TOPIC: Matt 14:1-2 and pars.
From: Leonard Maluf
Using as a spring-board a remark of Bruce, in Re: Wording of Matthew, etc.
I am now in possession of a copy of Mark G's interesting NTS article on
fatigue in the Synoptics as a directional marker. I will soon be responding
this article from a 2 GH perspective, beginning with Mark G's example of the
John the Baptist murder story in the threefold tradition. The following
remarks on the beginning of this passage, triggered by a remark of Bruce's,
will serve as a useful introduction for my upcoming posts.
BRUCE writes: <<In all cases, the 5000 Feeding is preceded by an inquiry of
Herod, who compares reports of Jesus's exploits with those of John the
Baptist, whom he has just killed. (Mt 14:1-2 / Mk 6:14-16 / Lk 9:7-9).>>
LEONARD: In an attempt to state in general what the cited verses contain,
Bruce has papered over differences in the three texts which I think are
significant in terms of the directional pointers they provide. We have here
excellent example of conflation on the part of later Gospel writers: Luke
conflating this passage with the next Matthean passage in which an
identification of Jesus with JB is found (Matt 16:14), and Mark, later,
attempting to combine the resulting two perspectives found in the texts of
Matt and Lk at this parallel point.
More in detail: Matt simply has Herod somewhat ominously (and
affirm to his underlings that this (the Jesus whose fame has become
is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead, and for this reason
marvelous wonders are being performed by him.
Lk follows with apparently two agendas: one, his usual custom of not simply
trying to produce a one to one corresponding parallel to Matt, but rather
writing his text after consulting the various parallel Matthean texts on a
theme (in this case: the identification of Jesus with JB). ALk's other agenda
is to avoid having Herod admit the doctrine of resurrection from the dead
(Herod is, presumably at least, closer to the Sadducees than to the
in his thinking about resurrection). The two agendas turn out to be mutually
supportive here, since the other Matthean parallel (Matt 16:14) speaks of the
rumored opinions about the identity of Jesus, and when this perspective is
transported here, Herod can simply be musing about and puzzling over various
alternative opinions expressed, rather than strongly affirming that JB has
been raised from the dead. Herod's actual words in Lk are also interesting
from the point of view of his overall redaction in this part of his gospel.
Unlike Herod's words in Matt, Herod in Lk affirms (9:9): "John I have
beheaded.. (this is necessary for Herod to say, because Luke plans not to
the story of the beheading found in Matt).. but who is this about whom I hear
these things?" (this, instead of affirming that it is JB, and implying rather
that it is not --- all made possible in light of his conflationary success in
the previous verses).
Mk comes last and attempts to accommodate both of the above perspectives,
a resulting somewhat clumsily accumulative text. 6:14 is a fairly close
parallel to Matt's opening verse, but already conflates the perspectives of
the two earlier texts: it is the people who are now saying what Matt has had
Herod say about JB. In 6:15, the views of other people are reported in
fidelity to the text of Lk, and finally, in 6:16, Herod himself pipes in, by
way of settling the dispute, and affirms WHAT he affirmed from the beginning
in Matt's text, but in TERMS largely taken from the words of Herod in Lk.