Fatigue in keeping time
Fatigue is one of the clues utilized by biblical scholars to determine whether or not one gospel is dependent upon another. Mark Goodacre explains that “Editorial fatigue is a phenomenon that will inevitably occur when a writer is heavily dependent on another's work. In telling the same story as his predecessor, a writer makes changes in the early stages which he is unable to sustain throughout.” Goodacre examined fatigue at the pericope level. However he did not consider fatigue in the larger context.
It is undisputed that the synoptic gospels presents the passion account using Jewish time while the Gospel of John presents the passion account using Roman time. In John 19:14-15, Jesus was before Pilate at about the sixth hour; but in Matthew 27:45-46; Mark 15:33-34 and Luke 23:42-46, Jesus was on the cross at the sixth hour. Some scholars assert that the conflict is easily resolved by recognizing John is using Roman time. F.F. Bruce disagrees.
The interesting question is whether the Synoptics consistently presented the gospel narrative using Jewish time. If one or more of the synoptic gospels presented other portion of the gospel narrative using Roman time, would this be an example of editorial fatigue?
The Jewish night was divided into three watches: (Exodus 14:24; Judges 7:19; 1 Samuel 11:11). Under the Roman system, the period from sunrise to sunset had four watches in twelve hours, the sixth hour being at midday. This is the Roman time divisions:
First watch - Sunset To 9 P. M.
Second Watch - 9 P. M. To Midnight
Third Watch - Midnight To 3 A. M.
Fourth Watch - 3 A. M. To Sunrise.
In the “walking on the sea” pericope, Matthew [14:25] and Mark [6:48] both describe the event as occurring during the fourth watch. This story does not appear in Luke but in Lk. 12:38 the Lucan Jesus says: “If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants!” The Gospel of Luke does not have any examples of the use of Roman time.
Are Matthew and Mark guilty of editorial fatigue? Were they unable to sustain the use of Roman time throughout their gospel? It is rather easy to demonstrate that both Matthew and Mark have copied the Lucan passion account which we will do so in another article. In doing so Matthew and Mark slipped and switched from Roman time to Jewish time without realizing it.
This is a work in progress.
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