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How Luke reworked Matthews Conclusion


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The very concept of textual criticism is one that christians tend to breeze over.  On one hand, having to “harmonize” differing gospel passages of the same event means that none of the authors got it right in the first place.  Bart Ehrman says that the fact that we have multiple gospels is “good news” for critics of the bible.  On the other hand, all we have are copies of copies of the original text of the bible; they contain lots of mistakes and variant readings, and a lot of work goes into reconstructing what we think the originals were.  I was just watching this video
https://youtu.be/lsKRQnpemYc?t=485
and at 8:05, Dr. Lewis Foster, one of the translators of the New International Version, is explaining the process of reconstructing the originals from the differing copies that we have.  The fundamental belief is that the originals were inerrant, they are god’s word, and they are the basis of our entire faith.  But this god, who can work miracles, was unable to preserve his word without error.  🙄  If all our copies were identical, that would have been a pretty good miracle.  The myth of the translation of the greek septuagint from the hebrew old testament was that seventy scholars translated it independently, and their translations were all identical.  Much better than what we are left with today.

 


Here is what I would call a “howler”:  the cursing of the fig tree.  In both gospels it happens right after the triumphal entry, so it was not two separate events.  Note that in Matthew, the tree withered right away, but in Mark it happened the next day, with the cleansing of the temple in between.  And the best part of all, Mark points out that Jesus cursed the tree for not having fruit when it was not the season for figs.


Matthew 21
[The triumphal entry]
[Jesus cleanses the temple]
Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry.  And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.”  Immediately the fig tree withered away.  And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?”


Mark 11
[The triumphal entry]
Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry.  And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it.  When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.  In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.”  And His disciples heard it.
[Jesus cleanses the temple]
Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.  And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.”


We had an assignment to write up word harmonies of several passages from the gospels so we would see how identical they were; I guess it was supposed to strengthen our faith.  We were never assigned to harmonize this one . . . .

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I always wondered why he didn't make the figs fruit right there instead of killing the tree for being normal.

He's a snippy fussbudget. There, I said it.

 

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55 minutes ago, Fuego said:

I always wondered why he didn't make the figs fruit right there instead of killing the tree for being normal.

 

You’d think . . . .

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5 hours ago, Fuego said:

I always wondered why he didn't make the figs fruit right there instead of killing the tree for being normal.

He's a snippy fussbudget. There, I said it.

 

It was meant to be an object lesson about what would happen to his followers if they were lukewarm and did not bear the fruit of saving lost souls.

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On 2/15/2020 at 12:56 PM, TEG said:

On one hand, having to “harmonize” differing gospel passages of the same event means that none of the authors got it right in the first place.

 

Technically, that's not true. It could easily be simply a matter of the accounts being incomplete or only some of them being wrong, not necessarily that they're all wrong. I do agree that the Bible is fiction and these accounts are not trustworthy narratives, but I felt the need to point out that your statement does not logically follow.

 

Other than that, I agree with what you've written. I mainly wanted to add an interesting twist to this:

 

On 2/15/2020 at 12:56 PM, TEG said:

Here is what I would call a “howler”:  the cursing of the fig tree.  In both gospels it happens right after the triumphal entry, so it was not two separate events.  Note that in Matthew, the tree withered right away, but in Mark it happened the next day, with the cleansing of the temple in between.  And the best part of all, Mark points out that Jesus cursed the tree for not having fruit when it was not the season for figs.


Matthew 21
[The triumphal entry]
[Jesus cleanses the temple]
Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry.  And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.”  Immediately the fig tree withered away.  And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?”


Mark 11
[The triumphal entry]
Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry.  And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it.  When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.  In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.”  And His disciples heard it.
[Jesus cleanses the temple]
Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.  And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.”


We had an assignment to write up word harmonies of several passages from the gospels so we would see how identical they were; I guess it was supposed to strengthen our faith.  We were never assigned to harmonize this one . . . .

 

An agnostic friend of mine is really into the writings of Bishop John Shelby Spong and has shared some of his writings with me. Although I don't care for the religious side of Spong's writings, when it comes to putting Bible stories in their historical context, he often raises interesting points.

 

One of the Spong newsletters that my friend gave me is called "Examining the Story of the Cross; Part 2: Did the Crucifixion of Jesus Occur at Passover?" In it he argues that the crucifixion wasn't originally connected to the Passover. The story was from later in the year but moved to the time of the Passover for liturgical reasons. In the middle of that newsletter there is a paragraph that includes discussion about the cursing of the fig tree. Here it is:

 

Quote

A deeper search of Mark reveals that he gives us yet another clue.  It is found in a strange narrative that Mark places on the day after the triumphal procession of Jesus into Jerusalem.  In Mark’s story this Sunday procession went to the Temple where Jesus only looked around at the money changers and then he and his disciples went to Bethany, a couple of miles outside Jerusalem to spend the night.  Bethany is identified elsewhere in the New Testament as the home of Mary and Martha, so perhaps they spent the night there.  The next morning Mark says that Jesus and his followers returned to Jerusalem.  This was to be, Mark proceeds to tell us, the day of the “Cleansing of the Temple” when Jesus drove out the money changers.  On his way to the city Mark says that Jesus was hungry and, seeing a fig tree in the distance, he went to it in search of fruit.  The fig tree, however, was bare.  Fig trees in the northern hemisphere do not bear fruit in late March.  Disappointed that his hunger was not satisfied Mark says that Jesus laid a curse on the fig tree.  When they returned to Bethany that evening following the cleansing of the Temple episode, they noted that the fig tree had in fact shriveled up and died.  To say the least this is a strange story and for Jesus to lay a curse on the fig tree for not producing fruit in March is quite un-Jesus like.  Is it possible that that this story was originally located in the fall season when figs should appear on fig trees, but as the crucifixion was brought liturgically into being observed at the time of the Passover, this story was dragged along with the crucifixion story creating this strange anomaly?

 

https://eruptionofhope.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/examining-the-story-of-the-cross-by-bishop-john-s-spong/

 

So, in addition to the fact that the versions of the story in Matthew and Mark are contradictory, the silliness of cursing the fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season may be an unintended consequence of restructuring the stories for theological reasons. That's certainly interesting to think about.

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Hyam Maccoby theorized that Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem was in fall, i.e. at Succoth, not in spring, because Succoth is festival for palm branches (only last year’s dried fronds are available in spring), and Succoth looks forward to messianic king. But the gospel writers' moving the events to Passover allowed the equation, Jesus as Passover Lamb.

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As in, fall going into the winter solstice when the sun stands still for three days? Three months later, the days become longer than the nights as the sun's victory over darkness is observed. The connections between christmas and passover / easter are very astrotheological in direction. I've read a lot about these connections and reasons for why they exist from mythicist writers.

 

You have the sun's dying for three days over the winter solstice and resurrecting the day after the winter solstice. That's also the birth of the sun's new annual cycle. The next big astrotheological event is the spring equinox, when the days get longer than the nights. The next event is the full moon following the spring equinox, which, is passover and christians jumped on it to celebrate easter at the same time. Which ever way its spun, the fact is that it's a "luni-solar" religious celebration for jews and christians, on a sliding scale on the calendar specifically depending on when the sun crosses the equinox and the moon is full thereafter. 

 

Looking back at the gospels with this in mind, there are reflections of these various seasonal markers that can be teased out of the narratives. Here's a link to a book that looks at Mark this way: 

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RW79Q1L/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

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On 2/15/2020 at 12:56 PM, TEG said:

Mark 11
[The triumphal entry]
Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry.  And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it.  When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.  In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.”  And His disciples heard it.
[Jesus cleanses the temple]
Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.  And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.”

 

Keep in mind that Mark is before Matthew. Matthew's story then comes as an abbreviation of Mark's account: 

 

On 2/15/2020 at 12:56 PM, TEG said:

Matthew 21
[The triumphal entry]
[Jesus cleanses the temple]
Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry.  And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.”  Immediately the fig tree withered away.  And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?”

 

You can clearly see that this is like a chinese whisper where the older account is degrading and losing context and detail as it's retold. But whatever the case may be, it's clear that whatever Mark was writing, for whatever reason, Matthew is retelling it without attention to detail and context and content is being lost as it's passed along. Matthew is skipping through Mark's details adding more miracles and supernaturalism to the story. The supernatural and sensationalism ramps up from Mark, to Matthew and Luke, and then John. What happened slower, over time in Mark, happened immediately in Matthew for effect. 

 

And Mark was already changing the seasons to project fall to spring, by adding the detail about not being in season for figs. Possibly changed from an earlier rendition which had the scene places in fall when the tree should have had fruit, didn't, and was cursed for not bearing fruit in season. 

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21 hours ago, Citsonga said:

 

Technically, that's not true. It could easily be simply a matter of the accounts being incomplete or only some of them being wrong, not necessarily that they're all wrong. I do agree that the Bible is fiction and these accounts are not trustworthy narratives, but I felt the need to point out that your statement does not logically follow.

 

True; I was thinking of harmonizations we used to do, such as of the post-resurrection at the tomb, where everyone saw it from a different angle, at different times, and you have to put it together like a puzzle to get the whole picture.  People would be all proud that they had figured it out; but these were supposedly inspired writers, not just simple eyewitnesses, so why would they write three seemingly contradictory narratives rather than “the truth”?  Or so I used to wonder.

 

The allegorical interpretations about the seasons are interesting.  I don’t think anyone I knew growing up would ever let such thoughts enter their head.  The bible was true because that’s how it happened, and that was all there was to it.  None of that “liberal” stuff . . . .

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3 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

the fact is that it's a "luni

You misspelled "looney".

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3 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

Looking back at the gospels with this in mind, there are reflections of these various seasonal markers that can be teased out of the narratives. Here's a link to a book that looks at Mark this way: 

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RW79Q1L/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

 

It was fun to read the 1 and 2-star reviews.

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21 hours ago, TEG said:

 

It was fun to read the 1 and 2-star reviews.

 

Especially the, 'It's all just satan trying to trick us about Jesus' review. 

 

Guys like Darlison and Sponge have tried making sense out of the content of the gospels. Reaching for some type of way of accepting the non-historical stories as non-historical, but remaining in their churches anyways. It's weird. But understandable.

 

It's actually not very different from what we see often regarding people going to deism. Same type of motivation. Having the apriori assumption that something must have designed the universe, learning problems with religion, stepping away from religion, but still holding on to the original apriori assumption through a deist belief.

 

The problem with guys like Darlison and Sponge is how they try and apply the discoveries of the pagan influences (the pagan god parallels, astrotheology, solar and lunar worship, etc., etc.) on the NT to their liberal christianity. They reach for conclusions that some how there must be a deeper meaning involved that doesn't constitute the bible as throw away, basically. 

 

I tend to think it's throw away, myself, aside from something to be studied from an historical standpoint. I don't see any clear way of anyone justifying belief in the bible no matter which way it's spun. And I've seen it spun in a lot of directions. Especially liberal one's appealing to metaphor and such. There are lot better written "metaphors" in the world besides the judeo-christian bible, so that's a dead end pretty much.......

 

 

 

 

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