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[Synoptic-L] an instance of Matthaean fatigue with respect to Luke

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  • Brian E. Wilson
    In the light of Stephen Carlson s reference to W. H. Smyth s Greek Grammar , I have simplified my presentation of an example of Matthaean fatigue with respect
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 24, 2000
      In the light of Stephen Carlson's reference to W. H. Smyth's "Greek
      Grammar", I have simplified my presentation of an example of Matthaean
      fatigue with respect to Luke - by omitting all references to the
      different possible meanings of the present tense in Greek. The revised
      version is set out here.


      >The Question of John the Baptist Mt 11.2-6 // Lk 7.18-23<
      At the start in Matthew (verse 2), John in prison hears about "the deeds
      of the Christ". The plural "deeds" - ERGA - occurs 4 times in Matthew
      but only once in Mark and only once in Luke (in another context). At the
      outset, therefore, Matthew uses language characteristic of his gospel
      to affirm that the many deeds of Jesus show he is the Christ.

      In verses 2b-3, through his disciples John asks Jesus, "Are you the one
      who is to come, or shall look for someone else?". Immediately before the
      disciples of John depart (verse 7a), Jesus' replies (verses
      4-6), "Go and tell John what you hear and see - the blind receive their
      sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the
      dead are raised up, and the poor are evangelized. And blessed is he who
      takes no offence at me."

      Matthew's story-line is therefore that John was in prison and hears of
      the "deeds of the Christ", sends his disciples to Jesus, the disciples
      of John arrive, ask their question, Jesus answers it, and the disciples
      of John depart. However, the answer Jesus gives implies that at some
      time the disciples of John see and hear six activities by Jesus (healing
      the blind, lame, lepers and deaf, raising the dead, evangelizing the
      poor). The content of this answer is incongruous because there is no
      slot in Matthew's story-line where these actions could have happened.
      This incongruity is like the inconsistencies we observe in film and
      television, which naturally occur in the course of constructing a
      narrative. Matthew has created a narrative which depicts one person
      saying that something happens when the story has no point at which such
      a thing could happen.

      The cause of the incongruity would seem to be that Matthew tires of his
      initial concern. At the beginning of his account he is keen to deal with
      the totality of Jesus' many deeds being the sign that he was the Christ.
      At the end of the story, however, Matthew has apparently tired of this
      and portrays Jesus as alluding merely to his activities during the visit
      of the disciples of John. This apparent fatigue by Matthew is what
      causes the difficulty in the story.

      In his version, Luke has a fuller description of John instructing
      his disciples and of their coming and putting his question to Jesus
      (verses 18-20). Luke then describes what the disciples of John saw Jesus
      doing - "In that hour he cured many of diseases and plagues and evil
      spirits, and on many that were blind he bestowed sight" (verse 21). The
      end of the story in Luke (verses 22-23) is then virtually word-for-word
      the same as the end of Matthew's account (11.4-6). This common ending to
      the two accounts includes the use of the verb EUAGGELIZW - "preach the
      good news". This occurs 25 times in Luke/Acts (10 times in Luke), but
      only once in Matthew (here in the passage we are considering, of course)
      and not once in Mark. Also, the verb APAGGELLW - "tell" (in Mt 11.4 //
      Lk 7.22), is found 11 times in Luke. We should note, therefore, that at
      the end of his account, Matthew agrees in wording closely with the
      gospel of Luke where there is wording characteristic of the gospel of

      Luke does not have a Messianic statement parallel to the one found at
      the beginning of Matthew's story. Moreover, Luke has a description of
      things Jesus did during the visit of the disciples of John in a
      dedicated slot in the story which is separate from Jesus giving his
      answer to John's disciples. So the incongruity in Matthew is not to be
      found in Luke.

      We therefore have two passages, one in Matthew and the other in Luke,
      such that -

      (1) At the beginning of his account, Matthew uses language
      characteristic of his gospel to stress that the many deeds Jesus
      accomplished indicate that he is the Christ, whereas this does not
      happen in Luke's account,
      (2) Matthew later agrees with Luke, including the use of some words
      characteristic of the gospel of Luke, to refer to some of the deeds of
      Jesus which happened during the visit of the disciples of John, and
      (3) the result is that the account in Matthew is incongruous in a way in
      which the account in Luke is not.

      I think that the two passages, Mt 11.2-6 and Lk 7.18-23 on "The Question
      of John to Jesus" are therefore an example of fatigue in Matthew with
      respect to Luke. As he uses the material found in Luke (which may have
      been in a source Luke used), Matthew tired of his initial concern to
      affirm that the totality of the deeds of Jesus showed him to be the
      Christ, and lapsed into considering just some of Jesus' deeds during the
      visit of the disciples of John, resulting in the difficulty observed in
      the story in Matthew, but not in Luke.

      As far as I know, this is the only example of fatigue in Matthew with
      respect to material found in Luke. I would suggest, however, that the
      implications of just this one instance are considerable.

      Best wishes,

      E-mail; brian@... HOMEPAGE www.twonh.demon.co.uk
      Rev B.E.Wilson,10 York Close,Godmanchester,Huntingdon,Cambs,PE29 2EB,UK
      > "What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot
      > speak thereof one must be silent." Ludwig Wittgenstein, "Tractatus".
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