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Luke Chapter 9:37-45-Updated

Update: I added a comment to Verse 45 at the bottom of the page. I realized I completely neglected this.

Here we continue with yet another abridged version of a Triple Tradition story.  In between sections, I took a few minutes to go through the first bit of my Harmony. So far, my theory is holding. Luke is generally the shortest version when all three gospels have a story. It’s not always by a lot, but it is pretty consistent. And I haven’t gotten to Chapters 8 & 9 where I believe the phenomenon becomes more pronounced. Conversely, when Matthew significantly shortens Mark, Luke’s version comes somewhere in between. There are a few times when Luke has the longest version. Having glanced ahead (spoiler alert!) I saw that we will be coming onto the material unique to Luke, including (in no particular order) The Good Samaritan, The Prodigal Son, Zaccheus, etc. My sense in reading Chapter 9 has been that Luke is trying to hurry through the required bits of the Triple Tradition so that he can get to his own original material. And yes, I fully suspect Luke is the author of most of his unique material. With that, on to the


37 Ἐγένετο δὲ τῇ ἑξῆς ἡμέρᾳ κατελθόντων αὐτῶν ἀπὸ τοῦ ὄρους συνήντησεν αὐτῷ ὄχλος πολύς.

38 καὶ ἰδοὺ ἀνὴρ ἀπὸ τοῦ ὄχλου ἐβόησεν λέγων, Διδάσκαλε, δέομαί σου ἐπιβλέψαι ἐπὶ τὸν υἱόν μου, ὅτι μονογενής μοί ἐστιν,

39 καὶ ἰδοὺ πνεῦμα λαμβάνει αὐτόν, καὶ ἐξαίφνης κράζει, καὶ σπαράσσει αὐτὸν μετὰ ἀφροῦ καὶ μόγις ἀποχωρεῖ ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ συντρῖβον αὐτόν:

40 καὶ ἐδεήθην τῶν μαθητῶν σου ἵνα ἐκβάλωσιν αὐτό, καὶ οὐκ ἠδυνήθησαν.

It became on the next day they having come from the mountain a multitudinous crowd met him. (38) And behold, a man from the crowd shouted, saying, “Teacher, I need you to look upon my son, that is my only born, and behold, a spirit seized him, and he suddenly cries out, and he makes him retch with foam, and scarcely goes away from him it bruises him, (40) and I asked your disciples in order they cast it out, and they were not able”.

Let’s start with a comment on the Greek. I was always puzzled by the translation of “tore him with foam”. That doesn’t entirely make sense. So I check the Great Scott and, behold! one of the other meanings of the word rendered as “tore” is “to retch, w/o being able to vomit”. Now that makes sense. The kid goes into spasms where he convulses with dry heaves and, subsequently or consequently, he foams at the mouth. I do not know much about epilepsy or other afflictions that may cause this, so I shan’t speculate. I will, however, take credit for taking a deeper look at this. Then, taking a look at my crib translations, I noticed that, while the KJV does render this as “teareth”, more modern translations change this to “convulse”, as I did. It’s also worth pointing out that the KJV uses the same word in the versions of Mark and Matthew, saying that the demon “tears” at the boy with foam. I point this out because the KJV is most often the closest to the original Greek; it’s considered the definitive work in English, IIRC, among fundamentalists who take the words literally. I’m not sure what they may have to say about this.

Note that we are dealing with a sprit, not a demon. Mark always refers to it as such, but later in the story Luke will call it a demon, and then an unclean spirit. This is linguistic evidence that, by the time Luke wrote at least, these terms were interchangeable. I believe that they were in the earlier gospels, but I never really noted, or noticed the use of these different words in the same story. Also note that Mark alone calls the spirit “mute” (alalon). Neither Matthew nor Luke does so. But let us recall that Matthew did not say that the boy was possessed by a spirit, or demon, or anything else. Matthew says that the boy was a lunatic, which is a fairly literal translation of the Greek word he used. “To be lunaticking”, or something like that, would be even more literal. The root of Matthew’s Greek word is selene, “moon”. The root of lunatic is luna, which is “moon” but in Latin.

This discrepancy should, I believe, be considered in conjunction with noting the term used to address the father in the various gospels. Luke agrees with Mark against Matthew is in the word used; here and in Mark it’s didaskelon, teacher. In Matthew it’s kyrios, lord. All three evangelists use both words frequently, so I would be reluctant to draw any conclusions from this difference. Now, the Q people would zealously use this as an example of Lk + Mk <> Mt, and they have a point.

Taking a contrary position, OTOH, it can also be pointed out that Luke agrees with Matthew against Mark by omitting that the spirit was mute. Of course, the Q people would object to that characterization; they would say something like this is not an active agreement, but a passive omission, which could have been omitted independently. And besides, there was no spirit in Matthew, so how could it be mute? This is certainly an accurate description of the situation, but other interpretations of these circumstances are certainly possoble. Recall that Luke very pointedly stressed that Jesus did not move to Caphernaum, as Matthew explicitly states. At the time, I suggested that Luke had deliberately corrected Matthew. I also think that returning back to the idea of a spirit was another deliberate decision by Luke to correct Matthew once again. Personally, I think there is a lot of this sort of “correction” of Matthew done in Luke, which is why these two “never” agree against Mark. Except for Joseph, Bethlehem, the angels…So I’m still going to put it on the Lk+Mt <> Mk. These little things are insignificant on their own, but the accumulated weight should be considered; enough of these small instances makes for telling evidence. In this way we shall steal a page from the Q peoples’ playbook: make the assertion, and then make them prove it’s wrong. This will put them on the horns of a dilemma: argue against the assertion, thereby crediting that it has merit and must be disproven; or, say the demand to prove a negative is ridiculous. In which case, they will be agreeing with me about the existence of Q.

Finally, the man asks about his “son”. He does not use the word pais that the Centurion did; rather, it’s huios, which is the standard word used for “son of God” or “son of man”. Perhaps this is the final bit of ‘proof’ needed to show that we were indeed, talking about the Centurion’s servant. Perhaps I’m the only one who still needed to be convinced of that.

There are a couple of other things to be discussed, like the disciples’ inability to cast out the spirit. That one in particular will be saved for later.

37 Factum est autem in sequenti die, descendentibus illis de monte, occurrit illi turba multa.

38 Et ecce vir de turba exclamavit dicens: “Magister, obsecro te, respice in filium meum, quia unicus est mihi;

39 et ecce spiritus apprehendit illum, et subito clamat, et dissipat eum cum spuma et vix discedit ab eo dilanians eum;

40 et rogavi discipulos tuos, ut eicerent illum, et non potuerunt”.

41 ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν, *)=ω γενεὰ ἄπιστος καὶ διεστραμμένη, ἕως πότε ἔσομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς καὶ ἀνέξομαι ὑμῶν; προσάγαγε ὧδε τὸν υἱόν σου.

Answering, Jesus said, “O faithless and twisted generation! How long shall I be towards you and shall I bear with you? Lead your son hither.”

Ha! Guess what? I just found a place where Matthew and Luke actively agree against Mark; this is despite the fact that this never happens according to the Q people. Mark has Jesus bewailing the “faithless generation”; Matthew and Luke add the second word, here rendered as “twisted”, but is perhaps more metaphorically (and commonly) rendered as “perverse”. So, the entire superstructure of the Q argument collapses.

Maybe. To be fair, if this is indeed the only such instance, one has to be prepared to acknowledge, if not necessarily accept, the possibility that the presence of this single word, in exactly the same case, is an interpolation. See how fair I am? I point out the weaknesses in my own position; ideally, I would then provide proactive refutation of arguments based on this hole in my theory. That is, after all, how proper scholarship is done. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to create an actual argument for whether this is or is not an interpolation. It’s a single word, used in the same context and in the same case, etc. We have to ask whether this degree of exactitude argues for, or against, interpolation. The simplest explanation is, after all, that Luke simply copied Matthew. But why would Luke choose this one time and place to become a passive scribe, transcribing exactly what he found? To which a good response is, “why not here and now?” Would a later copyist of either gospel be likely to get it so perfectly? He would have to physically have to get the other text and write it in. Or, perhaps he remembered the text of the other. None of these, strictly speaking, is much of an actual argument. Rather, they are simple binary choices not terribly amenable to an argument. 

For now, we will leave it as noted that this agreement did occur, and see what happens later.

41 Respondens autem Iesus dixit: “O generatio infidelis et perversa, usquequo ero apud vos et patiar vos? Adduc huc filium tuum”.

42 ἔτι δὲ προσερχομένου αὐτοῦ ἔρρηξεν αὐτὸν τὸ δαιμόνιον καὶ συνεσπάραξεν: ἐπετίμησεν δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἀκαθάρτῳ, καὶ ἰάσατο τὸν παῖδα καὶ ἀπέδωκεν αὐτὸν τῷ πατρὶ αὐτοῦ.

43 ἐξεπλήσσοντο δὲ πάντες ἐπὶ τῇ μεγαλειότητι τοῦ θεοῦ. Πάντων δὲ θαυμαζόντων ἐπὶ πᾶσιν οἷς ἐποίει εἶπεν πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ,

44 Θέσθε ὑμεῖς εἰς τὰ ὦτα ὑμῶν τοὺς λόγους τούτους, ὁ γὰρ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου μέλλει παραδίδοσθαι εἰς χεῖρας ἀνθρώπων.

When he (the lad) having come up, the daimonion dashed him (the lad to the ground]) and tore him. But Jesus censured the spirit the unclean, and he healed the boy and gave him to his father. (43)  They were astounded upon the magnificence of God. All marveling upon all the things he did, he said to his disciples, (44) “Put these words into your ears, for the son of man is fated to be given over to the hands of men”. (45) They did not understand these things he said, and which having been hidden from them in order that they would not perceive him, and they feared to ask him about these words.

Before getting to the main event, let’s have a bit from the warm-up act. “Put these words into your ears” is a perfectly novel, probably unique, turn of phrase. I can’t just pass over that without noting it.

The first thing to note is what is not in here. Both Matthew and Mark have Jesus say that, after being handed over, the son of man will be killed, and on the third day will rise. Why? Why not include this? First of all, we have to acknowledge that this was a conscious decision on Luke’s part. He chose not to include it for whatever reason. This seems obvious, of course, but maybe only after it’s been pointed out. This is an aspect of gospel writing that too often is overlooked, or given insufficient  thought. It may seem strange to say this, given the Q proponents’ insistence on providing a “redactionally consistent” explanation of Luke that explains every single instance where he varies from Matthew. However, I would suggest that this is not a legitimate thing to demand from the Q-naysayers; that it is not a legitimate argument, or even a legitimate aspect of an argument. Luke varies from Matthew because he is Luke, and not Matthew. Matthew is largely consistent with Mark in the placement of the so-called pericopes; Luke differs from both in placement, and largely because Matthew follows Mark’s placement so consistently. This is, once again, another of those instances where Luke felt it unnecessary to add the bit about rising because it was adequately treated in his two predecessors. Luke, once again, truncates a story of Mark because Matthew did not. 

As an aside, the Harmony I consulted separates this last part from the story of the boy with the spirit. This is sensible; the two are not related. 

There is one final trope to be discussed in this piece. We have noted that the father of the boy asked why Jesus’ disciples were not able to expel (ekballei) the spirit. This is common to all three gospels, and they all report Jesus remonstrating about the faithless (and perverse) generation. This has always seemed a bit…odd. This cry of disgust makes sense in the context of the Pharisees (or others) asking for a sign, as occurs in Mark 10. Here, perhaps, not so much. Railing about a lack of faith, OTOH, does make sense. The implication is that faith is required to make wonders happen, and that certainly makes sense. In fact, Matthew explicitly says that the reason the disciples could not cast out the demon was their “little faith”, and supplements this by adding that having faith the size of a mustard seed can give you the power to move a mountain. 

There is a caveat to this, however. 

In Mark, after this event, the disciples privately (kat’ idian) ask Jesus why they were not able to drive out the demon. Matthew repeats this, using exactly the same phrase, (kat’ idian). However, the two evangelists give very different answers. Mark said it’s because this kind (to genos) can only be expelled by prayer. I pointed this out at the time as an example of Mark’s interest in, and description of, the “magical practices” Jesus employed to effect some of his miracles. In Mark this interest has the feel of a how-to guide to exorcism or other wonders. It’s what gets called a “coaching opportunity” in the business world, a chance for Jesus to give the disciples on-the-job training. Another notable example of magical practices was Jesus spitting into some dirt to make mud that he then applied to the eyes of a blind man. Matthew, OTOH, eliminates this part of the story. Instead, he blames the failure on the disciples’ lack of faith. This is not surprising that Matthew provided a different answer, since he eliminated all descriptions of magical practice from his gospel. As an aside, it is interesting to note that some mss traditions have added the “this kind can only be driven out by prayer” into the text of Matthew. The consensus is that this is indeed a later interpolation, intended to bring Matthew more closely into line with Mark. This is an excellent example of how stories grow and the tradition becomes enlarged, and is a great cautionary tale not to be too skeptical of suggestions of interpolation.

Luke, as we see, dropped the whole (kat’ idian) section. He does not have the disciples asking Jesus anything in private, about the demon or anything else. Of course, the question should be, ‘why not?’ What is Luke’s “redactionally consistent” explanation for eliminating the whole sequence? Well, if you’ve been keeping score at home, my consistent explanation has been that Luke has consistently eliminated sequences like this because they have been adequately covered by both Mark and Mathew. The instances of this redactional policy of Luke are starting to a accumulate, like snowflakes. A few snowflakes aren’t worth bothering about; when they start to accumulate, however, they become significant.

42 Et cum accederet, elisit illum daemonium et dissipavit. Et increpavit Iesus spiritum immundum et sanavit puerum et reddidit illum patri eius.

43 Stupebant autem omnes in magnitudine Dei. Omnibusque mirantibus in omnibus, quae faciebat, dixit ad discipulos suos:

44 “Ponite vos in auribus vestris sermones istos: Filius enim hominis futurum est ut tradatur in manus hominum”.

45 οἱ δὲ ἠγνόουντὸ ῥῆμα τοῦτο, καὶ ἦν παρακεκαλυμμένον ἀπ’ αὐτῶν ἵνα μὴ αἴσθωνται αὐτό, καὶ ἐφοβοῦντο ἐρωτῆσαι αὐτὸν περὶ τοῦ ῥήματος τούτου.

(45) They did not understand these things he said, and which having been hidden from them in order that they would not perceive him, and they feared to ask him about these words.

45 At illi ignorabant verbum istud, et erat velatum ante eos, ut non sentirent illud, et time bant interrogare eum de hoc verbo.

I have to say something about this last verse. It’s one that is in Mark and Luke, but not in Matthew. But before getting to the implications of that, let’s take a moment to appreciate what this verse says. The disciples did not understand what Jesus was talking about. That is fair enough. Jesus is making a prediction, so why would the disciples understand? I mean, on the one hand, it does seem pretty plain…but perhaps only if we assume that the disciples understood Jesus to be the son of man that Jesus is discussing. We get it, of course. When discussing Mark, one theme that kept recurring was the messianic secret; the term is not mine, but is part of the larger discourse, and it’s encountered often in the literature. My particular take on this is that Mark was trying to explain to later audiences why Jesus was not regarded as the messiah by his earliest followers. Or perhaps “make excuses” is a more appropriate description. Because the fact is, he wasn’t. Hence the bifurcation of Mark’s text into the earlier wonder-worker section, and the section on the anointed coming later. I mean, if Jesus’ own disciples didn’t fully understand who or what Jesus was, how could anyone outside the group be expected to get it? Then, as a corollary to this comes the bit about being afraid to ask. After all, if they didn’t understand, they could have asked, no? So why didn’t they? Because they were afraid. Why were they afraid? Well, that question is not even asked, let alone answered.

But let’s kept this lack of understanding in mind as we move to the next section, which is the Transfiguration.

Now let’s talk about the Mark & Luke but not Matthew. On the whole, the disciples fare much better in Matthew than they did in Mark. Matthew presents them in a much, much more positive light. So it’s hardly surprising that Matthew omitted the contents of this verse. It fits with his portrayal of the disciples; IOW, it’s redactionally consistent*. So here we have yet another example of Luke putting back something that Matthew excised. 


*Honestly, some of the attributes that modern scholars demand of the evangelists are borderline ridiculous. These guys were not writing a thesis that was going to be graded and that they would have to defend before a panel of (possibly hostile–but, then again, maybe not) professors. They are writing about Divine Truth; the details didn’t always matter. Truth has a higher sense of vision than something that’s only striving for factual accuracy, or to be a reasonably coherent interpretation. Because one thing that’s often overlooked is that many of these same modern scholars are far from being “redactionally consistent” in their presentations.


Luke Chapter 9:18-27

This next section is the lead-up to the Transfiguration and includes the confession of Peter. This is where Mark fully made the transition from wonder-worker to Christ. As such, the passage, especially Peter’s confession, has a staged feel to it. The section has the sensibility of being created because it was necessary. So even though this was in Mark, that does not imbue this with any halo of authenticity. The question of who made this up is completely open; did it start with Mark, who needed it for the transition to the Christ narrative? Or did it come about earlier, and Mark recorded what he found. Of the three evangelists that we’ve read, I give Mark the least credit for creativity. His narrative feels too much like reporting; in fact, I’ve often categorized Mark as the journalist of the evangelists. Likewise Matthew was the rabbi (albeit of pagan origin), Luke is a novelist, and John is a theologian. Each tells more or less the same story, but from a very different perspective, uisng a very different toolkit.


18 Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτὸν προσευχόμενον κατὰ μόνας συνῆσαν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταί, καὶ ἐπηρώτησεν αὐτοὺς λέγων, Τίνα με λέγουσιν οἱ ὄχλοι εἶναι;

19 οἱ δὲ ἀποκριθέντες εἶπαν, Ἰωάννην τὸν βαπτιστήν, ἄλλοι δὲ Ἠλίαν, ἄλλοι δὲ ὅτι προφήτης τις τῶν ἀρχαίων ἀνέστη.

And it happened therein he praying by himself the disciples came to him and he asked them saying, “Who does the crowd say me to be?” (19) Answering, they said, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, others that (you are) some prophet of old who rose (from the dead).”

Note that this is pretty close to a verbatim repetition of what Herod said about Jesus. Given all of Luke’s creativity, he surely could have come up with another set of speculative answers, couldn’t he? The answer, probably, is “probably”; ergo, that he didn’t is likely to be significant. At least to some degree. Really, it is, IMO, a case of doubling down for emphasis. These were the prevalent speculations about Jesus–at least, after the fact–so let’s repeat them twice to ensure that no one misses the point here. And since we’ve only just discussed the implications of each of these, ther is no reason to belabor the point any further.

The unique twist, albeit a minor one, that Luke gives is that he asks what “the crowd” says of him. It bears to remember that “the crowd” was not exactly a term of endearment back then, with all sorts of negative connotations. The aspiration was to be one of the best (aristoi, optimates), and “common” is still rather a term of disparagement in England. 

18 Et factum est, cum solus esset orans, erant cum illo discipuli, et interrogavit illos dicens: “Quem me dicunt esse turbae?”.

19 At illi responderunt et dixerunt: “ Ioannem Baptistam, alii autem Eliam, alii vero: Propheta unus de prioribus surrexit”.

20 εἶπεν δὲ αὐτοῖς, Ὑμεῖς δὲ τίνα με λέγετε εἶναι; Πέτρος δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν, Τὸν Χριστὸν τοῦ θεοῦ.

21 Ὁ δὲ ἐπιτιμήσας αὐτοῖς παρήγγειλεν μηδενὶ λέγειν τοῦτο,

22 εἰπὼν ὅτι Δεῖ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου πολλὰ παθεῖν καὶ ἀποδοκιμασθῆναι ἀπὸ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων καὶ ἀρχιερέων καὶ γραμματέων καὶ ἀποκτανθῆναι καὶ τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἐγερθῆναι.

He said to them, “Who do you say me to be?” Peter answering said, “The anointed one of God”. (21) He rebuking commanded them no one to tell this, (22) saying that “The Son of Man must suffer much and to be handed over to the elders and the high priests and scribes and to be killed and on the third day be raised”.

A word about the Greek. << τίνα >> means “who”. << τινα >> means “anyone”. Can you tell the difference? It escaped me, too, but then I cheated and looked at the Latin. The difference is that the former has an accent over the iota. I missed that at first.

There is a serious case of compression here. Luke has squeezed out every possible bit of extraneous information to get right down to the hard, crystalline crux of the matter here. That is, this is another example of the abridgement of a story told by the other two evangelists. Is this a coincidence? If we but take a moment to look at the context, something really jumps out. In the other gospels, this passage comes directly before the Transfiguration, and so it does here, too. But–and this is a big “but”–the other two gospels have several stories in between: walking on water, feeding the 4,000, eating with unclean hands, et alia.  All of them are in both gospels. IOW, Luke felt it unnecessary to include them because they had been adequately covered in both the other gospels. This, of course, implies–indeed requires–that Luke knew Matthew’s gospel. So we’ve collected a number of examples by this point. How many others are like this? And what does Luke do when Matthew doesn’t give a full account of Mark? A run through the Harmony is called for to examine this issue a bit more closely. I have a theory of what we’ll find, but it needs testing.

20 Dixit autem illis: “Vos autem quem me esse dicitis?”. Respondens Petrus dixit: “ Christum Dei”.

21 At ille increpans illos praecepit, ne cui dicerent hoc,

22 dicens: “Oportet Filium hominis multa pati et reprobari a senioribus et principibus sacerdotum et scribis et occidi et tertia die resurgere”.

23 Ἔλεγεν δὲ πρὸς πάντας, Εἴ τις θέλει ὀπίσω μου ἔρχεσθαι, ἀρνησάσθω ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἀράτω τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ καθ’ ἡμέραν, καὶ ἀκολουθείτω μοι.

He spoke to all of them, “If someone wishes hereafter to follow me, let him deny himself and take up his cross each day, and follow me”.

Is it just me, or is this a rather sharp discontinuity from the previous verse? It may have something to do with the numerous pericopes that are in the other gospels that are omitted in between here. Or, I suppose the real break comes before Verse 18 that opens this section. Here’s the real issue: this is what I find so annoying about the Q people and their non-existent argument for the existence of Q. It’s the whole issue of these discontinuities. For all the world, what they feel like is a collection of disparate, unrelated sayings; that is, they sound like a collection of sayings that have nothing to do with one another. This is what a real argument for Q looks and sounds like. Lord knows that I find it reasonable to suppose the existence of such a collection based on the textual evidence. It has not so much to do with the arrangement of the material–which is a subjective measure at best–but the fact that we are dealing with pericopes in the first place. Mark famously makes almost no attempt to smooth the transitions between pericopes; in a very large number of verses, especially those beginning a new story, the first word is simply “and”. The same is so with a number of these sayings, or these stories that have Jesus making a statement. So why do the Q people insist on the “argument” from arrangement? I have no idea.

We’ve discussed this before, so I’ll point it out and move along. The injunction to “take up one’s cross” is, of course, a later invention, added after Jesus had been crucified. It simply makes no sense before then, and it’s a reference to the tribulations that came with the destruction of Jerusalem.

23 Dicebat autem ad omnes: “ Si quis vult post me venire, abneget semetipsum et tollat crucem suam cotidie et sequatur me.

24 ὃς γὰρ ἂν θέλῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ σῶσαι, ἀπολέσει αὐτήν: ὃς δ’ ἂν ἀπολέσῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ, οὗτος σώσει αὐτήν.

25 τί γὰρ ὠφελεῖται ἄνθρωπος κερδήσας τὸν κόσμον ὅλον ἑαυτὸν δὲ ἀπολέσας ἢ ζημιωθείς;

“For he who would save his life must lose it. But he who might lose his life because of me, that one will save it. (25) For what should it profit a man should he gain the whole world but himself he should destroy or cause to lose (himself).

Oh, now this is interesting for a couple of reasons. To begin, this is is another example of compression; this compresses sentiments that are expressed in two separate places in Mark & Matthew. So, once again, Luke “just happens” to edit down pericopes* or sayings* that get full treatment in the two previous gospels. How many examples of that do we now have? 

Then, there is no way to render psyche as “soul”. …”He who would save his own soul will lose it“…doesn’t really work. The tendency to us “soul” for psyche reflects, IMO, the later Christian interpretation with which we are all familiar; so saving your soul should be the goal, and losing it by trying to save it doesn’t really make sense. And, to be fair, in the save/lose part of the saying, it is pretty much always translated as “life”. We have also seen how the combination of pysche and “to save” occur together in a context which makes it pretty clear that what is being saved is the physical life of the person in question, and not her immortal soul. Here, this could not be more clear.

The most interesting feature of this compression, however, comes in the last half. In its two previous incarnations, it is often rendered as “what shall it profit…to gain the world and lose one’s psyche“, which is almost always rendered as “soul”. At least in the discussion of Mark, I argued that the translation more attuned to the sense of the Greek word would be “life”. Here, Luke is forced to deal with this in a novel way, and for novel reasons. Because he has just used psyche twice, to avoid redundancy he uses an entirely different word in the back end. Here, he says, but should lose himself, using this word in all its glorious ambiguity. We can ask if this is more apt to shade towards soul or towards life? Or towards something that is neither? My sense is that it shades more towards “soul”. This is, IMO, why Luke chose to write it the way he did, to remove that ambiguity.

I’ll be honest: gaining the world and losing one’s soul has more literary impact that gaining the world and losing one’s life. Despite this, we have to ask if we are not seeing this expression as the result of two millennia of dualist tradition, in which the body and the soul are believed to be separate entities. We think it makes more sense as soul because that is how we think. The question becomes whether Mark saw things that way. Luke could very likely share something closer to our perspective. Everyone has always pretty much agreed that Luke was a pagan rather than a Jew, and I have seen no reason to doubt that, even if I haven’t seen all that much evidence that he was a pagan. He’s rather more of a continuation of Matthew in that way; the break between Jew and pagan comes, I believe, between Mark and Matthew. That was my position pretty much throughout Matthew’s gospel. 

So if Mark meant life and Luke meant soul, what did Matthew mean? If he were a pagan, why did he not clarify the ambiguity? One could answer that Matthew did not see the ambiguity; for him, Mark’s psyche meant more or less what it did to Luke, so Matthew saw no need to make the change. Luke, being a bit more educated–and let’s not kid ourselves, Luke is the most educated of the three–did understand the potential ambiguity and so made the change. These gospels were written in Greek, but in what language were they preached? Did the people who read the Greek address speakers of Aramaic in Greek? This is rather a profound question, and not one that is amenable to a quick and simple answer. My immediate reaction is that those preaching would have done so in the language of the audience. This only makes sense. Given this, it is not unreasonable to suggest that Luke made the change because this passage had caused problems due to the potential ambiguity. I don’t know that, but it’s a fairly apparent explanation. Whether it’s the correct explanation is rather a different issue.

24 Qui enim voluerit animam suam salvam facere, perdet illam; qui autem perdiderit animam suam propter me, hic salvam faciet illam.

25 Quid enim proficit homo, si lucretur universum mundum, se autem ipsum perdat vel detrimentum sui faciat?

26 ὃς γὰρ ἂν ἐπαισχυνθῇ με καὶ τοὺς ἐμοὺς λόγους, τοῦτον ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐπαισχυνθήσεται, ὅταν ἔλθῃ ἐν τῇ δόξῃ αὐτοῦ καὶ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τῶν ἁγίων ἀγγέλων.

27 λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ἀληθῶς, εἰσίν τινες τῶν αὐτοῦ ἑστηκότων οἳ οὐ μὴ γεύσωνται θανάτου ἕως ἂν ἴδωσιν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ.

“For he who is ashamed of me and my words, this one the son of man will be ashamed of, when he should come into his judgement and of the father and the holy angels. (27)  I say to you truly, there are some of those standing he who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.

At first glance, the transition from Verse 25 to Verse 26 seemed to be a non-sequitur. A bit more reflection, and a bit less rigidity of thinking made me think otherwise. Now that I’ve relaxed my perspective, I almost wonder if I made the break in translation at the proper place. This does seem to go with the bit about losing oneself. After all, losing oneself seems like a fairly predictable consequence of facing the judgement of the father, a judgement in which the son of man disowns the person standing in the dock. But does one lose one’s soul? Or one’s life? Or both, since one’s eternal soul is lost to a negative judgement? This last is not a contradiction; there are hints throughout the NT where those who attain The Life will continue, the implication being that without entering The Life, one is no more. This, I suspect, is sort of the direction Jewish thought

Being ashamed of “the son of man”–whoever that might be–and facing judgement have only a peripheral connexion to losing oneself. The loss presumably could come from the adverse judgement. This would tie in with the idea of being condemned to death–if only in the negative sense of not being able to enter into The Life. So this does work. It must be said, however, that, in the final analysis, this very much preserves the sense of Mark’s original intent. The idea of the eternal soul is still binary: enter The Life and persevere, or don’t enter The Life and cease existence. Later Christian dogma will change the latter choice to suffering eternal damnation. That is, the choice is still binary, but the second, less pleasant, option changes, and arguably becomes much less pleasant. 

The final verse, in contrast, really does not fit here at all. This is due to its having been ripped pretty much completely out of context. In the other two gospels, this comes during the predictions of apocalypse, the “prediction” of the “coming” destruction of the Temple and perhaps the “coming persecutions” conducted by Saul. So sticking it in here simply doesn’t truly work.

26 Nam qui me erubuerit et meos sermones, hunc Filius hominis erubescet, cum venerit in gloria sua et Patris et sanctorum angelorum.

27 Dico autem vobis vere: Sunt aliqui hic stantes, qui non gustabunt mortem, donec videant regnum Dei”.

* (from above) Really, the proper word for these is logoi. This captures the sense of wording rather than the overall story. “Saying” is the closest English equivalent, but that does not quite capture the full extent of how a logos implies the full meaning of the saying. Too frequently the latter term is used almost independently of what it means; it’s a short-hand for the expression that is then used to compare where the various evangelists place said saying, Sure, the idea of the meaning is implicit in these discussions, but it’s most often only implicit. Any discussion of the meaning is wholly secondary.

Luke Chapter 9:11-17

Here is another abridged version of a Triple Tradition story. Actually, this is one of the few stories that are present in all four gospels. This time, it’s the Feeding of the Five Thousand. It’s very short, comoing in at a mere six verses. If you’ll recall, Mark and Matthew have Jesus feeding five thousand, and then later feeding four thousand. Both evangelists provide full accounts of “both” these feedings. The quotes are there because I am firmly of the opinion that the event, or the story, was “twinned”; this is the process whereby the account of a single event ends up splitting into two separate events. The process usually occurs when two separate groups, not in communication with each other, each tell their own version of the story. With time, the two stories no longer line up exactly, so the people encountering the other version believe that this second version must refer to a separate event. If you read Livy Book I, there are a number of battles that involve the same enemy and sufficiently–but not completely–similar circumstances that scholars believe it’s a single battle that has become “twinned” in this fashion. The question then becomes how long it will take for this twinning to occur. A year? Two years? Ten? It seems reasonable to infer that the less similar the circumstances related in the story, the longer the time the two accounts have been separated. In this case, the major difference is the number of people fed and the number of loaves and fishes in each event. That’s a pretty small difference. Ergo, I would infer that the separation of the stories was not too long.

There is a whole strain of biblical research of late fixating on oral traditions. The idea is to “prove” that oral traditions trustworthy and accurate. The problem is that the research, IMO, reaches a conclusion first, and then argues backwards. From all I’ve read of biblical scholarship, there is a lot of this going on. At root, it’s about the differences between the texts, what this says overall about the redactional tendencies of each evangelist, and how the context clearly favors the existence of Q. My apologies, but this is not real scholarship. Note the emphasis on overall; I do that because there is very little analysis of what the difference in the way each story is told by the different evangelists. IOW, there’s very little of what I’m doing here. When we are fortunate enough to have more than one source for events in the Graeco-Roman world–which is almost nonexistent for Greek history, but more common for periods of Roman history–the scholarship goes through the texts line-by-line to examine and discuss the differences and what the possible implications could be. I have found nothing of the sort in biblical scholarship; if anyone can point me to it, please do so. I would love to read this kind of analysis.

Anyway, the thing is, having been reading secular and pagan historical writing and biography from this period, I can state very strongly that we are not getting historical writing in the NT. The gospels are not, and were never intended to be, history in any sense that we would recognise the concept. Biblical scholars need to read some of these sources–and not just the dozen lines in Josephus, or the three 0r four paragraphs of Tacitus that mention Jesus or Christians.

OK, let’s get on to the


12 Ἡ δὲ ἡμέρα ἤρξατο κλίνειν: προσελθόντες δὲ οἱ δώδεκα εἶπαν αὐτῷ, Ἀπόλυσον τὸν ὄχλον, ἵνα πορευθέντες εἰς τὰς κύκλῳ κώμας καὶ ἀγροὺς καταλύσωσιν καὶ εὕρωσιν ἐπισιτισμόν, ὅτι ὧδε ἐν ἐρήμῳ τόπῳ ἐσμέν.

The day began to decline; coming forward the Twelve said to him, “Send away the crowd, so that going into the surrounding villages and fields they disband and find food, since we are in a desert place. 

This is the standard setting of the scene. The disciples want to send the people away because they are in a deserted or empty place–the word can have both meanings; think t he “desert isle” on which Gilligan & company were stranded. Note the Twelve. This is the only version of the story that uses the Twelve; the others simply say “the disciples”.

12 Dies autem coeperat declinare; et accedentes Duodecim dixerunt illi: “ Dimitte turbam, ut euntes in castella villasque, quae circa sunt, divertant et inveniant escas, quia hic in loco deserto sumus ”.

13 εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς, Δότε αὐτοῖς ὑμεῖς φαγεῖν. οἱ δὲ εἶπαν, Οὐκ εἰσὶν ἡμῖν πλεῖον ἢ ἄρτοι πέντε καὶ ἰχθύες δύο, εἰ μήτι πορευθέντες ἡμεῖς ἀγοράσωμεν εἰς πάντα τὸν λαὸν τοῦτον βρώματα.

14 ἦσαν γὰρ ὡσεὶ ἄνδρες πεντακισχίλιοι. εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ, Κατακλίνατε αὐτοὺς κλισίας [ὡσεὶ] ἀνὰ πεντήκοντα.

He said to them, “Give to them to eat”. They said, “There is not to us (dative of possession) more than five loaves and two fishes. Unless going we buy for all the people this food”. (14) For there were so many men as five thousand. He said to his disciples, “Have them recline on the grass in [so many as] fifty.”  

The specificity of this is striking. On the grass. Groups of fifty. The attention to detail is intriguing. One could argue that this level of detail indicates an eyewitness account, told by someone who had been there and seen this, especially since these details are present in the earliest version; the grass even persists through John’s telling of the story. Unfortunately for this would-be argument, the details could have been added at anytime before Mark wrote. These are the sorts of things that can–and do–get added to the tale as it’s told. Again, I keep going back to the Arthur legend, wherein the stories became more elaborate with the passing of time. This is, I believe, another example of that process, or phenomenon.

13 Ait autem ad illos: “ Vos date illis manducare ”. At illi dixerunt: “ Non sunt nobis plus quam quinque panes et duo pisces, nisi forte nos eamus et emamus in omnem hanc turbam escas”.

14 Erant enim fere viri quinque milia. Ait autem ad discipulos suos: “ Facite illos discumbere per convivia ad quinquagenos”.

15 καὶ ἐποίησαν οὕτως καὶ κατέκλιναν ἅπαντας.

16 λαβὼν δὲ τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας ἀναβλέψας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εὐλόγησεν αὐτοὺς καὶ κατέκλασεν καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς παραθεῖναι τῷ ὄχλῳ.

17 καὶ ἔφαγον καὶ ἐχορτάσθησαν πάντες, καὶ ἤρθη τὸ περισσεῦσαν αὐτοῖς κλασμάτων κόφινοι δώδεκα.

And they (the disciples) did in this way and all reclined. (16) Taking the five loaves and two fish, looking up to the sky he blessed them and broke them and gave to the disciples to set before the crowd. (17) And they ate and they were all fed, and they took up the excess from them and filled twelve baskets.

This version is truly condensed, almost to the point of being a précis. Considering that Luke did not scruple to leave out other bits of Mark, one wonders why he even bothered to include this one. My guess would be that this story was too well-known to omit; after all, John even includes it. But John does not include the Sermon on the Mount, or a lot of the other teachings of Jesus that were allegedly contained in Q. Why is that? My suspicion is that this story was seen as too much of an epitome of how Jesus was seen. And what Jesus is in this story is a wonder worker. That, I would argue, was first and foremost how Jesus was seen. John even continues the tradition with some major wonders worked by Jesus, including changing water to wine and raising Lazarus. The Gospel of John represents the final and complete melding of the wonder worker and the divine entity identities of Jesus. 

15 Et ita fecerunt et discumbere fecerunt omnes.

16 Acceptis autem quinque panibus et duobus piscibus, respexit in caelum et benedixit illis et fregit et dabat discipulis suis, ut ponerent ante turbam.

17 Et manducaverunt et saturati sunt omnes; et sublatum est, quod superfuit illis, fragmentorum cophini duodecim.

Luke Chapter 9:7-11

This next piece is even shorter. It is Luke’s version of the death of the Baptist. At five verses, it is by far the shortest version of the tale we’ve come across yet. I think it best to skip the preliminaries, save the comments for after, and get directly to the


7 Ἤκουσεν δὲ Ἡρῴδης ὁ τετραάρχης τὰ γινόμενα πάντα, καὶ διηπόρει διὰ τὸ λέγεσθαι ὑπό τινων ὅτι Ἰωάννης ἠγέρθη ἐκ νεκρῶν,

8 ὑπό τινων δὲ ὅτι Ἠλίας ἐφάνη, ἄλλων δὲ ὅτι προφήτης τις τῶν ἀρχαίων ἀνέστη.

Herod the tetrarch heard all of these occurrences, and he was unsure of himself because of the things having been said by some that John had been raised from the dead, (8) by some that Elijah had appeared, of others that some prophet of the olden (days) had stood up.

There is actually quite a bit of stuff packed into a couple of verses. The first is the title tetrarch. We did discuss this at least once before; if it’s familiar, feel free to skip this. The word literally means “ruler of a fourth” or “one of four rulers”. This is Herod Antipas, who was a son of Herod the Great. When the latter died, there was a series of disturbances among the would-be successors, so Rome stepped in more forcefully than it had previously. The Roman preference was to leave a native puppet in place to save themselves the aggravation of direct intervention and administration. Generally, this lasted a generation or two, and then for various reasons Rome felt compelled to resort to direct annexation. In the former kingdom of Herod the Great, the road to direct annexation was a process that played out through much of the First Century. One step was dividing Herod’s kingdom into four parts, splitting the rule among his sons, most of whom were also named Herod. It gets very confusing. The Herod here had Galilee as part of his domain, as well as other neighboring/surrounding areas.

Then we get a very abridged introduction to the story of John the Dunker. Note that we have John being raised from the dead, even though we haven’t been explicitly told that John is dead. We last saw John back in Chapter 3, when he had been arrested by Herod. And Luke very quickly runs through the possibilities about Jesus, ascribing them simply to “some/others said” in indirect speech. Luke is not going to dally or shilly-shally here. Perhaps the most interesting part is the mention of Elijah; one has to wonder how many of Luke’s audience would have understood the significance of Elijah (Elias in both Greek and Latin). I did not understand this until very recently, but I make no claim to be well-read in Hebrew Scriptures. Rather, I have a background that would be similar to that of many pagans of Luke’s time. This is not to say that if I’m not aware of it, no pagan could have known about Elijah, but it does indicate, I think, that a lot of pagans would not have known. First, Elijah was believed not to have died; hence, there is speculation that he has appeared (per Benson’s Commentary) when John had been raised. And it’s the passive voice; John did not rise, but some other agent did the raising. But anyway, it was believed that Elijah would return as the forerunner of the anointed one, so the coming of Elijah was a portentous thing among Jews; it was hopeful for the downtrodden but something to be feared by the rulers. 

But to get back to John for a moment. I pointed out that he was raised, just as Paul says Jesus was raised. However, when I was translating…1 Thessalonians, IIRC, I made a bit too much of the passive voice. This is relevant here, because while John was raised, it was speculated that one of the prophets from the olden days had “stood up” as I so charmingly and literally translated it. Really, it means that the prophet rose–for which “stood up” is a synonym–as in from the dead. This is not the only time this word is used for “rise from the dead”, so I have to back off from my position that Jesus was not necessarily the actor when he returned from the Great Beyond. Also, it is interesting to note that the Latin Vulgate says that John rose–surrexit, active voice–from the dead. The KJV waffles on this, coming down somewhere between the Greek and the Latin: John was risen from the dead. It’s not truly a passive; it’s a past participle.  The NASB renders this as an active: John had risen. The NIV and the ESV are faithful to the Greek, saying that John had been raised from the dead. How much does it matter? Not as much as I would have thought, given that one of the prophets of old “stood up”.

7 Audivit autem Herodes tetrarcha omnia, quae fiebant, et haesitabat, eo quod diceretur a quibusdam: “ Ioannes surrexit a mortuis ”;

8 a quibusdam vero: “ Elias apparuit ”; ab aliis autem: “ Propheta unus de antiquis surrexit ”.

9 εἶπεν δὲ Ἡρῴδης, Ἰωάννην ἐγὼ ἀπεκεφάλισα: τίς δέ ἐστιν οὗτος περὶ οὗ ἀκούω τοιαῦτα; καὶ ἐζήτει ἰδεῖν αὐτόν.


And Herod said, “I (as in, I myself, I personally; use of the pronoun adds emphasis) beheaded John. Who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he sought to know him (Jesus).

And thus endeth the story of the death of the Baptist. “Abridged” doesn’t go nearly far enough. All the rationale for the execution is completely missing. I have to believe this is because Luke thought that the story was more than amply covered by his predecessor(s). That Luke (presumably) believed this, I think, lends support to my suggestion that Luke was aware of Matthew, but there is really no hard link between the two. Mark’s story was longer than Matthew’s version, so it could be very plausibly argued that Mark alone would have been sufficient to convince Luke that the story had been told in full. However, Matthew also provides an account nearly as long as Mark’s; surely two such tellings would have been more likely to convince Luke that the story need not be told again in full? More on this as we compare other aspects of the Triple Tradition.

9 Et ait Herodes: “ Ioannem ego decollavi; quis autem est iste, de quo audio ego talia? ”. Et quaerebat videre eum.

10 Καὶ ὑποστρέψαντες οἱ ἀπόστολοι διηγήσαντο αὐτῷ ὅσα ἐποίησαν. καὶ παραλαβὼν αὐτοὺς ὑπεχώρησεν κατ’ ἰδίαν εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά.

11 οἱ δὲ ὄχλοι γνόντες ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ. καὶ ἀποδεξάμενος αὐτοὺς ἐλάλει αὐτοῖς περὶ τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ τοὺς χρείαν ἔχοντας θεραπείας ἰᾶτο.

And returning the apostles recounted to him what they had done. And taking them they went off privately to the city called Bethsaida. (11) And the crowd learning followed him, and receiving them he spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and those having need of healing, he cured.

This is minimalist to the point of ridiculous; that being said, however, it should be noted that the other two gospels are not all that much more loquacious, if they are at all. This is another clue that the idea of the “apostles” being sent out is not to be taken seriously. Someone decided that the term “apostle” didn’t make sense if they had never been sent out. So a story was created to have this happen. Unfortunately for the narrative, not a lot of detail accrued to the legend. It was created bare-bones and it got left that way. Why? Most likely because this didn’t fire anyone’s imagination sufficiently to inspire the accumulations of details. And here is also where we can get a sense of the (un)reliability of the later traditions. St Philipp, IIRC, went to India. Or wait, that was Thomas. And it gives a sense of how much later these non-canonical works were created. At a point within two generations, more or less, of Jesus we haven’t even come up with anything the least bit…interesting for any of these Twelve to have done. It took another century or more–probably significantly more–to craft some of these other tales.

As for the last bit, it sure seems a bit like it was mailed in. Luke rather just throws it in there without a lot of ado or even interest. Mark has numerous little throw-away lines like this with Jesus preaching and healing. Even there, in Mark, they feel a bit forced, sort of a more sophisticated way of saying “and so forth”. Or, “Jesus did some stuff”. In Luke this feels positively forced. That it does, and that Luke included it regardless I think speaks to the depth of the traditions that were still flowing in the popular mind. Jesus was a healer, a wonder-worker, but one who preached about the kingdom of God, which concept remains vague throughout all the gospels. That, in turn, is a good indication of how the stories that ended up in the gospels were something on the order of random. My late father-in-law called them “volunteers”, plants of the sort that are deliberately cultivated, such as flowers, that spring up of their own accord, the result of a seed landing in a fortunate spot by happenstance.

10 Et reversi apostoli narraverunt illi, quaecumque fecerunt. Et assumptis illis, secessit seorsum ad civitatem, quae vocatur Bethsaida.

11 Quod cum cognovissent turbae, secutae sunt illum. Et excepit illos et loquebatur illis de regno Dei et eos, qui cura indigebant, sanabat.

Luke Chapter 9:1-6

This chapter begins with several other stories that we’ve seen in both of the other two gospels. The first is the Sending of the Twelve. This section is very short; my intention at this point is to try to keep the sections short to minimise the length of time between posts. Lately, life has been getting in the way of hobbies, which is often the case when one has children and the holidays approach. Since this story is familiar, there’s really no need for additional introduction, so we’ll get right to the


1 Συγκαλεσάμενος δὲ τοὺς δώδεκα ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς δύναμιν καὶ ἐξουσίαν ἐπὶ πάντα τὰ δαιμόνια καὶ νόσους θεραπεύειν,

2 καὶ ἀπέστειλεν αὐτοὺς κηρύσσειν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἰᾶσθαι [τοὺς ἀσθενεῖς],

3 καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς, Μηδὲν αἴρετε εἰς τὴν ὁδόν, μήτε ῥάβδον μήτε πήραν μήτε ἄρτον μήτε ἀργύριον, μήτε [ἀνὰ] δύο χιτῶνας ἔχειν.

4 καὶ εἰς ἣν ἂν οἰκίαν εἰσέλθητε, ἐκεῖ μένετε καὶ ἐκεῖθεν ἐξέρχεσθε.

5 καὶ ὅσοι ἂν μὴ δέχωνται ὑμᾶς, ἐξερχόμενοι ἀπὸ τῆς πόλεως ἐκείνης τὸν κονιορτὸν ἀπὸ τῶν ποδῶν ὑμῶν ἀποτινάσσετε εἰς μαρτύριον ἐπ’ αὐτούς.

6 ἐξερχόμενοι δὲ διήρχοντο κατὰ τὰς κώμας εὐαγγελιζόμενοι καὶ θεραπεύοντες πανταχοῦ.

Calling together the Twelve, he gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases. (2) And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal [the illnesses]. (3) And he said to them, “Do not take upon the road neither staff, nor money (lit = ‘silver‘), nor have two tunics.(4) And if you come into a home, remain there until you leave.  And however much they don’t receive you, leaving from that city, shake the dust off your feet in witness against them”. (6) Going out they passed through the villages good-message-izing and healing everyone.

This is a really condensed version of what we find in the other two gospels. For example, Luke leaves out the bit about how it will be better for Sodom & Gomorrah at the judgement day than for the town that doesn’t receive them. And Matthew had added a bit about not going to pagans, but to the lost sheep of Israel. Matthew uses this story to name the Twelve, which Mark had done much earlier in the narrative. That Matthew waited so long to my mind indicates that the Twelve were very peripheral to the story as a whole. We have noted many times that most of the Twelve are not associated with any of the stories told about Jesus. Peter, James, and John are the exceptions, but even Peter’s brother Andrew drops from sight after his calling. The same is true for Levi; he is called and sent and that’s it. Judas Iscariot, of course, will appear later. As for the rest? Nothing. Who can tell me anything about Thaddeus? Or Simon the Zealot? Or Philip and Bartholomew? Thomas doesn’t reappear until John’s gospel. And John added Nathaniel. Where did he come from? And what else is said about him? (Hint: nothing.)

OTOH, Paul does say that Jesus appeared to the Twelve. How to square that? I would still suggest that the Twelve was something created by James, brother of Jesus after the latter’s death. Thus, it was in place when Paul became an apostle, because by that time there were apostles, and Paul makes it sound like there was more than twelve of them. Remember, James was in charge of the new group for nearly thirty years–assuming that Josephus is anywhere near accurate in his story of James’ death. That’s ten times longer–an order of magnitude–than Jesus’ traditional three. James had time, and probably the incentive, to put infrastructure in place. Jesus, while a wonder worker and perhaps a decent preacher, does not seem terribly interested in creating an organization; Mohammed didn’t either, nor did the Buddha. The Twelve, and the term ‘apostle’ seem more likely to be ex-post-facto creations, when the followers of James were becoming a church, which eventually became The Church. 

Luke’s cursory treatment of this episode might suggest one of two things. The first possibility is that he placed very little significance on the episode. He did not feel compelled to tell the whole story that Mark & Matthew had told because Luke didn’t see this as an important part of Jesus’ ministry, nor to what came after. The other possibility is that he simply felt that the audience had been sufficiently instructed about the story, and so Luke didn’t feel a need to recapitulate what was already well-known. Of course, this contention is more likely if we believe that Luke was aware of Matthew. And it also approaches circularity, the true meaning of begging the question. Why did Luke shorten this story? Because he was aware of Matthew. How do we know he was aware of Matthew? Because he shortened this story. However, consider this treatment to the handling of the story of the Gerasene demonaic in the last chapter. Mark has the longest version, Matthew the shortest, and Luke is in between. The differential handling of these two stories suggests pretty clearly that Luke may have adjusted his narrative according to what the other two said. Where they both gave full accounts (as here), Luke went short. Where Mark was long and Matthew short, as in the Gerasene demonaic, Luke opted for middle ground. Of course, this is all very nice, but an argument cannot rest on a comparison of two stories. The chapter we’re looking at has more Triple Tradition pericopae; we can see how well this idea stands.

We should at least mention the powers given. I’ve been reading some of Cornelius Agrippa’s “Occult Philosophy”, and some of it in Latin. The Greek word is “dynamin”, the root of “dynamic” and “dynamite”. At its base, it means “to be able”. The Latin translation is “virtus”. Now, this latter is the root of “virtue”, but the base meaning is “power”. Hence, Agrippa talks about “virtutes”, meaning the powers of the magician. And that is how this phrase is translated in all my crib translations, and how I translated it: he gave them power and authority. It’s an interesting dichotomy. Essentially, power alone is not enough. The authority points to the idea of a cosmic hierarchy of sorts, in which God and Jesus rank above the daimones, which have not yet really become demons. But really, this is more about my enhanced grasp of the Latin than it is about what is in the text.

1 Convocatis autem Duodecim, dedit illis virtutem et potesta tem super omnia daemonia, et ut languores curarent,

2 et misit illos praedicare regnum Dei et sanare infirmos;

3 et ait ad illos: “ Nihil tuleritis in via, neque virgam neque peram neque panem neque pecuniam, neque duas tunicas habeatis.

4 Et in quamcumque domum intraveritis, ibi manete et inde exite.

5 Et quicumque non receperint vos, exeuntes de civitate illa pulverem pedum vestrorum excutite in testimonium supra illos ”.

6 Egressi autem circumibant per castella evangelizantes et curantes ubique.


Summary Luke Chapter 8

For the most part, this chapter consists of material we have found in both of the other two gospels. Ergo, and a priori, it is part of the so-called “Triple Tradition”. This gives us a chance to look at the way each of them handled each story, and see what was said and not said by whom.

There is one part of this that is unique to Luke. It’s very brief, covered in the commentary to Verses 1-3. It concerns the women who followed Jesus. Mary the Magdalene, or Mary called the Magdalene as Luke puts it, is common to all three. Or actually to all four gospels, since John mentions her as well. Luke has two unique aspects specifically about Mary M. First, we are told that Jesus expelled seven demons from her. No one else mentions this. As such, this seems to be another great example of how the story grew. I would even be willing to infer that there is a complete story behind this little tidbit, the tale of how Jesus encountered Mary and describing the specifics of her possession and the circumstances under which Jesus cured her. Luke encountered–or possibly created–this story but chose not to include the whole thing; rather, he was satisfied with adding the most important part. The existence of this additional detail, and the possible existence of the story behind it, ties in with the other thing that Luke adds to the account of Mary M. Against the other two, Luke introduces Mary M much earlier in the narrative than any of the other evangelists. In Mark and Matthew, we do not meet her until the crucifixion scene. This, in turn, ties in with something Luke omits: that Mary M and the women were followers of Jesus in Galilee, and that they had (presumably) come to Jerusalem with Jesus.

This is a fascinating glimpse into the way the character (as in, dramatis persona) of the Magdalene is developing. In 2M, she pops up only at the end, as part of the Passion narrative. I suspect she is the reason that the young man in white in the empty tomb tells Mary and the disciples to return to Galilee: she will take care of them there. I would not be surprised to learn that, in some way, responsible for the creation of the Passion narrative. By introducing her early, and hinting that there were other stories to be told about her, Luke is sort of cutting her loose from being limited to a minor role (but not really that minor, either; Jesus appeared to her first) at the end. Her role is expanding, people are making up stories about her, and she is, overall, just becoming more prominent. This is how and why she ended up a prostitute: because people made up stories. She has become more a part of the story, albeit still in a fairly peripheral fashion. She will go on to become a major figure in Roman Catholic tradition; she is so much a part of the cultural landscape that “Magdalene” is recognized by spellcheck.  However, the negative aspect of this particular part of her story was designed, in large part, to take her down a notch or two. Or three. Rather than being a financial supporter, and so someone of rank, she was downgraded to being a prostitute.

One of the other stories in the chapter is that of Jesus calming the storm. There is one aspect of this that needs to be emphasized. Much of the “argument” for Q is that Luke never agrees with Matthew against Mark. Well, in the three versions of the storm, we have a very clear example of exactly that: Luke telling the same story as Matthew. Granted, it’s a negative agreement, based on an omission, but I’d like to hear an argument for why this doesn’t count. In Mark, the terrified disciples ask Jesus, “do you not care if we are perishing?”. Matthew left this out, and so did Luke. That is an agreement between the latter two against Mark. I somehow suspect that the Q people would vehemently object to this, but then they somehow miss the fact that Matthew and Luke–against Mark–agree on Joseph and Bethlehem and the angel announcing Jesus’ coming birth and, well all of the so-called Q material. But this latter doesn’t count, for whatever reason.

Luke also radically changed the context and timing of the “who are my mother and brothers?” pericope. This–and many other such placements–amply demonstrates that Luke was not particularly particular about how he re-arranged the text of his predecessors.

There are three other stories in this chapter, and all three of them are part of the Triple Tradition. The stories are that of the Gerasene demonaics,  the Jairus/Bleeding Woman diptych, and the Parable of the Sower. Two are miracle stories and the other is a parable; however, I believe they should be considered together along with the Calming of the Storm. We touched on this latter briefly above, but it is worth a bit more examination in the way that it fits in the chapter. The Q people would have you believe that stuff like the Sermon on the Mount is the actual real, official, traces back to Jesus material of the gospels. Given that there is no evidence of Q, I find this hard to accept. Rather, I would suggest that these four stories represent the oldest stratum of material in the gospels. It only makes sense, given that they are found in Mark whereas the Sermon on the Mount is not. Plain logic suggests that the oldest gospel written is most likely to have the oldest material, but the Q people seem to disagree with this premise.

Note that three of these are miracle stories. They also share the common feature that the disciples are either more or less non-existent or only serve as stage props. They have virtually no role in the Gerasene adventure; in the story of the Bleeding Woman/Jairus they exist only so one of the disciples can say that it would be impossible to tell who it was that touched Jesus in the crowd; in the Calming of the Storm they are the witless fools scared for their lives and lacking faith. In the Parable of the Sower, their participation is to act as the straight men who ask Jesus to explain what the parable means. This sort of behaviour and portrayal fits with the overall pattern of the way Mark treats the disciples throughout his gospel; it has been retained by Matthew and Luke. Throughout this commentary, I have been highly skeptical of the Twelve, and these episodes reinforce that skepticism. Mark can barely find employment even for Peter, James, and John, while Matthew and Andrew show up for their calling. The rest are only names, with the exception of Judas who appears in the Passion Story, which was a later addition to the gospel; as such, it would seem logical that he was a later addition to the story.

All of this, in turn, indicates that these stories form the core of the earliest narrative about Jesus, or that they were among the earliest stories repeated about Jesus. It it significant that they also portray Jesus as a wonder worker in three of the four. Here we come to an interesting dichotomy. Our earliest source, Paul, says nothing of miracle performed by Jesus; indeed, he suggests that performing miracles was not an uncommon gift, along with prophesy and speaking in tongues. Nor does Paul do more than mention Jesus’ teachings. Yet, the earliest popular stories about Jesus portray him differently, as a wonder-worker who talked about the Kingdom of God, or of Heaven, or of the heavens. I would suggest that the Christ tradition of Paul is largely theological, while the wonder-worker tradition of the miracles is more popular, intended to reach more of a mass audience. These two different views of Jesus are not mutually exclusive, but neither is the overlap is not immediately obvious. For Paul, it was the Resurrection that made Jesus into the Christ, which is what made him significant. For the Mark, it was largely Jesus’ miracles that made him significant, and the miracles are strung together until sometime in Chapter 7/8/9 when Mark transitions to speaking of Jesus as the Christ. This dissection of Mark is not completely clean and not nearly as clear-cut as I may seem to be suggesting, but it is the overall pattern. If you count word occurrences, the pattern becomes pretty clear; different sets of words that represent themes, are used in the first part of the gospel than are used in the latter part.

Perhaps the aspect of this that should be most noted is that neither Matthew nor Luke radically alter this perception of Jesus in these four stories that we are discussing. Jesus and the disciples are portrayed by the latter two much as they are by Mark. This is evidence for a very strong tradition about Jesus as a wonder worker. Rather than downplay it, the gospels emphasize Jesus’ ability to perform miracles. This has led to a whole lot of discussion that the miracles are the demonstration, the proof that Jesus is divine. He can contravene the laws of nature. In this, he is really no different from earlier prophets like Elijah who also raised the dead; rather than qualitative, the difference between Jesus and these earlier prophets is quantitative. Jesus performed a lot of miracles. Even John retained (or invented) nine miracle stories. In my analysis of Mark, I said that he wove the different stories into a (mostly) coherent skein. It could also be said that he began the welding of the two traditions, wonder worker and Christ, into a single whole. Matthew and Luke continue the process, but they create a framework that puts the miracles more directly in the context of Jesus’ divinity: both Matthew and Luke start with a story of a divinely-ordained and divine birth that tells us from the start who Jesus is. Once this is established, they retain the wonder-worker tradition, but put more emphasis on the Christ. This trend is culminated by John, who starts by telling us that Jesus was the Logos, and it was with God from the beginning.

One implication of this two-fold tradition becomes manifest when it’s set out like this. While Paul may be our earliest written source, we have to ask if he represents the earlier tradition. I’m not sure that we can make that assumption, or draw that inference. That is something to be considered as we proceed.

Luke Chapter 8:49-56

This section will conclude Chapter 8. At 56 verses, Chapter 8 is one of the longer chapters in Luke. In this post we will finish the story of Jairus and his daughter. We’ve done an intro for this already, so let’s go straight to the


49Ἔτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος ἔρχεταί τις παρὰ τοῦ ἀρχισυναγώγου λέγων ὅτι Τέθνηκεν ἡ θυγάτηρ σου, μηκέτι σκύλλε τὸν διδάσκαλον.

(While) he was yet speaking, someone from those surrounding the ruler of the synagogue came, saying that “Your daughter has dies. Don’t disturb the teacher any longer.” 

Recall that only Mark and Luke name this official, who is a “leader of the synagogue”. My initial reaction is to be suspicious of this term, but one of the commentary/dictionaries at* says that this was a thing, and that it had a Hebrew/Aramaic term behind it. I suppose it makes sense. The full-blown Rabbinic Judaism, more or less as we think of it today, had not yet developed by the time of Jesus, or even the evangelists. And today, as I understand it, “synagogue” and “temple” are more or less synonymous terms. They were not in the first century. There was one temple, the Temple in Jerusalem. There were synagogues scattered about. I don’t know the full practice, but from what we read, it seems to be something not entirely dissimilar to the concept now, except perhaps not as formal. And it would make sense that there was a person in charge. And interestingly, neither does Matthew use this term; rather, he calls the man simply a “ruler”, obviously a more generic term. We know it’s highly probable that both Matthew and Luke read Mark, so here, as always, we question the choices made by each subsequent writer. I wonder if there is a literature analyzing the way each of the other two handled Markan pericopes (oooh, sound all bible-scholary, no?). One thing that the Q people demand–and that is the correct word: demand–is that people who don’t accept Q have to come up with a “redactionally consistent” explanation for every instance that Luke differs from Matthew in the so-called Q material. Really? If so, then I demand a redactionally consistent explanation for every time Matthew changes Mark.

49 Adhuc illo loquente, venit quidam e domo principis synagogae dicens: “Mortua est filia tua; noli amplius vexare magistrum”.

50 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἀκούσας ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῷ, Μὴ φοβοῦ, μόνον πίστευσον, καὶ σωθήσεται.

But Jesus, hearing, answered to him, “Do not fear, only believe and she will be saved.” 

Here we get back to the “saved” business that we discussed with the Bleeding Woman. And, all four of my crib translations render this as “made well/whole”, in the sense of “healed”. Honestly, I really have to question this. We have just been told the girl has died; “made well” or “made whole” does not exactly catch the implication of the girl being raised from the dead. “Saved”, as in, “save her life” comes, I think, much closer. And the Vulgate below agrees with me; the word used is “salva”, from “salvo, salvare”, which means “to save”. So why not use that word? My suspicion is that NT translators want to preserve a distinction between saving a life and saving a soul; the former then becomes “made whole” or something such, while “saved” is reserved for saving souls. Thinking about it, this sort of verbal guidance is an excellent example of rhetoric, or even marketing. The message is massaged in this way over the course of centuries, so that certain words mean certain things, and nothing else. What could be the sacred breath becomes the Holy Spirit, “charity” becomes “grace” and an “assembly” becomes a “church”. Or, rather, The Church.

50 Iesus autem, audito hoc verbo, respondit ei: “Noli timere; crede tantum, et salva erit”.

51 ἐλθὼν δὲ εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν οὐκ ἀφῆκεν εἰσελθεῖν τινα σὺν αὐτῷ εἰ μὴ Πέτρον καὶ Ἰωάννην καὶ Ἰάκωβον καὶ τὸν πατέρα τῆς παιδὸς καὶ τὴν μητέρα.

52 ἔκλαιον δὲ πάντες καὶ ἐκόπτοντο αὐτήν. ὁ δὲ εἶπεν, Μὴ κλαίετε, οὐ γὰρ ἀπέθανεν ἀλλὰ καθεύδει.

53 καὶ κατεγέλων αὐτοῦ, εἰδότες ὅτι ἀπέθανεν.

Coming to the home he sent forth to go in someone (no one) with him except Peter and John and James, and the father of the girl and the mother. (52) But all were crying and they were wailing her. But he said, “Do not cry, for she did not die, but she sleeps”. (53) And they laughed at him, knowing that she had died.

The first thing to note is that he only took Peter, James, and John. Why are these the only three that he ever takes with him? Because, I suspect, they were the only three “full-time” followers that he had. There was no Twelve, there were no Apostles, there was Peter, James, and John. Aside from Judas the Betrayer, and the mention of Levi the tax collector, what did any of the so-called “Twelve Apostles” actually do? There are no stories attached to any of them until John brings in Nathaniel and Phillip, the former who is not mentioned by the other three when they list the Twelve. 

There are two aspects of the last verse that bear comment. The first is the rather arch “knowing”. Such silly people! They don’t know nothin’! Perhaps “arch” isn’t the best description; maybe “sly” might be more accurate.  Interestingly, Luke is the only one who records this; the other two evangelists don’t have it. This is even more interesting since all three versions have Jesus being laughed at for making this suggestion. Luke seems to be having a bit of fun here; with the transition from “laughing” to “knowing”, I can just see the nudge-nudge-wink-wink Luke gives to the audience.

51 Et cum venisset domum, non permisit intrare secum quemquam nisi Petrum et Ioannem et Iacobum et patrem puellae et matrem.

52 Flebant autem omnes et plangebant illam. At ille dixit: “ Nolite flere; non est enim mortua, sed dormit ”.

53 Et deridebant eum scientes quia mortua esset.

54 αὐτὸς δὲ κρατήσας τῆς χειρὸς αὐτῆς ἐφώνησεν λέγων, Ἡ παῖς, ἔγειρε.

He then taking her hand called to her, saying, “Child, get up.” 

Just want to stop here to discuss “taking”, as in, her hand. The root of the verb is “strength”; the verb form is often used in the sense of “to overpower”. Matthew uses a form of it to describe the arrest of Jesus in the Garden on the night before he died. And that is a standard sense of the word in Classical Greek, although being “arrested” is a bit of an anachronism for much of the ancient world. It almost never has the sense of simply taking hold of something, or someone, in a non-violent sense. There is the implication of superior strength, or skill, as in athletics. That’s all fine and good. What really stands out is how the NT Lexicon used at really defines the word down, leaving out much of that sense of strength, making the word much more mundane, and completely washing out the implication of physical strength. And this is why I so dislike the notion that a creature with the name of “NT Greek” exists; it doesn’t. “NT Greek” has come to be a set of agreed-upon renderings that help keep the agreed-upon message of the NT intact. All of this then gets in the way of actually reading the text to see what might actually be there, buried underneath centuries, or millennia, of consensus on what Christians think the text should say.

Finally, the word I rendered as “child”. This word, pais, is the word used by the Centurion to describe the person, the slave in the centurion’s household, that was ill. Here it has the feminine article to indicate that it is used for a girl. Rather an oddity.

54 Ipse autem tenens manum eius clamavit dicens: “ Puella, surge! ”.

55 καὶ ἐπέστρεψεν τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτῆς, καὶ ἀνέστη παραχρῆμα, καὶ διέταξεν αὐτῇ δοθῆναι φαγεῖν.

56 καὶ ἐξέστησαν οἱ γονεῖς αὐτῆς: ὁ δὲ παρήγγειλεν αὐτοῖς μηδενὶ εἰπεῖν τὸ γεγονός.

And her spirit turned around, and she stood up forthwith, and he instructed that something to eat be given to her. (56) And her parents were amazed. He commanded them to tell no one the occurrences.

Here the word to watch is what I’ve translated as :”turned around”. My four crib translations give it as “returned”, and I have to admit that seems like a reasonable rendering. But let’s also note that both Mark and Matthew use the same word to describe what Jesus did when he became aware that he had been touched by the Bleeding Woman. What’s also interesting is that the Latin, reversus est, is more ambiguous, and it does cover both the senses of “turning around” and “coming back”. The two concepts are not mutually exclusive in English, and there is some overlap, but they are not true synonyms. I would suggest that the KJV leaned to the Latin, and I suspect that might be correct, but that doesn’t address what Luke meant by using this word and not another that more accurately captures the idea of “returning”. So in the space of a three verses, we have two oddities of vocabulary choice. And then there is the bit about “knowing” that the girl was dead. It’s almost enough to give the impression that Luke had rather a droll sense of humor, or perhaps a tendency towards irony. Ya think?

55 Et reversus est spiritus eius, et surrexit continuo; et iussit illi dari manducare.

56 Et stupuerunt parentes eius, quibus praecepit, ne alicui dicerent, quod factum erat.


* An immensely useful site. It provides a Greek text that is parsed grammatically which allows a word to be clicked to bring up a dictionary entry, or two, actually. One of these is the “Thayer” cited. It appears to be a product of the 19th Century, but then again, so is Liddell and Scott. The problem is that the word is defined from what seems to be an NT dictionary, so I use it to find the base form and then toddle over to L&S to find out what it really means. NT dictionaries are a bit too self-referential, too much a part of a closed epistemological loop, and I really don’t like, and actively distrust, such loops. This is how consensus translations and consensus meanings have come about, which means that the text is often ignored in favour of “how it’s always been translated”. This was a motivating factor for the explosion of translations in the Reformation period. Ostensibly, these went back to the “original” Greek texts, but I have found way too many instances where the Protestant commentator very obviously relied on the Vulgate, rather than the Greek original. Then subsequent commentaries are based on the authority (richly deserved, for the greatest part) authority of these Reformation-era giants, and the Greek text becomes just as hazy as it was before this rebirth of Greek scholarship in the West. I’ve never read Erasmus’ translation; it would be interesting, and I believe he put it into Latin.

One other very useful aspect of this site is that it allows the user to have four (perhaps more) parallel columns of English transactions. This is extremely useful to see what others have done with the text. I use the KJV, ESV, NIV, and NASB; using the KJV is obvious; the others are more or less arbitrary. I find them to be a decent cross-section of translations, that provides some insight into the ways different people have translated the work.


Luke Chapter 8:40-48

Jesus and crew have left the land of the Gerasenes and returned to the shore of the lake, presumably around Caphernaum. This seems to be Jesus’ home-base, even in Luke, who does not tell us that Jesus moved there. Even so, Luke can’t really disguise the fact that the action takes place in and around the Sea of Galilee, and this means Capheraum, which is situated on the northern shore of the lake.This will take us into the stories of the Bleeding Woman, and the daughter of Jairus, the synagogue official. One point that I added to the bottom of my last post is that it appears that the land of the Gerasenes/Gadarenes is at the opposite end of the Sea of Galilee. The lake is long and narrow, running north and south. Caphernaum is on the north shore; Gadara, apparently, was situated on the southern side. Not only that, it’s some way off, perhaps even several miles, the shore of the lake. But, not sure how significant that really is, so I suppose we should get on with the


40 Ἐν δὲ τῷ ὑποστρέφειν τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἀπεδέξατο αὐτὸν ὁ ὄχλος, ἦσαν γὰρ πάντες προσδοκῶντες αὐτόν.

Upon his return (from the land of the Gerasenes), the crowd received Jesus, for all were expecting him.  

This is worthy of a comment, I believe. Why would they be expecting him, and so waiting for him? Here is where the length of the trip to Gadara becomes a bit more relevant. How long would it take to sail from one end to the other? A map I found says it’s 21 km long; that’s a bit over ten miles. According to one website, the speed of a modern sailing cruiser is about 7 knots (=nautical miles, = 1.15 statute/land miles). I once sailed from Olcott, NY to Youngstown, NY, at the mouth of the Niagara river, and I’m pretty sure we were hitting about 10 knots. I remember this because the skipper was extremely pleased at the speed his boat was making, but that was perhaps a faster-than-average boat. Anyway, even at five knots, a 10-12 mile trip could be done in two hours. This means Jesus could have embarked from Caphernaum in the morning, sailed to Gadara, expelled Legion, and easily have been back by the late afternoon, with time to spare. So if folks saw him set out in the morning, it would not have been unusual for them to expect him back by nightfall. Why does this matter? It really doesn’t in any truly significant way, but it’s interesting to note that it is within the realm of probability, unlike Mark Chapter 3 when Jesus’ family walks twenty miles from Nazareth to take him home from Caphernaum. This, I suspect, is part of the reason that people suppose Mark wasn’t familiar with the geography of Galilee, although this episode is entirely possible if Jesus & family actually lived in Caphernaum. It’s also interesting to note that only Luke has this little bit of the story. Does it imply that Luke was familiar with the geography of Galilee? That would be a reasonable conclusion, but it could also be something he picked up from his source. Or, he could have just included this without knowing whether or not it was possible. You see, it’s hard to draw firm conclusions from so much of this stuff.

FWIW: I found another map, and it appears that Gadara had a good harbor at the south end of the lake.

40 Cum autem rediret Iesus, excepit illum turba; erant enim omnes exspectantes eum.

41 καὶ ἰδοὺ ἦλθεν ἀνὴρ ᾧ ὄνομα Ἰάϊρος, καὶ οὗτος ἄρχων τῆς συναγωγῆς ὑπῆρχεν, καὶ πεσὼν παρὰ τοὺς πόδας [τοῦ] Ἰησοῦ παρεκάλει αὐτὸν εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ,

42 ὅτι θυγάτηρ μονογενὴς ἦν αὐτῷ ὡς ἐτῶν δώδεκα καὶ αὐτὴ ἀπέθνῃσκεν. Ἐν δὲ τῷ ὑπάγειν αὐτὸν οἱ ὄχλοι συνέπνιγον αὐτόν.

And look, there came a mane named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue was there, and falling beside his (Jesus’) feet he asked him to come to his home, (42) that his only-born daughter to him was as twelve years (old) and she was dying. In the leading him (in leading Jesus to Jairus’ home) the crow pressed him.  

This is interesting.  Luke invented the whole detail of the crowd waiting for Jesus; doing so filled two needs for the coming story. The first is to allow Jairus to be present; the second is to provide the crowd as the backdrop needed for the story of the Bleeding Woman. This is what I mean about Luke being a novelist; doing this he displays an economy of words that is a hallmark of a good storyteller, or of a good writer in general. 

Now, circling back to the bit about being able to sail from Gadara and back in a single day, we have the crowd. As mentioned, the trip to Gadara was most likely a two-to-three hour affair. As such, it’s possible to have done the trip and returned by the not-late afternoon; however, evening is more likely. And yet, this crowd does not seem to behave as if it were already evening. So the realism of the sailing time sort of goes out the window very quickly. This, I suppose, could be an example of the famous “editorial fatigue”, in which the person copying the story finds it too tiresome to continue with the editing/updating after a sentence or two. I mean, that quill, or stylus was soooooo heavy! The real implication, I think, is that the realism of the sailing time was more illusory than actual. Or perhaps “accidental” is the better term.

41 Et ecce venit vir, cui nomen Iairus, et ipse princeps synagogae erat, et cecidit ad pedes Iesu rogans eum, ut intraret in domum eius,

42 quia filia unica erat illi fere annorum duodecim, et haec moriebatur. Et dum iret, a turbis comprimebatur.

43 καὶ γυνὴ οὖσα ἐν ῥύσει αἵματος ἀπὸ ἐτῶν δώδεκα, ἥτις [ἰατροῖς προσαναλώσασα ὅλον τὸν βίον] οὐκ ἴσχυσεν ἀπ’ οὐδενὸς θεραπευθῆναι,

44 προσελθοῦσα ὄπισθεν ἥψατο τοῦ κρασπέδου τοῦ ἱματίου αὐτοῦ, καὶ παραχρῆμα ἔστη ἡ ῥύσις τοῦ αἵματος αὐτῆς.

And there was being a woman in a discharge of blood for twelve years, who, [having wasted her whole life on physicians] was not made strong (i.e., healthy) by anyone to be healed, (44) having come close she touched the hem of his robe, and immediately stopped (lit = ‘stood‘) the discharge of her blood. (or, ‘her discharge of blood‘; this would be more literal)

I’m largely stopping here to comment on the  bit in [brackets]. This part is in Mark, but not Matthew. And apparently it’s not in all mss traditions of Luke, which is what the brackets are meant to indicate. The KJV includes it as part of the text, as does the ESV, but the NASB and the NIV do not. That the KJV includes it probably indicates that the mss available at that time included the words. Indeed, the Vulgate below includes the bracketed phrase. That it was later suspected of being an interpolation is why mss traditions are so important, even if they are almost exclusively the province of specialists. That the Vulgate includes the phrase indicates that it crept in a long time ago. Some copyist was trying to align this version more closely with Mark’s version. The basic point, of course, is that human knowledge, or even the knowledge of pagan physicians who relied on pagan gods, could not compare to the power of the  the real God, as god had come to be defined in the Hebrew tradition. That being said, this is pretty much a straightforward story of a wonder-worker. Whether we like it or not, the early, non-Pauline, tradition of Jesus was that this is what he was. At least, that’s what Mark tells us. 

43 Et mulier quaedam erat in fluxu sanguinis ab annis duodecim, quae in medicos erogaverat omnem substantiam suam nec ab ullo potuit curari;

44 accessit retro et tetigit fimbriam vestimenti eius, et confestim stetit fluxus sanguinis eius.

45 καὶ εἶπεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Τίς ὁ ἁψάμενός μου; ἀρνουμένων δὲ πάντων εἶπεν ὁ Πέτρος, Ἐπιστάτα, οἱ ὄχλοι συνέχουσίν σε καὶ ἀποθλίβουσιν.

And Jesus said, “Who is it who touched me?” (With) everyone denying, Peter said, “Overstander (master), the crowds hold you and press tightly on you”.

Need to stop for a couple of vocabulary notes. First, the word “Overstander”. That is a literal translation of the root word + prefix; although “stander-upon” might be even more literal. Luke uses this word a total of seven times, all of them in the gospel. No one else uses it. The other thing worth noting is that the Vulgate recognizes that this is not the usual “kyrios” or “despotes”, and provides rather an unusual word in “praeceptor”. This most commonly means “teacher”. So why the odd word? Of course, there’s no answer to that question.

The other word is the one rendered as “press”. I call this out because it’s part of the root of the word that is often translated as “persecution”. The “apo” prefix appears to add the sense of “tightly”. And I should point out that the Great Scott does give “persecute” as one of the meanings of the root “thlipsos”. However, the examples cited there do not quite get across the sense of a group being “persecuted” in the way that we conceive the word. Now, some of that may be historical; such persecutions for a set of beliefs was actually quite rare in the ancient world with its tendency towards syncretism. The prevailing attitude was that different peoples worshipped the same god, but used different names. Hence Tacitus says that the chief god of the Germania was Mercury, the closest Roman counterpart to Wotan/Woden/Odin. (There is a whole speculative literature on how Wotan supplanted Donner/ Thor as the chief god. Thor was, after all, the sky god, the wielder of thunder the was Zeus did.) This is part of the reason that I have trouble believing that the persecutions of Christians–as we understand the concept–was anything widespread or systemic, and it was largely done on political, rather than religious, grounds; however, trying to separate those terms in the first few centuries of the Common Era is horribly anachronistic. The aspect to bear in mind is that such persecution as Christians faced was due to their refusal to participate in the emperor cult. This, in turn, was held to be more akin to treason than to religious dissent, although Christians were accused of atheism from time to time. So much depends on reference and perspective.

45 Et ait Iesus: “Quis est, qui me tetigit? ”. Negantibus autem omnibus, dixit Petrus: “Praeceptor, turbae te comprimunt et affligunt”.

46 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν, Ηψατό μού τις, ἐγὼ γὰρ ἔγνων δύναμιν ἐξεληλυθυῖαν ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ.

But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I felt the power go out of me.” 

This has always fascinated me. The power acted independently of Jesus’ will to use it. The power acted of its own accord. What does that mean? How do we interpret this statement? In my hardly exhaustive search of the various commentaries at BibleHub I found a marvelous dancing around in the discussion–or lack thereof–of this part of the verse. Obviously, this story and that of Jairus are examples of the faith that can move mountains, but this little detail hints at something else. To me, it says that the power is somehow a separate entity from Jesus. This, in turn, makes Jesus an agent of God, rather than God himself. It has been argued, at least from the time of Calvin, that Jesus knew, and willed, the power to go out of him because he knew the woman was about to touch him; there is a certain logic behind this, but that’s not what the text says. Of course, what it says and what it means are not always the same thing, either. But to me, this wording  hints at the Adoptionism that is often lurking just beneath the surface of Mark’s narrative.

Now, that Luke left this part in the story is the sort of thing that a Q proponent should be raising to support the case that Luke was unaware of Matthew. After all, the latter removed this from his version, as well as making his version significantly shorter than Mark’s, and still shorter than Luke’s version. I suggested that Matthew took this out for more or less the reasons I’ve suggested: that it was a bad look, it carries implications that don’t sit well ir Jesus was God from before the time of his human conception. As such, Matthew took the proper course by removing this from his story. And you know, if the Q people posed this argument, I would have some trouble in refuting it because it does not seem consistent with Jesus’ thoroughgoing divinity. But the Q people don’t present this as an argument. Instead, they tout the “masterful arrangement” of Matthew and claim that only a fool or a madman would mangle this arrangement. That is not an argument. And it’s not even valid, since it poses a false dichotomy that there can’t be other reasons for rearranging the material.

46 At dixit Iesus: “ Tetigit me aliquis; nam et ego novi virtutem de me exisse”.

47 ἰδοῦσα δὲ ἡ γυνὴ ὅτι οὐκ ἔλαθεν τρέμουσα ἦλθεν καὶ προσπεσοῦσα αὐτῷ δι’ ἣν αἰτίαν ἥψατο αὐτοῦ ἀπήγγειλεν ἐνώπιον παντὸς τοῦ λαοῦ καὶ ὡς ἰάθη παραχρῆμα.

48 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῇ, Θυγάτηρ, ἡ πίστις σου σέσωκέν σε: πορεύου εἰς εἰρήνην.

The woman seeing that she did not escape notice, trembling, came and fell before him to tell through which cause she touched him before the whole people how she had been healed immediately. (48) And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you, go forth in peace”.

Notice the difference in vocabulary between what Jesus says and what the woman says. The latter says she was healed immediately; Jesus says her faith has saved her. This goes back to the meaning of “saved” in the NT. Of course, for later Christians, saved has a very specific meaning. And fact, the most common translation of this is not “saved”, but “healed” or “made you well”. Why is that? I’ve been reading a lot more pagan Greek lately, and the word here, “sōzō” << σωζω >> which means “to save”, almost always means “to save one’s life”. That is obviously the meaning here; the question is when is it appropriate to take it in the later Christian sense of being “saved”. What are the clues? What is the context? I do not think this has been fully worked out, just as the clues and context for translated “psyche” as “soul” rather than “physical life” have truly been defined. Rather, the instances have been determined, and agreed upon, but it’s very much on an “everyone knows/agrees” basis. To complicate this question further, the Vulgate below choses “salvam“, “saved”. So what does that tell us about the underlying Greek word? Probably it tells us that the Latin word is just about as ambiguous–from our 21st Century perspective–as it’s Greek counterpart.

As a final note, the last verse has garnered some attention as being slightly unusual. Supposedly this is the only instance in which someone is addressed as “daughter”. This would make me wonder if the term was coming into use in later Christian communities as they were growing hierarchical. It’s not a huge thing, but it anything unusual is worth noting. All the same, we need to bear in mind that Luke is one for unusual vocabulary. The bit about going in peace, however, has a slightly different twist. The word is used many times in the NT, starting with Paul. But, it is used exactly once by Mark, and it’s in the context of this story. So the question becomes, can we take that unusual word in Mark as perhaps indicating that this expression did, in fact, go back to Jesus? We can never be sure of this, but we can be sure–reasonably so, at least–that it was an old part of the story, imbedded as it was in the account that Mark heard and repeated, and that Luke retained where Matthew did not; Matthew retained the use of “daughter” as a form of address, but he left out the injunction that she go in peace. Why Luke and not Matthew? We will never know Luke’s reasons for doing so. Perhaps he felt it may have been spoken by Jesus. Recall that Luke was definitely aware of Paul and his career, which we cannot say about Matthew. Did Luke’s familiarity make this word resonate? 

47 Videns autem mulier quia non latuit, tremens venit et procidit ante eum et ob quam causam tetigerit eum indicavit coram omni populo et quemadmodum confestim sanata sit.

48 At ipse dixit illi: “Filia, fides tua te salvam fecit. Vade in pace”.

Luke Chapter 8:26-39

We have now come to Luke’s version of the Gerasene Demonaic. “My name is Legion, and we are many”. For whatever reason, this is ones of my favorite stories in the NT. There is something very fascinating about it for reasons that aren’t necessarily completely obvious. One of the more striking aspects of the story, IMO, is the sheer length. Especially Mark, it is one of, if not the longest single stories in the NT outside of the Passion Narrative. Why? Of course, that question cannot be answered. The existence of this story clearly points to there being a repertoire of set-piece stories about Jesus that were circulated among the early communities. The story of Jairus/The Bleeding Woman is likely another. This sort of building-block narrative, IMO, makes more sense than the idea of a bunch of sayings. Sayings do not work well in an oral tradition. Think of it: you have an audience, you want to get and keep their attention. Which will do that more effectively, a bunch of pithy aphorisms that come and go in a minute or less, requiring that a number of them be strung together, or a story of some length, with a beginning, a middle, and and end that can be dramatized? Of course, the two are not mutually exclusive; one can salt the spaces between stories with the punchy sayings. However, these are not circumstances that would seem to be conducive to accumulating a book of sayings. I am perfectly willing to accept the idea that the Parable of the Sower may have originated with Jesus, but think about that: it is not a saying in the same way that ‘blessed are the poor’ is, even if you run all of them together. The parable is like Aesop’s fables with people instead of talking animals and these are, at root, stories. If you are familiar with The Iliad, you will perhaps remember that it very much resembles a construction of such story blocks, as each of the heroes has his moment(s) in battle. There are stories of Aias (Ajax), of Diomedes, of Menelaus. Each one can, if pressed, or with a minimal amount of work, stand on its own. The genius of Homer was to take these blocks and then stack them together. So, too, with the evangelists; Mark, in particular, fits this paradigm. Q, OTOH, does not. (See note at bottom of post*)


26 Καὶ κατέπλευσαν εἰς τὴν χώραν τῶν Γερασηνῶν, ἥτις ἐστὶν ἀντιπέρα τῆς Γαλιλαίας.

27 ἐξελθόντι δὲ αὐτῷ ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν ὑπήντησεν ἀνήρ τις ἐκ τῆς πόλεως ἔχων δαιμόνια: καὶ χρόνῳ ἱκανῷ οὐκ ἐνεδύσατο ἱμάτιον, καὶ ἐν οἰκίᾳ οὐκ ἔμενεν ἀλλ’ ἐν τοῖς μνήμασιν.

28 ἰδὼν δὲ τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἀνακράξας προσέπεσεν αὐτῷ καὶ φωνῇ μεγάλῃ εἶπεν, Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, Ἰησοῦ υἱὲ τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ὑψίστου; δέομαί σου, μή με βασανίσῃς.

29 παρήγγειλενγὰρ τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἀκαθάρτῳ ἐξελθεῖν ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. πολλοῖς γὰρ χρόνοις συνηρπάκει αὐτόν, καὶ ἐδεσμεύετο ἁλύσεσιν καὶ πέδαιςφυλασσόμενος, καὶ διαρρήσσων τὰ δεσμὰ ἠλαύνετο ὑπὸ τοῦ δαιμονίου εἰς τὰς ἐρήμους.

And they went to the country of the Gerasenes, which is on the opposite shore from Galilee. (27) Coming towards him when they were on land a certain man met him from the city having demons. And for a long time he was not able to be dressed, and in a house he did not remain but among the tombs. (28) Seeing Jesus, crying out he fell before him (Jesus) and said in a loud voice, “What is between me and you, Jesus son of God the most high? I beg you, do not torment me!”

There is nothing terribly remarkable here, especially after we’ve been through this twice already. It’s worth pointing out that Luke says he had demons, in the plural. Mark refers to it as an unclean spirit, singular. In a detail that I’d forgotten (upon which which I hope I commented) Matthew says there were two men, not just one. So each puts a particular slant on the story. Also worth noting is the name of the place. Here it transliterates as “Gerasenes”. Matthew has this as “Gadarenes”, which is how the KJV renders the name. So, once again, Luke agrees with Mark and not Matthew, giving the Q conspirators more (not very good) evidence that Luke did not know Matthew, even though Luke agreed about Joseph, the virgin birth, and Bethlehem. But who’s counting? Luke, as Matthew, abridges Mark’s account; there is no mention of the shackles put on the man in the latter’s version.

26 Enavigaverunt autem ad regionem Gergesenorum, quae est contra Galilaeam.

27 Et cum egressus esset ad terram, occurrit illi vir quidam de civitate, qui habebat daemonia et iam tempore multo vestimento non induebatur neque in domo manebat sed in monumentis.

28 Is ut vidit Iesum, exclamans procidit ante illum et voce magna dixit: “Quid mihi et tibi est, Iesu, Fili Dei Altissimi? Obsecro te, ne me torqueas”.

30 ἐπηρώτησεν δὲ αὐτὸν ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Τί σοι ὄνομά ἐστιν; ὁ δὲ εἶπεν, Λεγιών, ὅτι εἰσῆλθεν δαιμόνια πολλὰ εἰς αὐτόν.

31 καὶ παρεκάλουν αὐτὸν ἵνα μὴ ἐπιτάξῃ αὐτοῖς εἰς τὴν ἄβυσσον ἀπελθεῖν.

Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “Legion”, that many demons went into him. (31) And he (the demonaic) commanded him (Jesus) in order lest he (Jesus) not command them (the demons) to go away into the abyss. 

The “abyss” is an interesting word. It appears once before this, in Romans, where Paul uses it to describe where someone would go to bring back the dead Christ: into the abyss, the underworld, where the dead are to be found. Then the word is used six or seven times in the Apocalypse, where it means pretty much what we think it means. Also worth noting is that the use of the word as a substantive is pretty much a Christian usage; in pagan Greek usage it’s usually an adjective, meaning “bottomless” in the sense of “too deep to measure”, which is how “bottomless” is generally used in English. So what we have here is the first explicit association of “the pit” and demons; IOW, this is a real step in the geography of Hell. Now, I’ve been reading some pagan myth, and this idea of the pit of Tartaros predates the Christian idea of Hell = Pit by several centuries. This is to say that Christians are steadily adopting ideas from their pagan contemporaries, and Christian theology is becoming less Jewish and more pagan. Given that, by the time Luke wrote, most converts have been former pagans for probably two or three or even four decades–likely since the time of Paul, and certainly since the destruction of Jerusalem–this persistent incorporation of pagan thought should not surprise us in the least. Christian thought was being formulated by pagans, for pagans. What’s more important is that the thought that had been formulated was being written down, first by Matthew and then by Luke. We talked about Matthew as a former pagan, and I’m not the first to make that suggestion, And here is an important step: Hell is taking shape, and it’s geography and purpose are strongly influenced by the Greek idea of Hades, in particular of Tartaros, a place of torment for the wicked. By the time The Apocalypse was written, the idea was firmly fixed in the Christian thought of the author of that work, who then gave it to Christian thought. Much of our ideas of Heaven and Hell derive from Revelations and from nowhere else in the NT. Or the OT for that matter.

The ideas of an eternal soul, Hell, and entrance to a blessed life after death, all all, ultimately, Greek in origin.

29 Praecipiebat enim spiritui immundo, ut exiret ab homine. Multis enim temporibus arripiebat illum, vinciebatur catenis et compedibus custoditus; et ruptis vinculis, agebatur a daemonio in deserta.

30 Interrogavit autem illum Iesus dicens: “ Quod tibi nomen est? ”. At ille dixit: “ Legio ”, quia intraverunt daemonia multa in eum.

31 Et rogabant eum, ne imperaret illis, ut in abyssum irent.

32 *)=ην δὲ ἐκεῖ ἀγέλη χοίρων ἱκανῶν βοσκομένη ἐν τῷ ὄρει: καὶ παρεκάλεσαν αὐτὸν ἵνα ἐπιτρέψῃ αὐτοῖς εἰς ἐκείνους εἰσελθεῖν: καὶ ἐπέτρεψεν αὐτοῖς.

(32) There was a large herd of swine feeding on the hill. And they (the demons) asked him (Jesus) in order to allow them into them (the pigs) to go in; and he allowed them.  

One quick vocabulary note: the word used here for ‘herd’ in the NT only means a herd of pigs. And the only place it’s used is in the three versions of this story, in Mark, Matthew, and then Luke. This indicates a couple of things: first, Mark used the word originally, perhaps because it was part of the original story that he had heard, or that he created.  The other two found the word in use, and not having an alternative at hand, simply followed suit. Second, that swine are being herded indicates that we are among pagans, since Jews don’t eat pork. Along with this, a reference to pigs is found only in the various versions of this story, and two other times in the NT. Matthew refers to “pearls before swine”, and Luke mentions them again in the Prodigal Son. This paucity of pigs should not surprise us given Jewish dietary laws. But let us remember this when we come to the story of the Prodigal son. 

32 Erat autem ibi grex porcorum multorum pascentium in monte; et rogaverunt eum, ut permitteret eis in illos ingredi. Et permisit illis.

33 ἐξελθόν ταδὲ τὰ δαιμόνια ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου εἰσῆλθον εἰς τοὺς χοίρους, καὶ ὥρμησεν ἡ ἀγέλη κατὰ τοῦ κρημνοῦ εἰς τὴν λίμνην καὶ ἀπεπνίγη.

34 ἰδόντες δὲ οἱ βόσκοντες τὸ γεγονὸς ἔφυγον καὶ ἀπήγγειλαν εἰς τὴν πόλιν καὶ εἰς τοὺς ἀγρούς.

35 ἐξῆλθον δὲ ἰδεῖν τὸ γεγονὸς καὶ ἦλθον πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν, καὶ εὗρον καθήμενον τὸν ἄνθρωπον ἀφ’ οὗ τὰ δαιμόνια ἐξῆλθεν ἱματισμένον καὶ σωφρονοῦντα παρὰ τοὺς πόδας τοῦ Ἰησοῦ, καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν.

36 ἀπήγγειλαν δὲ αὐτοῖς οἱ ἰδόντες πῶς ἐσώθη ὁ δαιμονισθείς.

Then the demons went out from the man went into the pigs, and the herd ran over the cliff into the lake and were choked (drowned). (34) The swineherds seeing the event fled and announced to the city and to the fields (to all and sundry, country or city. (35) They came to see the event and went to Jesus and they found the purified man from whom the demons went out, clothed and wise minded (in his right mind) at the feet of Jesus, and they were afraid.

The notable thing here is that the man was clothed. In Mark’s version, we are told that the demonaic would not, or could not, wear clothes, and this was a symptom of his possession. Having once seen a naked man outside the Kennedy Center in NYC at noon on a warm Saturday, I can tell you that being nude in public like this may be an indication that someone is not of sound mind. The guy I saw probably wasn’t. But the point here is that Luke edited that detail out of the earlier story, but retained it here. Perhaps he could just assume that everyone hearing the story already knew the demonaic practiced a clothing-optional lifestyle. This, however, has some pretty profound implications for how these gospels were used: were they collected, and read (aloud or silently) as a unit? Or did different gospels circulate in different regions? That Matthew and Luke feel free to abridge Mark as they see fit…well, which does that signify? That the audience would be able to fill in the details? Or that Matthew and Luke assumed the audience would not be aware of the differences? Or neither, since it was assumed by Matthew and Luke that the audience would not be concerned about the discrepancies? 

33 Exierunt ergo daemonia ab homine et intraverunt in porcos, et impetu abiit grex per praeceps in stagnum et suffocatus est.

34 Quod ut viderunt factum, qui pascebant, fugerunt et nuntiaverunt in civitatem et in villas.

35 Exierunt autem videre, quod factum est, et venerunt ad Iesum et invenerunt hominem sedentem, a quo daemonia exierant, vestitum ac sana mente ad pedes Iesu et timuerunt.

36 Nuntiaverunt autem illis hi, qui viderant, quomodo sanus factus esset, qui a daemonio vexabatur.

37 καὶ ἠρώτησεν αὐτὸν ἅπαν τὸ πλῆθος τῆς περιχώρου τῶν Γερασηνῶν ἀπελθεῖν ἀπ’αὐτῶν, ὅτι φόβῳ μεγάλῳ συνείχοντο: αὐτὸς δὲ ἐμβὰς εἰς πλοῖον ὑπέστρεψεν.

38 ἐδεῖτο δὲ αὐτοῦ ὁ ἀνὴρ ἀφ’ οὗ ἐξεληλύθει τὰ δαιμόνια εἶναι σὺν αὐτῷ: ἀπέλυσεν δὲ αὐτὸν λέγων,

39 Ὑπόστρεφε εἰς τὸν οἶκόν σου, καὶ διηγοῦ ὅσα σοι ἐποίησεν ὁ θεός. καὶ ἀπῆλθεν καθ’ ὅλην τὴν πόλιν κηρύσσωνὅσα ἐποίησεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς.

And the whole crowd from the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to go away from them, that in great fear they came out together; he embarked that they could return. (38) The man from whom the demons exited asked to go with him (Jesus). He answered saying, (39) “Return to your home, and tell how much God has done for you”. And he went through the whole city announcing what Jesus did for him.

Nice subtle touch there at the very end: Jesus tells the man to say what God had done for him, and the man announces what Jesus had done for him. Ergo, God = Jesus. Not a huge revelation, of course, but nicely done nonetheless. 

Let’s connect this back to the previous verse ((36) in which we are told that the people coming out to see the event were afraid. Here they say they are in great fear. Why, exactly? Why are they not grateful? The simple answer, of course, is that they were terrified of the awesome power of God, working through Jesus, or whether as conduit or operative agent. This would be a good answer, and could certainly have been true, but that feels to be lacking, IMO. The Marxist in me wants to put this in economic terms: a large herd of pigs would have represented a sizable investment to folks of those parts; livestock was a source of wealth just as land was. So to have Jesus come along and destroy–or be responsible for the destruction 0f–the means of production that could support a number of people might be enough to scare people who were afraid that other economic assets would be destroyed, too.

But somehow I doubt that.

Let’s take a moment to stop and think about this. The longest version, with the most details, of this story is found in Mark, the earliest of the gospels. What this tells me is that the story was in place when Mark started to write. It is possible that Mark created the story; however, of the three evangelists that we’ve read/are reading, I am least likely to credit Mark with being a creative writer. Mark’s narrative between stories is minimal to the point of nonexistent. His gospel feels more like something harvested than like something he grew from seed: Mark, I think, went out and picked from what was available, more like stringing beads. Or, to go back to the analogy I used most often, he wove the different threads he found into a single whole, even if the different threads didn’t quite form an harmonious whole. There are places where the different threads do not form a smooth fabric. So, given that set of premises, let’s take it as Mark was a collector; as such, he found this story pretty much intact.

This means it is possibly one of the truly early stories about Jesus, one that could date back to his direct disciples, but likely not since their presence is scarcely felt anywhere here. We assume they sailed the boat, but that’s about it. So who started telling this story? The Gerasenes? Probably not. Here we get pagans (pigs, remember?) basically giving Jesus the bum’s rush out of town. IOW, they didn’t exactly warm to the message. Then compare this to the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman, who did accept the message of Jesus. Both pagans, but they had very different responses. So, since this was an early story, one that had had sufficient time to accumulate a wealth of details, which the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman did not collect. So this story more closely reflected the early followers, who were probably almost exclusively Jewish. The moral of this story is that here, the message of Jesus didn’t work out for the pagans. That development was still in the future.

So if we agree that this was an early story, what does it tell us about the earliest vision of Jesus? He is not a teacher in this story. He is a wonder-worker who expels demons and creates fear in the population because of the wonders he works. This is not the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount. That Jesus came later, I think. Again, this was part of my argument about the composition of Mark: the first eight (or so) chapters were about Jesus the wonder-worker; the rest of the work was about Jesus the Christ. Jesus does no teaching here. He does not teach anything to Jairus, or to the Bleeding Woman. Jesus the wonder-worker was not primarily a teacher, and neither was the Christ as portrayed by Paul. If the earliest Jesus was not primarily a teacher, but a wonder-worker, how likely is it that his sayings and teachings, and only what he said, was collected into a separate work that circulated about, but somehow escaped the notice of Mark, even though Mark was supposed to be the John Mark of Acts who was a follower of Peter, who certainly would have been aware of Jesus’ teachings. As you can see, we are piling implausibility upon implausibility as we attempt to stick to the traditional narrative about the early days and the writing of the NT, all as composed a century or more later by what had by that time become The Church. The possibility of Q is seriously compromised by all of these implausibilities. It simply does not fit with the best evidence that we have, Paul and Mark.

I hope that all this stuff I’m saying about the historical analysis of the evidence as presented by the text is starting to make sense. Historical arguments are complex things, even when the evidence for what we’re discussing is scanty. Even when the evidence is plentiful, it is crucial to stick to what it presents, and to pay less attention to what people said about it a century later. This latter is what biblical scholars do; they assume the accuracy–and the veracity–of the later tradition. But the problem is that later tradition simply is not reliable. The idea that Mark was John Mark the assistant to Peter flies in the face of what the text tells us if we but choose to listen. If it’s crucial to adhere to the text when there is plenty of evidence, it’s doubly so when the evidence is so scanty, and when we only have one text from which to work. That what became The Church chose not to stick to the text is understandable; after all, “scientific history” was still a rarity, although it did exist. But more, what became The Church had a mission to accomplish, and why should a few facts get in the way? I’m currently re-reading the Annales, by Tacitus. He is usually held up as the Roman Thucydides, the scientific historian in a group of hearsay artists. Well, let me tell you, Tacitus may–may–have stuck to facts, but he presented them in a way as to put across a particular point of view. So if a “scientific” historian did this, how likely is it that the evangelists even tried to write scientific history? And how likely is it that what became The Church (wbTC) would be all that careful about sticking to the evidence of the text when they had such a great story to tell? As Eliza Doolittle so eloquently put it, ‘not bloody likely’.

*Note to post:

I was looking at a map of Galilee in conjunction with the next section, when Jesus & c re-cross the lake back to Caphernaum. While looking, I noticed that the town of Gadara, where the Gadarenes (= Gerasenes, presumably) is way on the south side of the lake, pretty much the length of the lake away from Caphernaum. Not only that, it appears to be set back from the lake by a good way. However, since this takes place in the territory of the Gerasenes/Gadarenes, I suppose we can suppose that this territory extended some distance down to the the lakeshore.

37 Et rogaverunt illum omnis multitudo regionis Gergesenorum, ut discederet ab ipsis, quia timore magno tenebantur. Ipse autem ascendens navem reversus est.

38 Et rogabat illum vir, a quo daemonia exierant, ut cum eo esset. Dimisit autem eum dicens:

39 “ Redi domum tuam et narra quanta tibi fecit Deus ”. Et abiit per universam civitatem praedicans quanta illi fecisset Iesus.

Luke Chapter 8:19-25

My apologies for the long hiatus; I must confess that I’ve been cheating on the NT, indulging in an orgy of non-NT Greek consisting of Xenophon’s Anabasis and a Gnostic-Hermetic text called Poimandres, Shepherd of Men, or Poimandres, the Man-Shepherd. It seems to be a pretty basic text of the Corpus Hermeticum, a body of work that is comprises some foundational Gnostic texts. Sections of Poimandres (also Poemander, or even Pimander) are borderline bizarre in the generation of various entities, which I have always found a bit off-putting about a lot of Gnostic texts. The text, however, is interesting, since it acts as a mirror for the content of the NT texts that we’re reading. The date of Poimandres is conjectural, like most texts of the time. The consensus appears to put it in the second quarter of the Second Century, around the time of the Gnostic heretic Valentinius. I am not familiar with this latter author; no one is. His works were all destroyed by the neophyte Church, and everything we know about him and his teachings is derived from his orthodox attackers. One thing that is particularly interesting is the level of the development of the Gnostic elements; they seem to be largely implicit unlike the explicit Gnosticism of Gospel Thomas. Count that as another blow at the idea that Thomas was written in the First Century. But back to our story.

This is a short section; or rather, it’s two short sections. After this the tale of the Gerasene demonaic comes up, so had to cut this one short. In context, Jesus has just explained the Parable of the Sower to his disciples, and then finished with the three short aphorisms about the lamp, all things becoming manifest, and that those who have will be given more.


19 Παρεγένετο δὲ πρὸς αὐτὸν ἡ μήτηρ καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτοῦ, καὶ οὐκ ἠδύναντο συντυχεῖν αὐτῷ διὰ τὸν ὄχλον. 

20 ἀπηγγέλη δὲ αὐτῷ, Ἡ μήτηρ σου καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοί σου ἑστήκασιν ἔξω ἰδεῖν θέλοντές σε. 

21 ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς, Μήτηρ μου καὶ ἀδελφοί μου οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ ἀκούοντες καὶ ποιοῦντες.

And there came to hims his mother and his brothers, and they were not able to approach to him because of the crowd. (20) It was announced to him, “Your mother and your brothers stand outside wishing to see you.” (21) He, answering, said to them, “My mother and my brothers are those hearing and doing the word of God”.

This scene as presented here has been ripped so badly out of its context that it barely makes sense. In Mark, his family comes because they believe that Jesus has rather gone off the deep end. It is prefaced by the “house divided” episode, in which it is suggested that Jesus has a demon himself. Here, coming after the Parable of the Sower, it doesn’t particularly make sense. Nor is the location made specific; at the beginning of the chapter, we are simply told that he and the Twelve were going from one city and village to another. Mark located this story in Caphernaum, which made the idea of Jesus’ family coming from Nazareth seem far-fetched due to the distance (20-30 miles, IIRC) between the two towns. Matthew sort of eliminated that problem by telling us specifically that Jesus moved to Caphernaum, presumably with the rest of his family? Luke, in contrast, specifically said that Jesus did not move, pointedly locating the “prophet without honor in his home town” episode in Nazareth. Here…it’s hard to say. If Jesus’ family comes to him, we assume they cannot be too far away. Beyond that, we are not given any sense of why they came to him. He doesn’t need to be “rescued”, even if from himself as in the other two versions. So, once again, we have a great example that emphatically demonstrates Luke has no qualms whatsoever about messing with settings, locations, context, or anything else. This is completely removed from its Markan (really don’t like that term) context and placed wherever Luke chose, whether the context makes sense or not. And it doesn’t.

19 Venerunt autem ad illum mater et fratres eius, et non poterant adire ad eum prae turba.

20 Et nuntiatum est illi: “ Mater tua et fratres tui stant foris volentes te videre ”.

21 Qui respondens dixit ad eos: “ Mater mea et fratres mei hi sunt, qui verbum Dei audiunt et faciunt”.

22 Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν μιᾷ τῶν ἡμερῶν καὶ αὐτὸς ἐνέβη εἰς πλοῖον καὶ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ, καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς, Διέλθωμεν εἰς τὸ πέραν τῆς λίμνης: καὶ ἀνήχθησαν.

23 πλεόντων δὲ αὐτῶν ἀφύπνωσεν. καὶ κατέβη λαῖλαψ ἀνέμου εἰς τὴν λίμνην, καὶ συνεπληροῦντο καὶ ἐκινδύνευον.

24 προσελθόντες δὲ διήγειραν αὐτὸν λέγοντες, Ἐπιστάτα ἐπιστάτα, ἀπολλύμεθα. ὁ δὲ διεγερθεὶς ἐπετίμησεν τῷ ἀνέμῳ καὶ τῷ κλύδωνι τοῦ ὕδατος: καὶ ἐπαύσαντο, καὶ ἐγένετο γαλήνη.

25 εἶπεν δὲ αὐτοῖς, Ποῦ ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν; φοβηθέντες δὲ ἐθαύμασαν, λέγοντες πρὸς ἀλλήλους, Τίς ἄρα οὗτός ἐστιν ὅτι καὶ τοῖς ἀνέμοις ἐπιτάσσει καὶ τῷ ὕδατι, καὶ ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ;

It happened one day that he and his disciples went to the boat and he said to them, “Let us go to the other shore.” And they departed. (23) They having sailed (while) he was sleeping. And there arose a furious storm of wind upon the lake, and they were taking water and endangered. (24) Coming they awakened him saying, “Get up! Get up! We are being destroyed!” He having awakened rebuked the wind and the waves of the water. And they stopped, and it was calm. (25) He said to them, “Where is your faith?” Fearing, they marveled, saying to each other, “Who indeed is this that he commands both the wind and the water and they obey him?”

A word about the vocabulary. << λαῖλαψ >> and << συνεπληροῦντο >> are unusual words in the NT. The former is found only in Luke, the latter twice in Luke and once in 1 Peter. They are not, however, terribly unusual in Classical or Hellenistic authors. So, once again, we see that Luke had a fairly high level of education, that he had a pretty good range of reading.

As for the story itself, once again we find a story completely divorced from either Mark’s or Matthew’s context. Of course, the question that Mark’s disciples ask, “Do you not care that we are perishing” is gone. It was also excised by Matthew. Obviously, this portrays the disciples in a really bad light, which raises two major questions in my mind. The first is what this tells us of Mark’s view of the disciples. Obviously, it wasn’t very flattering. Which makes me wonder how it is that so many people believe that Mark was Peter’s assistant. If Mark was Peter’s assistant, we’re up against a situation in which we have to ask, if Peter (and the other disciples) have friends like Mark, who needs enemies? I mean, seriously. There is no way that Mark wrote what he did under the auspices of Peter or any of the original disciples. Why on earth would they stand for this sort of hatchet job? This is the sort of internal evidence that seems to be wholly ignored by virtually all scholars, who opt instead for the nice tradition that Mark was the John Mark of Acts. The reason? Why attribute a book to Mark, unless he was someone important, like the John Mark of Acts. My response to this is, John Mark is famous? The question of Mark’s name, and who he was, is legitimate. The answer usually provided, IMO, is not.

Then we have to ask what this says about the triple tradition. Remember, the Q people insist that Luke did not know Matthew. So, this means that, wholly independent of each other, Matthew and Luke decided to drop that question that the found in Mark. That’s convenient. Does it not make sense, rather, that Luke followed Matthew’s lead on this? Occam’s Razor says this is the more likely explanation.

22 Factum est autem in una dierum, et ipse ascendit in navem et discipuli eius, et ait ad illos: “Transfretemus trans stagnum”. Et ascenderunt.

23 Navigantibus autem illis, obdormivit. Et descendit procella venti in stagnum, et complebantur et periclitabantur.

24 Accedentes autem suscitaverunt eum dicentes: “Praeceptor, praeceptor, perimus!”. At ille surgens increpavit ventum et tempestatem aquae, et cessaverunt, et facta est tranquillitas.

25 Dixit autem illis: “ Ubi est fides vestra? ”. Qui timentes mirati sunt dicentes ad invicem: “ Quis putas hic est, quia et ventis imperat et aquae, et oboediunt ei? ”.