The healing of a leper.

Matthew 8.1-4 = Mark 1.40-45 = Luke 5.12-16.

Current mode: View.

Notes and quotes.

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

  1. Mark 1.40 has only και (and) where both Matthew 8.2 and Luke 5.12 have και ιδου (and behold).
  2. The leper in Mark 1.40 does not address Jesus by a title, but in Matthew 8.2 and Luke 5.12 alike the leper addresses him as κυριε (Lord).
  3. Matthew 8.3a and Luke 4.13a agree on the wording και εκτεινας την χειρα ηψατο αυτου λεγων (and he stretched out his hand and touched her, saying). Mark 1.41 has και σπλαγχνισθεις εκτεινας την χειρα αυτου ηψατο και λεγει αυτω (and he felt compassion and he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him).
  4. Matthew 8.3 and Luke 5.13 have ευθεως (straightway). Mark 1.42 has the spelling ευθυς.

§ The phrase προσελθων προσεκυνει αυτω (coming he worshipped him) in Matthew 8.2 is repeated in Matthew 9.18; 20.20; 25.25; 28.9. The phrase εκτεινας την χειρα (having stretched out the hand) in Matthew 8.3 = Mark 1.41 = Luke 5.13 is repeated and transposed in Matthew 12.49; 14.31.

§ Matthew has οχλοι πολλοι (many crowds) following Jesus down the mountain, yet still Jesus enjoins the cured leper: Ορα μηδενι ειπης (see that you speak to no one), a meaningless injunction amidst the crowds. That it is not Mark and Luke who have cleared up this difficulty by removing the story from an explicitly public setting seems clear, since Matthew has the redactional motive to have moved this pericope to follow the immediately preceding sermon on the mount, the thematic connection being the Mosaic elements in both that sermon and this healing (προσενεγκον το δωρον ο προσεταξεν Μωυσης, bring the gift that Moses ordered). Matthew, then, appears to evince editorial fatigue.

§ Synoptic abstract. Word by word, the agreements between all three synoptic gospels, or between any two against the other. Brackets [] enclose a morpheme, word, or phrase supplied (usually from one of the gospels) in order to retain the meaning. Braces {} enclose a word or phrase present in two or three gospels, but with a necessary change of declension or conjugation.

Και ιδου, λεπρος {ερχεται} αυτω λεγων· Κυριε, εαν θελης δυνασαι με καθαρισαι. και εκτεινας την χειρα ηψατο αυτου λεγων· Θελω, καθαρισθητι. και ευθεως απηλθεν απ αυτου η λεπρα [και] εκαθαρισθη. και λεγει αυτω· Ορα μηδενι ειπης, αλλα υπαγε, σεαυτον δειξον τω ιερει και προσενεγκε περι του καθαρισμου σου [καθως] προσεταξεν Μωυσης εις μαρτυριον αυτοις. [δι]ηρχετο δε {ο λογος}, ... [εν] {ερημοις} ην.

There are 54 words exactly in common between two or three of the gospels. Amongst these are sprinkled 3 in brackets (plus a morpheme) and 4 in braces, for a total of 61 words.

Each separate gospel may be compared with this double or triple consensus. In the following table the number of words is counted in the above abstract which each synoptic gospel either lacks entirely or alters linguistically. If the gospel supplies a synonym for a word in the abstract, then I supply the synonym, but the count will remain the same at any rate:

Matthean disagreements
with the consensus.
Marcan disagreements
with the consensus.
Lucan disagreements
with the consensus.
[απηλθεν απ αυτου]
(το δωρον) [ο]
[διηρχετο δε ο λογος]
[εν ερημοις ην]
{τον λογον}
{επ ερημοις}
[και εκαθαρισθη]
{ο λογος}
Word count: {2}+[12]=14. Word count: {8}+[4]=12. Word count: {7}+[8]=15.

Thus, of 61 total words, Matthew agrees exactly with 47 (61-14=47), Mark with 49 (61-12=49), and Luke with 46 (61-15=46).

§ Papyrus Egerton 2, fragment 1 recto, lines 35-47:

  1. και [ι]δου λεπρος προσελθ[ων αυτω]
  2. λεγει· Διδασκαλε Ιη{σου}, λε[προις συν-]
  3. οδευων και συνεσθιω[ν αυτοις]
  4. εν τω πανδοχειω ελ[...]
  5. και αυτος εγω· εαν [ο]υν [συ θελης]
  6. καθαριζομαι· ο δη κ{υριο}ς [εφη αυτω·]
  7. Θελ[ω], καθαρισθητι· [και ευθεως]
  8. [α]πεστη απ αυτου η λεπ[ρα· λεγει]
  9. δε αυτω ο Ιη{σους}· Πορε[υθεις σεαυ-]
  10. τον επιδειξον τοι[ς ιερευσιν]
  11. και ανενεγκον [περι του κα-]
  12. [θ]αρισμου ως προ[σ]ε[ταξεν Μω{υσης} και]
  13. [μ]ηκετι α[μα]ρτανε....
  1. And [b]ehold, a leper having co[me to him]
  2. says: Teacher Je{sus}, with le[pers]
  3. going on the road together and eatin[g together]
  4. [with them] in the inn I [became leprous]
  5. even I myself. If [t]herefore [you will,]
  6. I am cleansed. Then the L{or}d [said to him:]
  7. I wil[l], be cleansed. [And immediately]
  8. [d]eparted from him the lep[rosy. And says]
  9. Je{sus} to him: Having g[one, your-]
  10. self show to th[e priests]
  11. and offer [concerning the clean-]
  12. [s]ing as Mo{ses} or[d]e[red], and]
  13. [n]o longer s[i]n....

§ A table comparing the above synoptic abstract with Papyrus Egerton 2. Keep in mind in the table that follows that brackets [] represent supplied text on the synoptic side and restored text on the Egerton side.

Synoptic abstract. Papyrus Egerton 2, fragment 1 recto,
lines 35-47.
Και ιδου, λεπρος
{ερχεται} αυτω
εαν θελης
δυνασαι με καθαρισαι.
και εκτεινας την χειρα
ηψατο αυτου λεγων·
Θελω, καθαρισθητι.
και ευθεως απηλθεν
απ αυτου η λεπρα
[και] εκαθαρισθη.
και λεγει αυτω·
Ορα μηδενι ειπης,
αλλα υπαγε, σεαυτον δειξον
τω ιερει
και προσενεγκε
περι του καθαρισμου σου
[καθως] προσεταξεν Μωυσης
εις μαρτυριον αυτοις.
[δι]ηρχετο δε {ο λογος},
... {εν ερημοις} ην.
Και [ι]δου, λεπρος
προσελθων αυτω
Διδασκαλε Ιη{σου},
λεπροις συνοδευων και συνεσθιων
αυτοις εν τω πανδοχειω ελ[...]
και αυτος εγω·
εαν ουν συ θελης
ο δη κ{υριο}ς [εφη αυτω·]
Θελ[ω], καθαρισθητι.
[και ευθεως α]πεστη
απ αυτου η λεπ[ρα.]
[λεγει] δε αυτω ο Ιη{σους}·
Πορε[υθεις σεαυ]τον, επιδειξον
τοι[ς ιερευσιν]
και ανενεγκον
[περι του καθ]αρισμου
ως προ[σ]ε[ταξεν Μω{υσης}]
[και μ]ηκετι α[μα]ρτανε....

§ The Egerton text in agreement with any one or more of the synoptic three. The restorations, for this exercise, are considered accurate, and the text is cleared of all textual marks. As with the first abstract, brackets [] enclose supplied text, while braces {} enclose words of a different declension or conjugation, but of the same linguistic root:

Και ιδου, λεπρος προσελθων αυτω {λεγει}· Εαν θελης, {καθαριζομαι}. [ο δε εφη] {αυτω}· Θελω, καθαρισθητι. και ευθεως [απεστη] απ αυτου η λεπρα. λεγει [δε] αυτω ο Ιησους· [Πορευθεις] σεαυτον, επιδειξον {τοις ιερευσιν} και {ανενεγκον} περι του καθαρισμου ως προσεταξεν Μωυσης.

The first synoptic abstract, to jog the memory, had 54 words in exact agreement, with 3 supplied to make sense of the narrative and 4 more of the same root, but different form. This consensus emerged from the agreement of any one of the synoptics with one or both of the others. In other words, each gospel had only two others with which to agree.

Furthermore, Matthew agreed exactly with 47 words of the abstract, Mark with 49, and Luke with 46.

With the Egerton text the situation is all the more favorable for agreement, for now, instead of only two, this text has three other texts with which to find verbatim accord. Yet our text does not take advantage of this favorable circumstance, as the statistics show: Only 28 words are in exact agreement with any one of the synoptics, contrasted with the 47, 49, and 46 for Matthew, Mark, and Luke respectively.

Moreover, our abstract in this case is quite a bit shorter overall, even including all supplied or altered words. This second abstract has only 40 words, compared to the 61 of the first, again despite the broader field for agreement.

Given more opportunity to agree, the Egerton account agrees less often.

This fact surely suggests that, whatever kind of relationship we posit for the three synoptic gospels, the relationship of the Egerton text to the synoptic three, in this pericope at least, ought to be at least one order less direct than the synoptic relation. If the synoptics copied one another directly, then the Egerton text copied no more than indirectly. If the synoptics are related literarily, then the Egerton text may be related only orally. And so on.

§ Note the difficulty of the synoptic reading, σεαυτον δειξον τω ιερει [singular]... εις μαρτυριον αυτοις [plural] (show yourself to the priest, as a testimony to them). Yet the Egerton papyrus has the plural τοις ιερευσιν, (to the priests) and if that plural were to be understood in the synoptic accounts the difficulty would vanish. So is the synoptic presuming the Egerton version?

What seems clear in this particular line is that the Egerton account is not correcting the synoptic discrepancy, since it does not include the synoptic εις μαρτυριον αυτοις, and thus has no reason to change the singular τω ιερει to the plural τοις ιερευσιν.

§ The phrase ορα μηδενι μηδεν ειπης (see that you say nothing to anyone) appears to carry on the so-called messianic secret. The Marcan version is a duplication, μηδενι μηδεν, not present in Matthew or Luke, though each makes a different alteration in eliminating the duplication. Matthew has μηδενι, but drops μηδεν. Luke, while dropping μηδεν also, turns the whole line into indirect discourse, eliminating the ορα and thus turning the subjunctive ειπης into the infinitive ειπεν.

§ The verb προσκυνεω (worship) from Matthew 8.2 is a characteristic Matthean word (13-2-3+4). See Matthew 2.2, 8, 11; 9.18; 14.33; 15.25; 18.26; 20.20; 28.9, 17 for instances of individuals worshipping Jesus, and compare the single Marcan instance in Mark 5.6, in which it is not actually the individual who worships Jesus but rather the demons. (The instance in Mark 15.19 is mockery, not worship.)

§ Interestingly, the Egerton account lacks both ορα μηδενι μηδεν ειπης and προσεκυνει. Nor does any element of the setting at the beginning of the synoptic accounts find its way into the Egerton version. (The papyrus text ends before we can glimpse the setting at the end.)

§ The original of Mark 1:41 may have read οργισθεις (having gotten angry) instead of σπλαγχνισθεις (having had compassion), though D is the only codex in its favor. Externally, οργισθεις would appear to be a more difficult reading than σπλαγχνισθεις. Internally, οργισθεις fits better with εμβριμησαμενος (snorted with anger) and εξεβαλεν (cast him out) in 1:43.

§ William L. Petersen writes in Tatian's Diatessaron, the appendix to Helmut Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels, the following regarding the Tatianic reading of Matthew 8.4 = Mark 1.44 = Luke 5.14 (page 424):

Sometimes we stumble across readings [in the Diatessaron] which are arguably earlier than the present canonical text. One is in Matt 8:4 (and parallels), where the canonical text runs: "Go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift which Moses commanded, in a testimony to them." No fewer than six Diatessaronic witnesses, four in the East (both recensions of Ephrem's Commentary, Isho'dad's Commentary, Romanos), and two in the West (the Liège and the Venetian Harmonies), give the following (with minor variants): "Go, show yourself to the priest(s) and fulfill the Law." With Eastern and Western support, and no other known sources from which these Diatessaronic witnesses might have acquired the reading, we must conclude that it is the reading of Tatian. And in it, Jesus required that someone "fulfill the Law."

§ Luke ends his account with a mention of the οχλοι πολλοι with which Matthew begins his account. Luke uses this precise phrase only one other time, in 14.25, which has no Matthean parallel. Matthew, on the other hand, uses this phrase more often (6-0-2+0, but two of the Matthean instances are textually questionable). The function of the οχλοι πολλοι here differs between the two, however. In Matthew the crowds have followed Jesus down the mountain after his great sermon. In Luke the crowds are the result of news spreading far and wide about Jesus. (If anything, Luke 5.15 is a closer parallel to Matthew 4.23-25 than to Matthew 8.1.) Did Luke get the οχλοι πολλοι from the beginning of the Matthean pericope, postpone its use till the end of his own pericope, and then give it a different twist? Or is it just a coincidence? The former seems an unnecessary hypothesis to me.

§ This pericope is also available in a somewhat different format in a file supplied by a correspondent of mine named Ovadyah, who has modified certain synopses by S. C. Carlson in order to take broad text types into account.