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Posts Tagged ‘Apologetics’

Since 2007 I have been releasing videos on youtube regarding why I believe that Judaism was more of an influence on Zoroastrianism than the other way around.  The continuing playlist can be accessed here:

As you can imagine I receive a lot of comments on these videos, but most notably from the first video I released on Sept. 9, 2007.  Today I received an encouraging complement on a comment from youtube user Netanel Yehudah. Netanel stated, “Excellant post!” After reading this it occurred to me that my response just had to be posted on my blog for more coverage.  It was originally a response to youtube user AlisherPainting on Dec. 2, 2014.  Alisher’s comment was as follows:

“As you said, it is sort of a topic where you kind of want to make your own determination of what influenced what. I would say with no doubt Judaism is influenced by the Zoroastrianism. My reasons for that are: First, you have no evidence of Judaism predating Zoroastrianism, but we have sufficient evidence to prove the other way around. Second, most importantly, I have had to work with many different Jewish communities, Bukharian Jews, Ukrainian Jews, American Jews, And Different jews who are coming from a different parts of the world. And the clear fact about all of them is they have huge cultural and spiritual influence of the region that they have lived in. And this is something that you or no jew can disagree. So, what should stop me from believing that Jews who were saved by the persians and let to live freely in a persian paradise would have not been influenced by the powerful culture of that era? I would appreciate your response.”

*My response was as follows:

“Thank you for your well spoken inquiry. First let me start by stating that I have nothing against the religion of Zoroastrianism. In fact, it is my belief that Iran should show the world how tolerant they are and promote and help the existing Zoroastrians who are still there.

I would give four reasons to consider and study:

1. Was or is Zoroastrianism truly a monotheistic religion?  Even if it was some form of monotheism it was or is not like the monotheism of the Hebrews.  While the Hebraic outlook might have acknowledged other foreign “gods” they never considered those “gods” as competing with the Lord of Creation. Furthermore there is nothing in the Hebrew scriptures which elicit the worshiper to offer praise to any other “god” except the Lord, but in the Avestan Scriptures there are plenty of Hymns of praise to many “gods” or if one interprets, “God in another form”.  The problem of course is in understanding the many gods of Zoroastric-Mazdaism as flowing from Ahura Mazda when this idea is very hard to find spelled out in the Avesta.  I think is more alluded to in Zend Commentary.

2. Was Zarathustra a religious reformer?  That is speculated by some scholars because it seems obvious by a reading of the Avesta that there existed another Persian religion which pre-existed the time of Zarathustra.  This may or may not have been the religions of King Cyrus as there is no proof that Cyrus ever mentions the name of Ahura Mazda or Zarathustra.  It could be that Zarathustra is born after the time of Cyrus as some scholars have pointed out various reasons which I mention in this video series.  If indeed Zarathustra was a reformer, the question is does he actually reform this pre-existant Mazdaism which is polytheistic into the Zoroastric-Mazdaism idea?  Or is he not a reformer at all?  Perhaps he simply reinforces the foundational principles of this idea of Ahura-Mazda flowing through all of the other various gods?

3. The issue is not in regard to general influence between cultures and religions because we know that we all influence each other in some way. It is whether the Hebraic idea of monotheism or other key doctrinal ideas which I cover in this video series were originated from Zoroastrianism.

4. Are the Avestan Scriptures dated to the right time periods?  Most scholars date the Gathas portions to a general date of 1000 BC.  Some of the Avestan scriptures are possibly older and attributed to the pre-Zoroastric time period and which probably did not have the same idea of monothesism if indeed there is some sort of monotheism in them.  The “Younger” Yashts are somewhere in the Achaemenid period but most likely about 200 years after King Cyrus. Then there is quite a bit which most likely followed the 4th century BC which was clearly after the Babylonian exile of the Jews.  We really don’t have a lot to support the dating of the texts.  Aside from some fire temples and evidence of burial techniques which can just as easily be attributed to the pre-Zoro period which most likely did not support “monotheistic” ideas until Zarathustra shows up later and possibly reforms this religion.

There is simply in my opinion just not a clear enough picture of Zoroastrianism to make the claim, for instance, that it influenced the Hebrew idea of monotheisim.

Peace be to Zoroastrians and Peace be with you.”

For those interested in understanding my positions on this topic, I would direct you to what is currently a 23 part series on youtube linked above.  Since I feel that after 23 videos I have only touched the surface, there will most likely be future videos added to this playlist. Peace continue to be with you all and keep Ceeking Truth! 🙂

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This is part five 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 I will be responding to Daniel’s comments on Gideon’s Call (Judges 6:11-24). As in Daniel’s previous observations he continues to categorize both the Names of God and the ‘Angel of the Lord’ as remnants of earlier or later hypothetical editors. There is really no other way in which a Documentarian can interpret scripture because they are bound to their views on source theory. This continues to be their issue as they simply will not even entertain the possibility that the texts are the result of singular cohesive units.

Daniel starts by stating, “…the angel comes to Gideon, who appears not to recognize him…“. Actually according to the chapter content it is very clear that Gideon surely does not recognize the ‘Angel’, but Daniel seems to be suggesting that Gideon possibly did recognize Him. Verse 22 of Judges chapter 6 reads:

“Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord.” ESV

All throughout the section up to verse 22 it seems clear that Gideon first believes he is speaking with a man but slowly begins to suspect a Divine Presence. At verse 17 Gideon exclaims:

“If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me.” ESV

At this point Gideon wants to be sure that this ‘Man’ is who He has presented Himself to be. The point being is that verses 17 and 22 seem to adequately address that Gideon certainly did not recognize the ‘Angel’ up to verse 16. I don’t know if this was an oversight on Daniel’s part or if he is considering certain verses as possible additions by later theoretical editors, but he does not specify, and he seems to ignore the clear context of the section.

Most likely Daniel is suggesting that Gideon did recognize the ‘Man’, not as the ‘Angel’, but as the Lord. Daniel is reconstructing the section by omitting each reference to an angel but this does not account for Gideon not recognizing the ‘Man’ as ‘Yahweh’. Even if as Daniel theorizes that there was no ‘Angel’ in the original, Gideon still does not recognize the ‘man’ unless verse 17 which has no mention of ‘angel’ is also considered a later addition. What reason does Daniel give to explain verse 17? He leaves it as it is because there is no mention of an angel. The point being is that first Daniel states Gideon, “appears not to recognize him“, but later he states, “In v. 17, Gideon actually asks for proof that he is speaking specifically to Yahweh.” Daniel is stating in so many words that Gideon did not recognize ‘Yahweh’ because he asks for proof.

It would appear that Daniel’s reference to Gideon appearing not to recognize the ‘angel’ also appears to be a reference to something which Daniel appears to acknowledge after he has appeared to explain it away. Perhaps Daniel actually does understand that Gideon begins by not recognizing the ‘Man’, but uses the wrong wording to explain his position? Whether this was an ‘Angel’ or ‘Yahweh’, Gideon clearly did not recognize this person from their first meeting based on verse 17.

Next Daniel turns his attention to the interchangeably of the titles of  ‘Angel of the Lord’, and ‘Lord’. He states:

In vv. 11, 12, 21, and 22 the text has “angel of Yahweh,” but in vv. 14 and 16 Gideon is represented as speaking directly to Yahweh.

Once again we are being told in so many words that verses 14 and 16 were original to the text while all references to the ‘angel’ are likely interpolations because the text makes no sense according to the critics. It is difficult to figure which claim supports the other. Does the interpretation that the texts do not make sense lead one to consider that the ‘angel’ is interpolated or does the Interpolation Theory lead one to narrowly interpret the texts as nonsensical? Perhaps these twin claims uphold each other because without one the other cannot stand?

Daniel is held captive by the idea that Gideon is speaking directly with ‘Yahweh’ in verses 14 and 16. This is simply because he has prejudged the texts and interpreted them based on his stationary viewpoint. In his mind the reason for everyone’s incorrect interpretations are due to the imaginary ‘angel’. He has dismissed the possibility that the ‘Angel’ (Messenger) is speaking on behalf of ‘Yahweh’ and bringing a message in the first person. Instead of stating, “Thus saith the Lord”, the messenger is the mouthpiece of ‘Yahweh’ whereby whatever the ‘Angel’ speaks is the Will of ‘Yahweh’. It can certainly be the case that Gideon was speaking directly to ‘Yahweh’, that is, through the ‘Angel’.

The point of Daniel’s article was to explain away the most prevalent view of the ‘Angel’. He started his presentation by stating,  “The most prevalent view is that the angel, as a divine messenger, represents his patron so completely that he may be referred to and even described as the patron”, which Daniel quickly dismisses as most likely due to conflation or confusion. However,  couldn’t it be possible that the perceived conflation or confusion is only the result of a narrow interpretation based on the Interpolation Theory itself?

There remains a third view which Daniel ignores due to his assumption of the Interpolation Theory. This is not that the ‘angel’ is described as his Patron but that the ‘angel’ is the Lord’s Messenger and acts as His Mediator. As His vessel the ‘angel’ acts as the Lord wills and speaks as the Lord’s mouthpiece. Likewise, when speaking, the ‘angel’ is referred to as the Lord based on the ‘angel’s’ mediating nature.

It is unfortunate that the ‘angel’ passages are dismissed as interpolations because once again this points out, if true, how flipshod a job that a theoretical Post-Deuteronomic editor performed in trying to align the text to their hypothetical theology.  If all they had to do was insert the word ‘Malach’ before every instance of “Lord” how hard could that have been? Also, in regard to the four letter Name of God, it seems highly unlikely that any hypothetical editor would simply miss verses 14 and 16 which contain the Lord’s Name, but the Documentary critic insists that these are mistakes which were not covered up completely.

Next Daniel states, “In v.  17, Gideon actually asks for proof that he is speaking specifically to Yahweh.” Now this of course is based on Daniel’s interpretation which springs forth from the theoretical ‘angel’ interpolation. Without this theory it can be interpreted within the larger context. Instead verse 17 can be interpreted as Gideon asking for proof that ‘Yahweh’ is speaking to him through the angel. That is not too hard of an explanation at all and one reason Daniel excludes this possibility is due to the Interpolation Theory,  and so we can clearly see how this theory affects one’s ability to consider other possibilities of the texts.

Next Daniel addresses verse 20 which uses the title ‘Malach Elohim’ which translates ‘Angel of God’. He states,

In v. 20 it is “angel of God.” This is peculiar, and the only other uses of “angel of God” in Gen-Judg also appear in places where the identity of God is mixed up with that of an angel (Gen 21:17; 31:11; Exod 14:19; Judg 13:6, 9).

His claim will need to be addressed for each of these four examples.

Gen 21:17:

“And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not; for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.” RSV

Daniel is stating that the identify of God is being mixed up with the ‘Angel of God’ but I have read Gen 21:17 in a few Bible versions and do not see how this is the exclusive interpretation.  It seems just as easily understood as the ‘Angel’ speaking on behalf of God. It seems odd that Daniel points out in the start of his article that the Hebrew for ‘Angel’, ‘Malach’, is more accurately translated,  “Messenger”, and yet Daniel is resisting the idea that the Messenger speaks the Message of God.

Gen 31:11 (12,13)

“11 Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am!’ 12 And he said, ‘Lift up your eyes and see, all the goats that leap upon the flock are striped, spotted, and mottled; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go forth from this land, and return to the land of your birth.’” RSV

Again the simple understanding of the Messenger of God is that He speaks God’s message. This is a very likely interpretation but it is excluded.  It should also be noted that the ‘Angel’ speaks to Jacob in a dream so another question would be what reason would a Post-Deuteronomist have in adding ‘Malach’ in front of ‘Elohim’? If this was a dream then ‘seeing’ God would not have been an issue, would it?

At this point it should be considered that the Lord never communicates without His Messenger and that the Hebrews understood this basic nature about the Lord. Even when the ‘Angel’ is not specifically mentioned in the text it could be understood that God always speaks His Message through His Messenger. Also in other passages the interlocutor is described as ‘The Word of the Lord’, such as, “Then the Word of the Lord came to…”.

The only way to arrive at the critical viewpoint is to first assume that the early Hebrews spoke directly with ‘Yahweh’ and stood ‘face to face’ with God. Then one begins to interpret the texts in light of this assumption.  As far as the ‘Angel’ passages are concerned,  they lend more evidence towards the Hebrews not ‘seeing’ God. The only way to think otherwise would be to dismiss all references to the ‘Angel’, and this is where the critic finds the Interpolation Theory fits with their assumptions. Still missing, however, is whether one can determine if their assumptions are supporting the theory or if the theory is supporting their assumptions?

Ex 14:19 (& v.24)

19 “The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them.”…

“24 At the morning watch, the Lord looked down on the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud and brought the army of the Egyptians into confusion.” NASB

This passage is different in that the Lord is not speaking through the ‘Angel’ but acting and moving in the pillar of fire and cloud. Also distinguishing this passage from others is the interchangeably of the titles, “Malach Elohim” and “Adonai” (‘Yahweh’). Now the critic must make a decision on how they think this section arose because they would never consider it a singular unit in its “original” form. Here are some questions for the critics to consider:

What reason would a Post-Deuteronomist have to insert “Malach” in front of Elohim if they were more inclined to ‘Yahwism’? Why not also simply change “Elohim” to ‘Yahweh’ along with the addition of ‘Malach’?

Why would not the Post-Deuteronomist simply insert a ‘Malach’ in front of “Lord” in Exodus 14:24? How could they simply miss the Name of the Lord thereby creating the assumed identity confusion?

These two questions would also apply to Judges 6:20, 21 with the difference that ‘Malach Elohim’ and ‘Malach Adonai’ are used interchangeably. A third question arises in Judges 6:20, 21 which is:

Why are not ‘Malach Elohim’ and ‘Malach Adonai’ considered by the critics to be two different angles due to the titles?

Daniel doesn’t discuss this but he accepts the ‘Angel of Elohim’ as another name for ‘Angel of Adonai’. It is an easy thing to gloss over but should be addressed.  The point is that Daniel refuses to interpret all these passages as the Lord speaking through the ‘Angel’ but then loosens his strict adherence to the word for word interpretations when it comes to comparing ‘Angel of Elohim’ and ‘Angel of Adonai’. They are considered both the same ‘Angel’, and they should be considered this way, but this is mostly a conservative view which Daniel accepts without considering its implications. By acknowledging that these two ‘Angels’ are the same he has demonstrated how the Names of God are interchangeable. In the end I am sure that he not interested in this as in his mind both ‘Angels’ are a made up mechanism used by the theoretical Post-Deuteronomist.

Judges 13:6, 9

6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, “A man of God came to me and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. And I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name.

9 God listened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again to the woman as she was sitting in the field, but Manoah her husband was not with her. NASB

In Judges 13:6, 9 the same conditions apply as the three previous examples. What Daniel reads as a mixture of identities can just as easily be read as two identities with the ‘Angel’ acting as the intermediary. There are no clear indications of personalities being mixed except for those who would read this into the text. Yes, God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the ‘Angel’ goes to his wife again but none of the texts ever spell out the nature of the ‘Angel’ as indistinguishable from the Lord.

As a tangent, my own belief is that the ‘Angel’ is the Pre-Existent Word, and that the ‘Word of the Lord’ is His own person despite His oneness with the Lord. They are two persons yet one with each other. In no way does this belief require the texts regarding the ‘Angel’ to be interpreted as a mixture of personalities. On the contrary the texts make more sense when we interpret the personality of the ‘Angel’ as separated from God as His Messenger.

Daniel states that the title, ‘Malach Elohim’ only appears in those texts which mix up the identity of God with that of the ‘Angel’. This conclusion always excludes the interpretation in which the ‘Angel’ is the Lord’s vessel of communication or mediator of salvation. The critics seem more satisfied with viewpoints which do not make sense, but this is due to their own refusal to allow alternative interpretations of the texts within context.

Daniel states, “As with other stories, Gideon’s angel speaks as God in the first person with no messenger formula to indicate it is a mediated message.” The messenger formula which Daniel is referring to are the titles, ‘Malach Adonai’ or ‘Malach Elohim’. Daniel seems unwilling to entertain the idea of a Messenger which speaks in the first person on behalf of God. Is not this a plausible understanding of the texts? Isn’t it possible that the ‘Angel’ is the Lord’s vessel while retaining His own distinct personality? Perhaps this is why the ‘Angel’ is given the special title of ‘Malach Adonai’? Maybe it is through Him the Lord communicates all His messages? If we allow the context to influence the surrounding verses which do not contain the “formula” then we could deduce that not only does the Messenger of ‘Yahweh’ speak in the first person but also acts as a representation of the Lord to mankind by mediating His Glorious Presence.

Next Daniel comments on Judges 6:22:

Again we have the allusion to Exod 33:20, but here Gideon laments, “Help me, O Yahweh God, for I have seen the angel of Yahweh face to face!” Exod 33:20 does not place a restriction on seeing the angel of Yahweh, however, it explicitly states that no human can see God himself (and specifically his face, given the context).

Why is Daniel so intrigued by Gideon’s response? Apparently Gideon was wrong to be afraid of seeing the ‘Malach Adonai’ face to face because clearly Exodus 33:20 does not state that seeing the ‘Angel’ would be fatal. Despite what Exodus 33:20 states, Gideon’s response seems normal for anyone who has encountered a Being Who projects a degree of the Divine Glory and speaks as the Lord’s mouthpiece.

For the critic, Gideon is encountering the Lord in bodily form yet not as the ‘Angel’ but as Himself, and this is the reason they believe Gideon is struck with fear because he thinks he has seen God. This is problematic in that the concept of ‘not seeing God’ clearly is part of the underlying message of Gideon’s story. Gideon did not recognize the Lord when he first saw Him, but why? Certainly it is because the Lord is appearing to Gideon in the less glorious form of a mere man, so what is the difference if He appears as an angel in the form of a man or as a just a man? The texts can be understood in this way when we exclude the word “angel” from the story and so the hypothetical Post-Deuteronomic editor wouldn’t have needed any ‘angel’ to make this point if the Lord appeared not as His Glorious Presence but as a simple man.

The issue continues to be presented by Daniel as the “original” stories portraying the Lord Himself appearing rather than the ‘Angel’ and including an allusion to Exodus 33:20, but with the story of Gideon we also have his non-recognition of the Lord. This is the hard part for the critics because Gideon’s non-recognition of the Lord basically gives the theoretical Post-Deuteronomic editor an explanation that the Lord did not appear in His most Glorious form and so what need is there to insert an ‘Angel’ into the story at all! Yet the story of Gideon does contain the ‘Angel’ so we could consider it original to the text based on this line of reasoning.

The problem continues to be compounded when we realize that a reconstructed version of the story of Gideon not only allows the Lord to appear as a man but that this understanding essentially substitutes for the Lord appearing as the ‘Angel’! It could be regarded as a matter of semantics in which the reconstructed narrative arrives at similar conclusions which the unaltered story does! In one case Gideon is afraid to have seen the ‘face of God’ but we understand by his initial non-recognition that the Lord appeared in a less glorious form, so this why Gideon does not die. In the other case Gideon is afraid to have seen the ‘face of the Angel of the Lord’ but we can deduce that Gideon is struck with the awesome presence of God’s Messenger and supposes that he could die if the Lord Himself speaks through this Angel.

In both cases there remains a glaring interpretive possibility. This is that the Lord appears in different forms! Wasn’t this the whole point of the hypothetical theology of the theoretical Post-Deuteronomic school? Is not this the whole reason which Daniel claims the ‘Angel’ was invented! Daniel states that an angel was needed to make the “original” stories fit with Exodus 33:20, but clearly as I have stated previously that even if the ‘Angel’ did not exist in the Biblical texts we still can come to the conclusion that the Lord appears in less Glorious forms and thereby align it with Exodus 33:20! In effect I believe I have demonstrated how the reconstructed story of Gideon can also be aligned with Exodus 33:20 despite Daniel’s insistence that the ‘Angel’ was needed to accomplish this!

Daniel concludes this section on Gideon by stating:

Gideon’s lament is completely unique, and the story fits perfectly with the other reconstructed narratives if we simply remove each instance of “angel.”

In other words Daniel is stating if we suppose that the texts are not original in context and the result of various theoretical schools then we can assume that there is conflict with the various hypothetical theologies and furthermore that in order to reinterpret these texts a theoretical Post-Deuteronomic editor inserted the word “Malach” in key texts to remove the theoretical conflict of hypothetical earlier theology (catching my breath). Well, I disagree, and I do not think that Daniel demonstrated the hypothetical need for an “angel” in order to align Gideon’s story with Exodus 33:20, but you can judge for yourself.

This concludes part five of this eight part series. As always, Keep Ceeking Truth and I look forward to the next post. Peace be with you all!

Part 1 Critically Conflated
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/critically-conflated/

Part 2 Interpretations of Interpolations
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/interpretations-of-interpolations/

Part 3 Saying and Seeing
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/saying-and-seeing/

Part 4 Presuming Preemption
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/22/presuming-preemption/

Part 5 Appearing to have Appeared
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/30/appearing-to-have-appeared/

Part 6 Diachronic Deadends
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/diachronic-deadends/

Part 7 Additional or Absent?
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/additional-or-absent/

Part 8 Conclusions of Conjecture
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/conclusions-of-conjecture/

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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
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/critically-conflated/

Part 2 Interpretations of Interpolations
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/interpretations-of-interpolations/

Part 3 Saying and Seeing
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/saying-and-seeing/

Part 4 Presuming Preemption
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/22/presuming-preemption/

Part 5 Appearing to have Appeared
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/11/30/appearing-to-have-appeared/

Part 6 Diachronic Deadends
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/diachronic-deadends/

Part 7 Additional or Absent?
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/additional-or-absent/

Part 8 Conclusions of Conjecture
https://truthceeker.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/conclusions-of-conjecture/

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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

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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. 🙂

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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! 🙂

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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! 🙂

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