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The Synoptic Gospels

Harold S. Reeves

I. Textual Tradition of the New Testament

A. Basic Facts - There are approximately 3,300 mss. of the Greek NT, copied between the 2d and 17th century,
plus over 2,200 lectionary mss. containing sections (pericopes) of the NT arranged for reading in Church
Liturgy. Copyists often made mistakes. Copyists often felt impelled to improve the Greek they had received,
either correcting/updating spelling or adding explanatory phrases, harmonizing the Gospels (within one of the
gospels), and even omitting things that seemed dubious. Old mss. are not always better. For example, a 10th
Century mss. might be the only surviving copy of a 2nd century ms., and therefore a more reliable witness than
a 3rd century ms.
1. Two types of handwriting are used in Greek manuscripts.
a. Uncial, which might be compared to our handprinted block capitals.
b. Minuscules: refers to cursive or connected small letters.
2. Chapter and Verse
a. Stephen Langton divided the NT into chapters in the 13th Century.
b. Robert Stephanus divided the NT into verses in 1551.
B. Textual Families - Scholars have bunched surviving manuscripts together into four primary families. These
do not reflect uncontaminated descent from an archetype.
1. Alexandrian - By the end of the 2d Century, there was a flourishing school of scribes, who had a
sophisticated appreciation of Greek. School is marked by shorter readings.
2. Western- Describes texts the circulated in the West. Textual readings of this group are longer than the
lean and spare Alexandrian readings as if words have been added; but in a number of significant instances
in Luke, the Western text omits what is found in the Alexandrian.
3. Caesarean - In the 3d and 4th centuries, Caesarea was the most important Christian center in Palestine.
The basic text in this group was probably brought here from Egypt in the early 3d Century.
4. Byantine or Koine - Late and secondary development. This conflated texts that smooths out difficulties
and harmonizes differences. The textus receptus that underlay the KJV NT exemplified this tradition.
C. Texts and Manuscripts
1. Papyri – Egypt continues to yield papyri, dating from the 2d to the 8th Centuries. Roughly 100 have been
discovered since 1890.
a. P52 – John Rylands Papyrus 456 – Small scrap of paper with John 18: 31-34. Dates to 135. Makes
late dating of John impossible.
b. P46 – Chester Beatty Papyrus II – 86 codex pages ca. 200, containing Pauline epistles. Ceasarean.
c. P66 – Bodmer Papyrus II – ca. 200 – containing a heavily corrected text of John. Close to the
d. P75 – Bodmer Papyri XIV-XV - ca. 225 – containing Luke 2:18-18-18, and Luke 22:4 – John 15:8.
2. Great Uncial Codies: These books, consisting of vellum or parchment pages written in block letters,
were most prominent from the 3d to the 9th centuries. 300 survive:
a. B – Codex Vaticanus - Mid 4th Century – Lacks the last part of the NT. It exemplifies the
Alexandrian type of text and is thought by most scholars to be the best witness to the original NT text.
b. S – Codex Sinaiticus - Mid 4th Century – Whole NT plus Barnabas and Shepherd of Hermas. It
follows the Alexandrian tradition in the Gospels and Acts, but elsewhere it has western
c. A – Codex Alexandrinus - An early 5th Century ms, once contained the whole NT. Pages have been
lost. In the gospels, the text is Byzantine, but Alexandrian in the rest of the NT.
d. D – Codex Bezae - 5th Century – Contains Matt, John, Luke, Mark, III John, and Acts in Latin and
Greek on facing pages. The chief representative of the Western tradition.
3. Minuscules - About the 9th Century, a cursive writing style began to supersede the uncial, and there are
nearly 2,900 NT mss. in this script. Two families of them are witnesses of the Caesarean text tradition.

II. Some Important Methods of Biblical Study

A. The distinction between Diachronic and Synchronic Approaches
When examining a phenomenon there are two basic ways of looking at it: as it exists at some particular
moment (synchronic study) or as it develops and changes across time (diachronic study). Diachronic is from
the Greek, meaning “across time”. Synchronic is from the Greek, meaning “with time.”
1. Synchronic modes of interpretation explain the text as it stands, on the basis of the mutual relationships
between its diverse elements, and with an eye to its character as a message communicated by the author to
his contemporaries. Methods which insist upon a synchronic understanding of texts look especially to
language, composition, narrative structure and capacity for persuasion.
2. Diachronic modes of interpretation explain the historical development of texts or traditions across the
passage of time.
B. Source Criticism: Also called QuellenKritik.
1. Jean Astruc: The origin of the method may be traced to the eighteenth century. A French physician, Jean
Astruc, published a commentary on Genesis in 1753 which asserted that the book was not a single literary
composition but rather a composite of two primary documents that are distinguishable by their use of
different names for God—Jehovah and Elohim. Astruc speculated that Moses simply used and edited
these two basic documents.
2. Julius Wellhausen worked out the theory of the four sources to the Pentateuch in his Prolegomena to the
History of Israel (1878). The Four sources were the Yahwist, the Elohist, the Deuteronomic, and the
C. Form Criticism
The branch of biblical studies that classifies the various literary genres, studies their features, and considers
how and where such forms were actually used in the “life setting” of the religious communities.
1. Major Figures of Form Criticism:
a. Hermann Gunkel (1862-1932) was one of the giants of modern biblical scholarship, widely regarded
as the founder of the form-critical and history-of religion methods in Old Testament study which have
set the agenda for biblical research for decades. His commentary on Genesis (1901) and his two
volume commentary on the Psalms (posthumous, 1933) first applied form criticism to those two
works. It was in The Legends of Genesis: The Biblical Saga and History (1901) that he first applied
his dastardly new method of Biblical criticism, formulating several key principles to guide his work.
⨿ Biblical writers are not authors so much as collectors & editors;
⨿ The forms of oral story telling reflect the social situation (Sitz im Leben) for which they were
originally composed;
⨿ Changes in social situation lead to changes in forms of communication;
⨿ oral forms follow set patterns; so, stylistic inconsistencies (gaps, digressions, etc.) indicate later
alteration of the original material.
These principles allowed Gunkel to reconstruct the social history behind the written sources of the
Hebrew Pentateuch. On the basis of careful formal analysis of the biblical narrative he traced passages
to early or late stages of the oral tradition or to the editorial work of some later scribe.
b. Martin Dibelius (1883-1947)- pioneering NT scholar who adapted H. Gunkel’s principles of OT
form criticism to research on the synoptic gospels. Dibelius, who was born at Dresden, taught at
Berlin (1910) before becoming professor of NT at Heidelberg (1915). Dibelius insisted that the gospel
writers were collectors rather than authors. They did not fabricate their preaching material but merely
polished the elements of previous oral tradition. Thus, he proposed to trace these elements to the
“natural state” by separating the original oral units from the composite structures of the gospel
c. R. Bultmann (1884-1976) - Lutheran “scholar” who carried way to far when it comes to the NT
message. Basically, combines dialectical theology with Lutheran Sola Fide to make an almost
complete hiatus between history and faith, leaving only the bare fact of Christ crucified as necessary
for Christian faith.
2. Three Stages of the Form Critical Method:
a. Delimitation of the Units of Analysis
Here, we separate out the self contained units in the text. We work down to the single law, the
individual proverb, the speech of a prophet, etc. It is tougher to reach this level of the basic unit when
it comes to the prophetic books, but it is not impossible.
b. Identification of the Form of the Unit: we try to identify the literary form, the genre, or the
gattung.type. Gunkel asked three questions here: 1: Who is speaking? 2) Who is the addressee? and 3)
What is the purpose of the speaking?
c. Attempted determination of literary form.
3. Sitz im leben: “Institutionalized context in which literary or oral form is given to meet some need.”
Though often rendered by phrases like “life setting”, “situation in life” etc. the German term Sitz im Leben
is usually best translated by “sociological setting” or left untranslated. For, as a technical term, it refers to
the typical setting of a genre. Amos 4:4-5 is a short speech, in its shape it follows the pattern of a torah.
However, Amos is not a priest and his “instructions” are evidently ironic. So one might speak of the Sitz
im Leben of a torah “instruction” being: a priest at a sanctuary instructing worshipers in their duties and
obligations, while the setting of the torah which we recognise in Am 4:4-5 is rather different, a prophet
condemns “de luxe” worship in an unjust society.
D. Redaction Criticism – Redaction criticism studies the modifications that these texts have undergone before
being fixed in their final state, it also analyzes this final stage, trying as far as possible to identify the
tendencies particularly characteristic of this concluding process. It accomplishes these aims by a systematic
analysis of an author’s techniques of integrating source material into a literary work. By studying narrative
transitions, repeated themes, & organization of material, the redaction critic tries to clarify that author’s
personal views, the character of the original audience & the circumstances that prompted the composition.
1. Redaktionsgeschichte shares with source criticism the analysis of the formation of the biblical text. It
builds in source and form criticism, therefore, in the same way form criticism can be said to build on
source criticism .Redaktionsgeschichte is, however, especially concerned with the function of the editor. It
is, in short, editorial criticism.
2. Martin Noth: Martin Noth pioneered a new way of understanding the composition and development of
the Pentateuch called tradition history. Instead of viewing the Pentateuch as composed of four written
sources, Noth argued that blocks of material developed around the key historical experiences of the early
Israelites. His major work on the Pentateuch is entitled A History of Pentateuchal Traditions (1948). Noth
saw the evolution of the written sources as a dynamic process of reworking and expansion as the tradition
developed in conversation with the ongoing history of the Israelite people. He identified the Priestly
source as the backbone of the Pentateuch to which the Yahwist and Elohist sources were added.
3. The Approach - The approach asks two questions about the work of the redactor:
a. On what basis did he arrange the text as he arranged it;
b. Did the redaktor make a personal contribution to the text.

III. The Jewish and Hellenistic Backgrounds of the New Testament

A. The History of the Jews
1. The Jews Under the Greeks (331-165).
a. Conquests of Alexander the Great (334-323). Alexander conquered the Persian empire between
334-323. His achievement would have a heavy influence on Israel. Alexander viewed himself as more
than a conqueror, he wanted to unite all peoples and cultures under one language, religion, and
culture. His final culminating battle with the Persians had been at Gaugamela in 331. Here, he
defeated Darius III completely. Persians had been over-confident in their armies. Their troops were
generally neither as loyal nor as well trained as the Greeks and Macedonians under Alexander.
b. Judea under the Greek Kings of Egypt, the Ptolemies (323-198). Alexander’s empire was divided
up among his generals after his death. They were known collectively as the Diodichi. Two would
come to rule over the Jews.
1. Ptolemy I “Soter” - Ptolemy I became king of Egypt; hence, it tended to be called the Ptolemaic
Kingdom. This kingdom survived until 30 BC, when Egypt fell to the Romans. Its capital was
Alexandria, which became a center of Diaspora Jewry. Jews were ruled by the Ptolemies from
323 to 198. We have little information about this period; although the Ptolemies seem to have
been rather benign provided the taxes were paid.
2. Seleucus I - Nicator, Victor- Seleucid Kingdom existed until 64 BC when it was incorporated
into Rome. Its territory included Mesopotamia and Syria. Its capital was Antioch.
c. Judea under Greek kings of Syria, the Seleucids 1(198-165) - The Seleucids wrested control of
Palestine from the Ptolemies in 198, after many unsuccesful attempts. This rule was at first benign.
Then, in 175, Antiochus IV Epiphanes took control.
d. Perseuction by Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-163). - Antiochus IV Epiphanes ruled from 175-163.
He attempted to impose Greek ways on his subjects. The Maccabees and the Hasmoneans revolved.
They succeeded under the leadership of Judas Maccabeus. His subjects referred to him as epimanes,
the “madman.” He is described in 1 Macc 1. Antiochus orders scrolls of the law destroyed.
2. Maccabees and Hasmoneans - Antiochus provoked a revolt under which the Jews sought to obtain their
freedom. It was led by a priestly family, knwon as the Maccabees. Judas Maccabeus, the Hammer. The
family was settled in Modein. The King’s officers went to Modein to force the family to sacrifice. They
offered honor of the king to do so. They killed the kings officers. “Everyone zealous for the law come
with me!” Matthias died shortly after the revolt began. his son Judas took charge. he was a successful
military leader, and defeated the Greek armies that came against him. They expelled the Greeks and
rededicated the temple.
a. The Maccabees were a priestly family which under the leadership of Mathathias initiated the revolt
against the tyranny of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, King of Syria, and after securing Jewish
independence ruled the commmonwealth till overthrown by Herod the Great.
b. Mattathias: Patriarch of the family; initiated the revolt against the Greeks.

c. Judas, Jonathan, and Simon are the sons of Mattathias.
1. Judas Machabeus (166-161 B. C.). Judas defeated and killed Apollonius, and shortly after routed Seron at
Bethoron (I Mach., 3, 1-26). Lysias, the regent during Antiochus’s absence in the East, then sent a large
army under the three generals Ptolemee, Nicanor and Gorgias. Judas’s little army unexpectedly fell on the
main body of the enemy at Emmaus (later Nicopolis, now Amwâs) in the absence of Gorgias, and put it to
rout before the latter could come to its aid; whereupon Gorgias took to flight (I Mach., 3, 27-4, 25; II
Mach., 8). The next year Lysias himself took the field with a still larger force; but he, too, was defeated at
Bethsura (not Bethoron as in the Vulgate). Judas now occupied Jerusalem, though the Acra still remained in
the hands of the Syrians. The temple was cleansed and rededicated on the day on which three years before it
had been profaned (I Mach., 4, 28-61; II Mach., 10, 1-8).. After the death of Antiochus Epiphanes (164 B.
C.) Lysias led two more expeditions into Judea. The first ended with another defeat at Bethsura, and with
the granting of freedom of worship to the Jews (II Mach., 11). In the second, in which Lysias was
accompanied by his ward, Antiochus V Eupator, Judas suffered a reverse at Bethzacharam (where Eleazar
died a glorious death); and Lysias laid siege to Jerusalem. Just then troubles concerning the regency
required his presence at home; he therefore concluded peace on condition that the city be surrendered (I
Mach., 6, 21-63; II Mach., 13). As the object for which the rebellion was begun had been obtained, the
Assideans seceded from Judas when Demetrius I, who in the meanwhile had dethroned Antiochus V,
installed Alcimus, “a priest of the seed of Aaron”, as high-priest (I Mach., 7, 1-19). Judas, however, seeing
that the danger to religion would remain as long as the Hellenists were in power, would not lay down his
arms till the country was freed of these men. Nicanor was sent to the aid of Alcimus, but was twice defeated
and lost his life in the second encounter (I Mach., 7, 20-49; II Mach., 14, 11-xv, 37). Judas now sent a
deputation to Rome to solicit Roman interference; but before the senate’s warning reached Demetrius,
Judas with only 800 men risked a battle at Laisa (or Elasa) with a vastly superior force under Baccides, and
fell overwhelmed by numbers (I Mach., 8-9, 20). Thus perished a man worthy of Israel’s most heroic days.
He was buried beside his father at Modin (161 B. C.).
2. Jonathan (161-143 B. C.). - The handful of men who still remained faithful to Judas’s policy chose
Jonathan as their leader. John was soon after killed by Arabs near Madaba, and Jonathan with his little army
escaped the hands of Bacchides only by swimming the Jordan. Their cause seemed hopeless. Gradually,
however, the number of adherents increased and the Hellenists were again obliged to call for help. During
the next four years Jonathan was practically the master of the country. Then began a series of contests for
the Syrian crown, which Jonathan turned to such good account that by shrewd diplomacy he obtained more
than his brother had been able to win by his generalship and his victories.
3. Simon: (143-135 B. C.). - Simon frustrated Tryphon’s attempt to invade Judea. Tryphon in revenge killed
Jonathan with his two sons whom Simon had sent as hostages on Tryphon’s promise to liberate Jonathan (I
Mach., 13, 1-23). Simon obtained from Demetrius II exemption from taxation and thereby established the
independence of Judea. To secure communication with the port of Joppe, which he had occupied
immediately upon his appointment, he seized Gazara (the ancient Gazer or Gezer) and settled it with Jews.
He also finally drove the Syrian garrison out of the Acra. In recognition of his services the people decreed
that the high- priesthood and the supreme command, civil and military, should be hereditary in his family.
After five years of peace and prosperity under his wise rule Judea was threatened by Antiochus VII Sidetes,
but his general Cendebeus was defeated at Modin by Judas and John, Simon’s sons. A few months later
Simon was murdered with two of his sons by his ambitious son-in-law Ptolemy (D.V. Ptolemee), and was
buried at Modin with his parents and brothers, over whose tombs he had erected a magnificent monument (I
Mach., xiii, 25-xvi, 17). After him the race quickly degenerated.
d. The name Maccabee was originally the surname of Judas, the third son of Mattathias, but was later
extended to all the descendants of Mattathias, and even to all who took part in the rebellion. It is also
given to the martyrs mentioned in II Mach., vi, 18-vii. Of the various explanations of the word the one
given above is the most probable. Machabee would accordingly mean “hammerer” or “hammer-like”,
and would have been given to Judas because of his valour in combat.
e. Hasmoneans: The family patronymic of the Machabees was Hasmoneans or Asmoneans, from
Hashmon, Gr. Asamonaios, an ancestor of Mathathias. Hasmonean is now commonly applied to the
princes of the dynasty founded by Simon, the last of the sons of Mathathias.
f. Hasideans: The Hasideans were the conservative Jews in Palestine (the name means, the pious, or the
godly, who in the 2d Century BC endeavored to maintain the traditional Hebrew Law, with its scribal
interpretations, against the prevalent Hellenizing influences. When the Maccabees revolted under
Mattathias in 168, the Hasideans at first supported him, but after the securing of religious freedom in
162, they refused to fight for national independence. They were probably the ancestors of the
4. A Century of Jewish Independence under the Maccabees/Hasmoneans (165-63).
4. The Coming of Rome – 63 BC.

B. Jewish Religious Groups and Movements
1. The Pharisees - A group, probably descended from the Hasideans, that recognized the oral law and the
Torah. They were separatists, mostly a lay group. They believed in angel and devils, in the resurrection,
an afterlife of reward and punishment, and the coming of the Messiah. The Pharisees were a popular
movement, often at odds with the priests in Jerusalem. They were deeply concerned with the cultural and
religious crisis of the day: How does one live as a faithful Jew under the Romans? Their answer was
separation and strict observance of ritual purity.
a. The Pharisees paid particular attention to ritual purity.
b. The Pharisees laid great stress on Circumcision, the Sabbath observance, food laws, and tithing, given
that these were evidence of Israels unique covenant.
c. The Pharisees developed an entire body of personal rituals and traditions to stand alongside the books
of Moses. They included practices like cleansing hands and utensils before preparing or eating food.
2. The Essenes: The pious ones - The Essenes physically removed themselves from Jewish society in an
extreme desire to avoid contamination. They did not buy into the priesthood and the temple; they are often
identified with the community of the dead sea scrolls at Qmran.
3. The Sadducees were a Jewish politico-religious sect opposed to the Pharisees. The name is probably
derived from the high priest Zadok, mentioned in 2 Sam 8.17. The party originated at the time of the
Hasmoneans and stood for the interests of the aristocracy and the rich. Though never popular, they
exercised a great deal of political influence from the time of John Hyrcanus onwards. They rejected the
oral tradition of interpretation and accepted only the written law of the Pentateuch. They rejected belief in
resurrection of the body, in an afterlife of rewards and punishments, the immortality of the soul, and also
the existence of angels. They take a leading role against Jesus, perhaps b/c of fear of retribution from
Rome, and against the Apostles, Acts: 23:6-10. The Sadducees were conversatives not prone to embrace
new ideas. This religious instinct to cling to the old ways set them at odds with Jesus and the radical
claims of the Gospels. They adopted a more accommodationist attitude toward the Romans; assuming that
if they lived peacefully, Judaism would successfully weather the storm of foreign rule. In the Gospels,
Jesus’ squares off against the Sadducees only once (Mt 22:23-33; Mk. 12:18-27; Lk 20:27-38). While
Jesus is teaching in the temple, the Sadducees approach him with a theological puzzle, convinced that the
doctrine of the general resurrection is incompatible with the teaching of the Pentateuch. If a woman has
several husbands, they reasons, surely this will cause great confusion in the enxt life. Jesus responds with
ingenuity and tact, affirming nearly everything the Sadducees expressly denied. He asserts the existence
of angels and deliberately cites the Pentateuch (Ex. 3:6) to demonstrate that souls live beyond death and
that their bodies will one day be raised. Mk. 12:27.
5. Mt. Gerizim: Holy place of the Samaritans. The sacking of this place by the Jews was the definitive
breaking moment. See John 4:20.

C. Jewish Festivals
1. General Considerations
a. Jewish Feasts ran from sunset to sunset.
b. Mutability of Calendar: - Jewish New Year occurred at different times during history. Initially, it
was celebrated in the fall (sept./oct). This was the traditional date before the Exile. After the exile,
under the influence of the Babylonians, it changed; New Year was celebrated n the springs. Just
before the time of Christ, however, New Year was moved back to the fall.
c. Mutability of Manner of Celebration - The manner of observing feats also changes. For example,
the prime element of sacrifice was no longer possible following the destruction of the temple in
d. Mutability of Content of Feasts - The Jews also tended to shift the content of their feasts. There is a
shifting historical vs. agricultural basis for the feasts.
2. Three Seasonal/Agricultural Feasts - These are the three core feasts of the year. These were pilgrimage
feasts that required people to come together at one central place of worship. See Deuteronomy 16:16
(“Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God at the place which he will
choose: at the feast of unleavened bread, at the feast of weeks, and at the feast of booths. They shall not
appear before the LORD empty-handed.”) Two of the feasts occur during the Spring, and one during the
a. Pesach Massoth (Passover/Unlevened Bread).- A seven day feast celebrated in Abriv/Nisan (Late
March/Early April). Celebration of the barley harvest (first of the grains). It recreates an incident of
leaving from Egypt.

b. Shabuoth/Pentecost - This is the feast of weeks. It is celebrated for one day. From the 3d C. A.D.,
this feast has commemorated the giving of the law on Mount Sinai. Pentecost originated after the
Exodus when it was variously called the Feast of First Fruits, the Feast of Weeks, or the Feast of
Harvest (Leviticus 23:15-21, Deuteronomy 16:9-12). It was observed 50 days after the ceremonial
cutting of the first grain offering after the Passover - hence the origin of the Greek word Pentecost,
which means to “fifty count.” The Old Testament Feast of First Fruits occurred 50 days after the
slaying of the Passover lamb. By no coincidence, the New Testament Pentecost, as we read in the
opening verses, occurred 50 days after The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the “Lamb of God.”
c . Sukkoth (Booths/Tabernacles) Tishri 15-22. - Sukkoth was a weeklong feast celebrated during the
month of Tishri, which coincides with our late September/Early October. This is a remembrance of
the time when the Israelites lived in the desert in their tents. The feast original celebrated the harvest
of grapes and olives. -- Exodus 23: [16] You shall keep the feast of harvest, of the first fruits of your
labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall keep the feast of ingathering at the end of the year,
when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor.
3. Three feasts in the month of Tishri related to Sukkoth - Tishri is the first month of the Jewish
Liturgical Year. Three feasts grew up around this month, all of which are somewhat tied to Sukkoth.
a. Rosh Hashana (Tishri 1-2): Literally means: Head of the Year. It is during this holiday that the
Shofar, a ram’s horn, is blown, in order to mark the beginning of the new year.
b. Yom Kippur (Tishri 10) — The Day of Atonement - The annual purification ritual purges the
sanctuary and forgives the community of the accumulated transgressions which voluntary
purification-offerings have not covered. The origin of this regular ritual of the post-exilic period is
acribed to the Mosaic Age. The combination of the sins of Nadab and Abihu (10.1-7) plus the
presence of their corpses in the sanctuary created the need for a special ritual of purification. This
section logically follows ch. 10, and the insertion of the laws on uncleanness has served to heighten
the need for a regular ritual such as that here described.
c. Simchat Torah (Tishri 23) - A post-biblical feast. Originated in the Medieval period. This is the
feast of Rejoicing in the law, or rejoicing in the Torah.
4. Three non-seasonal/Agricultural OT Holidays.
a. Tishah b’Ab: (Ab 9). The name of this month means the ninth day of Ab. It commemorates the sack
of Jerusalem in 587.
b. Hanukkah (Kislev 25-Tebet 2) SEE: 1 Maccabees 4: [52] Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the
ninth month, which is the month of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-eighth year, [53] they rose and offered
sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt offering which they had built. [54] At the very season and
on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals.
[55] All the people fell on their faces and worshiped and blessed Heaven, who had prospered them. [56] So they
celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and offered burnt offerings with gladness; they offered a
sacrifice of deliverance and praise. [57] They decorated the front of the temple with golden crowns and small
shields; they restored the gates and the chambers for the priests, and furnished them with doors. [58] There was
very great gladness among the people, and the reproach of the Gentiles was removed. [59] Then Judas and his
brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the
altar should be observed with gladness and joy for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month
of Chislev.
c. Purim (14 Adar) - Esther 9: [24] For Haman the Ag’agite, the son of Hammeda’tha, the enemy of all the Jews,
had plotted against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is the lot, to crush and destroy them; [25] but
when Esther came before the king, he gave orders in writing that his wicked plot which he had devised against
the Jews should come upon his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. [26]
Therefore they called these days Purim, after the term Pur. And therefore, because of all that was written in this
letter, and of what they had faced in this matter, and of what had befallen them, [27] the Jews ordained and took
it upon themselves and their descendants and all who joined them, that without fail they would keep these two
days according to what was written and at the time appointed every year, [28] that these days should be
remembered and kept throughout every generation, in every family, province, and city, and that these days of
Purim should never fall into disuse among the Jews, nor should the commemoration of these days cease among
their descendants.

IV. Background Information on Synoptics.
A. Diatesseron = Gk – According to four.
Name borrowed from classic Greek music theory as title for an influential harmony of the four canonical
gospels composed before 173 CE by Tatian, probably at Rome. Tatian’s work may have simply been an
expanded revision of an earlier harmony of the three synoptic gospels made by his teacher, Justin Martyr.
1. Despite the Diatesseron’s widespread influence, there is no surviving complete ms. But much of it can be
reconstructed from early commentaries & other harmonies in many ancient languages (other than Greek).
The Diatesseron influenced early translations of the four gospels into Syriac, Latin, Armenian, Georgian,
& Old German. And its harmonized narrative structure became a model for later gospel harmonies from
Holland to Persia. But it was eventually suppressed by Greek Orthodox & Roman Catholic church
authorities, because its author became the leader of a heretical sect.
2. The language in which the Diatesseron was originally composed is debatable. A single Greek fragment
was found at Dura Europos in eastern Syria, which was destroyed in 257 CE. Stylistic analysis, however,
shows the Diatesseron preferred Syriac grammatical constructions in paraphrasing the Greek gospel texts.
In spite of the Diatesseron’s tendency to harmonize passages from the four canonical gospels (and perhaps
the gospel of Thomas), its readings are taken seriously by modern textual critics. For the copies of the
gospels that Tatian used to create his work were obviously written before the mid- 2nd c. CE. Thus, the
Diatesseron is often a witness to the very earliest wording of a particular text.
B. Meaning of Gospel
1. Classical uses
a. News of a victory in battle, or the reward given to messenger for bringing such good news
b. Religious use in the emperor cult of the first century:
1. news of the divine ruler’s birth, coming of age, or enthronement, and also his speeches, decrees
and acts are glad tidings which bring long hoped for fulfillment to the longings of the world for
happiness and peace.
2. The decree of the Greeks of the province of Asia in 9 BC making Augustus= birthday the
beginning of the civil year is an example of the significance of euaggelion.
2. Used as message 11x in NT, never as a book. Cf. Mk1.1, 14-15
C Order of the Gospel Books
1. Old Greek Manuscripts placed the order as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
2. Vetus Latina placed the order as Matthew, John, Luke, Mark. This was done because of a tendency to
place the apostles.
3. There are no “Gospels” there are books of “THE GOSPEL according to …”
D. Genre of the Gospels
What is a literary genre? A genre is a means which permits transmission. Are the Gospels sui generic, or did
they use a pre-existing genre?
1. Nothing like them in ancient literature
2. Lives/Ancient biographies.
These were usually devoted to 2 types of men, either politicians or philosophers. Plutarch is a good
parallel to the evangelists in that he is self consciously selective and focuses on ethical. But the Gospels
are single-minded in pointing to Jesus and to Him as the Son of God. Plutarch merely sketched the lives of
great men briefly, even arranging them in pairs to illustrate some moral virtue. And compared to modern
biography, the Gospels make no attempt to construct psychological makeup of Jesus or to give much in
the way of background.
a. Aretalogy – A divine man story. This is really not a clearly defined genre.
b. Laudatory Biography – Again, not a clearly definably genre.
c. Immortals/eternals
3. Memoirs – Renan Theory
Similar to a collection of individual anecdotes about, or sayings of, a famous figure, generally supposed to
come from close friend or disciple. Socrates would be the classic example. Plato and Xenophon played the
part of the memoirist. Justin Martyr (Apology, c. A.D. 150) calls the Gospels the apostles’ memoirs.
4. Gospel in the early Church.
a. “The” Gospel is the oral message (the preaching, the kerygma) about Jesus Christ: Cf Acts 10.34-43
and C. H. Dodd, The Apostolic Preaching and its Development.
1. Jesus has inaugurated the fulfillment of messianic prophecy
2. He went about doing good and performing miracles
3. He was crucified according to God’s plan
4. He was raised and exalted to heaven

5. He will return in judgement
6. Therefore repent, believe and be baptized
b. “A” Gospel - one of the first four books of the NT
1. Names (“According to Mark”) etc. not found in earliest manuscripts and are traditional
2. Fourfold - Three synoptics, fourth is John
3. Gospels tell the story of Jesus of Nazareth giving very little interpretation of it.
4. Dispute about when first referred to as a book but certainly by end of 2nd Century
5. The Bultmannian Event.
Until 1920, people had taken the Gospels to reflect Apostolic teaching having no connection to literary
preceding or contemporary. Bultmann concluded that one has to distinguish between subject and
language. The genre of the NT is primary mythological, i.e., the using of earthly imagery to discuss the
otherworldly. Bultmann further concluded that these works grew out of the believing communities in
which the evangelists lived, communities who believed that Jesus was the Messiah. They differed from
Greco-Roman works, therefore, because Greco-Roman bibliography was not written for a religious
audience and were the product of a single author not stimulated by a community.
a. Three differences that render Gospel sui generis.
1. Mentality expressed is distinct.
2. Mentality is uniquely Christian.
3. Literary biographies are tied to the world. The Gospels are otherworldly.
b. Three Points of Bultman/Talbert
1. Organizing Myth – Man from other world.
2. Groups in which divided.
3. Gospel communities did not reject the world.
c. Demythologization
1. Myth for Bultmann is not simply about the historicity or not of miracles; it describes the way in
which primitive, pre-scientific peoples conceptualized reality. This involves belief in a three-
storied universe with happenings on earth influenced or even caused by beings from above or
below. According to Bultmann this way of conceptualizing reality is no longer possible for us in
20th century western culture
2. Myth was not only the way first century man conceptualized reality; it was also the way he
expressed his religious experience. This experience was the kerygma, their understanding and
expression of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
3. Thus the task of the modern NT student is to Ade-mythologize@ the Gospel stories to express the
core of the early church=s religious experience again but in terms adequate for modern man.
4. For Bultmann this is only possible in terms of German, Heideggerian existentialist philosophy
6. Summary of genre
1. We need to consider the Gospels as sui generis.
2. The text of revelation is closed; but our comprehension of what has been revealed is always growing.
The fact that a text is sacred does not mean that it is magical.
3. Mark – Written to correct errors about Jesus. Jesus orders silence, the so-called Messianic secret.
Jesus needed to correct the idea of the Messiah.
4. Luke/Acts – A type of biography of a philosopher. First, the life of the Philosopher, then the
organization of his followers.
8. Specific questions to consider for interpretation.
a. Who is the author of the Gospel?
Does the author have an ascertainable identity? Did the texts become structured/composed only over
b. Can an author invent his own genre?
Works enter into complex relations with other works. The problem is how are we to insert the work
into that context when we begin the interpretive endeavor. Joyce invented a new genre; his work was,
as a result, unintelligible when it first appeared on the scene.
c. Significance of Authorial Intention
The question is essentially whether we look solely to the intention of the author as a guide for
interpretation, or consider the structure of the text as an autonomous entity that can be interpreted
without reference to external factors and context.
d. Synchronic vs. Diachronic interpretation.
1. Synchronic method of interpretation considers the author, reader, and text to be simultaneous.

2. Diachronic – This is a method of interpretation that takes account of history and of changed
A second conclusion is that the very nature of biblical texts means that interpreting them will require continued use of the
historical-critical method, at least in its principal procedures. The Bible, in effect, does not present itself as a direct revelation of
timeless truths but as the written testimony to a series of interventions in which God reveals himself in human history. In a way
that differs from tenets of other religions, the message of the Bible is solidly grounded in history. It follows that the biblical
writings cannot be correctly understood without an examination of the historical circumstances that shaped them. “Diachronic”
research will always be indispensable for exegesis. Whatever be their own interest and value, “synchronic” approaches cannot
replace it. To function in a way that will be fruitful, synchronic approaches should accept the conclusions of the diachronic, at
least according to their main lines. But granted this basic principle, the synchronic approaches (the rhetorical, narrative, semiotic
and others) are capable, to some extent at least, of bringing about a renewal of exegesis and making a very useful contribution.
The historical-critical method, in fact, cannot lay claim to enjoying a monopoly in this area. It must be conscious of its limits, as
well as of the dangers to which it is exposed. Recent developments in philosophical hermeneutics and, on the other hand, the
observations which we have been able to make concerning interpretation within the biblical tradition and the tradition of the
church have shed light upon many aspects of the problem of interpretation that the historical-critical method has tended to ignore.
Concerned above all to establish the meaning of texts by situating them in their original historical context, this method has at
times shown itself insufficiently attentive to the dynamic aspect of meaning and to the possibility that meaning can continue to
develop. When historical-critical exegesis does not go as far as to take into account the final result of the editorial process but
remains absorbed solely in the issues of sources and stratification of texts, it fails to bring the exegetical task to completion.
E. Historicity of John’s Baptism of Jesus
All of the Gospels recount Jesus’s baptism. Jesus was sinless, so it is difficult to explain why this Baptism was
necessary. Jesus also seems to be submitting to John, which would suggest that John possessed greater
authority. These difficulties strongly suggest that the story was not fabricated.
V. Source Criticism of the Synoptics: The Synoptic Problem.
A. Summary. This is a brief overview of the solutions to the Synoptic Problem, starting from the most widely
held, near-consensus theory and its major challengers.
1. The Two-source hypothesis states that Matthew and Luke independently copied Mark for its narrative
framework and independently added discourse material from a non-extant sayings collection called Q.
Much work has gone into the extent and wording of Q, particularly since the discovery of the Gospel of
Thomas which h attests to the sayings gospel genre. Holtzmann’s 1863 theory posited an Ur-Marcus in
the place of our Mark, with our Mark being a later revision. Some scholars occasionally propose an
unattested revision of Mark, a deutero-Mark, being the base of what Matthew and Luke used. Streeter
(1924) further refined the Two-Source Hypothesis into a four-source theory, with an M and an L being a
unique source to Matthew and Luke respectively, with Q and L combined into a Proto-Luke before Luke
added Mark. While unique sources, such as M, L, or Semitic first editions, are interesting for form-critical
purposes, they are quite peripheral to the Synoptic Problem as to how the canonical gospels are
2. The Farrer hypothesis posits that Mark was written first and Matthew used Mark, but that Luke used
both, thus dispensing with Q.
3. The Griesbach hypothesis holds that Matthew was written first, and Luke used it in preparing his gospel.
Then, Mark conflated the two in a procedure that mostly followed where Matthew and Luke agree in
order except for discourse material.
4. The Augustinian hypothesis holds that Matthew was written first, then Mark, then Luke, and each
Evangelist depended on those who preceded him. This position is in the closest agreement with the
patristic testimony to the gospels origins.
5. Lessing’s Ur-Gospel Theory is important for historical reasons (it is one of the first theories of the
modern era) but has no adherents today.
6. Other theories usually posit more hypothetical andproto-sources. Generally their plausibility is in
inverserelation to the number of additional sources. For example, Parker (1953) argued for a proto-
Matthew inaddition to Q. Boismard calls for seven hypotheticaldocuments, one of them a form of Q.
B. Three Texts Discussed in Class
1. The Three Texts
a. Matthew 4:18. And Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon who is called Peter, and
Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishers). 4:19. And he saith to them: Come ye after
me, and I will make you to be fishers of men. 4:20. And they immediately leaving their nets, followed him.4:21.
And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship
with Zebedee their father, mending their nets: and he called them. 4:22. And they forthwith left their nets and
father, and followed him.
b. Mark 1:16-20: 1:16. And passing by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother, casting nets into
the sea for they were fishermen.1:17. And Jesus said to them: Come after me; and I will make you to become

fishers of men. 1:18. And immediately leaving their nets, they followed him. 1:19. And going on from thence
a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who also were mending their nets in the
ship: 1:20. And forthwith he called them. And leaving their father Zebedee in the ship with his hired men, they
followed him.
c. Luke 5: 1-11: 5:1. And it came to pass, that when the multitudes pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he
stood by the lake of Genesareth, 5:2. And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out
of them and were washing their nets. 5:3. And going into one of the ships that was Simon’s, he desired him to
draw back a little from the land. And sitting, he taught the multitudes out of the ship. 5:4. Now when he had
ceased to speak, he said to Simon: Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a draught. 5:5. And
Simon answering said to him: Master, we have laboured all the night and have taken nothing: but at thy word I
will let down the net. 5:6. And when they had done this, they enclosed a very great multitude of fishes: and their
net broke. 5:7. And they beckoned to their partners that were in the other ship, that they should come and help
them. And they came and filled both the ships, so that they were almost sinking. 5:8. Which when Simon Peter
saw, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying: Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 5:9. For he was
wholly astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken. 5:10. And so
were also James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. And Jesus saith to Simon: Fear not:
from henceforth thou shalt catch men. 5:11. And having brought their ships to land, leaving all things, they
followed him.
2. Relation of Matthew to Mark. Note doubling up of the word “brother” in Matthew.
3. Luke’s Relation to Mark and Matthew.
a. Luke corrects thalassa, sea, to limne, lake. Mark/Matthew had used sea for theological purposes.
b. Luke reorders the passage so that it now follows the four Capernaum episodes has been moved after
them and indeed after a fishing miracle that only Luke among the Synoptics records. That Jesus has
healed Simon’s mother-in-law and effected a tremendous catch of fish makes more intelligible why
Simon and others followed Jesus so readily as disciples.
c. The theme of leaving everything to follow Jesus illustrates Luke’s stress on detachment from
d. It seems that both Luke 5:4-9,10b and John 21:1-11 bear independent witness to a post-Easter
appearance of Jesus to Peter. John develops the tradition in his own way by introducing the Beloved
C. Mark 10:35 and Matthew 20:20
1. Mark 10:35: And James and John, the sons of Zeb’edee, came forward to him, and said to him, “Teacher,
we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
2. Matthew 20:20: Then the mother of the sons of Zeb’edee came up to him, with her sons, and kneeling
before him she asked him for something.
3. Note that Mark is quick to attribute the request to James and John, whereas Mattehw lets the Apostles off
the hook by attributing the question to their mother.
D The Synoptic Problem in General
1. The so-called “synoptic problem” was formulated by Griesbach in 1776. Essentially, the problem is how
to explain the similarities and differences between the three texts. The problem was not a new one.
Indeed, Celsus had argued from the differences in the Gospels that the Christian religion was false.
2. Aspects of the problem: There is a triple tradtion, being those portions that are common to all three
a. Note Mt 3.1-10.40 very mixed compared to Mk 1.1-6.7 but from Mt 11.1 to the end of the Gospel, his
order is exactly the same as Mk 6.8-16.7 except for one brief story (Cursing of Fig TreeCMt 21.18-22
= Mk 11.12-14, 20-25).
b. Note that Luke almost never departs from Mark=s order except in distant parallels.
c. Note AGreat Omission@: Mk 6.45-8.20 is not found in Luke at all anywhere.
d. Note AGreat Insertion@: Lk 9.51-18.9 contains no certain material from Mark.
e. Note: The Passion is where we have the greatest concordance between the three sources. It is possible
that there was a common story of the passion.
f. Resurrection Stories: Only John has Lazarus. Each Gospel has the resurrection of at least one
individual. Mark has the blind man Bartimeaus.
g. John has a three year ministry; the synoptics assert a 1 year ministry.
h. John has the “beloved disciple” under the cross; the synoptics have only women.
E. Concordanze
1. Total Verses: Mt = 1068; Mk = 661; Lk = 1149.
2. Markan Verses shared by Matthew and Luke:
a. 609 verses from Mk are found in Mt (523 Mt verses). This means 92% of Mk is found in Mt.
b. 357 verses from Mk are found in Lk (325 Lk verses). This means 54% of Mk is found in Lk.
c. 30 verses from Mk are found only in Mk. This means only 4.5% of Mk is unique to Mk.
d. 282 verses from Mt are found only in Mt. This means 26% of Mt is unique to Mt.
e. 500 verses from Lk are found only in Lk. This means 43% of Lk is unique to Lk.
f. Mt and Lk share considerable material not found in Mk.
Close Wording: 171 verses (Mt) = 151 verses (Lk)
Distant Parallel: 90 verses (Mt) = 94 verses (Lk)
Total: 261 verses (Mt) = 245 verses (Lk)
This means 24% of Mt and 21% of Lk are shared with each other exclusive of Mk.
3. Versetti Communi
330 versetti di Marco si trovano anche in Mt. e Lc. 278 di Marco si trovano ora in Mt., ora in Lc. 230 sono
comuni a Mt. e a Lc. I versetti propri sono Mc. 53, Mt. 330, e Lc. 500. Le pericopi di tripla tradizione
costituiscono la meta di Mc. e un terzo di Mt. e di Lc. La doppia tradizione costituisce un quinto di Mt. e

Matteo Marco Luca

330 330 330
178 278 100
230 230

2. L’ordine degli argomenti. Corrisponde a uno stesso schema generale.

Matteo Marco Luca
a) Preparazione del ministero 3,1 – 4,11 1,1 – 13 3,1 – 4,13
b) Ministero in Galilea 4,12 - 18,35 1,14 – 9,50 4,14 – 9,50
c) Viaggio a Gerusalemme 19,1 – 20,34 10,1 - 56 9,51 – 18,43
d) Passione e risurrezione 21-28 11 - 16 19 – 24

E. Teorie Sinottiche Generale
1. Tradizione Orale.
a. There are factors that show the likelihood of the oral tradition during the time of Christ to be pointers
to a reliable written text:
1) The ancients were in a world in which memories are far more exact than in our own;
2) Even in English, many of Jesus’ sayings are unforgettable;
3) Many of the sayings which we possess in Greek are evidently translations from Aramaic.
4) From the beginning, the gospel was preached both in Greek and Aramaic. These arguments
favor the reliability of oral traditions about Jesus. Many of the sayings of Jesus are indeed
both revolutionary and unforgettable, even to those of us in the 20th century. All the more
would they be unforgettable to those who were organized specifically around his person.
These people would risk persecution precisely because they would vouch for the authenticity
of this oral tradition. There was no doubt a living tradition that existed before the bible was
According to Gieseler, in antiquity memorization was a living reality, and was cultivated successfully and was
more reliable than fixed documents. The fact that it took years for scripture to be written and canonized show that
there was a relative indifference of the early church as long as the living tradition existed.
b. The hypothesis of oral tradition: This theory has rather fallen into disfavor among recent critics. Dr.
Stanton, e.g., says, “The relations between the first 3 Gospels cannot be adequately explained simply
by the influence of oral tradition” (Gospels as Historical Documents, II, 17; similarly Moffatt, in the
work quoted 180 ff.). Briefly stated, theory is this. It assumes that each of the evangelists wrote
independently of the others, and derived the substance of his writing, not from written sources, but
from oral narratives of sayings and doings of Jesus, which, through dint of repetition, had assumed a
relatively fixed form. The teaching of the apostles, first given in Jerusalem, repeated in the
catechetical schools (compare Luke 1:4, the Revised Version (British and American)), and entrusted
to the trained memories of the Christian converts, is held to be sufficient to account for the
phenomena of the 3 Gospels. The oral Gospel took its essential form in Palestine, and written editions
of it would by and by appear in more or less complete form (Luke 1:1). The first distinguished
advocate of the oral hypothesis was Gieseler (1818). It was upheld in Britain by Alford and Westcott,
and is today advocated, with modifications, by Dr. A. Wright in his Synopsis of the Gospels in Greek
(2nd edition, 1908).
c. Oral tradition formed between 35-40 is likely responsible for the general scheme of the Gospels. We
must accept that material was transmitted orally for some time. The question is for how long?
2. Interdependence.
As old as Augustine, this hypothesis, which assumes the use of one of the Gospels by the other two, has
been frequently advocated by scholars of repute in the history of criticism. There have been many
variations of theory. Each of the 3 Gospels has been put first, each second, and each third, and each in turn
has been regarded as the source of the others. In fact, all possible permutations (6 in number) have been
exhausted. As the hypothesis has few advocates at the present day, it is not necessary to give a minute
account of these permutations and combinations. Two of them which may be regarded as finally excluded
are (a) those which put Luke first; and (b) those which put Mark last (the view of Augustine; in modern
times, of F. Baur and the Tubingen school).
3. Urevangelium - Gotthold Lessing (c.a. 1778)
Lessing postulated an hypothetical Gospel of the Nazarenes (possibly drawing on the Papias tradition)
which was written in Aramaic. He proposed that three versions of this Aramaic Gospel of the Nazarenes
existed. The Synoptic Gospels are three independent translations of these three hypothetical Aramaic
gospels. The problem with this proposal is that it is based purely on a speculative hypothetical Gospel to
the Nazarenes for which we have no evidence at all.
4. Diegesis – Narratives
There were various cycles of miracles and parables that were incorporated into the canonical gospels.
5. Two source hypothesis
Under this theory, the oldest Gospel is Mark or some ur-Mark. Mark serves as the abasis for Matthew and
Luke. There is another font that Matthew and Luke have in common, but which Mark lacks. This font is
known as Q.
6. M & L
This theory accepts the two source hypothesis, but also posits M as an independent source for Matthew
and L (or S) as an independent source for Luke.

F. Teorie Sinottiche Piu Precise.
1. J.J. Griesbach (18th Century)
Non c’e bisogno di ricorrere a documenti ipotetici se è possible spiegare tutto con relazioni reciproche tra
I sinottici. Il primo vangelo è Mt. da cui dipende Lc: Marco è una sintesi posteriore di entrambi.
a. Vantagii:
Spiega commodamente i test che Mc. ha in comune con gli altri due, nei quali pare compendiare Mc.
e Lc. Per esempio 1,34 sembra sintetizzare Mt. 8,16 e Lc 4,40.
b. Svantagii:
Tuttavia è difficile intendere perchè Mc. avrebbe trascurato tanto materiale importante di Mt. e Lc.
Inoltre, e difficile ammettere che un’opera posteriore, Mc., peggiori la forma linguistica di Mt.
c. Griesbach, like Lessing, proposed an hypothetical “Apostolic” Gospel or source. Matthew translated
this into Greek. Luke, influenced by Matthew, did likewise. Mark finally abbreviated Matthew/Luke
into his gospel. As in the case of Lessing, we have no evidence for this hypothetical Aramaic
Apostolic Gospel.
2. G.E. Lessing e Il Vangelo Fondamentale.
Secondo G.E. Lessing, esistette un antico documento apostolico, scritto orginariamente in aramaico, il
Vangelo dei Nazareni, da cui dipendono in modo autonomo i nostri tre sinottici.
a. Vantagii: Spiega molto.
b. Svantagii: Perche Mt. E Lc. differiscono nell’ordine proprio quando presentano il materiale assente in
3. Lessing Modificata da J.G. Eichorn:
Ci fu uno scritto fondamentale contenente le tradizioni comuni a Mc., Mt., e Lc. (=C). Questo scritto ebbe
diverse redazioni. Una gli aggiunse la tradizione commune a Mt. e Mc (=A), un’altra la tradizione
commune a Lc. e Mc. (=B), un altra ancora la tradizione comune a Mt. e Lc. (=Q).
a. Spiegazione
1. Matteo deriva da C+A e da C+Q.
2. Marco deriva da C+A e da C+B.
3. Luca deriva da C+B e da C+Q.
b. J. G. Eichhorn (c.a. 1794)
Eichhorn adopted Griesbach’s hypothetical Apostolic Aramaic Gospel, but enlarged on Griesbach by
proposing multiple copies of this original Apostolic Gospel, some of which were revisions of the
“original”. Each of our gospel writers used a different Revised Apostolic Aramaic Gospel in his
Greek translation. This theory allowed for the similarity in our three Gospels, and accounted for their
differences. However, as in the previous two views, the weakness lay in the “non existence” of, or
lack of evidence for any of these Aramaic Gospels. Furthermore, this theory does no account for the
Greek interdependence of our three Greek Gospels.
4. Lessing Modificata da P. Rolland.
Rolland parte dall’esistenza di un documento antichissimo, aramaico o ebraico, a Gerusalemme. Lo si può
chiamare Vangelo dei Dodici (VD). Quest’opera conobbe due rielaborazioni, con materiali diversi e in
diverse comunità: il vangelo ellenista in antiochia (E) e il vangelo paolino a Filippi o Efeso (P). Oltre a
questa tradizione, bisogna tener conto di un’altra, diversa: una raccolta di detti di Gesù, la fonte Q, che
proveniva da circoli di “timorati di Dio,” probabilmente di Cesarea.
a. Spiegazione
1. Da VD deriva E e P.
2. Da E e Q deriva Mt.
3. Da E e P deriva Mc.
4. Da P e Q deriva Lc.
b. Elaborazione
Marco ignora Q, e per questo ha un minor numero di detti di Gesù. Le sue lezioni concordanti si
spiegano col fatto che ha ripreso due versioni del documento primitivo. In compenso sia Mt. sia Lc.
hanno conosciuto soltanto una versione di questo documento: più giudaica quella di Mt., più ellenista
quella di Lc., entrambi però conoscono la raccolta di detti di Gesù.
5. Teoria della tradizione orale da J.G. Herder.
Herder riteneva che i vangeli fossero nati dalla primitiva catechesi orale, trasmessa fedelmente e,
addirittura, con una struttura fissa e stereotipata. Secondo questa teoria non c’è bisogno di ricorrere a
contatti letterari di alcun tipo. Le somiglianze sono spiegabili perché tutti dipendono dalla medesima
tradizione orale e le differenze si spiegano con le diverse personalità degli evangelisti e con le
caratteristiche dell erispettive communità.

a. Critica – Questa spiegazione sottolinea l’importanza della tradizione orale, ma non basta a spiegare
tutte le somigliane esistenti tra i vangeli, che si riscontrano a volte in parole rarissime. Anche, la
tradizione orale non sarebbe stato sufficiente per trasmettere la struttura tanto ampia e rigida.
6. Herbert Marsh (c.a. 1801)
Marsh’s theory proposed an original Greek Ur-gospel, possibly an Ur-Marcus which began with the
baptism of Jesus and ended with his death, burial, and resurrection. In addition, Marsh postulated a
“primitive” sayings source which contained the teachings of Jesus. Matthew, Luke, and Mark combined
these two sources with other material into their three gospels. This theory accounted for both the content
and linguistic similarities in our three Greek Gospels. The weakness in this theory lay in the hypothetical
Ur-gospel for which no evidence is extant.
7. Friedrich Schleiermacher (c.a. 1832)
Schleiermacher began with at least two original oral sources, a Passion Tradition and a Miracle Tradition.
These were a form of Oral Memorabilia. The Passion and Miracle traditions were combined into a Greek
Ur-Marcus which Matthew combined with an oral sayings tradition (Papias). Luke then was influenced by
Matthew in writing his gospel. Mark was an independent form of the Ur-Marcus. The Apocryphal
Gospels then used Mark as the basis of their gospels. The problem with this theory lay in the existence of
the hypothetical Ur-Marcus. The use of the Ur-Marcus was an attempt to explain the linguistic similarities
in our three gospels.
8. Carl Lachmann (c.a. 1835)
Lachmann suggested the existence of an Ur-Gospel and a logia (teaching-sayings) source. Mark based his
Gospel on this Ur-Gospel, incorporating some of the material from the logia source. Matthew followed
with another version of the Ur-Gospel and logia source. Luke used the Ur-Gospel and Matthew in
developing his Gospel. Lachmann argued that since Mark never deviates from the order set out in both
Matthew and Luke, that Mark, therefore, preserves best the order of the original Ur-Gospel. Lachmann,
therefore, suggested that Mark must be the first of the three canonical Gospels.
9. Heinrich Holtzmann (c.a. 1862)
Holtzmann proposed two primary sources, Alpha (a Narrative Source or Ur-Marcus), and Lambda (a logia
sayings source). Mark, the first of our Gospels, used Alpha as his primary source with some Lambda.
Matthew, the second of our gospels, used Alpha and much of Lambda. Luke the third of the Gospels
combined Alpha and Lambda but differently from Matthew. Luke was not aware of Matthew.
10. B. F. Streeter (c.a. 1924)
Streeter proposed what has become known as the Two Source Theory. The difference in Streeter’s two
source theory and that of Holtzmann and Lachmann is that the primary source is not an unknown
hypothetical source, but the canonical Gospel of Mark. Streeter, therefore, held that Mark was the first of
our Gospels. Matthew built into Mark sayings material from a source identified as “Q” (quella - source).
Matthew in addition to Mark and Q had material from a Jerusalem source which is known as” M”. Luke,
like Matthew combined Mark with Q and other material, “L”, of a Caesarean provenance. In this two
source theory, Mark and Q are normally identified as the two primary sources of Matthew and Luke.
11. Ian A. Fair (c.a.2000)
Fair proposes a multiple source theory similar to that of Streeter. With Mark being the primary source.
Mark had written his Gospel based on Peter’s preaching (See C. H. Dodd). Mark was an independent
theologian writing for a Roman readership. Matthew based his gospel on the primary framework of Mark,
building into Mark some independent OT prophetic sayings, some material from a sayings-teaching
source (we might refer to this as Q, but this Q may be either a written source, an oral source, or several
sayings sources). Furthermore, Matthew built into his Gospel other material (Streeter’s Jerusalem M)
which he may have known from personal experience or from personal research. The basis of this M
material may have been either written or oral traditions. Luke, like Matthew combined Mark’s basic
narrative with sayings material (oral or written Q), eyewitness information, and material from a Caesarean
L source. This L material may have been a form of proto-Luke.
12. Benoit-Boismard – Tre Fonti
A book by Fathers Benoit and Boismard, both professors at the Biblical School of Jerusalem (1972-1973),
called the Synopsis of the Four Gospels (Synopse des quatres Evangiles) stresses the evolution of the text
in stages parallel to the evolution of the tradition. The alterations and adaptations to the texts made by
those transmitting them to us were done in a way that Father Boismard explains by means of a highly
complex diagram. It is a development of the so-called ‘Two Sources Theory’, and is the product of
examination and comparison of the texts which it is not possible to summarize here.
a. Four basic documents-A, B, C and Q-represent the original sources of the Gospels.
1. Document A comes from a Judeo-Christian source.

2. Document B is a reinterpretation of document A, for use in Pagan-cum-Christian churches.
Luke emphasizes universal salvation. B is the source of this.
3. Document C Independent Palestinian Tradition.
4. Document Q constitutes the majority of sources common to Matthew and Luke; it is the,
‘Common Document’ in the ‘Two Sources’ theory referred to earlier.
b. None of these basic documents led to the production of the definitive texts we know today. Between
them and the final version lay the intermediate versions: Intermediate Matthew, Intermediate Mark,
Intermediate Luke. These four intermediate documents were to lead to the final versions of the four
Gospels, as well as to inspire the final corresponding versions of other Gospels. One only has to
consult the diagram to see the intricate relationships the author has revealed.
C. Procession of Influences:
1. Document A influenced Intermediate Mark, Intermediate Matthew, and B.
2. Document B influenced Intermediate Mark and Proto-Luke.
3. Document C inspired Intermediate Mark and Proto-Luke.
4. Document Q inspired Proto-Luke and Intermediate-Matthew.
5. Intermediate Matthew inspired Mark and Matthew.
6. Intermediate Mark inspired Matt, Mark, and Luke.
7. Proto-Luke influenced Luke and Mark.

VI. Form Criticism of the Synoptic Gospels.

Form Critics consider the literary form of the stories. Using this and concentrating their studies on the period of
Oral Transmission (up to about AD65), they attempt to ascertain the Sitz im Kirche (use in the Early Church) and
Sitz im Leben (life setting) of the pericopae. Through this analysis, they aim to come to an understanding of the
relevance and meaning of the miracles. They seek to rediscover the original words and actions of Jesus, discover
the relevance of the story to the Early Church and determining the reason for the story appearing in the form it
A. Defined: A systematic method of analyzing the genres of the basic oral units preserved in literary works to
clarify the history of their formation. The term comes from the title of a 1919 book by Martin Dibelius, Die
Formgeschichte des Evangeliums (literally: the form history of the gospels). Fifty years before Marshall
McLuhan popularized the idea that “the medium is the message,” Dibelius insisted that
1. nothing is remembered or communicated without some form; &
2. the form in which something is preserved shapes the contents.
From ancient times students of literature, linguistics & folklore have been trained to distinguish the different
patterns of speech used to make a point: poetry & prose, proverb & parable, commandment & oracle, miracle
story & myth, lament & joke, etc. Some of these are clearly identified in the Bible: the OT book of Proverbs
& the NT parables of Jesus, for example. Church lectionaries also made it clear that the synoptic gospels were
composed of small self-contained units.
B. It was only at the beginning of the 19th c., however, that scholars began to pay serious attention to these units
as relics of the earliest stages of the formation of Christianity. J. G. von Herder was the first to call attention to
the importance of oral forms such as sayings, parables, & tales in the composition of the gospels. Yet it took a
work by the OT scholar Hermann Gunkel, The Legends of Genesis: The Biblical Saga and History (1901), to
prompt research on the oral formation of the gospel tradition.
C. Gunkel formulated several basic principles that were later adapted by NT form critics:
1. biblical writers are not authors so much as collectors & editors;
2. the forms of oral story telling reflect the social situation (Sitz im Leben) for which they were originally
3. changes in social situation lead to changes in forms of communication;
4. oral forms follow set patterns; so, stylistic inconsistencies (gaps, digressions, etc.) indicate later alteration
of the original material.
D. These principles allowed Gunkel to reconstruct the social history behind the written sources of the Hebrew
Pentateuch. On the basis of careful formal analysis of the biblical narrative he traced passages to early or late
stages of the oral tradition or to the editorial work of some later scribe.
E. Gunkel’s achievement led Dibelius & other NT scholars to relate the oral forms preserved in the synoptic
gospels to social settings in the earlier period when Christianity was taking form. Form critics pointed out that
the narrative framework of each gospel was composed by the writer & thus was not the original context in
which the individual units took form. Since the oral Jesus tradition was filtered through Christian preaching &
worship in a Greek world, form critics concluded that the stories & sayings in the gospels reveal more about
the early Christian community than about the historical Jesus himself.

F. The most influential form critic was Rudolf Bultmann, whose History of the Synoptic Tradition (1921) is
still regarded by scholars as an essential tool for gospel research. Bultmann announced the historical
significance of the consequences of his research in no uncertain terms: “Just because literary forms are related
to the life and history of the primitive Church, I am definitely convinced that form criticism not only
presupposes judgments of facts alongside judgments of literary criticism, but must also lead to judgments
about facts (the genuineness of a saying, the historicity of a report & the like)...”
G. The aim of form-criticism is to determine the original form of a piece of narrative, a dominical saying or a
parable. In the process we learn to distinguish secondary additions and forms, and these in turn lead to
important results for the history of the tradition.
H. The immediate historical effect of Bultmann’s research was to put the brakes on most research on the life of
Jesus for the next half century. To analyze the life of any person one needs historically reliable data & a
chronologically accurate sequence of material. If the gospel stories & sayings were molded by early Christian
preachers for situations after Jesus died & if the narrative framework of the gospels was created by even later
writers, then writing a historically accurate biography of Jesus is virtually impossible.
I. Some scholars criticized Bultmann & other form critics for excessive skepticism regarding the historical
reliability of the gospel narratives. Yet form critical work on the synoptic sayings tradition laid the foundation
for the resurgence of Jesus research in the last quarter of the 20th c.
J. If the form in which something is communicated is a window into the mind that originally formed it, then
sayings that can be traced to Jesus (& no one else) should reveal a lot about him. Bultmann himself provided a
criterion for identifying authentic Jesus sayings. He called it dissimilarity, but later scholars prefer to call it
distinctiveness. The criterion works this way:
1. If a writer credits a saying to Jesus &
2. if the form & content of that saying differ from the author’s own style & characteristic ideas &
3. if that saying is not common opinion &
4. if there is no close parallel in ancient Christian, Jewish or Greek literature
then that saying is not apt to have been formulated by anyone other than Jesus.
K. One form of speech in early Christian literature is ascribed only to Jesus: the parable. So, the gospel parables
were recognized as a window into Jesus’ distinctive personal views on God & the world. Thus, form criticism
prompted half a century of research on the parables of Jesus by many scholars including J. Jeremias, C. H.
Dodd, R. W. Funk & J. D. Crossan.
L. This led to research by J. D. Crossan & others on the form of the aphorism, which in turn provided the basis
for the Jesus Seminar, the largest international scholarly research project on the sayings & deeds of Jesus ever
assembled. Despite a wide range of personal viewpoints, more than 70 members of the Jesus Seminar were
able to reach consensus that at least 90 sayings which the gospels ascribe to Jesus can reliably be traced to
him. Thus, the century that began with form critics skeptical about the historical value of information in the
gospels ends with their intellectual heirs using form critical principles to identify a solid core of authentic
sayings from the mouth of Jesus himself, in spite of years of oral transmission & editing by gospel writers.
M. Notes from Class.
The Gospels are not strictly literary works. They are not linked to an author directly. We cannot speak of
Mark the way we do of Umberto Eco. Mark and the other Evangelists tended to interst pre-existing units into
the structure they created as the backbone of their gospels. The Evangelists did not contribute, but directed the
tradition. These formulaic units need to be identified and interpreted within the context and according to the
genre rules according to which they were originally composed. The Gospels are not literary works. They are
collations of texts. They are not biographies. They are not lives of Jesus. They are not accounts of his
personality and appearance. All of the elements pulled into the gospel are theologically oriented; this is
apparent with, for example, all of the family life data found in the gospels.
1. Types of Statements; Sitz im Leben.
a. Primitive Preaching/Liturgical Preaching.
b. Parables.
c. Logia – Proverbs are one example. Rules for community are another. Statements in which Jesus
speaks in the first person.
d. Precetti – Difusi e Precisi.
e. Two types for Bultmann
1. Miraculous Stories.
2. Legends/Historical Accounts – Cosi e cosi storico. Think of the lives of the Saints.
f. Tempting of Jesus by Satan shows that he is the new Adam. It hearkens back to Job.

N. Miracles in the NT
1. In questioning the historicity of the miracle stories, the form critics attempt to make comparisons with
other forms of literature, particularly parallel miracle stories in other settings. Dibelius would suggest
that the miracle stories are in the gospels to prove Jesus’ messianic status and to demonstrate his
superiority to heathen Gods and miracle workers. Thus, he claims, “Gentile-Christian narrators would
hand on stories of gods, saviours, and miracle-workers, re-cast as applying to the Christian saviour”.
Therefore, he and other form critics compare the Gospel miracle stories to others that may have been
present at the time of writing. The three-fold structure of need, action and reaction, identified by Dibelius
in the gospel miracle stories, is comparable to a similar form found in many Hellenistic miracle stories.
This may suggest that these stories had influence on the Gospel miracle stories.
2. A more noticeable comparison can be made between the story of the healing of a dead girl by the miracle
worker Appolonius of Tyana and the healing of Jairus’ daughter. Bultmann recognised the similarity
between Appolonius, who brings the girl back to life with a touch and an incantation, and Jesus,
who “took her by the hand and said to her ‘Talitha cum’, which means, ‘Little girl, get
up!’”(Mk5:41). Some form critics explain these similarities by referring to ‘storytellers’ who would be
employed by the church to create stories about Jesus to show his superiority, making use of comparable
stories at the time.
3. However, as the form critic Vincent Taylor noted, there are problems with this view of the miracle stories.
Taylor observed that the miracle stories in the Gospel often
1) played down the miraculous element of the story, especially in comparison to other stories.
2) unlike most contemporary miracle stories, the miracles of Jesus demonstrate his compassion
for people.
3) whilst the miracle workers contemporary to Jesus used magic implements or special
incantations (for instance a special ring and words were used by an exorcist described by
Josephus), Jesus used merely a touch or a single word of command.
Clearly, there is some Hellenistic influence on the miracles, as identified by the Form Critics, but the
impact seems more superficial, having an effect on the use of language rather than the content.
Furthermore, it seems likely that many of the Hellenistic miracle stories were an attempt to surpass
those about Jesus rather than vice versa (for example, the Gospels predate stories about Appolonius).
Whilst these insights were interesting from an historical viewpoint, they, in reality, helped little in
4. As well as comparing the Gospel miracle stories to those in contemporary literature, the Form Critics
consider the form of the miracle stories themselves. They use this to answer the essential questions about
the stories’ historicity and theology, providing a much more valuable aid to understanding the miracle
stories. Whilst most miracles fall into the Form critical group of “miracles proper” (which will be
considered shortly), the critics identified certain “pronouncement miracle stories”. In these stories, the
Form critics would claim that the miracle is designed to enshrine a phrase or teaching of Jesus. In the case
of the healing of the man with the withered hand, it can be seen that Jesus’ attitude to the Sabbath and not
the healing of the man is the main concern. There is minimal detail concerning the healing, but the
controversy surrounding a healing on the Sabbath is emphasised. It is Jesus’ rhetorical question, “Is it
lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save life or to kill?”(Mk3:4), with its implications of a
new order of love, superseding the Torah, which is the focus of the pericopae. Some form critics would
identify the saying as one of Jesus, but the miracle story in which it is placed as an Early Church creation,
designed to enshrine the teaching and use it for polemic purposes, for instance in debates with the local
5. Other than “pronouncement stories”, form critics would identify miracles in the category “miracle stories
proper”; these are then described as either healing miracles, exorcisms or nature miracles. An important
feature of the healing miracles, first noted by Dibelius, is their three-fold structure, where there is initially
a description of the problem, followed by Jesus’ action in solving that problem, then the reaction of the
crowd or disciples. This discovery enabled the form critics to examine the stories from a literary
perspective, considering the length of each section and thereby where the emphasis lies. Furthermore,
through comparison between different Gospel accounts and further analysis of form, they attempted to
identify accretions, thereby establishing both the Sitz im Kirche and providing an indication of the
original words and actions of Jesus.
6. The “nature miracle”, The Feeding of the Five Thousand, has far fewer differences between the three
versions than many of the miracles found in the synoptic gospels. However, Form Criticism can still make
a valuable contribution to the understanding of this miracle, encouraging an investigation of the theology
behind the miracle rather than a blind acceptance of its truth. Bultmann and Taylor see the origin of the

story in the Old Testament, identifying many links, particularly with Moses. The grouping of the men
(“by hundreds and fifties” in Mark and “in companies, about fifty each” in Matthew) is a typical Jewish
method, seen in Exodus where Jethro tells Moses to dwindle the workers in to groups with sub-leaders.
The 12 baskets left over make an unmissable reference to the 12 tribes of Israel, whilst the connection
between Moses and Jesus is further extended as Jesus mirrors the miraculous feeding of Moses in the
wilderness. These references show the eschatological significance of the miracle story, as Jesus is
portrayed as the new Moses, surrounded by Israel, foretelling the restoration of Israel. Through these
descriptions, the story presents a picture of the messianic banquet; God is present with his people.
7. The Stilling of the Storm causes problems for many Form Critics who cannot accept the presence of an
example of an intervention by God in the natural order of the laws of nature. This demonstrates the Form
critics’ presupposition that any supernatural events were unacceptable. Thus Bultmann maintains in The
New Testament and Mythology that “it is impossible to use the electric light and the wireless and to avail
ourselves of modern medical and surgical discoveries, and at the same time to believe in the New
Testament world of spirits and miracles”. This gives many of the form critics a degree of cynicism when
considering the origination of the Stilling of the Storm. Some critics, particularly Bultmann and Dibelius,
see the miracle as an early church invention, created from Old Testament texts. They point to Psalm 104,
verses 6 and 7: “The waters stood above the mountains. At thy rebuke they fled.”
The word “rebuke” is the same in both the psalm and the miracle. However, it seems far-fetched that this
should have been the basis for the whole miracle. Instead, other form critics suggest it is actually a
dramatisation of actual events or a complete early church creation.
O. Dibelius Genre Forms.
1. Paradygma – Key statement of action
2. Novella – Longer account with more subjects.
3. Legends – Aetiological – tend to explain customs and actions.
P. The purposes of form criticism.
We have to accept that the Gospels are a combination. They are the preservation vessels of an oral tradition.
The redaction is a part of the tradition. Tradition developed fluidly. There is no reason why the moment of
fixation would have to have had not fluid element itself. The problem is that we tend to lose the larger context
in which the individual fragments contained in scripture were created. The Evangelists were members of this
community. They have their own styles. They each contributed to the fixing of the traditions in which they
lived. Our job now is not to rewrite, but to understand what, and why, they wrote.

VII. The Gospel of Matthew

A. Sources - A majority of scholars hold that Matthew derives from Mark, Q, and special Matthean material
(often called M).
1. Mark - Matthew draws extensively and faithful on Mark, almost as a scribe copying his source.
Nevertheless, changes do reveal a distinct Matthean thought. The more characteristic changes include:
a. Matthew writes Greek with more polish than Mark by eliminating both difficult phraseology and
double expressions and by smoothing out patterns.
b. Matthew omits or changes in passages in Mark unfavorable to those whose subsequent career make
them worthy of respect, e.g., the omission of Mark 3:21 where Jesus’ family thinks he is beside
himself, of Mark 8:22-26 which dramatizes the slowness of the disciples to see, of Mark 8:17 where
Jesus asks whether the disciples hearts are hardened, and of Mark 9:10, 32 where the disciples do not
understand the concept of resurrection from the dead.
c. Reflecting christological sensibilities, Matthew is more reverential about Jesus and avoids what might
limit him or make him appear naïve or superstitious, e.g., Matt 8:25-26, changes the chiding question
posed by the disciples to Jesus in Mark 4:38, and eliminates Jesus’ speaking to the wind and sea in the
next Marcan verse; 9:22 eliminates the implication in Mark 5:30-31 that Jesus did not know who
touched him; 15:30-31 omits spittle healing of deafness from Mark 7:32-36.
d. Matthew heightens the mircaluous element found in Mark. Adds women and children to Mark’s 5000
in the multiplication of the loaves; 14:24 increases distance of the boat from the short when Christ
walks across the water; 15:28 has the woman’s daughter healed instantly.
2. The Q Source - The Q source material that Matthew adds serves to emphasize the role of Jesus as a
teacher. Matthew seems to have rearranged Q material into sermons. To a group of four beatitudes (Luke
6:20-23), Matt 5:3-11 adds four more; Matthew 6:9-13 fleshes out the Lord’s prayer by bringing to it
additional petitions lacking in Luke 11:2-4.
3. Matthew Material - There is a body of material not found in Q or in Mark, but which is in Matthew.
Matthew seems to have created some of his own material, but he also seems to have drawn on some other

compositions, most notable a body of special material about Peter (14:28-31, 16:17-19, 17:24-27).
There also appears to be a lot of material (geneaological) that was taken from another source and
incorporated into the infancy narrative.
4. Formula or fulfillment citations: In some ten to fourteen instances where Matt cites the OT (Isaiah in 8 of
them), the scriptural passage is accompanied by the following formula (with slight variants): “All this
took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet who said.” There seems to be an element of
apologetics (directed to the synagogue). They may be simple proofs of faith directed at Christians.
B. Authorship & Date
1. Church tradition of old has designated Matthew the tax collector (Matt 9:9) as the author of the first
gospel. The oldest known heading above the gospel is kata Matthaion, ‘according to Matthew.’ The
original edition, however, probably had no title. Although early in the history of the church the first gospel
had already been provided with this author designation (supposedly by a second-generation Christian),
this in itself does not prove that Matthew the tax collector has indeed written this gospel. Even until today,
scholars differ in opinion concerning the author’s identity. It remains unclear, for instance, why Mark
(Mark 2:14) and Luke (Luke 5:27) use the name Levi instead of Matthew. Did Jesus perhaps give him the
name of Matthew (meaning ‘gift of the Lord’), just as He gave Simon the name of Peter? The New
Testament gives us no clear evidence concerning the person of the author. We are therefore dependent on
information from the Church Fathers.
2. Origen: In his Ecclesiastical History (HE VI, 25.4), Eusebius quoted Origen who wrote, “... first was
written that according to Matthew, who was once a tax-collector but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ,
who published it for those who from Judaism came to believe, composed as it was in the Hebrew
4. Irenaeus wrote, “Now Matthew published among the Hebrews a written gospel also in their own tongue,
while Peter and Paul were preaching in Rome and founding the church.”
5. Papias: The view that Matthew is the author of this gospel is especially based on a quotation also found
with Eusebius (HE, III, 39.16). This quotation originates from Papias, bishop of Hierapolis around 130,
and goes as follows, “Matthew collected the oracles in the Hebrew language, and each interpreted them as
best as he could” (tr. Loeb I, 297). Ca 125, Papias wrote “Matthew arranged in order the sayings in the
Hebrew language, and each one interpreted/translated as he was able” (EH 3.39.16). The canonical
Matthean Gospel exists in Greek, but was Papias referring to a Semitic original from which it was
translated? Three different observations point in that direction. 1) In antiquity thre was a Jewish gospel
probably in Aramaic used by Palestinian Christians and associated by the Church Fathers with Nazaraean
Jewish Christians, especially in the Aleppo area of Syria. References to this Gospel relate it closely to
Matthew; Jerome claimed that he translated it into Greek and at times he treat it almost as if it were the
semitic original behind Matthew. 2) There are Medieval Hebrew forms of Matt that some claim are a
guide to the original Hebrew of Matt. 3) Still other scholars think they reconstruct the original Hebrew
Matt, i.e., that the text would go back easily into Hebrew.
6. Raymond Brown: “It is best to accept the common position that canonical Matt was originally written in
Greek by a non eyewitness whose name is unknown to us and who depended on sources like Mark and Q.
We cannot dismiss too casually the testimony of Papias, an author who lived within 4 decades of
7. Jew or Gentile? Scholarship runs about four to one in favor of a Jewish Christian. There are mistakes he
makes (joining the Pharisees and Sadducees four times in ch. 16 as if they had the same teaching). There
are, however, many elements of Jewish thought in Matthew: The infancy narrative with a genealogy, a
Moses parallelism for Jesus, and a knowledge of Jewish legends; the Sermon on the Mount with
modifications of the Law; debates with the Pharisees; images of Peter’s authority (keys of the kingdom,
binding and loosing); a command to obey those who sit in Moses’ seat (23:2-3); worry about flight on a
8. Matthew 13:52 – Some suggest that Matthew refers to himself in 13:52 as a “scribe who has been trained
for the kingdom of heaven.” The final appearance of Matthew in the NT occurs at Pentecost in Acts 1:13,
where he is present with the Virgin Mary and the apostles praying in the upper room.
13.52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who
brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

9.9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he
rose and followed him 9.10 And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with
Jesus and his disciples. 9.11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax
collectors and sinners?” 9.12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are
sick. 9.13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
10.3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;
9. Language, Date, and Place of composition: Most people now hold that Matthew must have been
composed after Mark (64-69) and before AD 110, since the Gospels seems to have been known to
Ignatius of Antioch. It is generally believed to have been composed in Judea.
a. An early Church tradition is put forward by Papias (A.D. 130 and cited by Eusebius) and Irenaeus
(A.D.180). These Church Fathers give no specific dates but testify that Matthew wrote his Gospel –
Papias refers to the sayings (GK. Logia) of Jesus – in either Hebrew or Aramaic. Since the version of
Matthew we hav is written in Greek and is frequently cited in writings of the early Church, it is
presumed that this Hebrew/Aramaic version, no longer in existence, predates the canonical Greek
b. First of all, this brings up the question as to what Papias meant with ta logia (literally words,
proverbs). Since Schleiermacher many explained the word logia in this passage as ‘sayings’ and
believed Papias had refered to a document containing (only) sayings of Jesus. But nowadays there is
more or less a scholarly consensus that Papias used the word in the sense of ‘reports’, including
quotational elements as well as narrative units. He called his book ‘Investigations of the logia’ (HE
III,39.1) and by this Greek expression he meant the canonical gospels, whether they contain sayings
or narratives (Reicke 1990: 299). The Church Fathers after him also understood his words in that way.
c. When we read that Matthew ‘has combined his gospel in the Hebrew language’, another problem
emerges: almost all scholars agree that the Gospel of Matthew was written in Greek, and is not likely
to be the work of a translator. Therefore, it is assumed that Papias was wrong here, or that a Semitic
translation of Matthew’s Greek gospel was in circulation at the time. However, both suppositions lack
conclusive evidence. We may just as well assume Matthew wrote both an Aramaic and a Greek
gospel. As Davies and Allison (1988: 12) rightly observe, it is not easy to determine whether an
ancient text, especially one so clearly bearing the marks of two cultures, as does Matthew, is or is not
a translation. They mention the fact that learned Greeks, such as Eusebius, Origen, Clement of
Alexandria and Irenaeus, presumably knew the Greek language better than most modern scholars.
And they all took canonical Matthew to be the translation of a Semitic original
d. There is, it should be noted, no known translator. Presumably, had the original been written in
Aramaic/Hebrew, we would know who translated it. Second, there are no surviving Papyrus
fragments of a Hebrew original.
e. Concerning the place of origin, tradition points to Palestine. This is in complete agreement with the
content; time and again the Old Testament is quoted in order to show that Old Testament prophecies
have been fulfilled in Jesus. The apologetic traits also fit in well with this situation. It is questionable
whether Syria would be more suitable for the origin of a gospel in the Greek language, because the
Palestine of the first century AD was trilingual (Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew).
f. Concerning the date of composition, the issues are less vague. Therefore, we would like to devote
somewhat more attention to this. The tendency of NT scholarship of the past 25 years is to date
virtually the entire New Testament between 50 and 100 AD. This also applies to the Gospel of
Matthew. As a rule, a date is proposed for this gospel which is even closer to 100 AD than to 50 AD
For example, one of the best documented German introductions to the New Testament, that of
Kümmel (1977: 119-120), dates Matthew between 80 and 100, and the scholarly commentary of
Davies-Allison (1988: 138) between 80 and 95. When we look at the arguments on which these
conclusions are based, we find mainly the so called two-source hypothesis, a particular reading of
Matthew 22:7, and the fact that a theological development is observed in our gospel.
1. Evidence for a late date?
Those who propound that evidence exists for a date after 70 usually cite Matthew 22:7, a verse
from the parable of the royal wedding banquet. ‘And the king was enraged. He sent his army and
destroyed those murderers and burned their city’. These last words ‘burned their city’ are
generally interpreted as an allusion to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Apart from the fact
that the possibility that Jesus has spoken prophetically apparently is not taken into account, we
also believe that this conclusion is not immediately obvious in substance. In fact, in antiquity, the
setting of a city on fire was generally the manner by which towns were destroyed. We find this
throughout the Near Eastern literature, frequently in the Old Testament (Num 31:10; Deut 13:16;
Josh 6:24; 8:19; 11:11, 13; Judg 1:8; 18:27; 20:48; 1 Sam 30:1), and also with Jewish writers such
as Josephus and Philo. Therefore, it does not necessarily follow that this verse must have been
written in connection with an actual event. The general wording ‘and burned their city’ is more
reminiscent of the numerous passages in the Old Testament than the actual way it took place in 70
AD. In fact, at that time only the temple was burned and not the city. If Matthew 22:7 had been
written after the destruction of Jerusalem, one would have expected more precision in the
description. Actually we do find this precise distinction in the pseudepigraphical book II Baruch
(7:1), where we read, ‘we have overthrown the wall of Zion, and we have burnt the place of the
mighty God’, i.e. the temple (tr. Charles II, 484).

2. Written before 62 AD
a. The first evidence in favour of an early date is found in Matthew 24:29, where it says:
“Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not
give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken’. At that
time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky...” We are concerned with the first
word in our verse, the little word ‘immediately’. Immediately after the tribulation the heavens
will be moved and the Son of Man will come in His glory. This little word ‘immediately’ tells
us that the prophecies of Matthew 24 were not written with reference to the destruction of
Jerusalem in 70 and were also not brought into harmony with this: the Son of Man did not
come immediately after this destruction!
b. In Matthew 24 we find a second verse that is relevant for our investigation, which even gives
evidence for accepting that the gospel was written before 66. This is found in Matthew 24:15-
16. “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation’,
spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand--then let those who are in
Judea flee to the mountains”. It now becomes impossible to accept that this last phrase ‘flee to
the mountains’ was written with reference to actual events, since the mountains of Judea were
in fact already in enemy hands at the end of 67 AD (Robinson 1976: 16). Moreover,
according to the church father Eusebius (HE III,5.3), the Christians did not flee to the
mountains, but left Jerusalem before the outbreak of the war in 66 and went to the town of
Pella in the Transjordan. The most simple explanation for all of this is that the exhortations of
the Lord Jesus in Matthew 24:16 are prophetic words, written down by Matthew before 66
3. In closing, we shall discuss a matter that suggests that the gospel was written even before 62.
What actually happened in 62? According to Eusebius, James, the brother of Jesus, died as a
martyr in that year. As leader of the church of Jerusalem, he was succeeded by Simeon, the son of
Clopas, the brother of Joseph (HE III,11; III,23.1-6; IV,22.4). This succession within the family
through the line of the father reflects Jewish custom. Clopas, the father of Simeon, also appears in
the New Testament as the husband of one of the Marys who stood by the cross (John 19:25). It is
natural and most likely to identify this Mary with the one described by Matthew as the ‘mother of
James and Joses’ and as ‘the other Mary’ (Matt 27:56, 61; 28:1; Meyer-Bauer 1963: 426). If
Matthew had written his gospel after 62, at the very least one would have expected that he, who
himself stood in the Palestinian tradition, would have indicated this Mary to be Mary the mother
of Simeon. The fact that Matthew does not mention Simeon in connection with this suggests that
he has written his gospel before 62 AD. (Robinson 1976: 106).

C. Structure of Matthew.
In addition to the prologue and Passion, there are five central sections in Matthew. It is widely believed that
these five divisions in the book are meant to recall the five books of the Pentateuch. Given the Jewish
audience intended, this fivefold structure would have been both apparent and significant. Each discourse is
preceded by a short collection of stories or narratives that recount the deeds and miracles of Jesus’ public life.
The narrative-discourse arrangement highlights the complementarity of Jesus’ words and works. It further
suggests that the Gospel was organized to promote memorizationa dn aid in the catechesis of early Christians.
1. Prologue Narrative: The Ancestry and Infancy of Jesus (1:1-2:23)
a. Genealogy of Jesus (1:1-17). The genealogy tells a story. To a Jew, each of the names would give a
piece of Jewish history.
b. Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem (1:18-25).
c. Visit of the Wise Men (2:1-12).
d. Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt (2:13-15).
e. Slaughter of the Holy Innocents (2:16-18).
f. Return of the Holy Family to Nazareth (2:19-23).
2. BOOK I: John the Baptist and the Early Ministry of Jesus
a. NARRATIVE: Ministry of John and Jesus (Ch. 3-4).
b. DISCOURSE: Sermon on the Mount (Ch. 5-7).

3. BOOK II: Jesus’ Miracles and the Commission of the 12 (8:1-10:42).
a. NARRATIVE: Miracle Stories of Jesus (8-9).
1. Matthew is called matthew here and at c.10.3. In Mark and Luke, he is called Levi. Matthew/Levi
was probably a double name. Mattheo signifies gift of God. He was probably given this name
after the call.
2. Levi is a name that reveals Matthew was dedicated to the temple. It makes his service as a tax
collector all the more odious.
9.9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he
rose and followed him 9.10 And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with
Jesus and his disciples. 9.11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax
collectors and sinners?” 9.12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are
sick. 9.13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
b. DISCOURSE: Missionary Sermon for the Apostles (10).
The word that is used to describe Matthew is “telones,” an esattore. A publican does something
public. A “Telwvns” is a public, but not all publicans are “Telwvns.” A prostitute is also a publican.
10.3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;
4. BOOK III: Growing Controversy and the New Kingdom (11:1-13:58).
a. NARRATIVE: Jesus confronts and evil Generation (11-12).
b. DISCOURSE: Parables of the Kingdom (13).
5. BOOK IV: Jesus Instructs Peter and the Twelve (14:1-18:35)
a. NARRATIVE: Various Travels and Miracles (14-17)
b. DISCOURSE: Sermon on the Life of the Church (18).
6. BOOK V: Jesus Travels to Judea and enters Jerusalem
a. NARRATIVE: Events in Judea and teaching in the Temple (19-23).
b. DISCOURSE: The Olivet Discourse – Judgment on Jerusalem (24-25)
7: Passion Week Narratives: (26:1-28:20)
a. Annointing at Bethany (26:1-16).
b. Last Supper (26:17-29).
c. Betrayal and Trials of Jesus (26:30-27:26).
d. Crucifixion and Burial of Jesus. (27:27-66).
e. Resurrection of Jesus. (28:1-15).
f. The Great Commission. (28:16-20).
D. Literary Analysis
1. Formulaic language ending each section of discourse.
Identical wording concludes these five instructive passages, and connects them with the narrative passages
in a fluent and natural manner. We find these expressions in the following verses:
a. Matthew 7:28: “When Jesus had finished saying these things...”.
“Kai egeneto ‘ote etelesev ‘o Insous tous logous.”
b. Matthew 11:1: “After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples...”
“Kai egeneto ‘ote etelesev ‘o Insous diatasswv tois dwdeka mathntais.”
c. Matthew 13:53: “When Jesus had finished these parables...”.
“Kai egeneto ‘ote etelesev ‘o Insous tas parabolas tautas..”
d. Matthew 19:1: “When Jesus had finished saying these things...”.
“Kai egeneto ‘ote etelesev ‘o Insous tous logous toutous.”
e. Matthew 26:1: “When Jesus had finished saying all these things...”.
“Kai egeneto ‘ote etelesev ‘o Insous pantas tous logous toutous.”
2. Works confirm teachings.
Throughout the five double chapters, Matthew tends to set Jesus’ deeds so that they confirm his words
3. Inclusion: - Matthew begins and ends the preaching in Galilee with a doublet that serve to summarizes
what he is going to do and what he has done. This inclusion indicates how the section should be read.
4.23 And he went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and
healing every disease and every infirmity among the people
9.35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the
kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity
4. Centurion
a. Matthew 8:5-13 - 8.5 As he entered Caper’na-um, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him8.6 and
saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.” 8.7 And he said to him, “I will come
and heal him.” 8.8 But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof;
but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8.9 For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under

me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’
and he does it.” 8.10 When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I say to
you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. 8.11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at
table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 8.12 while the sons of the kingdom will be
thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” 8.13 And to the centurion Jesus said,
“Go; be it done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.
b. Luke: 7.1 After he had ended all his sayings in the hearing of the people he entered Caper’na-um. Now a
centurion had a slave who was dear to him, who was sick and at the point of death. When he heard of Jesus, he
sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his slave. And when they came to Jesus, they
besought him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he built
us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends
to him, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof;
therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I am a man set
under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he
comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this he marveled at him, and turned and
said to the multitude that followed him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those
who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave well.
5. Raising of Jairus’ Daughter.
a. Matthew: 9.18-26, “While he was thus speaking to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying,
“My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus rose and followed
him, with his disciples. And behold, a woman who had suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years came up
behind him and touched the fringe of his garment; 9.21 for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I
shall be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you
well.” And instantly the woman was made well. And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house, and saw the flute
players, and the crowd making a tumult, he said, “Depart; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they
laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl
arose. And the report of this went through all that district.
b. Luke 8:40-9:6: Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. And
there came a man named Ja’irus, who was a ruler of the synagogue; and falling at Jesus’ feet he besought him to
come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. As he went, the
people pressed round him. And a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years and could not be healed
by any one, came up behind him, and touched the fringe of his garment; and immediately her flow of blood
ceased. And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the
multitudes surround you and press upon you!” But Jesus said, “Some one touched me; for I perceive that
power has gone forth from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and
falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had
been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” While he
was still speaking, a man from the ruler’s house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the
Teacher any more.” But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she shall be well.”
And when he came to the house, he permitted no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and
the father and mother of the child. And all were weeping and bewailing her; but he said, “Do not weep; for she
is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But taking her by the hand he
called, saying, “Child, arise.” And her spirit returned, and she got up at once; and he directed that something
should be given her to eat. And her parents were amazed; but he charged them to tell no one what had happened.
9.1 And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases,
and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, “Take nothing for your
journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter,
stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the
dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” And they departed and went through the villages, preaching
the gospel and healing everywhere.
c. Mark 5:40: 5.21And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about
him; and he was beside the sea. 5.22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Ja’irus by name; and seeing
him, he fell at his feet, 5.23 and besought him, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay
your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” 5.24And he went with him. And a great crowd
followed him and thronged about him. 5.25 And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve
years, 5.26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better
but rather grew worse. 5.27 She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and
touched his garment. 5.28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well.” 5.29 And
immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 5.30 And
Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd,
and said, “Who touched my garments?” 5.31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing
around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’“ 5.32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 5.33 But
the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told

him the whole truth. 5.34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be
healed of your disease.” 5.35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said,
“Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 5.36 But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to
the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 5.37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter
and James and John the brother of James. 5.38 When they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, he
saw a tumult, and people weeping and wailing loudly. 5.39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why do
you make a tumult and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 5.40 And they laughed at him. But he put
them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the
child was. 5.41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Tal’itha cu’mi”; which means, “Little girl, I say to you,
arise.” 5.42 And immediately the girl got up and walked (she was twelve years of age), and they were
immediately overcome with amazement. 5.43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and
told them to give her something to eat.
d. Matthew and Mark on Jesus’s Divinity:
Mark has Jesus asked who touched him. Matthew eliminates this and has Jesus know immediately
who had touched him. The Jesus of Matthew is more divine.
e. Death and Sleep.
Jesus’ comment that the girl is only sleeping has meaning on several levels. Sleep does not deny that
she is died. It does, however, confirm that the death is not a permanent condition.
6. The Healing of the Paralytic.
a. Matthew 9:2-8 - 9.1 And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city 9.2 And behold, they
brought to him a paralytic, lying on his bed; and when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic, “Take heart,
my son; your sins are forgiven.” 9.3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is
blaspheming.” 9.4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 9.5 For
which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 9.6 But that you may know that the
Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” --he then said to the paralytic--”Rise, take up your bed and go
home.” 9.7 And he rose and went home. 9.8 When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God,
who had given such authority to men.
b. Mark 2:1-6: 2.1And when he returned to Caper’na-um after some days, it was reported that he was at home.
2.2And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and
he was preaching the word to them. 2.3And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 2.4And
when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had
made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. 2.5And when Jesus saw their faith, he said
to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” 2.6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning
in their hearts, 2.7 “Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 2.8
And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them,
“Why do you question thus in your hearts? 2.9Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise, take up your pallet and walk’? 2.10But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on
earth to forgive sins” --he said to the paralytic-- 2.11 “I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.”
2.12And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed
and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
c. Notes:
1. In Mark, the Scribes are portrayed as sitting. Why? There clearly was no room in the house for
seats. Why does Mark add this detail? In order to show that they are in the role of Judges. Judges
always sit.
2. Jesus perceives in his spirit. This is not a reference to the Holy Spirit. The word “pneuma” refers
to breath, respiration.
3. Matthew has a tendency to eliminate circumstantial details. Mark tends to be more explicit.
4. Mark 4:38 4.38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to
him, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?”
Note the rich description. Jesus was on the stern. On a cushion. That he is sleeping in the midst of
the storm shows his supreme confidence in God.
7. Jesus as Messiah - All of the Evangelists describe Jesus as the Messiah. In Matthew, this is because he is
the son of David, a fact made abundantly clear at the outset by means of the genealogy. Matthew’s
reading public was Jewish. His goal was to prove the Messiahship of Jesus. That is why there are so many
Old Testament Citations. Palestine was an occupied country. The only power left to the locals was
religious. This was the ground on which Jesus and other Jews fought.
a. Matthew 1.22 All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 1.23 “Behold, a
virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (which means, God
with us).

b. Matthew 2.5-6 “2.5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: 2.6
‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for
from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.’“
c. Matthew 4:14: 4.13 and leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Caper’na-um by the sea, in the
territory of Zeb’ulun and Naph’tali, 4.14 that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be
fulfilled: 4.15 “The land of Zeb’ulun and the land of Naph’tali, toward the sea, across the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles.”
d. Matthew 8:16 “8.16 That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and
he cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick. 8.17 This was to fulfil what was
spoken by the prophet Isaiah, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
e. Matthew 12:16-17: 12.16 and ordered them not to make him known. 12.17 This was to fulfil what
was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: 12.18 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with
whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall proclaim justice to the
Gentiles. 12.19 He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will any one hear his voice in the streets; 12.20
he will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick, till he brings justice to victory; 12.21
and in his name will the Gentiles hope.”
f. Matthew 21:4 “21.4 This took place to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet, saying, 21.5 “Tell the
daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt,
the foal of an ass.” The two animals of 21.1 are there just to fulfill the scripture.
g. Matthew 26:56 - 26.56 But all this has taken place, that the scriptures of the prophets might be
fulfilled.” Then all the disciples forsook him and fled.”
h. Matthew 27.9 - 27.9 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And
they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the
sons of Israel, 27.10 and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”
8. The Relationship between Jesus and Moses/David in Matthew.
a. Moses – As the suprem lawgiver of the Old Covenant, Moses prefigures Christ, who gives the New
Law in the Sermon on the Mount (chaps. 5-7). Jesus also reenacts experiences from Moses’s infancy
and the prophet’s 40 days fasting in solitude (4:2, Ex. 34:28). Finally, Moses bears witness to Jesus’
greater glory at the transfiguration, where Jesus is showcased as the prophet-like-Moses (17:5).
1. Summary - God’s covenant with Israel at Mt. Sinai and on the plains of Moab were fulfilled in
Jesus Christ in two ways. Negatively, Jesus highlights the temporary nature of Mosaic ceremonial
laws; the sacrificial and juridical dimensions of the Old Law were scheduled to expire with the
arrival of God’s New Covenant. Jesus initiates this new era by offering forgiveness apart from the
temple and priesthood. He erects a new standard of covenant righteousness that penetrates deeper
than the law of Moses and advocates holiness that is interior and personal. Jesus revokes
permission of divorce and promises the destruction of the temple. Positively, Jesus is cast as the
new Moses who ascends a new mountain to give the New Covenant Law in the Beatitudes (5:3-
12). He perfects and intensifies the moral codes of the Old Law (5:17-48) and binds the Church
to himself by his “blood of the Covenant” in the Eucharist. (26:28).
2. Jesus’ birth was accompanied by a purging of the innocent Jewish youth, as was Moses birth in
Egypt. Both Jesus and Moses live for a time in Egypt, are identified with people of Israel.
a. Jesus rescued from Herod’s anger (see birth of Moses)
b. Both die with full knowledge of upcoming death
c. Wandering for 40 years / 40 days of baptism
d. Going up and teaching on a mountain
e. Equates Jesus tradition with foundations of Judaism
b. David – As Israel’s ideal King, David foreshadows the role of Jesus, who assumes his royal throne
forever (1:1, 2;2). Jesus is greater than David (22:41-45); his hungry disciples, like David’s
companions, are permitted to breach the Sabbatch 12:3). As David gave Israel rest from its enemies (2
Sam. 7:1), Jesus saves Israel from its sins. Matthew’s gospel prominently features Jesus as Son of
David. It is Christ who fulfills God’s covenant oath to establish David’s empire forever (2 Sam. 7:12-
13). God’s covenant appeared threatened when the Davidic dynasty collapsed in 586. Christ now
reconstitutes the Davidic kingdom in a new and spiritual way. Jesus is in the line of David. Jesus was
born in Bethlehem, the city of David’s birth.
9. Jesus as Priest, Prophet, and King.
a. Monarchy had not lasted long for the Jewish people, but it became a symbol for Israel of their hopes
and dreams.

b. Prophet – What does the prophet do after the period of the monarchy? During the exile, the prophet
became a point of reference for national solidarity. The prophet is a reminder of God and the God has
guaranteed the eventual return of his kingdom; the reconstruction of the temple. Prophetic institution
become a point of of opposition under oppression; a dream of the future to come.
c. All of these institutions find their point of departure in Moses.
1. King – Moses was technically not a king, but more of a pastor. Ps. 67, Israel as flock, Moses as
2. Sacerdote – Moses chose the 12. The first cult nucleus is therefore tied to him.
3. Profeta – Moses era il profeta par excellence. Moses spoke to the people for God. Moses spoke to
God on behalf of the people.
d. Testi importanti.
1. Matthew 11:2-5: Signs of Jesus’ Messiahship.
11.2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples
11.3 and said to him, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 11.4 And Jesus
answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 11.5 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 have
good news preached to them. 11.6 And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.”
2. Matthew 12:23
12.23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 12.24 But when
the Pharisees heard it they said, “It is only by Be-el’zebul, the prince of demons, that this man
casts out demons.”
3. Matthew 9.27 – Healing of Blind Man
9.27 And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy
on us, Son of David.”
4. Matthew 15.22 – Canaanite Woman
15.24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
5. Entrance into Jerusalem. The entrance into Jerusalem in Matthew accentuates the elements of
Jesus as Messiah. Matthew 21: 21.1 And when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Beth’phage, to
the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 21.2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you,
and immediately you will find an ass tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 21.3 If any
one says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and he will send them immediately.”
21.4 This took place to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet, saying, 21.5 “Tell the daughter of Zion,
Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass.” 21.6
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 21.7 they brought the ass and the colt, and put their
garments on them, and he sat thereon. 21.8 Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and others
cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 21.9 And the crowds that went before him and that
followed him shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!”
10. Be Perfect as thy father in Heaven is perfect.
a. The word that Jesus uses to describe perfection is “teleioi,” which does not have the sense it has in
philosophy (having to do with the arrival at the end state, or “telos”). The reference is rather to
Leviticus, where God calls upon his people to be holy, as he is holy. Holy/Santo, in this sense, means
“separato.” God intends by this that his people have no other Gods besides him. His people are to
separate themselves from other Gods. Just as God has separated Himself out and consecrated himself
to one people, so too that people need respond and enter into a similar relation with him. God asks
that we consecrate ourselves, as he has consecrated himself. This passage means that we must give all
to God. It is not a relation between equals, but a relation of parity between two unequal parties. 5.48
You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
b. Thre are two commandments in matthew: Love God and Love your neighbor as yourself. This really
is the heart of the law, considered as a guide to our relationship with God. Dio ha un rapporto con
tutta la umanita, non con un uomo solo. Rappresentante representano il popolo intero.
11. Jesus and the Gentiles.
a. Matthew 10.5-6 – Sending out of the Twelve.
These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the
Samaritans, 10.6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
b. Matthew 15, 24 – Canannite Woman
15.22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son
of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.” 15.23 But he did not answer her a word. And his
disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying after us.” 15.24 He answered, “I was
sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 15.25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help
me.” 15.26 And he answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 15.27 She
said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 15.28 Then Jesus
answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed
c. Mark 7:24 – A mellower version. Israel is the people of the Promise.
7.24And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house, and would
not have any one know it; yet he could not be hid. 7.25But immediately a woman, whose little daughter was
possessed by an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell down at his feet. 7.26Now the woman was a
Greek, a Syrophoeni’cian by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 7.27And he said
to her, “Let the children first be fed, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”
7.28But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 7.29And
he said to her, “For this saying you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” 7.30And she went
home, and found the child lying in bed, and the demon gone.

12 Passion Parallels: Why is Jesus Killed

a. Before the Sanhedrin
Mark 14, 55 – 14, 65 Matthew 26, 59 – 26, 68 Luke 22, 63 – 22, 71
Now the chief priests and the whole council Now the chief priests and the whole Now the men who were holding
sought testimony against Jesus to put him to council sought false testimony against Jesus mocked him and beat him;
death; but they found none. For many bore Jesus that they might put him to death, but they also blindfolded him and
false witness against him, and their witness they found none, though many false asked him, “Prophesy! Who is it
did not agree. And some stood up and bore witnesses came forward. At last two came that struck you?” And they spoke
false witness against him, saying, “We heard forward and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am many other words against him,
him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is able to destroy the temple of God, and to reviling him. When day came, the
made with hands, and in three days I will build it in three days.’“ And the high priest assembly of the elders of the
build another, not made with hands.’“ Yet not stood up and said, “Have you no answer to people gathered together, both
even so did their testimony agree. And the make? What is it that these men testify chief priests and scribes; and they
high priest stood up in the midst, and asked against you?” But Jesus was silent. And the led him away to their council, and
Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the they said, “If you are the Christ,
is it that these men testify against you?” But living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the tell us.” But he said to them, “If I
he was silent and made no answer. Again the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have tell you, you will not believe; and
high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will if I ask you, you will not answer.
the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I see the Son of man seated at the right hand But from now on the Son of man
am; and you will see the Son of man seated at of Power, and coming on the clouds of shall be seated at the right hand
the right hand of Power, and coming with the heaven.” Then the high priest tore his of the power of God.” And they
clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore robes, and said, “He has uttered all said, “Are you the Son of God,
his garments, and said, “Why do we still need blasphemy. Why do we still need then?” And he said to them, “You
witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy. witnesses? You have now heard his say that I am.” And they said,
What is your decision?” And they all blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They “What further testimony do we
condemned him as deserving death. And answered, “He deserves death.” Then they need? We have heard it ourselves
some began to spit on him, and to cover his spat in his face, and struck him; and some from his own lips.”
face, and to strike him, saying to him, slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you
“Prophesy!” And the guards received him Christ! Who is it that struck you?”
with blows.

b. Before Pilate (and Herod in Luke).

Mark 15, 2 – 15, 15 Matthew 27, 11 – 27, 26 Luke 23, 2 – 23, 25
And Pilate asked him, “Are Now Jesus stood before the governor; And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found
you the King of the Jews?” and the governor asked him, “Are you this man perverting our nation, and forbidding us to
And he answered him, “You the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is
have said so.” And the chief have said so.” But when he was Christ a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the
priests accused him of many accused by the chief priests and elders, King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You
things. And Pilate again he made no answer. Then Pilate said to have said so.” And Pilate said to the chief priests and
asked him, “Have you no him, “Do you not hear how many the multitudes, “I find no crime in this man.” But
answer to make? See how things they testify against you?” But he they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people,
many charges they bring gave him no answer, not even to a teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to
against you.” But Jesus made single charge; so that the governor this place.” When Pilate heard this, he asked whether
no further answer, so that wondered greatly. Now at the feast the the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he
Pilate wondered. Now at the governor was accustomed to release for belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to
feast he used to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time.
them one prisoner for whom wanted. And they had then a notorious When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had
they asked. And among the prisoner, called Barab’bas. So when long desired to see him, because he had heard about

rebels in prison, who had they had gathered, Pilate said to them, him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by
committed murder in the “Whom do you want me to release for him. So he questioned him at some length; but he
insurrection, there was a man you, Barab’bas or Jesus who is called made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes
called Barab’bas. And the Christ?” For he knew that it was out of stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with
crowd came up and began to envy that they had delivered him up. his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked
ask Pilate to do as he was Besides, while he was sitting on the him; then, arraying him in gorgeous apparel, he sent
wont to do for them. And he judgment seat, his wife sent word to him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became
answered them, “Do you him, “Have nothing to do with that friends with each other that very day, for before this
want me to release for you righteous man, for I have suffered they had been at enmity with each other. Pilate then
the King of the Jews?” For he much over him today in a dream.” Now called together the chief priests and the rulers and the
perceived that it was out of the chief priests and the elders people, and said to them, “You brought me this man
envy that the chief priests had persuaded the people to ask for as one who was perverting the people; and after
delivered him up. But the Barab’bas and destroy Jesus. The examining him before you, behold, I did not find this
chief priests stirred up the governor again said to them, “Which of man guilty of any of your charges against him;
crowd to have him release for the two do you want me to release for neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us.
them Barab’bas instead. And you?” And they said, “Barab’bas.” Behold, nothing deserving death has been done by
Pilate again said to them, Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I him; I will therefore chastise him and release him.”
“Then what shall I do with do with Jesus who is called Christ?” Now of necessity he was to release unto them one
the man whom you call the They all said, “Let him be crucified.” upon the feast day. But they all cried out together,
King of the Jews?” And they And he said, “Why, what evil has he “Away with this man, and release to us Barab’bas” --
cried out again, “Crucify done?” But they shouted all the more, a man who had been thrown into prison for an
him.” And Pilate said to “Let him be crucified.” So when Pilate insurrection started in the city, and for murder. Pilate
them, “Why, what evil has he saw that he was gaining nothing, but addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus;
done?” But they shouted all rather that a riot was beginning, he took but they shouted out, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third
the more, “Crucify him.” So water and washed his hands before the time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I
Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this have found in him no crime deserving death; I will
crowd, released for them man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And therefore chastise him and release him.” But they
Barab’bas; and having scour- all the people answered, “His blood be were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he
ged Jesus, he delivered him to on us and on our children!” Then he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So
be crucified. released for them Barab’bas, and Pilate gave sentence that their demand should be
having scourged Jesus, delivered him to granted. He released the man who had been thrown
be crucified into prison for insurrection and murder, whom they
asked for; but Jesus he delivered up to their will.

13. Close of Matthew

28.18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 28.19 Go
therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit, 28.20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of
the age.”

VIII. The Gospel of Mark

A. Authorship
1. Papias - “Mark, having become the interpreter/translator of Peter, wrote down accurately, however, not in
order, all that he recalled of what was either said or done by the Lord. For he had neither heard nor
followed the Lord; but later (as I said) he followed Peter, who used to adapt his instructions to the needs
(of the moment or of the audience), but not with a view of making an orderly account of the Lord’s
sayings (logia). Accordingly, Mark did not wrong in thus writing down some things as he recalled them,
for he made it his aim to omit nothing he had heard to state nothing therein falsely.”
2. Irenaeus wrote (Against Heresies 3.1.1): “After their departure [of Peter and Paul from earth], Mark, the
disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter.”
Note that Irenaeus had read Papias, and thus Irenaeus doesn’t provide any independent confirmation of the
statement made by the earlier author.
3. Clement of Alexandria. While several works of Clement have survived, many others, including his
biblical Outlines (Hypotyposeis) were lost, except for passages quoted by 3rd & 4th c. writers. Eusebius
of Caesarea (Eccles. Hist. 6.14.5-7) ascribed this information about the origin of the gospels to him: “And
again Clement has inserted in the same books a tradition of the primitive elders concerning the order of
the gospels as follows. He said that the gospels that include genealogies [Matthew & Luke] were written
first; but that the gospel according to Mark came about in this way: When Peter had publicly proclaimed
the word & by the Spirit preached the gospel at Rome, those who were present, being many, urged Mark--
-as one of his [Peter’s] long-time followers who remembered what was said---to make a record of what
had been spoken. And he did this and distributed the gospel among those who had asked him. And when

this matter came to Peter’s attention, he neither strongly forbid it, nor urged it on. But, last of all, John--
-aware that the outward facts had been set out in the [synoptic] gospels, --- was encouraged by his
disciples & divinely motivated by the Spirit, composed a spiritual gospel. This is Clement’s account.”
4. However, there are two other pieces of external evidence that may confirm that the author of the Gospel
of Mark was a disciple of Peter. Justin Martyr quotes from Mark as being the memoirs of Peter (Dial.
106.3). In Acts 10:34-40, Peter’s speech serves as a good summary of the Gospel of Mark, “beginning in
Galilee after the baptism that John preached.” Finally, there was not an extremely strong motivation for
the early church to attribute the second gospel to one obscure Mark, the disciple of Peter, instead of
directly to an apostle. Thus, the tradition of Markan authorship is to be taken seriously.
5. The Anti-Marcionite Prologue to Mark (A.D. 160-180) mentions Mark as the Gospel writer and connects
him with Peter:”...Mark declared, who is called ‘stumb-fingered’ because he had short fingers in
comparison with the size of the rest of his body. He was Peter’s interpreter. After the death of Peter
himself he wrote down this same gospel in the regions of Italy.”
6. Evidence of the Person of Mark
a. 1 Peter 5:13 – “She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings; and so does my
son Mark.”
b. Acts 12:12: 12: When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other
name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. --- He was a Jewish Christian
whose mother, Mary, owned a home in Jerusalem where the early church met.
c. 2 Timothy 4:11: 11: Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you; for he is very useful
in serving me.
d. He was a cousin of Barnabas (Col. 4:10)
c. He was added to Paul and Barnabas’ party when they visited Jerusalem for the famine relief (Acts
d. He went with Barnabas and Saul (Paul) on the first missionary journey, but turned back to Jerusalem
when they went inland to Asia at Perga in Pamphylia (Acts 13:5,13)
e. On the second missionary journey Barnabas wanted to take John-Mark along, but Paul refused because
of his earlier defection, so Barnabas took Mark to Cyprus where he probably encouraged him (Acts
f. Paul was later reconciled with Mark:
1. Mark was with Paul during his imprisonment in Rome and served as his delegate in Asia Minor
(Philemon 24; Col. 4:10)
2. Paul instructed Timothy to send Mark to Rome to be with him during his final imprisonment
because he was useful to him for service (2 Tim. 4:11)
g. When 1 Peter was written, Mark was with Peter in Rome and regarded as Peter’s spiritual son (1 Peter
7. There is evidence in Mark that it was written for Gentiles (perhaps from Rome):
a. Mark does not include a genealogy
b. Mark interprets Hebrew (Aramaic) words (5:41;7:11,34; 14:36)
c. Mark uses Roman time rather than Hebrew time (6:48; 13:35)
d. Mark uses Latin (5:9; 6:27; 12:15,42;15:16,39)
e. Mark explains locations and places
8. There is evidence that the writer was fromPalestine:
a. He is familiar with the geography of Palestine, especially Jerusalem (5:1; 6:53; 8:10; 11:1; 13:3)
b. He knew Aramaic, the common language of Palestine (5:41; 7:11,34; 14:36)
c. He understood Jewish institutions and customs (1:21; 2:14,16,18; 7:2-4)
9. There is evidence that the author was connected with Peter:
a. The vividness and detail suggest reminiscences of a close eyewitness such as Peter (1:16-20,29-31,35-
38; 5:21-24,35-43; 6:39,53-54; 9:14-15; 10:32,46; 14:32-42).
b. The use of Peter’s words and deeds (8:29,32-33; 9:5-6; 10:28-30; 14:29-31,66-72)
c. The inclusion of the unique words “and Peter” in 16:7
c. Similarity between the broad outline of this Gospel and Peter’s sermon in Caesarea [Galilee,
Jerusalem, Passion, Resurrection, Commission]
Atti 10:34-43: And Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but
in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the word
which he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), the word which
was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached:
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good

and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses to all that
he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree;
but God raised him on the third day and made him manifest; not to all the people but to us who were
chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded
us to preach to the people, and to testify that he is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and
the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of
sins through his name.”
10. Mark 14:50-52
There are those who take the incident of the young man running away from Jesus naked to be a reference
by Mark to Mark. It was Mark who ran away from Jesus naked. The word “neaniskos” occurs only here
and at Mark 16:5. The young man is an angel. The nude flight is an escape from death, a shedding of the
earthly life.
14.50 And they all forsook him, and fled. 51 And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth
about his body; and they seized him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.
16.5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they
were amazed.
11. Where and to whom written?
a. The church fathers (see above under “Author”) affirm that Mark’s Gospel was written in Rome for
Gentile, Roman Christians
b. There is an assortment of evidence from the Gospel that has been used to support these affirmations of
the church fathers:
c. Aramaic expressions are translated (3:17; 5:41; 7:11,34; 14:36; 15:22,34)
1. Mark 3:17: James the son of Zeb’edee and John the brother of James, whom he surnamed Bo-
aner’ges, that is, sons of thunder;
2. Mark 5:41: Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Tal’itha cu’mi”; which means, “Little girl, I
say to you, arise.”
3. Mark 7:11 but you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from
me is Corban’ (that is, given to God).
4. Mark 7:34 “And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him, “Eph’phatha,” that is, “Be
5. Mark 14:36 - And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee; remove this cup from
me; yet not what I will, but what thou wilt.”
d. Jewish customs are explained (7:3-4; 14:12; 15:42).
1. Mark 7: 3-4: “For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they wash their hands,
observing the tradition of the elders; 7.4and when they come from the market place, they do not
eat unless they purify themselves; and there are many other traditions which they observe, the
washing of cups and pots and vessels of bronze.)”
2. Mark 14:12: - “And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the passover
lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the
3. Mark 15:42 – “And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day
before the sabbath,”
e. Latin terms are used rather than Greek equivalents (5:9; 15:16)
1. Mark 5:9 - And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we
are many.”
2. Mark 15.16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the praetorium); and they
called together the whole battalion.
f. Roman reckoning of time is used (6:48; 13:35)
1. Mk 6:48 - And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them.
And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by
2. Mk. 13:35 - Watch therefore--for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the
evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning.
5. He alone identifies Simon of Cyrene as the father of Alexander and Rufus (15:21; cf. Rom. 16:13):
Romans 16:13 “Greet Rufus, eminent in the Lord, also his mother and mine.”.
6. Few OT quotations or references to fulfilled prophecy are used. This suggests a non-Jewish audience.
Compare Matthew.

7. Mark is concerned for all of the nations and has a gentile, Roman centurion proclaim Jesus’ deity at
the end of the Gospel (5:18-29; 15:39)
8. The tone and message of the Gospel are encouraging to Roman believers who were encountering
persecution and expecting more (8:34-38; 9:49;13:9-13)
9. Mark assumes that his readers are familiar with the main characters, so he writes with more of a
theological interest rather than a biological interest
10. Mark 10:11: And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits
adultery against her; 10.12and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits
This is a Roman Law understanding of divorce. Compare to Matthew: 19:8 “He said to them,
“For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it
was not so. 19.9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries
another, commits adultery.”
12. Date - The problem is complex, but it is plausible that Mark was written sometime between A.D. 64-69.
a. The almost universal view is that Mark wrote in the decade before 70A.D.
b. There are some who feel the date is between 50-55. A papyrus fragment from Qumran, dating from
around 50 A.D., which seems to contain several versus of Matthew would support this position.
c. Assuming that Mark was relied upon by both Luke and Matthew, it is equally unlikely that the Gospel
was written after 75 A.D.
d. The description of Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem suggests that Mark’s Gospel was
written before A.D. 70 (Mk. 13:2,14-23). Some, however, would argue that this is in fact proof that
the Gospel was not written before 70.
d. Early testimony of the church is divided about whether Mark was written before or after the martyrdom
of Peter, A.D. 64-68:
1. Irenaeus and the Anti-Marcionite Prologue affirmed that Mark wrote after the death of Peter and
Paul thus, placing the date of the Gospel between A.D. 67-69 (Paul was probably martyred A.D.
2. Clement of Alexandria and Origen affirmed that Mark wrote during Peter’s lifetime with Peter’s
ratification, thus placing the date of the epistle between A.D. 64-68 (Peter was probably martyred
A.D. 64)
13. Appendix to Mark 16:9-20
These 11 verses only appear in more recent MSS. The original ending almost certainly was 6:8. The
Gospel ended with fear and incomprehension. This is a lesson to believers in Rome. They were no doubt
facing a period of doubt and incomprehension. The Gospel is, in its entirety, a lesson for that Christian
community. Mark’s theology is consistent. Even a proclamation of the resurrection does not produce faith
without the hearer’s personal encounter with suffering and carrying the cross.
Cf. Mark 16.9Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast
out seven demons
with Luke 8:2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Mag’dalene, from whom
seven demons had gone out.
Cf. Mark 6:50-51 for they all saw him, and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; have
no fear.” 6.51And he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded,
and Mark 5:36 But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”
with Mark 16:8 And they went out and fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them; and they said
nothing to any one, for they were afraid.

B. Structure of Mark
The Gospel is best divided into two major sections and two minors ones. The two major sections (1:16-8:30;
8:31-15:47) contain most of Mark’s narrative and consist of various events that graudally build in momentum
toward climactic confessions of faith. In the first movement, the story culminates with Peter’s testimony,
“You are the Christ (8:29), a confession that stands out amid the surrounding confusion about Jesus’ identity
(8:28). Similarly, the second movement (8:31-15:47) ascends gradually and peaks with the centurion’s
declaration, “Truly this man was the Son of God.” (15:39), which also stands in contrast to the taunts leveled
at Jesus on Calvary. The Prologue sets the stage for Jesus, narrating the preparations leading up to his public
ministry. The Epilogue crown’s Mark’s story with the account of Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension, bringing
to a climax “the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” anticipated in the beginning.
1. Prologue
a. Preaching and Ministry of John (1:1-8).
1. First line “Beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ” raises several questions.
a. First, is the “Jesus Christ” a subjective or objective genitive? Most likely, the genitive here
is an epesegetic genitive, as in the “city of Rome.” The Good News is, to some extent, the
Good news of Jesus Christ, i.e., Jesus is Evangelion.
b. Second, what is the meaning of “evangelion”? DeSanctis looks to other passages in which
evangelion occurs. In Mark 1:14-15, we see that Jesus is the carrier of the evangelion and that
this evangelion is tied to oral preaching. 13:10, 14:9, and 16:15 confirm this view of the
meaning of the Word.
1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15: and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the
kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.”
8:35 For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
10:29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my
sake and for the gospel,
13:10. And unto all nations the gospel must first be preached.
14:9. Amen, I say to you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, that also which she hath done shall be told for a
memorial of her.
16:15. And he said to them: Go ye into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature.
2. The Meaning of “Gospel” after Mark
As is clear from Justin Martyr, I Apologia 66, the meaning of Gospel had come to refer to the
genre by the 2d Century A.D. The Didache refers to the Gospel as written text.
I Apologia 66: For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what
was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is
My body; “and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood; “and gave it to
them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that
bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or
can learn.
b. Baptism of Jesus by John (1:9-11). - It should be noted that the Baptism is the key event for Mark,
the event with which he begins his entire Gospel account. This will change as the Christian
understanding of Jesus depends. Matthew and Luke begin with the Birth of our Lord, taking Jesus to
have been born the Son of God. John will affirm that Jesus was in the beginning of the beginning.
c. Testing of Jesus by Satan (1:12-13).
d. Jesus begins to Preach (1:14-15).
2. Public Ministry: The Secret and Widespread Ministry (1:16-8:30).
a. Jesus becomes Popular and Controversial in Galilee (1:16-3:12).
b. Jesus Teaches the Apostles through Words and Deeds (3:13-7:23).
c. Jesus Travels to Gentile Regions (7:24-8:30).
8.28And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Eli’jah; and others one of the prophets.” 8.29And he asked them, “But
who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”
3. Passion Narrative: Suffering Messiah and Passion Week (8:31-15:47).
a. Passion Predictions and Formation of Disciples on Way to Jerusalem (8:31-10:52).
b. Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem and Temple Conflicts (11:1-13:37).
c. Last Supper, Trials, and Crucifixion of Jesus (14:1 – 15:47).
15.39And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he thus breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of
4. Resurrection Epilogue: Risen Messiah and Easter Narrative (16:1-20).
a. Empty Tomb (16:1-8).
b. Resurrection Appearances and Great Commission (16:9-18).
c. Jesus’ Ascension and the Spread of the Gospel (16:19-20).
C. Notes on Mark
1. Mark is believed to incorporate collections of oral or written traditional material. This can be seen, for
example, at 2:1-3:6, with the collection of controversy stories, which is paralleled by another collection of
controversy stories placed near the end of the ministry in Jerusalem (11:27-12:34). Note also the
collection of miracle stories and sayings tied together with the key word bread (6:6b-8:21) and a
collection of parables (4:1-34).
2. Symbolic Geography
Malbon proposes a symbolic geography in mark. There are luoghi aperti and Luoghi chiusi. Luoghi
aperti, like the plain, the seaside, the desert are good; luoghi chiusi,like the synagogue and the city, are
3. Quotation from Isaiah
The quotation from Isaiah at 1.2 is not a quote from Isaiah directly, although the Greek “kathws” suggests
precisely as. Mark cites Isaiah because he is a key prophet. The passage is actually a mix of Isaiah 40.3,
Exodus 23:20, and Mal. 3:1.
4. Mark 8:27-33
Peter rejects the passion prediction of Jesus as the suffering son of Man, and so Jesus categorizes his lack
of understanding as worthy of Satan. The passage is likely authentic, as it is difficult to imagine the early
Christian community inventing a story in which Peter is compared to Satan.
8.27And Jesus went on with his disciples, to the villages of Caesare’a Philip’pi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do
men say that I am?” 8.28And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Eli’jah; and others one of the prophets.” 8.29And
he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 8.30And he charged them to tell no
one about him. 8.31And he began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the
chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 8.32And he said this plainly. And Peter took him, and
began to rebuke him. 8.33But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter, and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not
on the side of God, but of men.”
5. Mark 3:1-6: First healing in the Synagogue
Jesus begins his healing in the Synagogue. Note that the impure/unwell are placed in the synagogue.
There ordinary would be no impure in the synagogue. At 3.6, the Pharisees gather in a “symboulion.”
Immediately, the Jews begin to plot how they will destroy Jesus. This plan to destroy Jesus is again taken
up at Mark 14.1.
3.1Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 3.2And they watched him, to see whether he
would heal him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3.3And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come
here.” 3.4And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent.
3.5And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He
stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 3.6The Pharisees went out, and immediately held counsel with the Hero’di-ans against
him, how to destroy him.

14.1It was now two days before the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were
seeking how to arrest him by stealth, and kill him;
6. Sending of the Disciples.
a. Mark 6:8-11 “He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in
their belts; 6.9but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 6.10And he said to them, “Where you enter a
house, stay there until you leave the place. 6.11And if any place will not receive you and they refuse to hear
you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet for a testimony against them.”
b. Matthew 10:5: “These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no
town of the Samaritans, 10.6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 10.7 And preach as you go,
saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 10.8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons.
You received without paying, give without pay. 10.9 Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, 10.10 no
bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the laborer deserves his food. 10.11 And
whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it, and stay with him until you depart. 10.12 As
you enter the house, salute it. 10.13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not
worthy, let your peace return to you. 10.14 And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off
the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. 10.15 Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on
the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomor’rah than for that town. 10.16. “Behold, I send you out as
sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves
d. Luke 10: 2-16 - 10.2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the
Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 10.3 Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in
the midst of wolves. 10.4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road. 10.5 Whatever
house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ 10.6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest
upon him; but if not, it shall return to you. 10.7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they
provide, for the laborer deserves his wages; do not go from house to house. 10.8 Whenever you enter a town and
they receive you, eat what is set before you; 10.9 heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has
come near to you.’ 10.10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say,
10.11 ‘ Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off against you; nevertheless know this, that
the kingdom of God has come near.’ 10.12 I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on that day for Sodom than for
that town. 10.13 “ Woe to you, Chora’zin! woe to you, Beth-sa’ida! for if the mighty works done in you had
been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 10.14 But it
shall be more tolerable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 10.15 And you, Caper’na-um, will you
be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. 10.16 “ He who hears you hears me, and he who
rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

7. Woe to the Pharisees

a. Mark 12:38-40: 12.38And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes,
and to have salutations in the market places 12.39and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at
feasts, 12.40who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater

b. Luke 20.45 And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, 20.46 “ Beware of the scribes, who
like to go about in long robes, and love salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues and
the places of honor at feasts, 20.47 who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will
receive the greater condemnation.”
D. Style of Mark
1. Mark paints a portrait of Jesus that is vivid and dynamic, focusing most of his attention of Jesus’ might
works. Apart from two lengthy sermons (4:1-32; 13:1-37), Mark depicts Jesus as an active healer and
exorcist continually on the move – a feature the evangelist accentuates by using the word immediately, gk.
euthus, over 40 times in 16 chapters. Mark uses “immediately” intimating vividness and excitement to the
2. The two main discourses.
4, 1-32
Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the
whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 And he taught them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! A
sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground,
where it had not much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil; and when the sun rose it was scorched, and since it had
no root it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into
good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has
ears to hear, let him hear.” And when he was alone, those who were about him with the twelve asked him concerning the parables. nd he said to
them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables; so that they may indeed see but
not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; lest they should turn again, and be forgiven.” And he said to them, “Do you not
understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where
the word is sown; when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word which is sown in them. And these in like manner are the
ones sown upon rocky ground, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no root in themselves, but endure
for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown
among thorns; they are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the delight in riches, and the desire for other things, enter in and
choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown upon the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit,
thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a bushel, or under a bed, and not on a
stand? For there is nothing hid, except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. If any man has ears to hear, let him
hear.” And he said to them, “Take heed what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For
to him who has will more be given; and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if
a man should scatter seed upon the ground, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how.
The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle,
because the harvest has come.” And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a
grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes
the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

13, 1-37:
And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And
Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.” And as
he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and
what will be the sign when these things are all to be accomplished?” And Jesus began to say to them, “Take heed that no one leads you astray.
Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be
alarmed; this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes
in various places, there will be famines; this is but the beginning of the birth-pangs. “But take heed to yourselves; for they will deliver you up to
councils; and you will be beaten in synagogues; and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them.
10And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand what
you are to say; but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver up brother to
death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.
But he who endures to the end will be saved. “But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader
understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take
anything away; and let him who is in the field not turn back to take his mantle. And alas for those who are with child and for those who give
suck in those days! Pray that it may not happen in winter. For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of
the creation which God created until now, and never will be. And if the Lord had not shortened the days, no human being would be saved; but
for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. And then if any one says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he
is!’ do not believe it. False Christs and false prophets will arise and show signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But take heed; I
have told you all things beforehand. “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and
the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with
great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of
heaven. “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also,
when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away before
all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “But of that day or that hour no one knows, not
even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man
going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.
Watch therefore--for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning-
- lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch.”

3. Details are always important in Mark.
Mark’s accounts are almost always richer in theologically significant details. They are almost always
a. Mark 4:38 – Sleeping on the poop deck with pillows.
b. Paralytic carried by four individuals.
c. Mark 2:26 - 2.25And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need
and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 2.26how he entered the house of God, when
Abi’athar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the
priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?”
4. Mark uses personal names of those Jesus encounters.
a. Mark 10:46 - And they came to Jericho; and as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great
multitude, Bartimae’us, a blind beggar, the son of Timae’us, was sitting by the roadside.
5. Mark shows Jesus capable of getting angry where Luke and Matthew do not.
Mark 3.4 And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to
kill?” But they were silent. 3.5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of
heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.
6. Paratasis: Mark places statements of unequal value next to each other as if they were of equal value.
7. Direct discourse is common.
8. Dramatic tension is maintained through rapid scene changes. There is a velocity to Mark that the other
evangelists lack.
9. There are over 150 uses of the historical present which serves to create a sense of immediacy. This has
the effect of making Jesus a contemporary of those reading (narrative tells what happens, not simply what
10. Mark emphasizes Jesus’ action more than his teaching (18 miracles, and 4 parables). Jesus has sovereign
power over all: disease, disability, demons, nature. This is evidence that Jesus’ kingdom has come near to
those people.
11. Mark’s subjects are related with unusual candor and vividness (Jesus’ hearers who are amazed, disciples
who do not understand, Jesus who has emotions and compassion).
12. The language is less elaborate and more popular than Luke or Matthew
13. Mark uses detail in his narrative to heighten the sense of being there (names, pillow in the boat, wild
beasts in the wilderness, nicknaming of James
and John, etc.)
14. Mark puts his readers in the scene where they may visualize and feel what the evangelist has described:
especially by making parenthetical statements (13:37; 4:41, etc.).
15. The Marcan Sandwich, i.e., Intercalation.
Mark’s tend to interupt narratives with digressions and then return to the main narrative. The healing of
the daughter of Jairus, interrupted by the story of the woman with the flow of blood. Also, at Mark 6:12-
13, we see the Apostles sent out. From 6:14 to 6:29, the story turns to Herod and the death of John. The
story is picked up again at 6:30, where the Apostles return.
Marco 3, 20-35:
Then he went home; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went
out to seize him, for people were saying, “He is beside himself.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is
possessed by Be-el’zebul, and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” And he called them to him, and said to them in
parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is
divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot
stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong
man; then indeed he may plunder his house. “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever
blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” -- for
they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” And his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside they sent to him and called
him. And a crowd was sitting about him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, asking for you.” And
he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around on those who sat about him, he said, “Here are my
mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

16. The Primacy of Peter is apparent from the outset.

1.36And Simon and those who were with him pursued him. Here we see that Peter is already the
representative of all the apostles.
17. Mark has no interest in what occurred prior to the baptism. The infancy and youth of Jesus are of no
interest to Mark. His narrative begins with the Baptism and with the ministry of Jesus. This is consistent
with his Gospel as a Gospel of deeds.

18. William Wrede and the Messianic Secret:
a. William Wrede (1859-1906) claimed that Mark was also a reading back into the life of Jesus the
presuppositions of its author and was not unadorned history.
i. Jesus did not claim to be Messiah, but for Mark He was.
ii. He forbade the disciples to say He was messiah (Mk 9.9)
iii. He forbade the demons to say He was messiah (Mk 1.34)
iv. He tried to keep miracles he performed a secret (Mk 1.44; 5.43; 7.36)
v. Spoke in parables to multitudes and only explained to disciples (Mk 4.33-34)
How, then, did the church come to write the Gospel of Mark? Wrede answered that Jesus, during his
lifetime, never claimed to be the Messiah. But when he died the memory of him continued to make
such an impression on the disciples that they began to think of him as one who had to suffer and die in
order to redeem. If he is redeemer, then he surely must reappear. This meant that he was alive and
therefore risen from the dead. Regarding him as having risen, they came to think of him as the
Messiah. This newly conceived faith of the early church then found it only natural to go back into the
life of Jesus and explain it all from the vantage point of the resurrection. The previous life of Jesus
took on the hue of the day of Easter, from the moment that the brilliance of this day shone back on
that life. In representing Jesus, therefore, this Gospel recalls how he had indeed never made any
public claim to be the Messiah because the Messiahship was to become known only at the
b. Class Notes
The key to the entire Gospel is to understand that it is a revelation of the messianic Secret.
Throughout the Gospel, Jesus progressively reveals himself, while still urging everyone to keep the
secret. The revelation begins immediately with the healing of the paralytic in paragraph 2; the
forgiveness of sins demonstrates his identity. Jesus can forgive sins, only because he is God. Then, on
the cross, the Centurion declares, at 15:39, that “surely, this man was the son of God.” It comes only
on the cross. It comes from the mouth of a pagan. The central prospective is the cross. A secretum, it
should be noted, is a thing not only not known, but a thing that is not to be known.
c. Like an efficient teacher, Jesus reveals to his disciples that he is the Messiah who has to suffer very
much, only stage by stage. A sudden revelation about the suffering Christ would only create a scandal
among the disciples. That Peter could not even think of a suffering Christ is a case in point (cf Mk
8:32). It is only on the occasion of Jesus’ crucifixion, that the Roman centurion looks at him and says,
“Truly this man was God’s Son!”(15:39). The Evangelist’s purpose is to teach that only in the light of
the resurrection and through the eyes of faith can the disciples perceive the secret of Jesus’identity(cf
Mk 9:9;Acts 2:36).
d. Fasting – Why does Jesus respond to the question of fasting with reference to a wedding? Because,
the Messiah is always described as the spouse in the Old Testament.
2.18Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do
John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 2.19And Jesus
said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have
the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 2.20The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken
away from them, and then they will fast in that day.
e. Sandal Straps
John the Baptist, in all four evangelists, declares that he is not worthy to untie the sandal strap of the
Lord. The reference has to do with Deuteronomy.
Deuteronomy 25:7 - 7: And if the man does not wish to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to
the elders, and say, `My husband’s brother refuses to perpetuate his brother’s name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a
husband’s brother to me.’ 8: Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak to him: and if he persists, saying, `I do not wish
to take her,’ 9: then his brother’s wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot, and spit in
his face; and she shall answer and say, `So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.’ 10: And the
name of his house shall be called in Israel, The house of him that had his sandal pulled off.
Sandal refers to the matrimonial right. The Latin Fathers, who had a more juridical mindset, all
understood this. John cannot make bare the feet of the redeemer, for he cannot usurp the rights of the
f. Sabbath was made for man. Mark 2.27-28.
Jesus is here derogating from the fundamental law. Only the Lawmaker has the power to do this.
2.27And he said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath; 2.28so the Son of man is lord even of the
g. Summation of points so far.

The Messianic Secret doesn’t exist. It is only our blindness that makes it seem real. The human
race wanted a king. God wanted the cross. It is not so much a secret. It is something we just aren’t
looking for. The mystery is something that one can know, but only with difficulty. The Mysterium
fidei is the center of the canon. It is not something that we can understand. The suffering messiah is
something that is beyond the comprehension of man. It makes sense from God’s point of view, not
from ours.
19. Mark 1.24 1.24and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to
destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”
Why does the demon use the plural? This means that the demon is a representative. The Synagogue
should be a pure place. Instead, it is infiltrated by demons.
20. Mark 1.34: 1.34And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and
he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
The verb for to know here is “oida”
21. Mark 5.11-12 - 5.11 Now a great herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside; 5.12 and they begged
him, “Send us to the swine, let us enter them.”
22. Mark 8.29 - 8.29And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the
23: Mark 11. Entry into Jerusalem “11.1And when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Beth’phage and Bethany, at the
Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, 11.2and said to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and
immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat; untie it and bring it. 11.3If any
one says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’“
11.4And they went away, and found a colt tied at the door out in the open street; and they untied it. 11.5And those
who stood there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 11.6And they told them what Jesus had said;
and they let them go. 11.7And they brought the colt to Jesus, and threw their garments on it; and he sat upon it.
11.8And many spread their garments on the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the
fields. 11.9And those who went before and those who followed cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the
name of the Lord! 11.10Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!”
24. Compare 1.10-11 to 15 and 15:37-39.
a. Mark 1.10-11 – 1.10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened
(sxizomenos) and the Spirit (to pneuma) descending upon him like a dove; 1.11 and a voice (phone)
came from heaven, “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased (ev soi eudokesa).”
The last phrase suggests that Jesus is a good representative of the Father.
b. Mark 15.37-39: 15.37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry (phonen megalen), and breathed his last
(exepneusen). 15.38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two (esxisthe), from top to bottom.
15.39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he thus breathed his last, he said,
“Truly this man was the Son of God!”
c. Mark 9.2And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high
mountain apart by themselves; and he was transfigured before them, 9.3and his garments became
glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them. 9.4And there appeared to them
Eli’jah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus. 9.5And Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is well that
we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli’jah.” 9.6For he
did not know what to say, for they were exceedingly afraid. 9.7And a cloud overshadowed them, and
a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” 9.8And suddenly looking
around they no longer saw any one with them but Jesus only.
d. At the baptism, the Spirit came to him. At the cross, the Spirit goes out from him. The affirmation of
the Centurion parallels the words of the Father at 1:11. Centurion signifes that the salvation will be for
all. Jesu comes to upset religious structure and expectations. The Centurion knowns nothing of the
Messianic expectations, but yet grasps things more fully than perhaps anyone else in the Gospel.

VII. The Gospel According to Luke

A. Author, Date, Composition
1. Authorship
a. Muratorian Fragment
“The third book of the Gospel is that according to Luke. Luke, the well-known physician, after the
ascension of Christ, whom Paul had taken with him as one zealous for the law, composed it in his own
name, according to the general belief. Yet he himself had not seen the Lord in the flesh; and therefore,
as he was able to ascertain events, so indeed he begins to tell the story from the birth of John.”
b. Ireneaus – Claims that Luke is a companion of Mark.

c. Antio-Marcion prologue – Luke is here described as a Syrian from Antioch. He was a doctor. He
was not a Jew. He accompanied Paul until his martyrdom. “Luke is a Syrian of Antioch, a Syrian by
race, a physician by profession. He had become a disciple of the apostles and later followed Paul until
his (Paul’s) martyrdom, having served the Lord continuously, unmarried, without children, filled with
the Holy Spirit he died at the age of eighty-four years in Boeotia. [Since there were already other
gospels, that According to Matthew written in Judea, that According to Mark (written in) Italy, he was
urged by the Holy Spirit to write his whole gospel among those in the region of Achaea, as he
indicates this in the preface that there were already other writings before him . . . ]”
d. Tertullian – Asserts that Luke had a Pauline source.
e. The “We” Passages from Acts.
At several places in Acts, the author writes in the first person plural. These passages are 16:10-17
(second missionary journey from Troas to Phillipi), 20:5-15, 21:1-18 (end of the third missionary
journey from Philippi to Jerusalem); 27:1-28:16 (Paul sent as a prisoner to Rome). De Sanctis
believes that these are written by the same author as the whole. We can, therefore, eliminate all people
who are spoken of in the third person as potential authors: Dema, Crescente, tema. tit 3, 12, zena, Tito
– no.
f. Who is Luke
1. Luke 10, 1- Group of disciples who was sent off by Christ. Perhaps, Luke was one of these?
2. We seek to find out who this author is, taking account of the fact that the same author wrote the
Book of Acts. There is an extraordinary similarity between the two texts in style and language.
Either from the same hand (more like) or (less likely) from the same school.
3. Luke has the best control of Greek and facilely uses several styles.
4. The Gospel is inaccurate in Palestinian geography.
g. The Luke detectable in the Gospel is an educated Greek speaker and skilled writer who knew the
Jewish Scriptures in Greek and who was not an eyewitness to Jesus’ ministry. He drew on Mark and a
collection of sayings of the Lord (Q) as well as some other available traditions, oral or written. He
was probably not raised a Jew, but perhaps was a convert to Judaism before he converted to
2. Dating
Luke is dated to 85 A.D., give or take 10 years.
a. Assuming dependence on Mark, and a date for Mark of around 70, it could not have been written
much before 80.
b. The Gospel’s symbolic interest in Jerusalem would not comport with the beliefs of the Christian
community in the 2d Century. Accordingly, a date after 100 is almost unsupportable. He shows no
knowledge of the letters of Paul, moreover, which had been gathered and distributed by 80-100.
3. Place of Origin and Destination:
a. The place of origin is not revealed in Luke’s Gospel.
b. Some have suggested that Luke collected his material while he was with Paul during his two-year,
Caesarean imprisonment (“We” in Acts 27:1), and then wrote Luke shortly afterward (in Caesarea or
Rome or even both); while this is possible, it is difficult to substantiate.
c. The destination is unknown except for the named recipient of Luke-Acts known as Theophilus (Lk.
1:3; Acts 1:1) who may well have been Luke’s literary patron assisting in the publication of Luke-
Acts. It is also possible that he was a Gentile (from his name and title, “most excellent” [ kravtiste ]
referring to a Roman provincial governor), but this is also uncertain.
a. Prayer (proseuxomai) is central to Luke (19 times) and Acts (16 times)--especially around revelatory
b. Luke has a universal emphasis for the Gospel:
The Gospel speaks of/to/about Samaritans, Gentiles, Sinners, Poor, Outcasts, Women, and Children.
c. Luke emphasizes individuals:
1. In his parables: the good Samaritan; the lost sheep, coin, son, etc.
2. Zacharias, Elizabeth, Mary, Simeon, Anna, Martha, Mary, Simon, Levi, the centurion, the widow
of Nain, John the Baptist, Zacchaeus, Cleopas, Simon the Cyrenian, Joseph of Arimathea, etc.
d. Luke emphasizes the fulfillment of God’s word--what God says, God does
e. Luke has a Gentile emphasis in his work hinting that his primary audience may have been Gentile:
1. Jewish localities are explained (4:31; 8:26; 21:37; 23:51; 24:13)
2. The Genealogy goes back to Adam 3:23-38
3. Roman emperors are used to date Jesus’ birth and John’s preaching 2:1-2; 3:1

4. Luke does not use some Hebrew or Aramaic words used by the other gospels
5. Luke uses the LXX almost exclusively as he cites the Old Testament
5. Purposes of Luke:
a. The prologue overtly states the purposes of Luke:
1. To write about the life of Christ (the things accomplished among us [1:1], in an orderly sequence
i. The term for orderly ( kathcevw ) does not necessarily refer to chronological order
ii. It can mean “orderly and lucid”; there is continuity within a logical whole/
iii. Luke’s order is probably theological rather than chronological as he develops salvation-
history (cf. John’s imprisonment 3:19-21; The temptation 4:1-13; Nazareth 4:16-30)
2. To write to Theophilus so that he might know the exact truth about the things he had been taught
i. Luke wants to display before Theophilus reliable information which was in accounts which he
had already heard
ii. In view of the “exact truth” Luke may have been writing to deal with a polemical issue which
false teachers were proclaiming; this may become clearer by dealing with Luke-Acts as a
single unit
b. The purpose of Luke should not really be dealt with apart from the purpose for Luke-Acts since they
do form one double-work. This gives the impression that Luke, perhaps, was writing the story of a
philosopher-type-figure and the work of his successors.
B. Sources - Luke acknowledges sources: “The original eyewitnesses and ministers of the word” passed on
reports of what had come to pass, and many had already compiled accounts (1:1-2). As with Matthew, Luke
uses two written sources, Mark and Q, as well as other compositional material about which one cannot speak
with sufficient certainty.
1. Mark – 35 percent of Luke is taken from Mark.
The majority view is that Luke had a written copy of Mark before him as he composed. Luke follows
Mark’s order and takes over large blocks of Mark. There are two large Marcan omissions:
a. Marcan Omissions
The reasons for these omissions is not clear, although Luke’s theological preferences, a desire to
avoid repetition, and the need to work material into the planned geographical flow of the story are
probable candidates.
1. The Big Omission – Mark 6:45-8:26
From after the first multiplication of the loaves to after the second multiplication.
2. The Little Omission – Mark 9:41 – 10:12.
Temptations to sin, teaching on divorce.
b. Lucan adaptations of Mark
1. Luke improves on Mark’s Greek, bettering grammar, syntax, and vocabulary. Removes overused
“euthus,” “immediately.”
2. Luke states his intention to a write carefully and in an orderly manner. For example, Luke places
the rejection at Nazareth at the beginning, not at the middle, of Jesus’ Galilean ministry, in order
to explain why his ministry was centered at Capernaum. The healing of Simon’s mother occurs
before the calling of Simon, which makes Simon’s following of Jesus more explicable.
3. Luke occasionally does create inconsistencies: For example, Luke takes over the prediction that
Jesus will be mocked, scourged and spit on by the gentiles from Mark, but Luke (unlike Mark
15:16-20) never fulfills that prediction.
4. Luke, following but exceeding Matthew, eliminates or changes passages in Mark unfavorable to
those whose subsequent career makes them worthy of respect. Luke omits negative references to
Jesus’ family (Mk 3:21, 33, 34 and changes Mark 6:4). Luke omits Mark 8:22-26, which
dramatizes the slowness (blind man cured in stages) of the disciples to see, and Mark 8:33 where
Jesus calls Peter Satan. Luke also omits the predicted failure of the disciples, Jesus’ finding them
asleep three times, and their reported flight in Mark.
5. Reflecting Christological sensibilities, Luke is more reverential about Jesus and avoids passages
that might make him seem emotional, harsh, or weak. Luke eliminates Mark 1:41,43, where Jesus
is moved with pity or is stern; Mark 4,39, where Jesus speaks directly to the sea; Mark 11:15b,
where Jesus overturns the tables of the money changers; Mark 11:20-25, where Jesus curses a fig
tree; Mark 13:32, where Jesus says that the Son does not know the day or the hour.
6. Luke stresses detachment from possessions.

7. Luke eliminates Mark’s transcribed Aramaic names and words (even some that Matthew
includes) presumably because they were not meaningful to his intended audience. For example,
Boanerges, Talitha Cumi, Gethsemane, Golgotha, Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabacthani.
2. Q Source Material constitute just over 20 percent of Luke. - Q material adds a strong ethical tone to
Luke’s portrait of Jesus. Luke seems to have kept the original order of the Q source. Occasionally, he will
insert Q material into a Marcan block, e.g., the teaching of JBap (3:7-9, 16c-18). Verses that Luke has in
common with Matthew are generally in different contexts in each of these Gospels. The Book of Q
probably had these texts without inserting them into any precise context. This permitted them to be
inserted into different places in these texts.
3. Special Lucan Material - Between 1/3 and 40 percent of Luke is not drawn from Mark or Q. Given
Luke’s talent, however, we cannot say how much he has taken from other sources only after heavy
editing, composed himself, or how much he has simply incorporated in toto. It is likely, however, that
Luke drew on:
a. A collection of early hymns or canticles – (Magnificat, Benedictus, Gloria in Excelsis, Nunc Dimittis)
b. A story of Jesus at age 12 – an example of a wider genre of Jesus’ boyhood stories.
c. A Davidic genealogy of popular provenance in circulation among Greek-speaking Jews.
d. A group of special parables, which may have included these: good Samaritan, persistent friend, rich
barn-builder, barren fig tree, lost coin, prodigal son, Lazarus and the rich man, dishonest judge, and
the Pharisee and the publican.
e. A group of miracle stories, which may have included these: The catch of fish, resuscitating the
widow’s son, and the cures of the crippled woman on the Sabbath, of the man with dropsy, and of ten
f. Traditional material about John the Baptist and Mary.
4. Lucan Insertions - These are the two blocks of material inserted by Luke himself into the midst of the
Marcan material:
a. 6:20-8:3 - Mark 3, 19 is incorporatd into Luke, then Luke inserts his own text for Luke 6, 20 – 8, 3,
then Luke picks up again with Mark 3, 20.
b. Luke 9:52-18:14: Mark material (breaking off with the unknown exorcist, Mark 9:41) continues until
Luke 9, 51 – Luke 9, 52 -18, 14 – Luke then picks up again at Luke 18:14 with with Mark 10, 13 (the
blessing of the Children).
5 What do we make of these insertions and deletions made by St. Luke. In Mark, Jesus is making a series of
journeys without any clear goal in mind. In Luke, however, fino a 9, 50, Jesus is wandering around
Galilea. In Luke, confession of Peter is not at a central point as in Mark or Matthew. Luke paints three
stages. Galilei, Voyage, Jerusalem. Pericopi del viaggio Un grande libro = Conselman – Published by
Piemme. Luke corrects intensely his source. His geography is accurate. For Luke, coming of the
Kingdom is not as important as Jesus’s approach to the temple. Escatologia becomes something
C. Outline of the Gospel
1. Preface 1:1-4 - 1: Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have
been accomplished among us, 2: just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were
eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, 3: it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely
for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent The-oph’ilus,4: that you may know
the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed.
a. This prologue is very similar to that found in other literary works at the time, even though it is not
similar to other works in the Synoptics. These sorts of dedications and recommendations and
commendations of a work were common. This is the best Greek in the NT, comparable in many ways
to the classical prefaces of Herodotus and Thucydides. It is at a level higher than anywhere else in the
b. He begins his Gospel with a finely crafted Greek periodic sentence. Verses 1-2 provide the “since”
clause, verse three is the main clause, and verse 4 is the purpose clause.
c. “Original eyewitnesses and ministers of the word” – Most take this as being a reference to a single
group of people.
d. Verse 1: Gk. “epeideper,” “inasmuch as” occurs only here. Very literary.
e. Gk. Diegesis – Luke is providing a gospel account, even though he uses the word, diegesis, which
means _______
f. Luke: Dear Teophilo – Begins as do all the literary books of the time. What is the intention of Luke
with this introduction? Why does one write a book to someone? What does one expect from such a
book? With the dedication, one entrusts that book to the dedicated person. He wanted the book to be

read, and to be read outside solely of his own ambit, and so dedicated it to Teophilus so that
Teophilsu would publish it abroad.
2. Infancy Narrative (1:5-2:52)
Read this account of the infancy of our Lord and compare with account in Matthew. There are problems
with these two accounts that make them difficult to reconcile. These accounts serve a Christological-
theological program in each work. Compare birth announcements of John and Jesus. Realize right away
that Luke has distinguished them right from the start. All these characters, Anna Zechariah etc., have a
certain relationship with the Old Testament.

Annunciation Diptych - First Stage of Lucan Composition

1:5-25 1:26-45,56
Introduction of the dramatis personae: Introduction: The angel Gabriel sent to Mary, a
Zechariah and Eliabeth, of priestly family, virgin betrothed to Joseph of the House of
aged, barren. David (26-38).
Annunciation of the conception of John the Annunciation of the conception of Jesus
Baptist delivered by an angel of the Lord delivered to Mary in Nazareth:
(Gabriel) to Zechariah in the Temple.
1. Angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah. 1. Gabriel came to Mary.
2. Zechariah was startled. 2. Mary was startled.
3. The message. 3. The Message:
a. Zechariah. a. Hail …. Mary
b. Favored one.
c. Do not be afraid. c. Do not be afraid.
d. You will conceive.
e. Elizabeth will bear you a son. e. and give birth to a son.
f. You will call his name John. f. You will call his name Jesus.
g. He will be great before the Lord. g. He will be great, etc.
4. How will I know this? 4. How can this be?
The Angel’s response. The Angel’s response.
5. The Sign: Behold you will be reduced to 5. The sign: Behold your relative has
silence. conceived.
Z emerged from the temple and went away Mary responded with acceptance and the angel
unable to speak. went away.

a. Birth Announcements of John and Jesus (1:5-38).

1. As Matthew begins with Genesis, so too Luke begins by evoking Abraham and Sarah by recalling
them in the portrayal of Zechariah and Elizabeth.
2. The angel Gabriel who makes the announcement in the OT only in the Book of Daniel, which
stood toward the end of the Jewish Canon. In Daniel, as in Luke, Gabriel comes at the time of
liturgical prayer and the visionary is struck mute (Dan 9:21; 10:8-12,15).
b. The Visitation (1:39-56).
1. In this passage, Mary fulfills the duty of discipleship, sharing the gospel with others. JBap begins
his role of alerting the people to the coming of the Messiah.
2. The Gospel Canticles: The Magnificat (46-55), the Benedictus (67-78), the Gloria in Excelsis
(2:13-14), and the Nunc Dimittis (2:28-32) appear to have been taken from a collection of early
hymns in Greek. All could be removed from the current context and are not specific to the action
being described.
c. Birth of John Baptist (1:57-80) and Birth and Presentation of Jesus (2:1-40).
1. The parallels are not as evident here, because the greater dignity of Jesus gets more extensive
2. The description of JBap’s growing up and becoming strong in spirit (1:80) echoes the growth of
Samson (Judges 13:24-25) and of Samuel (1 Sam 2:21).
3. The setting for the birth of Jesus is supplied by the decree of Caesar Augustus for a census of the
whole world, the first enrollment when Quirinius was governor of Syria. The Census of Judea
under Quirinius took place in AD 6-7, probably at least ten years too late for the birth of Jesus.
Theologically, by associating Jesus’ birth with a decree of Augustus, Luke is introducing a divine
plan that will culminate when Paul proclaims the Gospel in Rome.

4. 2:11. For, this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. - This
is evocative of an imperial proclamation.
5. Note: Reaction of Simeon and Anna, representative of devout Jews waiting for fulfillment of
God’s promises to Israel, accepted Jesus.
2:29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; 2.30 for mine eyes have seen thy
salvation 2.31 which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, 2.32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and
for glory to thy people Israel.” 2.33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; 2.34 and
Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel,
and for a sign that is spoken against 2.35 ( and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of
many hearts may be revealed.”
e. Finding of Jesus in the Temple (2:41-52).
This is clearly a passage taken from a separate collection of “hidden life” stories.
3. Preparations for ministry (3:1-4:13)
a. Ministry of John the Baptist (3:1-20).
b. Baptism and Geneaology of Jesus (3:21-38).
Geneaology had opened MT; here it closes the preparatory phase b/4 opening of public life. Also, the
names are different. The two authors were familiar with different traditions of the heritage of
Jesus.Luke also works backwards, and does so not to Abraham, but to Adam and to God. Separation
of Jesus and Baptist was not temporal, but geographic. Mt. genealogy goes to Abraham. – Israel is
covered. Luke arrives at Adam son of God – All of humanity is covered.
c. Temptation of Jesus (4:1-13).
Luke also changes the order of the temptations. Temptations are now ordered toward Jerusalem.
4. Galilean Ministry (4:14-9:50)
This is important for the Christology of Luke.
a. Rejection at Nazareth (4:14-30).
b. Healing the sick and the Call of the Disciples (4:31-6:16).
c. Sermon on the Plain (6:17-49).
d. Jesus as teaching and healing Prophet. (7:1-9:27).
e. The Transfiguration (9:28-36).
f. Lessons on Faith and Humility (9:37-50).
5. Journey to Jerusalem (9:51-19:27)
9,51 – 18,14 – This is all exclusively Lukan material. The grand Lucan interpolation.
This is the only long section that is dedicated to voyage to Jerusalem. Luke portrays this period as the
place and time of the formation of the disciples. By so doing, he symbolizes the Christian life as a way of
growth and of learning and of formation.
a. First to Second Reference to Jerusalem (9:51-13:21)
1. 9,51: Analympseus – Day of assumption. Not really his passion, so much as his glorification, his
assumption, his raising up, elevation. Jesus in Luke is a Jesus Glorified. Glory is the dominant
perspective in this Gospel. Jesus indurerire his face for the voyage to Jerusalem. Account of
opening of Jeremiah were face becomes bronze. Signifies beginning of prophetic mission. This is
the moment of the beginning of his great voyage. Jesus is portrayed as supremely obedient in the
gospel of Luke.
9.51 When the days drew near for him to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.
b. Second to third Reference to Jerusalem (13:22-17:10).
c. Third to Fourth Reference to Jerusalem (17:11-18:30).
d. Fourth to Fifth Reference to Jerusalem (18:31-19:27).
19.9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 19.10 For the
Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.”
6. Passion week Narrative (19:28-23:56)
a. Jesus as He enters Jerusalem and teaches. (19:28-20:47).
It is worth noticing that Jesus doesn’t enter Jerusalem, but enters directly into the temple. Jerusalem is
the place of the cult that draws in the story. In Acts, however, it is the opposed. The Centripetal force
becomes centrifugal.
b. Jesus’ Olivet Discourse. (21:1-38).
c. Celebration of the Passover (22:1-38).
d. Agony and Arrest of Jesus (22:39-53).
e. Trial of Jesus (22:54-23:25).
e. Jesus’ Crucifixion and Burial. (23:26-56).

7. Resurrection and Ascension (24:1-53)
a. The Empty Tomb. (24.1-12).
b. Resurrection and Appearance. (24:13-49).
c. Heavenly Ascension. (24:50-53).
Why the ascension here immediately after resurrection, but after 40 days in Acts? Think of disciples
at Emmaus. How is it that they do not recognize Jesus? Two persons who loved Jesus. Saw and heard
things before. They knew who he was. Therefore, how was Jesus risen? In what state was he after his
resurrection? He rose in GLORY. What does this mean? What is glorified? Klasis tou artou –
technical term for the breaking of the bread. In early Church liturgies, there would have been a
reading from scripture prior to the breaking of the bread.
D. Lucan Theology
1. Lucan theology is dramatized in history and geography. Commentators have traced three stages of Lucan
salvation history: Israel = a story recounted in the Law and Prophets; Jesus = a story recounted in the
Gospel, beginning in Luke 3:1; and the Church = a story recounted in Acts, beginning in 2:1. Jesus is the
centerpiece binding together Israel and the Church; and his time may be calculated from the baptism to
the ascension. There are two bridges. First, between the OT and Jesus: the OT characters representing
Israel (Zechariah, Elizabeth, the shepherds, Simeon, Anna) come across the bridge to meet Gospel
characters (Mary, Jesus); in Acts 1, the Jesus of the Gospel comes across the bridge to instruct the 12 and
prepare them for the coming of the Spirit, who will establish the Church through their preaching and
E. Miscellaneous Notes:
1. Ecclesiology in Luke –
In Matthew, blessed are the poor in spirit; in Luke, it says Blessed are the poor. Luke 12:13. Luke knew
the poor Judeo-Christians in Palestine. In St. James, we see the quasi-hostility toward the rich. In the
ecclesiology of Luke, the Church is the true Israel. But, there lacks an act of foundation of the Church. It
is a theocentric ecclesiology, less Christocentric. Gathering Israel, disciples to become the new Israel. The
Church is a phenomenon in movement. Luke is written for a Chruch that is already universal, beyond the
Hebrew world. It is not for the first days of the Church.
a. Luke – Take up your cross, every day – Luke adds “every day.” This is much more difficult. For
Mark, you take up your cross and die. Luke, the cross is something that one lives every day. Luke –
Christology of Christ as the suffering servant. Messianic conscience.
a. Acts – Shows a change of thinking. If we had thought the parousia was coming tomorrow, we would
not write a history of what had occurred up to this point. Nella storia della chiesa, there is realized the
will of God. The Church in confrontation with the Roman Empire, it begins to become clear that there
is a difference between Judaism and Christianity. Church takes itself as the True Israel, the true
people of God, the People of the Nuova Alleanza. Not the New People of God. The people don’t
change. The alleanza changes. The nucleus upon which one builds the new Church is the nucleus of
the old Jewish Church.
b. Relation of Jesus and il Padre, is a relationship that is here functional in Luke. Mark: We see that
Jesus is always in a state of obligation.
c. Gesù è anche il portatore dello Spirito Santo par excellence. He gives this spirit to the Community.
This is the sense of Pentecost. In the AT, one speaks of giving the Spirit. In Luke, the Spirit is no
longer a dono escatologico. The Spirit is the substitute for the real presence of Jesus. Luke establishes
this relationship.
d. Jesus is also the historic tie of the Church with the AT.
e. Chiesa is based on identity of Message; the Sacraments guarantee this identity of message.
f. A Long process leads to formation of the idea of the Church.
g. Two changes in nature of the Alleanza:
1. New alliance is made without need for mediation. No Moses. Jesus/God makes the alliance.
2. There is a part of the alleanza that Israel always forgets, the rest of the word. Israel is now to
become the channel of grace for the rest of the world. Pact is with mankind, mediated by Israel.
2. Gives a very precise dating of the events. By so doing, he collocates his work for a reader in another
ambient, or in any ambient. Question of History – Jesus is tied in Luke with the reign of Augustus, at least
in his birth. Ch.2. The history that interest Luke is theological history or a theology of history.
Notwithstanding these historical data that he inserts, Luke is not in a better position than the others to give
the history of Jesus life.
3. Langauge and style also separate out Luke from the others. In the whole work, Luke never loses his
refined literary quality. Luke polishes out Hebrew and Aramaic. He substitutes Greek words for Aramaic

and Hebrew. Luke also polishes out Latinisms. He eliminates popular names, and uses more precise
names: Tetrarch in place of King for Herod. Sea of Galilee becomes Lake of Galilei.
6. Luke changes the style, but doesn’t change the facts that he imports. He writes well in Greek. He is not,
we must believe, a Jew. There are fewer Semitisms? Actually, there are more than in Mark or Matthew. A
good translator This is a text that a pagan reader from another part of the world could read without any
problem. Luke is preoccupied with the idea that as many people as possible outside of the Holy Land can
receive the message. Mt. is messenger to Jews; MK to Pagan church at Rome; Luke stresses that Jesus is
salvator of World, per I poveri e marginalati, 2:11,
7. Luke removes discussion of divorce. Not that he is anti-semitic. We can see from the persons he mentions
– mary, Zechariah, simeon, et al. – that he is not downplaying Jesus’ Jewish origin. Indeed, he stresses
idea of continuity between Judaism and Christianity.
8. Luke portrays Jesus as coming to save all of humanity, the great and the lowly lost.
a. Luke 19:10 – Jesus came to find and to save the lost.
b. Luke 15:1-7: Parable of the Lost Sheep
e. Jesus did not restrict his ministry to the Jews as he does in Matthew: Compare

Matthew Luke
10.5 These twelve Jesus sent out, 9.3 And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor
charging them, “Go nowhere among bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. 9.4 And whatever
the Gentiles, and enter no town of the house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. 9.5 And wherever they
Samaritans, 10.6 but go rather to the do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your
lost sheep of the house of Israel. feet as a testimony against them.” 9.6 And they departed and went
through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

9. Salvation comes from love.

In tutta la umanita – il posto principale e per la amore per I prossimi.
a. You are forgiven much because you have loved much. 7.46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she
has anointed my feet with ointment. 7.47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she
loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 7.48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
b. 23, 43 – Good thief – 23:43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in

10. Chapter 15 Analyzed

A. Notes on Text
These three parables follow a common pattern. They begin with a point of departure of possession.
This possession is followed then by a loss of what one has. This is followed by a recovery of what is
loss. Activity of protagonist per ristabilire la perdita. There is a finding, un ritrovamento. The end of
the account is always a festival, a celebration of the action of finding. Motivated by
1. Structural breakdown
a. 1-2
b. v.3 transition
c. 4-7 – first account – campana. – man – sheep
d. 8-10 second account – casa. – woman – coins
e. 11 – new transition.
f. 12-24 – campana.
g. 25-32. – casa.
2. Note increasing percentages.
1 sheep of 100
1 coin of 10
1 son of 2
3. Note Repetitions.
Note the repetition of ambienti. Country and house, then country and house again. Note the
repetition of the references to feste./parties. Calling together people to celebrate.
4. Note increasing ages.
a. 15.12-24 - speaks of the youngest.
b. 25-32 = discussion of the eldest son.
5. Jesus’ explanations

Verso 7 has a more elaborate conclusion. Verse 10 is a bit shorter.
a. Verse 7 – intervento di Jesus. Establishing equivalence between account and other situation.
5.7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over
ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
b. 15.10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
This Second account has an inserted teaching at verse 10. This teaching, aloe an
interpretation, is much more reduced in size. Leaving the reader to draw the conclusion for
himself. There is no longer this intervention of the narrator.
c. By the time we arrive at the Prodigal son, the reader will be left to draw his conclusion
entirely on his own.
6. The Prodigal Son:
a. What is the sin of the son in this passage? Sin was to request his inheritance, as if he was
considering his father dead. Wish to consider his relationship with his father closed.
b. He then goes off into a country far off. “eis xwrav makrav.”
c. When the father sees him, still at a distance, “makrav”, he runs to embrace and forgive him.
d. The festival follows at 22-24. He puts vestito numero uno on his son, his vestito piu bello, piu
elegante. Also calls to mind his clothes from before.
e. 15, 29 – You have not given me a goat to have a festival with my friends outside of the house.
Father responds at line 31 to second son with name, teknon, a word of greater love than he
had used with the first son. Son is thinking of brother as father’s son, not as his own brother.
In line 24, he had referred to him as “ho uios mou”
f. Padre che cercha l’un figlio, e l’altro. Father always goes out to his sons in both stories.
Father recovers a Son, then goes out to recover another. Father trasnmette al figlio what is
necessary to live. Fathers and sons are never able to lose their respective status as fathers and
sons. Just as nothing that happens in the OT can call into question that God is God. Per un
figlio, sempre possibilie ricuperare il suo titotlo, per tornare al padre. Son was faulted for
wanting nothing to do with the Father.
B. Text Broken Down by Section
1. 15.1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 15.2 And the Pharisees and the
scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
2. § The Lost Sheep
15.3 So he told them this parable: 15.4 “ What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of
them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it?
15.5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 15.6 And when he comes home, he
calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep
which was lost.’ 15.7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than
over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
c. § Woman with 10 coins. 15.8 “ Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does
not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 15.9 And when she has found it,
she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had
lost.’ 15.10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
4. § The Prodigal Son
15.11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons; 15.12 and the younger of them said to his father,
‘Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.’ And he divided his living between them. 15.13 Not
many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he
squandered his property in loose living. 15.14 And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in
that country, and he began to be in want. 15.15 So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that
country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. 15.16 And he would gladly have fed on the pods that
the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. 15.17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of
my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! 15.18 I will arise
and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 15.19 I am
no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.”‘ 15.20 And he arose and
came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and
embraced him and kissed him. 15.21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and
before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 15.22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring
quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; 15.23 and bring
the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; 15.24 for this my son was dead, and is alive again;
he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to make merry. 15.25 “ Now his elder son was in the field; and
as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 15.26 And he called one of the
servants and asked what this meant. 15.27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has
killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.’ 15.28 But he was angry and refused to
go in. His father came out and entreated him, 15.29 but he answered his father, ‘Lo, these many years I
have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make
merry with my friends. 15.30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots,
you killed for him the fatted calf!’ 15.31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is
mine is yours. 15.32 It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive;
he was lost, and is found.’“
11. The destruction of Jerusalem in Luke
In Luke, when you see Jerusalem surrounded, desolation is near. LK 19. Accent on the fall of Jerusalem,
not on the profanation of the temple. Jesus could have prophesied; according to LK he was right; the fact
was verified; so are other facts that he prophesied.
a. Luke. 19.43 For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you
and surround you, and hem you in on every side, 19.44 and dash you to the ground, you and your
children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not
know the time of your visitation.”
b. The Desolating Sacrilege.

Mark Matthew Luke

Mark 13.14. “But when you see Matthew 24.15 “So when you see Luke 21.20. “But when you see
the desolating sacrilege set up the desolating sacrilege spoken of Jerusalem surrounded by armies,
where it ought not to be (let the by the prophet Daniel, standing in then know that its desolation has
reader understand), then let those the holy place (let the reader come near. 21.21 Then let those
who are in Judea flee to the understand), 24.16 then let those who who are in Judea flee to the
mountains; 13.15let him who is on are in Judea flee to the mountains; mountains, and let those who are
the housetop not go down, nor enter 24.17 let him who is on the housetop inside the city depart, and let not
his house, to take anything away; not go down to take what is in his those who are out in the country
13.16and let him who is in the field house; 24.18 and let him who is in enter it; 21.22 for these are days of
not turn back to take his mantle. the field not turn back to take his vengeance, to fulfil all that is
13.17And alas for those who are mantle. 24.19 And alas for those who written. 21.23 Alas for those who
with child and for those who give are with child and for those who give are with child and for those who
suck in those days! 13.18Pray that it suck in those days! 24.20 Pray that give suck in those days! For great
may not happen in winter. 13.19For your flight may not be in winter or distress shall be upon the earth and
in those days there will be such on a sabbath. 24.21 For then there wrath upon this people; 21.24 they
tribulation as has not been from the will be great tribulation, such as has will fall by the edge of the sword,
beginning of the creation which not been from the beginning of the and be led captive among all
God created until now, and never world until now, no, and never will nations; and Jerusalem will be
will be. 13.20And if the Lord had be. 24.22 And if those days had not trodden down by the Gentiles, until
not shortened the days, no human been shortened, no human being the times of the Gentiles are
being would be saved; but for the would be saved; but for the sake of fulfilled.
sake of the elect, whom he chose, the elect those days will be
he shortened the days. shortened.

12. Parables:
A parable is a story designed to teach a lesson through comparison. It conveys its message of truth
through analogy, through comparison or contrast. Parables are true to life. Parables are for adults. Animals
and trees don’t talk. The power of a parable comes from the fact that you recognize that “that’s the way it
is in real life.” Parables are told so that only those who care will come to know the truth. Not so much
because they understand the parable, but because they care enough to ask what it means after the story is
finished and hang around long enough to have it explained to them. The others leave. The disciples didn’t
understand the parables, but they asked what they meant after the crowds left.
a. One purpose for parables was to reveal truths about the kingdom of God. Matt 13:10-13 says: 10 The
disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” 11 He replied, “The
knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever
has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will
be taken from him.
b. Note that Matt 13:12. It says, “Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”
This is very important for understanding the rest of Matthew and the parables.
c. What is the problem that prompted the parable? When Jesus told a parable, He was dealing with either
a Question or an Attitude - Often both at the same time. The question might be spoken or unspoken,
after all, He could read their minds. Or He might be dealing with a bad attitude. We have to examine

the context to see if a question was asked or implied. And we need to see if there is an attitude that
needs to be dealt with, etc.
1. For example: In the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin, and lost sons of Luke 15, the context
(15:1-2) reveals that the Pharisees were upset with Jesus for receiving and eating with sinners and
tax collectors. The problem dealt with in the parables that follow is God’s attitude towards
sinners? The bad attitude is the Pharisees self righteousness and condemnation of others. If you
don’t understand the question, you can’t come up with the right answer.
2. The Prodigal son was said to have gone to work for a Gentile feeding pigs. Is that just an
incidental detail not important to the story? I think it says more than that he was sinning. It links
the whole parable back to the first two verses of the chapter. The Pharisees were condemning
Jesus for eating with sinners and tax collectors. Tax collectors worked for Gentiles and the
mention of the prodigal working for a Gentile shows that Jesus is dealing with their attitudes
about the taxgatherers.
d. Parables - According to De Santis.
1. Una parabola è una cosa che para a fianco, TO put something beside. To put vicino. Parable -
c.1250, from L. parabola “comparison,” from Gk. parabole “a comparison, parable,” from para-
“alongside” + bole “a throwing, casting,” related to ballein “to throw.” Replaced O.E. bispell. Un
primo tentativo di definizione: La parabola è un racconto finzione (fizione, invenzione). di tipo
particolare, “direzionale”, cioè finalizzato ad un certo scopo, costruito strategicamente per sortire
un certo effetto. La parabola si distingue dal racconto allegorico perché in quest’ultimo ogni
dettaglio rinvia ad una realtà e non c’è un messaggio unico, principale e diretto, come nella
2. Literary form – discursive material in a narrative form. So that the place the time and the
personalities are not important. The parable is not an end in itself. You have to interpret it. Which
is why there was confusion.
3. Isotopia – can change sense. The same object can have a different sense. That can be banal or
profound. In the case of profound, it is the sense of the teaching of the parable. With an isotopia,
you have a system, or code, with signs and rules. Then with a semantiche, there are 2 isotopias per
raggiungere il senso deve fare un transcodificazione.
4. Does the parable simplify teaching? It does not because you need a hermeneutical effort. In the
parables, Jesus occupies himself more with praxis than with theory. Description of a life, not an
idea. A comportimento, action. The Good samaritan, for example.
5. Jesus uses parables in dialogues. It is a means of communication in order to provoke the listener
to participation to make his listener speak. Or, the parable is born as a response to a question, such
as in Luke 14 or Luke 15. The reader’s situation is the same as the person with whom Jesus is in
dialogue. In the parables we discover something about Jesus and about ourselves. It serves to
change the point of view of the interlocutor.
6. In the parables, there is never a reference to authority, nor dogmatic facts, nor even a discursive
logical progress. It is based on an evident fact, brought to the attention of the listener in order to
persuade him. The argument is so strong that he doesn’t need to demonstrate any authority.
7. La forza si traduce nella domanda che va con il parabola, per esempio, chi e il mio vicinante. The
exerpience to which the parable refers is the isotopia banale. It is true, but not a chronicle. He
calls a finzione, invented, not false, but nefinta. A literary truth. See 2 Sam 12. Nathan and David,
with the wife of Uriah and all that.
8. Mark 4:11 – the sower. But to them it is given in parables, so that hearing they might not hear. To
you it is given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God. DE Santis on 4:11, they don’t make the
effort to scrutinize, and therefore they don’t convert. The parable leaves room for your liberty.
You can or cannot respond to the parable with an intepretative effort.
9. Parables Again: Discursive mode of the sapienti. A parable with a teaching. Therefore, Jesus, as a
maestro di sapienza, using examples from daily life. The sinful man and the pharisee who prayed
together; on exalted; one absed. A polemic against the Pharisees.
10. An Analysis of the Redaction of Luke 14:7-11
a. 14.7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he marked how they chose the
places of honor, saying to them, 14.8 “ When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast,
do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; 14.9
and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you
will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 14.10 But when you are invited, go and sit in
the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher’;

then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 14.11 For every
one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
b. Lk. 14:11 – This verse is the point of departure. All the rest comes after this. It is a cornice to
introduce this logion.
c. Lk 14:11 – A perfect chiasmus. Takes two elements in rapporto fra di loro, le riprende per
metter al inverso. Exalt – Humble – Humble – Exalt.
d. v.11 probably is aconcluson. but lgoically is the root of the story.
e. Verse 7 is certainly a Lucan introduction that has been added.
f. Note repetition of invited in verses 8 and 10. 8 when you are invited. 10. When you are
invited, opposite but.
g. Structure of Verses 8-10 is a mirror of verse 11. Bellisimo example of the structure of the
1. Everyone who exalts himself = 8b = do not sit down in a place of honor,
2. Will be humbled = 9c = and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.
3. Everyone who humbles himself = 10b = go and sit in the lowest place.
4. Will be exalted = 10c-d = Friend, go up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence
of all who sit at table with you.
h. With redaction and study of the forms, it is possible to separate material that is redactional.
He calls, verse 7-10 redactional from Luke. Verse 11 from Jesus and the community. 7-10 is
very well constructed. Verse 11 appears three times in Q.

Parable Matthew Mark Luke

The Builder: Il saggio che ha costruito la sua casa sulla roccia MT: “Perciò chiunque 7:24-27 6:47-49
ascolta queste mie parole e le mette in pratica, è simile a un uomo saggio che ha costruito
la sua casa sulla roccia. 25 Cadde la pioggia, strariparono i fiumi, soffiarono i venti e si
abbatterono su quella casa, ed essa non cadde, perché era fondata sopra la roccia. 26
Chiunque ascolta queste mie parole e non le mette in pratica, è simile a un uomo stolto
che ha costruito la sua casa sulla sabbia. 27 Cadde la pioggia, strariparono i fiumi,
soffiarono i venti e si abbatterono su quella casa, ed essa cadde, e la sua rovina fu
The Sower: Il seminatore. 13:1-9 4:1-9 8:4-8
Quel giorno Gesù uscì di casa e si sedette in riva al mare. 2 Si cominciò a raccogliere
attorno a lui tanta folla che dovette salire su una barca ; là si pose a sedere, mentre tutta
la folla rimaneva sulla spiaggia. 3 Egli parlò loro di molte cose in parabole. E disse:
“Ecco, il seminatore uscì a seminare. 4 E mentre seminava una parte del seme cadde
sulla strada e vennero gli uccelli e la divorarono. 5 Un`altra parte cadde in luogo
sassoso, dove non c`era molta terra; subito germogliò, perché il terreno non era
profondo. 6 Ma, spuntato il sole, restò bruciata e non avendo radici si seccò. 7 Un`altra
parte cadde sulle spine e le spine crebbero e la soffocarono. 8 Un`altra parte cadde sulla
terra buona e diede frutto, dove il cento, dove il sessanta, dove il trenta. 9 Chi ha orecchi
The Weeds among the Wheat: Il buon grano e la zizzania 13:24-30
24 Un`altra parabola espose loro così: “Il regno dei cieli si può paragonare a un uomo
che ha seminato del buon seme nel suo campo. 25 Ma mentre tutti dormivano venne il suo
nemico, seminò zizzania in mezzo al grano e se ne andò. 26 Quando poi la messe fiorì e
fece frutto, ecco apparve anche la zizzania. 27 Allora i servi andarono dal padrone di
casa e gli dissero: Padrone, non hai seminato del buon seme nel tuo campo? Da dove
viene dunque la zizzania? 28 Ed egli rispose loro: Un nemico ha fatto questo. E i servi gli
dissero: Vuoi dunque che andiamo a raccoglierla? 29 No, rispose, perché non succeda
che, cogliendo la zizzania, con essa sradichiate anche il grano. 30 Lasciate che l`una e
l`altro crescano insieme fino alla mietitura e al momento della mietitura dirò ai mietitori:
Cogliete prima la zizzania e legatela in fastelli per bruciarla; il grano invece riponetelo
nel mio granaio”.

The Mustard Seed: Il Granello di Senapa. 13:31-32 4:30-32 13:18-19

Un`altra parabola espose loro: “Il regno dei cieli si può paragonare a un granellino di
senapa, che un uomo prende e semina nel suo campo. 32 Esso è il più piccolo di tutti i
semi ma, una volta cresciuto, è più grande degli altri legumi e diventa un albero, tanto
che vengono gli uccelli del cielo e si annidano fra i suoi rami”.
The Leaven: Il lievito. 13:33
Un`altra parabola disse loro: “Il regno dei cieli si può paragonare al lievito, che una
donna ha preso e impastato con tre misure di farina perché tutta si fermenti”.
The Hidden Treasure: Il tesoro nascosto. 13:44
Il regno dei cieli è simile a un tesoro nascosto in un campo; un uomo lo trova e lo
nasconde di nuovo, poi va, pieno di gioia, vende tutti i suoi averi e compra quel campo.
The Pearl of Great Price: La Perla 13:45-46
45 Il regno dei cieli è simile a un mercante che va in cerca di perle preziose; 46 trovata
una perla di grande valore, va, vende tutti i suoi averi e la compra.
The Dragnet : La Rete. 13:47-50
47 Il regno dei cieli è simile anche a una rete gettata nel mare, che raccoglie ogni genere
di pesci. 48 Quando è piena, i pescatori la tirano a riva e poi, sedutisi, raccolgono i pesci
buoni nei canestri e buttano via i cattivi. 49 Così sarà alla fine del mondo. Verranno gli
angeli e separeranno i cattivi dai buoni 50 e li getteranno nella fornace ardente, dove
sarà pianto e stridore di denti.
The Lamp: La lampada. 4:21-23 8:16-18
MK: 21 Diceva loro: “Si porta forse la lampada per metterla sotto il moggio o sotto il
letto? O piuttosto per metterla sul lucerniere? 22 Non c`è nulla infatti di nascosto che non
debba essere manifestato e nulla di segreto che non debba essere messo in luce. 23 Se uno
ha orecchi per intendere, intenda!”.
The Growing Seed: Semina e la mietitura. 4:26-29
Diceva: “Il regno di Dio è come un uomo che getta il seme nella terra; 27 dorma o vegli,
di notte o di giorno, il seme germoglia e cresce; come, egli stesso non lo sa. 28 Poiché la
terra produce spontaneamente, prima lo stelo, poi la spiga, poi il chicco pieno nella
spiga. 29 Quando il frutto è pronto, subito si mette mano alla falce, perché è venuta la
The Two Debtors: Due debitori. 7:41-43
41 “Un creditore aveva due debitori: l`uno gli doveva cinquecento denari, l`altro
cinquanta. 42 Non avendo essi da restituire, condonò il debito a tutti e due. Chi dunque di
loro lo amerà di più?”. 43 Simone rispose: “Suppongo quello a cui ha condonato di più”.
Gli disse Gesù: “Hai giudicato bene”.
The Good Samaritan: Il buon Samaritano 10:25-37
25 Un dottore della legge si alzò per metterlo alla prova: “Maestro, che devo fare per
ereditare la vita eterna?”. 26 Gesù gli disse: “Che cosa sta scritto nella Legge? Che cosa
vi leggi?”. 27 Costui rispose: “Amerai il Signore Dio tuo con tutto il tuo cuore, con tutta
la tua anima, con tutta la tua forza e con tutta la tua mente e il prossimo tuo come te
stesso”. 28 E Gesù: “Hai risposto bene; fà questo e vivrai”. 29 Ma quegli, volendo
giustificarsi, disse a Gesù: “E chi è il mio prossimo?”. 30 Gesù riprese: “Un uomo
scendeva da Gerusalemme a Gerico e incappò nei briganti che lo spogliarono, lo
percossero e poi se ne andarono, lasciandolo mezzo morto. 31 Per caso, un sacerdote
scendeva per quella medesima strada e quando lo vide passò oltre dall`altra parte. 32
Anche un levita, giunto in quel luogo, lo vide e passò oltre. 33 Invece un Samaritano, che
era in viaggio, passandogli accanto lo vide e n`ebbe compassione. 34 Gli si fece vicino,
gli fasciò le ferite, versandovi olio e vino; poi, caricatolo sopra il suo giumento, lo portò a
una locanda e si prese cura di lui. 35 Il giorno seguente, estrasse due denari e li diede
all`albergatore, dicendo: Abbi cura di lui e ciò che spenderai in più, te lo rifonderò al mio
ritorno. 36 Chi di questi tre ti sembra sia stato il prossimo di colui che è incappato nei
briganti?”. 37 Quegli rispose: “Chi ha avuto compassione di lui”. Gesù gli disse: “Và e
anche tu fà lo stesso”.
The Friend at Midnight: Un amico a mezzanotte. 11:5-13
Poi aggiunse: “Se uno di voi ha un amico e va da lui a mezzanotte a dirgli: Amico,
prestami tre pani, 6 perché è giunto da me un amico da un viaggio e non ho nulla da
mettergli davanti; 7 e se quegli dall`interno gli risponde: Non m`importunare, la porta è
già chiusa e i miei bambini sono a letto con me, non posso alzarmi per darteli; 8 vi dico
che, se anche non si alzerà a darglieli per amicizia, si alzerà a dargliene quanti gliene
occorrono almeno per la sua insistenza. 9 Ebbene io vi dico: Chiedete e vi sarà dato,
cercate e troverete, bussate e vi sarà aperto. 10 Perché chi chiede ottiene, chi cerca trova,
e a chi bussa sarà aperto. 11 Quale padre tra voi, se il figlio gli chiede un pane, gli darà
una pietra? O se gli chiede un pesce, gli darà al posto del pesce una serpe? 12 O se gli
chiede un uovo, gli darà uno scorpione? 13 Se dunque voi, che siete cattivi, sapete dare
cose buone ai vostri figli, quanto più il Padre vostro celeste darà lo Spirito Santo a coloro
che glielo chiedono!”.
The Rich Fool: Il ricco stolto. 12:16-21
Disse poi una parabola: “La campagna di un uomo ricco aveva dato un buon raccolto. 17
Egli ragionava tra sé: Che farò, poiché non ho dove riporre i miei raccolti? 18 E disse:
Farò così: demolirò i miei magazzini e ne costruirò di più grandi e vi raccoglierò tutto il
grano e i miei beni. 19 Poi dirò a me stesso: Anima mia, hai a disposizione molti beni, per
molti anni; riposati, mangia, bevi e datti alla gioia. 20 Ma Dio gli disse: Stolto, questa
notte stessa ti sarà richiesta la tua vita. E quello che hai preparato di chi sarà? 21 Così è
di chi accumula tesori per sé, e non arricchisce davanti a Dio”.
The Barren Fig Tree: Il fico sterile. 13:6-9
Disse anche questa parabola: “Un tale aveva un fico piantato nella vigna e venne a
cercarvi frutti, ma non ne trovò. 7 Allora disse al vignaiolo: Ecco, son tre anni che vengo
a cercare frutti su questo fico, ma non ne trovo. Taglialo. Perché deve sfruttare il terreno?
8 Ma quegli rispose: Padrone, lascialo ancora quest`anno finché io gli zappi attorno e vi
metta il concime 9 e vedremo se porterà frutto per l`avvenire; se no, lo taglierai”.
The Lost Sheep: La Pecorella Smaritta 18:10-14 15:4-7
Matthew: Che ve ne pare? Se un uomo ha cento pecore e ne smarrisce una, non lascerà
forse le novantanove sui monti, per andare in cerca di quella perduta? 13 Se gli riesce di
trovarla, in verità vi dico, si rallegrerà per quella più che per le novantanove che non si
erano smarrite. 14 Così il Padre vostro celeste non vuole che si perda neanche uno solo di
questi piccoli.
The Lost Coin: La dramma ritrovata. 15:8-10
8 O quale donna, se ha dieci dramme e ne perde una, non accende la lucerna e spazza la
casa e cerca attentamente finché non la ritrova? 9 E dopo averla trovata, chiama le
amiche e le vicine, dicendo: Rallegratevi con me, perché ho ritrovato la dramma che
avevo perduta. 10 Così, vi dico, c`è gioia davanti agli angeli di Dio per un solo peccatore
che si converte”.
The Prodigal Son: Il figiuol prodigo. 15:11-32
11 Disse ancora: “Un uomo aveva due figli. 12 Il più giovane disse al padre: Padre,
dammi la parte del patrimonio che mi spetta. E il padre divise tra loro le sostanze. 13
Dopo non molti giorni, il figlio più giovane, raccolte le sue cose, partì per un paese
lontano e là sperperò le sue sostanze vivendo da dissoluto. 14 Quando ebbe speso tutto, in
quel paese venne una grande carestia ed egli cominciò a trovarsi nel bisogno. 15 Allora
andò e si mise a servizio di uno degli abitanti di quella regione, che lo mandò nei campi a
pascolare i porci. 16 Avrebbe voluto saziarsi con le carrube che mangiavano i porci; ma
nessuno gliene dava. 17 Allora rientrò in se stesso e disse: Quanti salariati in casa di mio
padre hanno pane in abbondanza e io qui muoio di fame! 18 Mi leverò e andrò da mio
padre e gli dirò: Padre, ho peccato contro il Cielo e contro di te; 19 non sono più degno
di esser chiamato tuo figlio. Trattami come uno dei tuoi garzoni. 20 Partì e si incamminò
verso suo padre. Quando era ancora lontano, il padre lo vide e commosso gli corse
incontro, gli si gettò al collo e lo baciò. 21 Il figlio gli disse: Padre, ho peccato contro il
Cielo e contro di te; non sono più degno di esser chiamato tuo figlio. 22 Ma il padre disse
ai servi: Presto, portate qui il vestito più bello e rivestitelo, mettetegli l`anello al dito e i
calzari ai piedi. 23 Portate il vitello grasso, ammazzatelo, mangiamo e facciamo festa, 24
perché questo mio figlio era morto ed è tornato in vita, era perduto ed è stato ritrovato. E
cominciarono a far festa. 25 Il figlio maggiore si trovava nei campi. Al ritorno, quando fu
vicino a casa, udì la musica e le danze; 26 chiamò un servo e gli domandò che cosa fosse
tutto ciò. 27 Il servo gli rispose: E` tornato tuo fratello e il padre ha fatto ammazzare il
vitello grasso, perché lo ha riavuto sano e salvo. 28 Egli si indignò, e non voleva entrare.
Il padre allora uscì a pregarlo. 29 Ma lui rispose a suo padre: Ecco, io ti servo da tanti
anni e non ho mai trasgredito un tuo comando, e tu non mi hai dato mai un capretto per
far festa con i miei amici. 30 Ma ora che questo tuo figlio che ha divorato i tuoi averi con
le prostitute è tornato, per lui hai ammazzato il vitello grasso. 31 Gli rispose il padre:
Figlio, tu sei sempre con me e tutto ciò che è mio è tuo; 32 ma bisognava far festa e
rallegrarsi, perché questo tuo fratello era morto ed è tornato in vita, era perduto ed è
stato ritrovato”.
The Unforgiving Servant: Parabola del servitore spietato 23 A questo proposito, il 18: 23-25
regno dei cieli è simile a un re che volle fare i conti con i suoi servi. 24 Incominciati i
conti, gli fu presentato uno che gli era debitore di diecimila talenti. 25 Non avendo però
costui il denaro da restituire, il padrone ordinò che fosse venduto lui con la moglie, con i
figli e con quanto possedeva, e saldasse così il debito. 26 Allora quel servo, gettatosi a
terra, lo supplicava: Signore, abbi pazienza con me e ti restituirò ogni cosa. 27
Impietositosi del servo, il padrone lo lasciò andare e gli condonò il debito. 28 Appena
uscito, quel servo trovò un altro servo come lui che gli doveva cento denari e, afferratolo,
lo soffocava e diceva: Paga quel che devi! 29 Il suo compagno, gettatosi a terra, lo
supplicava dicendo: Abbi pazienza con me e ti rifonderò il debito. 30 Ma egli non volle
esaudirlo, andò e lo fece gettare in carcere, fino a che non avesse pagato il debito. 31
Visto quel che accadeva, gli altri servi furono addolorati e andarono a riferire al loro
padrone tutto l`accaduto. 32 Allora il padrone fece chiamare quell`uomo e gli disse:
Servo malvagio, io ti ho condonato tutto il debito perché mi hai pregato. 33 Non dovevi
forse anche tu aver pietà del tuo compagno, così come io ho avuto pietà di te? 34 E,
sdegnato, il padrone lo diede in mano agli aguzzini, finché non gli avesse restituito tutto il
dovuto. 35 Così anche il mio Padre celeste farà a ciascuno di voi, se non perdonerete di
cuore al vostro fratello”.
The Unrighteous Steward: Il fattore infedele. 16:1-9
Diceva anche ai discepoli: “C`era un uomo ricco che aveva un amministratore, e questi fu
accusato dinanzi a lui di sperperare i suoi averi. 2 Lo chiamò e gli disse: Che è questo che
sento dire di te? Rendi conto della tua amministrazione, perché non puoi più essere
amministratore. 3 L`amministratore disse tra sé: Che farò ora che il mio padrone mi
toglie l`amministrazione? Zappare, non ho forza, mendicare, mi vergogno. 4 So io che
cosa fare perché, quando sarò stato allontanato dall`amministrazione, ci sia qualcuno che
mi accolga in casa sua. 5 Chiamò uno per uno i debitori del padrone e disse al primo: 6
Tu quanto devi al mio padrone? Quello rispose: Cento barili d`olio. Gli disse: Prendi la
tua ricevuta, siediti e scrivi subito cinquanta. 7 Poi disse a un altro: Tu quanto devi?
Rispose: Cento misure di grano. Gli disse: Prendi la tua ricevuta e scrivi ottanta. 8 Il
padrone lodò quell`amministratore disonesto, perché aveva agito con scaltrezza. I figli di
questo mondo, infatti, verso i loro pari sono più scaltri dei figli della luce. 9 Ebbene, io vi
dico: Procuratevi amici con la iniqua ricchezza, perché, quand`essa verrà a mancare, vi
accolgano nelle dimore eterne.
The Unrighteous Judge: 18:1-8
Disse loro una parabola sulla necessità di pregare sempre, senza stancarsi: 2 “C`era in
una città un giudice, che non temeva Dio e non aveva riguardo per nessuno. 3 In quella
città c`era anche una vedova, che andava da lui e gli diceva: Fammi giustizia contro il
mio avversario. 4 Per un certo tempo egli non volle; ma poi disse tra sé: Anche se non
temo Dio e non ho rispetto di nessuno, 5 poiché questa vedova è così molesta le farò
giustizia, perché non venga continuamente a importunarmi”. 6 E il Signore soggiunse:
“Avete udito ciò che dice il giudice disonesto. 7 E Dio non farà giustizia ai suoi eletti che
gridano giorno e notte verso di lui? Li farà a lungo aspettare? 8 Vi dico che farà loro
giustizia prontamente. Ma il Figlio dell`uomo, quando verrà, troverà la fede sulla
Pharisee and the Tax Collector: Fariseo e Pubblicano. Disse ancora questa parabola per 18:9-14
alcuni che presumevano di esser giusti e disprezzavano gli altri: 10 “Due uomini salirono
al tempio a pregare: uno era fariseo e l`altro pubblicano. 11 Il fariseo, stando in piedi,
pregava così tra sé: O Dio, ti ringrazio che non sono come gli altri uomini, ladri, ingiusti,
adùlteri, e neppure come questo pubblicano. 12 Digiuno due volte la settimana e pago le
decime di quanto possiedo.13 Il pubblicano invece, fermatosi a distanza, non osava
nemmeno alzare gli occhi al cielo, ma si batteva il petto dicendo: O Dio, abbi pietà di me
peccatore. 14Io vi dico: questi tornò a casa sua giustificato, a differenza dell`altro, perché
chi si esalta sarà umiliato e chi si umilia sarà esaltato”.
The Laborers in the Vineyard: Parabola degli Operai. 20:1-16
1 “Il regno dei cieli è simile a un padrone di casa che uscì all`alba per prendere a
giornata lavoratori per la sua vigna. 2 Accordatosi con loro per un denaro al giorno, li
mandò nella sua vigna. 3 Uscito poi verso le nove del mattino, ne vide altri che stavano
sulla piazza disoccupati 4 e disse loro: Andate anche voi nella mia vigna; quello che è
giusto ve lo darò. Ed essi andarono. 5 Uscì di nuovo verso mezzogiorno e verso le tre e
fece altrettanto. 6 Uscito ancora verso le cinque, ne vide altri che se ne stavano là e disse
loro: Perché ve ne state qui tutto il giorno oziosi? 7 Gli risposero: Perché nessuno ci ha
presi a giornata. Ed egli disse loro: Andate anche voi nella mia vigna. 8 Quando fu sera,
il padrone della vigna disse al suo fattore: Chiama gli operai e dá loro la paga,
incominciando dagli ultimi fino ai primi. 9 Venuti quelli delle cinque del pomeriggio,
ricevettero ciascuno un denaro. 10 Quando arrivarono i primi, pensavano che avrebbero
ricevuto di più. Ma anch`essi ricevettero un denaro per ciascuno. 11 Nel ritirarlo però,
mormoravano contro il padrone dicendo: 12 Questi ultimi hanno lavorato un`ora soltanto
e li hai trattati come noi, che abbiamo sopportato il peso della giornata e il caldo. 13 Ma
il padrone, rispondendo a uno di loro, disse: Amico, io non ti faccio torto. Non hai forse
convenuto con me per un denaro? 14 Prendi il tuo e vattene; ma io voglio dare anche a
quest`ultimo quanto a te. 15 Non posso fare delle mie cose quello che voglio? Oppure tu
sei invidioso perché io sono buono? 16 Così gli ultimi saranno i primi, e i primi ultimi”.
The Two Sons: I due figli. 21: 28-32
28 “Che ve ne pare? Un uomo aveva due figli; rivoltosi al primo disse: Figlio, và oggi a
lavorare nella vigna. 29 Ed egli rispose: Sì, signore; ma non andò. 30 Rivoltosi al
secondo, gli disse lo stesso. Ed egli rispose: Non ne ho voglia; ma poi, pentitosi, ci andò.
31 Chi dei due ha compiuto la volontà del padre?”. Dicono: “L`ultimo”. E Gesù disse
loro: “In verità vi dico: I pubblicani e le prostitute vi passano avanti nel regno di Dio. 32
E` venuto a voi Giovanni nella via della giustizia e non gli avete creduto; i pubblicani e le
prostitute invece gli hanno creduto. Voi, al contrario, pur avendo visto queste cose, non vi
siete nemmeno pentiti per credergli.
The Wicked Tenants: I vignaioli perfidi. 21:33-46 12:1-12 20:9-19
Ascoltate un`altra parabola: C`era un padrone che piantò una vigna e la circondò con
una siepe, vi scavò un frantoio, vi costruì una torre, poi l`affidò a dei vignaioli e se ne
andò. 34 Quando fu il tempo dei frutti, mandò i suoi servi da quei vignaioli a ritirare il
raccolto. 35 Ma quei vignaioli presero i servi e uno lo bastonarono, l`altro lo uccisero,
l`altro lo lapidarono. 36 Di nuovo mandò altri servi più numerosi dei primi, ma quelli si
comportarono nello stesso modo. 37 Da ultimo mandò loro il proprio figlio dicendo:
Avranno rispetto di mio figlio! 38 Ma quei vignaioli, visto il figlio, dissero tra sé: Costui è
l`erede; venite, uccidiamolo, e avremo noi l`eredità. 39 E, presolo, lo cacciarono fuori
della vigna e l`uccisero. 40 Quando dunque verrà il padrone della vigna che farà a quei
vignaioli?”. 41 Gli rispondono: “Farà morire miseramente quei malvagi e darà la vigna
ad altri vignaioli che gli consegneranno i frutti a suo tempo”. 42 E Gesù disse loro: “Non
avete mai letto nelle Scritture:
La pietra che i costruttori hanno scartata è diventata testata d`angolo; dal Signore è stato
fatto questo ed è mirabile agli occhi nostri? 43 Perciò io vi dico: vi sarà tolto il regno di
Dio e sarà dato a un popolo che lo farà fruttificare. 44 Chi cadrà sopra questa pietra sarà
sfracellato; e qualora essa cada su qualcuno, lo stritolerà”. 45 Udite queste parabole, i
sommi sacerdoti e i farisei capirono che parlava di loro e cercavano di catturarlo; ma
avevano paura della folla che lo considerava un profeta.
The Wedding Banquet: Le nozze Regali. 22:1-14
Gesù riprese a parlar loro in parabole e disse: 2 “Il regno dei cieli è simile a un re che
fece un banchetto di nozze per suo figlio. 3 Egli mandò i suoi servi a chiamare gli invitati
alle nozze, ma questi non vollero venire. 4 Di nuovo mandò altri servi a dire: Ecco ho
preparato il mio pranzo; i miei buoi e i miei animali ingrassati sono già macellati e tutto è
pronto; venite alle nozze. 5 Ma costoro non se ne curarono e andarono chi al proprio
campo, chi ai propri affari; 6 altri presero i suoi servi, li insultarono e li uccisero. 7
Allora il re si indignò e, mandate le sue truppe, uccise quegli assassini e diede alle
fiamme la loro città. 8 Poi disse ai suoi servi: Il banchetto nuziale è pronto, ma gli invitati
non ne erano degni; 9 andate ora ai crocicchi delle strade e tutti quelli che troverete,
chiamateli alle nozze. 10 Usciti nelle strade, quei servi raccolsero quanti ne trovarono,
buoni e cattivi, e la sala si riempì di commensali. 11 Il re entrò per vedere i commensali e,
scorto un tale che non indossava l`abito nuziale, 12 gli disse: Amico, come hai potuto
entrare qui senz`abito nuziale? Ed egli ammutolì. 13 Allora il re ordinò ai servi: Legatelo
mani e piedi e gettatelo fuori nelle tenebre; là sarà pianto e stridore di denti. 14 Perché
molti sono chiamati, ma pochi eletti”.
The Great Banquet: Parabola del convito. 14:15-24
Uno dei commensali, avendo udito ciò, gli disse: “Beato chi mangerà il pane nel regno di
Dio!”. 16 Gesù rispose: “Un uomo diede una grande cena e fece molti inviti. 17 All`ora
della cena, mandò il suo servo a dire agli invitati: Venite, è pronto. 18 Ma tutti,
all`unanimità, cominciarono a scusarsi. Il primo disse: Ho comprato un campo e devo
andare a vederlo; ti prego, considerami giustificato. 19 Un altro disse: Ho comprato
cinque paia di buoi e vado a provarli; ti prego, considerami giustificato. 20 Un altro
disse: Ho preso moglie e perciò non posso venire. 21 Al suo ritorno il servo riferì tutto
questo al padrone. Allora il padrone di casa, irritato, disse al servo: Esci subito per le
piazze e per le vie della città e conduci qui poveri, storpi, ciechi e zoppi. 22 Il servo disse:
Signore, è stato fatto come hai ordinato, ma c`è ancora posto. 23 Il padrone allora disse
al servo: Esci per le strade e lungo le siepi, spingili a entrare, perché la mia casa si
riempia. 24 Perché vi dico: Nessuno di quegli uomini che erano stati invitati assaggerà la
mia cena”.
The Ten Bridesmaids: Le vergine savie e stolte. 25:1-13
Il regno dei cieli è simile a dieci vergini che, prese le loro lampade, uscirono incontro allo
sposo. 2 Cinque di esse erano stolte e cinque sagge; 3 le stolte presero le lampade, ma
non presero con sé olio; 4 le sagge invece, insieme alle lampade, presero anche dell`olio
in piccoli vasi. 5 Poiché lo sposo tardava, si assopirono tutte e dormirono. 6 A mezzanotte
si levò un grido: Ecco lo sposo, andategli incontro! 7 Allora tutte quelle vergini si
destarono e prepararono le loro lampade. 8 E le stolte dissero alle sagge: Dateci del
vostro olio, perché le nostre lampade si spengono. 9 Ma le sagge risposero: No, che non
abbia a mancare per noi e per voi; andate piuttosto dai venditori e compratevene. 10 Ora,
mentre quelle andavano per comprare l`olio, arrivò lo sposo e le vergini che erano pronte
entrarono con lui alle nozze, e la porta fu chiusa. 11 Più tardi arrivarono anche le altre
vergini e incominciarono a dire: Signore, signore, aprici! 12 Ma egli rispose: In verità vi
dico: non vi conosco. 13 Vegliate dunque, perché non sapete né il giorno né l`ora.
The Talents: Parabola dei Talenti. 25:14-30
14 Avverrà come di un uomo che, partendo per un viaggio, chiamò i suoi servi e consegnò
loro i suoi beni. 15 A uno diede cinque talenti, a un altro due, a un altro uno, a ciascuno
secondo la sua capacità, e partì. 16 Colui che aveva ricevuto cinque talenti, andò subito a
impiegarli e ne guadagnò altri cinque. 17 Così anche quello che ne aveva ricevuti due, ne
guadagnò altri due. 18 Colui invece che aveva ricevuto un solo talento, andò a fare una
buca nel terreno e vi nascose il denaro del suo padrone. 19 Dopo molto tempo il padrone
di quei servi tornò, e volle regolare i conti con loro. 20 Colui che aveva ricevuto cinque
talenti, ne presentò altri cinque, dicendo: Signore, mi hai consegnato cinque talenti; ecco,
ne ho guadagnati altri cinque. 21 Bene, servo buono e fedele, gli disse il suo padrone, sei
stato fedele nel poco, ti darò autorità su molto; prendi parte alla gioia del tuo padrone. 22
Presentatosi poi colui che aveva ricevuto due talenti, disse: Signore, mi hai consegnato
due talenti; vedi, ne ho guadagnati altri due. 23 Bene, servo buono e fedele, gli rispose il
padrone, sei stato fedele nel poco, ti darò autorità su molto; prendi parte alla gioia del
tuo padrone. 24 Venuto infine colui che aveva ricevuto un solo talento, disse: Signore, so
che sei un uomo duro, che mieti dove non hai seminato e raccogli dove non hai sparso; 25
per paura andai a nascondere il talento sotterra: ecco qui il tuo. 26 Il padrone gli rispose:
Servo malvagio e infingardo, sapevi che mieto dove non ho seminato e raccolgo dove non
ho sparso; 27 avresti dovuto affidare il mio denaro ai banchieri e così, ritornando, avrei
ritirato il mio con l`interesse. 28 Toglietegli dunque il talento, e datelo a chi ha i dieci
talenti. 29 Perché a chiunque ha sarà dato e sarà nell`abbondanza; ma a chi non ha sarà
tolto anche quello che ha. 30 E il servo fannullone gettatelo fuori nelle tenebre; là sarà
pianto e stridore di denti.
The Pounds: Le Mine. 19:11-27
11 Mentre essi stavano ad ascoltare queste cose, Gesù disse ancora una parabola perché
era vicino a Gerusalemme ed essi credevano che il regno di Dio dovesse manifestarsi da
un momento all`altro. 12 Disse dunque: “Un uomo di nobile stirpe partì per un paese
lontano per ricevere un titolo regale e poi ritornare. 13 Chiamati dieci servi, consegnò
loro dieci mine, dicendo: Impiegatele fino al mio ritorno. 14 Ma i suoi cittadini lo
odiavano e gli mandarono dietro un`ambasceria a dire: Non vogliamo che costui venga a
regnare su di noi. 15 Quando fu di ritorno, dopo aver ottenuto il titolo di re, fece
chiamare i servi ai quali aveva consegnato il denaro, per vedere quanto ciascuno avesse
guadagnato. 16 Si presentò il primo e disse: Signore, la tua mina ha fruttato altre dieci
mine. 17 Gli disse: Bene, bravo servitore; poiché ti sei mostrato fedele nel poco, ricevi il
potere sopra dieci città. 18 Poi si presentò il secondo e disse: La tua mina, signore, ha
fruttato altre cinque mine. 19 Anche a questo disse: Sarai tu pure a capo di cinque città.
20 Venne poi anche l`altro e disse: Signore, ecco la tua mina, che ho tenuta riposta in un
fazzoletto; 21 avevo paura di te che sei un uomo severo e prendi quello che non hai messo
in deposito, mieti quello che non hai seminato. 22 Gli rispose: Dalle tue stesse parole ti
giudico, servo malvagio! Sapevi che sono un uomo severo, che prendo quello che non ho
messo in deposito e mieto quello che non ho seminato: 23 perché allora non hai
consegnato il mio denaro a una banca? Al mio ritorno l`avrei riscosso con gli interessi.
24 Disse poi ai presenti: Toglietegli la mina e datela a colui che ne ha dieci 25 Gli
risposero: Signore, ha già dieci mine! 26 Vi dico: A chiunque ha sarà dato; ma a chi non
ha sarà tolto anche quello che ha. 27 E quei miei nemici che non volevano che diventassi
loro re, conduceteli qui e uccideteli davanti a me”. 28 Dette queste cose, Gesù proseguì
avanti agli altri salendo verso Gerusalemme.
11. Kaleo – The theme of being invited.
a. Luke.14-15.32. Parables of the kingdom. The eschatological banquest on Mt. Sion in Isaiah,
eating drinking without pain. Feast, one is invited; one who invites. Has the essential quality
of gratuity; you don’t pay. OT wisdom personified; Jesus is also personified wisdom.
Difference between the signora who is wise and the signora who is stulta. Book of the
proverbs: Proverbs – the invitation to those who are not wise offers wisdom to those who lack
it. As with Luke, emphasis on calling sinners, the imperfect; those who lack; who are poor
therefore take the last place. This fits into Luke’s theology.
2. If we understand how the text functions, then we can understand the content better. What did
Jesus say v.11. What is the canonical interpretation of it? Verse 8-10? Here, first a story to
explain, then after – 11 – a story to explain.
3. Parallelisms to help people to understand.
4. C.15 – Every element is essential to the text. No superfluity. Only v.3-7 equals Matthew
18:12 the lost sheep. v.1-3 – He then uttered this parable. Two groups of people contrasted.

One sinners; 2) pharisees and scribes – with two different attegiamenti. One ascolto; 2
giudica. 15.1-2, introduces the scene. Verse 3 is transitional. Verse 4 to 32, is the parable.
Scenes and persons change. Many elements are common to them. Something lost.
VIII. Excursus on Historical Method
All that has no foundation, in the rabbinical tradition, is probably historical. Jesus concerning the Sabbath. But
repetition in the 3 synoptics does not necessarily mean its historical. Luke 28:14, Mt. 23:12, and Lk 14:11. Two
diferent contexts, but the same phrase. Luke is attentive to certain forms. He avoids repetition. Therefore, the
repetition in Luke of the same phrase means that it was of great importance for Luke. It seems to suggest that it
was actually said by Jeus.
IX. A Marginal Jew
The author imagines a Catholic, a Protestant, a Jew, and an agnostic hammering out a consensus document on
who Jesus of Nazareth was and what he intended. A Marginal Jew is Meier’s vision of that consensus document.
A Marginal Jew represents the first time an American Catholic biblical scholar has attempted a full-scale,
rigorously scientific treatment of the “historical Jesus.” By the “historical Jesus,” Meier means the Jesus whom we
can recover or reconstruct by using the tools of modern historical research. Granted the fragmentary state of the
sources and the indirect nature of the arguments, the resulting portrait is incomplete and at times speculative. Still,
Meier argues, something precious is gained. The “consensus statement” that emerges is open to probing and
debate by all interested parties Catholics, Protestants, Jews, believers, and agnostics alike. It can serve as common
ground for ecumenical dialogue and further research. Among the difficult questions Meier confronts: Was Jesus
virginally conceived? Did he have brothers and sisters? Was he married or single? Was he illiterate? Did he know
Hebrew and Greek as well as Aramaic? Meier’s sober, well-reasoned account of the life of Jesus is nothing less
than startling, as though almost two thousand years later we were seeing Jesus for the first time as his
contemporaries would have seen him - “a marginal Jew” with all the implications and questions raised by this
deliberately provocative title. Indeed, the author has here sketched out for us the portrait of Jesus for the end of the
twentieth century.
A. Introductory Points
1. Jesus considered as “Marginal”
a. Jesus was just a blip on the historical radar screen.
b. Jesus died the shameful and brutal death of a criminal.
c. Jesus marginalized himself by giving up his job and lifestyle and taking on a role that was considered
d. Jesus’s teachings and practices (celibacy, total prohibition of divorce, and rejection of voluntary
fasting) were marginal.
e. Jesus’s teachings were marginal in Judaism.
f. Jesus was a country boy who marginal in the big city.
2. The Real Jesus vs. the Historical Jesus
a. The Real Jesus
This is Jesus as a complete person.
b. The Historical Jesus
The historical Jesus is a modern abstraction and construct. By the Jesus of History is meant the Jesus
whom we can recover and examine by using the scientific tools of modern research.
c. Relation between the two concepts.
The historical Jesus is not the real Jesus, and vice versa. The historical Jesus may give us fragments of
the real Jesus, but nothing more.
3. Historical and Historic
a. Historical – Historical refers to the bare bones of knowledge about the past, with the researcher
prescinding from any possible relevance to or influence on our present day life and quest for meaning.
b. Historic – Historic refers to the past as it is meaningful and challenging, engaging and thought
provoking for present day men and women.
c. Critique of distinction: The distinction is vague and ambiguous, often is used as a tool for creeping
subjectivity, is inadequate to capture the subtlety of the issue, and is useless in the real world.
4. Why study Historical Jesus?
Although the historical Jesus is irrelevant to faith as far as teh direct object of the Christian faith is
concerned (i.e., Jesus Christ crucified, risen, and presently reigning), the historical Jesus is a pursuit that
can aid theology in several ways.
a. Historical Jesus prevents any attempt to reduce faith in Christ to a content-less cipher, a mythic
symbol, or a timeless archetype.

b. The quest for the historical Jesus prevents us from losing sight of the fact that it was the same Jesus
who walked the earth who rose after the crucifixion.
c. Prevents any attempt to “domesticate” Jeuss for a comfortable, bourgeois Christianity.
d. Historical Jesus is not easily coopted for political programs or revolutions. Historical Jesus is
remarkably silent on many of the pressing issues of the day. Properly understood, the historical Jesus
is a bulwark against the reduction of Christian faith in general and christology in particular to
“relevant” ideology of any stripe.
B. Source for the Historical Jesus: The Canonical Gospels.
1. Provide no guidance as to chronological order: The canonical Gospels have rearranged the material to
suit their own theological visions. There is no way we can tell, in most cases, the order in which events
occurred. We can only be sure that Jesus’s ministry began after his baptism and ended with a final, fateful
journey to Jerusalem for the Passover.
2. Ipsissima verba: There is reason to doubt that the Gospel’s preserve the exact words of Jesus. Consider
four versions of Words of Institution: (Mark 14:22-25; Mt. 26:26-29: LK 22:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26). The
Lord’s prayer also varies. (Matt 6:9-13; Lk. 11-2-4) as do the beatitudes (Mt. 5:3-12; Lk 6:20b-23).
3. Composition: Mark was written, using various collections of oral and possibly written traditions,
sometime around 70A.D. Both Matthew and Luke, working independently of each other, composed their
Gospels most likely between 80-90 A.D., by combining and editing Mark, a collection of Jesus’ sayings
that scholars call “Q”, and special traditions peculiar to Matthew and Luke.
4. John: Is best explained as deriving from a tradition parallel to, but distinct from, that of the Synoptics.
John may edit Jesus’ life and sayings for theological purposes; but this is probably true of the Synoptics as
5. Paul: Aimed more at answering theological questions than at imparting knowledge of Jesus’ life.
C. SOURCE: Josephus ben Matthias – A.D. 37-38 – Sometime after 100.
Josephus provides the best extra-Biblical evidence for the existence of Jesus. The mere existence of Jesus is
already demonstrated from the neutral passing reference in the report on James’s death in Book 20. The more
extensive testimonium in Book 18 shows us that Josephus was acquainted with at least a few salient facts of
Jesus’s life. Independent of the four Gospels, a Jew writing in 93-94 tells us that during the rule of Pontius
Pilate – therefore, between 26 and 36 A.D. – there appeared on the religious scene of Palestine a man named
Jesus. He had the reputation for wisdom that displayed itself in miracle working and teaching. He won a large
following, and the Jewish leaders accused him before Pilate. Pilate had him crucified.
1. Jewish Antiquities: Book 20: “Being therefore this kind of person, Ananus, thinking that he had a
favorable opportunity because Festus had died with Albinus was still on his, called a Sanhedrin of judges
and brought into it the brother of Jesus-who-is-caleld Messiah (ton adelphon Iesou tou legomenou
Christou), James by name, and some others. He made the accusation that they had transgressed the law,
and he handed them over to be stoned.
2. Testimonium Flavianum
a. Text: About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he
was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He
won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When Pilate, upon hearing him
accused by men of the highest standing among us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had
in the first place come to love him did not cease. On the third day he appeared to them restored to
life. For the prophets of God had prophesied these and myriads of other marvellous things about
him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still up to now, not disappeared.
b. Meier argues for accepting an edited version of the Testimonium, shorn of the three obvious Christian
affirmations that I have underlined.
3. Significance of Jospehus.
Josephus establishes that Jesus existed. Writing in the year 93-94, Josephus tells us that during the rule of
Pontius Pilate – therefore, between A.D. 24 and 36 – there appeared on the religious scene a man named
Jesus. He had a reputation for wisdom that displayed itself in miracle working and teaching. He won a
large following, but (or therefore) the Jewish leaders accused him before Pontius Pilate. Pilate had him
crucified, but his followers refused to abandon their devotion to him, despite his shameful death.
D. Other Pagan and Jewish Writings
1. Tacitus – Sadly, we have lost those portions of the Annals between A.D. 29 and A.D. 32. We have a short
retrospective reference to Jesus in the treatment of the great fire under Nero. Annals 15.44:
a. Ergo abolendo rumori Nero subdidit reos et quaesitissimis poenis adfecit, quos per flagitia invisos
vulgus Chrestianos appellabat. Auctor nominis eius Christus Tibero imperitante per procuratorem
Pontium Pilatum supplicio adfectus erat; repressaque in praesens exitiablilis superstitio rursum

erumpebat, non modo per Iudaeam, originem eius mali, sed per urbem etiam, quo cuncta undique
atrocia aut pudenda confluunt celebranturque.
b. The passage is obviously geniune, not a Christian interpolation. It is witnessed in all mss of the
Annals, has a very unchristian tone, and is written in Tacitean Latin beyond the ability of most
Christians. The mention of Christ and his fate plays a key part in the negative portrait of Christians;
such a short and dismissive description of Jesus hardly comes from a Christian hand.
c. Tacitus here 1) fixes the time of Christ’s death; 2) affirms that he was executed by the Roman
governor; and 3) the Christ movement existed when Christ died.
2. Suetonius, Pliny the Younger and Lucian are often mentioned along with Tacitus, but they are simply
reporting what the early Christians do and do not provide any independent witness to the life of Jesus
a. Suetonius mentions the suppression of followers of “Chrestus” under Claudius.
b. Pliny the Younger – Letter 10:96 – A.D. 111-113 – describes problem of Christians to Trajan and
requests how they should be dealt with.
c. Lucian of Samosata – 115-200 – The Passing of Pergrinus is a satirical life of a convert to and
apostate from Christianity.
3. Early Rabbinic Texts – Although some have argued that Rabbinic references to a “Ben Pandera” or “Ben
Pantere” who was the son of a Jewish maiden and a Roman Centurion, Meier argues that in the earliest
rabbinic sources, there are no clear or even probable references to Jesus. When we do finally find such
references in later rabbinic literature, they are most probably reactions to Christian claims, written or oral.
Hence, apart from Josephus, Jewish literature of the early Christian period offers no independent source of
for inquiry into the historical Jesus.
1. Qumran – Scrolls were discovered in 1947. Scrolls were important for the study of the Hebrew books
of the Bible and for the study of sectarian groups under the Second temple. There is, however, no
indication that Jesus was every directly connected with the community. He is never mentioned in the
documents found there and his freewheeling attitude toward the Mosaic law is the antithesis of the
hyperobservance of the Qumranites.
2. Mishna – The first large collection of the so-called oral traditions of the Rabbis.
3. The Palestinian and Babylonian Talmuds – containing the Mishna with further commentary on the
Mishna called the Gemara). The Talmud tends to speak of the Second Temple only when it is relevant
to some legal debate or homiletic application.
4. The Tosefta – Early rabbinic traditions left out of the Mishna.
5. Targums – Aramaic translations and paraphrases of the Hebrew Scriptures.
E. The Agrapha and the Apocryphal Gospels
The agrapha, the apocryphal gospels, and the Nag Hammadi codices (in particular, the Gospel of Thomas)
offer us no reliable new information or authentic sayins that are independent of the NT. What we see in these
later documents is rather the reaction to or reworking of the NT writings by Jewish rabbis engaged in
polemics, imaginative Christians reflecting popular piety and legend, and Gnostic Christians developing a
mystical speculative system.
1. The Agrapha – These are a later collection of “sayings” of Jesus that claims to be the written record of a
long oral tradition. The bulk of this material is legendary and bears the clear mark of forgery. Jeremias
accepts 18 of these sayings as potentially historical. There are arguments against them. But, the only
support they have is that they are actually similar to the gospels. Even if genuine, they add nothing.
2. The apocryphal gospels: - These apocryphal gospels are evidence of the patristic Church from the 2d to
the 4th Century. The texts simply are not credible. They are the product of overactive ancient imaginations.
a. Protevangelium Jacobi and Infancy Gospel of Thomas – A mishmash of folklore regarding
Zechariah, Simeon, and the virgin Mary. Nothing of value about the Historical Jesus.
b. Infancy Gospel of Thomas - Presents the child-Jesus as a self-will brat, who makes a child who runs
up against him drop dead. A sinister superboy. Reflects more popular fascination with the
supernatural and a desire for religious entertainment.
3. The Nag Hammadi Material – In 1945, a peasant from the village of Nag Hammadi in upper Egypt
discovered the remains of an ancient Coptic library. The library has 54 tractactes, 45 if duplicates are
a. Gospel of Phillip - Joseph, the carpenter, makes the cross on which Christ is crucified, and other similar
pious fables.
b. Gospel of Thomas presents the only real question. The book is a collection of 114 sayings of Jesus, with
no or little narrative framework or accompanying dialogue. It is clear that the overarching intention of the
redactor of the Gospel of Thomas is a Gnostic one and that the Synoptic-like sayings are meant to be re-

interpreted according to their “genuine” Gnostic meaning. Since a Gnostic worldview of this sort was
not employed in such a way before the 2d Century, there can be no question of the Gospel of Thomas as a
whole being a reliable reflection of the historical Jesus or of the earliest sources of 1st Century
F. Criteria for weighing evidence.
1. Primary 1: Criterion of Embarassment.
The crierion of embarassment focuses on actions or sayings of Jesus that would have embarassed or
created difficulty for the early Church. Because no member of the early Church would have gone out of
his way to create such embarassing details, they are more likely to be true.
a. Example: Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist: Mark’s account, which seems to subordinate Jesus
to John, seems authentic. The difficulty is clearly defined by the modifications to this passage made
by Matthew (introduces explanatory dialogue) and Luke (eliminates John from Baptism scene).
b. Example: Mark 13:32 – “But concernign the day or hour no one knows, neither the angels, nor the
Son, but only the Father.
2. Primary 2: Criterion of Discontinuity (Dissimilarly, originality, dual irreducibility). Words or deeds
of Jesus that cannot be derived either from Judaism at the tiem of Jesus or from the early Church after him
are more likely authentic.
a. Examples: Sweeping prohibition of oaths (Matth: 5:34, 37); rejection of voluntary fasting (Mark 2:18-
22), and possibly his total prohibition of divorce (Mark 10:2-12).
b. Problem: Do we know the full body of what Jews and the early Church believed?

3. Primary 3: Criterion of Multiple Attestation

The criterion focuses on sayings or deeds of Jesus that are attested in more than one independent literary
source (Mark, Q, Paul, John) and/or in more than one literary form or genre (Parable, dispute story,
miracle story, prophecy, aphorism).
a. Example: Kingdom of God – used by all in all contexts.
4. Primary 4: Criterion of Coherence
The criterion of coherence holds that other sayings and deeds of Jesus that fit inw ell with the preliminary
database established using the other criteria have a good chance of being historical. PROBLEM: Early
Christians could have invented stories similar to what Jesus actually said.
5. Primary 5: Criterion of Rejection and Execution
Basically, keep in mind the fact that a Jesus whose words and deeds woudl not alienate people, especially
powerful people, is not the historical Jesus.
6. Secondary 1: Criterion of Traces of Aramaic.
Things easily retroverted into aramaic are more likely true than those things which are not. PROBLEM:
People could have invented stuff in Aramaic. PROBLEM: People could have translated into Greek in a
way that masks the original Aramaic irrevocably. Criterian needs to be used sparingly.
7. Secondary 2: Criterion of Palestinian Environment
Affirm sayings of Jesus that reflect concrete customs, beliefs, judicial procedures, commercial and
agricultural practices or social and political customs in 1st Century Palestine have a good chance of being
authentic and vice versa. Better used negatively. Used positively, it is too likely that it will not weed out
inventions by the Christian community from the first decade or more after Jesus’ death.
8. Secondary 3: Criterion of Vividness of Narration
Liveliness and concrete details – especially irrelevant details – are more likely eyewitness reports. Some
of the best narratives are sparse (MARK). Some liars have real imaginations.
9. Secondary 4: Criterion of the Tendencies of the Developing Synoptics Tradition.
Those aspects that comport with the rules regarding how synoptics tend to evolve are less authentic.
Establishing such laws is a dubious proposition at best.
10. Secondary 5: Criterion of Historical Presumption
Dubious. Some say burden of proof is on those who say something is not historical; some say burden of
proof is on the other side. It is a wash.
G. Infancy of Jesus
1. During the reign of Herod the great (sometime near the end of his reign, i.e., 7-4 B.C., if Matthew is to be
believed), a Jew named Yeshua was born, perhaps in Bethlehem of Judea but more likely in Nazareth of
Galilee. His mother was named Miryam, and his putative father was Yosef.
a. Jesus, or Yeshua, was a common name in Ancient Palestine. Jews stopped using the name only in the
2d Century when the name was completely absorbed into Christian veneration.

b. Miraculous infancy narratives were a stock motif in the ancient eastern Mediterranean world.
Caution is due given that these narratives occur only two places in the NT and are
mentioned/referenced nowhere else. Caution is also due given that the sources for this period were,
with the exception of Mary, unavailable for comment in the time of the early Church. Note also that
Luke makes some glaring errors in things Jewish, for example Mary’s purification.
2. Jesus was probably known or believed to have been of Davidic descent during his lifetime. The story that
he was born at Bethlehem is perhaps a theologoumenon.
3. Jesus grew up in Nazareth and was known as the Nazarene.
4. The tradition that Jesus was virginally conceived was affirmed by both Infancy narratives, but was not
verifiable even in his own day. The precise origin of the virginal birth theme are unknown. The
countertradition that Jesus was illegitimate was not known until the 2d Century A.D. and is most likely a
mocking, polemical reaction to the claims of the infancy narrative.
H. Language, Education, and Socio-Economic Status
1. Language
Growing up in Nazareth, Jesus would have spoken Aramaic as his everyday tongue, while also learning
some Hebrew from the local synagogue service and perhaps more Hebrew from formal instruction
provided by his father. As he started to learn the trade of woodworker, he would have found it useful or
even necessary to acquire some Greek phrases for business purposes. Visists to Jerusalem would have
exposed him to Greek. The bulk of his teaching, although there may have been Hebrew and Greek used on
occasion for special audiences/encounters with priests, would have been in Aramaic.
2. Education
It is possible oral teachign was the sole conduit of Jesus’ own education in the Scriptures and in Jewish
tradition. Literacy was not an absolute necessity in his milieu, and it is doubtful that Jesus would have
acquired the skill. Nevertheless, the devoutness of his family, his own preoccupation with religion, and
the debatess he had with the scribes and Pharisees, suggest that he had somehow acquired the ability to
3. Social Status
Relative to his own society, Jesus was not that bad off. He was not, to be sure, at the bottom of the socio-
economic ladder. The political situation under Herod Antipas (4BC – 39AD) was certainly better than
under Herod the Great. Jesus grew up and conducted his ministry in a period of uncommon tranquility in
Palestine. Despite some who argue that Jesus imbibed Greek theater at Sepphoris (which was being
reconstructed after an uprising in 4 AD), all signs point to an uneventful adolescence and adulthood
woodworking at Nazareth.
I. Family, Marital Status, status as a layman.
1. Parents
Joseph was almost certainly his father. Joseph was not present during the ministry either because he
played no major part in support thereof, was unhappy therewith, or, most likely, had died beforehand.
Mary lived until the time of the crucifixion. She would have been about 48 by that time.
2. Brothers and Sisters
a. Matthean Texts.
1. Matthew 1.25: “And he did not have sexual relations with her until she bore a son, and he called
his name Jesus.” This signifies that 1) Jesus is the son of God conceived virginally – the first half
merely emphasizes that Joseph was not the Father; and 2) that Joseph inserted Jesus into the
Davidic line by naming him. The “until” need not mean that they had marital relations after Jesus
was born. That was not Matthew’s apparent concern to affirm here.
2. Matthew 13:55 – “13.55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are
not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 13.56 And are not all his sisters with us?
Where then did this man get all this?” The grouping of Mary as mother, and James, Joseph,
Simon and Judas as brothers at first blush suggests that Jesus had at least four brothers. That
Matthew has separated Mary and Brothers from the reference to “carpenter’s son” it would
suggest that Matthew was grouping blood relatives separately from Joseph.
3: Mattehw 12:47 “But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my
brothers?” 12.49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother
and my brothers! 12.50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and
sister, and mother.” This just wouldn’t make sense if Jesus was speaking only of stepbrothers.
b. Jerome was a leading advocate of the “cousins” theory. Jerome theorized that the Aramaic “Aba” can
mean either brother or cousin. Meier rejects this on the ground that 1) relation is always brought out in
a way that clarifies meaning of “Aba” in the text and 2) brothers are yoked to Mary as blood relatives.

Not to mention, Paul uses adelphos to describe James et al. Paul is not translating, but composing
in Greek. 34 occurences of non-metaphorical adelphos. All are to brothers or half-brothers. Never to
c. Early Church
Hegessipus refers to James as a real brother to Jesus. He also speaks of Jude as being a brother of
Jesus according to the Flesh. Tertullian considered Jesus’s brothers to be real brotehrs.
d. Prescinding from later teaching, the conclusion seems stronger that Jesus ahd brothers and sisters in a
biological sense. Multiple attestation supports: Paul, Mark, John, and Josephus speak of brothers of
3. Was Jesus Married?
a. Reasons in favor: The NT is silent on the question; given the strong pro-marriage slant of the Jewish
world, it would seem that, absent any statement, the conclusion should follow that the figure
mentioned was married.
b. Reasons against: Given that the NT mentions all Jesus’ other relations, silence as to the existence of a
wife suggests that there was none to mention.
C. Reason against: There were communities of Jews who were celibate. It would not have been unheard
of in the Jewish world. Indeed, there was a sect of essenes that adhered to celibacy. The Therapeutae,
who were at home in Egypt, were also celibates. The practice of celibacy was not scandalous.
d. Reason Against: The idea of a celibate prophet was not alien. Jeremiah lived a celibate life. John the
Baptist seems to have been celibate. Moses was permanently chaste once God began to speak to him.
e. Reason against: Philospohers in the Pagan world – Epictetus, the mystic Apollonius of Tyana –
remained celibate.
f. Matthew 19:12 – Eunuchs for the kingdom.
g. Conclusion: We cannot be absolutely sure, but the various proximate and remote contexts, in both the
NT and Judaism, make the position that Jesus remained celibate on relgious grounds the more
probable hypothesis.
4. Jesus Status as Layman - Jesus was born a Jewish Layman, conducted his ministry as a Jewish layman,
and died a layman. There is no reliable historical tradition that he was ov levitical or priestly descent. The
fact that he was descended from David guaranteed that he would remain a layman. The parable of the
Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), with its reference to a priest and a levite, probably had a distinct anti-
clerical resonance. Jesus was almost certainly in conflict with the priests of his day.
J. A Chronology of Jesus’ Life.
1. Jesus’ Crucifixion – 26-36 A.D. - The 4 Gospels, Acts, Josephus adn Tacitus all agree that Jesus was put
to death during the reign of Pilate, the governor of Judea. There is no competing tradition. Pilate held his
office from 26-36 (or very early in 37). Given all that had happened by 49, when Paul made his second
Missionary journey, the execution could not have taken place at the very end of Pilate’s reign. Jesus
therefore died sometime in the late 20s or early 30s.
a. Jesus died between A.D. 28 and 33.- Luke tells us that John began his preaching in the reign of
Pilate (after 26). If John began preaching no earlier than 26, and Jesus ministry lasted at least one
year, it seems safe to say that Jesus was probably not executed until, at the earliest, 28.
2. Jesus was born not long before the death of Herod the Great (4BC).
Matthew (2:1) and Luke (1;5) agree that Jesus was born in the reign of Herod the Great. Given that their
infancy narratives are derived from different sources, it is reasonable to accept this testimony as true.
There is some reason to believe, based upon Matthew’s narrative – which is, admittedly, quite confused –
that Jesus was still born near the end of the reign. Matthew is confirmed by Luke 3:23, which puts Jesus
at 30 years of age. Jesus, it is safe to assume, was born a few years, but no more than a few years, before
4 BC.
a. John 8:57 – “You are not yet 50 years old, and you have seen Abraham?”
Not a number chosen to reflect Jesus’ age, but just to show the disparity between one human life and
the time back to Abraham.
b. John 2:20 = “The temple has been 46 years in the building.” Doesn’t help as much as one might think.
“oikodomethe” is not clear about what is meant: has been built; was built?
3. Attempts to be more precise:
1. Luke 3:1-2 and The Fifteenth Year of Tiberius.
It is probably that Luke is reckoning from 14 A.D. using inclusive counting. Augustus died on August
19, in 14. Did Luke count August to December as year 1? Taking August to August counting, this
would put JBap in 28, with a possibility of 27 or 29.
2. Dating the Last Supper and the Crucifixion: Days of the Week.

All four Gospels have the Last Supper on Thursday, followed by death on Friday. This is clear
from John’s mention of the need to take the body off of the cross because it was the day of
3. Dating is problematic: Hard to reconcile John and the synoptics. The Synoptics portray the Last
Supper as a passover meal which would place that Thursday on the 14th of Nisan, when the Passover
lambs were being slaughtered. In John, however, the Jewish authorities remain outside the praetorium
on Friday so that they will not be rendered unclean and hence will be able to eat the Passover meal. In
his discussion of the trial, Pilate takes his judgment seat on the day of preparation for Passover, which
would be the 13th of Nisan.
a. Sadducees and Pharisees may have disagreed on when the month of Nisan began. They could not
agree. They had lambs slaughtered on both days. The Pharisees and Jesus counted Thursday as 14
Nisan, the Saducees counted Friday as the 14th. OBJECTION: What is gratuitously asserted, is
gratuitously denied.
b. There was an old priestly calendar that always placed Passover on Wednesday. Jesus dined
Tuesday. Arrested Wednesday. 2 days of Trials. Executed on Friday, the day of the Passover on
teh Lunar calendar. OBJECTION: No reason to believe Jesus would have followed the priestly
calendar of the Essenes.
c. Lunar calendar would put 14 Nisan on Friday in only the years 30 and 33 (4/3). Meier proposes
death on April 7, 30 as the more likely candidate on the ground that a 5 year ministry (28-33)
cannot be squared with the Gospels.

X.Bultmann Article
Although many would disagree violently with B’s solutions, it can be said that B came to grips with a real
problem, viz., the difficulty of communicating the Christian message in the 20th Century.
A. General
1. What was provocative was not so much the claim that the New Testament reflects a mythical world
picture. That had already been said by D. F. Strauss in the last century. What proved more provocative
was Bultmann’s contention that the Enlightenment’s negative criticism of myth could be put to positive
purpose by a theology concerned for the preaching of the gospel. The intolerable scandal of demanding
intellectual assent to the incredible must give way to proclaiming the real scandal of faith: the cross
of Christ as decisive for human existence. Navigating through this famous claim became a rite of
passage for two generations of theological students.
B. The Term Myth.
1. By myth, Bultmann does not mean an imaginary story or some sort of fairy tale but the use of imagery to
express the other worldly in terms of this world.
2. For Bultmann, myth embraces those reality claims that do not square with scientific understanding. For
example, the kerygma’s claim that Jesus rose from the dead cannot refer to a real fact or event about Jesus
inasmuch as facts and events are held to be recovered, or reconstructed, through scientific means. As
literature, myths are stories of the gods, a genre common to the ancient world. According to Bultmann, the
Christ myth of the New Testament is one version of the Gnostic myth of the heavenly Redeemer, the
antecedents of which are found in the Iranian myth of the Primal Man first isolated by Richard
Reitzenstein early in this century. The difference between the New Testament and other ancient versions
of dying and rising saviors is that the New Testament “intertwines” its Christ figure with a real historical
person, Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate. Only through the mythical
conceptuality of a redeemed Redeemer, or an apocalyptic Son, could Paul and John convey in their time
the saving significance of Jesus. Thus, proclaiming the kerygma does not eliminate myth in order to return
to the historical Jesus, as liberalism vainly attempted. Rather, the task is to interpret the Christian myth so
that it can again declare to our time God’s saving will for human existence. This is the hermeneutical
program that Bultmann advances in 1941 as “demythologizing.”
C. Bultmann’s demythologizing
1. Bultmann held that interpretation is necessary because today people find the obsolete mythological world
view of the NT incredible. Therefore, if they are to be challenged to decision by the kerygma, the NT
must be demythologized; the mythological framework of the NT must be interpreted to expose the
understand of human life contained therein.
2. For Bultmann such interpretation is necessary not only because of the very nature of myth demands it but
also because we can see this process starting in the NT itself, especially in Paul and John. One example of
such NT demythologizing is John’s realized eschatology, i.e., his emphasis on eternal life here and now,
not in some distant future.

3. The elimination of the unnecessary stumbling block of mythology helps Bultmann to expose the real
stumbling block, the offense of the Gospel which proclaims that the eschatological act of God “for us and
for our salvation,” took place in the life and death of Jesus Christ.
4. Bultmann’s demythologizing proceeds by means of a general theory of myth that indicates the real
referent of the kerygma to be the “Beyond,” or non-objectifiable transcendent God, in relation to human
existence. The mythically couched confession of salvation through Jesus Christ refers, in the end, neither
to the preexistent Messiah nor to the historical Jesus, but rather to him “in whom God acts for us in the
present.” What happens when this existentialist theory of myth is applied to the cross-resurrection
kerygma of Paul? Mythical talk of the judgment “of the rulers of this age” wrought in Christ’s cross
becomes a divine judgment on all humankind, and a call to carry out “one’s freedom from the world by
accepting suffering.” By appealing to 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 and 6:2, Bultmann then transposes the
resurrection from a mythical-historical account of the destiny of Jesus Christ (as in 1 Corinthians 15) into
an account of the proclaimed “word of the cross” as the determinative power for authentic existence. In
this way, Bultmann’s program preserves salvation as a divine act and undergirds preaching with a
theological rationale, while, at the same time, leaving intact the closed continuum of worldly occurrences
presupposed by modern science.
D. Problems with the Bultmannian theory.
1. It can be argued, even by those who do not deny the need to reinterpret and decode the NT, that Butlmann
has gone too far in his interpretation of what constitutes unacceptable imagery of myth. For example, the
resurrection from the dead, the miraculous, original sin, etc. are no longer meaningful according to
Bultmann, but very meaningful according to other.
2. The positivistic assumptions of Bultmann’s mechanistic model of science are now challenged by
theologians, such as Thomas F. Torrance, informed by post-Einsteinian developments in physics.
3. The reexamination of the futurist dimension of the Christian hope by Wolfhart Pannenberg and Jurgen
Moltmann has led to the eschatological relativization of Enlightenment historiography.
4. The research of Carsten Colpe has convincingly debunked Bultmann’s Gnostic-Redeemer myth, at least
as a pre-Christian phenomenon.
XI. Terminologia Biblica
A. Alleanza. È una relazione-patto di solidarietà fra due contraenti, in ebraico viene chiamata berit, che probabilmente
significa “fra due”. Stringere alleanza si dice “karat berit”, “tagliare fra due”: i contraenti passavano tra le carni tagliate in
due di un animale sacrificato ed invocavano su di sé la stessa sorte se avessero trasgredito le clausole del patto.
L’alleanza con Jhwh, con la divinità non si trova al di fuori di Israele (cf. con Abramo, Gen 15,7-21; 17; con il popolo,
Es 19; con Davide, 2Sam 7; ecc.).
B. Apoftegma. Termine utilizzato a partire da R. Bultmann per indicare una delle “forme” letterarie dei vangeli: una parola
(risposta) di Gesù inquadrata in una breve cornice narrativa.
C. Beatitudine (o “macarismo” dal greco makarios, “felice”). Augurio e proposta di benedizione che Gesù annuncia come
nuova legge per i cristiani. Le beatitudini sono riportate in due redazioni, una più ampia e generale (Mt 5,3-12), l’altra
più sintetica e concreta, in contrasto con altrettanti “guai” (Lc 6,20-26).
D. Codici, rotoli e papiri. Sono gli antichi manoscritti che riportano un testo (biblico) o un frammento di esso in lingua
originale (ebraico, aramaico, greco). I codici riportano il testo biblico continuativamente su pergamena (“rotoli” per
l’AT); per il NT si suddividono in “onciali” (se scritti in caratteri maiuscoli) e “minuscoli” (se scritti in calligrafia
corrente). Si chiamano “papiri” se i testi sono scritti su papiro.
E. Concordanze bibliche. Elenchi alfabetici di tutte le parole che occorrono nella Bibbia, con l’indicazione del libro, capo
e versetto (in quelle più voluminose compare anche la frase che contiene la parola).
F. Critica testuale. Consiste nella ricerca della lezione del testo dell’autore stesso, o almeno la più vicina possibile,
cercando di ricostruirla a partire dai manoscritti disponibili (tra le migliaia che possediamo, di varie epoche, non ne
esistono due perfettamente identici)
G. Diacronia (dal greco dia-chrònos, “attraverso il tempo”, tiene conto dell’evoluzione).
H. Edizione critica. È il testo (biblico) che viene scelto dopo aver valutato le lezioni varianti. È fornito dell’apparato critico
in cui sono annotate le altre varianti non scelte.
I. Ermeneutica (dal greco hermeneutiké [téchne], “arte di interpretare, tradurre, spiegare”). È la teoria circa la
comprensione, la spiegazione e l’interpretazione di testi letterari. L’ermeneutica biblica vuol raccogliere le nozioni
teoriche e le norme pratiche da tener presenti per ben capire gli scritti biblici ed esporne il significato.
J. Esegesi (dal greco exegéomai,da ex-ago, “condurre fuori, trarre da, raccontare, spiegare, rivelare). È il procedimento con
cui si cerca di comprendere un testo nella sua intenzione originaria. L’esegesi biblica non differisce da quella di altri testi
antichi, pur conservando la sua specificità religiosa. L’esigenza espressa dalla Dei Verbum, secondo la quale la Bibbia va
letta e interpretata “con lo stesso Spirito con cui fu scritta” (DV 12), corrisponde ad una condizione di oggettività. Chi
non ha questa giusta precomprensione può certamente studiare i testi biblici da diversi punti di vista e raggiungere
risultati interessanti (di tipo filologico, letterario, storico, psicologico e sociologico). Il senso principale, però, gli sfugge
(A. Vanhoye).

K. Esseni (forse significa: “puri” o “pii”). Setta giudaica che viveva in comunità monastiche e attendeva l’avvento del
Messia osservando la povertà e il celibato: nota attraverso Flavio Giuseppe, è stata riscoperta con i documenti di Qumran
(1947). Forse Giovanni Battista ebbe contatto con gli Esseni.
L. Formgeschichte (dal tedesco, “Storia delle forme”). È un metodo esegetico che consiste nello studiare l’origine (Sitz im
Leben) e l’evoluzione delle diverse tradizioni orali divise in determinate “forme” (generi) letterarie, prima della loro
fissazione per iscritto.
M. Genere letterario. Sono detti “generi letterari” quelle forme stilistiche e tipi di testo ricorrenti, in base ai quali si possono
classificare formalmente tutte le opere letterarie diverse tra loro, in base alla loro situazione d’origine, a certe
caratteristiche costanti di forma (vocabolario e stile: una prima suddivisione è tra prosa e poesia), di contenuto, di
ambientazione, in base alla loro funzione e scopo, al loro ruolo strategico all’interno del discorso (esempio moderno:
romanzo giallo, articolo di fondo pagina, recensione, ecc.). Un altra definizione: “per generi letterari si intendono le varie
forme o maniere di scrivere usate comunemente tra gli uomini di un’epoca o regione e poste in relazione costante a
determinati tipi di comunicazione”. Nella Bibbia sono presenti diversi generi letterari. Gli autori biblici ebbero a
disposizione dei mezzi di espressione che costituiscono il quadro del messaggio da essi trasmesso (apocalissi, parabola,
oracolo, preghiera, catalogo di vizi, racconto di vocazione, genere didattico, profetico, giuridico, epistolare, ecc. - se ne
contano più di cento).
N. Hapax (-legomenon: dal greco, “detto una volta”). È una parola che si incontra una volta soltanto nel testo biblico.
O. Kérygma (dal greco kerigma, “annuncio, messaggio”) Termine greco per indicare il nucleo centrale del cristianesimo,
che non è tanto predicazione di una dottrina, ma proclamazione gioiosa dell’evento straordinario della salvezza: Gesù
Figlio di Dio è morto per salvarci ed è risorto (Lc 24,44-48).
P. Koiné (“lingua comune”). Si chiama così il greco popolare diffuso in tutto il mondo mediterraneo dopo le conquiste di
Alessandro Magno. In questa lingua, semplice e comprensibile ovunque, venne scritto il Vangelo, anche se, forse, ci fu
prima qualche testo aramàico.
Q. Loghion (dal greco, pl. loghia) parola o sentenza di Gesù.
R. Parenési (parenetico, dal greco, “esortazione”). Esortazione a mettere in pratica l’insegnamento ricevuto.
S. Parusìa (venuta, presenza). Termine greco che indica l’atteso ritorno di Gesù nella gloria, alla fine dei tempi (Mt 24,29-
31). Gesù ha detto che solo il Padre conosce l’ora in cui tornerà il Figlio dell’uomo (Mt 24,35-36). Il giudizio avviene
adesso per chi non vuol credere (Gv 5,25-29)
T. Passi paralleli. Sono quelli che ripetono gli stessi vocaboli (paralleli verbali) oppure lo stesso argomento. I passi paralleli
sono molto utili per cogliere i vari significati che una parola può avere in diversi contesti.
U. Perìcope (dal greco peri-kopto, “tagliato intorno”). Un brano (una parabola, un racconto, ecc.) delimitato che costituisce
una unità letteraria completa in sé, comprensibile senza dover necessariamente conoscere ciò che precede o ciò che
V. Pseudoepigrafico (dal greco pseudo-epigraphicos, “il cui titolo è falso”). Designa uno scritto di un autore che resta
nell’anonimato, attribuito intenzionalmente ad un autore conosciuto e autorevole (così ad esempio alcune lettere
dell’epistolario paolino, nell’AT la Sapienza “di Salomone”, ecc.). Lo scritto pseudoepigrafico va distinto da quello
“pseudonimico”: attribuzione di uno scritto ad un nome-autore ignoto; sembra non sia presente nel NT.
W. Redaktionsgeschichte (dal tedesco, “storia della redazione”). Metodo dell’esegesi che consiste nello studiare il punto di
vista del redattore (la sua teologia) prendendo in considerazione la scelta che egli fa del materiale delle sue fonti e la
disposizione data all’interno della propria composizione. Il metodo implica anche la Traditionsgeschichte (“storia della
tradizione”), cioè l’analisi delle diverse tappe redazionali per le quali è passato un testo biblico nella tradizione, prima di
giungere alla redazione finale.
X. Semiotica (dal greco semèion, “segno”). Scuola di critica letteraria che si interessa soprattutto delle strutture profonde
(per questo è connessa con il metodo cosiddetto “strutturalista”) e della “grammatica” del racconto, cioè delle categorie
logiche ed essenziali che governano idealmente tutti i racconti. Studia la costituzione dei “segni”, cioè l’organizzazione
concreta dei testi (cf. figure retoriche, chiasmi, modelli narrativi concreti, ecc).
Y. Simbolo (“mettere insieme”). Letteralmente significa una cosa che può indicarne un’altra: una realtà creata che può
indicarne una più alta e trascendente. In questo senso sono simboli le parabole e anche i miracoli che indicano la
guarigione fisica unita alla salvezza spirituale.
Z. Sincronia (dal greco syn-chronos, “con-temporaneità” non tiene conto dell’evoluzione).
A1. Sinossi (dal greco: syn-opsis, “un solo sguardo”). Libro che pone l’uno accanto all’altro i testi paralleli per un confronto
rapido, con “un solo sguardo” (Cf . la Sinossi dei quattro vangeli di A. Poppi).
A2. Sitz im Leben (dal tedesco, letteralmente: “collocazione nella vita” = “contesto, ambiente vitale”). Espressione introdotta
da Gunkel (1906), per indicare la situazione socio-religiosa-teologica specifica (liturgia, missione, catechesi, ecc.) della
comunità, nella quale il testo biblico si è prodotto originariamente o è stato trasmesso secondo determinate forme
letterarie. La questione riguarda dunque la funzione di un testo nella vita della comunità.
A3. Teologia Biblica (“Discorso su Dio in base alla Bibbia”). Considerando la Scrittura una “totalità”, cioè il discorso
intellegibile dell’unica Parola di Dio, ha la finalità di cogliere, a partire dai vocaboli, dalle figure e dai temi della Scrittura
l’unità del disegno di Dio. Presuppone l’unità dei due testamenti (Cf. Il tema del messianismo, la categoria di alleanza,
A4. Tetragramma. Quattro lettere consonanti - in ebraico originariamente non si scrivevano le vocali - del nome sacro di
Dio Jhwh (Jahwèh) rivelato a Mosè. Era tanto venerato che non si pronunciava mai: al suo posto si leggeva Adonài (il

A5. Testo masoretico (TM). Testo della Bibbia ebraica (AT) fornito di un sistema di vocali ed indicazioni per la lettura
(che non c’era prima), che ha raggiunto la definitiva stabilità. Si chiama “masoretico” (dall’ebr.: masar, “tramandare”)
perché è il risultato del lavoro dei “masoreti” (= “tradizionalisti”), che misero per iscritto tutte le “tradizioni” che
riguardavano il testo biblico (lavoro svolto tra il VI e il IX sec. d.C.).
A6. Theologumenon. Un concetto o verità teologica espressa in forma di racconto.
A7. Torah (dall’ebraico, “istruzione, insegnamento”). La Legge, però non in senso meramente giuridico; significa più
precisamente, insegnamento di vita, norma pratica di condotta, data da JHWH al suo popolo. Essa è dono di Dio e fonte
di gioia perché manifestazione graziosa del suo volere, e quindi del suo amore, che è vita per Israele. Corrisponde al
Pentateuco (cf. sopra).

XII. Vocabulario Per l’analisi letteraria di un testo

A. Allegoria. È una metafora continuata. Esempi: Is 5, 1-6 (Israele è una vigna); Gv 10, 11-16 (Gesù è il buon pastore;
B. Allitterazione. Ripetizione di segni fonetici uguali o simili (Cf. “Ma come balli bene bella bimba...”; “Tito tu che ti...”
i;de potapoi. li,qoi kai. potapai. oivkodomai, Mc 13,1).
C. Anàfora. Ripetizione di una o più parole all’inizio di enunciati successivi (Cf. Beati i... Beati i...; Mt 5)
D. Antitesi. Relazione di opposizione tra due sintagmi (unità sintattiche), periodi o stichi (Cf. “Ha ricolmato di beni gli
affamati, ha mandato i ricchi a mani vuote”, Lc 1,53).
E. Chiasmo (dal segno della lettera greca “chi” [X]). Figura di stile che consiste nel ripetere due serie di termini, la seconda
volta nell’ordine inverso rispetto alla prima, del tipo A.B.B¹.A¹. (Cf. 1Cor 14, 13-14).
F. Epìfora. Ripetizione di una o più parole alla fine di enunciati (Cf. “... regno dei cieli” Mt 5,19)
G. Inclusione. Connessione lessicale tra l’inizio e la fine di una micro o macrounità letteraria (quando la parola o la frase si
ripete al principio e alla fine, nel primo e nell’ultimo verso). Cf. Mt 1, 18-25.
H. Iperbole (“esagerazione”). Figura retorica per cui con le parole si attribuiscono al proprio pensiero proporzioni più vaste
di quanto sia in realtà (es. “È più facile che un cammello entri nella cruna di un ago...” Mt 19, 24). Ha lo scopo di
impressionare la fantasia dell’uditore o ascoltatore e fargli ricordare meglio una verità.
I. Ironia. Consiste nell’esprimere un’idea mediante una frase che, letteralmente presa, direbbe il contrario. Esempi: Gen 3,
22 (messo sulla bocca di Dio: “Ecco, Adamo è diventato uno di noi”); 1Cor 4, 8 (“Già siete sazi; ormai siete diventati
ricchi e, senza di noi, avete raggiunto il regno”).
J. Metafora. È l’attribuire ad un soggetto un predicato nominale o verbale, che non gli conviene del tutto, ma solo per
qualche caratteristica. È una figura di sintesi che si attua mediante una serie di trasposizioni di significati (es. “Quella
donna è un’aquila” = furba, elevata, intelligente, bella, ecc.). Può essere esplicita (es. “Voi siete la luce del mondo”), o
implicita (es. “Dite a quella volpe...”, dal contesto si capisce che Gesù allude ad Erode [da notare: per gli orientali
“volpe” non significa “furbo”, ma “sciocco”], senza il verbo “essere”.
K. Metonimia (“scambio di vocaboli”). È l’identificazione di due termini che stanno fra loro in qualche vicendevole
rapporto (causa ed effetto, contenente e contenuto, ecc.). Esempi: “Mangerai il pane con il sudore della tua fronte” (Gen
3, 19); “Il calice che benediciamo non è forse la comunione del sangue di Cristo?” (il “calice” sta per il contenuto; 1Cor
10, 16).
L. Parabola. È una similitudine continuata, ma dissimulata fino all’applicazione. È un racconto di tipo particolare, cioè
finalizzato ad un certo scopo, costruito strategicamente per sortire un certo effetto (sorpresa). Si mette in scena una
vicenda, che trasporta gli ascoltatori in un mondo fittizio. Ad un certo punto gli ascoltatori vengono ritrasferiti dal fittizio
al reale, trovandosi di fronte ad una realtà ben determinata, che l’autore della parabola aveva in mente fin dall’inizio. La
parabola evangelica ha di speciale che è sempre costituita da un racconto sostanzialmente verosimile. Talvolta essa
presenta degli elementi allegorici, pur restando un paragone continuato. Va tenuto presente che diversi particolari
possono essere puramente ornamentali (nell’allegoria invece ogni dettaglio narrativo ha il suo significato): è il racconto
nel suo complesso ad aver significato (importante è non forzare il testo biblico e fargli dire di più di quanto era
nell’intenzione di chi ha proposto la parabola).
M. Parallelismo. Collocazione “in parallelo” di suoni, parole, forme grammaticali, di strutture sintattiche, di cadenze
ritmiche. Ricomparsa o ripetizione particolare di uno dei componenti del discorso in un testo definito.
N. Similitudine. È un paragone che si stabilisce tra due soggetti mediante l’uso di termini che denotano somiglianza, un
termine viene chiarito dall’altro. Esempio: “Quel soldato è come un leone”; “Il regno di Dio è come...”
XIII. Glossarietto di esegesi rabbinica
A. Haggadàh (dall’ebraico, higgid, “raccontare”). È una parte della tradizione giudaico-rabbinica che comporta, fra l’altro,
l’interpretazione (midrash) teologica ed edificante della Scrittura. Essa dà luogo a racconti e leggende edificanti che
commentano e ampliano i racconti biblici. Si parla di midrash (pl. midrashim) aggadico (distinto da quello halachico). Il
concetto di Haggadàh è però molto più ampio e non si limita all’interpretazione biblica.
B. Halakàh (dall’ebraico halak, “camminare”). È la parte della tradizione giudaico-rabinica che comporta l’insegnamento
normativo o legale riguardo alle fonti bibliche o rabbiniche. Essa spiega le leggi, le prescrizioni, i costumi per
attualizzarli alla vita dell’ebreo, in modo che egli possa “camminare” secondo il volere di JHWH (midrash halachico).
Queste spiegazioni costituiscono la “Legge orale” (che include anche le tradizioni haggadiche) e furono raccolte assieme
a molte haggadot in compilazioni come il Sifra (commento al Levitico), la Mekhilta (commento all’Esoso), il Sifré
(commento ai Numeri e al Deuteronomio). Esistono anche le Halachot fondate non direttamente sul testo sacro, ma
sull’autorità di rabbini: sono raccolte nella Mishnah (halacha mishnaica), nella Tosephta, nelle Baraitot, nella Gemara in
C. Midrash (al plurale: midrashim). Viene dall’ebraico “darash” (“cercare”); il termine denota ogni tipo di ricerca,
tecnica oppure omiletica, sulla Scrittura; è diventato l’equivalente di “commentario”, discorso sulla Scrittura, che la
rende attuale e ne scopre tutte le ricchezze. Nella sua estensione minima il termine designa un commentario o una
spiegazione che segue un versetto, un passaggio oppure anche un libro della Scrittura; obbedisce allora a delle regole di
presentazione. Gli specialisti parlano di midrash come forma o genere letterario soltanto alle seguenti condizioni: 1) il
discorso fa delle ripetute allusioni al testo commentato o ne riprende anche esplicitamente delle parole delle espressioni:
2) oltre al testo biblico commentato (chiamato testo principale) altri passaggi biblici (chiamati testi connessi o secondari),
aventi tra loro dei legami verbali e con il testo commentato, sono inseriti nel corso della discussione. Di questi
commentari sulla Scrittura, i più conosciuti sono quelli sui libri della legge. Non è inutile ricordare che la redazione e
l’edizione dei midrashim avvenne ben più tardi dell’epoca del Nuovo Testamento, evidentemente però ciò non impedisce
a questi commentari giudaici di rimandare a delle tradizioni molto antiche e anteriori al primo secolo della nostra era.
D. Pesher (in ebraico “spiegazione, svelamento”). Tipo di midrash, in voga a Qumran. Il testo biblico è seguito dalla sua
attualizzazione, questa a sua volta preceduta da formule stereotipate: “tale è l’interpretazione del passaggio” oppure “la
sua interpretazione concerne”. Nel midrash pesher, il commentatore si contenta di identificare gli avvenimenti e i
personaggi menzionati nella Scrittura con degli avvenimenti e delle persone dei suoi tempi.
E. Talmud (dall’ebraico tardivo, a partire dalla radice lamad “imparare”, significa “studio”, “insegnamento”). È la raccolta
della Mishnah e della Gemara (che la commenta). Esistono due Talmud. Quello di Gerusalemme (o palestinese)
terminato sul finire del IV sec. d.C., e il Talmud di Babilonia (scuola di Sura), il più importante e ampio. Terminato nel
VI sec. d.C. (ma con aggiunte fino al medioevo).
F. Mishnah (dall’ebraico, significa “ripetizione”, dalla radice shanah, “raddoppiare”). È la raccolta degli insegnamenti dei
rabbini, tramandati dapprima oralmente, fatta a partire dal II sec. d.C. (forse già prima). Assieme alla Gemara costituisce
il Talmud.
G. Targum (al plurale: targumim). La parola significa “traduzione”. Con “targumim” si designano le traduzioni aramaiche
(dapprima orali, poi messe per iscritto, soprattutto a partire dal II secolo della nostra era) della Bibbia cominciate dopo
l’esilio (ma non si sa molto bene quando), allorché il testo ebraico non era più capito. Senza dubbio sono nate dalla
necessità di far comprendere i testi biblici letti durante le celebrazioni ebdomadarie nella sinagoga. Se i targumim
designano le traduzioni aramaiche, tuttavia non bisogna dimenticare che la traduzione greca della LXX (fatta intorno al
200 a.C. per i giudei della diaspora e di lingua greca) costituisce, anch’essa, un fenomeno targumico. Sembra ammesso
oggi che il targum rappresenta il punto di partenza del midrash (come ricerca sistematica e commentario seguito al testo
biblico). Possediamo dei targumim (traduzioni aramaiche) di quasi tutti i libri biblici. I più conosciuti sono quelli sulla
Torah (Pentateuco) di cui esistono due famiglie, la babilonese (Targum di Onqelos) e la palestinese (Targum Neofiti e
Yerushalmi, quest’ultimo viene ancora chiamato Targum del Pseudo-Jonathan).
H. Tosephta. Raccolta di tradizioni rabbiniche poco posteriore alla Mishnah.