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This is the eighth article in a series which questions the assumptions of Markan Priority. In this article I will be covering the seventh point which is brought up in Mark Goodacre’s article on Synoptic Fatigue. The article appeared originally in, New Testament Studies 44 (1998), pp. 45-58, entitled, “Fatigue in the Synoptics.”

Mark Goodacre calls this the “Best Example” of Editorial Fatigue because Luke resets the scene in the city of Bethsaida and causes all sorts of problems. Well I’m sure you realize I disagree with his assessment, but I would also point out he only proceeds to discuss one problem which this passage in Luke seems to cause. I only draw attention to this because he states in his article, “…this causes all sorts of problems.” If there are further problems to discuss he doesn’t address them. Perhaps I am being too critical of Mark Goodacre’s choice of words, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt and chalk up these words, “all sorts of problems,” to a manner of speech which is possibly only in reference to the one supposed contradiction he proceeds to point out.

In my assessment of the Lukan account I wonder how Mark Goodacre arrived at his conclusion to begin with. He seems to be locked into a literal reading and never considers interpreting the passage by the overall context. As I studied the matter more fully I began to realize that his choice of this passage may have been motivated by another reason. It is in regard to the variant readings which exist in all of the available surviving manuscripts of the New Testament. Suffice it to say that it doesn’t matter in the end. This is because apart from the variant readings there are a couple of other interpretations we can accept as reasonable within the current consensus reading of Luke 9:10.

  • The first interpretation concerns the words, “withdrew” and “by Himself.” in verse 10.
    • It seems clear from Luke’s context that these words, “withdrew,” and “by himself” are in association with Jesus and his disciples trying to find solace from the crowds. Verse 11 begins with, “But the crowds were aware of this,” the basic understanding conveyed is that Jesus was trying to avoid the crowds, but they became aware of their location. The words, “by himself,” could be entirely removed from the sentence if we are assuming that they are in the city, for why else should Luke state, “by himself?” Perhaps Luke could have meant to state that He was “by Himself” in the city? We could also assume that “by Himself” was another way of saying that Jesus and his disciples withdrew away to a solitary place. Once again I am struck by the fact that this interpretation is never considered in order to resolve a supposed “apparent” contradiction.
    • The second point to bring up is in regard to a little word which Mark Goodacre missed. The word is, “to.” In verse 10 Luke states the disciples and Jesus withdrew by himself, “to the city…”
      • I’ll start with the most basic understanding which is that they withdrew to the city and presumably arrived at the city. The next possibility is that they withdrew to the city but had not yet arrived at the city. If you think I am stretching the possibilities in order to make a “difficult” reading make sense then I would point to the above words which Luke also used in verse 10, “withdrew,” and “by Himself,” and add to this the obvious declaration in verse 12 that they are in a desolate place.

        If you are still not convinced that this is reasonable I would point to the various meanings of the Greek word for, “to” (εἰς Strongs Greek 1519). Not only does it mean, “to,” but can also mean, “unto,” or “towards.” Incidentally, the word, “to” can be understood in the same way as “towards.” It doesn’t even need to be translated as, “towards,” in order to interpret it as such. In other words, the passage can be seen in the same sense as not coming to fruition. Jesus and his disciples withdrew to the city but Luke never directly stated that they arrived at the city. If one would take the words of Luke 9:10 out of context, then it is very easy to see how one would interpret them as arriving at the city of Bethsaida, but if you read it in context it can also be interpreted as nearby Bethsaida in a solitary place.

Context and perspective is everything. It would seem that the perspective regarding Luke 9:10 has been examined so closely by so many critics it has lost its context. I noticed this in both my articles on the healing of the paralytic and Jesus’ Mother and Brothers. A simple examination of the texts in context can account for “contradictions.” It is only when one assumes certain speculations regarding Markan Priority that ideas of Editorial fatigue begin to develop. Add to this the variant readings for Luke 9:10 and scholars began to debate which one was correct. Were the readings which clearly state that they were in a desolate place or the ones which leave out the words, “desolate place.” The perspective was suddenly shifted to one way or the other, but very few scholars I suppose considered that both readings could be understood in the same way.

Mark Goodacre also stated specifically that, “Luke…resets the scene in ‘a city…called Bethsaida’,” when in fact that is not the exact wording of the current Greek consensus reading. In fact the current consensus reading as I have demonstrated can be interpreted as, “near Bethsaida,” or, “in the wilderness of Bethsaida,” but what is quite clear is that Luke never stated they arrived at the city of Bethsaida. Mark Goodacre then proceeded to assume that Luke in staying true to Mark’s Gospel brings the setting back to a desolate place and hence exposes his editorial fatigue. This argument falls apart if we interpret Luke’s statement regarding Bethsaida by context instead of literally.

We should also consider that if Luke was so busy “copying” either Matthew or Mark’s account wouldn’t we wonder why does Luke “reset the scene” as Mark Goodacre suggests? And if indeed Luke did “reset the scene” to Bethsaida, then why only two verses later does he seemingly contradict that statement in verse 12? It seems like the worst case of storytelling and certainly a writer such as the physician Luke would have caught such a glaring “mistake” only two verses apart from its introduction. Doesn’t it seem just as plausable that Luke, who stated, “…it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you…,”(Lk 1:3), that Luke most likely interviewed an eyewitness who gave him the detail about the miracle occurring near Bethsaida?

Below I have listed five different translations of Luke 9:10, I could have listed more, but five are sufficient to show the variations.

  • And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. (KJV)
  • And the apostles, when they were returned, declared unto him what things they had done. And he took them, and withdrew apart to a city called Bethsaida. (ASV)
  • Upon their return, the apostles reported to Jesus all that they had done. And He took them [along with Him] and withdrew into privacy near a town called Bethsaida. (AMP)
  • On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. (ESV)
  • When the apostles returned, they described for Jesus what they had done. Taking them with him, Jesus withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida. (CEB)

It should be clear from the above passages that there are two ways to translate the passage. One can either literally translate word for word or they can try to determine the message from the overall context of the passage. After all there are many words and phrases in languages which can mean many things and it is the job of the translater to paraphrase at times.

Since I feel I have adequately answered Mark Goodacre’s assumptions of Markan Priority over Matthew then there is no longer the surity of Mark over Matthew. Now because of this, it matters very little if Luke is assumed written after either Mark or Matthew because priority of Mark still cannot be established (See my previous blogs on this topic). Secondly, If we assume that Luke was suffering from editorial fatigue then we ignore the overall context of the passage and interpret the Greek words in the most literal sense thereby creating the “contradiction.” Only the critical scholars can “see” the “contradition” in Luke because they are already assuming Markan priority.

Below is a table of sources I compliled while studing Luke 9:10. If anyone has corrections or updates to add please let me know. As always, keep Ceeking Truth and Peace be with you and yours. :-).

Ms. Code Ms. Name Text Type Cent. Date (AD) Variant Translation
p75 Bodmer Papyrus Alexandrian Early 3rd ≈ 200 thru 250 εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηδσαϊδά to a city called Bethsaida
‭א1 Codex Sinaiticus (First correction) Alexandrian 4th – 5th ≈ 350 thru 499 εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά to a city called Bethsaida
B Codex Vaticanus Alexandrian First half of 4th ≈ 300 thru 350 εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά to a city called Bethsaida
L Codex Regius Alexandrian 8th ≈ 700 thru 799 εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά to a city called Bethsaida
Ξ* Codex Zacynthius (first scribe) Alexandrian 6th ≈ 500 thru 599 εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά to a city called Bethsaida
33 Minuscule 33 (Codex Colbertinus 2844) Alexandrian 9th ≈ 800 thru 899 εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά to a city called Bethsaida
2542 Manuscript 2542 Caesarean (f1) partly and a few (pc) Byzantine 12th or 13th ≈ 1100 thru 1299 εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά to a city called Bethsaida
syrs Syriac Sinaiticus (Sinaitic Palimpsest) Western Late 4th ≈ 350 thru 399 ܠܬܪܥܐ ܕܡܕܝܢܬܐ ܕܡܬܩܪܝܐ ܒܝܬ ܨܝܕܐ to a city called Bethsaida
copsa Sahidic Coptic Manuscripts Alexandrian 3rd / 4th ≈ 200 thru 399 eupoleis eSaumoute eros Je bhdsaida to a city called Bethsaida
copbo Bohairic Coptic Manuscripts Alexandrian 3rd / 4th ≈ 200 thru 399 eoubaki eumouT eros Je bhqsaida to a city called Bethsaida
WH The Wescott and Hort Critical Greek Text Alexandrian 19th 1881 εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά to a city called Bethsaida
D Codex Bezae (Greek) Western 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 εἰς κώμην λεγομένην Βηδσαϊδά to a town/village called Bethsaida
itd Codex Bezae Cantabrigensis (Old Latin) Western 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 vers un village dénommé Bedsaïda to a town/village called Bethsaida
א* Codex Sinaiticus (first scribe) Alexandrian 4th ≈ 325 thru 360 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον to a place desolate
‭א2 Codex Sinaiticus (Second correction) Alexandrian 7th ≈ 600 thru 699 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον to a place desolate
157 Minuscule 157 a bit Alexandrian 12th c. 1125 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον to a place desolate
1241 Minuscule 1241 Alexandrian 12th ≈ 1100 thru 1199 ἔρημον τόπον desolate place
syrc Syriac Curetonian Western 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 ܘܐܙܠ ܠܐܬܪܐ ܚܘܪܒܐ܂ to a place desolate
copbo(mss) Bohairic Coptic Manuscripts (Some) Alexandrian 3rd / 4th ≈ 200 thru 399 Bohairic Text to a place desolate
Θ Codex Koridethianus possibly Byzantine 9th ≈ 800 thru 899 εἰς κώμην καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά εἰς τόπον ἔρημον to a town called Bethsaida to a place desolate
1342 Miniscule 1342 Alexandrian 13th / 14th ≈ 1200 thru 1399 τόπον καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά τόπον place called Bethsaida place
itr1 Codex Usserianus Primus Western 6th / early 7th ≈ 550 thru 650 Latin Text to a town called Bethsaida to a place desolate
Ψ Codex Athous Lavrensis Byzantine 8th / 9th ≈ 750 thru 899 εἰς τόπον καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά to a place called Bethsaida
ita Codex Vercellensis Western 4th ≈ 300 thru 399 Latin Text to a place called Bethsaida
itaur Stockholm Codex Aureus Western 7th ≈ 600 thru 699 Latin Text to a place called Bethsaida
itb Codex Veronensis Western 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 Latin Text to a place called Bethsaida
itc Codex Colbertinus Western 12th / 13th ≈ 1100 thru 1299 Latin Text to a place called Bethsaida
ite Codex Palatinus Western 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 Latin Text to a place called Bethsaida
itf Codex Brixianus Western 6th ≈ 500 thru 599 Latin Text to a place called Bethsaida
itff2 Codex Corbeiensis II Western 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 Latin Text to a place called Bethsaida
itl Codex Rehdigeranus Western 8th ≈ 700 thru 799 Latin Text to a place called Bethsaida
itq Codex latinus Monacensis Western 6th / 7th ≈ 500 thru 699 Latin Text to a place called Bethsaida
vg Vulgate Western 4th ≈ 300 thru 399 Latin Text to a place called Bethsaida
copbo(mss) Bohairic Coptic Manuscripts (Some) Alexandrian 3rd / 4th ≈ 200 thru 399 Bohairic Text place desolate
A Codex Alexandrinus Byzantine 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
565 Minuscule 565 Caesarean 9th
800 thru 899
εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
l76 Lectionary 76 Byzantine 12th ≈ 1100 thru 1199 Εἰς ἔρημον τόπον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a desolate place a city called Bethsaida
C Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus Alexandrian a bit Byzantine 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
W Codex Washingtonianus Byzantine 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
Δ Codex Sangallensis 48 Byzantine 9th ≈ 800 thru 899 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
Ξc Codex Zacynthius (first scribe correction) Alexandrian 6th ≈ 500 thru 599 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
205 Minuscule 205 f1 15th ≈ 1400 thru 1499 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
700 Minuscule 700 Caesarean 11th ≈ 1000 thru 1099 εἰς τόπον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place a city called Bethsaida
28 Minuscule 28 Like Western 11th ≈ 1000 thru 1099 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
180 Minuscule 180 Byzantine 12th ≈ 1100 thru 1199 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
597 Minuscule 597 Byzantine 13th ≈ 1200 thru 1299 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
892 Minuscule 892 Alexandrian a bit Byzantine 9th ≈ 800 thru 899 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
1006 Manuscript 1006 Alexandrian 11th ≈ 1000 thru 1099 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
1071 Manuscript 1071 Caesarean 12th ≈ 1100 thru 1199 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
1243 Manuscript 1243 f1739 11th ≈ 1000 thru 1099 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
1292 Manuscript 1292 f2138 13th ≈ 1200 thru 1299 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
1424 Minuscule 1424 f1424 9th / 10th ≈ 800 thru 999 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
1505 Minuscule 1505 f2138 7th ≈ 600 thru 699 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
Lect Ninth Century Byz Lectionaries? Byzantine 9th ≈ 800 thru 899 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
syrp Syriac Peshitta Byzantine 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 Syriac Text to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
syrh Syriac Harclean Byzantine 7th 616 Syriac Text to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
arm Armenian Version Caesarean 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 Armenian Text to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
eth Ethiopic Version Alexandrian 11th ≈ 1000 thru 1099 Ethiopic Text to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
geo Georgian Version Caesarean 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 Georgian Text to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
slav Old Church Slavonic Byzantine 9th ≈ 800 thru 899 Slavonic Text to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
ς Robertus Stephanus – Novum Testamentum Byzantine 16th 1550 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
1010 Manuscript 1010 Byzantine 12th ≈ 1100 thru 1199 omit omitted
579 Minuscule 579 Mixed Alexandrian / Byzantine 13th ≈ 1200 thru 1299 omit καὶ παραλαβὼν… Βηθσαϊδά omitted

This is the seventh article in a series which questions the assumptions of Markan Priority. In this article I will be covering the sixth point which is brought up in Mark Goodacre’s article on Synoptic Fatigue. The article appeared originally in, New Testament Studies 44 (1998), pp. 45-58, entitled, “Fatigue in the Synoptics.”

  • The Healing of the Paralytic (Matt 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26)
    • Luke 5:19 Luke omits to mention Mark’s house and this results in men ascending the roof of a house which was never entered. (Mark 2:1-2)
    • Luke 5:21 In Luke’s account the Scribes and Pharisees are reasoning out loud but in Mark’s account they are reasoning in their hearts. (Mark 2:6)

In the last section as well as in this passage the Matthean content was ignored. Having set forth a case for Markan Priority over Matthew Mark Goodacre was only concerned with demonstrating Markan Priority over Luke. Of course I will do my best to bring up as much as I can regarding Matthew’s account. If you are unfamiliar with all that I have written thus far regarding explanations which leave possibilities open for Matthean priority you can review them here:

  1. The Tiring Arguments for Synoptic Fatigue
  2. More on Editorial Fatigue: Antipas hates John but thinks he’s a good guy
  3. Privately Fatigued
  4. A Fatigued House turns out to be a Most Glorified Home
  5. The Sower is Fatigued.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record I have to state again how assumptions are made in regard to analysis of the Gospels. In this case the biggest blunder made in assuming Editorial Fatigue on Matthew or Luke’s part is believing that Mark’s account does not display the same characteristics of the other Gospels. For instance, Matthew states very clearly that Jesus went and settled in Capernaum (Matt 4:12-13), but Mark, Luke and John never stated this as clearly as Matthew! Now Mark does mention a home in Capernaum (Mark 2:1; 3:20), but since he never stated clearly that Jesus settled there, shall we assume Editorial Fatigue on Mark’s part for leaving this precise wording out?

Perhaps another way of putting this is if it looks like one Gospel writer leaves out details of another Gospel writer it is impossible for us to determine if they are omitting, forgetting, or just didn’t have knowledge of the other. This is assuming that they are indeed the one who wrote the later Gospel account because there is always the possibility that the writer with more details is filling in what he believes was not stated by the previous Gospel writer with fewer details. For example, in Matt 12:22-13:1 he does not say that Jesus entered a house but clearly shows Jesus leaving the house (Matt 13:1), assuming that Mark wrote later, he wanted to clear up what Matthew did not state directly in Matt 12:22, which is when the man was brought to Jesus, He was at home (Mark 3:20). The argument is reversed for Markan Priority by stating that Matthew suffered Editorial Fatigue and left the house out of his account. Basically what we have in chess terms is a stalemate. Did Matthew suffer Fatigue or did Mark clarify Matthew?

This is the same blunder which continues to perpetuate itself in Mark Goodacre’s article. In setting the stage and defining the scope as a focus on Editorial Fatigue, one loses track of the other possibilities which exist outside of the borders of that argument. In other words we cannot prove that Editorial Fatigue is a reason for differences, because there are other explanations to account for those differences. It is a vicious cycle which cannot rest. An image of raking leaves in the wind comes to mind.

There is another more subtle assumption when discussing the phantom house of Matthew and Luke in this section. It has to do with the rules of writing. What are the rules of writing? Well I am being sarcastic in addressing Mark Goodacre’s unspoken rules which state that a Gospel writer is supposed to address details which we cannot ascertain by the context of the larger story. In other words, why does Matthew or Luke have to mention the house in their introduction if they get around to it in the middle of the story? To illustrate this point think of a time when you have listened to certain individuals and you are at times unsure of the context until halfway into the conversation? The truth of the matter is that we don’t always communicate according to set standards and rules. My point being is that the Gospel writers are no different. If Matthew or Luke seem to omit a “house”, perhaps they do not omit it at all. Perhaps they are including it but in the context of the story. There really is no rule which says they need to mention that Jesus entered a house, they can simply begin the story by assuming Jesus is already in a house.

Incidentally in Matthew’s account he doesn’t mention the house at all. (Matt 9:1-8) We could speculate in circles about why Matthew doesn’t mention this. If we argue for Matthean Priority we could say that Mark and Luke added these details later on to expound on Matthew’s account. If we argue for Markan priority we could say that Matthew suffers from Editorial fatigue, but this seems less likely in this instance since no mention of the roof is quite an omision. We could also say that Matthew was abbreviating this story from Mark. If we argue for Lukan priority we could state that Matthew and Mark are clarifying Luke’s account. The possibilities are quite numerous.

Now in finally turning our attention to Luke and his account of the healing of the paralytic we see in chapter 5 verse 17 that Luke is setting the scene for a new story:

    One day He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing.”

We can see from Luke’s use of the words, “One day…” that he could be setting the scene anywhere in or around Galilee. Luke does not specifically say anything to hint that this took place in Capernaum, but we know from Matthew and Mark that this did take place there. So while we can build a stronger case for Luke writing his Gospel later, we cannot know if Luke was using Mark’s account or Matthew’s or perhaps both of them. On the other hand there always remains a possibility that Luke wrote prior to Matthew and Mark. Assuming Lukan Priority Matthew and Mark fill in the details later. In other words, if Luke wrote first perhaps he wasn’t concerned with certain details for his audience, while Matthew and Mark who were closer to the events decide to clear up certain matters.

Luke also notes that some Pharisees and teachers of the Law had “come” from all around to where Jesus was. Where was Jesus at this point? Luke is unclear but as stated by Matthew (Matt 9:1) and Mark (Mark 2:1), He is in Capernaum. Reading further in Luke (Luke 5:19) we are made aware that the men bring the man on to the roof to let him down to Jesus. It seems clear to most who read the passage that we can conclude that Jesus is in a house without the need to be told ahead of time. After all Luke does state in 5:17 that all were coming to Jesus and we can make sense of this by the context of the passage that they came to a house where Jesus was at.

According to the critics this makes no sense because it does not follow a logical sequence, but not all communication is linear. Examine your own words and see if you always follow a liner storyline in regard to the details of major events. Have you ever listened to a married couple relate the story of how they first met. Notice how it ebbs and flows in and out of specific details. Sometimes the details are in order and sometimes the details are brought up later on. It is entirely possible that Luke is doing the same thing in this passage. In telling his Gospel he begins to relate that Jesus was in a house. It’s really not a complicated concept to grasp, unless of course your so caught up in looking at the Greek words and trying to find their equivalents in the other Gospels. One begins to become obsessed with certain key words like “house.”

It should always be brought up over and over again that the main assumption of the Synoptic Problem is that the Gospel writers were “copying” from one another. The main part of that assumption being that all of the “copying” was done from Greek documents, and therein lays the biggest assumption of them all! It is entirely possible that Matthew may have written in Hebrew or Aramaic. The tradition of the church seems to uphold this idea. Now if that is a possibility then we can explain similar Greek words in the Gospels simply by the translation process from Hebrew or Aramaic into Greek. In some places exact words are used in all Gospels while in other places equivalent words or rather synonyms are used. One gets the basic idea in that we cannot rule out the possibility of maybe Mark translating Matthew’s Gospel and also adding his own recollections as well as other eyewitness accounts which he has inquired about.

Going back to this passage in Luke we could also attribute the “differences” to a process of translation from one language into another. In this case, possibly Aramaic or Hebrew into Greek. In conveying the ideas of the translation certain “details” are not stated in the same manner as the original language and hence we see “differences” in the passage. Perhaps in some cases the translator is paraphrasing and we do not know where this occurs.

This translation scenario can account for the supposed difference in Luke 5:21 where the Scribes and the Pharisees are “saying” “out loud” rather than in their hearts. The Greek word in this case (Stongs Greek root 3004: lego) (Plural form: they said: legontes: λέγοντες) is almost always used to describe a situation in which someone is stating something and very rarely in regard to when they are thinking it, but as I studied the Greek I realized that this really was not the point at all. The point is the context of the passage. Luke makes it clear in 5:22 that Jesus was aware of their thoughts. In 5:22 specifically he states that Jesus was aware of their “reasonings” and this ties it right back to verse 5:21 where he states they began to “reason.” Verse 5:21 does not say specifically that they were “saying” these things out loud, it can only be understood out of context to be spoken or proclaimed. If we let the passage convey its whole meaning in context then we understand that they were thinking these things. As I have said, it is a very simple concept to grasp. It has to do with allowing ourselves to interpret the passage.

The process of Gospel Analysis has become so “scientific” that on occasion it loses sight of very plain and obvious answers to passages which only seem to be a conundrum. It is this very worldview of the higher critics which sees “difficult problems” resolved through the lense of Editorial Fatigue. In viewing the Gospel landscape as a collection of Greek letters which are part of a bigger puzzle to solve, Greek becomes the central focus of the arguments. Markan priority is an hypothesis which was born out of this Gospel landscape and it only exists within its realm. If one breaks down these assumptions then Markan priority remains only another possibility. Editorial Fatigue is in itself an assumption which rests on the assumption of copying from Greek to Greek. If we consider translation from Aramaic or Hebrew to Greek then other possibilities arise. Considering not just the possibilities for translation from one language into another we also consider the possibilities above which allow Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to communicate in the way they wish without being held to the higher critics standards of a linear storyline.

As always, I look forward to my next article and I bid you all to Keep Ceeking Truth. :-)

This is the sixth article in a series which questions the assumptions of Markan Priority. In this article I will be covering the fifth point which is brought up in Mark Goodacre’s article on Synoptic Fatigue. The article appeared originally in, New Testament Studies 44 (1998), pp. 45-58, entitled, “Fatigue in the Synoptics.”

  • The Parable of the Sower and its Interpretation (Matt 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:4-15).
      At this point in the article Mark Goodacre has rested his case that Matthew’s Gospel was not first, and so he turns his attention to Luke’s Gospel. He proceeds to show how Luke’s account differs on the following points:

      • Luke 8:6 Luke omits, “…because it had no depth of soil.” (Mark 4:5; Matt 13:5)
      • Luke 8:6 Luke interprets and creates a new reason, “…because it had no moisture,…” while Mark and Matthew state, “…because it had no root,…” (Mark 4:6; Matt 13:6).
      • Luke 8:13 Luke does not mention “root” in verse 6, but reverts back to this idea in verse 13 in the interpretation of the parable, “…and these have no firm root..,” (Mark 4:16-17; Matt 13:20-21).
      • Luke 8:6 Luke does not mention the “sun,” but does mention it’s interpretation in Luke 8:13 as, “…in time of temptation…” (Mark 4:6; Matt 13:6).

    To begin with, Mark Goodacre tries to establish that Matthew was not written prior to Mark in the first ten or so paragraphs of his article which I have covered in the following posts:

    1. The Tiring Arguments for Synoptic Fatigue
    2. More on Editorial Fatigue: Antipas hates John but thinks he’s a good guy
    3. Privately Fatigued
    4. A Fatigued House turns out to be a Most Glorified Home

    I believe I have set forth a reasonably sound case for considering the possibilities of Matthean priority regarding the Matthean texts which Mark Goodacre addresses. My point being I am still not convinced that the “evidence” points to or even hints at Matthean fatigue in supposedly copying Mark. With that said, I feel that addressing the Lukan elements is somewhat pointless for obvious reasons. The greatest pillar which those who hold to Markan Priority face is to explain away all the possible reasons why Matthew should not be considered to have been written first. They try to knock that pillar over but still the “evidence” can be explained away by various other reasonable scenarios. Unless one can establish Matthew was not written first then why look at the possibilities for Luke?

    Luke himself begins his Gospel by openly stating in Luke 1:1-4:

      In as much as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; 4 so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

    Since Luke is admitting that many wrote down accounts prior to him, it is very easy to believe that he wrote after Mark, but since my focus is not really on whether Luke wrote before Mark I am not concerned with showing how those possibilities can be explained. Perhaps later on I may develop an opinion in regard to Luke but for now the matter remains unimportant to me. The question in my mind is only if Matthean priority remains a viable alternative to Markan Priority, for now I am still not swayed by the argument for Markan priority.

    Basically Mark Goodacre is assuming that Mark was written first due to Matthean and Lukan “Fatigue” in copying Mark, but if I have shown arguments to sufficiently give plausible explanations regarding so-called Matthean fatigue then how do we not know if indeed Matthew was the first Gospel written? And if this is the case, then how do we not know that Luke actually does not suffer from “Fatigue” in copying Matthew instead of Mark? In other words, we do not know if indeed Mark was perhaps written third.

    There is another matter which needs to be addressed in regard to Luke’s differences in this passage. There is a general sense by the Higher Critics to assume that the Gospel writers made mistakes in copying. In this case it is attributed to Editorial Fatigue. Instead of assuming mistakes on Luke’s part we can also assume that he is purposely paraphrasing the parable for his audience. Since Matthew and Mark are similar in this passage we cannot know if Luke is paraphrasing one or the other.

    One of the more notable differences in this same passage which Mark Goodacre did not bring up was the omission of the sea and the boat in Luke’s account. Clearly both Matthew and Mark mention that Jesus got into a boat to preach while the crowds remained on the shore. Luke however, relays only the parable and not the water. One way to explain this omission of the sea could be that Jesus was preaching His parables on more than one occasion. In this case he may have even preached this same parable the day before at Peter’s house. This would make sense because in Luke’s account he follows the Sower parable with the account of Jesus’ Mother and Brother’s standing outside. This is clearly the day before in both Matthew and Mark’s account. It also makes more sense of Luke’s description after he mentions Jesus’ Mother and Brothers, “On one of those days Jesus and his disciples got into a boat…” (Luke 8:22), because in Matthew and Mark it is the same day that they set out to the other side of the Lake. By considering the possibility of the parable being preached on more than one occasion it reconciles the chronology. And of course there is always the reality that reconciling the chronology is not as important as applying the content to our lives.

    The other possibility is that Luke had no knowledge of either Matthew or Mark’s account but is using other source materials as well as eyewitness accounts. It is possible however unpopular scholars may consider, that Luke was written prior to Matthew and Mark or possibly that he wrote later but didn’t have copies of Matthew and Mark. In looking just at this account of the Sower parable and surrounding sections, it is clear that Luke is painting with thick broad strokes on his canvas, while Matthew and Mark are using small brushes to capture the details. Again, as I’ve quibed previously, if we take the critics reasons for assigning Gospel priority according to lack of content, then Luke wins this round in this analysis.

    I would also be remiss not to mention another glaring difference in the three Gospels regarding this section. Matthew clearly mentions Jesus leaving the house, (Matt 13:1) while Mark and Luke do not. I find this point interesting because in my last blog posting I reviewed how Mark Goodacre was pointing out how Matthew doesn’t mention “the house” while Mark does state that Jesus entered a house. It seems almost ironic that in the following section regarding the parable of the sower, it is the opposite situation. Matthew mentions the “house” but Mark does not mention it! Clearly we can assume in Mark’s account that at some point Jesus leaves the house just as we can assume in Matthew that if Jesus leaves a house He must have been inside one when a blind and mute man was, “…brought to Jesus…” (Matt 12:22). As I have noted above regarding Luke, it is possible that the Sower parable was preached two times. Luke states that crowds were, “…journeying to Him…”(Luke 8:4), and we could interpret this as they were coming from all around to Peter’s house in Capernaum, which was right off the coast of the Sea of Galilee.

    In considering Matthew and Mark’s greater similarities to each other in this passage, one could easily be tempted to think that their accounts are earlier than Luke, but what if Luke was first and then Matthew and Mark fill in more details later on? I realize I’m tossing around Gospel priority like a monkey throwing poo, but we cannot continue to assume that we know who wrote first. As long we can continue to consider reasonable and likely explanations to explain differences in the Gospels then we can continue to question who wrote first.

    As always, I look forward to my next article and I encourage you all to keep (C)Seeking Truth. :-)

This is the fifth article in a series which questions the assumptions of Markan Priority. In this article I will be covering the fourth point which is brought up in Mark Goodacre’s article on Synoptic Fatigue. The article appeared originally in, New Testament Studies 44 (1998), pp. 45-58, entitled, “Fatigue in the Synoptics.”

  • The story of Jesus’ Mother and Brothers (Matt 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21)
      Mark’s account states that Jesus’ Mother and Brothers were standing outside a house but Matthew and Luke do not say anything about a house which makes their accounts seem contradictory.

In starting this series on a response to Synoptic Fatigue it was my aim to break the topics down into smaller articles to make them easier for the reader to digest, but in addressing this topic it became apparent that my energies were sufficient to lay down all that needed to be stated in one very long explanation and hence, this article. In the end the reader should see that Markan Priority regarding this specific passage is still just an assumption.

Before proceeding I need to state that I will not be examining Luke’s account but will narrow my focus to Matthew and Mark. The reason being that most scholars on both the liberal and conservative side tend to agree that Luke was not the first Gospel written. It is my primary purpose to offer another viewpoint to support a possible Matthean Priority in this passage.

  • The claim is that Matthew uses Mark’s Gospel as a framework for his own. Firstly, Matthew in supposedly copying Mark’s account forgets to mention that Jesus was inside a house (Mark 3:20), and so when he states that Jesus’ Mother and Brother’s are standing “outside,” it makes no sense. Secondly, Mark Goodacre further argues that Matthew’s account has Jesus leaving a house that He never entered. (Matt. 13:1)

The truth of the matter is that Mark’s account does not specifically state that they were standing outside “the house” or “a house,” but states that His Mother and Brothers were “standing without” or as interpreted another way, “…on the edge of the crowd.” (Matt 12:46; Luke 8:19-20 Weymouth’s Translation of the New Testament). The fact is that the Greek word for “outside” is the same spelling and form of the word in all three Gospels “ἔξω” (exō). The Greek word for “outside” in this instance is used in the same manner as its English counterpart. In other words it can mean outside of the crowd or rather, “…on the edge of the crowd.”

The next very small point I would like to make is that many crowds were surrounding Jesus in Matthew and Mark and specifically in Mark it states that they were surrounding the house so much they could not even eat (Mark 3:20). The point is Jesus’ Mother and Brothers were outside of the situation and had to send word to Jesus via the crowd. According to Matthew and Mark they are outside of the crowd, so in both accounts Jesus’ Mother and Bother’s can be described as outside a crowd. In Mark’s account we are told of the “house,” but Jesus’ Mother and Brothers are still “standing outside” the crowd surrounding “the house.” This may seem like a rather stupid point to make but it must be stated. Matthew’s account relates that Jesus’ Mother and Brothers are “standing outside” the crowd and indirectly communicates Jesus was at “the house” by the context.

Another small point which needs to be clarified is that the homes in Capernaum were more like small ranches with possibly three or more dwellings attached and surrounded by a stone wall bordering the properties. There were large open courtyards or open areas where Jesus could have taught. It is very possible that while Jesus was at this home he may have been in the open areas and surrounded by crowds inside and outside of the stone walls. It could be in this sense that Jesus’ Mother and Brother’s are “outside” of the “house” or homestead.

A significant detail is that whenever Jesus is in Capernaum, crowds know where to find him. One can chalk this up to word of mouth or also could understand that Jesus lived somewhere in Capernaum at a specific house.

Everyone seems to know that Jesus was from Nazareth, but do they realize that Jesus had another home? Yes, that is right! Shortly after Jesus began his ministry he began to live somewhere else! Wait a second! Jesus didn’t technically live anywhere, right? Didn’t he just travel around and stay in random places? Well, yes, Jesus did travel around but Matthew’s Gospel states it in a very specific way in which Mark’s Gospel seems to assume the reader already knows. Matthew is clear in saying that Jesus settled in Capernaum! There are several translations which can be examined but here are just three:

    • “Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.” (Matt 4:12-13 NAS)
    • “Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtal,” (Matt 4:12-13 ESV)
    • “Now when Jesus heard that John was thrown into prison, He withdrew into Galilee, and leaving Nazareth He went and settled at Capernaum, a town by the Lake on the frontiers of Zebulun and Naphtali,” (Matt 4:12-13 Weymouth New Testament)

Not only does the Gospel of Matthew state very clearly that Jesus lived in Capernaum, Matthew also states something else quite extraordinary! Matthew states that this was Jesus’ own town! We can see this in Matt 9:1. Here are three more translations to prove the point:

    • “Getting into a boat, Jesus crossed over the sea and came to His own city.” (NAS)
    • “Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town.” (NIV)
    • “And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.” (KJV)

Many may be tempted to think that Matthew is referring to Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth but Nazareth is not located by the Sea of Galilee and it is clear from chapter 8 that Jesus was in Capernaum and then departs by boat to arrive in the country of the Gadarenes. After this he departs back in a boat to the other side of the Galilee once again. We are suddenly struck with the fact that Matthew is basically saying that Jesus has arrived back in his own town of Capernaum in Matt 9:1!

    Matthew establishes in his Gospel that Jesus settled in Capernaum (Matt 4:12-13) and that Capernaum is Jesus’ own town (Matt 9:1).

As I studied the Gospels on this issue I came to a mind-blowing revelation about this “house” in Capernaum. In the highest likelihood this “house” was the home of Simon Peter and not only served as the hub for Jesus’ Galilean ministry but later served as the most likely first “Church” building!

In order show how Capernaum was a hub for Jesus’ activities a brief outline of Matthew’s Gospel should clearly indicate how Capernaum was central to the movements of Jesus and his disciples. Why is this important to the argument? Because in showing that Capernaum was a hub it lends more to the explanation that when Jesus was in his own city people knew they could find Him at a certain house. Matthew assumes the reader to understand what he has already communicated in the previous passages. Matthew specifically makes several key statements in regard to Capernaum in the following passages:

  • Matt 4:12 Jesus withdraws to Galilee and leaves Nazareth and settles in Capernaum.
  • Matt 8:14 Jesus comes into Peter’s home, which is in Capernaum.
      Consider Jesus’ teaching on evangelism in Matt 10:11 “And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city.” It is not a far guess to assume that in Matt 8:14 Jesus has deemed Peter a worthy man and chose his home to settle in.
  • Matt 9:1 Upon returning to Capernaum it is described as Jesus own city.
  • Matt 11:2 John the Baptist sends word to Jesus by some of his disciples to ask Jesus if He is the one.
      Jesus is in Capernaum as evidenced by Matt 11:23-24 where Jesus scolds Capernaum as the most unrepentant city. He is speaking to the multitudes and says, “And you, Capernaum…it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom…than for you.” It is also significant to note that John the Baptist knows where to send word to Jesus or that his disciples know where to find Jesus.
  • Matt 11:2 thru 13:52 Throughout this whole section Jesus is in Capernaum.
      This is the section in which Mark Goodacre assumes Matthew suffers from editorial fatigue by omitting the “house.” In Chapter 12 Jesus leaves the Synagogue, and if we understand from the previous sections Jesus was living in Capernaum it is not a stretch of our imagination to suppose that the blind and mute man was brought to the house which Jesus was staying.
  • Matt 12:15 we see that Jesus withdraws from the Synagogue.
  • Matt 12:22 we see that a blind and mute man was brought to Jesus.
    • We can assume a variety of explanations to Matt 12:22. One would be that after Jesus withdraws from the Synagogue that He and his disciples were standing out in the open somewhere in Capernaum. Another possibility is that they are at the location which Jesus settled when he arrived in Capernaum. Jesus either settled in a home or he was just wondering the streets or countryside of Capernaum. It is more likely that he settled at the home of Peter, and when Matthew says that a blind and mute man was, “…brought to Jesus,…” he is saying that the crowds knew where Jesus lived.
  • In Matt 13:1 Jesus leaves the house and sits by the sea.
      We are struck with the fact that Jesus leaves “the house” which Jesus was staying at. If we view Matt 12:22 in light of Matt 13:1 it should be apparent to the reader that the blind and mute man was brought to “the house” where Jesus was staying. Mark Goodacre uses this passage to support a Markan Priority but Matthew’s account can be understood without the need to explain a so-called phantom “house.”
    • In Matt 17:24 Jesus comes back to Capernaum at which point those who collect taxes come to Peter.
        It should be noted that those who collect taxes go to Peter and they are at a house in verse 25. It is also very significant that Jesus says to Peter to take the shekal and, “give it to them for you and Me.” In other words, they were questioning if Jesus pays the two-drachma tax. Jesus is presumably staying at Peter’s house in Capernaum and so Peter needs to pay the tax for his household as well.
    • Matt 17:24-18:35 This whole section is implied to occur in Capernaum.

    What we get from a close examination of the Gospel of Matthew is a very clear sense that when Jesus was in Capernaum he was staying in a house which was most likely Simon Peter’s. This is the answer to the second part of the argument regarding editorial fatigue of this passage in Matt 13:1. Instead of a phantom “house” that Jesus never entered into, we understand that this was where Jesus settled in Capernaum.

    I need to interject a very important piece of information at this point which is in regard to the translation of the Greek word for “house” in Mark 3:20. Scholars are at odds as to how to translate this word. Here are some translations which render it as “home.” There are perhaps more but I felt seven examples enough to prove the point:

    Perhaps the reader doesn’t see the importance of this small difference of translation but I will proceed to explain. It is one perspective to view “the house” as just some random house and quite another to understand that this “house” was a home! So what? The account in Matthew Chapter 12 still does not say anything about a house or home, right? Matthew does indeed speak about the home in Capernaum, but we cannot take passages out of context and ignore the rest. In the end this example of an argument to support Markan Priority fails to consider where the blind and mute man was brought to. (Matt 12:22) In other words we know he was brought to Jesus but where was Jesus? I have set forth the argument in this article that Jesus was at a home in Capernaum.

    This is the point in the article in which I state once again that Markan priority still remains an assumption on the part of critical scholars regarding this passage about Jesus’ Mother and Brothers. What I have essentially done is explain an alternative way of understanding the passage outside of editorial fatigue relating to Markan Priority.

    On a side note I would encourage everyone to research the archeological discoveries of Peter’s home in Capernaum. I found the information very enlightening and it opened up my understanding of Matthew’s Gospel.

    As always, I look forward to my next article and I bid you all to keep (C)Seeking Truth! :-)

This is the fourth article in a series which is questioning the assumptions of Markan Priority. In this article I will be covering the third point which is brought up in Mark Goodacre’s article on Synoptic Fatigue. The article appeared originally in, New Testament Studies 44 (1998), pp. 45-58, entitled, “Fatigue in the Synoptics.”

  • The Cleansing of the Leper (Matt 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16)
    • Matthew’s account speaks of crowds around Jesus, but Mark and Luke make more sense in context in that the leper comes to Jesus privately.

    There is a rather simple explanation for a supposed contradiction in Matthew which is that whenever a leper approached crowds they were required by Jewish law to announce their presence from a distance. (Lev 13:45) It is not hard to imagine that the crowds which followed Jesus quickly backed away to a safe distance so as not to be infected with leprosy. From the crowds distance they would have not been able to hear what Jesus is telling the leper or may not have even been able to see if the leper was healed.

    The basic assumption of Matthean fatigue is that Matthew was not an eyewitness to these events, but what if Matthew was an eyewitness? How can we explain the absence of crowds in Mark’s and Luke’s accounts? Once again there is a basic assumption that the story with less content was the first written, when what may have occurred is simply a retelling of Matthew’s account from another perspective.

    It should also be brought to the reader’s attention that Mark’s and Luke’s accounts do not specifically state that the leper came to Jesus “privately.” This is an interpretation of the passages in which it is assumed that the leper and Jesus were in a private situation. If we review the passage in context in Mark 1:38-39 we can see that Jesus was doing much traveling around Galilee that day and ministering to many people. It is directly after this account in which the leper approaches Jesus. The fact that Mark does not state, “…large crowds followed Him,” seems rather a trite observance of the text, for large crowds always followed Jesus. The reader can also assume that unless we are specifically told that He drew away into a desolate place, that the crowds were following Jesus and his disciples where ever they went.

    It can also be stated of Luke’s account that no where in the passage does it specifically say that the leper approached Jesus “privately.” This again is an interpretation and in this case not a very good one. The reason being that in Luke he states that Jesus, “…was in one of the cities…” when the leper approached him and the likelihood of this event occurring in a private setting in a city is quite small.

    It should also be noted that the argument is based on the assumption that Jesus would not have asked the leper to keep quiet about the healing in front of a crowd, but what if Jesus did ask this in front of a crowd? Perhaps Jesus is not concerned with third-party testimonies and is more concerned that the first party testimony of healing not say anything? Perhaps Jesus is aware that those outside the situation may not be taken as seriously as the healed leper himself? After all, who would you believe, some guy who says he saw someone healed, or the guy who was actually healed? Again, I must emphasize the high likelihood that when the leper approached Jesus, the crowds withdrew to a safe distance and most likely could not hear Jesus’ word’s to the leper. Even if they witnessed the miracle, Jesus still may have told the healed man not to tell anyone, for the only other witnesses may have been standing afar off and not had a very good view of the situation.

    Perhaps the fact that lepers were required to announce their approach to large crowds is a key to understanding Matthew’s account of this story? After all as most scholars like to point out Matthew seems to be the most Jewish focused Gospel, so why would he waste his time explaining to a Jewish audience something they already understood? Jesus’ approach to the leper is in itself a private situation and so Matthew isn’t really stating that it was not a private situation by mentioning the crowds previously.

    And so once again we can read Matthew’s account as making sense in a Jewish context with out the need to assume Markan priority.

    Until my next article on Synoptic Fatigue, Peace be with you all, and Keep (C)Seeking Truth! :-)

This is the second article in a continuing series on the topic of Markan Priority. I will primarily be answering the arguments of Mark Goodacre’s regarding Synoptic Fatigue or rather, Editorial Fatigue.

This post is a response to an article which appeared originally in, New Testament Studies 44 (1998), pp. 45-58, entitled, “Fatigue in the Synoptics,” by Mark Goodacre.

There are several points which Mark Goodacre brings up in his article and I feel it best to only address one or two at a time per article so as not to tire the reader. This first part will deal with the death of John the Baptist.

  • The Death of John the Baptist. (Mark 6:14-29;Matt 14:1-12)
    • Mark calls Herod Antipas, “king,” while Matthew correctly calls him, “tetrarch.”

Actually the truth is that both Matthew and Mark use the word ‘king’ in describing Antipas. Only Matthew uses the word toward the end of his account and so scholars speculated that it was because Matthew was coping from Mark and corrected the term to ‘tetrarch’, but in getting tired forgot and used the word ‘king’ again in verse 9 of Matthew chapter 14.

Another possible explanation could be that Matthew and Mark are both within the appropriate context in calling Antipas a king. In this case we cannot know who copied from whom or if they did not get their information from another source.

On a side note, it should also be pointed out that it was possible for someone to hold both the title of king and tetrarch. An example of this was King Agrippa. Specifically the point being addressed is in regard to the official title bestowed by Rome of “king”, which Herod Antipas never officially received from Rome.

The title ‘tetrarch’ essentially means a leader of one portion of a divided kingdom while the king would be ruler over the entire kingdom or in the case of King Agrippa, a larger portion of the tetrarchy.  The claim is that Matthew corrects Mark’s use of the term ‘king’ by using ‘tetrarch’.

The problem is simple in that there is first the assumption that Matthew uses Mark’s account to fashion his own account, but what if this is not the case? What if Mark copied from Matthew and also interjects more details which Matthew didn’t mention? This is possible since Matthew’s account of John the Baptist’s downfall is much shorter and (sarcastically stated) if we wish to think that less content means priority of authorship then maybe this is what happened? :-) We could also speculate that Mark chose not to use the word ‘tetrarch’ in his account simply because he didn’t see it as significant or didn’t know it to be significant.

One very notable fact of history was that Herod Antipas wanted to be a king most likely over all of Judea and this was the reason for his downfall. Josephus records in his book,The Wars of the Jews, Book II Sec. 181:  “…he was punished for his ambition, by being banished into Spain…” It was Antipas’ actions which were presumptive of kingship as well as his ambition to be a greater ruler than just tetrarch which led to his downfall. It is not hard to imagine that Antipas demanded within his regional tetrarchy to be refered to as a king. That Herod Antipas had great desires to be a king is a fact of history as well as his jealousy of his brother Agrippa’s rulership was also noted.

Herod Antipas was striving after the entire kingdom of Judea his whole career. Part of the reason he married Herodias is most likely to further justify later taking over his brother Phillip’s portion of the tetrarchy; Herodias was his brother Phillips former wife.  Instead it is Agrippa who is eventually given Phillip’s portion of the kingdom and also given the title of king. This enraged Antipas.

Also noteworthy is that Antipas’ father, Herod the Great, was given the title king of Judea in his lifetime and so Antipas most likely wished to gain what his father had and possibly saw himself as the one to be coronated king.

Matthew’s account can also be viewed technically correct in using the word ‘king’ in Chapter 14 verse 9. The fact that Matthew refers to Antipas as king does not conflict with the idea of functional kingship over a portion of a kingdom.  Also Matthew does not refer to Antipas as king of Judea, but simply uses the term ‘king’ in the most general sense.  Antipas was indeed ruler of his portion of the tetrarchy and he was “king” of his small portion, which was Galilee and Perea (Modern day area around Jordan).

When Mark’s Gospel refers to Antipas as ‘king’ he also is using the word in a general sense in regard to rulership, and is not concerned with the official title of ‘tetrarch’ given by Rome. We should also realize that for Antipas subjects he held full power over them. This was evidenced by his having John the Baptist arrested and thrown in jail simply for telling him that he should not have married his bother’s wife. Antipas holds all the powers of kingship within his tetrarchy without the official title of ‘king’ given by Rome, but for the average person who lived under him, he was their king.

In my next article I will move on to the next point in Mark Goodacre’s article on Synoptic Fatigue.

Peace be with you all. :-)

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