Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Hidden Things: A Clue to the Synoptic Solution

I have been reviewing how Luke uses OT material, and on occasion looking at OT material not used by Luke but used by Matthew and/or Mark. For instance, Matthew introduces Psalm 78:2 in his 13th chapter with a quotation formula that has resulted in considerably scholarly speculation.

“All this Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed he said nothing to them without a parable. This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet [Isaiah]: ‘I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.’” This passage from Matthew 13:34-35 is one of fourteen fulfillment formula quotations appearing in the Gospel of Matthew.

The words, in bold type, follow the Septuagint of Psalm 78. The MT uses the word, “parable.” In the second half of the verse, the Septuagint states: “I will utter dark sayings which have been from the beginning” while the MT states: “I will utter dark sayings of old.” The second half of what Matthew wrote may be based upon these words from Isaiah 29:14 which state: “and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hid."

Although I have included Isaiah in brackets as the prophet who spoke, the Revised Standard Version omits Isaiah. Yet it appears, there is a good basis for including Isaiah in that some of the early manuscripts have included the name. In the transmission, some copyists believing that Matthew was in error, as to who spoke, omitted his name. It is mere speculation but if Matthew intends to allude to Isaiah 29:14, then the ascription to him is done to direct the attention of the reader to this verse from Isaiah.

Neither Luke nor Mark use Psalm 78 in their gospel. Mark does include in 4:33-34, “With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.” However, as Michael Turton has noted, with respect to these verses: “Redactional from the writer of Mark, containing his themes of secrecy. Note the irony of ‘he explained everything to his disciples’ in conjunction with the author's presentation of the Twelve as confused, ignorant, hard-hearted, and anxious for personal aggrandizement. Numerous exegetes have argued that v34 is an insertion (Sellew 1990).”

The theme of secrecy that is present in Mark use to puzzle me. Matthew, Mark and Luke (8:10) all include: “To you has been given the secrets of the kingdom of God;” which in Luke continues: “but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.’” Mark’s version differs slightly.

Matthew’s continuation appears to be a quotation from Isaiah 6:9-10. Gundry asserts the quotation is in “exact agreement with Acts [28:26-27], even in the omission of the same word, shows that the quotation has been interpolated from Acts.”

Seven verses later, Luke in 8:17 states: “For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light.” Mark in 4:22 includes: “For there is nothing hidden except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light.” Luke utilized Deuteronomy 30:11 which states: “For this commandment which I command thee this day, it [is] not hidden from thee, neither [is] it far off” and Mark copied
it from Luke. Neither Plummer not Bock recognized that Luke utilized Deuteronomy as the source of his allusion.

Mark constructed a secrecy theme contrary to what he wrote in 4:22. The idea of unbelief and obduracy present in the 14:35 quotation in its Matthean context is probably the source of Mark’s secrecy theme. Matthew demonized the crowd which to him represented the Jews who do not believe. Mark demonized the disciples because they did not understand that there no longer was a need to offer sacrifices in the Temple.

These things are no longer hidden!

Copyrighted 2006

Gospel of Luke


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