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Presuming Preemption

This is part four of an eight part blog response to a posting by Daniel O. McClellan entitled, “The Angel of Yahweh in Early Hebrew Bible Narrative,” which was dated June 16, 2011 on WordPress.

In this post Daniel’s statements on the story of Moses and the Burning Bush (Exodus 3) will be examined. Daniel starts with,

The angel is only mentioned in v. 2, and afterward God himself is the interlocutor.

There is a trend with some people to give less significance to words which appear less frequently in scripture than others. In this case the Documentarian view is focused on the one occurrence of the word, “Malach”(messenger), as if the mathematical formula of ‘less is less true’ and ‘more is more true’ is the code by which he will discern the “real” text.

Daniel has also convinced himself at this point that the ‘Angel’ is not speaking on behalf of God. It appears he has wholly excluded the possibility that the reason the ‘Messenger’ is called the ‘Messenger of the Lord’ is because He speaks a message on behalf of the Lord. Daniel has identified the words as spoken directly by the Lord based on the phrases such as, “…God called to him out of the bush…” but it is entirely possible to interpret phrases such as these as God calling out to Moses through the Messenger. This is the whole point of the Lord’s Messenger. The Angel serves as a mediator between God and man in order that the Lord’s Presence does not overcome man.

Daniel gives the following reasons for determining that only God is the interlocutor:

  1. In v. 6 God even states, ‘I am the God of your father . . .'”
  2. Moses even lowers his gaze because he is afraid to look upon God.”
  3. “…v. 2′s statement “and the angel of Yahweh appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush” does not fit the narrative. It preempts Moses’ noticing the bush (which follows “and he looked, and behold!”) and his moving close enough to it for the entity to speak out of it…”

Before I answer the first reason I need to point out how easily Daniel excludes verse 2 along with other Scriptures in the Bible.  This is because he is a Biblical Minimalist. He is not really interested in all of the texts but only those which support the Documentarian worldview. At the same time he excludes texts he also vehemently defends certain narrow interpretations of others. The problem with this approach is that the Documentarian, by trying to arrive at one correct interpretation, does not consider any other interpretations.

The first reason given to exclude verse 2 is verse 6 where God states, “I am the God of your father…”. Daniel has essentially refused to reconcile these two verses by simply acknowledging that the Messenger speaks on behalf of God, and so only the strict narrow interpretation of verse 6 is considered. He has prematurely dismissed verse 2 in his consideration of verse 6, and so his interpretation of verse 6 is out of context. He is basically stating that exhibit A is a fabrication because exhibit B does not seem to line up with exhibit A but this is only if we pretend that exhibit A does not influence how we understand exhibit B. Daniel is attempting to prove away the existence of the ‘Angel’ but all he has really stated is that verse 6 does not fit into one narrow interpretation of verse 2.

The second reason he gives is that Moses lowers his gaze because he was afraid to look at God. It continues to intrigue me how devoted some Documentarians are to certain interpretations while they ignore all others. Clearly Moses was afraid to look upon God but this still does not mean that it was not the Angel which Moses was afraid of. If the Lord was using the Angel as His mouthpiece and likeness then a portion of the Lord’s Presence is manifested and Moses most certainly would have been afraid. Moses is likely afraid of the Lord no matter what form He assumes. Whether the Lord appears in a cloud or the Angel of the Lord appears in the fire. It is also entirely possible that Moses understands later after the appearance that this was the Angel of the Lord, but these interpretations are not allowed by Daniel because they include verse 2 in their consideration.

At this point I should reiterate that the existence of the ‘Angel’ as well as the idea of the ‘Angel’ is not dependent on the Hebrew word, “Malach”. It is entirely possible that even if the word never existed in Scripture that religious thinkers and men of faith would have come to understand that the Lord uses mediation and a mediator to communicate with mankind. In this case even if verse 2 did not exist in Exodus chapter 3, the entire section could be interpreted as Moses encountering God through an intermediary, but Daniel has chosen to take a hard-line on this and is suggesting that without verse 2 there is only one correct interpretation.

In his final reason for dismissing verse 2 Daniel concludes that the verse preempts the chapter. The basic definition of “preempt” is to appropriate, seize, or take for oneself before others. In other words verse 2 messes up the “correct” interpretation. Stated another way he is saying that verse 2 affects the interpretation of the chapter. Well, this seems obvious because that is what words do. They give us context and key us in on overall meaning. In this case he has only given the reason that it does not fit into the Documentarian interpretation of chapter 3, therefore it does not belong.

He continues by stating in so many words that it makes no sense because Moses saw the bush first and not the ‘Angel’ therefore it cannot be correct. If I had a nickel every time a critic said the Bible didn’t make sense I’d be a rich man. Daniel notes that the phrase, “…and he looked and behold!” does not fit with the first part of verse 2 because first Moses apparently sees the Angel and then ‘behold!‘, he sees the burning bush. Notice how tightly Daniel holds onto his interpretation that Moses saw the Angel prior to seeing the burning bush. No other understanding of verse 2 is considered! Again we are to believe that a theoretical Post-Deuteronomic editor made a glaring mistake and left a mess of jumbled non-sense. I brought this point up previously but it needs to be revisited again.

Apparently the hypothetical Post-Deuteronomic school was such an inept collection of scribes that they could not edit their theology into one coherent sentence!  Yet despite the supposed poor sentence structure, over many centuries for all to see, only now the Biblical critics have discovered this alleged mistake.

The problems are very likely not the Hebrew but how verse 2 is translated and/or interpreted. These problems can occur when a poor or a difficult translation into English is interpreted a certain way based on the most common grammar rules of English without consideration of the textual context. The majority of verses in the Bible which don’t seem to make sense can be attributed to either improper or incomplete translation or interpretation, and I believe this is the case with verse 2.

An alternate interpretation of verse 2 could be that it is an introduction to the event before it transpires.  This would be similar to the Creation accounts given in Genesis which incidentally most critics also incorrectly interpret as two creation accounts. The  New International Version of the Bible translates Ex. 3:2 with this interpretation in mind:

“There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.”  NIV

In this translation the first part of the verse serves as a type of explanation of the story to follow.

There is another very likely interpretation of verse 2 and that is in regard to the nature of the appearance of the Messenger of the Lord. The assumption by the critics is that the Messenger appeared in bodily form in the flames but the Hebrew text does not say this. In fact, based on the context of the story, it is clear that Moses does not see anything other than a burning bush which he turns to go investigate.

Daniel is tied to the words, “and the angel of Yahweh appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush“, and he says in so many words that the Angel appeared to Moses first but the narrative conflicts by showing that Moses saw the fire first. I would suggest that it is possible that the correct interpretation is that the ‘Malach Adonai’ is not appearing in the form of an ‘angel’ but the Messenger of the Lord is appearing in a non corporeal form in the flames of the fire, and this is why Moses only sees the burning bush from a distance. This interpretation seems to line up well with the other places in Exodus where the ‘Angel’ appears as a Cloud by day and a Fire by night (Ex. 14:19). Consider also a later understanding in Psalm 104:4:

“Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:” KJV

It would seem from this understanding that angels or in this case the ‘Angel’ can appear as a spirit (wind) or a flaming fire, so it could be very likely that the ‘Angel’ in the fire of the burning bush not only appears in the fire but appears within the fire as the fire. This would certainly explain why Moses saw the fire first and seems to be a very plausible interpretation.

Daniel concludes this section by stating:

The most likely reason is that the statement is a late interpolation meant to contextualize the comments that followed. Without the statement, it is God himself speaking to Moses.

He has essentially dismissed Exodus 3:2 in this sweeping statement which assumes only one narrow interpretation of the text. Above I have offered a few plausible interpretations which reconcile verse 2. If one is to find  the Documentarian view more to their liking then they should do the responsible thing and offer reasons why the interpretations I have presented are not just as likely. If as I predict no one can fully disprove anything I have written in this post then what Daniel has presented as a likely interpolation suddenly seems not as likely.

This ends part 4 of this 8 part series.  I look forward to the next and as always Keep Ceeking Truth. :-)

Part 1 – Critically Conflated

Part 2 – Interpretations of Interpolations

Part 3 – Saying and Seeing

Saying and Seeing

This is part three of an eight part blog response to a posting by Daniel O. McClellan entitled, “The Angel of Yahweh in Early Hebrew Bible Narrative,” which was dated June 16, 2011 on WordPress.

The next area of focus is on the story of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac. Daniel is focused on one particular part of the passage. It is where the LORD is reported as speaking to Abraham in Genesis 22:16. He states, “In v. 16 we have Yahweh speaking, but the phrase ‘says Yahweh’ appears. This does not necessarily indicate reported speech, though, and is unlikely to be original.”

There are three things to address from Daniel’s statement on his perception of this phrase:

  1. The phrase taken at face value is, “Yahweh speaking.”
  2. Daniel points out that the phrase, ‘says Yahweh’ can be understood as reported speech and he states in so many words that it could be the inverse, which is direct speech.
  3. Daniel concludes that the phrase is unlikely to be original whether or not it is reported speech or the LORD directly speaking.

Now in regard to the phrase, “…says Yahweh,” Daniel is not content to merely credit it as a Post-Deuteronomic addition but is driven to mention that it does not necessarily indicate “reported” speech. To state more simply, the Angel is not necessarily speaking on the LORD’s behalf (reporting the LORD’s words), and the phrase is Adonai Himself speaking. The issue which Daniel is trying to address does not seem clear. Could it be related to his possibly answering views of other critical conclusions which he does not agree with?  I could be wrong but without researching this particular passage on every Documentarian view, I would guess that at least one other critical scholar believes that the phrase, ‘says Yahweh’ is original to the text. Perhaps I am giving too much weight to Daniel’s choice of words which may have been used to convey simpler ideas, but I am persuaded to give Daniel more credit for thinking about these things in broader ways.

The basic idea which Daniel is promoting is that in all these ‘angel of the Lord’ stories it was originally only the LORD (Yahweh) as the participant and later on a Post-Deuteronomic editor added the Hebrew word “Malach” into the text thereby creating the ‘Malach Adonai‘ (Malach Yahweh)(Angel of the LORD). In the case of Gen. 22:16 Daniel seems also to be suggesting that the phrase, “says Yahweh” was also an addition by a Post-Deuteronomic editor and he further seems to state that the phrase was unfortunately vague and could be understood as either direct speech or reported speech. As Daniel does not state these things directly, I could be misinterpreting his own presentation, but he seems to indicate that the “correct” interpretation of the phrase, ‘says Yahweh’ could be that the LORD is actively speaking. One should keep in mind that another interpretation is possible. It is that the angel could be identified as a non-specific angel who is speaking on the LORD’s behalf and not a theophany. Daniel does not explore this perspective, but dismisses it.

In his second point he states in so many words that it doesn’t really matter if it is reported speech because the phrase is likely not original. So it would seem that Daniel is favoring an “original” theoretical Elohistic authorship which was later modified by a hypothetical Yahwist and then changed by an unsubstantiated Post-Deuteronomist. Well, I could be mistaken in this assessment but one thing is clear which is that Daniel understands that in order for the Interpolation theory to be more likely,  he needs to address the phrase “says Yahweh”.

In his radical critical approach there are certain things that don’t quite fit into a clean logic of Documentarian theories. Why would a Post-Deuteronomic editor either add or allow a verse which reads, “says Yahweh” in Gen 22:16? Daniel seems to suggest that the hypothetical editor knew they could use vague words in order for the text to match their theology.

What evidence is given that the phrase “says Yahweh” in Gen. 22:16 is likely not original? He states,  “It (the phrase) appears nowhere else in Genesis and it never appears anywhere else associated with any angel of Yahweh.” Again, it must be noted that one must first be persuaded that the Biblical texts should be interpreted by diachronic analysis in order to speculate as to why certain phrases appear in some places but not in others.

Daniel’s point seems focused on the Hebrew word pair “Naum Adonai” which in Gen. 22:16 is translated, “says Yahweh”.  The word “Naum” is more frequently translated as “declared” in most of the Scriptures such as, “declares the LORD”.  It is used mostly by the prophets. His point being that this is the only passage in which this word pair is used with the appearance of the ‘Angel’ and so it must certainly be an insertion at a later date. Well, I suppose anything is possible but again, it is all still speculation.

If we do not limit ourselves to the word pair “Naum Adonai” then there are examples to be found which also convey the same basic understanding as “says Yahweh” in connection with the ‘Angel’. For example, Gen. 16:13. This verse in context is the story of the ‘Angel’ appearing to Hagar.  It reads:

“So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing,’ for she said, ‘Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.’” ESV

The Hebrew in the first passage transliterated reads, “VaTi-keRah Shem Adonai HaDoh-bear ELeiYah Atah”.  The verb used to convey how the LORD spoke in this verse is “Dabar” which has been conjugated to “Dohbear” and preceded by “Ha”.  The words, “Shem Adonai” are translated,  “the Name of the LORD which is followed by “HaDoh-bear” which is “who spoke”.  I should point out again for the beginner student of scripture study that the Name of the LORD is the sacred four letters in Hebrew which most scholars refer to as ‘Yahweh’.  In this case I have used, “Adonai”. In plain English it reads, “The Name of ‘Yahweh’ spoke”. This is not much different from, “says Yahweh”. The exception is that instead of the Hebrew word pair, “Naum Adonai” the verb “Dabar” is used. By not limiting ourselves to counting how many times a word pair occurs we can be open to other similar verses.

The speculation is entirely dependent upon considering the phrase,  “Naum Adonai” as late hypothetical Deuteronomic language,  but this seems to be based on the number of times it occurs in each book. This is problematic as one cannot be certain if this phrase originated in Genesis earlier and then later became more frequently used in other scriptures. If this was a “Deuteronomic phrase” one could also speculate why this phrase is not used more in the book of Genesis if indeed the Book is filled with Deuteronomic theology?

Moving on to Gen. 22:14 Daniel states:

In v. 14, the explanation of the name of the mountain could be “On the mountain of Yahweh it shall be provided,” or “On the mountain of Yahweh he will be seen.” In both these stories the notion of seeing God appears to have been obscured to hide God’s own presence.

His reference to both stories is in regard to the Angel appearing to Hagar and the story of Abraham offering up his only son. Daniel states that the notion of seeing God appears to have been obscured.  I suppose one could draw this conclusion only if they first are convinced that there is a notion to be obscured in the first place. The verses in question could be translated more than one way but this does not mean that the original Hebrew writer was trying to cover something up. It simply can be the case that they are difficult to translate due to the lack of understanding we have with regard to the use of certain Hebraic context which has been lost through the sands of time.

In Gen. 22 the context makes it clear that verse 14 is echoing verses 7 and 8 which reads:

  1. “And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
  2. And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.” KJV

The translation is difficult as it does not literally translate “God will provide”, but “God will see”. There is a possible idea of, “God will see-to-it”. Incidentally the literal translation can line up with the Christian theology of the LORD seeing Jesus as the sacrifice because one way of translating verse 8 literally is, “…God will see him a lamb…” which is what John the Baptist so simply stated in, “Behold the Lamb of God…”. The point being is that the focus of the ‘seeing’ or the ‘providing’ is the sacrifice.

Daniel’s statement that something is being obscured in verse 14 might just be a misunderstanding on his part because the Hebrew is there for all to examine and come to their own conclusions on how to translate it. While he is setting up two ideas against each other in the ‘providing’ and ‘seeing’ most who examine the Hebrew understand the ideas as two ways of explaining the same thing. In other words God will ‘see-to-it’. This is also a theme in Scripture in which the LORD sees the suffering of His people and rescues them (Ex. 3:7,8).

The basic understanding of Genesis 22 could be expressed in the following ways:

v.7  Where is the lamb (sacrifice)?

v.8  The Lord will see it (the lamb).

v.14  Abraham calls the place, “The LORD will see (it)”.

One could also translate it in another way:

v.7  Where is the lamb?

v.8  God will see him, a lamb.

v.14  Abraham calls the place, “The LORD will see (him)”.

So in both cases we can see that the object can be the lamb. If we go with the Documentarian translation preference it might convey something like the following:

v. 7  (No comment from Daniel) Possibly remains, “Where is the lamb?”

v. 8  (No comment from Daniel). Possibly remains, “God will provide”.

v.14  “On the mountain of Yahweh he will be seen.”

This point needs to made with regard to the possible “he” who is seen on the mountain.  Many would quickly make the assumption that this “he” is in reference to “Yahweh” while it can just as easily be referring to “it”, the sacrifice, but even if it should be “he” we wonder if Abraham is referring to the Angel of LORD or the LORD Himself, and in the end this still does not change the object of chapter 22 which is the sacrificial lamb. It was the sacrifice of Isaac which was stopped by the Angel and a substitute was provided to Abraham. It was in this context which Abraham named the place. In my opinion it is a stretch to consider verse 14 related to Daniel’s overall argument having to do with ‘seeing’ God especially when we consider the clear connection to verse 8 in the same chapter.

And even if we do translate verse 14 as “he” we are suddenly struck with the implication that “he” is the sacrifice in verse 8! And maybe this is one of those times when the Hebrew means both in two different verses? Perhaps Abraham was shielding Isaac from the fact that he would be the sacrifice in verse 8?  In this case the “he” is Isaac, but Abraham answered Isaac in such a way as it could mean “it”.  In the end, in verse 14, Abraham names the place after the phrase he used in verse 8 with Isaac except now it has taken on a new meaning of hope, which is summed up in a paraphrase such as, “God will see! (it)(everything)(your heart’s sacrifice and desire)..(and will rescue you by providing).”   It is an idea which encompasses all of what God is all about. He will see all things, provide for all things, and rescue us from all things. :-)

This ends part 3 of this 8 part series.  I look forward to my next post and remember to Keep Ceeking Truth!. :-)

Part 1 – Critically Conflated

Part 2 – Interpretations of Interpolations

This is part two of an eight part blog response to a posting by Daniel O. McClellan entitled, “The Angel of Yahweh in Early Hebrew Bible Narrative,” which was dated June 16, 2011 on WordPress.

Daniel counted 36 occurrences of “Malach Adonai” and 6 of “Malach Elohim” from Genesis to Judges. His focus is on the word pairing “Angel of the LORD” and “Angel of God”. At first I was unsure of the reason he chose to not consider those occurrences after the book of Judges, but I believe his point was to only consider the earliest appearances of the ‘Malach’. Keep in mind that “early” for the critical scholar is the late 7th century BCE as this is the dating they assign to the theoretical Deuteronomic school which he is attributing to the creation of ‘Malach Adonai’ and ‘Malach Elohim’.

In researching this matter it was apparent that some critical scholars consider all of the historical books in their analysis. Most would consider Genesis through Kings as a type of Unateuch in which theoretical redactors peppered their theology throughout. Whatever Daniel’s reason for excluding the other instances of the ‘Malach’ in the rest of the historical books, I cannot discern, but in this blog series I will be considering some passages outside of Genesis through Judges so as to examine possible theoretical Post-Deuteronomic motives for hypothetical interpolations.

Daniel starts with the first occurrence of “Malach Adonai”  which is the appearance to Hagar (Gen. 16:7), but a distinction needs to be pointed out. This is the first occurrence of the word pair, “Malach Adonai”. This distinction needs to be emphasized so that we understand that the designation of ‘Malach Adonai’ is a separate matter in itself than interpreting the other appearances of the LORD as His Messenger or even as a theophany. This should be made clear. Daniel’s focus is solely on the word pairs “Malach Adonai” and “Malach Elohim”, and how he explains why there really is no angel of the LORD but only a likely Post-Deuteronomic interpolation. To understand Daniel’s focus we need to review some basics regarding the Documentary Hypothesis.

Most scholars who adhere to the ideas of the Documentary Hypothesis hold to the idea that the theoretical Deuteronomic school was the final school to solidly Israel’s idea of monotheism, and I suspect that this is how Daniel approaches the scriptures as well. The Sacred Name of God, LORD, (“Yahweh”) is a marker for critical scholars to identify scriptures which are possible Deuteronomic interpolations. This is because they see the book of Deuteronomy as reinterpreting the god who should be worshipped as Adonai (“Yahweh”), and why the word pair, “Malach Adonai”, is such a focus in this regard.

Now another point needs to be brought up pertaining  to polytheism and early Hebraic religion.  Daniel’s message is not particularly concerned with polytheism or even monotheism, but instead is built on an idea which states that no one can see the LORD and live. It is this idea which is attributed to the redactor, and to the redactor only, for the sake of reinterpreting the LORD’s appearance’s as not contrary to Deuteronomic theology. In other words a theoretical Post-Deuteronomic redactor is trying to cover up the theoretical theology of a hypothetical Yahwist or Elohist narrative.

Daniel states that just as Hagar asks how does she survive seeing God that, “This would echo sentiments found in our other angel of Yahweh pericopes (Gen 32:30…,” and he goes on to list others, but I need to point out that Genesis 32:30 is not an “Angel of Yahweh” passage! In fact nowhere in chapter 32 is the Hebrew word “Malach” found! Chapter 32 is where Jacob wrestles with a “man”, and yet Daniel has in a round about way admitted that this “man” is really an angel.

This may have been a mistake on Daniel’s part. In studying the different versions I noted that Brenton’s English translation of the Septuagint interprets the English word “angel” in Gen. 32:32 in place of the Greek “he”. Clearly it is noted by brackets  or italics keying the reader in that it is not in the Greek. It would seem in this case that Daniel overlooked the fact that the Greek word for “angel” (aggelos) is not in the text of the Septuagint either!

I’m going to point out the obvious which is that Daniel’s claims are in regard to mainly Hebrew and Greek interpolations so when we see a word which has been interpreted into English we hold to what is in the original languages as a priority and not the opposite. This brings up an important point. Daniel is not just focused on the word “angel”, but also on those passages which state in so many words that someone saw the LORD and yet lived to tell the story.

Is Daniel’s argument consistent?  If a redactor interpolated an ‘angel’ to shield the people from seeing the LORD then why is there no “angel” in Genesis 32? If indeed it was only the LORD wrestling with Jacob in the “original” text then the radical critic must believe that the Name of the LORD was replaced with “man” before or during the theoretical Deuteronomic period, but if this was the case then why would a post-Dueteronomic redactor add a statement at the end about “seeing the LORD” yet living? If indeed the LORD’s Name was removed and replaced with “man” then what point would a Post-Deuteronomist have in stating that Jacob saw the LORD and lived if Jacob only saw a “man”? Furthermore the sacred Name is not even used in this passage, but instead the Name “Elohim”. In this instance regarding Genesis 32, one possible conclusion regarding the text about ‘Seeing God’ is that the text is not actually echoing anything but is original in context and not the handiwork of theoretical Post-Deuteronomic redactors.

The number of occurrences of the ‘Malach’ is quite important to Daniel as he counted 36 of ‘Malach Adonai’ from Genesis through Judges and makes a point to go over those passages which contain the word pair “Malach Adonai”, and ignores any of the other passages which are missing this “formula”. When it comes to identifying ‘Angel of the Lord’ passages however, Daniel breaks this “formula” and lists Gen. 32 as included in his examination.

The claims of interpolations seem to be invalidated in this particular case. If there is no word for ‘angel’ in Genesis 32 then it is not an “Angel of the LORD” passage in the definition which Daniel started with. In fact Genesis 32 is not included in Daniel’s reckoning of 36 occurrences from Genesis through Judges of “Malach Adonai” because the Hebrew word “Malach” does not occur in chapter 32 nor does the Greek word “Aggelos”, and yet he has identified Genesis 32 as an “Angel of the LORD” passage!

Consider the following in Genesis 32:22-32 where Jacob struggles with a “man”:  In this story there are some key points which the reader should ponder:

  1. There is no use of the LORD’s sacred Name.
  2. There is no use of the Hebrew or Greek word for messenger/angel.
  3. There is a reference to ‘seeing God’ ‘face to face’, but the Name “Elohim” is used and not “Adonai”.

Explained in another way, why do passages such as this exist at all if indeed there was such a thing as a Post-Deuteronomist? Well I can only try to surmise from a critical viewpoint to state that a theoretical Post-Deuteronomic editor really botched this one up. If indeed the Post-Deuteronomist represented the latest of redactors then they should have had all the texts at their disposal in order to “correct” these “problems”, but instead we are told to believe that we can see all the “mistakes” which they left behind.

My logic leads me to believe that the radical critics really do not hold the redactors in a very high regard. I could be wrong, but to me it seems that the Post-Deuteronomists are seen to have attempted to cover up perceived problematic passages but have failed miserably due to the passages which should have an interpolated ‘angel’.

If I believed in a Post-Deuteronomic school I certainly could not hold them in such a low esteem. I would think that if these were Hebrew scribes that their standards of textual analysis would be exceptional. Would they not study the Torah day and night and meditate on every word and phrase? If their idea of the LORD and centralization of worship was so clear then why do we find passages which are contrary to those ideas? If these politically motivated redactors really existed then why were they so careless so as to leave a trail of scriptures which contradict their main aims?

Perhaps the radical critic who believes in a Post-Deuteronomic school doesn’t realize the low standard they have assigned to this school? It sounds like the current state of high school education which is flailing in America. In other words this Deuteronomic school is so substandard that it cannot teach its students basic reading skills.

In speaking on the Hagar narrative Daniel is proposing that there never was a Messenger to begin with, so the argument is no longer about the interpretation of the ‘angel’ as a specific Angel of the Lord or a nonspecific angel. Instead the implied situation is that the confusion of the identity of the ‘angel’ is due to theoretical interpolations of the word “Malach”. It seems like an argument in which the Post-Deuteronomist is shown trying to support a specific type of strict monotheism, but it falls apart. This is because even without the mention of a Messenger in other passages, the texts are still interpreted within a framework of what the radical critics would call ‘Deuteronomic monotheism’. In those texts missing an ‘angel’ various religious communities interpret the interlocutor as either the LORD or an angel of the LORD. This is the case with the ‘Jacob wrestling a man’ passage which is later explained by the prophet Hosea in chapter 12 verse 4:

“Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; He wept and sought His favor. He found Him at Bethel And there He spoke with us,…”

Hosea has revealed a Hebraic understanding of an earlier passage which makes no literal mention of a “Malach”, but it is clear that the “man” in Genesis 32 is understood to be ‘the angel’. One possible conclusion is that there was no need to identify the “man” because the Hebrews understood that this was either an angel or a theophany.

Of course the critical scholar could conveniently attribute this verse in Hosea to Post-Deuteronomic authorship, but in this case it really doesn’t matter who the verse is attributed to (although I would still hold to the idea that the verse is original in context), because it is proof to the fact that the word “Malach” did not need to exist in Genesis chapter 32 in order for it to be understood as a passage about an angel. I believe this is where the Interpolation Theory loses it’s wind. It seems to be focused on the Deuteronomic desire to cover up theoretical passages in which the LORD is appearing as Himself, but if the passage can be interpreted as an angelic appearance then what need is there to interpolate the angel?

In looking at the story of Hagar, consider the contextual interpretation of ‘angel’.  Since the Hebrew word for “angel” is also translated, “messenger”, we need to depend on the details of each story to determine if we are reading about a heavenly messenger or if the passages are in reference to an earthly messenger. The implication is that we could interpret an appearance of the LORD as a nonspecific angel or as a specific Angel which serves to give the LORD’s message. This is even when the passage does not contain the word pair “Malach Adonai”, might only contain the word “Malach”, or not contain the word “Malach” at all.

The point being is that the concept of the ‘Messenger’ is not dependent on the word pair “Malach Adonai”. Even if the word pair never existed in the Biblical texts the concept of it would have existed in commentary in one form or another (I state this only to make a point because I still believe that the texts more likely originally contained the title of ‘Malach Adonai’).

Now in getting back to the appearance to Hagar (Gen. 16:7), Daniel states that, “…This would echo sentiments found in our other angel of Yahweh pericopes (Gen 32:30…”  He is referencing a concept which he believes is proof that shows a pattern of Deuteronomic editorship which is this: Wherever you see in scripture places which describe the LORD appearing then you will also find words regarding seeing God yet living, and the ‘Malach Adonai’ as the mediator. It’s a theory which I believe is built on sinking sands as Daniel himself incorrectly identifies Gen 32:30 as one of those ‘Malach Adonai’ passages.

Daniel notes Hagar’s emphasis in verse 13 of the NRSV which states, “… for she said, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?” The critical scholar also thinks that this notion about ‘seeing God’ is an infused idea by a Deuteronomist, for it is thought that this idea is a later development. Daniel offers no support for the late development of this idea other than stating that it is most likely echoing Exodus 33:20, “…you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live,” which incidentally is also another verse the critics consider to be a Deuteronomic interpolation and is therefore dated by the critics to the hypothetical Deuteronomical period of the late 7th century B.C. or later. For more on the speculative dating of Deuteronomy and hence the Deuteronomic period I would refer the reader to the works of Gordon Wenham, but for the sake of this article it need only be pointed out that the late dating of Deuteronomy is still not substantiated in a full and complete manner by the Radical Biblical critics.

Daniel’s point seems to be that in Deuteronomic logic an angel can make an appearance but according to Exodus 33:20 the LORD’s appearance is fatal, so the word “Malach” was inserted to “fix” the “incorrect” concepts in the Torah. We know Daniel believes Exodus 33:20 is an interpolation because he wrote,

Exod 33:20, which states that no human will see God and live, is alluded to in each example.”

What evidence do we have to prove that a theoretical Post-Deuteronomist was alluding to a hypothetically interpolated theology? Couldn’t we just as easily assume that Exodus 33:22 is actually the writer of Exodus echoing these ideas from Genesis? Until I can find more convincing correlational evidence to support Deuteronomic allusions of Exodus 33:20, I will have to consider this point unsubstantiated.

And so Daniel states that the whole passage on Hagar makes more sense if we drop the word “Malach” so that as he states she is, “…speaking directly with Yahweh.” The critical line of thought assumes that an explanation is in order for what could appear to be a conflict of ideas. For how could Hagar see the LORD and live? Only the critic sees this as a problem because they have already built up ideas of a supposed  web of Deuteronomic influence. They are therefore confronted with problems which do not fit into their Biblical universe. The Angel of the Lord is one of those problems which Daniel is grappling with. When posed with the problems of identity confusion the critic sees “evidence” of story manipulation. Instead of considering that the Angel is either the LORD or a non-specific messenger, his answer is to do away with the angel altogether.

In regard to Exodus chapter 33 it becomes very clear that the LORD is not only referring to seeing Him, but in fact is responding to Moses inquiry after he asks the LORD in verse 18, “…Now show me your glory.” It seems an odd statement because Moses is assumed to be speaking face to face with the LORD as noted in verse 11, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend…” If Moses was speaking with the LORD face to face then would he not have seen His glory? Well, apparently not, hence Moses request, “…Now show me your glory.” What seems even more odd is the response which the LORD gives Moses in verse 19 which states that He would cause all His goodness to pass in front of Moses. It seems at this point that we could very easily interpret these verses as demonstrating that the LORD is fully able to present Himself in a less glorious form.

Finally we come to Exodus 33:20 which seems to be the center of Daniel’s presentation, but in light of the context of chapter 33 it suddenly sounds quite odd if simply taken out of context. The LORD states, “…you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live,” but in light of the preceding verses this statement can be understood as the face of the LORD’s full Glory, as stated in verse 19, “…all His goodness.” The implication is that Moses can speak face to face with the LORD (verse 11), but no one can stand before the face of the LORD when He shows His full glory (verses 18, 19, and 20). Now with the above very likely interpretation of Exodus 33:11-20, there is no need for the Interpolation of a ‘Malach’. Why? Because if the LORD is capable of appearing in less glorious forms such as a “man”, or a “fire”, or a “cloud” then there is no need to explain why people did not die at seeing Him in these less glorious forms.

It is very likely that Daniel is not convinced that Exodus chapter 33 should be read in a synchronic approach,  but in my estimation if a Deuteronomist actually infused their ideas into this chapter then they did the poorest of jobs. For instance why state that no one can see the LORD’s face in verse 20 when in verse 11 Moses speaks with the LORD face to face? If one accepts Exodus chapter 33 as it stands without placing upon it a theoretical diachronic viewpoint then the passage explains itself and does away with supposed “problems” in the other passages.

Regarding diachronic analysis of the Biblical texts, it is the method which Daniel uses in his approach to Scripture.  More simply put, viewing the stories as coming together over a span of time by multiple theoretical authors, rather than seeing them as distinct stories which represent themselves as being recorded in singular units. It is Daniel’s argument which states in so many words that holding a diachronic view of the texts is supported by the Interpolation Theory. Well, it would seem that this is what he is stating, but the Interpolation Theory is actually the result of diachronic analysis! By taking the diachronic viewpoint, Wellhausen, as well as others, laid the foundation to reinterpret the existence of the Biblical stories. This ultimately led to the theory of the Documentary Hypothesis which in turn spawned the Interpolation Theory.

The point is that one must first be persuaded by the hypothetical arguments of the Documentary Hypothesis or some form of it in order to adopt the belief that certain stories or ideas should be viewed with diachronic analysis to begin with. I do not intend to trail off into arguments against the Documentary Hypothesis. All that is necessary for the reader to understand is that these ideas are part of the Interpolation Theory. This is especially in regard to the theoretical Deuteronomic school as Daniel concludes in his article that the ‘angel’ is likely the interpolation of Post-Deuteronomic authorship.

Daniel concludes the section on Hagar by stating, “This particular story makes more sense with the word ‘angel’ removed from vv. 7, 9, 10, and 11, and with Hagar speaking directly with Yahweh.”  It certainly could make sense within a radically critical framework, but does that framework stand under the scrutiny of conservatism?

Does not the possibility that the LORD was actually appearing to Hagar in a less glorious form also remain a likely interpretation?  Does not the ‘Malach’ remain open for debate as to His specific or nonspecific nature?

The conservative is more interested in dealing with the text as it stands and does not see contrary ideas at play. If the LORD appeared to Hagar and she did not perish then explanations are in order, and there remain other very likely explanations besides the Interpolation Theory.

This ends part two of this eight part series.  I look forward to my next post. Peace be with all and Keep Ceeking Truth. :-)

Critically Conflated

This is part one of an eight part blog response to a posting by Daniel O. McClellan entitled, “The Angel of Yahweh in Early Hebrew Bible Narrative,” which was dated June 16, 2011 on WordPress.

Daniel references two works which he uses to build his case. I certainly would not endeavor to respond to the referenced material but can only assume that he has presented the material from those books as he intended. I did my best to speculate why he shared certain things over others, and I clarified what I understood to be the most common critical claims on the ‘angel’. When I felt further explanation was needed from the critical viewpoint, I did my best to present those perspectives.

Daniel started by describing , “…two general approaches to explaining the angel…,”. The first and most prevalent view as he stated is, “…the angel, as a divine messenger, represents his patron so completely that he may be referred to and even described as the patron.” This is all he had to share regarding the first and most prevalent viewpoint.

It could be that Daniel simply intended to communicate that the first view does not take into account the possibility of interpolation of the word “angel”, but seems more likely to be a description of how the ‘angel’ is mistakenly identified as his patron. This viewpoint can be tied up in arguments about the non-specific identity of ‘an angel’ of the LORD versus ‘The Angel’, but since Daniel has forgone further explanation I will leave this and move to the next point.

The second view is, “…the word “angel” is simply an interpolation where it was originally Yahweh himself interacting with humanity.” In other words where the scriptures state, “Malach Adonai,” they supposedly originally referenced Adonai or Elohim alone. The Hebrew word for messenger or angel, “Malach”, is speculated to have been inserted in front of the four letter Name of the LORD, or as most scholars refer to the Name, “Yahweh.” As a side note, In this article my preference is to refer to the Sacred Name as, ‘LORD’ in all caps or ‘Adonai’ instead of “Yahweh”, as I consider “Yahweh” a technical name which I only use in describing the ideas of current critical scholarship.

In Daniel’s opening summary he explained how the person of the ‘angel’ is incorrectly identified in two general approaches. He referred to both views as, “…general approaches…where his (the angel’s) identity seems to be conflated or confused…” In other words there are two ways to misidentify the ‘angel’, and both ways seem to be the result of conflation and/or confusion. This is how I understand what Daniel is stating but I hesitate to conclude that this is what he was trying to convey. In the end it matters less about his view on the first and most prevalent view of the ‘angel’ as he spends the remainder of his article presenting the second view. As he stated, “In this post I’d like to explain why I find the latter view to be far more convincing.” That is to say he finds the view of the interpolated ‘angel’ more likely. He is not concerned with going into explanations about the most prevalent view or any other viewpoint. His focus is only on two ways to misidentify and he does not consider any other views outside of this scope.

He has identified two general approaches but both of them are in regard to conflating or confusing the identity of the ‘angel’. His opening summary does not seem to adequately separate the ‘two approaches’. It seems more likely that Daniel has divided the ‘two approaches’ simply for the sake of stating that some people believe the texts and some people do not. Those who hold the first and most prevalent view are associated from the start with being confused about the identity of the ‘angel’. He carefully inserts the keywords, “…seems to…” in regard to conflating or confusing. In this way he acknowledges that it is only a possibility, but his point seems to be about associating both views with confusion, and this is even only if it seems to be the case.

Now in regard to the concept of conflation. It is a word which negatively portrays the condition of the Biblical manuscripts, for if the texts are more reliable than speculated by some, then what is being called conflation could actually just be conservatively interpreting the texts. It is one thing to state that the identity of the ‘angel’ seems to be conflated and it is another to state that it is conflated. I applaud Daniel McClellan for correctly stating that it seems to be conflated because too many have begun to assume that this matter is settled.

This view which Daniel is more inclined to hold has simply come to be known as ‘The Interpolation Theory’ with regard to the Angel of the LORD. Now, I am not the first one to claim this as a theory, but it has been addressed as such in books on the topic for some time. Something else needs to be brought up with regard to the Interpolation Theory which is tied up in ideas of the Documentary Hypothesis. This is in regard to seeing the names of God as a means of dividing up stories of the Biblical Texts into schools which call God either by the name Elohim or Yahweh. Daniel stated, “…it was originally Yahweh himself interacting with humanity.” This is the hint which keys in the reader that the arguments of the Documentary Hypotheses are in play. How are these arguments part of the mix? Well the most simple explanation would be that there is a dependence on the ideas of a theoretical Yahwist or Elohist narrative which is being rewritten by a hypothetical Post-Deuteronomic redactor.

In Daniel’s concluding paragraph he makes it clear that the reasons for the most prevalent view are due to possible interpolations of the word ‘angel’. He has essentially used the second view as an explanation of why the first view might be incorrect. Of course if this was his intent then he has only truly presented us with one viewpoint on the matter which simply stated is only a possibility of an explanation of why another viewpoint is probably incorrect.

If the Interpolation Theory is to be considered more likely true, it should be shown in a number of ways with regard to multiple possibilities. This is so that the theory can be shown as plausible by taking into account other factors which also might be true as well. Most of these of factors have to do with questioning whether other likely possibilities exist, which if true, would invalidate the Interpolation Theory. It only needs to be shown that other possibilities are just as likely to be the case in order to point out that the Interpolation Theory still remains in the realm of a claim which is not well substantiated. It is my aim in the next seven blogs to show all of the other very likely possibilities and thus show that the Interpolation Theory falls drastically short of being a likely possibility in explaining the Angel of the Lord.

I look forward to writing part two of this series and wish you all the best. Peace be with you and Keep Ceeking Truth. :-)

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. :-)

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