collector of oral traditions who, unaided by previous attempts at collection, sat down to bring these oral traditions into a narrative sequence. Rather, Mark was a preacher-writer who stuck closely to the narrative sequence he found in Luke, while correcting and updating it with the help of the Anthology. Mark occasionally borrowed expressions from Paul and Acts, and added a few sayings and names he must have known from other written and oral sources. He enlivened the laconic Hebraic-Greek undertext by freely changing simple verbs to compound ones, rare ones, or more colorful ones, many of which he picked up from Luke in other contexts. Mark saw Luke occasionally use an historical present; therefore, Mark expanded this Lukan practice until he had more than three hundred historical presents. In Mark’s hands Luke’s precise use of the Greek imperfect tense, which Luke introduced to give variety to the monotonous Hebraic translation-Greek aorist-tense verbs in his sources, became almost a caricature. Mark did the same with Luke’s ἔλεγεν/ἔλεγον (elegen/elegon) usages, Luke’s “began to” plus infinitive expressions, and Luke’s verbs of “marvelling.” Mark built homilies, expanding and abridging, even changing pericope-order to achieve his editorial objectives.

Mark had special interests; but most of them are a result of Mark’s being a popular preacher, not a theologian or text critic. Mark borrowed the idea of “hardening” from Paul (cf. Rom. 9:18; 11:7, 25) and applied it to the disciples.[26] Mark also was anxious to preserve names such as “Andrew” when Luke’s excision of early stories connected with the Jordan region caused them to be deleted (cf. Mark 1:16, 29).

Mark suggests that Jesus’ family thought Jesus mad (Mark 3:21), yet he inserted the names of Mary and the names of Jesus’ brothers where Luke had only “Joseph” (cf. Mark 6:3 with Luke 4:22). Mark intended no disrespect to the disciples, Jesus’ family, or even to his sources, but as a preacher he had encountered unbelief and hard-heartedness in the places he ministered. Introducing unbelief into the story of Jesus’ relationship with his family was simply Mark’s way of comforting his fellow-believers and challenging the unbelief of “those outside.”

Mark had a special interest in the Second Coming of the Lord, as shown by his supplementing the apocalyptical material in Luke 21:5-33 with material from the Anthology and by adding allusions to the writings of Paul and the book of Daniel. Mark’s emphasis on Galilee to the near exclusion of Jerusalem fits with his emphasis on the Second Coming: by dropping the immediate contexts surrounding the name Jerusalem he was able to make his Little Apocalypse (Mark 13:1-37) deal exclusively with the Second Coming. Incidentally, this constitutes the strongest argument that the destruction of Jerusalem had not yet occurred when Mark wrote; for, had Jerusalem already been destroyed, he surely would have added a homily about the wickedness and subsequent punishment of the city. Mark was not averse to the idea of the destruction of Jerusalem; he was simply a good preacher who adapted his message to non-Jewish readers who would not have found the destruction of the Holy City as meaningful as the return of the Lord. Mark’s abridgement of the resurrection stories opposite Luke 24:13-53 and Matt. 28:11-20 and relocation of Jesus’ post-resurrection meeting with his disciples from Jerusalem to Galilee (cf. Mark 16:7 to Luke 24:6) appear to be the result of Mark’s feeling that he must consistently emphasize Galilee (cf. Mark 1:39; Luke 4:44; etc.) by avoiding any mention of Jerusalem.

7. My hypothesis explains the abundant evidence of Markan-Lukan interdependence without necessitating elaborate explanations about the textual superiority of Matthew to Mark, the Matthean-Lukan agreements against Mark, the Hebraisms in many Matthean and Lukan parallels to Mark, and the widely acknowledged redactic and “borrowing” character of Mark. Parker correctly perceived the wide difference between the Markan-Lukan and the Markan-Matthean vocabulary and noted the frequent agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark. Having concluded that the differences between Matthew and Mark necessitate the positing of a proto-narrative (K), he suggested that “…it would be attractive to explain all these Matthew-Luke contacts by supposing that Luke too, used K, perhaps to the exclusion of canonical Mark itself.”[27] Parker’s rejection of this suggestion is the result of his failure to see that Matthew not only used the Anthology, but also canonical Mark.[28] Once it becomes clear that Matthew used Mark and the Anthology, it is much easier to conceive of Mark using Luke and the Anthology. Matthew’s use of more than one parallel source arose from his realization that Mark had given him a precedent for such a practice.

The first mistake of many Ur-Marcus theories lies in their over-emphasis on mechanical analysis. Such an approach leads in turn to a deprecation of the editorial independence present in each of the Synoptic Gospels. With the control given by a feeling for the presence of Hebraic syntax, many of the non-Hebraic elements stand out conspicuously, and one becomes keenly aware of the linguistic tendencies of each of the three writers. When one lacks this control, it becomes easier to confuse the editorial work of a synoptic writer with the texts of his sources.

The Ur-Marcus theory of Bussmann is a case in point.[29] Due to his overly mechanical methods, Bussmann was obliged to posit what in essence amounts to an Ur-Marcus I and an Ur-Marcus II. He correctly supposed that Luke used a proto-narrative, which he called G. According to Bussmann, after Luke used this document, a Galilean redactor thoroughly revised it, and this Ur-Marcus II, which Bussmann labeled B, is the undertext used by Matthew. Finally, Mark used B when writing his Gospel. Bussmann’s separation of the redactic elements in Mark is largely correct and was relatively simple, for Bussmann had the Matthean-Lukan agreements to guide him; but his reconstructions of Matthew and Luke show that he was insufficiently aware of the stylistic peculiarities of these two writers, and of Luke in particular. Had he availed himself of the Hebraic evidence found in each of the Synoptic Gospels, Bussmann would have found it unnecessary to attribute revision to a non-canonical source. The redaction began in Luke; Mark revised the Anthology and Luke; Matthew used Mark, but often restored the wording of the Anthology. This criticism of Bussmann is only one of many that can be leveled at his theory.[30]

The second mistake of most Ur-Marcus theories lies in the unwillingness of their adherents to concede the direct influence of one Gospel on the other.[31] Both Bussmann and Holdsworth[32] correctly concluded that Luke was written prior to Mark. Had they understood the special editorial characteristics of Luke as well as Harnack[33] or Dalman,[34] who emphasized respectively the Greek and Semitic elements of Luke’s style, they would have found it less difficult to assess the dependence of Mark on both Luke and the Anthology. Parker suggested that Mark excised certain overly-Jewish passages from K.[35] The truth of the matter is that it was Luke who followed this procedure, omitting certain Anthology passages, and for precisely the same reason—to improve the Greek style of his Hebraic-Greek sources. Mark often followed Luke in his excisions.[36] Where Mark did so, Matthew often supplemented with additional material from the Anthology.[37]

The Markan harmonization of Luke and the Anthology is particularly interesting. With great surprise I first noted Mark’s dependence on Luke while doing a study of the elegen/elegon usage common to all the Synoptic Gospels.[38] To judge from the Septuagint, this construction does not represent normal Greek translation of Hebrew texts: one would expect instead the Greek aorist tense (εἶπεν or εῖπον) in most places where elegen/elegon is used. Luke scattered elegen (or elegon) throughout his Gospel, and, in total, used it 22 times.[39] Matthew agrees with Mark on the use of elegen (or elegon) only 11 times. Mark, as if suddenly enamored with the construction, used it for the first time in Mark 2:16 and with high frequency until Mark 7:27, at which point Mark used elegen/elegon only occasionally, but, in all, he used it 49 times.[40]

Strangest of all is the fact that Luke and Mark agreed to use the elegen/elegon construction only at Mark 2:27 (= Luke 6:5) and Mark 4:30 (= Luke 13:18), and that Matthew and Luke never agreed to use it at the same point in their parallel narratives. Obviously, we are dealing with an editorial usage, a usage that indicates Mark’s middle position. One of the three writers originated the usage and the other two borrowed it for their own individual purposes. It was not a part of the Anthology. Matthew was the least interested in using it, but he copied it from Mark occasionally,[41] and also used it independently (Matt. 9:24; 12:23; 21:11; 27:49). The critical interrelationship is that of Mark and Luke: the flow is from Luke to Mark.

In Mark 2:27 elegen introduces the unique Markan saying about the Sabbath being made for man, which is followed by a statement about the Son of Man (Mark 2:28). Although there is a rabbinic parallel to Mark 2:27, both Matthew (Matt. 12:8) and Luke (Luke 6:5) thought the pericope needed only the second saying to make it complete. This is evidence that Mark 2:27 is an editorial comment added by Mark.

In Mark 4:30 καὶ ἔλεγεν introduces the Markan version of the Parable of the Mustard Seed. Matthew is in Markan order at this point (Matt. 13:31-32), but the parallel in Luke (Luke 13:18-19) is clearly in a Q context, with both Matthew and Luke showing that the Anthology contained the Parable of the Leaven (Matt. 13:33 = Luke 13:20-21) as a partner to the Parable of the Mustard Seed. To introduce a parable Luke alternated ἔλεγεν with εἶπεν (cf. Luke 13:6, 18; 14:7; 18:1 [ἔλεγεν] with Luke 12:16; 13:20; 15:3 [εἶπεν]). If Luke used Mark one must say that he 1) adopted this phrase from Mark; 2) normally refused to copy it in Markan contexts; 3) copied it from Mark 2:27 where Matthew did not, but agreed with Matthew to exclude the first of the two sayings it introduced; 4) dropped all but the Parable of the Sower in chapter four of Mark, yet added elegen neatly when he quoted the Parable of the Mustard Seed later in a Q context.

Far simpler is the suggestion that Luke originated this usage, and that he often inserted it to introduce sayings of Jesus although it was not in his sources. Mark picked it up from Luke for his own editorial purposes, finding it a convenient Lukan addition that would allow him to introduce his rabbinic quotation at Mark 2:27, and using it at Mark 4:30 (the opening of Mark’s version of the Parable of the Mustard Seed) because he was adding a parable that Luke copied from the Anthology. I have already suggested that the Beelzebub Controversy (Mark 3:22-30) is a Markan pick-up from Luke 11:15-23. Mark treated this borrowing from Luke as the first of four parables he gives in Mark 3:23-4:32.

However, it is Mark’s use of elegen/elegon in Mark 6:14-16 against both Matthew and Luke that most clearly demonstrates Mark’s practice of harmonizing Luke and the Anthology:

Markan Harmonization
Markan Harmonization

This passage occurs in all three Synoptic Gospels in Markan order and would not normally be suspected by Markan priorists of coming from Q. The variant reading elegen, for elegon, in line 9 (Mark 6:14), is improbable. There is no other serious textual difficulty.

In lines 3 and 12 we have typical Matthean-Lukan verbal agreement against Mark. Mark differs not only in his use of “king” for “tetrarch” (line 4), but in the word order of the phrase. Line 5 shows a Matthean-Lukan grammatical agreement against Mark’s explanatory phrase or sentence: both τὴν ἀκοὴν Ἰησοῦ (Matt. 14:1) and τὰ γινόμενα πάντα (Luke 9:7) are objects of the main verb. This is strong evidence that Matthew and Luke knew a text other than Mark.

Despite these agreements, Matthew and Luke show versions of the story that are impossible to reconcile. Matthew tells a simple story in which Herod declares to his servants that John has risen from the dead. Luke’s story is longer and shows Herod confused because of various reports about Jesus’ identity but doubting that John could have risen from the dead and wanting to see Jesus because of what he has heard.

With the exception of the typically Matthean ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ (cf. Matt. 11:25; 12:1; 14:1) and the un-Hebraic “tetrarch,”[42] Matthew’s version can be translated word for word into perfect biblical Hebrew. The noun ἀκοή (line 5) might possibly be the equivalent of the Hebrew שֵׁמַע (cf. Gen. 29:13; 1 Kgs. 10:1, where τὸ ὄνομα is שֵׁמַע’s translation). The phrase τοῖς παισὶν αὐτοῦ (line 7) is obviously לַעֲבָדָיו; the phrase ἠγέρθη ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν (lines 12 and 14) is equivalent to Hebrew קָם מִן הַמֵּתִים; and αἱ δυνάμεις (line 16) is clearly the rabbinic הַגְּבוּרוֹת. If we were to borrow καί and βασιλεύς from Mark, the text would read in Hebrew:

וַיִּשְׁמַע הוֹרדוֹס הַמֶּלֶך אֶת שֵמַע יֵשׁוּעַ וַיֹּאמֶר לַעֲבָדָיו, זֶה הוּא יוֹחָנָן הַמַּטְבִּיל, הוּא קָם מִן הַמֵּתִים וְלָכֵן הַגְּבוּרוֹת פּוֹעֲלוֹת בּוֹ.‏

Were either the Matthean-Lukan agreements or the Hebraic evidence here isolated phenomena in the Synoptic Gospels, some other explanation would be preferable. As it is, we are obliged to suspect the presence of the strongly Hebraic Anthology behind the texts of all three Synoptists.

From line 8, Luke’s version becomes almost completely non-Hebraic. He uses indirect discourse where Hebrew prefers direct discourse. He employs his much-loved passive construction with ὑπό (Luke 9:8), the very antithesis of a literal translation from Hebrew, as a glance at the Septuagint’s use of ὑπό will immediately show. The phrase ἐκ νεκρῶν (Luke 9:7) is, as in Paul, a Greecizing of ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν. Furthermore, there is no Hebrew verb that can in itself express the act of cutting off a man’s head as can ἀπεκεφάλισα in Luke 9:9.

The content of Luke’s version also bears a strong resemblance to the discussion at Caesarea Philippi (cf. Luke 9:19) and to John 1:20-22 (cf. Luke 3:15-16). When this is coupled with the non-Hebraic constructions beginning in line 8, and the fact that the Matthean-Lukan agreements occur early in the passage, it is hard to escape the conclusion that Luke has departed from the Anthology at this point and has begun copying the First Reconstruction, Luke’s second source, a redaction of the Anthology. Matthew’s extremely Hebraic text gives every evidence of being more original than Luke’s version.

The content and wording of Mark are remarkable for the extent of their redaction. As so often, the text of Mark is half translation Greek and half improved or popularized Greek, but here, even the content of his story betrays the double nature of his dependence. Although in Mark 1:28 he retains the Hebraic ἀκοή (against the Lukan ἦχος), he gives a subsidiary sentence to explain ἀκοή. Mark appears to think that ἀκοή represents the Semitic שֵׁם, as if he thought the translator of the undertext confused שֵׁמַע with שֵׁם. Alternatively, Mark may simply have decided to explain שֵׁמַע as שֵׁם in accordance with his tendency to view word-plays as opportunities for midrashic interpretation. Mark’s use of “king” for “tetrarch” may represent his personal Semitic understanding, or “king” may have been in his source for John’s death (Mark 6:22, 26, 27). Mark’s use of ἐγήγερται in Mark 6:14 (cf. 1 Cor. 15:4) against the Matthean-Lukan ἠγέρθη (Matt. 14:2; Luke 9:7) is typical of Mark’s changes for the sake of novelty or Greek improvement. He preferred ἐκ νεκρῶν to ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν (line 14), yet retained the sentence with “the powers” (line 16) in a word order that may even be more original than Matthew’s.[43]

Mark’s elegen/elegon constructions immediately parallel the Lukan passive constructions. In line 20 Mark gives a neat Hebraic equivalent, εἷς τῶν προφητῶν (Mark 6:15), of Luke’s more distinctly Greek phrase, τις τῶν ἀρχαίων (Luke 9:8), and could represent Hebrew influence. Mark’s use of elegon without an expressed subject in line 9 could be a reflection of a Hebrew undertext, or due to the influence of popular Greek. Mark’s phrase in line 23, ὃν ἐγὼ ἀπεκεφάλισα Ἰωάννην, however, like that in line 6, φανερὸν γὰρ ἐγένετο τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, is awkward to translate into Hebrew. Peculiar is the fact that Mark’s conclusion is the same as Matthew’s, and against Luke. After all this discussion, Herod comes to the conclusion that John has risen, yet the words ἐκ νεκρῶν are not added as in line 15.

The normal explanation given to this pericope by Markan priorists is that Matthew and Luke have independently taken from Mark the phrases they needed to construct their own disparate versions. On the face of it, that explanation sounds attractive; but it will not do for the following reasons: 1) Matthew and Luke both show they are influenced by a source other than Mark; 2) Matthew’s text contrasts sharply in its simplicity and Hebraic constructions with the versions of Mark and Luke; 3) the conclusion of Luke’s story gives an excellent reason for Mark’s introduction of the non-Hebraically-styled discussion concerning Herod’s confusion: Herod wisely listens to the popular ideas but wisely remains indecisive; 4) Mark mixes, as in lines 15 and 16, the non-Hebraic Lukan expressions with the Hebraic Matthean phrases, yet in lines 4 and 6 opposes both Matthew and Luke; 5) Mark largely follows the story of Herod’s confusion, but says nothing about his being confused: this makes his introduction of the popular ideas about John very rough, for his story begins with Herod and suddenly (in line 9) shifts to an undesignated and unexplained subject; 6) Mark concludes the story half in the words of Luke and half in the words of Matthew (lines 23-24); 7) if Luke were following Mark, why would he agree with Matthew at all, with Mark only in spots, break with Mark in his conclusion, and yet end up with a more coherent story?

My conclusion is that Mark knew this story both from Luke and the Anthology, but he was so impressed by Luke that he accepted Luke’s version about Herod’s confusion, though without mentioning it, and harmonized the two accounts so cleverly that, were it not for the nearly perfect Hebraic text of Matthew and the Matthean-Lukan agreements against Mark, we would fail (with the Markan priorists) to see what Mark has done. On the other hand, did we not know that Mark was used by Matthew, we would have concluded that Mark harmonized the accounts of Matthew and Luke. As it is, we must suppose that Mark harmonized Luke with a source known to all the Synoptists (i.e., the Anthology). The hypothesis that Mark used Luke unlocks this synoptic conundrum, clarifying the reason for Mark’s writing that Herod thought John the Baptist had been raised from the dead.

8. Finally, my hypothesis provides a reasonable answer to various problems arising from the common and disparate pericope-order of the Synoptic Gospels. Matthew and Luke almost never agree together against the story-order of Mark, but both show a few differences in the placement of stories vis-à-vis Mark. This double fact suggests that Mark stands between Matthew and Luke, and emphasizes the improbability that Matthew and Luke influenced each other directly. It does not prove that Matthew and Luke depend equally on Mark’s order, as Markan priorists argue. Theoretically, the order of dependence could be Matthew-Mark-Luke or Luke-Mark-Matthew. It is impossible to determine the Synoptic Gospels’ order of writing from pericope order alone. My contention that the synoptic order is Luke-Mark-Matthew is fully consonant with the central facts of pericope-order.

The way the synoptic writers insert Anthology passages into their Gospels provides evidence against the theory that Matthew and Luke equally depended on Mark as one of their sources. Matthew can often be seen to take his cue from Mark’s use of the Anthology for the additional Anthology material. Luke, by contrast, acts as if he had never seen the Anthology in Mark. In order to maintain that Luke used Mark, it is necessary to suppose that Luke was able to recognize each hint of the Anthology and excise it only to give it in a wider context in his blocks of the Anthology. But the certain evidence of Lukan doublets proves that Luke would not have felt compelled to follow such a procedure. The theory of Markan priority also fails to explain how two writers unknown to each other (Matthew and Luke) independently determined to use Mark as an outline into which they placed long excerpts from the Anthology.

These difficulties are easily explained when it is realized that Mark decided to use Luke as his basic text, but to use the Anthology in places where he had a special interest, such as in his Little Apocalypse (Mark 13:1-37). Matthew, who had the texts of Mark and the Anthology before him, was impressed by the way Mark inserted material from the Anthology into his Gospel. Matthew accepted most of Mark’s Anthology insertions, and even expanded them by including additional material from the Anthology. Luke thus became the originator of a gospel form that includes incorporating material from more than one written source. Mark, who learned this practice from Luke, passed it on to Matthew.

Wildflowers growing on the wall of Jerusalem. Photo courtesy of Gary Asperschlager.
Wildflowers growing on the wall of Jerusalem. (Photo courtesy of Gary Asperschlager)

All this fits completely with what we know of Luke’s independent approach to his sources. It does not fit Mark at all. Luke quoted his sources in blocks; Mark combined Luke, the Anthology, Pauline expressions, and other “pick-ups.” Luke was not averse to doublets if they appeared within blocks of material in his source(s). Mark has no true doublets, only occasional repetitions of pithy sayings. Luke sometimes inserted editorial sentences under the influence of a source he was not using at the moment, but he normally left his blocks of material intact even if he sometimes improved their Greek style and removed overly Hebraic expressions. Mark edited, paraphrased and embellished his sources. He mixed styles, repeated words and phrases, abbreviated or elaborated narratives, and crafted homilies. Matthew often found it necessary to revert to the Anthology’s wording when faced with extensive editorial activity in the text of Mark.

Matthew’s departure from the Markan pericope-order is a result of Matthew’s inserting long passages from the Anthology that Mark had omitted. Finding no hint in Mark of Luke’s method of quoting blocks of material verbatim from the Anthology, Matthew learned from Mark that pericope excision and change of story order are acceptable. His agreement with Luke against Mark in the use of Ναζαρά (Nazara; Nazareth; Matt. 4:13; Luke 4:16) shows that Mark dropped the Rejection in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30) and replaced it by moving the Call of Peter, James and John (Luke 5:1-11) forward to this position. Matthew therefore agreed with Mark’s placement of the Call of the Disciples as the first pericope of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, but immediately afterwards he broke with the Markan order to combine the Markan summaries found in Mark 1:39 and 3:7-10 (Matt. 4:23-25). His reason for doing so was to insert the Sermon on the Mount.

After the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew returned to Mark at the point of Mark’s first summary (Mark 1:40), picking up stories from the Anthology and Mark and mixing them for two chapters, much as Mark had mixed the Beelzebub Controversy from the Anthology with Lukan material (Mark 3:22-30). Matthew abbreviated most of the Markan stories that are drastically out of Markan order in his text at this point. He had observed Mark do this in the Call of the Twelve (Mark 1:16-20) and the Rejection at Nazareth (Mark 6:1-6), and evidently concluded that it was the correct thing to do when making dramatic changes of order. In any case, since Matthew had not collected all the miracle stories from Mark 1:21-5:43, he combined the Call of the Twelve (Mark 3:13-19) with the Sending of the Twelve (Mark 6:6-13) in Matthew 9:35-10:16, to which he appended a conflation (Matt. 10:17-22) of the Little Apocalypse (Mark 13:1-37) with various Anthology passages (Matt. 10:23-11:30). At Matthew 12:1 he returned to Mark and largely followed him except for minor excisions and occasional additions from the Anthology, and his fulfillment quotations,[44] until the end of his Gospel.

From the first chapters of John we discover that there were two periods in which Jesus sojourned in Judea. From the first of these Luke apparently removed the story concerning Andrew and Peter (John 1:40-42), probably for reasons of space. This resulted in Luke’s bringing Jesus to Galilee immediately after the Temptation (Luke 4:14), summarizing his first activities (Luke 4:15), and giving the Rejection in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30) as his first Galilee pericope. Later (in Luke 4:44), Luke mentions in a short summary a return of Jesus to Judea for a preaching tour, but does not include any pericopae from this period.

These deletions by Luke created narrative difficulties, which Mark recognized. Capernaum came to be mentioned first in Luke only obliquely in the Rejection in Nazareth pericope (Luke 4:23).[45] Peter is first mentioned in Luke only as the owner of a house (Luke 4:38). Andrew has dropped out of Luke’s account altogether (except in the list of Jesus’ disciples given in Luke 6:14-16).[46] This apparently worried Mark, and he set about to rectify the situation. He first dropped the Rejection in Nazareth. This solved the problem Mark saw in Luke of Capernaum being mentioned before any events set in Capernaum were recorded. Looking ahead, Mark picked out the story of the Call of Peter, James and John (Luke 5:1-11) and brought it forward as an introduction to Peter and Andrew, after inserting Andrew’s name. To accomplish this manipulation, Mark was obliged to drop Jesus’ preaching from the boat (Luke 5:2-3) and the special story of the circumstances surrounding Peter’s decision to follow Jesus (Luke 5:4-11). This apparently left Mark with some regrets, for he brought the preaching-from-the-ploiarion (πλοιάριον, small boat) back in his summary in Mark 3:7-12, and kept using the phrase “by the sea” (παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν) in such unnecessary places as Mark 2:13; 5:1; and 5:21. Apparently, Mark also considered it necessary to add (against Matthew and Luke) the names Andrew, James and John in Mark 1:29, and change Luke’s “Judea” to “Galilee” (Luke 4:44; Mark 1:39), which gave him a smooth connection to “Capernaum” (against Matthew and Luke) in Mark 2:1.

More serious is Mark’s insertion of the Rejection at Nazareth in Mark 6:1-6 at a place that makes it stand, in Moffatt’s words, as an “erratic boulder.”[47] That Mark had been influenced by the Lukan story is clear from his use of πατρίδα (patrida, home land, home country),[48] with which, instead of “Nazareth,” he introduced the locale of the pericope. Mark shortened and summarized the story, using his typical editorial vocabulary and the Pauline-Qumranic οἱ πολλοί (hoi polloi = הָרַבִּים: Mark 6:2), dropped the excellent scriptural quotations, changed Luke’s “son of Joseph” to “son of Mary,” and gave more or less the non-Hebraic Lukan version of the saying about a prophet’s honor, to which he added the opposition of “home” and relatives. His addition of the four names of Jesus’ brothers (Mark 6:3) from oral knowledge leaves us in debt to Mark for a tradition we would not otherwise have known, but it is obvious that the Lukan account in respect of the names is more original. We can only be grateful that this opportunity for textual change (when in an out-of-order pericope) allowed Mark to indicate his reverence for names that he might have mentioned much earlier had he not decided to omit the infancy narratives.

Papias’ statement that Mark was not “in order,”[49] therefore, preserves a valid criticism that can be established by literary analysis. In contrast to Mark and Matthew, Luke’s order is more original, for his practice was to delete stories and Hebraic constructions from his sources, but not at the expense of pericope order. This fits well with the conclusions of Harnack and others that, on the whole, Luke shows a more authentic order than Matthew or Mark.

These are the main advantages of my hypothesis. It may appear that my theory is more complicated than others. In actuality, it is far simpler than most synoptic theories. Only two written sources are demanded to explain the great majority of the material found in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Luke is seen to be first, followed by Mark, and then by Matthew. The difficult problems surrounding the so-called Proto-Luke, or the special Lukan source of the “Passion Narrative,” or the nature of the Markan relationship to Q, or the strange “Jewish Christian” element in Matthew, all disappear. Postulating the Anthology as descended from a literal Greek translation of a Hebrew biography of Jesus, and supposing that the Anthology was known to each of the three Synoptists, gives the content and structure of the Synoptic Gospels a firm substructure and accounts for their Hebraic vocabulary and word order. On the other hand, the interdependence of the Synoptic Gospels is fully maintained and explained.

Interesting questions remain. Can the Anthology be reconstructed? Why was the Anthology discarded by the post-apostolic church? If, however, the above analysis is correct, the derivation of most of Matthew and more than half of Luke from canonical Mark is probably the most serious error ever made in New Testament criticism. It has placed an unfair responsibility on Mark’s text, has created misunderstandings, and misled generations of scholars in their search for the “sources of the sources.” To a great extent these sources lie intact in the Synoptic Gospels and only await the correct application of literary tools, long recognized but insufficiently utilized.

  • [1] Cf. Otto A. Piper, “The Origin of the Gospel Pattern,” JBL 78 (1959): 115.
  • [2] The name given to a conjectured earlier edition of the Gospel of Mark.
  • [3] Rudolf Bultmann, Form Criticism: A New Method of New Testament Research (trans. F. C. Grant; Chicago, New York: Willett, Clark, 1934), 13-14.
  • [4] Vincent Taylor, The Gospel According to St. Mark (London: Macmillan, 1955), 76-77.
  • [5] Adolf Harnack, The Sayings of Jesus: The Second Source of St. Matthew and St. Luke (trans. J. R. Wilkinson; London: Williams & Norgate, 1908).
  • [6] M stands for the source of Matthew’s unique material. Similarly, L stands for Luke’s unique material.
  • [7] Frederick C. Grant, The Gospels: Their Origin and Their Growth (New York, London: Harper, Faber & Faber, 1957), 50-51.
  • [8] Benjamin Wisner Bacon, The Beginnings of Gospel Story: A Historico-Critical Inquiry into the Sources and Structure of the Gospel According to Mark (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1909), xxi.
  • [9] On the Parable of the Seed Growing Secretly (Mark 4:26-29), see footnote 17 below.
  • [10] William Lockton, “The Origin of the Gospels,” Church Quarterly Review 94 (July 1922): 216-239 [Click here to read a reissue of Lockton’s article on]. Lockton derived Mark from Luke, Matthew from Mark and Luke, and disavowed the existence of Q. His three books should be carefully studied: The Resurrection and Other Gospel Narratives and The Narratives of the Virgin Birth (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1924); The Three Traditions in the Gospels (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1926); Certain Alleged Gospel Sources: A Study of Q, Proto-Luke and M (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1927).
  • [11] Lockton, “The Origin of the Gospels,” 220.
  • [12] Alan Hugh McNeille, An Introduction to the Study of the New Testament (2nd ed.; rev. by C. S. C. Williams; London: Oxford University Press, 1953), 66.
  • [13] Otto Piper, “The Origin of the Gospel Pattern,” 116.
  • [14] James Moffatt, An Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament (New York, Edinburgh: Scribner’s, T&T Clark, 1911), 195.
  • [15] Cf. G. D. Kilpatrick, The Origins of the Gospel According to St. Matthew (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1946), 8-9. Kilpatrick’s examples of Matthean “rewriting” of Mark show Matthew using the more Hebraic text of the Anthology instead of Mark’s text.
  • [16] Cf. Jehoshua M. Grintz, “Hebrew as the Spoken and Written Language in the Last Days of the Second Temple,” JBL 79.1 (March 1960): 32-47. Grintz, like many a Semitist before him, mistakenly concluded that Matthew represents an original translation of Hebrew material.
  • [17] For example, in his version of the Parable of the Seed Growing Secretly (Mark 4:26-29), Mark gave the Parable in sixty words, yet managed to include the Pauline-Lukan νύκτα καὶ ἡμέρα and the Lukan ὁ σπόρος.
  • [18] See J. Courtenay James, The Language of Palestine and Adjacent Regions (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1920), 244.
  • [19] Mark’s apparent mistranslation of the Hebraic “Boanerges” in Mark 3:17 is only one of several such indications. The Hebrew original must have been בְּנֵי רוֹגֶז ,בְּנֵי רֶגֶשׁ or בְּנֵי רַעַשׁ, none of which would bear the translation “sons of thunder.” If, on the other hand, Mark did know Hebrew, it is possible that his “sons of thunder” explanation of Boanerges is an attempt to heighten רַעַשׁ to רַעַם (thunder) due to the biblical connection of רַעַם and רַעַשׁ (cf. Isa. 29:6).
  • [20] Jehoshua Grintz, “Hebrew as the Spoken and Written Language,” 32-47.
  • [21] Harris Birkeland, The Language of Jesus (Oslo: I kommisjon hos Jacob Dybwad, 1954), 40.
  • [22] Gustaf Dalman, The Words of Jesus Considered in the Light of Post-Biblical Jewish Writings and the Aramaic Language: I. Introduction and Fundamental Ideas (authorized English version by D. M. Kay of Die Worte Jesu; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1902), 62.
  • [23] Adolf Schlatter, Der Evangelist Matthäus (Stuttgart: Calwer, 1948), xi. Schlatter accepted the existence of an Ur-Marcus, which he called the grundtext (basic text).
  • [24] Cf. B. C. Butler’s frequent references to the work of Charles F. Burney in The Originality of St. Matthew: A Critique of the Two-Document Hypothesis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1951).
  • [25] Bacon, The Beginnings of Gospel Story, xix, xxvii-xxviii, 59, 89, 122-123.
  • [26] Mark 6:52 (“they had not understood about the loaves, their hearts were hardened”) and Mark 8:17 (“Why are you talking about bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened?”)
  • [27] Pierson Parker, The Gospel Before Mark (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953), 160.
  • [28] Parker delineated his K much too mechanically: for Parker, whatever verbal agreement existed between Matthew and Mark was automatically K. Such agreement naturally includes Mark’s non-Hebraic constructions, some of which, like κηρύσσων τὀ εὐαγγέλιον, are Markan pick-ups from Paul, while others, like the elegen/elegon constructions, are taken from Luke. Parker’s supposition that the Matthean-Lukan agreement with Mark in story-order negates the probability that Luke used K to the exclusion of Mark simply shows that he was unable to conceive of any Synoptist using K plus another Synoptic Gospel.
  • [29] Wilhelm Bussmann, Synoptische Studien (3 vols.; Halle: Buchhandlung des Waisenhauses, 1925-1931).
  • [30] Cf. Vincent Taylor, The Gospel According to St. Mark, 70-72. Taylor’s criticism number 3 that “many vivid details in Mark, names, numbers, and the like” (p. 71) are not likely to be redactional is completely unfounded.
  • [31] See, for example, William West Holdsworth, Gospel Origins: A Study in the Synoptic Problem (New York: Scribner’s, 1913), 10-11.
  • [32] Holdsworth, Gospel Origins, 108-109, 117-118, 169; Holdsworth, The Christ of the Gospels (London: Charles H. Kelly, 1911), 64-70.
  • [33] Adolf Harnack, The Sayings of Jesus.
  • [34] Gustaf Dalman, The Words of Jesus.
  • [35] Pierson Parker, The Gospel Before Mark, 87-115.
  • [36] An example of Mark’s double dependency may be seen in the Confession at Caesarea Philippi. With Luke, Mark omitted Jesus’ Hebraic answer to Peter (cf. Matt. 16:17-18), but he followed the Anthology against Luke by giving Jesus’ rebuke of Peter (Mark 8:32b-33).
  • [37] For example, Matt. 3:14-15; 16:17-18.
  • [38] The singular (ἔλεγεν) or plural (ἔλεγον) 3rd person, imperfect tense of the verb λέγειν appears in Mark in 2:16, 24, 27; 3:21, 22, 23, 30; 4:2, 9, 11, 21, 24, 26, 30, 41; 5:8, 28, 30, 31; 6:4, 10, 14, 15, 16, 18, 35; 7:9, 14, 20, 27; 8:21, 24; 9:1, 24, 31; 11:5, 17, 28; 12:35, 38; 14:2, 31, 36, 70; 15:12, 14, 31, 35; 16:3 (49 occurrences); Matthew 9:11, 21, 24, 34; 12:23; 14:4; 21:11; 26:5; 27:41, 47, 49 (11 occurrences); Luke 3:7, 11; 4:22; 5:36; 6:5, 20; 9:23, 31; 10:2; 13:6, 14, 18; 14:7, 12; 16:1, 5; 18:1; 21:10; 22:65; 23:34, 42; 24:10 (22 occurrences).
  • [39] However, only twice does Luke agree with Mark on the use of elegen (or elegon): in Mark 2:27 (= Luke 6:5; ἔλεγεν) and Mark 4:30 (= Luke 13:18; ἔλεγεν).
  • [40] Cf. John C. Hawkins, Horae synopticae: Contributions to the Study of the Synoptic Problem (2nd ed.; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1909), 12, 52. Hawkins gives the occurrences of this phrase as Luke 23, Matthew 10 and Mark 50.
  • [41] Matthew copied from Mark the elegen/elegon usage a total of 7 times: Matt. 9:11 coming from Mark 2:16; Matt. 9:21 from Mark 5:28; Matt. 9:34 from Mark 3:22; Matt. 14:4 from Mark 6:18; Matt. 26:5 from Mark 14:2; Matt. 27:41 from Mark 15:31; and Matt. 27:47 from Mark 15:35.
  • [42] Jewish usage would be “king,” as in Mark.
  • [43] The word order in both Matthew and Mark is fully Hebraic, but the priority of the verb in Mark is attractively idiomatic.
  • [44] Matthew introduced many of his quotations from Scripture with the formula, “this took place to fulfill what was spoken…” (e.g., Matt. 12:17-21; 13:14-15, 35; 21:4-5; 27:9-10).
  • [45] Capernaum is first mentioned in Mark at Mark 1:21, and first mentioned in Matthew at Matt. 4:13.
  • [46] In the New Testament, “Andrew” is mentioned in Matt. 4:18; 10:2; Mark 1:16, 29; 3:18; 13:3; Luke 6:14; John 1:40, 44; 6:8; 12:22; Acts 1:13.
  • [47] James Moffatt, An Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament, 223.
  • [48] Mark 6:1. Mark borrowed the noun πατρίς (patris) from Luke’s version of a proverb in Luke 4:24. In a medieval Hebrew document, זבח פסח לאברבנאל נד,ב; דוידזון 489, the proverb has been preserved as אֵין נָבִיא בְּעִירוֹ. The Anthology must have read οὐκ ἔστιν προφήτης ἐν τῇ πόλει αὐτοῦ and Luke (or the First Reconstruction, Luke’s second source) changed this to οὐδεὶς προφήτης δεκτός ἐστιν ἐν τῇ πατρίδι αὐτοῦ. Apparently, Luke found it hard to call Nazareth a πόλις, although in biblical Hebrew a town can be referred to as an עִיר (ir = LXX πόλις [polis, city, town]), e.g., Josh. 19:6; Ruth 3:15 (i.e., Bethlehem, a town).
  • [49] Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 3.39.15.

Anti-Jewish Tendencies in the Synoptic Gospels

Woodcut from 1492. Jews desecrating the host at Sternberg.

Was Jesus anti-Semitic? Did he actually reject particular aspects of his own Jewishness? Some verses in the Gospels do appear anti-Jewish. However, did these anti-Jewish tendencies begin with Jesus and his followers or did they originate elsewhere? A thorough examination of the Gospels reveals that not all of the accounts are identical in their presentation of Jesus and his contemporaries. Each of the writers has left his own individual style on his composition. In this study we will carefully consider the differing accounts in hope of determining whether anti-Jewish or anti-Judaistic sentiments belonged to Jesus and his first followers. For the purposes of the study I have ordered the Gospels according to their increasing anti-Jewish sentiment.

Lukan Reflections of a Persecuted Church

Conflict between Jesus and his Jewish contemporaries is rare in Luke. Over half of the instances where Luke portrays Jesus dining, it is as a guest in the home of a Pharisee, an unlikely scenario if the Pharisees are indeed the enemies of Jesus.[1] Scholars have explained the relative absence of anti-Jewish tensions in Luke’s gospel to be a result of the writer’s removal of the tensions that were originally part of the stories. Yet, they are at a loss to give a reasonable explanation why Luke would do such a thing.

The Crucified One portrayed with the head of an ass. Graffito from the third century deriding both Christianity and Judaism. Jesus was depicted as having an ass’ head because of the ancient pagan libel that the Jews worship an ass. Interestingly, in the third century, at least one pagan still realized Jesus was a Jew.
The Crucified One portrayed with the head of an ass. Graffito from the third century deriding both Christianity and Judaism. Jesus was depicted as having an ass’ head because of the ancient pagan libel that the Jews worship an ass. Interestingly, in the third century, at least one pagan still realized Jesus was a Jew.

Two bits of evidence suggest that Luke did not remove the conflicts from the record. Instead, they were likely not there to begin with. First, Luke’s record of the speeches in Acts indicates that he was willing to include anti-Jewish rhetoric when he found it in his literary sources.[2] Second, within Luke’s gospel itself there is evidence he used more than one source, and these sources present different degrees of religious tension. Luke may be merely passing on the accounts that he received. The best evidence for Luke’s multiple sources is what are called by scholars, “Lukan Doublets.” Doublets are two versions of a single saying.[3] In Luke one of the pair reflects a more Semitic style, while the other is a more refined Greek. What is important for our study is that the Jewish-Christian tensions are more pronounced in the refined Greek version of the saying.[4] Let us look briefly at the record of Jesus’ encouragement to his followers concerning the assistance of the holy spirit:

And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious how or what you are to answer or what you are to say; for the holy spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say. (Luke 12:11-12)

This saying is a simple assurance by Jesus that if his disciples are required to give an account for their teaching, the holy spirit will assist them. The idea of the holy spirit as a teacher is well-known in first-century Jewish thinking. Jesus’ saying fits well within its religious and historical setting. As we shall now see, the saying is reshaped in subsequent versions, both in its form and in its setting.

Luke 21:12-14 Mark 13:9-11 Matthew 10:17-20
But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be a time for you to bear testimony. Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer…
But take heed to yourselves; for they will deliver you up to councils; and you will be beaten in synagogues; and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say; but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the holy spirit.
Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Mark includes details from both members of the Lukan Doublet in his version of the saying. For example, the holy spirit, which is central to Luke 12:11-12, is absent in Luke 21:12-14. Yet, it reappears in Mark and Matthew. The eschatological setting, which is important in Luke 21, is emphasized by Mark.[5] These things must take place in order that “the gospel must first be preached in all nations” (Mark 13:10). According to Mark, the conflict portrayed with the religious authorities becomes increasingly more violent: Jesus’ disciples will be “beaten in the synagogues.” We can see that Jesus’ saying has undergone significant changes. These alterations may be colored by later violent conflicts between Jesus’ followers and Jewish religious authorities.[6] Nevertheless, if we are not careful, we may be distracted from a profound insight by Jesus concerning the teaching work of the holy spirit.[7]

Mark’s Abandoned Holy Man

Mark presents the most strained relationship between Jesus and his contemporaries. From the beginning to the end of his gospel, Jesus must contend with those of “hardness of heart” (Mark 3:5; 16:14). These conflicts are not the result of an anti-Jewish attitude on the part of Mark, but a part of the literary framework for his gospel. He presents Jesus in the image of the prophet Jeremiah, whose message of repentance was rejected by the Israelite leadership. Likewise, Jesus is on a prophetic mission doomed to failure. A central element in the foreshadowing of his rejection is a gradual abandonment of Jesus by all who are close to him. The fact that the supporting figures in the drama are Jewish is not important for Mark. What is important is that at the point of Jesus’ death he is abandoned by everyone. Since much is made of the conflict stories that are the product of Mark’s hand, it is important to demonstrate briefly how this motif affects the perception of Jesus’ relationship with his Jewish contemporaries.

Jesus and His Family

According to Mark there existed considerable tension between Jesus and his family.[8] Only in his gospel do we hear that Jesus’ family comes to seize him because they think “he is beside himself” (Mark 3:19b-21). Mark’s presentation of these problems influences his version of the saying, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mark 3:31-35). Mark widens Jesus’ statement to give it a universal application rather than its original, simple reference to his family. Thus, most scholars interpret Jesus’ words in Mark as a rejection of his family.[9] Even the United Bible Societies’ Synopsis of the Four Gospels entitles the account, “Jesus’ True Kindred,”[10] as if Jesus attempts to replace his physical family with a spiritual one. His followers now are his true family.

Christian receiving a loan from a Jewish moneylender. Woodcut; title page of Der Judenspiess, a satirical pamphlet published in Strasbourg in 1541. The caption reproaches the moneylender for his lazy way of making a living.

We might be tempted to accept Mark’s version of Jesus’ statement if there was not evidence that differed with Mark’s reading. In the parallel in Luke we have a slightly, but distinctively different, form of the saying: “My mother and my brothers [they] are those who hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:21).[11] Some commentaries suggest that we have two independent statements by Jesus. Such an explanation is possible, but I think improbable. Taking into account Mark’s overall style of reshaping his material, I believe that Mark changes the saying from its earlier form to fit his theme of “abandonment.”

The earlier form of Jesus’ saying, preserved in Luke, is part of contemporary Jewish interpretation of the nation’s response at Sinai: “And they said, ‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient’” (Revised Standard Version, Exod. 24:7). The sages debated the significance of the reversed word order in the Hebrew passage—literally, “we will do and we will hear.” They used the question of order to weigh the relative importance of study and observance of the Torah.[12] Shmuel Safrai has brought to our attention a stream of ancient Jewish piety, the Hasidim, who “maintained that deed is to be preferred even at the expense of Torah study.”[13] Jesus’ saying indicates his and his family’s affirmation of that stream of Jewish thinking which put an emphasis on the observance of the Torah and not merely its study.[14]

Jesus and the Disciples

The relationship between Jesus and the disciples is far more confrontational in Mark’s gospel. Even Jesus’ frustrations with the Twelve, recorded in Matthew 16:7-11, are amplified in Mark. Jesus addresses them in a tone that is normally directed at the unrepentant. They are “hard of heart” (Mark 6:52,8:17) and spiritually “blind and deaf” (Mark 8:18). Neither Matthew nor Luke echo Jesus’ caustic tone towards his disciples.

Epistle of Barnabas
(end 1st–beg. 2nd cent.)

“Take heed to yourselves now, and be not made like unto some, heaping up your sins and saying that the covenant is both theirs [the Jews’] and ours [the Christians’]. It is ours.”
– Epistle of Barnabas 4:6-7
(trans. Loeb Classical Library edition)

Jesus’ most scathing rebuke is reserved for Simon Peter. Prof. David Flusser has mused that for Mark, Peter plays the role of Sherlock Holmes’ Dr. Watson. Holmes’ associate is eager to speak, but invariably mistaken. Mark (8:32-33) and Matthew (16:22-23) depict Peter taking Jesus aside in an attempt to correct Jesus’ notion of his coming passion. Jesus’ rebuke of Peter seems unduly harsh.[15] Moreover, few readers take note that Luke has no knowledge of Peter’s intervention or Jesus’ rebuttal.[16] Instead, Mark’s description of an air of bitterness and the lack of understanding by the disciples is his way of preparing the reader for events in the Garden of Gethsemane, where even Jesus’ disciples will abandon him: “And they all forsook him and fled” (Mark 14:50; cf. Matt. 26:56).

Jesus and the Pharisees

Mark broadens Jesus’ conflicts in order to suggest possible explanations for the tragic events that led to the cross. The Pharisees in Mark’s gospel are presented as violently opposed to Jesus’ ministry from its beginning. Already in the story of the healing of the man with the withered hand we find the Pharisees and the Herodians “plotting how they might destroy him” (Mark 3:6).[17] Mark’s presentation of the Pharisees has colored the very thinking and language in Christian societies. In modern-day English the term “Pharisee” carries a derogatory connotation.[18] These assumptions regarding the Pharisees have influenced even the translation of the synoptic parallels to Mark. In the Lukan ending to the same story, the Revised Standard Version reads: “But they were filled with fury [ἀνοίας anoias] and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus” (Luke 6:11). Yet, the word ἀνοία (anoia) in Greek literature does not mean “fury, anger.”[19] It instead denotes “folly, confusion, bafflement.” The English translators of Luke have read the Greek text through the eyes of Mark’s conclusion. Luke’s conclusion, on the other hand, suggests no anger or violence. The expression “what to do with…” is an expression we hear elsewhere in the mouth of the high priests who are frustrated with the miracles and teaching of the Apostles (Acts 4:16).[20] Outside of the New Testament, the expression comes on the lips of the Pharisee Shim’on ben Shetah, who is frustrated with a first-century Hasid, Honi the Circle-Drawer (m. Ta’anit 3:8).[21]

John Chrysostom
(c. 347–407)

“The synagogue is not only a brothel and a theater; it also is a den of robbers and a lodging for wild beasts…when God forsakes a people, what hope of salvation is left? When God forsakes a place, that place becomes the dwelling of demons…. The Jews live for their bellies. They gape for the things of this world. Their condition is no better than that of pigs or goats because of their wanton ways and excessive gluttony. They know but one thing: to fill their bellies and be drunk.”
– John Chrysostom, presbyter in Antioch
(Orations against the Jews 1.3.1, 1.4.1)

In each instance, the expression designates reaction to a miracle performed by someone who has stretched the prevailing thinking of the day. In no instance does it demand, nor even suggest, violent intent. There is no reason to impose the sense of Mark’s text on the Greek of Luke’s account.[22]

Jesus, the Holy City and the Temple

Mark’s hand can again be recognized in his portrayal of Jesus’ attitude towards Jerusalem and the temple. In Luke, Jesus laments over Jerusalem on three occasions (Luke 13:34-35, 19:41-44, 23:28-31). His prophetic message of impending judgment is full of pathos and sorrow. According to Mark, Jesus neither weeps nor laments over Jerusalem. The writer slowly severs Jesus’ ties to the nation.

He weaves into his narrative hints to the destruction of Jerusalem that allude to the words and actions of the prophet Jeremiah. The “Parable of the Fig Tree” (Luke 13:6-9), which communicates God’s patience and mercy, becomes in Mark the “Cursing of the Fig Tree” (Mark 11:12-14; Matt. 21:18-19). The action against the fig tree recalls the words of Jeremiah, “When I would gather them, says the Lord, there are no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree; even the leaves are withered…” (Jer. 8:13). Mark intends that Jesus’ actions be read as a message of coming judgment against Jerusalem.[23] Moreover, in Mark’s gospel, Jesus’ actions in the temple are expanded beyond a protest against injustice by some in the temple precincts to a cessation of the sacrificial system itself.

Scholars usually overlook the fact that according to Luke’s account there is no violence in Jesus’ protest.[24] Mark records, however, that Jesus overturns tables and chairs. Rather than Luke’s “sellers,” Mark broadens Jesus’ wrath to include “sellers,” “buyers” and “money-changers.” Finally, of all the Gospels, only Mark states that Jesus would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. Jesus’ actions in effect shut down the temple.[25] He is not protesting misconduct in the temple confines, but the temple system itself.

(c. 36-108)

“It is monstrous to talk of Jesus Christ and to practise Judaism. For Christianity did not base its faith on Judaism, but Judaism on Christianity.”
– Ignatius, the third bishop of Antioch
(Epistle to the Magnesians 10:2-3
trans. Loeb Classical Library edition)

If Mark’s story were all that we possessed, the real significance of Jesus’ words and actions might be missed. Jesus’ citation of Jeremiah 7:11 is a challenge to the Sadducean priests’ complacency and false confidence in the physical presence of the temple.[26] Joseph Frankovic has demonstrated that Jesus’ use of Jeremiah’s words is a blunt warning clearly understood by those present:[27]  If the religious leaders continued to ignore his call to repentance, their role as trustees for the spiritual life of the nation would come to an end.

Jesus in His Passion

Mark’s description of the growing hostility toward Jesus from his religious contemporaries dominates his version of the passion narrative. Nevertheless, the Pharisees who are presented as Jesus’ main antagonists are strangely absent in the events of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion—Mark may have intended to implicate them in his night meeting of “the whole Sanhedrin” (Mark 14:55; Matt. 26:59)—but his account is not without its problems.

The personification of Ecclesia (the Church) and Synagoga (the Synagogue) were erected at the entrances of many medieval Gothic cathedrals throughout Europe. Ecclesia, wearing a crown, gasing straight ahead and holding her head high, stands triumphant; whereas, Synagoga (left), having lost her crown, holding her broken staff and wearing a blindfold, stands defeated and rejected. This 13th-century statue adorns the facade of the Strasbourg Cathedral.
The personification of Ecclesia (the Church) and Synagoga (the Synagogue) were erected at the entrances of many medieval Gothic cathedrals throughout Europe. Ecclesia, wearing a crown, gasing straight ahead and holding her head high, stands triumphant; whereas, Synagoga (above), having lost her crown, holding her broken staff and wearing a blindfold, stands defeated and rejected. This 13th-century statue adorns the facade of the Strasbourg Cathedral.

Flusser, in his study on the trial of Jesus, has dealt with the legal problems of a night trial and the extent of the leadership’s involvement.[28] He concluded that Luke’s narrative provides a more reliable account of those fateful events. According to Luke, Jesus was questioned by the high priest in the morning, not at night (Luke 22:66). Likewise, Vincent Taylor[29] and Paul Winter[30] have recognized the independent quality of Luke’s narrative.

I have addressed elsewhere the issue of the Sanhedrin’s role in Jesus’ questioning.[31] Luke gives only a single mention of συνέδριον (synedrion; Luke 22:66). This is a reference not to “the council” (סַנְהֶדְרִין [san-hed-RIN] or בֵּית דִּין [bet din]) but to the council chamber (לִשְׁכַּת הַגָּזִית [lish-KAT ha-ga-ZIT]). Thus, Luke’s narrative lacks the Jewish legal problems created by Mark’s account on both the issue of the time of the questioning and the involvement of “the whole Sanhedrin.” Those who meet to question Jesus early on the fifteenth of the Jewish month of Nisan are only a small band of high priests and those related to them in the running of the temple.[32] One of the most critical points in Mark’s passion narrative is his portrayal of the crowds in Jerusalem. The differences in the Gospels are stark. In Luke the multitudes who followed Jesus “bewailed and lamented him” (Luke 23:27). These are not necessarily limited to the followers of Jesus, but include others who were lamenting the fact that another innocent Jew was being led to a horrible death.[33] The people are contrasted with the leaders, the high priests and their entourage, who “scoffed at him” (Luke 23:35). Even those who were crucified with Jesus were divided in their opinion about him (Luke 23:39-43).

No such ambivalence exists in Mark. The chief priests have stirred up the crowds. Before the cross the crowds deride Jesus and wag their heads, Markan language borrowed from Psalms 22:8. Whereas Luke distinguishes between the attitude and actions of the crowds and that of the leadership, Mark presents a picture in which everyone is culpable in the death of Jesus: “So also the chief priests mocked him to one another with the scribes.”

While Mark’s theme of “abandonment” is directed at Jewish figures, it is not necessarily Mark’s intent to slander the Jewish people as such. What leads us to this conclusion? According to Mark, not only do Jesus’ Jewish contemporaries forsake him, but also his heavenly father. Only Mark records Jesus’ Aramaic cry from the cross, “ Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? [My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?].” We already have noticed that Mark uses language from Psalm 22 to describe the events of Jesus’ crucifixion. In the climactic events on the cross Mark uses the Psalm again (Ps. 22:2) to suggest that even the Father has abandoned Jesus!

Neither of the two remaining synoptic writers follow completely Mark’s version of the cry from the cross. Luke, together with John, knows nothing of the cry of abandonment. Matthew is familiar with the tradition, but recognizes that Mark by preserving the form of address “ Eloi, Eloi” in Aramaic destroys the sense of the crowd’s response—Eloi in Aramaic means “my God,” but cannot be a diminutive form of “Elijah”; אלי (Eli) in Hebrew means “my God,” and can also be a diminutive form of “Elijah.” Thus, we hear the confusion by those at the foot of the cross (Matt. 27:47). Since the ambiguity does not exist in Aramaic, Matthew, as he does on other occasions, corrects Mark and quotes Jesus in Hebrew. What is more important for us in our study is to recognize that the motif of abandonment extends beyond “the Jews” and includes God. The heightened tensions that are part of Mark’s unique contribution were not intended to single out the Jewish people or any sub-groups such as Jesus’s family or disciples. For Mark the Jewish people were merely part of a larger canvas.

Matthew and the Jewish People

Flusser has commented that one of the paradoxes in Matthew’s gospel is that it often possesses some of the most Hebraic verses, and yet at other times is the most anti-Jewish.[34] He was the first to observe that these two characteristics actually are related. Anti-Jewish sentiments are seldom seen in verses that exhibit Hebraic linguistic influences. On the other hand, when such sentiments do exist they are usually in verses possessing a refined Greek. Flusser concluded that the anti-Jewish tendencies in Matthew’s gospel are a later scribal revision of an earlier version of Matthew’s text.[35] We noted a similar tendency in one of the two sources for Luke’s doublets. There, also, the doublet component that exhibits Greek stylization shows increased religious tensions. We will give attention to three examples of anti-Jewish tendencies in Matthew’s gospel.

Jesus and the Pharisees

Justin Martyr
(c. 100–165)

“They [the Jewish Scriptures] are not yours but ours.”
– Justin Martyr, Christian apologist
(Dialogue with Trypho 29.2)

Jesus’ seven “Woes” upon the Pharisees in Matthew 23 echo the Talmud’s own self-critical seven kinds of Pharisees.[36] We also need to bear in mind that, although Jesus delivers a harsh indictment against these contemporaries, he opens the address with an affirmative statement: “The Pharisees sit on the seat of Moses; Do what they say and not what they do…” (Matt. 23:2). The “seat of Moses” was the seat of instruction in the synagogue.[37] Jesus’ comment affirms the authority of these first-century teachers to instruct the people. We have already stated that Jesus affirms the Hasidic stream of Jewish thinking that puts more emphasis on action than study. In the same vein, Jesus’ criticism in Matthew 23 is directed at those who are not faithfully following through on the spirit and letter of their own teaching.

In the latter part of the chapter we hear the accusation that the Pharisees have rejected those sent by the Lord:

Matthew 23:34-36 Luke 11:49-51
Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechari’ah the son of Barachi’ah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all this will come upon this generation.
Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, “I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,” that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechari’ah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it shall be required of this generation.

The saying in both Matthew and Luke resembles a prophecy mentioned in an intertestamental work, the Book of Jubilees:[38]

And I will send to them witnesses so that I may witness to them, but they will not hear. And they will even kill the witnesses. And they will persecute those who search out the Law, and they will neglect everything and begin to do evil in my sight. (Jub. 1:12)

As we noted above, Matthew has singled out the Pharisees (cf. Matt. 23:27 = Luke 11:44; Matt. 23:29 = Luke 11:47). The context thus created suggests that the Pharisees were accused of killing the prophets, wise men and scribes.[39] Matthew’s accusation actually contradicts the attitude of tolerance and latitude that was indicative of the Pharisees and that is behind their claim, “If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets” (Matt. 23:30). Neither the prophecy of Jubilees nor Jesus’ saying in Luke 11:49-51 makes any mention of the Pharisees.

The accusations in the hands of Matthew are intensified and foreshadow the events of Jesus’ passion. In Luke, Zechariah’s death between the altar and the sanctuary is mentioned, but according to Matthew, those to whom Jesus speaks (i.e., the Pharisees) are guilty of his murder.[40]

Warning Germans of the Jewish “threat” to their fatherland, this poster hung in 1920 on the walls of the Reichstag in Berlin.
Warning Germans of the Jewish “threat” to their fatherland, this poster hung in 1920 on the walls of the Reichstag in Berlin.

According to Matthew, those sent by God are not only persecuted and killed, but some are even crucified. Finally, the wording that the blood of the righteous will come “upon” the guilty foreshadows the curse of Matthew 27:25.

What we witness in Matthew 23 is the kernel of authentic sayings of Jesus. Yet, by reading the Matthean sayings beside their Lukan parallels we can often distinguish between the sayings in their original form and the work of a later Matthean reviser. For the most part, the form of the sayings is best preserved in Matthew. Nevertheless, the sayings bear signs of alteration in intensity and direction. Jesus did direct his harshest statements at the religious leadership of his day. Yet, it may be that the singular focus of the diatribe to accuse the Pharisees is a result of Markan influences upon Matthew. Matthew, or his final reviser, also amplifies the denunciation to a degree that eclipses its original thrust. He is preparing us for the events of the passion where guilt for the shedding of righteous blood will be heard once again.

A Matthean Malediction

The influence of Mark on Matthew’s passion narrative is recognized.[41] On a few occasions we find that Matthew corrects the Markan tradition, but these are the exceptions. Thus, some of the tensions in Matthew between Jesus and his Jewish contemporaries are a result of Markan influence. Matthew, however, brings the events to a level of conflict that outreaches even Mark. This is most clearly evident in the malediction in Matthew 27:24-26.

Matthew 27:22-27 Mark 15:12-16
Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified.” And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified.” So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released for them Barab’bas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the praetorium, and they gathered the whole battalion before him.
And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man whom you call the King of the Jews?” And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.”So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barab’bas; and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the praetorium); and they called together the whole battalion.

Three observations are needed regarding Matthew’s version of the event:

  1. A comparison of the synoptic accounts demonstrates that Pilate’s act of absolution from complicity in the death of Jesus and the curse of the crowd are a disruptive intrusion into the running narrative. Neither Mark nor Luke betray any knowledge of the Matthean addition.
  2. From an historical and political perspective, it is difficult to see a Roman procurator absolving himself of the authority that only he possessed.[42]
  3. The Matthean addition creates an internal contradiction. After portraying Pilate’s removal from involvement in Jesus’ sentence of crucifixion, the Evangelist states that it is the soldiers of the governor who take Jesus away. Furthermore, all the Gospels describe a centurion present at the crucifixion (Matt. 27:54; Mark 15:39; Luke 23:47), suggesting a Roman imprimatur on the crucifixion.

The origins of the malediction may lie in a subsequent event at which leaders of the early church were present. Luke records a statement by the high priest at a meeting of the Sanhedrin: “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us” (Acts 5:28).

Is it a mere coincidence that we find in Acts 5:28 the phrase “this man’s blood upon us”[43] on the lips of those who were the primary opponents to Jesus and likely present at the hearing before Pilate?[44] The saying in Acts seems to be the seed for Matthew’s transposed curse. Under Markan influence, Matthew broadens the involvement of those guilty of handing Jesus over to Pilate. They now include the “crowds of Jerusalem” (Matt. 26:47,55; 27:15,24).[45] When the curse is set within the Markan mob setting, the Matthean reviser transforms a defensive statement by a small group of priests into a curse upon the entire Jewish nation!

Matthew’s “True Israel”

Perhaps, in the wake of the destruction of Jerusalem, growing anti-Jewish sentiments among some Gentile-Christian circles evolved into a view that the entire Jewish nation had been rejected and replaced by the Gentile church. Though such notions were not widespread, they found their way into the most popular gospel of the church.[46] This idea of God’s unilateral rejection of the Jewish people provided fertile ground for the Christian anti-Semitism that flourished in subsequent centuries. It is worthwhile to follow how this uniquely Matthean “theology of replacement” entered into the gospel.

Matthew 7:21-23
Luke 6:46
Not every one who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.”
Why do you call me “Lord, Lord,” and not do what I tell you?

Luke 13:26-30
Then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.” But he will say, “I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!” There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.

Matthew 8:11-12
I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.

Jesus categorically rejected a “cult of personality.”[47]  His call to discipleship recorded in Matthew 7:21 required more than mere physical association. It required action—obedience to God’s will. In the larger literary context, the “Lord Lord” saying is set next to the parable of the Two Foundations (Matt. 7:24-27; Luke 6:47-49) where Jesus also emphasizes the need for action and obedience to the will of God. Both of the sayings set a high standard for those who would follow Jesus. Luke’s version of Matthew 7:22 presents an even clearer picture of the attitudes of those who thought mere association with Jesus was all that was needed: “We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets” (Luke 13:26).[48] We can observe that the saying is fragmented in both Matthew and Luke. The latter half of Luke’s saying, Luke 13:28-29, is detached by Matthew and used elsewhere in his conclusion to the healing of the centurion’s servant (Matt. 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10). On that occasion, Jesus praised the centurion’s concern for matters of Jewish ritual purity—that a pious Jew might be polluted in his visit to a Gentile’s home. Jesus exclaimed, “I tell you, not even [οὐδέ, oude] in Israel have I found such faith” (Luke 7:9).

(died c. 190)

“He who hung the earth is hanging;
he who fixed the heavens has been fixed;
he who fastened the universe has been fastened to a tree;
the Sovereign has been insulted;
the God has been murdered;
the King of Israel has been put to death by an Israelite right hand.”

– Melito, bishop of Sardis
(Homily on the Passion lines 711-716 trans. Loeb Classical Library edition)

Matthew alters Jesus’ statement slightly but significantly: “Among no one [παρ’ οὐδενίpar oudeni] in Israel…” (Matt. 8:10).[49] Matthew continues that the lack of faith on the part of Israel will result in their rejection in the last days: “The sons of the kingdom [i.e., Israel] will be thrown into outer darkness.”[50] We want to look closer at whom the writer intended to sit in the place of “the sons of the kingdom,” but we need first to draw attention to the same “rejectionist” idea in Matthew’s conclusion of the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen (Matt. 21:33-46; Mark 21:1-12; Luke 20:9-19).

The parable originally was meant as an attack on the religious establishment, the temple authorities, whose place of leadership Jesus prophesied would be taken and given to others who would be more faithful to the “owner of the vineyard” (i.e., God).[51] The reviser of Matthew’s gospel, under the influence of Mark’s “Cursing of the Fig Tree” (Mark 11:12-14; Matt. 21:18-19), uniquely concludes the parable: “Therefore, I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it” (Matt. 21:43).

The work of the reviser is subtle and only careful attention to the changes will detect the seeds that he has sown. His revisions are constrained by the fact that the gospel was already composed, and its earlier perspective often took a positive view of the Jewish nation’s role in God’s purposes.[52] No explicit mention is made by the reviser that Israel is replaced by Gentiles at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Yet, in a secondary introduction to the apocryphal Second Esdras, those who supplant Israel are more clearly defined.[53]

Thus says the Lord Almighty: “Your house is desolate; I will drive you out as the wind drives straw; and your sons will have no children, because with you they have neglected my commandment and have done what is evil in my sight. I will give your houses to a people that will come, who without having heard me will believe. Those to whom I have shown no signs will do what I have commanded. They have seen no prophets, yet will recall their former state…see the people coming from the east; to them I will give as leaders Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and Hosea and Amos and Micah and Joel and Obadiah and Jonah and Nahum and Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, who is also called the messenger of the Lord.” (2 Esdras 1:33-40)

Those who will replace Israel at the table with the patriarchs and the prophets are clearly Gentiles. They have not previously known the Lord. Flusser has suggested that the work of the Christian writer parallels the thinking of certain pre-Christian Gentile circles who had adopted many of the practices and beliefs of Judaism without actually converting.[54] After the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple they came to view themselves as the inheritors of the promises to Israel. These notions may also have influenced Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho (see 21.6 and 80.1).

An Eighteenth-century caricature: members of London’s Great Synagogue enjoy the forbidden food.
An Eighteenth-century caricature: members of London’s Great Synagogue enjoy the forbidden food.

If Flusser’s suspicions are correct, this “rejectionist” philosophy penetrated into the strata of the gospel tradition through the hands of a final Gentile reviser of our Matthew. Nevertheless, the notion that God rejected Israel is clearly foreign to the spirit of Jesus’ teaching and that of his first followers. Unfortunately, the discontinuity between the attitude of Jesus toward his own people and that found in the revision of Matthew’s gospel is not often recognized. There are still today some who would propagate this same “theology of replacement.” It is the duty of those working to hear clearly the words of Jesus to ensure that such distorted perceptions do not become identified with the historical Jesus.


(c. 185–254)

“And these calamities they [the Jews] have suffered, because they were a most wicked nation, which, although guilty of many other sins, yet has been punished so severely for none, as for those that were committed against our Jesus.”
– Origen, church father
(Against Celsus 2.8)
trans. Loeb Classical Library edition)

In this brief study I have tried to demonstrate that at its earliest stage the church was marked by a relative freedom from anti-Jewish sentiment. However, the natural evolution of early Christianity from its Jewish context brought tensions that have penetrated even into the early strata of the synoptic tradition. Mark amplified the conflict between Jesus and his contemporaries. Mark’s primary motives were to present Jesus as an abandoned Messiah. For the most part, he possessed no anti-Jewish penchant.

The gospel of Matthew, on the other hand, possesses a number of anti-Jewish statements that may be the work of a later Gentile scribe. These revisions paint the entire Jewish nation as culpable for the death of Jesus. In the scribe’s thinking, Israel had been rejected in lieu of the Gentile church. These ideas reflect little of Jesus’ own thinking or experience. Ironically, Jesus himself knew of some in his own day who saw the people of Israel as rejected and viewed themselves as the sole custodians of the holy Scriptures and the holy place. To these first-century supplanters—the Samaritans—Jesus’ response was simple but categorical: “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).

Standing at the entrance to a pre-World War II German village, this sign warned travelers that Jews were not wanted. Jesus remained outside, too.
Standing at the entrance to a pre-World War II German village, this sign warned travelers that Jews were not wanted. Jesus remained outside, too.
Martin Luther
(c. 1483–1546)
“Let me give you my honest advice. First, their synagogues or churches should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder or stone of it. And this ought to be done for the honor of God and Christianity in order that God may see that we are Christians, and that we have not wittingly tolerated or approved of such public lying, cursing and blaspheming of His Son and His Christians….“Second, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed, for they perpetrate the same things there that they do in their synagogues. For this reason they ought to be put under one roof or in a stable, like gypsies, in order that they may realize that they are not masters in our land, as they boast, but miserable captives, as they complain of us incessantly before God with bitter wailing.“Third, they should be deprived of their prayerbooks and Talmuds in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught.“Fourth, their rabbis must be forbidden, under threat of death, to teach….“Fifth, passport and traveling privileges should be absolutely forbidden to the Jews. They have no business in the rural districts since they are not nobles, officials, merchants, or the like. Let them stay at home.“Sixth, they ought to be stopped from usury. All their cash and valuables of silver and gold ought to be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. For this reason, as already stated, everything they possess they stole and robbed from us through their usury, for they have no other means of support. This money should be used in the case—and in no other—where a Jew has sincerely become a Christian, so that temporarily he may get one or two or three hundred florins, as he may require. This is so that he may start a business to support his poor wife and children, and the old and feeble. Such wickedly acquired money is accursed, unless, with God’s blessing, it is put to some good and necessary use….

Seventh, let the young and strong Jews and Jewesses be given the flail, the ax, the hoe, the spade, the distaff, and spindle, and let them earn their bread by the sweat of their brow, as Adam’s children are commanded. For it is not proper that they should want us accursed Gentiles to work by the sweat of our brow and that they, pious crew, idle away their days at the fireside in laziness, feasting and display. And in addition to this, they boast impiously that they have become masters of the Christians at our expense. We ought to drive the unprincipled lazybones out of our system. If, however, we are afraid that they might harm us personally, or our wives, children, servants, cattle, etc., when they serve us or work for us—since it is surely to be presumed that such noble lords of the world and poisonous bitter worms are not accustomed to any work and would very unwillingly humble themselves to such a degree among the accursed Gentiles—then let us apply the same cleverness [i.e., expulsion] as the other nations, such as France, Spain, Bohemia, etc., and settle with them for that which they have exhorted through usury from us, and after having divided it up fairly, let us drive them out of the country for all time. For, as has been said, God’s rage is so great against them that they only become worse and worse through mild mercy, and not much better through severe mercy. Therefore, away with them….To sum up, dear princes and nobles who have Jews in your domain, if this advice of mine does not suit you, then find better advice so that you and we may all be free of this insufferable devilish burden—the Jews.”

– Martin Luther
from his 1543 tract titled Concerning the Jews and Their Lies
  • [1] Pharisees are also presented in a positive light in Acts. Gamaliel (Acts 5:34) is said to be honored, and there are Pharisees numbered among the early Christians (Acts 15:5). Paul in his speech before the Sanhedrin does not shy away from his identification with the Pharisees (Acts 23:6).
  • [2] See C. O’Neill, “The Attitude to the Jews,” in The Theology of Acts in Its Historical Setting (London: S.P.C.K., 1970), 77-99; J. Dupont, The Sources in Acts (London: Dartman, Longman & Todd, 1964).
  • [3] See John C. Hawkins, Horae Synopticae (2nd ed.; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1909), 80-107.
  • [4] This literary observation accords with what Flusser has recognized concerning the anti-Jewish montages of Matthew: David Flusser, “Two Anti-Jewish Montages in Matthew,” in Judaism and the Origins of Christianity (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1988), 552.
  • [5] See Vincent Taylor, The Gospel According to St. Mark (8th ed.; London: Macmillan & Co., 1969), 507.
  • [6] Cf. Acts 5:40; 7:54-58; 12:2-3; Josephus, Antiq. 20.200-201.
  • [7] See the author’s unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, “The Concept of the Holy Spirit in Jewish Literature of the Second Temple Period and Pre-Pauline Christianity” (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1993), 195-204.
  • [8] Jesus does express that there is the risk of a breach in family relationships resulting from the call to discipleship: “There is no man who has left home…” (Matt. 19:29-30; Mark 10:29-31; Luke 18:29b-30). He also recognized that to hear the word of God and do it held precedence over family ties (Luke 11:27-28; cf. 14:25-26). Yet, this is decidedly different from Mark’s presentation of Jesus’ renunciation of his family.
  • [9] Cf. Henry Barclay Swete, The Gospel According to St Mark, 3rd ed. (London: Macmillan & Co., 1909), 70.
  • [10] Synopsis of the Four Gospels, ed. Kurt Aland (Stuttgart: United Bible Societies, 1982), §121, p. 112.
  • [11] Joseph Fitzmyer entitles the Lukan pericope, “Jesus’ Mother and Brothers are the Real Hearers” (The Gospel According to Luke I—IX, The Anchor Bible, vol. 28 [Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1981], 722).
  • [12] See Shmuel Safrai, “Teaching of Pietists in Mishnaic Literature,” The Journal of Jewish Studies 16 (1965): 15-33. See also Adolph Büchler, Types of Jewish-Palestinian Piety from 70 B.C.E. to 70 C.E. (New York: Ktav Publishing House, 1968).
  • [13] Shmuel Safrai, “Jesus and the Hasidim,” Jerusalem Perspective 42, 43 & 44 (Jan.—Jun. 1994): 16.
  • [14] Brad Young has demonstrated that this same notion is behind Jesus’ parable of “The Solid Foundation” (Matt. 7:15-20; Luke 6:43-45). He notes that the parable strongly resembles the parable of Elisha ben Avuyah concerning “The Two Builders” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, Version A, chap. 24; Version B, chap. 35). Both are intended to give emphasis to good deeds, or observance, as well as study of the Torah (Brad H. Young, Jesus and His Jewish Parables: Rediscovering the Roots of Jesus’ Teaching [Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1989], 251-259).
  • [15] Flusser has suggested to me that Mark’s language in the rebuke (Mark 8:33) betrays his knowledge and transposition of an identical rebuke directed at Satan found in Matthew’s temptation narrative—ὕπαγε ὀπισω μου, Σατανᾶ (hypage opisō mou, Satana, Go behind me, Satan). Compare the textual variants of Matt. 4:10. Evidence of Mark’s redaction of the temptation narrative has already been recognized in his allusion to the Testament of Naphtali 8:4. (See Benjamin Bacon, Beginnings of the Gospel Story [New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1920], 8, 13, 66, 77, 89.) Moreover, Mark abbreviates the story with his omission of the citation of Ps. 91:11, “He will give his angels charge of you,” but then awkwardly hints to the Psalm with his abrupt conclusion, “and the angels ministered to him.” Cf. Ernest Best, The Temptation and the Passion: The Markan Soteriology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965), 9-10.
  • [16] It is also seldom noted by scholars that Luke 9:21-22 does not reflect Mark’s “messianic secret.” For example, see Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. Luke, 5th ed., The International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1896), 247; E. Earle Ellis, The Gospel of Luke, New Century Bible (Greenwood, S.C.: Attic Press, 1974), 140; Fitzmyer, Luke, 775.
  • [17] Mark never gets around to telling us why they are angry. To put it simply, Jesus has done nothing to transgress the Sabbath. Similar questionable notions are made concerning Jesus and other issues of halachah. Whereas Mark states that all Jews practiced ritual hand washing before meals, a mishnah in Parah 11:5 indicates that there existed some latitude (E. P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism [London: SCM Press, 1985], pp. 185-186). Likewise, pressing legal questions surrounding the incident of the “Plucking of the Grains on the Sabbath” (Matt. 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5) may mitigate an interpretation that Jesus disregards the restrictions concerning work on the Sabbath. See Menahem Kister, “Plucking on the Sabbath and Christian-Jewish Polemic,” Immanuel 24/25 (1990), 35-51; Shmuel Safrai, “Sabbath Breakers?” Jerusalem Perspective 27 (Jul./Aug. 1990): 3-5.
  • [18] Webster’s dictionary (Webster’s II New Riverside Dictionary) gives “hypocritical” as one of the word’s definitions.
  • [19] See Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, 9th ed., revised and augmented by Henry Stuart Jones with Roderick McKenzie (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1940), 145. See also Flusser, Judaism, xxv-xxvi.
  • [20] Flusser has drawn attention to a similar expression later in Luke 19:47-48a. There the antagonists are the chief priests and the scribes. Luke states that “they did not find anything they could do.” In the verse, they and not the Pharisees are accused of seeking “to destroy him.” The description of the conflict and plotting on the part of the temple authorities has influenced the language of Mark’s conflict stories in a complex fusion of redactional activity. See Flusser, Judaism, xxvi.
  • [21] See Safrai, “Jesus and the Hasidim,” 6. Joseph Frankovic has brought to my attention that the phrase in Aramaic appears in a similar context in Leviticus Rabbah 12:1 (ed. Margulies, p. 247).
  • [22] Joseph Frankovic has brought to my attention an account in Leviticus Rabbah 9:9 (ed. Margulies, pp. 192-193) in which a woman spits in Rabbi Meir’s eye. His disciples, according to the midrash, were understandably angry with her. What is of interest to us is the literary development in a later version of the same text. It reads that the disciples are ready to kill her. Thus, we may see a parallel literary tendency in the Gospels and the midrash on Leviticus to heighten the conflict. See M. Gaster, The Exempla of the Rabbis (New York, 1968; repr. of 1924 Cambridge ed.), 105.
  • [23] Cf. Vincent Taylor, Mark, 459.
  • [24] The Greek verb ἐκβάλλειν (ekballein) can carry the same nonviolent sense as הוציא (ho-TSI’, to escort out). See the entry “ἐκβάλλω” in Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 4th ed., trans. and ed. William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1957), 237.
  • [25] See Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 61-71.
  • [26] Jesus’ citation parallels a type of rabbinic interpretation known as gezerah shavah. See Saul Lieberman, Hellenism in Jewish Palestine, in Greek in Jewish Palestine/Hellenism in Jewish Palestine (New York: The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1994), 59-60.
  • [27] Joseph Frankovic, “Remember Shiloh!” Jerusalem Perspective 46 & 47 (Sept.—Dec. 1994): 25-29.
  • [28] Flusser, “A Literary Approach to the Trial of Jesus,” Judaism, 588-592.
  • [29] Vincent Taylor, The Passion Narrative of St. Luke (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972).
  • [30] Paul Winter, On the Trial of Jesus (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co., 1961), 20.
  • [31] R. Steven Notley, “Who Questioned Jesus?” Jerusalem Perspective 25 (Mar./Apr. 1990): 8-10.
  • [32] See Dan Barag and David Flusser, “The Ossuary of Jehohanah Granddaughter of the High Priest Theophilus,” Israel Exploration Journal 36 (1986): 39-44.
  • [33] See Brad Young, “The Cross, Jesus and the Jewish People,” Immanuel 24/25 (1990): 23-34; Flusser, “The Crucified One and the Jews,” Judaism, 575-587.
  • [34] Flusser, “Two Anti-Jewish Montages in Matthew,” Judaism, 552.
  • [35] Malcolm Lowe and David Flusser, “Evidence Corroborating a Modified Proto-Matthean Synoptic Theory,” New Testament Studies 29 (1983): 25-47. Cf. Ernest L. Abel, “Who Wrote Matthew?” New Testament Studies 17 (1971): 138-152.
  • [36] See David Flusser, “‘Some of the Precepts of the Torah’ from Qumran (4QMMT) and the Benedictions Against the Heretics,” Tarbiz 61.3-4 (1992), 362-363 (Hebrew); now in English, “4QMMT and the Benediction Against the Minim,” in Judaism of the Second Temple Period: Qumran and Apocalypticism (trans. Azzan Yadin; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 102-103.
  • [37] Pesikta de-Rav Kahana 7:2 (ed. Buber). For other literary references, see the entry קתדרא in Marcus Jastrow A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature (repr. New York: Pardes Publishing House, 1950), 1434. Stone seats with the inscription “Seat of Moses” were discovered in the ancient remains of synagogues at Hammath Tiberias and Chorazin. See E. L. Sukenik, Ancient Synagogues in Palestine and Greece, (London, 1934), 21-24; “Chorazin,” The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society and Carta, 1993), 304; Second Revised Catalogue of the Ancient Synagogues of the Holy Land, ed. S. J. Saller (Jerusalem: Publications of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, 1972), 54-55.
  • [38] However, Flusser is correct that Matthew’s “wise men [i.e., sages] and scribes” is preferable to Luke’s “apostles” (“Two Anti-Jewish Montages in Matthew,” Judaism, 553).
  • [39] On the Jewish traditions regarding the death of Zechariah and the passage in question, see S. Blank, “The Death of Zechariah in Rabbinic Literature,” Hebrew Union College Annual 12-13 (1937-1938): 331.
  • [40] Matthew’s editing of his literary sources to present the Pharisees in a more negative light can be seen in his transposition of Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem (Matt. 23:37-39; Luke 13:34-35). In Luke the lament follows a warning given by the Pharisees to Jesus (Luke 13:31-33). He responds that he must go on to Jerusalem and pictures his death in light of Hebrew prophetic experience, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets…” Matthew moves the saying to follow the accusation of the Pharisees’ involvement in the death of the prophet Zechariah (Matt. 23:37-39). In the new context the lament reads as if Jesus is accusing the Pharisees once again of the death of the prophets. Thus, an essentially positive portrayal of the Pharisees in Luke becomes accusatory in Matthew.
  • [41] W. F. Albright and C. S. Mann, Matthew, The Anchor Bible, vol. 26 (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1971), xxxix.
  • [42] It is true that we have the account of Pilate giving in to the massive demonstration in Caesarea that demanded the removal from Jerusalem of the standards with Caesar’s image (Josephus, War 2.169-174), but this is a far cry from the absolution of authority depicted by Matthew.
  • [43] See Acts 18:6 where the expression is used again to denote “guilt.” Cf. 2 Sam. 1:16; Jer. 51:35.
  • [44] I.e., Annas, Caiaphas, John and Alexander. See Barag and Flusser, “The Ossuary of Jehohanah,” 39-44.
  • [45] The Lukan indistinct reference to “they” (Luke 23:18-25) may have contributed to the original confusion.
  • [46] Matthew is the most frequently used gospel for the Sunday liturgical readings. See F. C. Grant, The Gospels: Their Origin and Their Growth (London: Faber and Faber, 1957), 153.
  • [47] Flusser, Judaism, 555.
  • [48] See William Manson, The Gospel of Luke, The Moffatt New Testament Commentary (New York: Harper & Row and London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1930), 168.
  • [49] Some early manuscripts have attempted to harmonize Matthew’s reading with Luke 7:9. Metzger is correct, however, in his preference for the reading that we have cited here. Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, corrected edition (London and New York: United Bible Societies, 1975), 21.
  • [50] One of the clear signs of Matthean editing in our passage is his coupling of the concept of “the kingdom” with the idea of election. In contemporary Jewish understanding, they were distinctive concepts. The same coupling is evident in Matt. 13:24-30.
  • [51] Young, Jesus and His Jewish Parables, 282ff.
  • [52] For example, whereas Mark 7:27 places a temporal restraint on the “giving the children’s bread to the dogs,” Matt. 15:26 states categorically that it is not right.
  • [53] The issue of authorship of 2 Esdras is a complicated one. The main portion of the book (chap. 3-14) was probably written by a Jewish writer towards the end of the first century A.D. Our passage is part of a later addendum (chap. 1-2) that was composed by a Christian writer sometime in the second century A.D. See Michael E. Stone, “Apocalyptic Literature,” Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period, ed. Michael E. Stone, in Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum (Assen: Van Gorcum and Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984), 412-414.
  • [54] Flusser, “Matthew’s ‘Verus Israel,’” Judaism, 567-568.

Unlocking the Synoptic Problem: Four Keys for Better Understanding Jesus

The above image shows a first or second-century C.E. bronze key from Tel Shosh near Kibbutz Mishmar ha-Emek photographed at the Israel Museum by Joshua N. Tilton.

Over several decades of laboring in the Greek texts of the Synoptic Gospels, I have come to recognize four keys for gaining a correct perspective of Jesus. These four keys, when applied properly to the Synoptic Gospels, help significantly in bringing Jesus and his teachings into focus.

Hebrew Beneath the Greek

The first key is command of the biblical languages. Note my use of the plural—“languages.” Knowledge of only Greek is not sufficient for studying the Gospels. In 1959 when preparing a Hebrew translation of the Gospel of Mark,[1] I discovered that much of Mark’s text could be translated readily into Hebrew without changing the word order. This attracted my attention since Greek is a language whose meaning is conveyed more through the forms of words than the order of words in a sentence. Hebrew, however, is a language that depends largely on syntax, or the order of words in a sentence, to convey meaning. So, when I saw Greek sentences written with a word order like that of Hebrew,[2] I began asking the question: What has caused Mark’s Greek to assume Hebrew syntax?

Keys in the time of Jesus were inserted into the keyhole, unlocking the door latch from the inside. Illustration by Helen Twena.

Word order was not the only Hebraism I noticed in Mark and the other two Synoptic Gospels. Hebrew idioms were also plentiful. For example, Jesus frequently talked about the kingdom of heaven. The Greek ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν (hē basileia tōn ouranōn, “the kingdom of the heavens”) is a slavishly literal rendering of the Hebrew expression מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם (malchūt shāmayim, “kingdom of heavens”). In Hebrew the expression is literally “kingdom of heavens.” The conspicuous plural, “heavens,” is preserved in the Greek τῶν οὐρανῶν (tōn ouranōn, “of the heavens”).[3]

“Kingdom of heaven” and several other Hebrew idioms found in the synoptic tradition do not belong to biblical Hebrew. This raises another interesting question: If these idioms do not have antecedents in biblical Hebrew, whence do they come?

The Hebraic idioms and grammatical elements that I saw in the Greek of the Gospels compelled me to conclude that the synoptic tradition stems from a source that was initially composed in Hebrew and then translated rather woodenly to Greek. Moreover, the presence of idioms which do not appear in the Hebrew Bible suggests that the first story of Jesus was written in a post-biblical style of Hebrew, a style that is known today as Mishnaic Hebrew. This assessment dovetails nicely with the testimony of Papias, bishop of Hierapolis in Asia Minor in the mid-second century A.D: “Matthew recorded in the Hebrew language the words of the Lord, and each person translated them as best he could.”[4] The presence of post-biblical Hebraisms embedded in the Greek of the Gospels also rails against explaining the Hebraic Greek of the synoptic tradition as being an imitation of the Septuagint’s Greek.[5] If the writers of Matthew, Mark and Luke (especially Luke) were imitating the Greek of the Septuagint, which reflects Hebrew idioms originating in biblical Hebrew, how could they produce Greek reflecting idioms found only in post-biblical Hebrew?[6]

One final comment about Hebrew idioms: Most scholars tend to speak of the Semitisms of the Gospels as stemming from Aramaic and not Hebrew.[7] Although I suspect that Jesus could converse in Aramaic, I do not believe this language was the one in which he preferred to teach. Why? As my friend and colleague, David Flusser, has pointed out, while there are sayings of Jesus in the Gospels that can be retranslated into both Hebrew and Aramaic, and some that can only be retranslated to Hebrew, there are none that can only be retranslated to Aramaic.[8] Furthermore, rabbinic parables were always told in Hebrew.[9] The same is very likely true for the parables of Jesus.

The Last Shall Be First

The second key is a correct understanding of the interrelationship of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Today, the vast majority of New Testament scholars assume that Mark was the first evangelist to write a gospel. Scholars who embrace this assumption are called Markan priorists. Markan priorists also believe that when compiling their accounts, Matthew and Luke independently copied Mark’s Gospel. I was once a Markan priorist because I had been trained in that mode of thinking as a seminary student. After working for several years with the Greek texts of Matthew, Mark and Luke to produce a new Hebrew translation of Mark, I simply had to abandon the conventional synoptic wisdom. Instead, I became a Lukan priorist.

When reading the first three Gospels, we should try to read synoptically. In other words, when reading a story in one Gospel, we should keep an eye on the same story in the other Gospel, or Gospels, if the story is repeated. A story that is repeated in Matthew, Mark and Luke is said to belong to the Triple Tradition. A story that is repeated in Matthew and Luke, but not in Mark, is said to belong to the Double Tradition.

Triple Tradition

SynopticStatsSeventy-seven stories are shared by all three Synoptic Gospels. Fifty-nine of these seventy-seven Triple Tradition stories appear in the same order. For example, the Healing of the Paralytic (Matt. 9:1-8, and parallels), the Call of Levi (Matt. 9:9-13, and parallels), the Question about Fasting (Matt. 9:14-17, and parallels) have all been placed in the same spot in the general chronological skeleton of the synoptic tradition. So, in the Triple Tradition, Matthew, Mark and Luke achieved a high degree of consistency in ordering their stories.

The other nineteen stories of the Triple Tradition do not share a common order. For example, Luke placed Jesus’ visit to the synagogue in Nazareth near the beginning of his Gospel (Luke 4:16-30), whereas Matthew and Mark placed it near the middle of their accounts (Matt. 13:54-58; Mark 6:1-6a). The positioning of these nineteen Triple Tradition units in the overall synoptic framework is, however, always identical in two of the Gospels: Matthew and Mark agree on the placement of eleven stories against Luke; Mark and Luke agree on the placement of eight stories against Matthew. (There are no instances where Matthew and Luke agree on story placement against Mark.) This pattern of agreement in the Triple Tradition indicates that the authors of Matthew, Mark and Luke copied from each other.

Double Tradition

Leaving the Triple Tradition and moving to the Double Tradition, we see a different picture. There are forty-two stories that are common to Matthew and Luke,[10] yet only one of these stories is placed in the same order by both writers! That one story is “John’s Preaching of Repentance” (Matt. 3:7-10; Luke 3:7-9). This story appears at the beginning of both Matthew and Luke, the second story in their common story outline.

Of these forty-two stories common to Matthew and Luke in the Double Tradition, twenty-four do not have a high overlap in vocabulary.[11] The remaining eighteen, however, display a stunning degree of verbal agreement. For example, the saying about serving two masters appears in Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13, each of the versions in a different context: Matthew has the saying as part of his Sermon on the Mount discourse. Luke, on the other hand, has the saying appended to a parable about an unfaithful but shrewd servant. Although the saying, which is twenty-seven words in length, appears in different contexts in Matthew and Luke, the only disagreement in wording is the addition of οἰκέτης (oiketēs, household slave) in Luke’s version.

Markan Cross-Factor Diagram
Markan Cross-Factor Diagram

Markan Cross-Factor

The sum total of these observations results in what I call the “Markan Cross-Factor.”[12] In Triple Tradition, the presence of Mark prevents Matthew and Luke from agreeing extensively on wording, but allows Matthew and Luke to agree on the placement of stories. In Double Tradition, Mark’s absence prevents Matthew and Luke from agreeing on the placement of stories, but allows them to agree on wording. The only way Mark could have generated this pattern of divergence and convergence is if he stands between Matthew and Luke. Thus, the synoptic order of dependency must be either Matthew → Mark → Luke, or Luke → Mark → Matthew.

Mark’s method of reworking his Gospel source offers clues which allow us to determine that Luke → Mark → Matthew correctly delineates the line of dependency and interrelationship of the synoptic tradition. When translating Mark’s Gospel, I encountered certain repeated words and expressions that resisted translation into Hebrew. The best example of such an expression is καὶ εὐθύς (kai evthūs, “and immediately”). The word εὐθύς (evthūs, “immediately”) appears in Mark forty-two times, but only once in Luke 6:49! Moreover, Mark and Luke never agree on the use of this expression. There is no parallel in Mark opposite Luke’s lone example of evthūs; it occurs in a Double Tradition context. On the other hand, the un-Hebraic evthūs finds expression in Matthew’s Gospel in seven verses, all with parallels in Mark.[13] This pattern suggests to me that Mark is reworking Luke, and Matthew copying Mark.

The example of kai evthūs is one of many that could be listed to demonstrate Mark’s habit of altering Luke’s wording. Mark’s method of reworking Luke’s Gospel includes synonymic interchanges, supplemental details and the lifting of words and phrases from other sources, which include other books of the New Testament, books of the Hebrew Scriptures, and even extra-canonical literature.[14]

Now, if Mark is changing Luke’s wording, and these changes find expression in Matthew’s text because Matthew is dependent on Mark, then this should impact the way we read the synoptic tradition. To get back to the truest representation of Jesus in the synoptic tradition, we should rely more heavily on Matthew and Luke. In the Triple Tradition, as a general rule, Luke’s text is superior to that of Matthew and Mark, except where Matthew departs from Mark’s wording. When Matthew departs from Mark’s wording, his texts are often very easy to translate into good idiomatic Hebrew, an indication that the material is stemming from an early Hebrew source. In the Double Tradition, when Matthew and Luke’s wording is in high agreement, both gospel writers have preserved material that shows relatively few traces of editing in the Greek stages of transmission. Where Matthew and Luke’s Gospels display low agreement in wording in the Double Tradition, Matthew’s version is usually preferable to Luke’s.[15]

Pre-synoptic Sources

The third key for bringing Jesus and his teachings into focus is recognizing that Luke used two and not one written source. One source was an unabridged scroll that clumped events from the life of Jesus, his teachings and his parables in an anthology-like format. That is, incidents were grouped in one place, teachings in a different place, and parables in still another. This arrangement obfuscated the original, chronological order of the life of Jesus. No one knows what motivated the writer of the Anthology to break up the original story order. One suggestion is that the new arrangement was intended to facilitate lectionary readings in the early church.[16] The material preserved in this scroll is of high historical value for trying to view Jesus against the backdrop of Second Temple-period Judaism. When this material percolates through the Synoptic Gospels, we may have in Jesus’ speech a Greek translation of the original Hebrew words he spoke. A good example is Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. In fact, the eminent Jewish philosopher Martin Buber used to cup his hand to his ear as he read passages from the Sermon on the Mount to his students in Jerusalem and whisper, “If you listen carefully, you can hear Jesus speaking Hebrew!”

As we attempt to look through Luke's gospel at its two sources, our view of the Anthology is sometimes obscured by the First Reconstruction (the scroll closer to Luke). Illustration by Helen Twena.
As we attempt to look through Luke’s gospel at its two sources, our view of the Anthology is sometimes obscured by the First Reconstruction (the scroll closer to Luke). Illustration by Helen Twena.

Out of this longer, anthologically arranged scroll came a second, shorter scroll. Whoever compiled this second scroll used the Anthology as his primary source. (One can see this by examining the Lukan Doublets: one of each pair apparently has been copied from the longer, more Hebraic Anthology; the other, a revision of the first, has been copied from Luke’s second source, the shorter First Reconstruction.) The new work imparted to the Life of Jesus an artificial, chronological framework and retained a large number of Jesus’ aphorisms. The writer of this new, abridged text reworked the material from the longer scroll. He, in my judgment, is responsible for spawning such ideas in the synoptic tradition as the “Messianic Secret” (the idea that Jesus attempted to conceal his messiahship),[17] and the idea that the kingdom of God and the Parousia are synonymous.[18]

Lukan Doublets

It was the “Lukan Doublets” which lead me to the conclusion that two distinct sources lay underneath Luke’s text. (The term doublet refers to a saying or story that is repeated in a Gospel.) As a rule, one component of a Lukan Doublet falls in Luke 8-9, and the other in chapters 11-12, 14, 17 and 19 of Luke. The components of the Lukan Doublets that appear in Luke 8-9 usually are found in parallel passages in Mark’s Gospel, whereas the components of the doublets that appear in Luke 11-12, 14, 17 and 19 do not have parallels in Mark’s Gospel. Markan priorists tend to explain this in terms of Luke’s copying the first doublet component from Mark and the second from a source designated “Q.” There is, however, evidence to suggest that Mark copied the first set of doublet components from Luke and opted to omit the second set of components because of redundancy. Luke did not mind repeating, but Mark apparently felt differently.

The author of Mark almost never copies from the Anthology, preferring to rework those parts of Luke that show hints of chronology. Illustration by Helen Twena.
The author of Mark almost never copies from the Anthology, preferring to rework those parts of Luke that show hints of chronology. Illustration by Helen Twena.

The two sources upon which Luke relied, namely, the longer, anthologically arranged text, and the shorter, reconstructed text, are what generated the doublets in Luke. Luke copied one doublet component from the first source, and the other from the second source. The components Luke copied from the first source, the longer account, are still found embedded in their original contexts, while the components Luke copied from the second source, the shorter account, are dislocated aphorisms grouped together in lists.[19] The doublet components stemming from the longer account show few or no indications of Greek stylization. The aphorisms of the shorter account, however, show traces of literary refinement to bring them in line with good, idiomatic Greek.

This enables us to understand why in the forty-two Double Tradition stories there are eighteen that display a remarkable overlap in wording between Matthew and Luke, and twenty-four that do not. The longer, anthological text, which Matthew and Luke shared as a common source, allowed the high verbal agreement in the case of the eighteen. The shorter, reconstructed text, which only Luke knew, was the source of the verbal disparity in the case of the twenty-four. In other words, in the eighteen instances Matthew and Luke were copying the same source—the longer account; but in the twenty-four, Matthew copied the longer account and Luke the shorter account.

“Minor” Agreements

The author of Matthew copies from the Anthology and from Mark. When he finds that both sources have the same story, he weaves the two versions together as he writes his own. Illustration by Helen Twena.
The author of Matthew copies from the Anthology and from Mark. When he finds that both sources have the same story, he weaves the two versions together as he writes his own. Illustration by Helen Twena.

Luke’s two sources resolve a conflict in the Triple Tradition material that has taxed the credibility of Markan priority—the minor agreements of Matthew and Luke. Markan priorists maintain that Matthew and Luke copied Mark independently. If so, one would expect Matthew and Luke to agree in wording against Mark rarely, if ever. Such agreement against Mark would be a matter of remarkable coincidence. This, however, is not the case. Matthew and Luke agree frequently against Mark in the Triple Tradition.[20] These agreements are not lengthy, usually involving only a word or two. Therefore, in one sense, it is not incorrect to call them “minor”; but Markan priorists attempt to downplay these agreements, and refer to them as “minor” to imply their insignificance.

The stemma that Markan priorists propose to delineate the interrelationship of the Synoptic Gospels cannot adequately accommodate the minor agreements.[21] The stemma I propose can explain the minor agreements. In the Triple Tradition, whenever Matthew abandoned Mark’s lead and briefly copied from the longer, anthological scroll, Matthew and Luke were able to agree against Mark in wording. But when Matthew copied from Mark, Matthew and Luke could not achieve agreement.[22]

Putting the Scroll Together

The fourth key is recognizing that there are congruent units, separated in the synoptic tradition, that must be recombined in order to be appreciated fully. In the original Hebrew biography of Jesus there apparently was a pattern to a number of gospel stories: 1) an incident that involved Jesus; 2) a teaching that he spun out of the incident; and 3) a pair of parables to reinforce the teaching.

The basic source common to Matthew, Mark and Luke is the longer, anthological text. It should not be confused with what scholars call Q, the source of the Double Tradition, since traces of Q-like material—the “minor agreements”—find expression in the Triple Tradition, too.

The shorter, reconstructed text was derived from the longer, anthological text. This reconstructed text lies behind the doublet components of Luke 8-9, Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer, Luke’s Sermon on the Mount, and other passages. The editor of this collection of excerpts apparently lifted various units from the anthological text in an attempt to give the essence of Jesus’ life and teaching. He was certainly a Greek writer working with Greek materials, and he edited these texts in a way that impressed Luke.

The chronological order of the Gospels was obscured by the writer of the anthological text. Therefore, whatever chronological framework Luke received from his two sources, he got from the reconstructed text. Mark read Luke and was influenced by Luke’s ordering of story units. He copied from Luke most of the stories that had some sort of chronological arrangement. Matthew did not know Luke or the shorter, reconstructed text, but based his story order on Mark’s Gospel, and drew extensively from the anthological text.

Longer Stories

In 1979 in a seminar at the Hebrew University conducted by Professor David Flusser, I accidentally, or perhaps more accurately, providentially, combined Luke 5:27-32 with Luke 15:4-10. In the first passage, answering his critics, Jesus states that he has come not to call saints but sinners to repentance. This is exactly the point of two parables found ten chapters later in Luke. Jesus’ answer, a statement of his mission to the outcasts of society, and the two parables, illustrations of his statement, probably were spoken on the same occasion and constituted a single unit.[23]

The discovery that many short synoptic units may be dislocated parts of longer stories, and that we can sometimes restore these stories by joining their scattered parts, has vast implications. After the first joining of two distant passages, I and several of my students continued to attempt restoring longer stories from passages in Matthew and Luke. To date, over a dozen such stories have been identified.[24] As a rule, these stories have three elements: opening incident, discourse of Jesus, and two final parables.

When the writer of the longer, anthological text began to reorganize the Greek translation of the Hebrew biography of Jesus, he first took the beginning of each story—the incident—and wrote it down anew in a collection of such incidents. He then took the discourses from each story and placed them in the second part of his collection. Finally, he gathered all the parables and put them in a section of their own.[25]

Thus, this collection perhaps contained the entire story of Jesus, but without its earlier, more chronological form. The author of the shorter, reconstructed text noticed, as did, no doubt, the Synoptic Gospel writers, that the Anthology contained hints of a former chronological biography of Jesus. He attempted to reconstruct part of that biography using excerpts from the Anthology. Luke saw what the reconstructor had done, and used the reconstructor’s text for the outline of his Gospel. Mark and Matthew followed suit, also trying to give their accounts chronological order, although without a first-hand acquaintance with the reconstructed text.


The four keys enumerated above are crucial for resolving the difficulties presented by the Synoptic Problem. Though an erudite subject that disinterests most Christians, the Synoptic Problem—the interrelationship of Matthew, Mark and Luke—impacts even simple, pious men and women sitting in the pews. Why? When people read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, they instinctively tend to harmonize them. Thus, a story like the so-called “Cleansing of the Temple,” which appears in all four Gospels, is primarily understood in light of the account with the strongest voice and most details. In this case, John’s testimony (John 2:13-17) overwhelms Luke’s (Luke 19:46-47). But if, in fact, Luke 19:46-47 has preserved the truer picture of Jesus, then we are unwittingly placing certain expectations on John’s account that it cannot fulfill.

This example serves well to communicate the point: Our perception of Jesus and, ultimately, the efforts we make at putting his teaching into practice, are based upon the stories we read in the Gospels. That brings us face to face with the Synoptic Problem.

The first three keys help isolate those strata of the synoptic tradition that provide the truest historical sketch of Jesus. Like a metal detector, which buzzes when it passes over precious metal buried beneath the soil’s surface, the first key, the Hebrew language key, points to Jesus’ words encased in the slavishly rendered Greek of the Synoptic Gospels.

The next two keys, a correct understanding of the interrelationship of the Synoptic Gospels and Luke’s use of two written sources, help in isolating the magnificent, highly Hebraic material originating in the Anthology. This material has percolated through several stages of transmission in the synoptic tradition and has found expression primarily in Matthew and Luke. As a general rule, in Triple Tradition, Luke’s text is more reliable than the text of Mark and Matthew. In Double Tradition, Matthew’s text is usually superior to Luke’s text in the twenty-four story units that do not have high verbal agreement with Luke. In the eighteen remaining Double Tradition units, Matthew and Luke are equally reliable.

A helpful way to envision the task of trying to gain glimpses of the older, anthological account might be to imagine an eclipse of the sun. The sun represents the older account, which contains the highly Hebraic stories of Jesus, and the moon the reworked, shorter account. The shorter account eclipses our view of the older account. Happily, it is possible through dedicated linguistic study to understand the nature of these two basic sources of the synoptic tradition and how and where they find expression in our Gospels.

The fourth key—recognizing that in the Synoptic Gospels there are scattered story units that were once part of a congruent whole—assists to some degree in recovering the lost chronological framework. Early in the transmission process, the chronological skeleton was blurred by the hand of the Anthology’s compiler. The author of the shorter account, as well as Luke, as he himself tells us in his prologue (Luke 1:3), tried to restore a sense of chronology. Not having access to the original Hebrew scroll or its Greek translation, Luke’s chronological outline was not completely accurate, as the placement of the Double Tradition units clearly demonstrates. Through careful linguistic and literary analysis, however, further progress can be made in gaining a better understanding of the Hebrew scroll’s chronology.

The process of implementing these keys to unlock the Synoptic Problem is sometimes like wandering in a desert—dry and grueling. Acquiring the necessary linguistic skills requires decades of disciplined study. Mastering biblical and mishnaic Hebrew and Koine Greek is no short-term goal. But, in the end, the reward far exceeds the sacrifice: a clearer picture of Jesus, a renewed appreciation of his teaching regarding his father in heaven and the explosive redemptive movement he was leading, which he called the kingdom of heaven.

Editors’ note: Out of esteem for our teacher, Robert Lindsey, we have collaborated to make this article and his “Paraphrastic Gospels” (Jerusalem Perspective 51 [Apr.-Jun. 1996], 10-15) available to our readers. These articles mark the end of Robert Lindsey’s scholarly career. With his health waning and incapacitated by a series of strokes that accompanied the diabetes from which he suffered, Dr. Lindsey was able to complete only a first or second draft of each article. Though we could not preserve Dr. Lindsey’s writing style, great effort was made to preserve faithfully the content of his articles. We are responsible for the articles’ conclusions and footnotes. – David Bivin and Joseph Frankovic


The Power of the Anthology

In addition to internal evidence within the Synoptic Gospels for an earlier Hebrew biography and its Greek translation, there is good reason to suppose that the immediate sources of the Synoptic Gospels were: 1) the Anthology, and 2) the First Reconstruction. The Anthology was a compilation made by separating and dividing the story units of the Greek translation. The First Reconstruction was an abridgment and revision of the Anthology.

Luke was the only gospel writer who had the First Reconstruction before him. He copied some story units from it, and some from the Anthology. Mark, knowing both the Anthology and Luke, was able to select from Luke’s Gospel those passages that Luke had copied from the First Reconstruction. Matthew also knew the Anthology, and inserted many of its stories into the skeleton of stories he borrowed from Mark.

Thus, from the perspective of Lindsey’s hypothesis, the Synoptic Gospels point back to one basic source—the Anthology. — the Editors

  • [1] For an account of my attempts to translate the Gospel of Mark, see Robert L. Lindsey, A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark (2nd ed.; Jerusalem: Dugith Publishers, 1973), 9-65; Lindsey, Jesus, Rabbi and Lord: A Lifetime’s Search for the Meaning of Jesus’ Words, 25-27.
  • [2] Compare, for example, Luke 4:33: “And rebuked him [the demon] Jesus saying….” The sentence begins with “and” followed by the principal verb, and then the subject—typical Hebrew word order.
  • [3] Other examples of Hebrew idioms embedded in the Greek text of the Synoptic Gospels are: “bad eye” (Matt. 6:23); “bind” and “loose” (Matt. 16:19); “cast out your name evil” (Luke 6:22); “lay these sayings in your ears” (Luke 9:44); “set his face to go” (Luke 9:51); “give a ring on his hand” (Luke 15:22); and “lifted up his eyes and saw” (Luke 16:23). See David Bivin and Roy B. Blizzard, Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus (2nd ed.; Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, 1994), 55-65, 103-109, 115-117, 119-126.
  • [4] Papias’ work is not extant, but he is quoted by Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History III 39, 16. See Joseph Frankovic, “Pieces to the Synoptic Puzzle: Papias and Luke 1:1-4,” Jerusalem Perspective 40 (Sept./Oct. 1993): 12.
  • [5] James Hope Moulton speaks of “Luke’s many imitations of OT Greek” (J. H. Moulton and W. F. Howard, A Grammar of New Testament Greek [3rd ed.; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1908], 2:18). At English universities a hundred years ago scholars of the classics commonly derided New Testament scholars as students of “Holy Ghost” Greek rather than the bona fide Greek of Plato and Aristotle.
  • [6] Such well-known expressions as בָּשָׂר וָדָם (sār vādām, “flesh and blood”) and מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם (malchūt shāmayim, “kingdom of heavens”) are not found in the Hebrew Scriptures.
  • [7] New Testament scholarship is so inculcated with the supposition that a first-century Jew living in Israel could not have spoken Hebrew as a common, daily language that some translations render τῇ Ἑβραΐδι διαλέκτῳ (tē Hebraidi dialektō, “in the Hebrew dialect”), which appears in Acts 21:40, Acts 22:2 and Acts 26:14, as “in Aramaic.” See Jehoshua M. Grintz, “Hebrew as the Spoken and Written Language in the Last Days of the Second Temple,” Journal of Biblical Literature 79 (1960): 32-47; Shmuel Safrai, “Spoken Languages in the Time of Jesus,” Jerusalem Perspective 30 (Jan./Feb. 1991): 3-8, 13; Safrai, “Literary Languages in the Time of Jesus,” Jerusalem Perspective 31 (Mar./Apr. 1991): 3-8.
  • [8] David Flusser, Jewish Sources in Early Christianity (New York: Adama Books, 1987), 11. Cf. Randall Buth, “Hebrew Poetic Tenses and the Magnificat,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 21 (1984): 67-83; Buth, “Luke 19:31-34, Mishnaic Hebrew, and Bible Translation: Is κύριοι τοῦ πῶλου Singular?” Journal of Biblical Literature 104 (1985): 680-85; David Bivin, “ The Syndicated Donkey,” Jerusalem Perspective 5 (Feb. 1988): 1-2.
  • [9] See Safrai, “Literary Languages in the Time of Jesus”: 5; Brad H. Young, Jesus and His Jewish Parables: Rediscovering the Roots of Jesus’ Teaching (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1989), 42; Bivin and Blizzard.Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus, 7-14, 46-51.
  • [10] There are 42 Double Tradition pericopae when counting according to Matthean story order, and 32 when counting by Lukan story order.
  • [11] Examples of stories common to Matthew and Luke in the Double Tradition that exhibit low verbal agreement are “The Beatitudes” (Matt. 5:3-10; Luke 6:20-21) and “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4).
  • [12] See Lindsey, “An Introduction to Synoptic Studies,” subheading, “The Markan Cross-Factor,” Jerusalem Perspective 22 (Sept./Oct. 1989), 10-11.
  • [13] Matt. 3:16 (= Mark 1:10); Matt. 13:20 (= Mark 4:16); Matt. 13:21 (= Mark 14:17); Matt. 14:27 (= Mark 6:50); Matt. 21:2 (= Mark 11:2); Matt. 21:3 (= Mark 11:3); Matt. 26:74 (= Mark 14:72).
  • [14] See Lindsey, “Paraphrastic Gospels,” footnote 7.
  • [15] At these points, Luke’s text is less Semitic than Matthew’s, and it is presumed that Luke is drawing his text from the First Reconstruction, a revision of the earlier Anthology.
  • [16] Young, Jesus and His Jewish Parables, 145.
  • [17] This notion was put forward by William Wrede in his Das Messiasgeheimnis in den Evangelien (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1901). English translation: The Messianic Secret (trans. J. C. B. Grieg; Cambridge: J. Clarke and Greenwood, SC: Attic Press, 1971).
  • [18] Lindsey, “The Messianic Secret, the Parousia, and the Synoptic Problem,” audio cassette (Tulsa, OK: HaKesher, 1990).
  • [19] Two such lists of aphorisms appear in Luke 8:16-18 and Luke 9:23-27. For the aphorisms’ parallels embedded in longer contexts, cf. Luke 11:33; Luke 12:2-9 (vss. 2, 9); Luke 14:26-33 (vs. 27); Luke 17:22-37 (vs. 33); and Luke 19:12-27 (vs. 26).
  • [20] In his unpublished Ph.D. dissertation (“The Direction of Dependence between Mark and Luke” [Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1995], 34-37), Halvor Ronning has noted 1,163 words involved in the Matthean-Lukan minor agreements. This amounts to 17.4% of the words in Matthew’s Triple Tradition material and 17.9% of Luke’s. Yet there are also over 2,000 words of Mark in Triple Tradition that are not found in the Matthean and Lukan parallels (i.e., Matthean-Lukan agreements against Mark in omission). According to the theory of Markan priority, this would mean that as they copied Mark’s account, Matthew and Luke independently decided to drop these 2,000 words at exactly the same points in their parallels to Mark.

    E. P. Sanders and Margaret Davies point out that in the Healing of the Paralytic story (Matt. 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26), for instance, counting both positive and negative agreements, Matthew and Luke agree against Mark in twenty-nine Greek words. In one nine-word verse (Mark 2:3, and parallels), Matthew and Luke agree six times against Mark (Studying the Synoptic Gospels [London: SCM Press and Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1989], 71).

  • [21] Sanders and Davies state, “The minor agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark in the triple tradition have always constituted the Achilles’ heel of the two-source hypothesis. There are virtually no triple tradition pericopes without such agreements” (Studying the Synoptic Gospels, 67). Sanders and Davies define “two-source hypothesis” as “belief in the priority of Mark and the existence of ‘Q,’ a symbol for the source which supposedly lies behind the Matthew-Luke double tradition” (65). Cf. E. P. Sanders, “The Overlaps of Mark and Q and the Synoptic Problem,” New Testament Studies 19 (1973): 453-65; Nigel Turner, “The Minor Verbal Agreements of Mt. and Lk. Against Mk.,” Studia Evangelica 73 (1959): 223-34.
  • [22] The minor agreements assist in clarifying the heavy dependence of Luke on two non-Markan sources, the editorial tendencies of Mark, the behavior of Matthew when confronted with more than one parallel text, and the nature of the anthological source. See Lindsey, A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark, 17-18.
  • [23] See Lindsey, “Jesus’ Twin Parables,” Jerusalem Perspective 41 (Nov./Dec. 1993): 3-6, 12.
  • [24] For a list of these stories, see Lindsey, “Jesus’ Twin Parables”: 6.
  • [25] The clumping of parables is still visible in Matt. 13.