Synoptic gospel is the term used in reference to the books in the bible whose content and explanations are almost similar. In this case, the four books of the New Testament that constitute the synoptic gospel are those written by Mathew, Luke, and Mark. The book of Mark is believed to be the earliest written gospel in the Bible. Other gospel authors include Mathew and Luke, who both wrote their books after the gospel of Mark. Mathew began his Christianity walk soon after he quit his tax collecting job. He dedicated himself to serve and follow Jesus who was spreading the good news. Later, he became a gospel writer who wrote extensive passages in his book.
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Noticeably the writings in these three books have similarities although with different wordings. In his book, Luke focuses in the life of Jesus from the time of his baptism until the time of his temptation. Out of what Mark wrote, Mathew and Luke must have borrowed information from his gospel work. Ideally, this is because Mathew and Luke address some issues in their gospels which are similar to Mark. The distinction between the three books is that each author has a different interpretation to similar situations. Within the three books, there are some passages that contradict each other. In this case, some versions have similarities while others are completely different. The objective of this paper is to address any three passages in the gospel of Mark that have corresponding passages in the gospels of Luke and Matthew. This paper also compares the three versions of the passage, analyzing each and explaining how the differences reflect each author’s perspective and support (or detract) the author’s theological message.
The Betrayal of Jesus
The betrayal of Jesus Christ is an event which was interpreted differently by Mark, Mathew and Luke. According to Mark’s interpretation, Judas, who was one of Jesus’ disciples had betrayed his master to the chief priests (Mark, 14:43-45). When Judas arrived from the high priest with a multitude of people carrying swords and clubs, Jesus was addressing his disciples. Prior to their arrival, Judas had instructed the crowd to arrest the person whom he would kiss. The crowd did not know how Jesus looked like, and so, Judas was to come up with a signal which would lead to the identification of Jesus (Mark, 14:46-49).
After the arrival, Judas courageously called Jesus ‘Rabbi’ and then kissed him. It was during that time that Jesus was arrested by the crowd. Upon his arrest, one of his disciples did not hesitate, but took out his sword and struck one person from the crowd. Using the sword, the disciple had cut one ear of the man who was also from the high priest. Jesus then asked the crowd if they were after a robber because they were carrying swords. He also asked them why they had never arrested him before while He was preaching in the temple. It is stated in the book of Mathew that Judas went before the high priests and asked them what he would get in case he betrayed Jesus.
Luke says that the devil had entered into Judas and made him go before the chief priests and officers (Luke 22:47-49). Judas inquired how he would betray Jesus to them. He did this deliberately. The priests were glad since Judas was ready to betray his master. They agreed to give Judas money if he went ahead and carried out the plan. Judas accepted to betray Jesus in the absence of a crowd. Later, Judas went with a crowd to his master Jesus, who was speaking to his disciples. Judas was supposed to kiss his master although Jesus realized his bad motives before he could do so. At that time, Jesus’ disciples reacted by asking their master if they would strike with a sword. Jesus cured the man whose ear had been chopped off by one of his disciples. After healing the man, Jesus inquired if the crowd was after a thief. He also asked why he had never been torched while preaching in the temple. At last, he said that the hour had come.
Comparing the three books, it is evident that Mark, Mathew and Luke had diverse versions about Jesus’ betrayal. According to Mark and Mathew, Judas was accompanied by a crowd when he went to betray Jesus. On the other hand, the gospel of Luke says that Judas went with a crowd but does not mention if they were from the priests, scribes and elders. In his version, Luke says that the chief priests, officers and elders were present when Judas went to betray Jesus (Luke 22:52). Apparently, the chief priests, officers and elders were part of the crowd which accompanied Judas. This is different from what is written in the gospel of Mark and Mathew. As evident in both gospels, the elders, scribes, as well as the chief priests, were not present in the multitude. Instead, they remained behind as they sent Judas to go and betray Jesus. According to the gospel of Mark and Mathew, Judas kissed Jesus in order to identify him to the crowd. In the gospel of Luke, Judas intended to kiss his master although Jesus confronted him before he could do that (Luke, 22:48). This indicates that Jesus noticed what Judas wanted to do before he actually kissed him. The other gospels however show that Judas managed to kiss his master before he could raise any question to him. Looking at the gospel of Mark and Mathew, Jesus was arrested after Judas had kissed him. Using the kiss as a signal indicates that Judas wanted to betray Jesus without him noticing. Unfortunately, in the book of Luke, Jesus realized his intention earlier before he could do it. Judas was only able to accomplish his mission in the gospels of Mathew and Mark. Basically, Luke as an author had different perceptions from his counterparts, Mark and Mathew.
Jesus on the cross with the two thieves
Mark mentions about the two thieves although he does not talk about any conversation between them. Mark only says that Jesus was with two robbers, one on his right part and the other one on his left (Mark 15:27). According to Mathew, Jesus’ crucification happened alongside two burglars who were on his right and left sides. Mathew says that the two robbers mocked Jesus although he does not mention what they talked about (Mathew 27:44). Luke, on the other hand, specifies that it was only one thief who mocked Jesus but not both of them. He says that one thief mocked Jesus while the other one criticized his counterpart for what he had done to Jesus (Luke, 23:39- 42). This was the thief who criticized the other thief for mocking Jesus. Clearly, these three authors, Mark, Mathew and Luke had different perceptions about what happened between Jesus and the two thieves. Surprisingly, Mark was the first one to write about the gospel yet he did not talk much about Jesus and the two thieves. Mathew and Luke wrote their books according to what was already written by Mark, and yet they seem to have more information than the former. In his book, Mark does not say whether Jesus was mocked or not mocked. He only says that he was crucified alongside two thieves. Unlike Mark and Mathew, Luke gives more information about the two thieves. He does not just mention that the thieves mocked Jesus like in the book of Mathew and Mark. He even specifies that it was only one thief who mocked Jesus and was criticized by his counterpart.
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The three authors, Mathew Mark and Luke postulate that, Judas had plotted with the chief priests before the Passover. This shows that all of them agree with the fact that Judas started his betrayal mission before the Passover. Contrary to Luke, Mark and Mathew believe that Judas went alone to the chief priests. To them, he was not accompanied by anyone while he was going to his evil mission. Luke on his side believes that Judas was not alone since he was accompanied by the devil. He mentions how the devil entered Judas although Mark and Mathew do not mention this issue. According to Luke, it was after the devil had entered Judas that he decided to betray Jesus. This means that Judas did not make his own choice as he was going before the chief priests. Mark and Matthew believe that Judas was entirely on his own and was not influenced by the devil. In their books, both Mark and Luke say that Judas was assured money if he betrayed his master. According to Mark, Judas accepted the offer he was given by the high priests. Judas went ahead and betrayed Jesus because he was paid for it (Mark, 14:10-11). In the book of Mathew, it is stated that Judas went to the high priests and asked them what he would receive incase he betrayed Jesus. In order to be disloyal to Jesus, Judas was given thirty pieces of silver. It was after the payment that Judas accepted to do what the priests wanted. Both Mark and Luke only mention that the chief priests gave Judas money but they do not specify how much it was. On the other hand, this is different from what is written in the book of Mathew. While Mark and Luke state that Judas was offered money, Matthew declares that he was given thirty pieces of silver.
Basically, most passages in the books of Luke, Matthew and Mark are similar. This is because; Luke and Mathew had borrowed some information from Mark who was the initial writer of the gospel. Although most passages are similar, each of the three authors has his own version. As such, they used different wordings to express themselves. Their distinctions are based on how each one of them interprets the various passages.
Bible Societies. “The Holly Bible. English Standard Version”. US: Crossway Bibles. 2001.