The baptism of Jesus.

Matthew 3.13-17 = Mark 1.9-11 = Luke 3.21-22  (John 1.29-34).

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Notes and quotes.

§ I note the following agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark:

  1. Matthew 3.13 says that Jesus came to John to be baptized (του βαπτισθηναι). Luke 3.21 says that the baptism of Jesus happened while the people were being baptized (εν τω βαπτισθηναι).
  2. Matthew 3.13 gives the name of Jesus once in parallel with Mark 1.9, and Matthew 3.16 gives the name of Jesus again in parallel with Luke 3.21. Also, while the three synoptists use different forms of the verb for baptism, Matthew and Luke agree on using a participle against the Marcan aorist.
  3. Both Matthew 3.16 and Luke 3.22 use forms of ανοιγνυμι (to open up) instead of a form of σχιζω as in Mark 1.10.
  4. Both Matthew 3.16 and Luke 3.22 modify the simple Marcan το πνευμα (the spirit). Matthew has το πνευμα του θεου (the spirit of God); Luke has το πνευμα το αγιον (the holy spirit).
  5. Matthew 3.16 and Luke 3.22 have the spirit descending upon (επι) Jesus, while Mark 1.10 has the spirit descending into (εις) Jesus.

None of these agreements makes it into my major category, and some seem quite trivial, especially given the severe compression of Luke 3.21 compared to Matthew 3.13-15 and Mark 1.9. However, the agreement on ανοιγνυμι instead of σχιζω is interesting, especially given the use of the latter in Mark 15.38. Combine this agreement with that on επι over and against εις, and some who favor the Mark-Q theory suspect that Q contained an account of the baptism and accompanying theophany.

§ Matthew 3.13 uses an historic present, παραγινεται, where both Mark and Luke use the aorist εγενετο. Matthew 3.15 uses the historic present αφιησιν in a portion of text unparalleled in the other two synoptic gospels.

§ The phrase εν ω ευδοκησα (in whom I am well pleased) at Matthew 3.17 = Mark 1.11 = Luke 3.22 (but see the textual variant at Luke 3.22) is repeated and transposed to the transfiguration scene in Matthew 17.5.

§ Two significant textual variants stand out amongst these three parallel passages. First, at Matthew 3.15 a couple of Old Latin manuscripts agree with the Diatessaron in describing a light that shone round Jesus at his baptism. Second, at Luke 3.22 codex Bezae (D) takes the theophanic words to Jesus...:

Υιος μου ει συ· εγω σημερον γεγεννηκα σε.

You are my son. I today have begotten you.

...from Psalm 2.7 instead of in parallel with Mark 1.11. Psalm 2.7 (Masoretic and LXX):

אספרה אלחק יהוה אמר אלי בני אתה אני היום ילדתיך׃

Διαγγελλων το προσταγμα κυριου, κυριος ειπεν προς με· Υιος μου ει συ· εγω σημερον γεγεννηκα σε.

Announcing the order of the Lord, the Lord said to me: You are my son. Today I have begotten you.

§ Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans 1.1:

Δοξαζω Ιησουν Χριστον τον θεον τον ουτως υμας σοφισαντα· ενοησα γαρ υμας κατηρτισμενους εν ακινητω πιστει, ωσπερ καθηλωμενους εν τω σταυρω του κυριου Ιησου Χριστου σαρκι τε και πνευματι, και ηδρασμενους εν αγαπη εν τω αιματι Χριστου, πεπληροφορημενους εις τον κυριον ημων αληθως οντα εκ γενους Δαυιδ κατα σαρκα, υιον θεου κατα θελημα και δυναμιν, γεγεννημενον αληθως εκ παρθενου, βεβαπτισμενον υπο Ιωαννου ινα πληρωθη πασα δικαιοσυνη υπ αυτου....

I glorify Jesus Christ the God who made you so wise. for I have noticed that you are settled down in immovable faith, as if nailed on the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ both in flesh and in spirit, and grounded in love in the blood of Christ, fully persuaded as to our Lord that he is truly from the line of David according to the flesh, the son of God according to will and power, truly born from a virgin, baptized by John in order that all righteousness might be fulfilled by him....

§ Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 88.3:

Και τοτε ελθοντος του Ιησου επι τον Ιορδανην ποταμον, ενθα ο Ιωαννης εβαπτιζε, κατελθοντος του Ιησου επι το υδωρ και πυρ ανηφθη εν τω Ιορδανη, και αναδυντος αυτου απο του υδατος ως περιστεραν το αγιον πνευμα επιπτηναι επ αυτον εγραψαν οι αποστολοι αυτου τουτου του Χριστου ημων.

And then Jesus came upon the Jordan river, where John was baptizing, and when Jesus went down upon the water even a fire was lit in the Jordan, and his apostles wrote that when he rose up out of the water the holy spirit flew as a dove upon him, since he is our Christ.

Justin Martyr also supports D in its following of Psalm 2.7 instead of Mark 1.11 for the words of God. Dialogue with Trypho 88.8b:

...το πνευμα ουν το αγιον και δια τους ανθρωπους, ως προεφην, εν ειδει περιστερας επεπτη αυτω, και φωνη εκ των ουρανων αμα εληλυθει, ητις και δια Δαυιδ λεγομενη, ως απο προσωπου αυτου, λεγοντος οπερ αυτω απο του πατρος εμελλε λεγεσθαι· Υιος μου ει συ· εγω σημερον γεγεννηκα σε, τοτε γενεσιν αυτου λεγων γινεσθαι τοις ανθρωποις, εξ οτου η γνωσις αυτου εμελλε γινεσθαι.*

* At least one manuscript of the Dialogue adds again: Υιος μου ει συ· εγω σημερον γεγεννηκα σε.

...the holy spirit, therefore, and on account of men, as I said before, flew upon him in the image of a dove, and there came together [with it] a voice from the heavens, which was said also through David when he said, impersonating Christ, what the father was going to say to him: You are my son. Today I have begotten you, then saying that his birth would happen for men, from which knowledge of him was going to come into being.

This passage is continued from a notice that Jesus was a carpenter, which the synoptic gospels mention in their account of the rejection at Nazareth.

Dialogue with Trypho103.6a:

Και γαρ ουτος ο διαβολος αμα τω αναβηναι αυτον απο του ποταμου του Ιορδανου, της φωνης αυτω λεχθεισης· Υιος μου ει συ· εγω σημερον γεγεννηκα σε, εν τοις απομνημονευμασι των αποστολων γεγραπται προσελθων αυτω και πειραζων μεχρι του ειπεν αυτω· Προσκυνησον μοι, και αποκρινασθαι αυτω τον Χριστον· Υπαγε οπισω μου, Σατανα· κυριον τον θεον σου προσκυνησεις και αυτω μονω λατρευσεις.

For it is written in the memoirs of the apostles that this devil also, together at his going up away from the river Jordan, when the voice had said to him: You are my son. Today I have begotten you, came to him and tested him until he said to him: Worship me, and Christ answered him: Get behind me, Satan. You will worship the Lord your God, and him only will you serve.

§ From Epiphanius, Panarion 30.13, writing of the gospel of the Ebionites:

Και μετα το ειπειν πολλα επιφερει οτι, Του λαου βαπτισθεντος, ηλθε και Ιησους και εβαπτισθη υπο του Ιωαννου. και ως ανηλθεν απο του υδατος ηνοιγησαν οι ουρανοι, και ειδε το πνευμα του θεου το αγιον εν ειδει περιστερας κατελθουσης και εισελθουσης εις αυτον. και φωνη εγενετο εκ του ουρανου, λεγουσα· Συ μου ει ο υιος ο αγαθητος· εν σοι ηυδοκησα· και παλιν· Εγω σημερον γεγεννηκα σε. Και ευθυς περιελαμψε τον τοπον φως μεγα, ο ιδων, φησιν, ο Ιωαννης λεγει αυτω· Συ τις ει, κυριε; Και παλιν φωνη εξ ουρανου προς αυτον· Ουτος εστιν ο υιος μου ο αγαπητος, εφ ον ηυδοκησα. και τοτε, φησιν, ο Ιωαννης προσπεσων αυτω ελεγε· Δεομαι σου, κυριε, συ με βαπτισον. ο δε εκωλυεν αυτω, λεγων· Αφες, οτι ουτως εστι πρεπον πληρωθηναι παντα.

And after it says many things it states: When the people were being baptized, Jesus came too and was baptized by John. And as he came up out of the water the heavens opened, and he saw the holy spirit of God in the image of a dove coming down and coming onto him. And there was a voice from heaven saying: You are my beloved son. With you I am pleased. And again: Today I have begotten you. And immediately a great light illuminated the place. When John saw this, it says, he said to him: Who are you, Lord? And again there was a voice from heaven to him: This is my beloved son, with whom I am pleased. And then, it says, John walked to him and said: I request you, Lord, you baptize me. But he prevented him, saying: Allow it, since thus is it proper to fulfill all things.

§ From Jerome, On Isaiah 4, commentary on Isaiah 11.2, concerning the gospel of the Nazoreans:

Sed iuxta evangelium quod Hebrao sermone conscriptum legunt Nazaraei: Descendet super eum omnis fons spiritus sancti.... Porro in evangelio cuius supra fecimus mentionem haec scripta reperimus: Factum est autem cum ascendisset dominus de aqua descendit fons omnis spiritus sancti, et requievit super eum, et dixit illi: Fili mi, in omnibus prophetis exspectabam te, ut venires, et requiescerem in te. Tu es enim requies mea. tu es filius meus primogenitus, qui regnas in sempiternum.

But according to the gospel which the Nazoraeans read, written up in Hebrew speech: The whole fount of the holy spirit shall descend over him.... Further on in the gospel of which we made mention above we find these things written: But it happened that, when the Lord ascended from the water, the whole fount of the holy spirit descended, and rested over him, and said to him: My son, in all the prophets I was expecting you, that you should come, and I might rest in you. You indeed are my rest. You are my first-born son, who reigns in eternity.

From Jerome, Against the Pelagians 3.2, concerning the gospel according to the Hebrews:

In evangelio iuxta Hebraeos, quod Chaldaico quidem Syroque sermone sed Hebraicis litteris scriptum est, quod utuntur usque hodie Nazareni, secundum apostolos, sive ut plerique autumant iuxta Matthaeum, quod et in Caesariensi habetur bibliotheca, narrat historia: Ecce, mater domini et fratres eius dicebant ei: Joannes baptista baptizat in remissionem peccatorum; eamus et baptizemur ab eo. dixit autem eis: Quid peccavi, ut vadam et baptizer ab eo? nisi forte hoc ipsum quod dixi ignorantia est.

In the gospel according to the Hebrews, which indeed is written in Chaldean and Syrian speech, but with Hebraic letters, which the Nazoraeans use until this day, according to the apostles, or as most term it according to Matthew, which is also held in the Caesarean library, it narrates the story: Behold, the mother of the Lord and his brothers were saying to him: John the baptist is baptizing for the remission of sins. Let us also be baptized by him. But he said to them: How have I sinned, that I should go and be baptized by him? Unless perchance this that I have just said is ignorance.

§ Papyrus Berolinensis 11710, nonlineated, based on Aurelio de Santos Otero, Los evangélios apócrifos, page 84:

[Ναθαναηλ ωμολ]ογησεν και ειπε· Ραμβιου, κυριε, συ ει ο υιος του θεου. [απεκριθη αυτω] ο ραμβις και ειπε· Ναθαναηλ, {α}πορευου εν τω ηλιω. απεκριθη αυτω Ναθαναηλ και ειπεν· Ραμβιου, κυριε, συ ει ο αμνος του θεου, ο αιρων τας αμ[α]ρ[τι]α[ς] του κοσμου. απεκριθη αυτω ο ραμβις και ειπε....

[Nathaniel conf]essed and said: Rabbi, Lord, you are the son of God. The rabbi [answered him] and said: Nathaniel, journey to the sun. Nathaniel answered him and said: Rabbi, Lord, you are the lamb of God, the one who takes the s[i]n[s] of the world. The rabbi answered him and said....

§ From Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.9.3 (Greek text from Marcel Richard and Bertrand Hemmerdinger, Trois Nouveaux Fragmentss Grecs de l’Adversus Haereses de Saint Irénée, on pages 252-255 of Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche 53.3, 1962, quoting from the Florilegium Achridense, century XIII, page 145; the introductory line is from this same text):

Ειρηναιου επισκοπου Λογδωνου εκ του κατα αιρεσεως βιβλιου·

Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, from the book against heresy:

Ετι φησιν επι του βαπτισματος ο Ματθαιος; Ανεωχθησαν αυτω οι ουρανοι, και ειδε πνευμα θεου καταβαινον ωσει περιστεραν και ερχομενον εις αυτον· και ιδου, φωνη εξ ουρανου λεγουσα· Συ ει ο υιος μου ο αγαπητος, εν ω ευδοκησα. ου γαρ τοτε κατηλθεν ο Χριστος εις τον Ιησουν, ουδε αλλος μεν ο Χριστος, αλλος δε ο Ιησους, αλλ ο λογος του θεου, ο σωτηρ παντων και κυριευων ουρανου και γης, ουτος εστιν Ιησους καθως προεδιδαξαμεν, προσλαβομενος σαρκα και χρισθεις υπο του πατρος τω πνευματι, Χριστος Ιησους εγινετο, καθως Ησαιας φησιν.

Adhuc ait in baptismate Matthaeus: Aperti sunt [ei] coeli, et vidit spiritum dei quasi columbam venientem super eum. et ecce, vox de coelo, dicens: Hic est filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi bene complacui. non enim Christus tunc descendit in Iesum, neque alius quidem Christus, alius vero Iesus, sed verbum dei, qui est salvator omnium et dominator coeli et terrae, qui est Iesus, quemadmodum ante ostendimus, qui et adsumtsit carnem et unctus est a patre spiritu, Iesus Christus factus est, sicut et Esaias ait.

Still Matthew says on the baptism: The heavens were opened up, and he saw the spirit of God descending just as a dove and coming into him. And behold, a voice from heaven saying: You are my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.* For Christ did not at that time descend into Jesus, nor was Christ one person and Jesus another, but rather the word of God, which is savior of all and lord of heaven and earth, who is Jesus, just as we have taught before, who took on flesh and was christened by the father in the spirit, became Christ Jesus, as Isaiah says.

* Refer to Matthew 3.16-17.

This Greek text is in the main confirmed by papyrus Oxyrhynchus 405, fragments a and f of which read as follows:

  1. ...μη ζητουσιν. [ετι φησιν επι]
  2. του βαπτ[ισματος ο Ματθαι-]
  3. ος· Ανεω[χθησαν οι ουρανοι]
  4. και ειδεν τ[ο π̅ν̅α̅ θ̅υ̅ κατα-]
  5. βαινον ως π[εριστεραν και]
  6. ερχομενον ε[ις αυτον· και]
  7. ιδου, φων[η εξ ουρανου]
  8. λεγουσα· Συ ε[ι ο υ̅ς̅ μου ο αγα-]
  9. πητος, [ε]ν ω [ευδοκησα. ου]
  10. γαρ τοτε ο Χ̅ς̅ [κατηλθεν εις]
  11. τον Ι̅ν̅, ουδ α[λλος μεν ο Χ̅ς̅,]
  12. αλλος δε Ι̅[ς̅, αλλ ο λογος του]
  13. θ̅υ̅ ο σωτ[ηρ παντων και κυ-]
  14. ριευω[ν ουρανου και γης....]

The two Greek words at the beginning of the fragment, μη ζητουσιν (not seeking or who do not seek), are from the end of Against Heresies 3.9.2, which the Latin renders as non quaerebant eum.

Matthew 3.16-17:

Βαπτισθεις δε ο Ιησους ευθυς ανεβη απο του υδατος, και ιδου, ηνεωχθησαν [αυτω] οι ουρανοι, και ειδεν [το] πνευμα [του] θεου καταβαινον ωσει περιστεραν [και] ερχομενον επ αυτον. και ιδου, φωνη εκ των ουρανων, λεγουσα· Ουτος εστιν ο υιος μου ο αγαπητος, εν ω ευδοκησα.

And when Jesus had been baptized he straightway ascended from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened [for him], and he saw the spirit of God descending as a dove [and] coming upon him. And behold, a voice from the heavens, saying: This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.