- To: Synoptic
On: Lk 4:14-30 (as pendant to "Mk 1:29 par")
With apologies to all for taking up their time thrice on this same passage,
I am afraid it does need a better look. In a word, the anomaly here is not
solely the reversal of logical order between the first mention of Simon at
Lk 4:38 and the Calling of Simon at Lk 5:1-11. There is also the anomaly of
the First Preaching, at Lk 4:16f. In Mark, we have this order of elements:
A.Calling of Simon
B. Preaching at Capernaum
C. Preaching at Nazareth
In Luke we have instead
C. Preaching at Nazareth
B. Preaching at Capernaum
A. Calling of Simon
No single transposition applied to one of these sets will produce the other
set; two transpositions - two actions - are required. If we ask which set
makes better sense narratively, the answer is, the ABC set. This is most
simply seen in the fact that the CBA set has two points (one each in C and
B) where the reader needs details not yet supplied by the story. It is these
two inconcinnities that strongly suggest that the CBA set is not only
different from ABC, but narratively inferior, and thus probably the result
of deformation of ABC (Mark, or something with the same sequence of
material). It then seems strongly indicated that Luke is secondary in these
details of order. It remains complete the inference by showing why. I make a
suggestion below. Those familiar with the problem can safely skip to some
The First Preaching is located by Luke at Nazareth, preceded only by:
Lk 4:14f. Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and a
report about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in
their synagogues, being glorified by all.
We then come to the Nazareth preaching:
Lk 4:23. He said to them, No doubt you will quote this proverb to me,
Doctor, heal yourself" what we have heard happened in Capernaum, do also
here in your native place.  He said in response, Amen, I say to you, no
prophet is acceptable in his native place.
There is the difficulty of Jesus anticipating the crowd's question, and
Luke's treating his next saying as though the crowd had indeed asked it.
There is the difficulty that "Doctor, heal yourself" does not logically link
up with the demand that Jesus perform miracles of healing in Nazareth (it
should be, "Doctor, heal others"). And, paralleling the difficult raised in
Leonard's original comment, there is the difficulty that healings at
Capernaum have not been mentioned, nor has Capernaum been mentioned, in the
preceding text. The crowd knows of them, but we the readers (unless informed
through other reading) are surprised by them, with a surprise analogous to
that noted earlier, at the visit to "Simon's house" before we the readers
properly know who Simon is.
As before, the difficulties are removed if the Capernaum preaching is
previously described (as in Mk) and if the calling of Simon occurs earlier
in the story (as in Mk).
Why the change? On one of the two seeming transpositions, the early Nazareth
teaching, some commentators remark as follows:
Nolland (1989): "The Nazareth scene has been brought forward by Luke from
its Markan position (6:1-6), and is used to encapsulate major features of
the ministry of Jesus. Schürmann ("Nazareth-Pericope" 201-3, cf "Bericht")
has argued that Luke was aided in this relocation by the position of the
Nazareth account (after the Capernaum account) in a source representing a
"report of the beginning." [Nolland does not accept this theory, which
indeed seems confused as he summarizes it, but he gives no better scenario
of his own].
Fitzmyer (1970). "From v23 it is clear that Luke was aware of a period of
Jesus' ministry in Capernaum prior to this visit to Nazareth. He is, then,
consciously making this episode the first of the ministry, knowing that it
was not really such. . . . Here Luke has transposed the account of Jesus'
visit to his home-town from later on in the gospel tradition (see Mark
6:1-61; Matt 13:53-58), where it is recounted shortly before the end of the
Galilean ministry. Luke has no parallel for it at that point, regarding this
one as its equivalent. On Lucan transpositions, see p71 above." And that
page has this opening statement: "There are seven well-known transpositions
of Marcan episodes in Luke, which may at first sight seem to militate
against the thesis that Luke preserves the Marcan order. These are, however,
readily explicable in terms of Lucan composition; in each instance one can
detect a clear reason why Luke has made the transposition. . . . (2) Jesus'
visit to Nazareth (Mark 6:1-6) is transferred by Luke to the beginning of
Jesus' Galilean ministry (4:16-30) to serve a programmatic purpose: it
presents in capsule form the theme of fulfilment and symbolizes the
rejection that will mark the ministry as a whole." I cannot but agree; see
below. [Fitzmyer's transposition #3 is the Simon one previously discussed].
Lagrange (cited by Creed 1960) feels that there were two Nazareth visits,
here conflated by Luke, "and that this accounts for the obscurity which is
to be noted in the sequence of the narrative. Even so difficulties remain,
and it is easier to suppose that Lk has taken the narrative of Mk 6 (which
he omits at the corresponding point in his own Gospel, 8:56) as foundation
for a representative and symbolic scene to open the public ministry of
Jesus, and that he himself is mainly responsible for the situation as it
stands. . . The failure to work miracles recorded in Mk is not repeated
directly in Lk, but it is presupposed - somewhat awkwardly - in the
complaint which Jesus ascribes to his hearers, v23."
Leaney (1958, ap 4:23) "Another, perhaps more likely explanation [than that
of Conzelmann] is that Luke has thus not very successfully disguised what in
fact the people did say; verses 24-27 then make a telling answer to them. It
must be admitted that the narrative is not satisfactorily unified. This is
not surprising when we consider how Luke has used the intractable material
of a story of rejection to convey a proclamation of achievement." The
inconcinnity of 4:23 is duly noted.
Manson (1930) "What was the task to which Jesus now knew himself committed?
Luke answers by inserting at this point (from L) a deliverance which Jesus
was stated to have given to his townsfolk at Nazaret. That thereby he has
anticipated a later event appears (1) by the fact that Mark definitely
locates the earliest activities of Jesus in Capernaum, and records no visit
to Nazareth until a comparatively advanced stage in the Galilean ministry
has been reached (Mark 1:21, 6:1); (2) by the allusion of the Nazarenes in
this very passage to a *previous* work of Jesus at Capernaum (v23). On the
other hand, the placing of the Nazareth episode here in accordance with the
L source had literary advantages which Luke was not averse to utilizing. The
incident serves as a frontispiece to the Ministry, presenting as it does the
part played by Jesus in the history of Israel's religion and the crisis
which his appearance created for contemporary Judaism."
I think I see the point of this, but would put it this way: that Luke begins
Jesus' ministry not with acceptance, as in Mark, but with rejection. In
Mark, there is constant tension between the Messianic Secret (to use Wrede's
name for it) and the lack of a Messianic Secret: the parts of Mark where the
crowds hear Jesus gladly, and understand and appreciate him completely, and
the other parts where they do not, and are not intended to. Luke has
homogenized this bivalent Markan ministry as a story of rejection, and to do
so, has taken certain incidents out of their previously given sequence in
order to give the Nazareth episode a strong emblematic value. Among other
things, that episode already forefigures the extension of the ministry from
the Jews to the Gentiles. Jesus himself is made to say this, in expounding
the passage of Isaiah which he has just read (this passage is unique to
"In Israel there were many widows during the days of Elijah, . . . yet
Elijah was not sent to any of these, but only to a widow woman at Zarephath
in Sidon. And in Israel there were many lepers in the time of the prophet
Elisha, yet none of these was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian."
Mark reaches the rejection of Israel by a much more circuitous route. Luke
starts with it. He does so without adequately smoothing the passages he has
rearranged in order to get the Nazareth rejection where he wants it, thus
leaving the anomalies to which Leonard and some of the early commentators
have called attention.
Such would be my slightly more considered suggestion, which I find is
anticipated in one way or another, most fully by Fitzmyer and Creed, in the
previous commentary literature which I have had a few moments, this hurried
morning, to consult.
Another approach is that of Vincent Taylor, previously alluded to, who has
gone so far as to reconstruct the whole of a Proto-Luke, in which he feels
snippets of Mark were later inserted. That might work. What does Taylor make
of this section?
His Proto-Luke contains all of 4:1-30. It regards 4:31-44 (the Capernaum
preaching) as a later Markan insertion. It includes 5:1-11 (the Calling of
Simon), but rejects the whole of 5:12-6:11 as a second Markan insertion. In
terms of the above schema, Taylor's Proto-Luke contains CB, but no A. It
retains the inconcinnities previously noticed in Luke's C and B.
Taylor's general claim is that when the Markan insertions are removed from
our Luke, a perfectly consecutive text results, namely, Proto-Luke. This
deserves attention; it is the basic test of a successfully identified
interpolation. Certainly if we omit the Capernaum preaching, we eliminate
the anomaly of Simon being known before he is introduced. So much is to the
good. But we must then take Lk 4:14-15 (see above) as the entire record of
the Capernaum preaching. This leaves the anomaly of the Nazareth audience's
familiarity with the details of that preaching, a familiarity which the
reader does not share, but must retrospectively imagine. We also (Lk 4:23)
have Jesus anticipating people's objections before they make them, and
responding to their call for a healing miracle before they make that call.
All this seems to me to display too much omniscience in the narrator, and
put too great reliance on the reader to supply what the narrative structure
itself has left undone.
Mark is hasty, but it seems that Luke here is narratively contorted. At any
rate, the commentators, whatever the merit of their solutions, seem to be
sensing concinnity problems. I agree with them, and suggest that the
Proto-Luke solution does not solve them. I continue to think (with Fitzmyer)
that Luke has rearranged, rather than (with Taylor) supplemented, the
material available to him, and that for a perfectly intelligible
It may be objected that (eg) Fitzmyer was previously committed to the theory
Mk > Lk, and so naturally, but wrongly, sees the Lukan differences from Mk
as Lukan rearrangements of Mk, whereas without that prior assumption, the
rearrangement could as easily be taken the other way. To me, it is precisely
the small local inconcinnities in Lk, but not in Mk, that argue against
this. As between an order ABC and CBA, considered merely as so many isolated
pericopes about Jesus, analysts might argue motives forever. But if one of
the sequences has narrative problems (the too early introduction of Simon,
the assumption of previous Capernaum healings when none have been previously
shared with the reader), and the other does not, then it would seem to me a
reputable conclusion that the version without the problems is prior to the
I regret not having to hand the Neirynck discussion of Lukan transpositions
to which Fitzmyer defers for detail, but perhaps the present detail will
suffice for a decision. I emerge from this wider consideration of the Lk 4
problem with the previous conclusion: Lk > Lk. That is: Luke has at some
point been reordered from a previous condition of that text; one whose order
of material was more Markan than that of our present Luke. The hypothesis of
a less Markan Proto-Luke behind our Luke seems not to hold up well upon
examination, in that it does not eliminate the inconcinnity problems, as it
was claimed to do.
Hope this works better.
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
- To: Synoptic
On: Luke's Nazareth Group (Lk 4:14-30)
No, really. If we can detect, by objective signs present in our Luke, that a
relocation of previous material has occurred, then we are witnessing a
Synoptic Event, and knowledge of it ought to be valuable for future
ratiocination. Any firm point in a volatile storm. By way of exploring its
possible validity, I will here expand somewhat on the previous message.
The previous suggestion was that the module sequence NAZ - CAP - SIM, which
is what stands in our Luke, possessed narrative inconcinnities (the
assumption of prior acquaintance with Simon in the CAP module, and the
assumption of Capernaum healings in the NAZ module) which suggested that
these three had originally been in the order SIM - CAP - NAZ, which is the
order that is still reflected in both Matthew and Mark. It follows that,
before the relocation for which we have already seen evidence, there was no
NAZ - CAP - SIM order anywhere, and all three Synoptics, insofar as they
existed at all, or their precursors if *they* existed at all, possessed the
same order of this material. Without exception.
A motive for the early placement of NAZ in Luke (the emphasis on the
Opposition and Rejection theme) was suggested in my last, and similar
suggestions were cited from the commentary literature; those suggestions
could easily be multiplied. They are in keeping with what elsewhere seems to
be the character of Luke, including its de-emphasis of Galilee (what I call
Jerusalemization), and its rejection of Judaism in favor of a more universal
conception of Jesus's mission. The fact that a consistent authorial scenario
can be found for this inferred change in Luke is a useful support for the
theory of reordering, which was independently suggested on strictly
philological grounds. Convergence of evidence is always suggestive.
Here is a further argument for the idea that these modules originally stood
in a different order. As it stands, Lk 4:42-44, the end of the Lukan
Capernaum episode, says [v44] "And he was preaching in the synagogues of
Judea." In our present Luke, this is immediately followed by 5:1, which
opens "While the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he was
standing by the lake of Gennesaret." Gennesaret is in Galilee, south (the
commentators tell me) of Capernaum. It is not in Judea. It is thus not
geographically compatible with the ending of the section which presently
Again, it was noted earlier that the healings in Capernaum were narratively
taken for granted in the Lukan NAZ module. One might say that this is just
Luke's style; he expects his readers to know where Capernaum is, or even to
be previously informed about the healings there. This argument is confuted
by Lk 4:31, in the CAP module, where Capernaum is mentioned as though for
the first narrative time. Lk 4:31: "And he went down to Capernaum, a city of
Galilee." One might well ask what local Christian community needed to be
told where Capernaum was (surely not that of Caesarea, where GLk is
sometimes located), but that is not the point. The point is that here, Luke
is introducing (for any Palestinian reader, overintroducing) Capernaum. If
this is how Luke handles the introduction of Capernaum, then the way he
handles it in the NAZ module is anomalous, UNLESS 4:31 originally preceded
the NAZ module. It is the present suggestion that it DID originally precede
Proceeding thus, I think we will be inclined to conclude that (a) the Lukan
material, as we see it or in closely similar form, originally stood in the
order SIM - CAP - NAZ, and to note that (b) this is exactly the order in
Mt/Mk, so that at some point, early in the text process which led to our
Luke, there was total unanimity in all three Synoptics or their precursors
as to the sequence of those events.
We might next validly ask: Were the three Lukan modules rewritten to any
extent, in the process of moving them? One way to check is to put them in
their original order, and see how convincing they may be, or what anomalies
(presumably due to authorial adjustment at the time of the move, and
becoming anomalies by our restoring the original order) still remain. With
apologies to those who have the whole text in memory and don't need this,
here is the RSV text of just two of the three modules, CAP - SIM, transposed
to their presumptive earlier sequence, SIM - CAP:
LUKAN RESTORATION of SIM - CAP: (My Emphasis)
[END OF THE TEMPTATION MODULE]
4:12 And Jesus answered him, It is said, You shall not tempt the Lord your
God.  And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from
him until an opportune time.
[POSSIBLY LATER SUPPLIED PREFATORY LINK]:
4:14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and A
REPORT CONCERNING HIM went out through all the surrounding country.  And
he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.
[OMITTING NAZARETH MODULE, which ends with Lk 4:30 "But passing through the
midst of them he went away"]
5:1 While the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he was
standing by the lake of Gennesaret.  And he saw two boats by the lake,
but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 
Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a
little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
 And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, Put out into the deep
and let down your nets for a catch.  And Simon answered, Master, we
toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the
nets.  And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish,
and as their nets were breaking,  they beckoned to their partners in the
other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats,
so that they began to sink.  But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at
Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.  For
he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which
they had taken,  and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who
were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, Do not be afraid;
henceforth you will be catching men.  And when they had brought their
boats to land, they left everything and followed him.
[CONTINUING WITH CAP MODULE]
4:31 And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching
them on the Sabbath,  and they were astonished at his teaching, for his
word was with authority.  And in the synagogue there was a man who had
the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice,  Ah!
What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are, the Holy One of God.  But Jesus rebuked him, saying,
Be silent, and come out of him. And when the demon had thrown him down in
the midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm.  And they were
all amazed and said to one another, What is this word? For with authority
and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.  And
REPORTS OF HIM went out into every place in the surrounding region.
4:38 And he arose and left the synagogue, and entered Simon's house. Now
Simon's mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they besought him for
her.  And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her; and
immediately she rose and served them.
4:40 Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with
various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of
them and healed them.  And demons also came out of many, crying You are
the Son of God! But he rebuked them, and would not allow them to speak,
because they knew that he was the Christ.
4:42 And when it was day he departed and went into a lonely place. And the
people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving
them.  But he said to them, I must preach the good news of the kingdom
of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.  And
he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.
5:12. While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy,
and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and besought him, Lord, if you
will, you can make me clean.  And he stretched out his hand, and touched
him, saying, I will, be clean. And immediately the leprosy left him. 
And he charged him to tell no one, but "go and show yourself to the priest,
and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to
the people. But so much the more THE REPORT WENT ABROAD CONCERNING HIM,
and great multitudes gathered to hear and to be healed of their infirmities.
 But he withdrew to the wilderness and prayed.
None of these three modules figures in Q (at least not in the version
concorded under SBL auspices in 1975), so we don't have that complication.
We are dealing with Luke, albeit, as I would suggest, with several stages in
the evolution of Luke.
That 4:14-15 are an anticipation of the following career has been suggested
in the commentary literature; in present context, it amounts to saying that
4:14-15 may have been composed at the time of the Lukan rearrangement, to
give it a minimal context and narrative lead-in. Notice, in that passage,
the phrase about REPORTS GOING OUT, which may well be taken from the same or
similar lines which are found in the following material. This would seem to
hold true for both the proposed original and the proposed altered order.
The location of the healing in 5:12f is not given, other than as "one of the
cities," so there is no geographical conflict (as there was with the other
sequence). On the contrary, "one of the cities" in 5:12 now picks up nicely
on "to the other cities also" which, in the present rearrangement, precedes
it in 4:43. Not only is the previously noted inconcinnity removed, but a new
concinnity is established, by the relocation. This is further and
independent evidence for the validity of the restored order.
In 4:31, "and he went down to Capernaum, a city in Galilee" stands (in the
restoration) as the first mention of Capernaum, and it has that character,
as above noted. There is also a reasonable geographical sequence, Gennesaret
> Capernaum.It seems to me that 5:1 is somewhat abrupt in the restoration, but probably
better in that context than in the sequence of Luke as we have it. It might
be still better to have said something like, "Once, when he was standing by
the Lake of Gennesaret, and the people were pressing upon him to hear the
word of God, he saw two boats . . ." If I were giving a practical paraphrase
of the present text for my Sunday School class, this is about how I would do
it. The Greek text seems to be missing an adverb. Whether the sense of such
an adverb is regularly supplied, in comparable situations, by readers of
Greek, is something I do not know. Pending advice from the knowing, I take
the probable transition as at least acceptable with the proposed original
order of the material, and will tentatively conclude that the transition was
part of the original material. I leave open the possibility that the
restored order might be made still more plausible by a conjectural rewriting
of the transitional passage, or Lk 5:1, or both, presumably along the lines
of one or more of the parallels. I don't attempt this here.
For the present, then, I don't see any major narrative difficulties
introduced by switching the extant Lukan SIM and CAP modules, but will be
very glad to hear of any that list members may notice. If the restoration
stands more or less as here proposed, then I suggest that it contains
interesting information about the historical order of the concerns that
apparently moved the author or authors of Luke, for example: (1) the
Jerusalemizing tendency must be referred to the original modules, since the
line containing it works better in the restored context, whereas (2) the
insistence on the opposition of the Jews, which develops slowly in Mt and
Mk, develops more rapidly in Lk only because of the Lukan reordering, and is
an artifact, as it was earlier suggested to be the most likely motive, of
that reordering. Then it follows that the Jerusalemization motif arose
earlier, as a factor bearing on Lukan authorship and reauthorship, than this
degree of emphasis of the Opposition motif. Church history. Or at least one
strand of it.
Which may not be unintelligible once you think about it. I am sorry the
whole thing is not more tidy, but I think it still carries conviction, and
that it may be useful for the future.
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst