Some Less Well Known Lucan Muddles

In my previous post I reviewed some of the best known instances of editorial fatigue in Luke. But there are many more that are not so well known. Michael Goulder did a thorough job of digging these up and here are a few from his book Luke: A New Paradigm.

As I explain in Q or No Q: What Difference Does it Make?, each of these may be considered a nail for Q’s coffin because (a) they point toward Luke copying from Matthew and (b) Matthew doesn’t seem to have any that point toward Matthew copying from Luke.

Follow Me and Go Away

In Luke 9:59-60, Jesus tells a man to follow him, then in response to a question from the same man he tells him to go away:

To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” But he said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go (ἀπελθὼν) and proclaim the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:59-60)

In Matthew, there is no discordant note because the story ends with “Let the dead bury their dead”. Luke has created a characteristic minor muddle by adding a clause that is out of sync with what went before it.  In the Greek the contrast is even more obvious because ἀπελθὼν literally means “go away,” not simply “go” as RSV translates it.

Goulder suggests that the additional clause comes from Jesus’ words to the twelve in Matthew 10:7 (“And preach as you go, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”)

Another possible explanation is that Luke added the “go away and proclaim the kingdom of God” clause because he wanted a parallel between this reluctant follower episode and another one that he wanted to add.  Below is the whole passage in Matthew followed by the whole passage in Luke, with the added parts italicized:

. . . a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” (Matt 8:18-22)

. . . a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” But he said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62)

Notice how adding a reference to the kingdom of God after “Leave the dead to bury their own dead” sets up a parallel to what Jesus says to the additional reluctant follower.

The fact that “go away and proclaim” doesn’t fit with “follow me” is what indicates that the extra wording in Luke was added by him, rather than it being part of a longer original text that Matthew cut off.

Commissioning the Seventy

In Luke 10:1ff., Jesus commissions “seventy others” (other than the twelve) to go before him as he travels. But his opening words to them sound more appropriate as an address to some other audience, since it presumes that someone else will be sent:

After this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come. 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. (Luke 10:1-2)

As Goulder points out, “These are not in fact very suitable words with which to open a discourse sending disciples on mission; prayer is suited to a situation when other people are to be sent on mission, as in the Matthean context.” (p. 466) Where Luke found this saying in Matthew it made sense because there Jesus was commenting to his disciples about the lack of shepherds for the crowds:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matt 9:36-38)

In Luke, the commissioning of the seventy continues with another Lucan muddle:

Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. (Luke 10:3)

This remark also doesn’t fit the context here, because the the worst that Jesus predicts for the seventy is the possibility that the residents of a town might “not receive you”:

Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, `Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you. 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. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you; heal the sick in it and say to them, `The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘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.’ (Luke 10:4-11)

In Matthew, the comment about sheep amidst wolves fits very well because it is addressed to the twelve and comes with a prediction about persecution and martyrdom:

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. . . . 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. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of man comes. . . . And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. . . . and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. . . . and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matt 10:16-39)

Once again, copying by Luke from Matthew is the only conclusion that makes sense in these cases because the copied text makes sense in its Matthean context while in Luke it appears to have been taken out of context.

My next post will relate some more examples of Lucan muddles that create difficulties for the Q hypothesis.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: