This will conclude Chapter 5. We change gears a bit, moving from miraculous healings to more human teaching and human interaction. There’s a bit of a kick at the end, though.
27 Καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα ἐξῆλθεν καὶ ἐθεάσατο τελώνην ὀνόματι Λευὶν καθήμενον ἐπὶ τὸ τελώνιον, καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Ἀκολούθει μοι.
28 καὶ καταλιπὼν πάντα ἀναστὰς ἠκολούθει αὐτῷ.
29 Καὶ ἐποίησεν δοχὴν μεγάλην Λευὶς αὐτῷ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ: καὶ ἦν ὄχλος πολὺς τελωνῶν καὶ ἄλλων οἳ ἦσαν μετ’ αὐτῶν κατακείμενοι.
30 καὶ ἐγόγγυζον οἱ Φαρισαῖοι καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς αὐτῶν πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ λέγοντες, Διὰ τί μετὰ τῶν τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν ἐσθίετε καὶ πίνετε;
31 καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς, Οὐ χρείαν ἔχουσιν οἱ ὑγιαίνοντες ἰατροῦ ἀλλὰ οἱκακῶς ἔχοντες:
32 οὐκ ἐλήλυθα καλέσαι δικαίους ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτωλοὺς εἰς μετάνοιαν.
And after these things he came and he beheld a tax collector named Levi seated among the tax collectors and he (Jesus) said to him, “Follow me”. (28) And leaving all of them behind, standing he (Levi) followed him (Jesus). (29) And he made a great reception/feast (root of the word is “spectacle”) in his house. And there was a many crowd of tax collectors and others who were with him reclining (i.e., reclining to eat). (30) And murmured the Pharisees and the scribes of them (the general crowd) towards the disciples of him (Jesus) saying, “On what account with the tax collectors and of the sinners does he eat and drink?” (31) And answering Jesus said to them, “The healthy do not need having a healer, but those having diseases. (32) I have not come to call the just, but the sinners towards repentance.”
Directly out of the gate we run into a situation where Luke once again agrees with Mark and ignores the change made by Matthew. Of the three, Matthew alone says that Levi’s was also called Matthew, while Luke & Mark neglect to add this. It is based on this slender reed that the first gospel was ascribed to Matthew, the thinking being that the Matthew named here was the same man as the evangelist. Of course, if we accept the later date (ca. 85) for the composition of that gospel, the equation of the two is well-nigh, but not completely, impossible. Either way, the agreement of #2 and #3, of course, is evidence for Q. Then, at the very end, Luke adds something that is not in either of the first two: calling the sinner to repent. Here again, Luke follows Mark, where Jesus utters this aphorism in this same context, while eating with tax collectors. In Matthew, this comes later, in Chapter 9, when the disciples of John come to question Jesus if he is the one.
As I’ve been working my way through these books of the NT, one thing that has consistently surprised me is the extent to which so much of the “Christian” morality code was taken over directly from Judaism. One aspect in particular that has stood out is the concept of social justice, of caring for those less fortunate. Of course, this surprise is the result of a good Christian (Roman Rite) upbringing, in which Christians were all-good, and Jews were, well, something less than that. Here’s another reason why having people actually read the Bible was not necessarily desirable for about a thousand years. As for my education on the matter, better late than never, I suppose. The point, however, is that I have the sense that what we are witnessing here is novel. Jesus is consorting with tax collectors. These are not lepers, or the poor, but the rich, and the despised rich. “Collaborate” has been a buzz-word in the corporate world for the past handful of years, but where I come from “collaborator” was not a term of praise. Quite the opposite. A collaborator was a quisling, or in America a Benedict Arnold. I’m reading a book about Vichy France, where the government collaborated with the Nazis after 1940, and some of these collaborators were executed for their pains. Just so, tax collectors were collaborators, working with the Romans to collect taxes from the subject population. It made them wealthy, yes, but it also made them outcast, to some extent anyway, among the Jewish population. So Jesus is not consorting with the poor, those who have no means, but with those who have an excess of means, mostly extorted from fellow compatriots. This, I believe, is new, a new proscription for behaviour. That the sick, not the healthy need a doctor, just so it’s the sinners who need to repent.
I don’t mean to say that the idea of repenting is Christian; far from it. The idea of the Chosen People repenting their sins and turning back to YHWH is one of the most constant themes found in the HS. Rather, it’s the idea of who is doing, or should be doing the repentance. Sinners, yes, but mainly to the extent that respectable persons are sinners, and it’s the respectable who should repent. Or have I picked that up from observing too much American Christianity? With it’s claims to love Jesus while kicking the poor when they’re down? I think the distinction comes with the transition from the idea of a corporate repentance, that of the Chosen People as a body, to the idea of individual repentance, where the individual sinner changes his way of thinking (metanoeite in Greek) and thereby changes the way he or she behaves. That, I think, is the novelty–and the ultimate appeal–of Christianity, the reason it, rather than Mithraism, became the dominant religion in the later Roman Empire: the individual salvation. Even then, Christians did not invent the concept; this is something that many Hellenistic religions practiced. As some of the more collective cults were swallowed up, cults of Isis, for example, filled in the void for the individual seeking some sort of religious experience. Christianity was the heir and successor of these “Eastern Mystery Religions” as they’ve been called. And here we see the marriage of this idea to that of the universal siblinghood professed by the Stoics. We are all siblings, we can all find…some sort of ultimate religious experience. My inclination is to say “redemption”, but this has a very specific origin and etymology. It’s the redeeming of a pawn pledge, the buying back of an item from the pawn broker. That is what “redemption” means. But a more generic term escapes me at the moment.
27 Et post haec exiit et vidit publicanum nomine Levi sedentem ad teloneum et ait illi: “Sequere me”.
28 Et relictis omnibus, surgens secutus est eum.
29 Et fecit ei convivium magnum Levi in domo sua; et erat turba multa publicanorum et aliorum, qui cum illis erant discumbentes.
30 Et murmurabant pharisaei et scribae eorum adversus discipulos eius dicentes: “Quare cum publicanis et peccatoribus manducatis et bibitis?”.
31 Et respondens Iesus dixit ad illos: “Non egent, qui sani sunt, medico, sed qui male habent.
32 Non veni vocare iustos sed peccatores in paenitentiam”.
33 Οἱ δὲ εἶπαν πρὸς αὐτόν, Οἱ μαθηταὶ Ἰωάννου νηστεύουσιν πυκνὰκαὶ δεήσεις ποιοῦνται, ὁμοίως καὶ οἱ τῶν Φαρισαίων, οἱ δὲ σοὶ ἐσθίουσιν καὶ πίνουσιν.
They said to him, “The disciples of John fast frequently (and) they make prayers, just as the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.”
Here I think is where we come upon one of the fundamental reasons why Jesus stands at the beginning of a novel tradition, while John stands in the midst of an older one that continued. This goes back to the so-called Synod of Jerusalem, when Paul and James the Just duked it out over the Jewish dietary (and other such) practices; the most notable, of course, was circumcision. And here we have what is essentially a dispute, or at least a bit of a contention, or something like an uneasiness about this. But make no mistake–this is completely an ex-post-facto insertion from a time long after Jesus was dead. We’ve discussed this; there are points in 2M where Jesus declares positively that no animal is unclean, and Peter has a dream in Acts to confirm this. Nonsense. The questions raised by the “Synod of Jerusalem” would never have been an issue if Jesus, or even Peter, had said this. That Paul admits having a disagreement with James on this topic is all the evidence that we need to know that Jesus made no such proclamation. And this question about the difference between Jesus and John’s disciples is more of the same debate, or the debate put in another format. John’s disciples stood firmly in the ancient Jewish traditions; they are just like the Pharisees, after all. The disciples of Jesus, OTOH, had started down a different path. So we get this little exchange to give pre-emptive sanction to the change of behaviour of Jesus’ later followers. Yes, they were Jews, or at least claiming the ancient heritage of Judaism, but they did not practice the whole of the Law. Galatians explained why.
33 At illi dixerunt ad eum: “Discipuli Ioannis ieiunant frequenter et obsecrationes faciunt, similiter et pharisaeorum; tui autem edunt et bibunt”.
34 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς, Μὴ δύνασθε τοὺς υἱοὺς τοῦ νυμφῶνος ἐν ᾧ ὁ νυμφίος μετ’ αὐτῶν ἐστιν ποιῆσαι νηστεῦσαι;
35 ἐλεύσονται δὲ ἡμέραι, καὶ ὅταν ἀπαρθῇ ἀπ’ αὐτῶν ὁ νυμφίος τότε νηστεύσουσιν ἐνἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις.
36 Ἔλεγεν δὲ καὶ παραβολὴν πρὸς αὐτοὺς ὅτι Οὐδεὶς ἐπίβλημα ἀπὸ ἱματίου καινοῦ σχίσας ἐπιβάλλει ἐπὶ ἱμάτιον παλαιόν: εἰ δὲ μή γε, καὶ τὸ καινὸν σχίσει καὶ τῷ παλαιῷ οὐ συμφωνήσει τὸ ἐπίβλημα τὸ ἀπὸ τοῦ καινοῦ.
Jesus said to them, “Are the sons of the bridegroom able in which (time) them the bridegroom is with them to make a fast? (35) The days will come, and when taken away from them is the bridegroom, then they will fast in those days. (36) They say the analogy towards them that ‘No one coverings of new cloth puts upon tears in an old garment; if so, will not the new tear and from the old the new covering will not agree the with the new.”
That’s some pretty gnarly grammar there. For whatever reason, I’m back on the hyper-literal kick; but this passage is so well known that there’s likely to be no harm. The word I’ve rendered as “tear”, as in “rip/rend” transliterates to “schizo”. Added to the word for mind, “phrenia”, we get a modern psychological diagnosis. And the concept of the “sons of the bridegroom” is really interesting. Not really sure what that might mean, or can mean. And the word used is “son”; it’s not “pais”, which could be “boy”, as in the sense of “servant”. It is almost always and exclusively used as “son”, as in biological progeny. So, at best, this seems to be something of a mixed metaphor. Finally, the word rendered as “analogy” transliterates to “parabolē”. It’s the root of both “parabola” and “parable”. To this point, I’ve usually given it as parable, but every once in a while it’s good to mix it up and remind everyone that “parable” is another of those words that have come to us from the Greek with a very specific, very religious meaning attached to it. That was not the case back then. And here is the danger of “New Testament Greek”; it’s too much of a closed, self-referential, and even circular set of definitions. This really, very much distorts the way we read the text if we think that “baptizo” has the special meaning that has for us. The same is true for “parable”. This was not a special word.
More interesting is that the prediction of the day to come when those sons will fast seems to contradict what went before it. We just had our bit about Jesus standing outside the Jewish tradition, but now his later followers will step back into it? I don’t think we need to read too much into this. Fasting was a fairly common religious practice. It still is, for that matter. This seems to imply that Jesus and his followers are not so far off the beaten path after all. (*See comment to next verse.)
34 Quibus Iesus ait: “ Numquid potestis convivas nuptiarum, dum cum illis est sponsus, facere ieiunare?
35 Venient autem dies; et cum ablatus fuerit ab illis sponsus, tunc ieiunabunt in illis diebus ”.
36 Dicebat autem et similitudinem ad illos: “ Nemo abscindit commissuram a vestimento novo et immittit in vestimentum vetus; alioquin et novum rumpet, et veteri non conveniet commissura a novo.
37 καὶ οὐδεὶς βάλλει οἶνον νέον εἰς ἀσκοὺς παλαιούς: εἰ δὲ μή γε, ῥήξει ὁ οἶνος ὁ νέος τοὺς ἀσκούς, καὶ αὐτὸς ἐκχυθήσεται καὶ οἱ ἀσκοὶ ἀπολοῦνται:
38 ἀλλὰ οἶνον νέον εἰς ἀσκοὺς καινοὺς βλητέον.
39 [καὶ] οὐδεὶς πιὼν παλαιὸν θέλει νέον: λέγει γάρ, Ὁ παλαιὸς χρηστός ἐστιν.
“And no one throws new wine into old skins. Indeed if it were not, the new wine would burst the old (skins), and they would spill out and the skins will be destroyed. (38) But new wine is put in new skins. (39) [And] no one drinking old wishes new. For it is said, ‘the old is good’.”
The last sentence of the last verse is unique to Luke. He added this to the text that was available to him in Mark (and Matthew, if you believe me about Q). Not sure if you can see it, but there’s also a bit of a pun involved. The word “good” is “chrestos”, which is obviously darn close to “christos”. In fact, in the Life of Nero by Suetonius, the followers of “chrestos” are blamed by the emperor for the fire of Rome in 64. I’m not sure where the misunderstanding came from; whether it was Suetonius specifically who didn’t get it, or if the upper (as in literate) classes in Rome as a whole were unclear on what Jesus’ followers called him. Was Luke possibly aware of this lack of understanding and tossed this in here as sort of a barb directed at those ignorant Romans?
The other aspect to this is that ‘the old is good’ is the reason why the followers of Jesus insisted on maintaining that connexion to Judaism. As such, perhaps this explains why the sons of the bridegroom* will fast again one day, as we heard in the previous passage above. Luke, as well as Mark and Matthew before him, understood that being old meant being venerated, while being new meant being scorned. After all, the Latin term for political revolution is “res novae”; literally, “new things”. It was not a term of endearment. So Luke took the message of 2M before him and amplified it by adding this little tag line at the end of the section, to let us know that the connexion existed, and that the christos was chrestos, and was chrestos, to some degree, because he was old. Or, his teachings were old. That gave him stature.
So Luke is very clever in the way that he did this. This style is very not-Mark, the terse journalist. And it’s not Matthew, either who was…whatever. Not sure how to summarize him. Luke is easy; he’s eloquent.
37 Et nemo mittit vinum novum in utres veteres; alioquin rumpet vinum novum utres et ipsum effundetur, et utres peribunt;
38 sed vinum novum in utres novos mittendum est.
39 Et nemo bibens vetus vult novum; dicit enim: “Vetus melius est!” ”.
This section deals with healings; first of a leper, then of a paralytic. The action left off with Simon and the sons of Zebedee are now following Jesus. But when we left off, it didn’t tell us where they were headed. Let’s find out.
12 Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτὸν ἐν μιᾷ τῶν πόλεων καὶ ἰδοὺ ἀνὴρ πλήρης λέπρας: ἰδὼν δὲ τὸν Ἰησοῦν πεσὼν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον ἐδεήθη αὐτοῦ λέγων, Κύριε, ἐὰν θέλῃς δύνασαί με καθαρίσαι.
13 καὶ ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα ἥψατο αὐτοῦ λέγων,Θέλω, καθαρίσθητι: καὶ εὐθέως ἡ λέπρα ἀπῆλθεν ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ.
14 καὶ αὐτὸς παρήγγειλεν αὐτῷ μηδενὶ εἰπεῖν, ἀλλὰ ἀπελθὼν δεῖξον σεαυτὸν τῷ ἱερεῖ, καὶ προσένεγκε περὶ τοῦ καθαρισμοῦ σου καθὼς προσέταξεν Μωϋσῆς, εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς.
15 διήρχετο δὲ μᾶλλον ὁ λόγος περὶ αὐτοῦ, καὶ συνήρχοντο ὄχλοι πολλοὶ ἀκούειν καὶ θεραπεύεσθαι ἀπὸ τῶν ἀσθενειῶν αὐτῶν:
16 αὐτὸς δὲ ἦν ὑποχωρῶν ἐν ταῖς ἐρήμοις καὶ προσευχόμενος.
And it became he to be in one of the cities and saw a man full of leprosy. Seeing Jesus, falling on his face he begged of him saying, “Lord, if you should wish, you are able to cleanse me”. (13) And stretching out his hand he touched him, saying, “I wish, be cleansed”. And immediately the leprosy went away from him. (14) And he ordered him to speak to no one, “But going away to show yourself to the priest, and give over to him about your cleansing according to the arrangement of Moses, as a witness for them”. (15) But went out more the word of him, and came together a many crowd to hear and to be healed from their diseases. (16) He was having gone away in the desert places and praying.
I have no idea what to say about this passage. It’s sort of another mash-up of several different pieces of Mark; sort of blended together and homogenized. This appears to be something of a pattern for Luke; it’s perhaps the third time he’s done it already. The result is an episode that is very familiar, and yet does not correspond exactly with a specific passage in Mark. And it is Mark he’s emulating, rather than Matthew. It has the journalistic, almost staccato style, short and to the point. And Luke includes the contradiction of Jesus admonishing the man to say nothing, but the word only spreads further. The bit about going into the desert place occurs in Mark after a spate of miracles, but there Jesus was said to be in his house, and the whole town came to his door.
That’s actually interesting. That bit of detail was the sort of thing that really gave the impression that Jesus had a house in Caphernaum, which would support the idea that he was not from Nazareth. For Luke, Jesus is from Nazareth, and that shall not be gainsaid. So here Luke deftly excises the part of the story that casts doubt on Nazareth and does not pin down the scene even in the vaguest generality. Now, if he’s willing to do that to Mark, would he not do the same for Matthew? Yes, this is about Q, and the supposed hack-job Luke does on the masterful Sermon on the Mount. We can see that Luke is very consciously following Mark, but not really. The point is, Luke is not the least bit reluctant to change anything. So to suggest that he wouldn’t mess with Matthew is, I think, rather…incorrect.
12 Et factum est, cum esset in una civitatum, et ecce vir plenus lepra; et videns Iesum et procidens in faciem rogavit eum dicens: “ Domine, si vis, potes me mundare ”.
13 Et extendens manum tetigit illum dicens: “Volo, mundare!”; et confestim lepra discessit ab illo.
14 Et ipse praecepit illi, ut nemini diceret, sed: “Vade, ostende te sacerdoti et offer pro emundatione tua, sicut praecepit Moyses, in testimonium illis”.
15 Perambulabat autem magis sermo de illo, et conveniebant turbae multae, ut audirent et curarentur ab infirmitatibus suis;
16 ipse autem secedebat in desertis et orabat.
17 Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν μιᾷ τῶν ἡμερῶν καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν διδάσκων, καὶ ἦσαν καθήμενοι Φαρισαῖοι καὶ νομοδιδάσκαλοι οἳ ἦσαν ἐληλυθότες ἐκ πάσης κώμης τῆς Γαλιλαίας καὶ Ἰουδαίας καὶ Ἰερουσαλήμ: καὶ δύναμις κυρίου ἦν εἰς τὸ ἰᾶσθαι αὐτόν.
18 καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄνδρες φέροντες ἐπὶ κλίνης ἄνθρωπον ὃς ἦν παραλελυμένος, καὶ ἐζήτουν αὐτὸν εἰσενεγκεῖν καὶ θεῖναι [αὐτὸν] ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ.
19 καὶ μὴ εὑρόντες ποίας εἰσενέγκωσιν αὐτὸν διὰ τὸν ὄχλον ἀναβάντες ἐπὶ τὸ δῶμα διὰ τῶν κεράμων καθῆκαν αὐτὸν σὺν τῷ κλινιδίῳ εἰς τὸ μέσον ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ Ἰησοῦ.
And it was on one of the days and he was teaching, and there were sitting Pharisees and teachers of the law and they were come from all the villages of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the lord was (there) towards the healing him. (18) And, look, men carrying upon a litter a man who was paralyzed, and they sought him (Jesus) and they brought the man in and placed him in front of him (Jesus). (19) And not finding what they carried him through the crowd going up upon the house and through the ceramic (roof tiles) they lowered him with his litter to the middle in front of Jesus.
Note how vaguely Matthew sets the scene. When I first read this, I thought it was taking place in a synagogue, which would explain why all the Pharisees & c. are there. But then they go up on top of the house, so obviously my impression was incorrect. In Mark this specifically took place in a house, presumably Jesus’ house if you read the story carefully. Matthew, OTOH, changed the setting completely; the venue of a house and the lowering through the roof was omitted and the man was simply brought up to Jesus. Here, we retain the part about the roof, think about this for a moment. Pharisees and teachers of the law from all parts of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem are present, seated and listening. How big is this house? Aside from palaces, or the homes of wealthy, or official residences, houses were not that large.
OK, I’ve done some down-and-dirty research on house construction in First Century Galilee. Roofs were generally open to the sky, and basically flat, with a slight pitch to allow rainwater to drain and collect in a cistern. The roof generally consisted of a sort of thatch overlaid on timbers that ran the width of the house/room. Over this was laid a layer of what is essentially thatch, but made from the local plant life. On top of this was laid a floor of something sort of like a dirt-based concrete. It became, effectively, a floor of dried mud, just as adobe is dried mud. Apparently the construction was such as it allowed the roof to be used as an open second or upper floor. There is no mention of tiles. Tiles were used further west in the Mediterranean; many Roman houses had tile roofs, especially for the more affluent. So I suspect that Luke has his roofing materials muddled. As for the size of the houses, most would not have been large enough to accommodate a crowd of any size. Some were built around a courtyard, which was a time-honored tradition in the eastern Mediterranean. The problem is that these courtyards were, well, open. That is, there was no roof, so there would be no roofing material to remove.
The point of all this is pretty straightforward. Luke is not terribly concerned with factual accuracy. If he was not from Judea or Galilee, people where he lived had tiled roofs, so of course the house Jesus was in had a tiled roof. Mark’s description of the roof material is vague to the point that it’s impossible to tell what it actually is. Mark supposedly was from somewhere other than Judea/Galilee, so he may not have known what was used, so maybe he was smart enough to fudge the details into incomprehensibility. These are the sorts of places where we see that factual accuracy was not a primary goal of the evangelists. Now, this is a small example, and it shouldn’t be overstretched, but it’s there nonetheless.
And BTW, this is one of those cases where Luke agrees with Mark rather than Matthew. As such, this provides “proof” that Luke had not read Matthew. Or, it could be that Luke felt the original setting of the story provided a more compelling setting for the tale. After all, the men carrying the litter went to a whole lot of trouble to present the paralytic to Jesus. As such, their faith was demonstrated much more effectively, IMO. So Luke could be said to be restoring that “lost” element of faith. So is Luke agreeing with Mark? Or is he correcting the story of Matthew? Given that Luke is not terribly concerned with real-world facts, such as how all these people gathered in a house, and doesn’t mind exaggerating that Pharisees and teachers of the law came from all parts of the Jewish world, and that he doesn’t seem to mind changing details of setting and story in any context, we should perhaps pay particular attention to those bits that Luke does retain.
It may be significant that this is the first time that Luke refers to the faith of the followers. It won’t be the last. This is one element of Mark that Luke does retain; how significant is it? Since it’s basically one of two such elements, I’d say it has to be significant. At this point, however, I can’t quite fathom what the significance may be. Perhaps time will tell. Remember: faith.
17 Et factum est, in una dierum, et ipse erat docens, et erant pharisaei sedentes et legis doctores, qui venerant ex omni castello Galilaeae et Iudaeae et Ierusalem; et virtus Domini erat ei ad sanandum.
18 Et ecce viri portantes in lecto hominem, qui erat paralyticus, et quaerebant eum inferre et ponere ante eum.
19 Et non invenientes qua parte illum inferrent prae turba, ascenderunt supra tectum et per tegulas summiserunt illum cum lectulo in medium ante Iesum.
20 καὶ ἰδὼν τὴν πίστιν αὐτῶν εἶπεν, Ἄνθρωπε, ἀφέωνταί σοι αἱἁμαρτίαι σου.
21 καὶ ἤρξαντο διαλογίζεσθαι οἱ γραμματεῖς καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι λέγοντες, Τίς ἐστιν οὗτος ὃς λαλεῖ βλασφημίας; τίς δύναται ἁμαρτίας ἀφεῖναι εἰ μὴ μόνος ὁ θεός;
22 ἐπιγνοὺς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοὺς διαλογισμοὺς αὐτῶν ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς, Τί διαλογίζεσθε ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν;
23 τί ἐστιν εὐκοπώτερον, εἰπεῖν, Ἀφέωνταί σοι αἱ ἁμαρτίαι σου, ἢ εἰπεῖν, Ἔγειρε καὶ περιπάτει;
24 ἵνα δὲ εἰδῆτε ὅτι ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐξουσίαν ἔχει ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἀφιέναι ἁμαρτίας εἶπεν τῷ παραλελυμένῳ, Σοὶ λέγω, ἔγειρε καὶ ἄρας τὸ κλινίδιόν σου πορεύου εἰς τὸν οἶκόν σου.
25 καὶ παραχρῆμα ἀναστὰς ἐνώπιον αὐτῶν, ἄρας ἐφ’ ὃ κατέκειτο, ἀπῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ δοξάζων τὸν θεόν.
26 καὶ ἔκστασις ἔλαβεν ἅπαντας καὶ ἐδόξαζον τὸν θεόν, καὶ ἐπλήσθησαν φόβου λέγοντες ὅτι Εἴδομεν παράδοξα σήμερον.
And seeing the faith of them he said, “Dude, have been taken away from you your sins”. (21) And they began to dialogue among themselves the scribes and the Pharisees, saying, “Who is he who says blasphemy? Who can take away sins if not only God?” (22) Jesus having recognised the discussion of them (and) answering said towards them, “What do you say in your hearts? (23) What is easier, to say “‘Taken away from your your sins have been’, or to say, ‘Get up and walk around’? (24) In order that you might know that the son of man has authority upon earth to take away sins,” he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, ‘get up and take up your bed and go to your house'”. (25) And immediately standing up in front of them, having taken up that on which he had been reclining, went away towards his house glorifying God. (26) And ecstasy took hold of all and they glorified God, and they were filled of fear, saying, “We have seen a wonder!” (transliterated = ‘paradox’).
I rather jumped the gun on the “faith” business. It wasn’t explicitly mentioned until this section. But running into it for the first time has rather caught me up short. Faith was a very persistent theme in Mark, mentioned early and often and here we are five chapters in (four and a half, would be technically correct) and only now do we encounter it. What has Luke been talking about? He’s been telling us, over and over, about Jesus’ divinity, going back to a time even before Jesus himself was actually conceived. We got the story of John, the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Temple, the Temptation, a few miracles and the calling of the first disciples by impressing them with his fishing skills. All of these emphasize and re-emphasize and repeatedly drive home that Jesus is a divine being. The first overt miracles only occur in this chapter. Perhaps they are meant to underscore this divinity. Honestly, they should be called “wonders”, since “miracle” is a completely loaded word in English, just as baptize and holy spirit are loaded.
This is a bit of an aside, but one thing just occurred to me about this section. At the beginning I noted that Jesus had called his first (and, IMO, likely his only) disciples, so we should see where they were going. As it turns out, the disciples more or less disappear from the story. And it also occurs to me that they tend to do this for long stretches, at least in Luke. We have not actually encountered the word “disciple” (Greek = learner, same with the Latin) yet, and the first time we hear it is very off-hand; the second time will be regarding the disciples of John. In fact, Mark uses the word in his shorter gospel probably as many times as Luke in his longer one. Matthew uses it dozens of times. This reticence in Luke is interesting given that Luke supposedly wrote Acts, as in Acts of the Apostles. But then, I’ve suggested that the disciples called by Jesus were not actually apostles; that the latter word is appropriate to the time after Jesus, but not during Jesus’ lifetime. Here is another way in which Luke charts his own course, independent of the other gospels.
In sum, this is another sort of mash-up of several scenes in Mark. It’s difficult to pick them apart exactly, but the pieces are there. Why does Luke do this? Because he can, I suspect. Really, it’s a matter of brevity, I think. He adds a great lot of material; he can’t repeat every little episode in full. I’ve put that out there before. Here’s something that’s just occurred to me: Does he believe that many of these individual stories do not need to be retold since they’ve already been told not once, but twice? Once by Mark and again by Matthew? Is this another bit of anti-Q evidence? It’s said that, to a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Am I a hammer, and Q has become my nail? Perhaps. The problem is, as far as I can tell, none of these aspects of the problem have ever been discussed, let alone discussed properly. This grates on me no end; what kind of a scholarly arena do we have here, where not only is the dominant position one that believes in the existence of a document for which there is absolutely no evidence, but the entire debate is predicated on the naysayers being required to prove the negative, that the document did not exist. More, the proponents have established the terms of the debate in such a way that the “substance” of the argument is based on highly subjective value judgements. Other terms of argument have not been, and seemingly cannot be considered or debated.
So this will be something to look at as we proceed.
20 Quorum fidem ut vidit, dixit: “Homo, remittuntur tibi peccata tua”.
21 Et coeperunt cogitare scribae et pharisaei dicentes: “Quis est hic, qui loquitur blasphemias? Quis potest dimittere peccata nisi solus Deus? ”.
22 Ut cognovit autem Iesus cogitationes eorum, respondens dixit ad illos: “ Quid cogitatis in cordibus vestris?
23 Quid est facilius, dicere: “Dimittuntur tibi peccata tua”, an dicere: “Surge et ambula”?
24 Ut autem sciatis quia Filius hominis potestatem habet in terra dimittere peccata — ait paralytico – : Tibi dico: Surge, tolle lectulum tuum et vade in domum tuam ”.
25 Et confestim surgens coram illis tulit, in quo iacebat, et abiit in domum suam magnificans Deum.
26 Et stupor apprehendit omnes, et magnificabant Deum; et repleti sunt timore dicentes: “Vidimus mirabilia hodie”.
Here starts Chapter 5. Perhaps this time we can talk about the text that’s here, and not about Q. While hopeful, I’m not optimistic.
1 Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ τὸν ὄχλον ἐπικεῖσθαι αὐτῷ καὶ ἀκούειν τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν ἑστὼς παρὰ τὴν λίμνην Γεννησαρέτ,
2 καὶ εἶδεν δύο πλοῖα ἑστῶτα παρὰ τὴν λίμνην: οἱ δὲ ἁλιεῖς ἀπ’ αὐτῶν ἀποβάντες ἔπλυνον τὰ δίκτυα.
There was pressing (lit = lying on top) him and to hear the word of God, and he was on the harbour (of) Gennesaret, (2) and he saw to boats standing beside the harbour. The fishermen disembarked from them washing the nets.
One of the commentaries I found noted that the body of water in question has four biblical names. We are most familiar with it as the Sea of Galilee. Lake Genneseret is another, as is Lake Tiberias, and the Sea of Chinneroth, which means “heart-shaped”, which the lake is, more or less. Genneseret is also a town on the shore of the lake, and there is an inlet forming something of a peninsula on which this town is situated. Chorazin is at the head of this inlet. Gennesaret is perhaps three miles south and west of Caphernaum along the shore of the lake. Nazareth, OTOH, is a good twenty miles (or more; not sure how accurate the scale on the map is) inland. This separation of Nazareth and the fact that most of the action in Galilee takes place in or near Capheranaum, and none of it takes place in Nazareth is a big part of the reason I think Jesus was actually from Caphernaum. As I said, Mark only mentions Nazareth once, in 1:9. Matthew mentions it thrice. Nazareth scarely plays any role in any of the narrative. The only action that is set there is Jesus return to his home town that we just read in Chapter 4.
I have translated the word as “harbour” in reference to the inlet. Based on no local topographical knowledge, but understanding the principles of geography, it would make sense that fishermen would put their boats in this inlet. Apparently, the lake is prone to sudden and violent storms, so seeking safe harbour would be something a prudent boat owner would do. Also, in this way, I don’t think Luke is actually saying that the lake is named Genneseret. It is not at all necessary, or even a good idea, to read the Greek that way. The Greek word does not naturally mean “lake”, and I tend to suspect that our biblically-trained biblical scholars rather just get this wrong. Rather, I believe that Luke is referring to this inlet that formed something of a natural harbour; and recall that boats were simply drawn up onto the beach, Such a shallow draught and corresponding lack of keel would explain why boats were particularly at risk of capsizing in a storm. There was little to nothing to hold it upright.
1 Factum est autem, cum turba urgeret illum et audiret verbum Dei, et ipse stabat secus stagnum Genesareth
2 et vidit duas naves stantes secus stagnum; piscatores autem descenderant de illis et lavabant retia.
3 ἐμβὰς δὲ εἰς ἓν τῶν πλοίων, ὃ ἦν Σίμωνος, ἠρώτησεν αὐτὸν ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς ἐπαναγαγεῖν ὀλίγον, καθίσας δὲ ἐκ τοῦ πλοίου ἐδίδασκεν τοὺς ὄχλους.
Getting onto one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him from the land to put out (into the water) a little way, sitting in the boat he taught the crowd.
A bit of a bizarre scenario. A stranger, followed by a crowd, comes down the shore and commandeers your boat. Then, he uses it was a lecture platform while you do not very much that’s useful, he having taken you away from a necessary chore of washing your nets. This is all very fanciful, and I’m not sure Luke entirely meant us to take this seriously. As with the passing through the midst of the angry mob in the synagogue, this scene feels a bit whimsical, as if Luke is deliberately playing “once upon a time”. There is a decided lack of a sense of reality in this set-up and description. IMO, at least.
3 Ascendens autem in unam navem, quae erat Simonis, rogavit eum a terra reducere pusillum; et sedens docebat de navicula turbas.
4 ὡς δὲ ἐπαύσατολαλῶν, εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Σίμωνα, Ἐπανάγαγε εἰς τὸ βάθος καὶ χαλάσατε τὰ δίκτυα ὑμῶν εἰς ἄγραν.
5 καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς Σίμων εἶπεν,Ἐπιστάτα, δι’ ὅλης νυκτὸς κοπιάσαντες οὐδὲν ἐλάβομεν, ἐπὶ δὲ τῷ ῥήματί σου χαλάσω τὰ δίκτυα.
As he paused speaking, he (Jesus) said to Simon, “Put out into the deep (water) and let down your nets into the fish”. (5) And answering, Simon said, “Overseer (lit = one standing near), through the whole night labouring we took up nothing, but on your word I will let down the nets.”
There are several things worth pointing out in this relatively short passage. First, the whole scenario just gets weirder. Now this stranger is telling you to go out into the water and fish. Um, sure. Get right on that, guv’nah. Another is the use of the term I have rendered as “overseer”. This word is used by Luke alone in the NT; and, he only uses it in the gospel and not in Acts. Which immediately sets me off wondering if, indeed, Luke & Acts were written by the same person. Finally, Simon does what the stranger told him, on the stranger’s word alone.
Of course, we really don’t have to marvel at this whole bizarre situation. The meaning, or the intent is clear enough: Luke is demonstrating for us just how compelling a personality Jesus was, to the point that he can convince some total stranger to do what he asks. If anyone has watched any of Jessica Jones on Netflix, this all sounds a lot like the villain played by David Tenant, of Dr Who fame. But of course Jesus is not evil, but compelling in a very good way.
4 Ut cessavit autem loqui, dixit ad Simonem: “Duc in altum et laxate retia vestra in capturam”.
5 Et respondens Simon dixit: “ Praeceptor, per totam noctem laborantes nihil cepimus; in verbo autem tuo laxabo retia”.
6 καὶ τοῦτο ποιήσαντες συνέκλεισαν πλῆθος ἰχθύων πολύ, διερρήσσετο δὲ τὰ δίκτυα αὐτῶν.
7 καὶ κατένευσαν τοῖς μετόχοις ἐν τῷ ἑτέρῳ πλοίῳ τοῦ ἐλθόντας συλλαβέσθαι αὐτοῖς: καὶ ἦλθον, καὶ ἔπλησαν ἀμφότερα τὰ πλοῖα ὥστε βυθίζεσθαι αὐτά.
8 ἰδὼν δὲ Σίμων Πέτρος προσέπεσεν τοῖς γόνασιν Ἰησοῦ λέγων, Ἔξελθε ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ, ὅτι ἀνὴρ ἁμαρτωλός εἰμι, κύριε:
And doing this (i.e. letting out the nets), they enclosed a plethora of fish, breaking through their nets. (7) And they made a sign by nodding their heads to their partners in the other boat of coming to receive with them. And they came, and they filled both the boats so that to sink them. (8) Seeing this Simon Peter fell to his knees of Jesus, saying, “Go away from me, that I am a sinful man, lord”.
Here, of course, is the payoff to this story. Jesus knows. If you listen to Jesus, you prosper. I would like to say this is a particularly pagan attitude: do ut des. I give so that you give. The you being God. The idea is that we give something in sacrifice so that God gives us (one hopes) more in return. But this is not a pagan attitude. It’s the rationale behind the story of Job as well. The adversary taunts God by saying, “of course Job is faithful to you. Look at how richly you’ve rewarded him”. And this became a particularly Calvinist, if not Protestant, attitude: all God’s friends are rich. This attitude was carried to the shores of America by the Puritans, who prospered enormously. Remember: we are either saved, or we’re damned, and we can’t know which. But, by their fruits ye shall know them, so monetary wealth was considered the sign of God’s favour, so the wealthy were respected and considered Elect, while the poor despised as Foreknown and damned. This attitude still pervades a lot of religious thinking in 21st Century America: the poor can be disregarded because, what the hell, they’re damned anyway. But–and this is a big but–this attitude was very common among Greeks and Romans, too. The aristoi, the optimates, the best in Greek and Latin respectively were often considered so because of their wealth. Their wealth was an outward sign. This is because hereditary wealth, eventually, bought respectability. The Best Money, after all, was Old Money. Nouveau riche and arriviste are terms of scorn.
So it’s as such, as one who gave, Simon Peter recognised Jesus as “lord”. Jesus could bestow wealth, so he could bestow favour, and Simon immediately understands that he is in the presence of something More. But why does Luke add all these details to the story? This tale is unique to Luke. Looking at this, and at some of the other stories that only Luke has, I’m starting to see a pattern. These stories are what I will call, for want of a better term, amplifiers. That is, they are designed to amplify the impact of some aspect of Jesus’ life and divine status. I suppose magnify would also work, but whatever. Others stories that would fall into this would be the stories of the birth of the Baptist, which amplifies the nativity of Jesus narrative by elevating the status of the herald of Jesus to come. Another would be the way he passed through the midst of the angry crowd in Nazareth*, which demonstrated that Jesus’ power, his ability to perform miracles was certainly not dependent on the faith of those around him. And now here; it’s not enough to call Peter; he has to demonstrate his ability. Thinking about it, this in some ways diminishes Jesus: in the other two gospels, Peter follows without question. Here, he does so only after a huge demonstration of power. But, one can certainly look at that in a couple of different ways.
So is that what Luke is doing? Amplifying? Is that his overall intention, or goal? To say ‘yes’ is to be fairly obvious. After all, that’s a lot of what Matthew did, starting with the Nativity story. He amplified Jesus’ divinity, starting with the virgin birth and the Star of Bethlehem. Luke is really doing the same, here and in the other episodes mentioned. Now, I would love to tie this into the Q argument, and I think it would be a legitimate thing to do, but the bottom line is that it’s not necessary. Either way, we’re witnessing the process by which legends grow. Luke was doing this, either on his own or following the example of Matthew. I suspect the latter, of course, but let’s wait a bit to see if this is borne out by the subsequent narrative, whether it seems that Luke is building specifically on Matthew. If so, the pattern has not fully emerged.
*Nazareth: it only just occurs to me that this amplifier was designed to banish the idea that Jesus was unable to perform many miracles in Nazareth, due to the lack of faith of the townspeople. No miracles? Nonsense! Jesus’ power is not dependent on the faith of those around him.
6 Et cum hoc fecissent, concluserunt piscium multitudinem copiosam; rumpebantur autem retia eorum.
7 Et annuerunt sociis, qui erant in alia navi, ut venirent et adiuvarent eos; et venerunt et impleverunt ambas naviculas, ita ut mergerentur.
8 Quod cum videret Simon Petrus, procidit ad genua Iesu dicens: “Exi a me, quia homo peccator sum, Domine”.
9 θάμβος γὰρ περιέσχεν αὐτὸν καὶ πάντας τοὺς σὺν αὐτῷ ἐπὶ τῇ ἄγρᾳ τῶν ἰχθύων ὧν συνέλαβον,
10 ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Ἰάκωβον καὶ Ἰωάννην υἱοὺς Ζεβεδαίου, οἳ ἦσαν κοινωνοὶ τῷ Σίμωνι. καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Σίμωνα ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Μὴ φοβοῦ: ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν ἀνθρώπους ἔσῃ ζωγρῶν.
11 καὶ καταγαγόντες τὰ πλοῖα ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν ἀφέντες πάντα ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ.
Amazement encompassed him and all those with him regarding the catch of fish which they had taken, (and) (10) in the same way also James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were with Simon, and Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now you will be one catching men”. (11) And driving the ship down upon the land, all having gotten off they followed him.
In the commentary to this on Mark, I suggested that, if Jesus had grown up on Caphernaum as I suspect, the way Peter & c left to follow Jesus would make much more sense. We know Peter was a follower; Paul verified that before any of these gospels were written. Notice that there is no mention of Andrew, Peter’s brother. He will come in later, probably when the Twelve are being named. In 2M, Andrew is mentioned exactly twice; at the initial calling, and when Jesus sends them out. Luke skips the first one. Interesting to note that as the legend of Jesus grew, the legend of Andrew had faded a bit. Now, this would be recovered since Andrew had a great career in front of him, ending up as the patron saint of Scotland. But it is worth noting that he is not here. The point being, that if Jesus had grown up in Caphernaum, then he and Peter would likely have known each other all their lives. This, in turn, would explain Peter’s eventual devotion and dedication to Jesus.
Something just occurred to me. Back in Chapter 4, after Jesus left the synagogue, he went to the house of Simon, where Jesus cured Simon’s mother-in-law so she could wait on them. I didn’t realize it then, but we had not yet been introduced to Simon when that happened. Good gracious boy howdy, would I ever like to spin some really interesting theories on how this “proves” that Jesus had grown up in Caphernaum, and had known Simon before the point when Jesus called him. However, it’s much more likely that Luke just sort of muddled the chronology a bit. He kept the story of going to Simon’s house in more or less its original context per Mark, without really noticing that he hadn’t actually introduced Simon yet. It’s similar to the way that the Baptist was arrested before he baptized Jesus. Oops. So, as deliberate as Luke was, he was more concerned with the overall story than he was with stuff like chronological consistency. This is important to note, because it plays a big role in how Luke treats the material he inherited, which would include Mark, either Q or Matthew, and probably other traditions.
I have believe that I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth repeating. At some point I read it suggested that James the son of Zebedee is no other than James the Just, the brother of the lord. I have a nagging sense that I brought this up before but dismissed it for whatever reason(s). If so, this is a good time to revisit that. This is pure speculation, but it would really make a lot of sense. The two people that Paul corroborates as members of the Jerusalem community are James, brother of the lord, and Peter. Here we have Peter and James. Being the son of Zebedee really doesn’t pose any problem, since the name of Jesus’ father is problematic. Had Jesus’ father died some time ago, and had Mary then married Zebedee and had sons named James and John, then this would be a very tidy explanation. James, brother of Jesus, is only mentioned by Paul, and yet James son of Zebedee plays a consistent part in all four gospels. A brother named James is mentioned in Mark 6, when Jesus’ siblings are named. It would then make that Jesus was called “son of Mary” since his own father was dead, and his mother married to someone else. The fly in the ointment is that Mark 6 does not mention a John, but you can’t always have everything, And really, this feels like one of those theories that is too clever by half. Yes, it ties up a lot of loose ends, but that is part of the problem. It’s a little too neat. Real life usually isn’t quite so tidy, and this general slovenliness is what gives credence to conspiracy theories. Someone opening an umbrella on a sunny day in Dallas may be odd, but that does not mean it’s significant. Maybe he opened the umbrella to use as a parasol against the sun, but the people behind objected to having their view blocked. Same here. It would explain a lot of things, but…But I am leaning towards it, tidiness be damned. It fits, and nicely. Too nicely? Perhaps. It requires more pondering, but in the end, it’s one of those things on which one can change one’s mind every six months for the rest of one’s life and still never be able to make up one’s mind.
This is an update. It occurred to me that I hadn’t addressed the idea of Simon & the brothers leaving everything behind to follow him. In fact, I haven’t addressed this at all, in any of the gospels. However, I don’t think tacking this on to the very end of a post is the proper time & place to consider the topic; rather, I’ll save it for the Summary.
9 Stupor enim circumdederat eum et omnes, qui cum illo erant, in captura piscium, quos ceperant;
10 similiter autem et Iacobum et Ioannem, filios Zebedaei, qui erant socii Simonis. Et ait ad Simonem Iesus: “ Noli timere; ex hoc iam homines eris capiens ”.
11 Et subductis ad terram navibus, relictis omnibus, secuti sunt illum.
There is a very good chance that this summary will be either 1) rather short; 2) rather different; or 3) both. The most salient feature of this chapter, or at least about the commentary regarding it, is how much is dedicated to the discussion of Q rather than to the text itself. Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the discussion of the text has focused on whether or not it supports or undercuts the case for Q. To some degree, this is inevitable. We’re on the third iteration for some of these stories, so we’ve already picked the bones clean (OK, a bit of hyperbole) regarding the content and how it reflects the status of Christian belief at the time of writing. So the triangulation for Q is the most salient aspect of the text in many ways.
Overall, Luke’s content, his arrangement, and even his verbiage is much closer to Mark than to Matthew; however, already there have been significant exceptions. Most notably, there are pieces of the story of Jesus not being accepted in Nazareth that are completely novel, unique to Luke. Most likely, as I see it, this most likely means that Luke created or crafted these stories himself. In addition, Luke felt no qualms about doing something of a mash of material in Mark’s Chapter 1 with Mark’s Chapter 5. We know that there are a number of novel pieces coming our way, all of them of good literary quality, so we can pretty safely infer that Luke had a high degree of literary sensibility and talent. One aspect of such talent is creativity; from what we’ve read of Zacharias and Elisabeth, the Magnificat and the Nunc Dimittis, we should have a good inkling that Luke was a creative talent of some significance. As such, we should see his departures from Mark as very deliberate.
This leads to the question of his relationship, if any, to Matthew. Does this connexion occur only indirectly, via Q, or does Luke have a direct relationship, from having read Matthew’s gospel. That’s the question. So far the evidence seems to be leaning in favour that yes, Luke did know of Matthew’s gospel. Remember, the Q people say that Luke never agrees with Matthew against Mark. Remember, he does this all the time, except they call it Q when he does it. This argument is very close to, if not completely circular. How do we know what’s in Q? Because it’s in Matthew and Luke but not Mark. Why doesn’t Luke ever agree with Matthew against Mark? Because that is Q material. How do we know it’s Q material? Because it’s in Matthew and Luke but not Mark. As I said, not exactly the classic paradigm of a circular argument (which is what “begging the question” actually means), but it’s very close. The other “argument” for derives from the way Luke misarranges the material in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew, it’s so perfect that only a “fool or a madman” would change it, and surely Luke was neither. This is not an argument; it’s the logical fallacy of Complex Question: have you stopped embezzling from your company? The question cannot be answered in any legitimate fashion.
And yet, we have encountered numerous aspects in which Luke does agree with Matthew against Mark. To enumerate, once again:
- Giving Jesus a “human” father, whose name was Joseph;
- By telling us Jesus was born in Bethlehem;
- That Jesus was born of a virgin;
- That an angel of God announced to one of the two that Jesus had been/was to be conceived by the sacred breath;
- That Herod was on the throne when all of this started, at least;
- The creation of a genealogy for Jesus;
There are others, I believe, that escape me at the moment. Even as is, this list is too long to be attributed to mere coincidence.
Speaking of probability, there is the point, proclaimed loudly and often, that Luke never, ever, not once agrees with Matthew against Mark. Except for the six points above. Without realizing it, by insisting on using this argument, the Q people are sort of cutting the ground out from under their own feet. Never implies a perfect correlation; this never (pun intended) happens in reality, except in those cases where it does, but they are very, very infrequent. Since perfect correlation is so rare, it’s existence is always suspect. As such, the perfect correlation posited here is suspect. That’s about as fundamental a syllogism as you’re apt to find in the real world. So if the correlation is so perfect, that implies deliberate choice: Luke chose to agree with Mark against Matthew rather than vice versa.
The last point is that there are times when the verbiage of Luke and Matthew is nearly identical, to the point of using the same unusual word. This can be accounted for one of two ways: First, that they both copied Q almost verbatim; or second, that Luke copied Matthew almost verbatim. Why would a creative genius such as I’ve suggested Luke to be copy Matthew rather than create his own version? Well, why would he copy Q the same way? If you’re going to suggest that he judiciously copied Q, why is it so hard to believe that he copied Matthew? Answer, it’s not hard at all. Beside that, we’ve talked about probability again. How likely is it that two people would copy the same source in almost exactly the same way? Is that more likely, or less likely, than suggesting that similarity between two authors is because one copied the other, rather than that they both copied some unknown source, one for which there is not a shred of evidence for its existence?
Yes, this is a lot about probability. But that’s what history–good history–is: trying to find the most likely explanation for an event, or series of events. It’s not about creative interpretation; that’s a different branch of the literary art called “fiction”.
The real issue is that the changes Luke made have no real theological impact. Adding the bit about Jesus passing through the midst of the crowd that wants to lynch him is a foreshadow of Jesus after the Resurrection, Or, is thus indicating that Luke is verging on docetism, that Jesus did not actually have a corporeal body? That had not occurred to me before, but now that it has occurred to me, I will pay attention to see if there is any further indication. That would indeed be theologically significance. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the addition of this piece to Chapter 4 does not forward the story line in any significant manner. Theologically, it does reinforce Jesus’ divinity, but that’s already been pretty thoroughly established given the time dedicated to the stories of John, the Visitation (2nd Joyful Mystery of the Rosary), the Heavenly Host at the birth, and all the rest of the episodes added prior to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. But this reinforcement is adding to an already laden wagon. As for the story, I’m not sure what it does, but Luke obviously felt it was important enough to make out of whole cloth.
So this lack of transparent motive is the reason, or part of it, that we’re spending so much time discussing Q. The larger part, of course, is that Q has become a thing for me, and I fear that I spend altogether too much time on the subject; however, whether Q existed or not is of enormous importance to the way the NT is studied. And yet a real debate on the topic has never been held. This even exceeds the “dash on Phaleron” hypothesized by J.A.R. Munro in 1899; he suggested that the Persians were loading their cavalry back into their ships to sail to Phaleron, then the port of Athens, while the Athenian army was at Marathon. This idea held the field until the early 1970s, when the first serious challenges were offered, some seventy years later. Q, in contrast, has held the field , fundamentally unchallenged, for well over a century. That needs to end.
So, more about Q than about Luke, I’m afraid. But Luke is the key to the Q question. There will be more, but I will try to refrain from long-winded explanations of stuff I’ve already explained. Feel free to call me on it before it becomes insufferable.
Chapter 4 wraps up with a very short section. For some reason I thought the chapter had 48, rather than 44 verses. As such, it probably could have been tacked on to the previous post, but what’s done is done. Jesus has just expelled a demon, and his reputation and stories of him have spread far and wide around the countryside on the shores of the Sea* of Galilee.
40 Δύνοντος δὲ τοῦ ἡλίου ἅπαντες ὅσοι εἶχον ἀσθενοῦντας νόσοις ποικίλαις ἤγαγον αὐτοὺς πρὸς αὐτόν: ὁ δὲ ἑνὶ ἑκάστῳ αὐτῶν τὰς χεῖρας ἐπιτιθεὶς ἐθεράπευεν αὐτούς.
The sun having westerned (= set, as in the west), how many they had being weakened by illness they brought to him. He, laying his hands on upon each of them, healed them.
Let’s begin with first word in the verse. It is a very rare word, even in secular Greek. It’s used a few times to represent the furthest point of something; in this case, the furthest (western) point of the sun, which occurs at sunset. I rendered it as “westerned” to get this aspect of the word across; however, that translation is really more based on the Latin from the Vulgate, which is occidens. The Greek is non-specific, able to refer to any furthest point. The Latin specifically means “westerned”. Occidens, west, is opposed to oriens, the east. Hence the division of the globe Orient and the Occident, East and West.
With this word I’m beginning to get some appreciation of what the Q people mean when they say that Luke never agrees with Matthew against Mark. Here is a great example of what they mean. The first word in the sentence is used twice in the NT; once here, and once by Mark in the same context of this same story. So Luke obviously is following Mark very closely in some respects, as in not having Jesus dwell in Caphernaum. One of my points about the Q argument is that if Luke always–as in like, every time–then I think you have to consider, at the very least, that Luke made deliberate choices to agree with Mark against Luke. To match up with Mark very single time indicates perfect correlation, and that does not occur outside of physical laws of the universe, like gravity. And even then quirky things happen. So it is, perhaps, telling that Luke agrees with Mark here; we know it’s telling us something, but what, exactly? As we saw in previous sections of this chapter, Luke is not afraid to mess with Mark’s order or other things; so when he chooses to agree, it’s significant. So why does he agree with Mark, and so often?
Let’s go back to the first few verses of the gospel, in which Luke sets out his intention. He has, he tells us, gone through previous accounts and done some cross-checking, I was just on another Bible-themed blog and the author referred to this stated intention. His conclusion was that there were other gospels written than have been lost. So not only are we creating Q, but we’re creating other gospels. This is certainly not out of the question. But–and you knew that was coming–why create more gospels when we already know with a pretty high level of confidence that there were two of them written before Luke. This is exactly the sort of thing that is so exasperating about the Q “argument”; it basically starts at the pre-determined conclusion–that Q existed–and work back from there, explaining anything else in terms of Q. My point is this: if Luke always agrees with Mark, and if his purpose is to set the record straight, then that really implies that he’s implying that he takes Mark at greater historical value than he does Matthew. And, since Matthew has a lot of stuff that’s not in Mark, Luke does not see it as sacrosanct as far as the order goes. Indeed, the idea that there was one definitive version of Q, that set the sayings (and stuff that John said and Jesus did) in a very specific order which was not to be abused is ludicrous. It there was one “sayings of Jesus” collection floating about, there were probably a number of them, each with its own contents and order. So again, the Q argument assumes its existence, which is bad enough, and then takes this further to assume –or to insist, really–that there was a definitive version of Q. Matthew and Luke could easily have been working from a document that fits the definition of Q, but that is not to say they were the same document, with the same content, with the same order. That’s pretty much willful blindness to historical probability.
40 Cum sol autem occidisset, omnes, qui habebant infirmos variis languoribus, ducebant illos ad eum; at ille singulis manus imponens curabat eos.
41 ἐξήρχετο δὲ καὶ δαιμόνια ἀπὸ πολλῶν, κρ[αυγ]άζοντα καὶ λέγοντα ὅτι Σὺ εἶ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ. καὶ ἐπιτιμῶν οὐκ εἴα αὐτὰ λαλεῖν, ὅτι ᾔδεισαν τὸν Χριστὸν αὐτὸν εἶναι.
42 Γενομένης δὲ ἡμέρας ἐξελθὼν ἐπορεύθη εἰς ἔρημον τόπον: καὶ οἱ ὄχλοι ἐπεζήτουν αὐτόν, καὶ ἦλθον ἕως αὐτοῦ, καὶ κατεῖχον αὐτὸν τοῦ μὴ πορεύεσθαι ἀπ’ αὐτῶν.
43 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτοὺς ὅτι Καὶ ταῖς ἑτέραις πόλεσιν εὐαγγελίσασθαί με δεῖ τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ, ὅτι ἐπὶ τοῦτο ἀπεστάλην.
44 καὶ ἦν κηρύσσων εἰς τὰς συναγωγὰς τῆς Ἰουδαίας.
Demons also came out from many, crying out and saying that, “You are the son of God!” and rebuking (them) he would not allow them to speak, that they knew him to be the Christ. (42) Happening one day going out he came to a deserted place; and the crowds sought him, and they came up to him, and they held him so that he he could not go away from them. (43) He said to them that, “And to the other cities it is necessary for me to evangelize the kingdom of God, that upon this I was sent”. (44) And he was announcing to the synagogues of the Jews.
Here we have a compression of several themes from Mark that are also paraphrased, to some extent, by Matthew. Here we have at least a hint of the Messianic secret in the circumstances of Jesus expelling unclean spirits and then shushing them into silence so that they could not tell the crowds who Jesus was. The whole idea of this is a bit odd, especially since earlier in the chapter Jesus announced to the crowd in the synagogue in Nazareth that the prophecy if Isaiah had been fulfilled, which was enough to infuriate the crowd that heard him. Or, given that he infuriated the crowd, was this silencing of demons his way of not broadcasting his identity? Actually, that suggestion assumes that anything like this actually happened; of course, it didn’t. Rather, this is Luke following Mark–again–in substance, but putting a slightly different spin on the matter. Because here again we have the contradictory keeping of the secret, but the wild popularity of Jesus. The two are, to some extent, incompatible, especially if later parts of the gospel story are to be taken as accurate; of course, however, they should not be taken as factually accurate, because that was never the intent.
From these verses we are to glean that Jesus understood himself to have a mission to preach. One thing we do not know, however, is the subject about which he is to spread the good news. Luke has not yet mentioned the idea of a “kingdom of heaven”. In both Mark & Matthew, we are told that both John and Jesus were intent to spread the good news about this kingdom, but so far in Luke, nothing. It is difficult to calibrate how much this lack matters; is it that Luke took it for granted at this point that his audience would understand that this was Jesus’ theme? That’s sort of on par with the questions about why Paul was so vague on certain points; did he take them as understood? Or, in that case, had the details familiar to us now had not yet crystalized into a tradition? Here, OTOH, this formation of the details had occurred, so the underlying situation is very different even if the outward circumstances appear to be similar. Of course, in the end, there is no answer to the question of ‘why the silence?’ If made to guess, I would say that the silence is not particularly significant, except to underscore that, while he seems to be following Mark very closely, Luke was not welded to Mark’s outline or content. Luke, it appears, had no qualms about adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing Mark’s material and arrangement. So, in that very real sense, this lack of reference to the “kingdom of heaven” is significant since it demonstrates that willingness to depart from Mark very clearly.
41 Exibant autem daemonia a multis clamantia et dicentia: “ Tu es Filius Dei ”. Et increpans non sinebat ea loqui, quia sciebant ipsum esse Christum.
42 Facta autem die, egressus ibat in desertum locum; et turbae requirebant eum et venerunt usque ad ipsum et detinebant illum, ne discederet ab eis.
43 Quibus ille ait: “ Et aliis civitatibus oportet me evangelizare regnum Dei, quia ideo missus sum ”.
44 Et erat praedicans in synagogis Iudaeae.
*Sea of Galilee: it’s fresh water, so I believe technically it’s a lake. I have, in fact, seen it labeled as the “Lake of Galilee”, or even “Lake Tiberias”.
The rest of Chapter 4 will be divided into two short sections of 9-10 verses each. This will keep the flow going, and, I hope, help me to get these out more quickly. It is better to publish shorter and more frequently, IMO.
31 Καὶ κατῆλθεν εἰς Καφαρναοὺμ πόλιν τῆς Γαλιλαίας. καὶ ἦν διδάσκων αὐτοὺς ἐν τοῖς σάββασιν:
32 καὶ ἐξεπλήσσοντο ἐπὶ τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ, ὅτι ἐν ἐξουσίᾳ ἦν ὁ λόγος αὐτοῦ.
And he came down to the city of Caphernaum of Galilee. And there he taught them on the Sabbaths. (32) And they were driven from their senses by his teaching, that in power was his speech.
Here’s another one of those situations involving the Mark/Matthew/Luke progression. In Mark, Jesus leaves Nazareth and comes to Caphernaum. In Matthew, we are told that Jesus came to dwell in Caphernaum. Here, Luke seems to follow Mark. This time, however, there does not appear to be any gravitational influence from Matthew. I get no sense in this passage that Luke is aware of Matthew, let alone that he is correcting Matthew. In this case, it would appear that Luke has completely ignored Matthew on this point. This would be consistent with the existence of Q; this would be one of those points where Luke does not agree with Matthew against Mark. So this does not support my denial of Q. It does not actively contradict my position; rather, it passively declines to support me. What we have to do is make note of these points, tally them up, and see if their combined weight is enough to offset the points I’ve brought up where Luke does agree with Matthew against Mark.
Here’s how this one shakes out. In the previous section, Luke says that Jesus returned to the town where he was raised. He specifically names this as Nazareth. Contrast to Mark 6, when Jesus returns to his home town and cannot perform many miracles due to their lack of faith. That is where he is called the son of Mary, and his siblings are named. Mark does not mention the name of the town. I suspect he does not because Mark did not know the name of Jesus’ home town, and did not particularly care. In fact, that story has the feel of a discrete unit that Mark swallowed more or less whole. The important lesson of that story was that a prophet is not without honour except in his homeland. However, the story does not, I believe, refer to the town where Jesus was raised, but to the Jewish community that had rejected Jesus as the saviour. That is, that story was a parable about why the new religion had caught on among pagans, but had been rejected by the Jews.
So there, in a sense, Luke was correcting Mark by naming the town. It could also be argued that Luke is undercutting Matthew by setting up this sequence the way he did, giving us Nazareth and then not agreeing that Jesus came to dwell in Caphernaum. So it is just possible that this sequence of verses was set up so that Luke could, without saying so, set the record straight on Matthew as well, but in a very passive manner. The neutral reading of this is that Luke was simply following Mark, and that would be a strong case here. To say Luke supports my position is admittedly a stretch, but it does not actively work against me, either.
As for Verse 32, this paraphrase is much closer to Mark’s language and grammar, but the sentiment is expressed by both the other evangelists. So on balance, this passage is much closer to Mark than Matthew. Now here’s a thought: what if part of Luke’s intent was to go back to Mark, by sort of pushing Matthew aside? That is, except for Bethlehem, Joseph, angels proclaiming the birth of Jesus, setting the conception of John in the reign of Herod, the virgin birth…you get the idea. I hate to keep bringing those things up but they carry an enormous amount of weight in the argument about Q.
31 Et descendit in Capharnaum civitatem Galilaeae. Et docebat illos sabbatis;
32 et stupebant in doctrina eius, quia in potestate erat sermo ipsius.
33 καὶ ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ ἦν ἄνθρωπος ἔχων πνεῦμα δαιμονίου ἀκαθάρτου, καὶ ἀνέκραξεν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ,
34 Ἔα, τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί, Ἰησοῦ Ναζαρηνέ; ἦλθες ἀπολέσαι ἡμᾶς; οἶδά σε τίς εἶ, ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ.
35 καὶ ἐπετίμησεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγων, Φιμώθητι καὶ ἔξελθε ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ. καὶ ῥίψαν αὐτὸν τὸ δαιμόνιον εἰς τὸ μέσον ἐξῆλθεν ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ μηδὲν βλάψαν αὐτόν.
36 καὶ ἐγένετο θάμβος ἐπὶ πάντας, καὶ συνελάλουν πρὸς ἀλλήλους λέγοντες, Τίς ὁ λόγος οὗτος, ὅτι ἐν ἐξουσίᾳ καὶ δυνάμει ἐπιτάσσει τοῖς ἀκαθάρτοις πνεύμασιν, καὶ ἐξέρχονται;
37 καὶ ἐξεπορεύετο ἦχος περὶ αὐτοῦ εἰς πάντα τόπον τῆς περιχώρου.
And in the synagogue was a man having the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out in a great voice, (34) “Hey–what is (between) us and you, Jesus of Nazareth? You have come to expel us. I know who you are, the holy one of God!” (35) And censured him Jesus, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him”. And tossing him the little daimon into the midst came out of him and no longer hurt him. (36) And amazement became among all, and they talked to each other, saying, “What is this speech, that in authority and power that enjoins unclean spirits, and they go?” (37) And the sound (talking, rumour) went out about him to all places in the surrounding country.
This episode, and its placement, are straight out of Mark. So once again, it’s whether we should see this as Luke not being aware of Matthew, or if Luke is deliberately going back to Mark. I would suggest the latter; from the first few verses of the last section, the “is he not the son of Joseph?”, it’s obvious that Luke has no qualms about arranging and rearranging to suit his particular purposes in a particular situation. He does not feel bound to follow anyone; as such, we can infer that Luke arranged his gospel the way he did because he wanted to do it that way. I do think that it’s a stretch, if not outright impossible, always to know his exact reasons. The idea that we have to provide an editorially consistent explanation for every time Luke deviates from Matthew is not only ridiculous, it’s impossible. Any such explanation is an attempt to recreate Luke’s mindset, and to think that we can do that is the height of arrogance. Any such explanation is necessarily subjective on the part of the explainer, and the next person can easily come along and blow it up with ever-so-withering criticism. IOW, the Q proponents are requiring an all-but impossible standard, all in the name of proving that Q did not exist.
So to start Jesus’ ministry, we have him announcing the fulfillment of Isaiah, enraging those listening, passing through the angry mob, and now expelling an unclean daimon. And note the usage: not an unclean spirit, but the spirit of an unclean daimon. No doubt you are all aware that the word “daimon” is a neutral term in Greek. An evil spirit would be specifically referred to as a kakodaimon; the transition of a neutral daimon into an always-evil demon was an accomplishment of the Christians. That being said, the Near Eastern heritage had more of a tradition of things more closely resembling what we would call a demon, but it took the Christians to create the system that has been in place for the past few millennia.
But this does not address why it’s the spirit of an unclean daimon rather than an unclean spirit, as it was in Mark. Now, we can’t compare this to Matthew directly since this episode does not occur in Matthew. And it’s not like the word daimon occurs more often in Matthew than Mark. So this is a new concept unique (so far, anyway) to Luke. I’m not entirely sure what it means, or if it means anything out of the ordinary. I would say it probably doesn’t.
Finally, we end with more wonder and astonishment, which leads to the word of him going out into the surrounding country. There’s really nothing much to be gleaned from this that wasn’t discussed when we came across this in both Mark and Matthew. The one thing that will be interesting will be to see if Luke gets back into the “messianic secret” of Mark. Or, perhaps we should call it “Schrodinger’s Messiah”: simultaneously famous and unknown.
33 Et in synagoga erat homo habens spiritum daemonii immundi; et exclamavit voce magna:
34 “ Sine; quid nobis et tibi, Iesu Nazarene? Venisti perdere nos? Scio te qui sis: Sanctus Dei ”.
35 Et increpavit illi Iesus dicens: “ Obmutesce et exi ab illo! ”. Et cum proiecisset illum daemonium in medium, exiit ab illo nihilque illum nocuit.
36 Et factus est pavor in omnibus; et colloquebantur ad invicem dicentes: “Quod est hoc verbum, quia in potestate et virtute imperat immundis spiritibus, et exeunt?”.
37 Et divulgabatur fama de illo in omnem locum regionis.
38 Ἀναστὰς δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς συναγωγῆς εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν Σίμωνος. πενθερὰ δὲ τοῦ Σίμωνος ἦν συνεχομένη πυρετῷ μεγάλῳ, καὶ ἠρώτησαν αὐτὸν περὶ αὐτῆς.
39 καὶ ἐπιστὰς ἐπάνω αὐτῆς ἐπετίμησεν τῷ πυρετῷ, καὶ ἀφῆκεν αὐτήν: παραχρῆμα δὲ ἀναστᾶσα διηκόνει αὐτοῖς.
Standing up from the synagogue he came to the house of Simon. The mother-in-law of Simon was held with a great fever, and they asked him about her. (39) And standing before her he rebuked the fever and it left her. Forthwith standing up she attended to them.
Boy howdy I’m really resisting the urge to say something like, hard to get decent help these days. They needed someone to minister (diakonos = deacon) to them, so Jesus had to heal her. Oh wait, I just said it.
From a doctrinal standpoint, it’s worth mentioning that Jesus rebuked the fever. This is the same word used a few verses ago when Jesus rebuked the unclean daimon he was expelling. We could take this to mean that the fever was considered to be caused by a spirit. Now, Luke is generally considered to be Greek, and this was not a common Greek idea after the time of Alexander, or even previously. Greek medical thought was often horrifically wrong, but it had gotten past the idea of disease as demonic activity. Having said that, it’s worth pointing out that the verb is passive, that she was held by a great fever. That could be taken to imply an outside agency, but that may be pushing it a bit too far. Since neither Mark nor Matthew use this word in this context, perhaps it’s just Luke being poetic.
38 Surgens autem de synagoga introivit in domum Simonis. Socrus autem Simonis tenebatur magna febri; et rogaverunt illum pro ea.
39 Et stans super illam imperavit febri, et dimisit illam; et continuo surgens ministrabat illis.
Chapter 4 continues. I did a bit of hanging you all from a cliff by breaking this passage where I did. Recall, Jesus has just read the passage from Isaiah talking about the blind seeing and the broken people being delivered. Having finished, and closed the book, when last we saw our hero, all eyes in the synagogue waiting…for something. My inference was that he was expected to comment on the text he has just read. Why this one would create an air of pregnant expectation the way it supposedly did is sort of left to our imagination. Remember that Isaiah did not have pride of place among the Jews that we Christians would like to suppose. And in addition, the section that Christians most often cite comes from Deutero-Isaiah, someone writing in the prophet’s name who wasn’t the prophet. In the same way Paul’s disciples wrote letters from Paul that the apostle did not write. I have even heard it suggested that there was a third author of Isaiah; I’m not sure I’d put a lot of faith in that one. The point is, for the Jews, Elijah is sort of the headliner of the prophets. As such, I’m not sure why Jews would be stretched on tenter-hooks at the prospect of hearing Isaiah discussed. This is a great example of Christians reading stuff back into the HS that was not entirely (at all?) there.
21 ἤρξατο δὲ λέγειν πρὸς αὐτοὺς ὅτι Σήμερον πεπλήρωται ἡ γραφὴ αὕτη ἐν τοῖς ὠσὶν ὑμῶν.
22 Καὶ πάντες ἐμαρτύρουν αὐτῷ καὶ ἐθαύμαζον ἐπὶ τοῖς λόγοις τῆς χάριτος τοῖς ἐκπορευομένοις ἐκ τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἔλεγον, Οὐχὶ υἱός ἐστιν Ἰωσὴφ οὗτος;
(21) He began to speak towards the that “This day this writing is fulfilled in the ears of you.” (22) And all witnessed him and were amazed upon his words of grace that issued from his mouth, and they said, “Is this not the son of Joseph?”
“The ears of you” is completely literal; “in your hearing” is probably a bit less jarring. And to be just as jarring, I left it as “words of grace”, since the standard translations is “gracious words”. But honestly, I’m trying to figure out how to render this in context. As the next part of the verse indicates, the people listening are a bit put off by what Jesus said. I don’t get the idea that they would consider the words “gracious” in any sense of the term. The outrage felt will become even more clear as the passage proceeds.
Remember that Jesus is in his hometown, and that Luke specifically names the town as Nazareth. So he names the father of Jesus to go with this. So what Luke has done here is combine Mark Chapter 6 and Matthew Chapter 11. Why? Let’s recall that Luke adds a lot of material to his gospel. So it’s possible he he felt he could not recount all that Matthew said and then add his own material and not have a text that runs to a hundred pages or more. So he chose to compress where and as he can. But note that the corresponding episode in Mark does not occur until Chapter 6. As such, he’s Luke is drastically rearranging the order of Mark. This is significant because one of the primary arguments for Q is the notion that Luke would not possibly have messed with Matthew’s “masterful” arrangement of the Q material. In fact, only a “fool or a madman” would do something so ludicrous. But nary a word that Luke felt free to rearrange Mark. Since Mark laid down the basic storyline, it would seem to be more of a problem that Luke felt free to copy and paste different episodes into different places; however, such appears not to be the case. So once again, the “argument” for Q turns out to be very situational: order of arrangement is hugely important, except when it’s not. Or, it’s important for some stuff, but not for other stuff. And these are the people who demand an editorially consistent explanation for every time Luke rearranges Matthew’s “masterful” order of the Q material.
One other thing that Luke does–or, actually, doesn’t do–here is to recite the names of Jesus’ siblings. Matthew truncated the list provided by Mark, but still gave us four of his brothers, most notably James. Here, Luke gives us none of them. The reason for this is likely to be the desire to let Jesus’ siblings–perhaps most notably James–fade into the background at this time. Many scholars have suggested that the list of siblings was embarrassing for the later Church with its insistence on the virgin birth. Mark had no such problem, since he did not tell us that Mary was a virgin who conceived by the sacred breath. Matthew apparently felt no constraint at what could be seen as a contradiction. Luke, in culmination, just eliminates the list completely. Also, by the time he wrote, James had been dead for several decades, his role in the early church becoming largely forgotten. So Luke perhaps judged it best to let sleeping dogs lie, and not awaken the memory. And let’s not forget that Luke may have been aware of Galatians, in which Paul meets with the brother of the lord. Maybe this suggested to Luke the wisdom of not reawakening that role of James and the conflict he had with Paul. After all, Luke very much downplayed this meeting when he recounted the event in Acts.
There is one aspect in which Luke provides a unique take on this. In Mark, Jesus was called “Mary’s son”; in Matthew, he was the “son of the carpenter, Mary’s son”. Here, he is the son of Joseph. This is especially notable, IMO, since in his genealogy he said that “it was supposed” that Jesus was the son of Joseph. Now I cannot stress enough the level of significance that attaches to Luke naming Joseph as Mary’s husband. This and the virgin birth, and the annunciation by an angel, etc. are all ways that Luke follows Matthew, and in material that no one says was in Q. It did not occur to me at the time, but Matthew’s “son of the carpenter” is sort of a step back from his own genealogy in which he states that Joseph begat Jesus. Honestly, it would be more appropriate for Luke to say that Jesus was the son of the carpenter and leave Joseph unnamed, since it was only “supposed” that Joseph was the father of Jesus.
The point of this, however is significant, and perhaps a crucial piece of the puzzle of Luke’s relation to Matthew. Was the relation only incidental, passing through Q? Or was it more than that, a relationship of direct affiliation? Here again, the contrast between Luke’s treatment and what came before him seems so disconnected that at least the suspicion of intent has to creep in here. Could he honestly have been so related to, and yet so distinct from the other evangelists that he did not plan this relationship of distinction very deliberately? And again, we have to look at this inside of, or as part of, the general trend. He’s done this before with the birth narrative. Echoing parts of Matthew without actually repeating Matthew. Draw your own conclusions, of course. My complaint is that these are aspects of the relationship between the two evangelists that are never discussed. Q is assumed, it’s stated, and it’s never really questioned. And the Q proponents have been so successful in establishing belief in Q that they have managed to force the anti-Q people to fight the battle on the Q people’s terms by insisting on an editorially consistent explanation for every time Luke differs from Matthew in the treatment of the alleged Q material. That is, they are rather forcing the Q opponents to prove that Q did not exist. That is truly masterful.
21 Coepit autem dicere ad illos: “ Hodie impleta est haec Scriptura in auribus vestris ”.
22 Et omnes testimonium illi dabant et mirabantur in verbis gratiae, quae procedebant de ore ipsius, et dicebant: “ Nonne hic filius est Ioseph? ”.
23 καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς, Πάντως ἐρεῖτέ μοι τὴν παραβολὴν ταύτην: Ἰατρέ, θεράπευσον σεαυτόν: ὅσα ἠκούσαμεν γενόμενα εἰς τὴν Καφαρναοὺμ ποίησον καὶ ὧδε ἐν τῇ πατρίδι σου.
24 εἶπεν δέ, Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐδεὶς προφήτης δεκτός ἐστιν ἐν τῇ πατρίδι αὐτοῦ.
25 ἐπ’ ἀληθείας δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, πολλαὶ χῆραι ἦσαν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις Ἠλίου ἐν τῷ Ἰσραήλ, ὅτε ἐκλείσθη ὁ οὐρανὸς ἐπὶ ἔτη τρία καὶ μῆνας ἕξ, ὡς ἐγένετο λιμὸς μέγας ἐπὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν,
26 καὶ πρὸς οὐδεμίαν αὐτῶν ἐπέμφθη Ἠλίας εἰ μὴ εἰς Σάρεπτα τῆς Σιδωνίας πρὸς γυναῖκα χήραν.
27 καὶ πολλοὶ λεπροὶ ἦσαν ἐν τῷ Ἰσραὴλ ἐπὶ Ἐλισαίου τοῦ προφήτου, καὶ οὐδεὶς αὐτῶν ἐκαθαρίσθη εἰ μὴ Ναιμὰν ὁ Σύρος.
And he said towards them, “Surely you will say to me this parable, “Physician, heal thyself. How much we hear being to Caphernaum you have done, and this much in your home town. (What you have done in Caphernaum, also do here in your home town). (24) “Amen I say to you, that no prophet is accepted in his own home town. (25) In truth I say to you, that many widows there were in the days of Elijah in Israel, when the sky was closed up for three years (“closed up” = “no rain“) and six months, so that there became a great famine in the whole land, (26) and towards no one was sent Elijah if not of the Sarepta of Sidon, to the widow woman. (27) And many lepers there were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and no one of them was cleansed if not Naiman the Syrian”.
First, let’s note that Luke is acknowledging the connexion of Jesus to Caphernaum. Mark simply says that Jesus and Peter, James, and John went to Capheranaum; Matthew explicitly says Jesus relocated there. If you’ll recall, when reading Mark I argued that Jesus was actually from Caphernaum and not from Nazareth. It is Matthew, with his quote that “He will be called a Nazarene” that identifies Nazareth as the the town where Jesus grew up. Then, to square with Mark, he has Jesus move to Caphernaum. Here, however, Luke seems to be correcting the compromise forged by Matthew which, in effect, gave Jesus two separate “home towns”, as it were. So here again, it is at least plausible that Luke is directing this at Matthew, without explicitly saying so. Because recall Luke’s statement that he verified the traditions in order to provide an accurate account, because many have undertaken to tell the tale. Now, it is not necessary to include Matthew in that “many”, but…really? And this certainly seems to be another of those situations that seem to indicate that Luke was certainly aware of Matthew, as in the case of “son of Joseph” above.
As for why the record needed to be corrected, Luke likely believed it was difficult to say that he was “Jesus of Nazareth” if he lived in Caphernaum. By the time Luke wrote, the “Jesus of Nazareth” had become lodged in the tradition, and he intended to cement it there. Recall: Mark mentioned Nazareth once, Matthew three times, and Paul, never. Matthew likely is the one who situated Jesus in Nazareth to begin with, but then he waffled by moving him to Caphernaum. Luke, OTOH, mentions Nazareth early and often, and with the aim of clarifying the situation once for all. So, yes, I’d say this indicates he was fully aware of Matthew.
As for the actual bulk of the passage, the meaning is probably clear enough. A prophet is not respected in his home town/land; but note that we are given examples of when the prophet chose to do good to someone aside from one of his fellow citizens. Rather than go to an Israelite widow, Elijah* goes to a widow in the territory of Sidon. Rather than cure an Israelite leper, Elisha* cures Naiman the Syrian. The beauty of this is that Luke does double duty with these examples. Not only does he show the prophet dishonored, but he shows how, even in the days of Elijah, non-Jews were shown the benefits of God. If it were true even back then, why not even more so at the time Luke wrote. Luke is supposed to be Gentile-friendly; I guess this would be an example.
* I have no idea what the historical orthodoxy on this is, but the Elijah/Elisha seems like such an obvious example of twinning that it should be simply accepted at this point. Of course, if you believe in the literal meaning of the Bible, this sort of confusion is impossible. But in the realm of historical research, such an identity of the two would at the very least be a point of discussion.
23 Et ait illis: “ Utique dicetis mihi hanc similitudinem: “Medice, cura teipsum; quanta audivimus facta in Capharnaum, fac et hic in patria tua” ”.
24 Ait autem: “ Amen dico vobis: Nemo propheta acceptus est in patria sua.
25 In veritate autem dico vobis: Multae viduae erant in diebus Eliae in Israel, quando clausum est caelum annis tribus et mensibus sex, cum facta est fames magna in omni terra;
26 et ad nullam illarum missus est Elias nisi in Sarepta Sidoniae ad mulierem viduam.
27 Et multi leprosi erant in Israel sub Eliseo propheta; et nemo eorum mundatus est nisi Naaman Syrus ”.
28 καὶ ἐπλήσθησαν πάντες θυμοῦ ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ ἀκούοντες ταῦτα,
29 καὶ ἀναστάντες ἐξέβαλον αὐτὸν ἔξω τῆς πόλεως, καὶ ἤγαγον αὐτὸν ἕως ὀφρύος τοῦ ὄρους ἐφ’ οὗ ἡ πόλις ᾠκοδόμητο αὐτῶν, ὥστε κατακρημνίσαι αὐτόν:
30 αὐτὸς δὲ διελθὼν διὰ μέσου αὐτῶν ἐπορεύετο.
And all were filled with the breath of life/anger in the synagogue hearing these things, and standing up they threw him from the town, and led him to the edge of the hill (cliff) on which the city of them was built, so that to throw him down. (30) But he going through the middle of them went away.
The word << θυμος >> (“thumos”) presents an interesting lesson in the difference between pagan Greek and so-called “NT Greek”. In the Great Scott, the Middle Liddell, and one of my NT Greek lexica, following their lead give the primary definition of this word as “breath of life”, or something such. The definition of “anger” does not show up until definition #4 in part B. This latter derives from “thumos” as the “seat of the emotions”, which is another usage of the term in Classical and Homeric Greek. Two other NT lexica give “anger” as the primary definition. Now, this is not a case of the word starting off being used for one thing and then gradually coming to mean something else, the way “entrepreneur” started off as “undertaker” and now means something rather different. Rather, “thumos” is used both as “breath of life” and as “anger” in The Iliad. Rather, it’s a case where NT authors use it (apparently) in the latter sense, so that is the only sense in which the NT lexica translate the word. Now, in one sense, this is fine; presumably one is consulting an NT lexicon because one is reading the NT. In this way the translator gets the way the word is used in the limited number of passages where it occurs: Luke/Acts, Paul, and Revelations. The problem is that the translator does not get the full range of the word; that has been done for the reader by previous generations of NT scholars who have come to agree on what the word means. This is how “baptize” has come to have one specific meaning. And there have been a few places in which I have not agreed with the “consensus” translation. Unfortunately, I can no longer recall any of these passages, but I do know I coined the term “consensus translation” already when we were reading 1 Thessalonians and Galatians. For the record, the context of this passage pretty clearly indicates that “anger” is the proper way to render the word, but I dislike–very much–the way it’s handled by NT lexica. There is no such thing as NT Greek.
As for the meaning of the passage, Luke here exaggerates the reaction Jesus got in some of the other stories of the other evangelists. Jesus caused consternation, and even outrage, but never (?) this degree of anger. They want to throw him from the cliff! IIRC, James the Just was executed in this manner in Jerusalem. I’m not saying Luke was aware of this and repeated the tradition. I’ve been told by priests for years now that this was a fairly common manner of execution; I suppose that Josephus could be regarded as having verified this fact.
The first really interesting aspect is the implication that “the Jews” wanted to kill him this early in his career, right from the outset. The other side of that is that the would-be executioners were not the powers-that-be, they were not the Temple officials or even the Pharisees or Scribes; they were simply those present in the synagogue that day. If this story is conceived of as having happened on Sabbath, we would imagine that most of the men in the town would have been there. But it was the townspeople, those that had watched Jesus grow up now decided that what he had said was so heinous that he deserved to die. Wow. That is one tough crowd. Of course, it’s all academic since the event never occurred; the issue is rather what Luke was trying to convey through the episode. I suppose this would be to demonstrate that Jesus was upsetting people directly at the start. That’s obvious; the question is why Luke wanted to get across this anger at Jesus so soon? To justify the crucifixion, I suppose. Which leads us to ask whether we think 2M were insufficiently clear about this? And this leads to the question of how much difference there was between the first two evangelists; was one, or both of them insufficiently convincing? Then, of course, we have to ask if we can tell whether Luke knew about Matthew’s case for the crucifixion. This extremity of this episode may make more sense if Luke had not been aware of Matthew’s case.
Having checked, 2M approach this issue in similar ways. The animosity towards Jesus starts as muttering and grumbling from onlookers, usually because Jesus has transgressed some standard practice of Judaism. Here, there is no warm-up or warning: just straight to homicidal rage. Luke was obviously trying to make a point, but, what, exactly?
The last thing is that I wonder if they could they kill him like that. Was it legal? So much is made in the Passion story about how the Jews have to beg the Romans to kill Jesus because they don’t have the authority. But then again, they executed James the Just–assuming that we can accept the testimony of Josephus as we have it, that this episode was not the interpolation of a later Christian copyist. And also, this was occurring in a provincial town out in the boondocks where there was no Roman presence to speak of. So, if it happened, who was going to complain? It’s not like the Romans were even going to notice.
The final last point is Verse 30: and passing through the midst of them he left. What Luke is describing is a supernatural event. It’s similar to the way he passed through solid walls and locked doors after the Resurrection in John’s telling of that sequence of events. Like the verse before it, one has to wonder what Luke’s point of this was. Presumably, he’s providing evidence that Jesus was a divine being, but to a level of divinity that is unprecedented. In the other gospels Jesus performs miracles and walks on water, but there is nothing like this. In fact, this could easily be read as borderline Docetism: that Jesus did not actually have a corporeal body. This, of course, is dualist theology of the sort that many sects would espouse. Many–but not all–Gnostics were also dualists, but there is no necessary connexion between the two. Most dualists were not Gnostics. The Cathars of the 13th Century were the last great dualist sect; the belief sort of died away after they were exterminated by Innocent III and the king of France.
I suppose the lesson to be drawn from these two verses is that Luke wants us to know, right up front, that Jesus was on the wrong side of Jewish public opinion and that he was truly divine, almost to the point of being non-corporeal. Or, at least, he was capable of becoming non-corporeal when the situation called for it.
28 Et repleti sunt omnes in synagoga ira haec audientes;
29 et surrexerunt et eiecerunt illum extra civitatem et duxerunt illum usque ad supercilium montis, supra quem civitas illorum erat aedificata, ut praecipitarent eum.
30 Ipse autem transiens per medium illorum ibat.
We move onward into Chapter 4. Jesus has just been tempted by the slanderer, but he is still moved by the spirit just as he was when he went into the desert at the beginning of the last section. There is a longish quote from Isaiah that was not found in Matthew, and certainly not in Mark. In all, much of the material here is new and unique to Luke. This section started out to be longer, but the commentary ran on more than anticipated, so it seemed best to cut it into two parts.
14 Καὶ ὑπέστρεψεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐν τῇ δυνάμει τοῦ πνεύματος εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν. καὶ φήμη ἐξῆλθεν καθ’ ὅλης τῆς περι χώρου περὶ αὐτοῦ.
15 καὶ αὐτὸς ἐδίδασκεν ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς αὐτῶν, δοξαζόμενος ὑπὸ πάντων.
16 Καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς Ναζαρά, οὗ ἦν τεθραμμένος, καὶ εἰσῆλθεν κατὰ τὸ εἰωθὸς αὐτῷ ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῶν σαββάτων εἰς τὴν συναγωγήν, καὶ ἀνέστη ἀναγνῶναι.
And Jesus turned back in the power of the spirit to Galilee. And the news of him went out to all the surrounding country around him. (15) And he taught in the synagogues of them [ i.e., those in the surrounding country ], being extolled by all. (16) And he came to Nazareth, where he was reared, and he went in according to the custom to him (dative of possession) and in the day of the Sabbaths (he went) into the synagogue, and stood read.
This emphasis on the power of the spirit, or being filled by the spirit is unique to Luke. When we came across it previously, Jesus was at the end of his forty days, and he was full of the spirit. I didn’t mention it because I was under the (obviously mistaken) impression that Matthew had said something similar. He did not. The point of this is that, after fasting alone in the wilderness for forty days, Jesus was feeling very close to God who had breathed into him, and this breath was a potent bit of inspiration (pun intended). It was so potent that Luke reminds us of this state of mind of Jesus a second time.
Aside from that, we get a several of echoes from Mark that passed through Matthew as well in here. The first is Jesus teaching in the synagogues of Galilee; the second is the way his fame spread about into the surrounding countryside, and the third is the amazement of those hearing him. Luke is a bit more circumspect than Mark was, for whom the astonishment of the audience was a point made frequently, and those hearing Jesus were astonished, rather than simply extolling his virtues as Luke says.
What we don’t get in here is Jesus moving to Caphernaum, which is present in both Mark and Matthew. Rather, he returns to Nazareth. Mark mentions Nazareth exactly once, in 1:9, when he is introduced. Matthew mentions it three times; once when they leave Bethlehem to return to Nazareth, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry when he leaves Nazareth for Caphernaum, and a final time later, when Jesus is said to be from Nazareth. Luke mentions Nazareth five times. I suggested that the incidence in Mark could easily be an interpolation; either way, here is a great example of how an idea becomes fixed in a legend, and the role of that idea grows with time. For Mark, it was worth a brief mention and no more, even though in Chapters 3 and 6 he has Jesus surrounded by his family, and returning to his (unnamed) home town. Matthew acknowledges Nazareth, but gets Jesus out of there ASAP. Luke culminates by taking the theme and running with it. John doesn’t really count, since he’s not writing a narrative of Jesus’ life the way the synoptics do. Mark, IMO, really didn’t know where Jesus was from, or perhaps he didn’t much care. The circumstances of Chapters 3 & 6 really don’t fit together all that well, and it’s highly possible that he got the two stories from two different sources. By Luke’s time, Nazareth has become indelibly fixed in the record, so he brings it up early and often.
Caphernaum comes up a few times in Luke, but Jesus does not move there. It’s worth noting that these sorts of dissonances between Luke do have some significance in the argument about Q. Luke obviously knew Mark’s take on Caphernaum, but chose not to follow it. That Luke chose not to follow Mark makes it less odd when Luke disagrees with Matthew. Luke can disagree with Matthew without this being used as evidence that Luke must–MUST! I tell you–have been unaware of Matthew. Because if Luke knew Matthew, well of course he would have followed Matthew to the letter. Which he pretty much did in the story of the Temptation of Jesus that we just read.
14 Et regressus est Iesus in virtute Spiritus in Galilaeam. Et fama exiit per universam regionem de illo.
15 Et ipse docebat in synagogis eorum et magnificabatur ab omnibus.
16 Et venit Nazareth, ubi erat nutritus, et intravit secundum consuetudinem suam die sabbati in synagogam et surrexit legere.
17 καὶ ἐπεδόθη αὐτῷ βιβλίον τοῦ προφήτου Ἠσαΐου, καὶ ἀνα πτύξας τὸ βιβλίον εὗρεν τὸν τόπον οὗ ἦν γεγραμμένον,
18 Πνεῦμα κυρίου ἐπ’ ἐμέ, οὗ εἵνεκεν ἔχρισέν με εὐαγγελίσασθαι πτωχοῖς, ἀπέσταλκέν με κηρύξαι αἰχμαλώτοις ἄφεσιν καὶ τυφλοῖς ἀνάβλεψιν, ἀποστεῖλαι τεθραυσμένους ἐν ἀφέσει,
19 κηρύξαι ἐνιαυτὸν κυρίου δεκτόν.
20 καὶ πτύξας τὸ βιβλίον ἀποδοὺς τῷ ὑπηρέτῃ ἐκάθισεν: καὶ πάντων οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ ἦσαν ἀτενίζοντες αὐτῷ.
And he was given the book of the prophet Isaiah, and opening the book he found the place where it was written, (18) “The sacred breath is on me, on account of which (it) anointed me to preach to the poor, (and) sent me to announce deliverance to the captive, and to (give to) the blind, sight, to send those having been broken in deliverance, (19) to announce the accepted year of the lord”. (20) And closing the book and giving it back to the official he sat. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were gazing earnestly at him.
The one thing that most jumped out at me is the bit about all eyes being upon Jesus. Why? Was there something so remarkable about this passage? Or did those in the synagogue generally look expectantly upon whomever had just finished reading? This would seem to be what we would expect; you read, people then want to hear what you have to say about the passage. It would be helpful to have an idea of standard practice in the synagogues; was it normal for people to read and then interpret? Or was this act reserved for a few–for those who could read? Are they watching him so closely because he is not one of the usual readers? I simply don’t know. Something like that would be a reasonable inference based on what Luke says here, but do we have any reason to believe that Luke had any clue about standard practice in Galilee fifty, or closer to sixty, years prior to his own time?
Personally, I don’t see any reason to suppose that he did. Which helps explain the “all eyes on him”: it’s simply a dramatic ploy. This, I think, is important because it indicates the degree to which Luke is willing to go in order to make his point, that he’s willing to cut loose even more from the moorings of history and float into the world of legend and myth. As such, there is much less to tether him to the previous gospels, which is why he makes up so many of his own stories. To argue, or even to suggest that the Prodigal Son came from a source dating back to Jesus that had been unknown to both Matthew and Mark is borderline ludicrous; Luke crafted this parable, and pretty much all the others that are unique to his gospel. Yes, it’s possible that there are bits here and there that somehow passed through to Luke without intermediate stops in Matthew or Mark, but these would be just that: bits. So if Luke is creating his own version of the legend, why should we expect him to stick close to Matthew?
BTW. I seriously doubt that we know much, if anything, about standard practice in the synagogues of Galilee ca 30 CE. What do we have for sources on this? For all I know there could be a trove of sources describing what went on in synagogues at the time when the Second Temple was still standing. But I doubt it. These sorts of homey, quotidian details of everyday life are usually exactly what we don’t know about life in the ancient world. They were ordinary; why record them? Now, this is where things like Apuleius are invaluable: they do record these sorts of details in the same way that Tolstoy preserves the details of life in Russia of 1812 that he’d heard from his father. Are there comparable sources of Jewish life? I don’t know, but I don’t thinks so. If I’m wrong, please let me know.
Then we come to the issue of the quote itself. Matthew has a very similar passage that is also ascribed as a citation of Isaiah (61:1-2 & c) even though it’s probably more correct to call Matthew’s version a paraphrase. After all, here Jesus is reading directly from the text, so we should expect a higher level of faithfulness; in Matthew, however, Jesus is using the quote off-the-cuff, so paraphrase is to be expected to some degree. Regardless of the differences in wording, Jesus’ use of this passage is included in the reconstructed Q. A quick check indicates that Luke’s quote is much closer to the original, as found in the LXX; I cannot vouch for the original Hebrew. This fits with the idea that Luke is the “more primitive” version of Q, the idea that Luke, writing later, changed the verbiage of Q much less than Matthew did. However, in the critical edition of Q, it is Matthew’s version that is included as the consensus of the original text of Q. Here, once again, is the redefining the contents of Q to fit the circumstances required. In Matthew’s version, this passage comes when disciples of the imprisoned Baptist come, at John’s behest, to Jesus to ask him if he is The One, or if they should expect another. To answer, Jesus recites the paraphrase. So the circumstances are entirely different. This is not seen as a problem for, since it records only what Jesus said, except when it doesn’t as in the case of the Temptations. Why the discrepancy?
Of course for the Q position, there is no real difficulty. Each evangelist read what was in Q and each chose to couch it in his own particular context. But then you have to explain why Luke chose to go back and insert the original text of Isaiah. To the best of my knowledge (which is extremely limited, I admit), the Q people never do this. Rather, they insist that non-Q people explain every time Luke varies from Matthew, because if we are to argue that Luke read Matthew, then why did Luke change Matthew’s “masterful” arrangement of the Q material. I find this position rather tendentious, to put it mildly. Regardless, the question is legitimate; why did Luke feel the need to go back to the original?
My suggestion is that this is another time that Luke, fully aware of the text of Matthew, decided he needed to amplify, or underscore Matthew more effectively. In Matthew’s use, the attribution to Isaiah is not at all obvious. Someone without a background in HS (like me) would perhaps sense that it’s a quote, or a textual reference, without really knowing what that reference is specifically, in the way that western “cultural” Christians get the analogy of the Prodigal Son while being mostly unaware of the actual story. Luke felt the need to fix this by making the quotation both literal and obvious. This is especially noticeable since Matthew is the one who dug up so many HS citations, like the explanation of Jesus’ move to Caphernaum (Mt 1:13-20). Matthew cited that whole; why not have Jesus do the same? And I mean that as a question: why not? Were the reasons theological? Or artistic? The latter because it would have been stilted for Jesus to start expounding Scripture off-the-cuff, making him seem like a know-it-all? Or the former, for…some reason? It would be incumbent on the Q people to 1) explain why the less primitive version appears in the text of Q; or 2) why Matthew chose to deviate from the Q text by paraphrasing instead of quoting the whole text. As far as I can tell, they do neither; instead, they insist that the Q skeptics prove that Q did not exist.
As for the quote itself, it’s hugely important. This is, in effect, Jesus declaration of his identity But, since we haven’t heard that declaration, we’ll save that for the next section.
17 Et tradi tus est illi liber prophetae Isaiae; et ut revolvit librum, invenit locum, ubi scriptum erat:
18 “ Spiritus Domini super me; / propter quod unxit me / evangelizare pauperibus, / misit me praedicare captivis remissionem
et caecis visum, / dimittere confractos in remissione,
19 praedicare annum Domini acceptum”.
20 Et cum plicuisset librum, reddidit ministro et sedit; et omnium in synagoga oculi erant intendentes in eum.
Here starts Chapter 4. It begins with the story of Jesus’ temptation by the slanderer. It occurs to me that “diabolos” is another of those words to which we have assigned a very specific meaning. Worse, in this case, the meaning we assign to it was simply not part of the original meaning of the word. Nor is it a terribly common word in the NT; Matthew uses it six times, and four of them are in his version of this story in Chapter 4. Luke uses it eight times; five are here, there is another instance in Chapter 8, and it’s used twice in Acts. Mark does not use the word at all. In his brief account, it’s ‘satanos’, which usually gets capitalized by modern translations. “Satanos” is the Greek form of the Hebrew word for “adversary”, which Mark uses close to a dozen times. What we are seeing with Matthew and Luke is the laying of the foundation for the concept of the Devil with which we are all familiar, but it’s important to realize that the concept was still in the early stages of its development. In fact, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that there is no word for “devil” in Greek at the time the NT was written. Matthew and Luke did much to coin the term in Greek, which was transliterated directly into Latin, becoming the root of diablo, diable, Teuffel and other words in other European languages.
1 Ἰησοῦς δὲ πλήρης πνεύματος ἁγίου ὑπέστρεψεν ἀπὸ τοῦ Ἰορδάνου, καὶ ἤγετο ἐν τῷ πνεύματι ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ
2 ἡμέρας τεσσεράκοντα πειραζόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου. καὶ οὐκ ἔφαγεν οὐδὲν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις, καὶ συντελεσθεισῶν αὐτῶν ἐπείνασεν.
Jesus, full of the sacred breath, turned away from the Jordan, and he was led in the spirit into the desert for forty days being tempted by the slanderer. And he did not eat anything in those days, and at the conclusion of them he was hungry.
I think one point to begin is to make sure we’re putting this episode into context. This occurs immediately after the baptism, when the sacred breath descended from the sky and took on bodily form and, apparently, filled Jesus. Now, each evangelist has a slightly different take on the impetus used to get Jesus into the wilderness. Mark says the spirit “threw out” (ekballei) Jesus; it’s an active verb, and Jesus is the direct object of the throwing. Matthew is having none of that; rather, Jesus was led (anagō) by the spirit. The verb is passive; Jesus is the subject and the spirit is in the dative even though it’s the actual agent. That’s how the passive works. Here, once again, the subject Jesus was led (agō) by the spirit, that is grammatically in the dative. Note that Matthew and Luke agree grammatically, and even use the same verb, agō, even though Matthew adds a prefix to make it an-agō. So, what we have here is Matthew and Luke agreeing against Mark, even though that never happens.
But there is more, to be discussed shortly.
1 Iesus autem plenus Spiritu Sancto regressus est ab Iordane et agebatur in Spiritu in deserto
2 diebus quadraginta et tentabatur a Diabolo. Et nihil manducavit in diebus illis et, consummatis illis, esuriit.
3 Εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ ὁ διάβολος, Εἰ υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ, εἰπὲ τῷ λίθῳ τούτῳ ἵνα γένηται ἄρτος.
4 καὶ ἀπεκρίθη πρὸς αὐτὸν ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Γέγραπται ὅτι Οὐκ ἐπ’ ἄρτῳ μόνῳ ζήσεται ὁ ἄνθρωπος.
Said to him the slanderer, “If you are the son of God, tell to the stone in order that it becomes bread”. (4) And answered towards him Jesus, “It is written that ‘not upon bread alone will live man’.”
OK, unlike the first two verses, this is not in Mark. If you’ll recall, Mark has the barest outline of events, completely lacking in details; the conversation between Jesus and the slanderer is solely found in Matthew and Luke. So, once again, we have Matthew and Luke agreeing against Mark. Except we don’t. The solution to this situation as well as the apparent agreement of verb (agō) and voice (passive) is that this whole section is found in Q! How clever! Now, it may be clever, but it’s not entirely simple. Recall that Q was, supposedly, a collection of the sayings of Jesus. Except when it also includes stuff said by John. Or now, when it includes things said by the Devil, too, both in this verse and subsequent ones. And, if we are to be logically consistent, then we have to believe that Q had just what Jesus and the devil said, but not the narrative setting the scene; that narrative, after all, is found in Mark. So we have disembodied dialogue. And, behold! if you check the critical version of Q at this site:
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/q.html (then proceed to this link:)
If you check the critical version of Q, that is exactly what you find. The devil’s temptation and Jesus’ retort. And then we get the other two exchanges between the two. However, does anyone else find this a bit…peculiar? Disembodied speech lacking in setting? Or are we supposed to flip back and forth between Mark and Q to get the scene and the speech. Oh wait, Mark doesn’t have any of these three scenarios, just that he went into the desert for forty days, he fasted, was hungry, was tempted, and the angels waited on him. So, IOW, Q has nowhere to hang these exchanges. The peculiarity of this will be even more apparent when we get to the next temptations, in which the physical setting is even more important.
So, realizing this peculiarity, Burton Mack’s translation of Q includes not only stuff the devil says, but also how the physical action that occurred here, and the additional action that will occur in the next little bit.
Link at Early Christian Writings as above, then here:
So, Q has the sayings of Jesus. Except when it has stuff John said. Or stuff the Devil said. Or stuff that Jesus and the Devil did, apart from their vocal exchanges. This is what I meant about how the content Q changes with the problem to be solved. This is borderline intellectual dishonesty, except I believe that the Q people believe what they say, and that they simply do not see any contradictions or inconsistencies in what they say. Part–most–of the problem is that the Q people, and most NT scholars & academics have their backgrounds in scripture–or perhaps more accurately, Scripture. Articles of faith are not foreign to their worldview.
Yes, the very close similarities between the words used here and in Matthew could be well-explained by the existence of Q. And certain dissimilarities in treatment could be easily explained by the existence of Q. But aside from some inferential suggestions, there is no evidence that Q existed, and most of the similarities can be explained by Luke having read Matthew, and the differences can be explained by Luke not copying Matthew directly.
And, more or less FYI, the quote Jesus cites is from Deuteronomy. Matthew was big on digging out quotes from HS to show their relevance to Jesus and his mission. Hence the creation of the story of the Flight to Egypt so he could work in the quote from Hosea, and the story of the Slaughter of the Innocents just so he could use the quote about the weeping in Rama from Jeremiah. So the question becomes “who first used the quote about bread alone? Jesus or Matthew?” We have no real indication from Paul or Mark that Jesus went about quoting HS; we have evidence in Matthew that he did pull a bunch of quotes from the HS. So which is more likely in this case? The other thing is that Luke here only uses about half the quote, leaving off the part about living off every word issuing from the mouth of God. According to the Q people, this means that Luke, who wrote second, preserves the more “primitive” version of what Q contained. Matthew, who wrote first, elaborated and added the rest of the quote.
In fact, all in all, Luke almost always preserves the more primitive form of Q, the less elaborate; think, “blessed are the poor” (Luke) vs. “blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matthew). Now, I need to be careful here, because I’m the one who is saying “always”, but the words “always”, “never”, and such always (!) set me en garde. Aside from stuff like gravity, nothing (!) always works a certain way. The Q advocates can always (!) get around my objection by saying Luke usually preserves the more primitive version. Usually, reconstructions of Q are based on Luke’s wording for exactly this reason: it’s supposed that he is more faithful to Q than Matthew was. Now, in the first three chapters, we have seen where Luke added a number of stories not present in either of the other two gospels. Luke, in fact, is very creative; we’ll come across a whole bunch of stories that he (likely) created. And yet, he almost always maintained the more pristine version of Q. Does this strike anyone else as a bit contradictory?
3 Dixit autem illi Diabolus: “Si Filius Dei es, dic lapidi huic, ut panis fiat”.
4 Et respondit ad illum Iesus: “Scriptum est: ‘Non in pane solo vivet homo’.”
5 Καὶ ἀναγαγὼν αὐτὸν ἔδειξεν αὐτῷ πάσας τὰς βασιλείας τῆς οἰκουμένης ἐν στιγμῇ χρόνου:
6 καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷὁ διάβολος, Σοὶ δώσω τὴν ἐξουσίαν ταύτην ἅπασαν καὶ τὴν δόξαν αὐτῶν, ὅτι ἐμοὶ παραδέδοται καὶ ᾧ ἐὰν θέλω δίδωμι αὐτήν:
7 σὺ οὖν ἐὰν προσκυνήσῃς ἐνώπιον ἐμοῦ, ἔσται σοῦ πᾶσα.
8 καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Γέγραπται, Κύριον τὸν θεόν σου προσκυνήσεις καὶ αὐτῷ μόνῳ λατρεύσεις.
And (the slanderer) leading him (Jesus) he (adversary) showed to him (Jesus) the kingdoms of the inhabited world, in that point of time. And said to him the slanderer, “To you I will give all this power and glory of these, that to me was given over, and to whom I may wish I give it. (7) And you therefore readily should grovel before me, all will be to you”. (8) And answering Jesus said to him, “It is written, ‘The lord your God you will worship and to him alone you will serve’.”
First, a word on “grovel”. We’ve discussed this before, but bears repeating periodically: the word is “proskynesis”. Literally, it’s “towards a dog-like action”, or something like that. The idea is to assume a ritual submissive posture the way a dog will lie on its back and show its belly to a superior dog. The word came into popularity with the conquests of Alexander. As king of Macedon, he was a first among equals, and the idea of bowing to him, or performing any of the other ritual abasements we associate with royalty was a foreign concept. The Persians, OTOH, following in the footsteps of other West Asian monarchs, like the Babylonians or the Assyrians, insisted that subjects fall flat on their face before the king. The Greeks gave this the name of “proskynesis”. One of the things that Greeks felt separated them from the Asians–including Persians–was that Greeks did not abase themselves before another person. The Greeks were a free people who did not perform such demeaning acts. This changed when Alexander, who had assumed the Persian throne, started requiring this of his Greek/Macedonian allies, who found the act not only distasteful, but an outrage. For those who argue that Alexander was poisoned, this requirement by Alexander and the reaction of his generals to this requirement was a key reason why they plotted–and succeeded–in killing him off. Of course, the Diadochoi who took the thrones of Egypt and Persia implemented the policy and required it of their subjects. Overall, the “orientalization” (which is not a proper term, either grammatically or culturally) of the Greek, and subsequently the Roman rulers is a large topic. The ultimate end of this was the concept that the Greek king (Seleukos or Ptolemy, e.g.) and then the Roman Emperor was actually a god on earth.
The point is that this word entered religious usage from secular politic; at least in theory. Since the king/emperor was a god on earth, one could easily argue that this is a distinction without a difference.
It’s very interesting to note that the slanderer has been given power over the kingdoms of the earth. This is unique to Luke. Was it not in Q? Was it in Q, and Matthew ignored it? I ask because, if Luke retains the more primitive version of Q, why is it more elaborate here? How does that make sense? How do the Q people explain this aberration? Answer: they don’t. They conveniently overlook this, just as they overlook Luke taking up the virgin birth, Joseph, and that whole complex of themes that I’ve repeated quite frequently.
I’m prone to see this in context of what is to come. “Prince of this World” will become a title for the Devil within a few centuries. Or by the time John wrote his gospel. Just did a quick Google, and John the evangelist calls the devil the ruler of this world. And Paul implies as much in 2 Corinthians. Since we know that Luke was aware of Paul, had he read 2 Corinthians, or the component piece of what has become 2 Corinthians? That’s not out of the question. In the larger context, the idea that the material world is inherently corrupt is latent in Christian thought, just as Plato believed the immaterial world to be the “real” world, of which the world of matter was a lousy copy. This idea that the material world was corrupt to the point of evil became a foundational premise of a lot of dualist religions that held to the sharp difference between material (bad) and immaterial (good). To some extent, these religions could be considered Christian heresies, which is how they were treated by the institutional church; others argue that this sharp distinction actually pushes such dualistic beliefs into the category of another religion; I belong to this later camp. These dualistic beliefs can, and do, overlap with Christianity, but the idea of a creator-god that is not the supreme (or all-good) God takes us out of the realm of Christian belief, orthodox or not. Paul displays an impulse to dualism as he excoriates the ways of the flesh, but he does not take those final steps and leave Christian thought behind. So Luke’s assertion here that the kingdoms of the world belong to the slanderer belong to that school of thought that, time and again, would leave Christianity behind, and become a different belief. The Cathars of southern France in the late 12th & early 13th centuries are perhaps the most famous example.
5 Et sustulit illum et ostendit illi omnia regna orbis terrae in momento temporis;
6 et ait ei Diabolus: “Tibi dabo potestatem hanc universam et gloriam illorum, quia mihi tradita est, et, cui volo, do illam:
7 tu ergo, si adoraveris coram me, erit tua omnis”.
8 Et respondens Iesus dixit illi: “Scriptum est: ‘Dominum Deum tuum adorabis et illi soli servies’.”
9Ἤγαγεν δὲ αὐτὸν εἰς Ἰερουσαλὴμ καὶ ἔστησεν ἐπὶ τὸ πτερύγιον τοῦ ἱεροῦ, καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Εἰ υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ, βάλε σεαυτὸν ἐντεῦθεν κάτω:
10 γέγραπται γὰρ ὅτι Τοῖς ἀγγέλοις αὐτοῦ ἐντελεῖται περὶ σοῦ τοῦ διαφυλάξαι σε,
11 καὶ ὅτι Ἐπὶχειρῶν ἀροῦσίν σε μήποτε προσκόψῃς πρὸς λίθον τὸν πόδα σου.
12 καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι Εἴρηται, Οὐκ ἐκπειράσεις κύριον τὸν θεόν σου.
13 Καὶ συντελέσας πάντα πειρασμὸν ὁ διάβολος ἀπέστη ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ ἄχρι καιροῦ.
He (the slanderer) led him (Jesus) to Jerusalem and they stood upon the pinnacle of the temple, and he (the slandered) said to him (Jesus), “If you are the son of God, throw yourself hence below. (10) It is written that ‘to his angels he will command about you to guard you’, (11) and that ‘they will take you in hand lest you ever stumble on a stone your foot’.” (12) And answering said to him Jesus that “Begone. Do not tempt the lord your God.” And the temptations being completed, the slanderer went away from him until a [more opportune] season.
As an insert, I should point out that the Greek very neatly sidesteps the whole antecedent problem. The subject of the verb is unspoken, referring to the slanderer, whereas the object, whether direct or indirect, is spelled out. This very neatly keeps things separated. But then, in Verse 12, the subject is identified as Jesus, and the slanderer is simply referred to as a pronoun. So it works to obviate the need to repeat the slanderer’s name as well.
Notice that this time it’s the slanderer who is quoting scripture. The quotes cited are from Ps 91:11 & 18. This citation is most likely somewhat ironic, showing that the slanderer, too, knows his scripture. It’s moments like this that also helped contribute to later views of the power of The Devil/Satan/Lucifer. If you’ve ever seen The Exorcist, you may recall that the old priest (Max von Sydow, one of my favourite actors) told the younger priest that Satan was the “Prince of Lies”. He knows things, including God’s plans and God’s Scripture.
One final point. The order of these last two temptations is reversed here from the order of Matthew. There, the climax is Jesus being offered the kingdoms of the earth. I’ve always sort of felt that Matthew’s made more sense, that the temptation of power was more seductive than the idea of proving that angels would catch you if you jumped. Maybe that says more about me than it does about Luke and Matthew. Now, it’s interesting to note that the first three versions of reconstructed Q that are to be found on the Early Christian Writings website all put the temptations in Matthew’s order, with the kingdoms of the world as the climax. And yet we are told, repeatedly, that Luke preserves a more primitive version of Q. But here these versions of Q seem to state the opposite, that Matthew’s is the more accurate version. In and of itself, this is not a particularly big deal, but it’s just another inconsistency in the case for Q. There is a fairly large number of these piling up now. Somehow, they have managed to avoid having to account for them because…because Matthew’s version of the Sermon the Mount was so masterful.
9 Duxit autem illum in Ierusalem et statuit eum supra pinnam templi et dixit illi: “ Si Filius Dei es, mitte te hinc deorsum.
10 Scriptum est enim:
“Angelis suis mandabit de te,
ut conservent te”
11 et: “In manibus tollent te,
ne forte offendas ad lapidem pedem tuum” ”.
12 Et respondens Iesus ait illi: “ Dictum est: “Non tentabis Dominum Deum tuum” ”.
13 Et consummata omni tentatione, Diabolus recessit ab illo usque ad tempus.
About two-thirds of this chapter is devoted to John the Dunker; another quarter is devoted to the genealogy (getting really tired of that word). That leaves something under ten percent to the immersion of Jesus.
The real significance of this chapter, IMO, is its relevance to the issue of Q. We have the first extensive overlap of Matthew and Luke; they both add a section on the railings of John towards those who came out to see him. This is the famous “brood of vipers” passage, with its warning that the axe is at the root. Both evangelists give their accounts in much the same language, with several key phrases repeated. This repetition is so striking—to the point that one Verse (15) pretty much exactly verbatim—that these sections are obviously from a common source. Conventional wisdom is that both evangelists derived this section from Q. This should immediately cause you to sit back and question this. After all, Q is supposed to be the sayings of Jesus. Last time I checked, John and Jesus were different people. Did I miss the memo updating that? That comment is not simply facetious; it points to the way the Q argument engages in a certain amount of sleight of hand. One moment, Q is “x”; the next it’s also “y”. This lack of consistency should be our first red flag about the existence of this mythical document. Perhaps it was written by unicorns dipping their horn in ink. Seriously, if Q is the stuff Jesus said, why is John quoted the way he is? And it’s not a short quote.
The simple answer is that this has to be part of Q; otherwise, the entire “argument” for its existence more or less collapses. If this is not in Q, that means that Luke and Matthew both got it from another separate source. This would bring the tally of source documents that have disappeared without a trace up to two. Ockham is turning in his grave as we keep inventing these extraneous sources. Even the Q people realize what a problem this would be which inhibits them from every having suggested it. So if it’s not from Q, or some unidentified other source, then the only other possible solution is that Luke copied it from Matthew. But that simply won’t do. And I admit the elegance of their solution: simply include this piece of John in Q. Never mind the logistics of how this happened. It’s bad enough that pretty much everything Jesus said pretty much missed Mark, who was supposedly a disciple of Peter, who supposedly heard almost everything Jesus said, but now we have to come up with some explanation for how this saying of John also bypassed Mark but boomeranged back to a point where the author of Q picked it up.
Let me just remind us of something: without Q, then we are faced with the very real, very likely possibility that Jesus didn’t say most of what he said. Which puts him in the same category as Yogi Berra. If these sayings of Jesus were not recorded in the period between his death and the time that Mark wrote, that means they were either transmitted orally for forty years, or they were composed at some point well after Jesus died. The most likely time would be when Matthew wrote. Since we know what forty years of oral transmission can mean (blessed are the cheesemakers), in either of these solutions we are probably dealing with sayings that, at best, may only kinda sorta maybe resemble things Jesus said; at worst, they were made up out of whole cloth because someone else decided that these were things that Jesus would have said, or perhaps should have said. That is to say, the link to Jesus becomes very, very tentative and diffuse, to the point of non-existent. This is why the existence of Q cannot be questioned. Without Q, the basis for calling ourselves “Christians” becomes extremely shaky. We can argue, of course, that these are wonderful things that Jesus said, so the actual author doesn’t matter. While true, this sort of misses the whole “divine” aspect of Jesus. If he wasn’t God incarnate, he’s just another prophet, like Elijah. Or Mohammed.
In short, there is a lot at stake if Q does not exist. So much so, in fact, that it appears that scholars are willing to overlook a fairly large body of contraindications to hold onto the ragged hopes of a dream.
It potentially gets worse. In this chapter we were compelled to face the problem presented by the genealogy. Why do both Matthew and Luke have one, but no one else? Why is Luke’s different? What does this say about Q? Well, we can rest assured that no version of Q ever reconstructed ever contained a genealogy, so we can’t ascribe Luke having one to a common source in Q. If not from Q, there are two choices: either Luke came up with the idea independently, or he got the idea from Matthew. Obviously, the fact that Luke’s is different from Matthew’s would seem to throw the weight of the argument towards independent development. That is a legitimate position. If we are being intellectually honest, however, we then need to come up with a probability that Luke came up with the idea on his own. How likely, really, is it that these two men, engaged in essentially the same endeavour, separated by a dozen (?) years and however many miles, came up with the same idea? Stranger things have certainly happened; parallel development is hardly all-that unusual an occurrence.
If it were just this one thing, that argument might seem to be the best option to explain the existence of genealogy in both gospels. It would explain the differences. But this is not an isolated incident. So far, we have seen a similar pattern with the birth narrative. Luke followed Matthew on Joseph, the Annunciation (but to Mary, rather than Joseph), and especially the virgin birth, but he changed most of the other details. But still, the themes mentioned are only found in Matthew; no one else mentions these things, just as no one else comes up with a genealogy. Are we to infer that Luke arrived at all of these ideas independently? Bear in mind that the addition of each theme decreases the probability of independent arrival by significant amounts. So I suggest the idea of the genealogy fits in rather nicely with Joseph, virgin birth, angels, and I neglected Bethlehem the first time around.
Then comes the question of why are they different? There is no fer-sure answer to that, of course. The simplest answer is that Luke was not aware of Matthew and so came up with his genealogy independently, and concocted his lineage according to his own principles, or “research”, or creativity; as mentioned, however, this comes with it’s own set of problems. The other possibility is that Luke correcting Matthew’s genealogy. Many of the commentaries suggest that this is Mary’s heritage, that Joseph was the son-in-law, rather than the son, of Heli. After all, Luke does not properly say “son of”; rather, it’s just Joseph of Heli (tou Eli), the “tou” indicating the genitive case which shows possession. So, it’s Joseph of Heli, with “son” understood. This is a standard practice in Greek writing that dates back centuries before the NT. So the suggestion that it’s “son-in-law” is speculative, of course, with no real evidence to support it. There is inferential evidence, however. The angel Gabriel appears to Mary, not to Joseph as in Matthew. Mary is a major figure in Chapter 2. And Jesus is only “thought to be” the son of Joseph. Which is accurate if Jesus was conceived by the sacred breath and not by a human male. So why didn’t Luke just say “son of Mary, daughter of Heli”? After all, Mark refers to Jesus as “son of Mary” in Chapter 6. One can only speculate, but the whole idea of Jesus-as-illegitimate has to be borne in mind; after all, this is the most likely reason that Matthew came up with Joseph and the genealogy to begin with. If forced to guess, I would say that Luke probably did intend us to take this as Mary’s lineage, and the emphasis he put on her was to be our clue of this intent. This way, he’s more or less covered either regardless.
The final aspect of the Q discussion concerns the reported speech of the Baptist (or Dunker. Another possible translation is John the Plunger). Why are John’s words recorded in Q, which is supposed to be the sayings of Jesus? Answer: they have to be; otherwise, the only way to account for the remarkable similarity between the gospels is to conclude that Luke copied Matthew. Seriously. That is the only way to explain why these words of John are supposedly in Q. And this is what I meant when I said that <<One moment, Q is “x”; the next it’s also “y”>>. In other words, Q is the sayings of Jesus, except when we need it to record the words of John. That really feels intellectually dishonest. And the two accounts are remarkably similar, except that in Matthew John is excoriating the Pharisees, while in Luke the condemnation is leveled at everyone who comes out to be baptised. And that leads to the “winnowing fork” passage. The two accounts of Matthew and Luke are virtually identical, differing on exactly four points: Luke changes the verb tense of two verbs from future indicative to infinitive, and one has an extra “and” while the other has an extra “his”. Both of these latter could easily be later interpolations, but they don’t have to be for the point to hold. The likelihood that two people copied these words almost verbatim from Q is much smaller than if Luke simply copied them from Matthew.
The result is that, in the first couple of chapters, we have a significant number of instances where Luke did follow Matthew against Mark. We have Joseph, the annunciation by an angel, Bethlehem, the virgin birth, and the need for a genealogy. Remember: the Q people will state, flatly and with great conviction, that Luke never ever follows Matthew against Mark. But in the first three chapters we have five separate examples. And none of these appear in any reconstruction of Q. Then we come to the winnowing fork/threshing floor analogy, and we have a passage that is copied virtually verbatim in both accounts. Historical proof on controversial topics is never conclusive; that’s why they’re controversial. No one debates the Battle of Hastings and 1066; aspects of the battle can be debated and argued about hotly for generations, but the fundamental fact remains. So an argument on a controversial topic has to be pieced together, one small bit at a time. In three chapters, we have six separate indications that Luke used Matthew. What do the Q people have? That Luke never agrees with Matthew against Mark (against which we have the first five examples), and that Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount is so masterfully wrought that only a fool or a madman would mess with the construction. That’s pretty much it. Notice, however that the first is wrong and the second is not an argument, but a value judgement about literary style. Personally, I did not find the three chapters of the Sermon on the Mount to be all that masterfully arranged. I found the whole thing rather jumbled together, a bunch of unconnected sayings that were thrown into the same hopper. One, of course, can disagree, and come up with textual and literary arguments for the masterful handling; but those are textual and literary arguments, and the latter is highly subjective and subject to taste and fashion. I prefer historical arguments; I believe I’ve found the very strong foundation of a case against Q. I don’t expect to topple the prevailing academic consensus, but you heard it here first.
But perhaps the most remarkable part of the Q debate is that its proponents do not feel the least bit compelled to prove Q existed. In fact, they have–somehow–managed to manoeuvre the discussion so that, in effect, the non-Q people have to prove it didn’t exist. They claim that the non-Q people have to explain every single instance that Luke disagrees with Matthew, and that the combined cases have to be an editorially consistent rationale. This is errant nonsense. The fundamental principle of any kind of rational endeavour is that, if you say something exists, the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate this. The two premises I laid out above do not create any such proof. They never attempt to explain how and why Mark missed Q completely, nor why Luke does agree with Matthew against Mark on the topics found in Chapter 3.
OK, this is turning into a rant.