Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Friends of the Crucified One

There are significant differences between what Luke reports in his account during the Passion from what Matthew and Mark report. A cursory examination of the four gospels reveals that they are all written around the cross. The four books contain a disproportionate amount of material about the death and resurrection. Everything in each of the four gospels leads up to this momentous event. Depending upon which account you review, one-sixth to one-third of the gospel is devoted to events associated with the passion and everything else is in some way introductory to the passion of Jesus. Martin Kahler's classic description of the gospels as “passion narratives with extended introductions” says it all. Thus if it can be demonstrated that “the correct sequence of events” of the passion is reported by Luke and that Matthew and Mark have corrupted the details, then a credible argument has been shown in support of the priority of Luke.

Three times Luke mentions the multitude of Jewish people present at the crucifixion who are sympathetic to Jesus. These references are missing from Matthew and Mark. Matthew and Mark also omit the weeping over Jerusalem pericope consistent with their omission of the theme present in Luke that Jerusalem is the focal point and centrality of location to which Jesus returns. That Jesus would weep for his people is consistent with what one would expect a Jewish prophet to do. Matthew and Mark have not adopted the Isaianic motif of the city.

Luke also records: “And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance and saw these things.” The word “saw” is also used in connection with the Roman centurion who praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent.” It is not credible that the centurion would say, “Surely this man was the son of God” as reported in Mark.

Mark has introduced into his account a hostile, mocking crowd of non-Christian Jews who are enemies of Jesus. Justin Martyr quoted three times (Dialogue 76:4; 120:5-6 and 140-4) the passage in Matthew 8:11-12 as scriptural proof of the displacement of guilty Israel by the Christian church.

As I have noted “The Lucan Parable of the Wicked Tenants” is not directed against the people. Someone who writes a book tying his history to the whole course of the salvation history of God's people wherein laos is used thirty-seven times and the people are the recipient of God's promised deliverance, is not writing about the rejection of God's people. In Luke, the chief priests “feared the people” but in Matthew and Mark “they feared the crowd/multitude” with Matthew adding “because they regarded him as a prophet.” That God's people in Luke became “crowd/multitude” in Matthew and Mark is a nuance indicative of their hostile treatment of the Jewish people. The Lucan Jesus has neither rejected the Jewish people nor implied that the Gentiles have replaced them.

Thus Luke’s treatment of the people of Israel at the crucifixion is consistent with his treatment of the people in the Parable of the Wicked Tenants.

Copyrighted 2005


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