Redactional tendency and editorial fatigue.

Direction of development in the synoptic tradition.


Unidirectional, or irreversible, arguments are not necessarily easy to come by in the synoptic problem. Many, if not most, of the criteria which have been used to determine which author copied from which other text have proven only their own insufficiency for the task.

Criteria such as Christology, theology, Semitisms, Jewishness, grammar, length, and detail miss what I think is the most important consideration in determining direction of influence. That consideration is authorial intent and clarity. Since an author becomes a redactor or editor while working with sources, I like to think in the following terms:

  • Redactional tendency.
  • Editorial fatigue.

Elsewhere I have combined these two notions into a single principle, but here I would also like to take a closer look at each one on its own before moving on to the combined criterion.

The following arguments that one gospel text copied from another are perhaps of differing persuasive values, but have in common that the redactional patterns or editorial incongruities of the authors form the bulk of the evidence. The attentive reader may notice that the proposed relationships may at times appear to contradict each other (apparently showing both that one text copied from another and that the latter copied from the former). That is only fair. Perhaps one of the arguments is much flimsier than the other, or perhaps both authors copied independently from another source. I have not bothered to expand each abbreviated description of a synoptic relationship to include hypothetical sources, even where such sources may in fact be likely.*

* For example, if one instance shows that Matthew copied from Luke while another shows that Luke copied from Matthew, it is possible that in fact both Matthew and Luke copied from a separate source, such as the hypothetical Q. Between Matthew and Mark such bidirectional indicators may point to a proto-Matthew or a proto-Mark. Between Mark and Luke they may point to a proto-Mark or a proto-Luke.

It is not my present intent to rule in favor of one synoptic theory over all others, but rather to present a certain kind of argument, regardless of which side in the debate devised it.

An index of individual cases is available at the bottom of this page.

Redactional tendency.

Matthew copied Mark.

The Matthean miracle pattern.

The miracles shared by Matthew and Mark show an interesting pattern. Matthew has represented every miracle present in Mark except two, one exorcism and one healing of a blind man. Coincidentally, Matthew has two miracles in which two individuals, not one, are cured, the exorcism of two demoniacs and the healing of two blind men.

It looks like either Mark has removed the extra individuals from the two Matthean pericopes and turned them into their own healing stories or Matthew has removed two Marcan miracles but still represented their beneficiaries by doubling the beneficiaries of two other miracles of the same kind (exorcism and healing of the blind). In favor of the latter option are the following considerations:

  • Removing two miracle stories and merely doubling the beneficiaries of two others would be an easier operation than removing the beneficiaries from two stories and then composing two separate miracle accounts to accomodate them.
  • More importantly, Matthew contains quite a few miracles that Mark lacks, whereas Mark contains only the very two in question over and above Matthew. In other words, it does not appear that Mark has any redactional reason to account for all of the Matthean miracle material, while Matthew does seem to have accounted for all of the Marcan miracle material, one way or another. The motive to employ this unusual compositional trick, then, falls to Matthew, not to Mark.

Not all students of the text, I suspect, will be convinced that Matthew has done what this argument says he did, but the evidence from redactional tendency appears to favor Matthew copying Mark.

The Matthean disconnection between the baptism and death of Jesus.

The following argument was inspired by David Ulansey, The Heavenly Veil Torn.

Matthew and Mark both seem to connect in some mystical way the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3.13-17 = Mark 1.9-11 = Luke 3.21-22) with his death (Matthew 27.45-54 = Mark 15.33-39 = Luke 23.44-48). Consider the following connections:

  1. At both events in Matthew and Mark something descends; the holy spirit descends as a dove at the baptism of Jesus, and the veil rips in two from top to bottom at his death. (In Luke the direction of the tearing of the veil is omitted.)
  2. At both events in Matthew, Mark, and Luke the spirit is moving; at the baptism the spirit enters Jesus, and at his death the spirit exits him (the word for expire or exhale in Mark 15.37 = Luke 23.46, εξεπνευσεν, literally means spirit out; Matthew says that Jesus released the spirit, αφηκεν το πνευμα).
  3. At both events in Matthew and Mark somebody claims that Jesus is a son of God (υιος θεου in Mark 15.39, the same expression with the words reversed in Matthew 27.54); at his baptism it is a voice from heaven, at his death a nearby centurion. (In Luke the centurion claims that he is just or innocent, δικαιος.)
  4. At both events in Matthew and Mark the eschatological figure of Elijah is symbolically present; at the baptism of Jesus it is in the person of John the baptist (whom both affirm as Elijah in Matthew 17.9-13 = Mark 9.9-13), while at his death the bystanders mistake his forlorn cry for a call to Elijah. (Luke replaces the forlorn cry with a commending of his spirit to God.)
  5. At both events in Mark something tears; at the baptism of Jesus it is heaven, and at his death it is the veil. (Matthew and Luke both have heaven opening up, not tearing, at the baptism.)

Of these five items Matthew shares 4, Mark all 5, and Luke only 1.

It is evident that Luke is so far out of this pattern that he (along with John, for that matter, whose account in 19.28-37 shares only in the second item on that list) may as well be independent here. The Lucan account can serve as a control over the data; he could have read the Matthean or Marcan death account (or both) and in the process of rewriting it removed most of the connections with the baptism, or Matthew or Mark (or both) could have read his death account and decided to build the baptismal connections up virtually from scratch.

Matthew and Mark, on the other hand, run neck and neck in this matter. Mark offers five correspondences, but Matthew is one short. Where Mark writes in both cases of a rending (σχιζομενους in 1.10, εσχισθη in 15.38), Matthew has a rending (εσχισθη) only in 27.51; in 3.16 the heavens open up (ηνεωχθησαν) instead.

Which is more likely, that Matthew made the original series of four connections between baptism and death and just overlooked the possibility of a fifth, or that Mark made the original series of five connections and Matthew failed to copy over the fifth? It would seem terribly convenient for Mark, after finding in Matthew such a pattern of links, to then happily discover that yet another link, as yet unexploited, was just waiting to be massaged out with a single verb change. I think it more likely that Matthew copied most, but not all, of what were originally Marcan connections (whether through neglect, oversight, or the feeling that heaven ripping apart at the baptism was too violent an image).

Matthew copied Mark or Luke.

The Matthean miracle sequence.

Matthew 8.1-9.34 is a prolonged series of miracles performed by Jesus:

  1. 8.1-4, the healing of a leper.
  2. 8.5-13, the healing at the request of a centurion.
  3. 8.14-15, the healing of the mother-in-law of Peter.
  4. 8.16-17, the evening healings.
  5. 8.18-22, following Jesus.
  6. 8.23-27, the calming of the sea.
  7. 8.28-34, the exorcism of the Gadarene demoniacs.
  8. 9.1-8, the healing of the paralytic.
  9. 9.9, the call of Matthew.
  10. 9.10-13, tax collectors and sinners.
  11. 9.14-17, the controversy over fasting.
  12. 9.18-19, 23-26, the raising of the daughter of Jairus.
  13. 9.20-22, the healing of a hemorrhaging woman.
  14. 9.27-31, the healing of two blind men.
  15. 9.32-34, the healing of a dumb man.

Some scholars suppose that Matthew is trying to get these miracles on the record before the miracle summary at 11.5; be that as it may, I have italicized several items in this list, namely those that are not miracles.

Matthew 8.18-22 I cannot rightly explain except as a Matthean attempt to link discipleship with following Jesus through the storm (notice that Matthew places these brief exchanges within the miracle story itself, which begins in 8.18 with the command to cross over the sea of Galilee and does not end until the opposite shore is reached in 8.28a). The other items, however, appear to admit of a different explanation. Why do the pericopes about the call of Matthew, tax collectors and sinners, and the controversy over fasting cut into a sequence of miracles? I think it is because they follow the healing of the paralytic, and it is after that healing that Mark and Luke, neither of whom is working on a sequence of miracles at the time, place those passages (in that same order; refer to Mark 2.1-22 = Luke 5.17-39).

Matthew found it easier, once he had finished with the paralytic, to just copy the next few episodes than to skip them and come back later. His redaction betrays one or two of his sources, Mark or Luke (or both).

The Matthean presupposition of a previous discussion.

Matthew 18.1, after relating the incident of the didrachma tax in 17.24-27, sets out in a different direction with an abrupt question from his disciples:

Εν εκεινη τη ωρα προσηλθον οι μαθηται τω Ιησου, λεγοντες· Τις αρα μειζων εστιν εν τη βασιλεια των ουρανων;

At that hour the disciples came up to Jesus, saying: Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of the heavens?

That word αρα (then, next, for, therefore) seems to presuppose a previous discussion about who is greatest in the kingdom. Yet Matthew has no such discussion in the preceding narrative.

The parallel passages in Mark 9.33-34 and Luke 9.46, however, in which the disciples are arguing on the road as to who is greatest in the kingdom, appear to provide us with exactly the sort of discussion that Matthew is presupposing. Matthew, in turning this argument amongst the disciples into a question from them to their master, has let us know with that little word αρα that he is aware of a prior discussion of the matter. He has let us know, in other words, that one of his sources was either Mark or Luke (or both).

Matthew copied Luke.

The Matthean mission catena.

This example comes from John Kloppenborg, Excavating Q, pages 88-89.

The sayings catena of Matthew 10.24-39 is at the heart of the second Matthean discourse (the mission discourse). It consists of several distinct sayings from the double tradition; in other words, these sayings have Lucan parallels. The catena runs as follows:

Block. Saying. M. L. Other parallels.
A. Disciple and master. 10.24-25. 6.40. -
B1. Fear not. 10.26-31. 12.2-7. Mark 4.22 = Luke 8.17.
B2. Before my father. 10.32-33. 12.8-9. Matthew 16.27 = Mark 8.38 = Luke 9.26.
C1. No peace on earth. 10.34. 12.50. -
C2. The divided family. 10.35-36. 12.51-52. Mark 13.12 = Luke 21.16.
D1. Loving family more. 10.37. 14.26. -
D2. Following after me. 10.38. 14.27. Matthew 16.24 = Mark 8.34 = Luke 9.23.
E. Finding and losing. 10.39. 17.33. Matthew 16.25 = Mark 8.35 = Luke 9.24.

The five blocks (A, B, C, D, E) correspond to the Lucan grouping of these sayings (since Matthew groups them all into this single catena instead of scattering them). What is very interesting to note is that Luke not only scatters this catena across his gospel but also leaves the five blocks in the same order as in Matthew.

What has happened at this point? That Luke would break this catena up into blocks and remove the blocks to different contexts is not a problem, but how likely is it that he would also make certain to keep the blocks in the same relative order? This would seem an arbitrary procedure. It seems more likely that Matthew, wishing to add more material to his mission discourse, has scanned Luke once through from start to finish, picking out sayings that would suit the missionary purposes of the discourse. As Kloppenborg, presuming Q (instead of dependence of Matthew upon Luke), says on page 89:

Matthew reproduces the sayings in Lukan order, as if he had scanned Q, collecting sayings that he thought were related and might fit together well.

He is arguing at this point for the originality of the Lucan order of Q over the Matthean order of Q, and I agree with him that the evidence in this case favors Matthew having copied from Luke (or Q) rather than vice versa.

Matthew and Luke copied Mark.

The Matthean and Lucan dissection of intercalations.

The synoptic tradition offers us at least six intercalations. An intercalation is a literary device whereby one event is introduced (A1), then another event takes place (B), then the first event is brought to its conclusion (A2).

But an intercalation is much more than a mere splicing of two separate incidents. The incidents always interact with each other in some way, usually on a theological level. There is always a point (sometimes rather sharp, at that).

Of those six intercalations Matthew has three, Luke has two, and Mark has all six. On the face of it, then, it looks like a Marcan device that the other two authors have sometimes taken over from him and sometimes eliminated. However, it must be admitted that the opposite process is also possible. Mark could have taken both existing intercalations and workable pericopes from Matthew and Luke (it would have to be both because Luke 9.1-11 is an intercalation that is broken up in Matthew and Matthew 26.1-16 and 26.58-75 are intercalations that are broken up in Luke) and with that raw material both reproduced the existing ones and produced several new ones.

But the redactional evidence, I think, points to a Marcan origin for all six intercalations:

  • If Matthew got the idea of intercalations from Luke or vice versa (that is, if either Matthew or Luke originated the device), it seems a bit odd that the borrowing author would like the device enough to invent one (in the case of Luke) or two (in the case of Matthew) more instances of it, but take it over only once from the other author, leaving the other one or two intercalations unused. It seems more likely that Mark originated the device and the other two authors liked it less than he did and eliminated several of his miniature masterpieces in the process of reworking his material.
  • When Matthew, at any rate, goes off on his own and pieces together a structure that resembles an intercalation in Matthew 8.18-27, it comes out very different from those that parallel Mark. Jesus gives orders to cross the sea of Galilee (8.18), then is interrupted by a scribe and a disciple who wish to follow him (8.19-22), and finally crosses over with his disciples and encounters a storm on the way (8.23-27). One might suggest that a general theme of discipleship is present throughout the two episodes (with the actual disciples of Jesus following him into the boat), but the general theme of disciple is present throughout most of the synoptic tradition; it is not in any way specifically concentrated here. I considered including this Matthean structure in my list of synoptic intercalations, but could not find the usual interplay of past and future that characterizes the six instances that I settled on. What is ending, human housing and burial rites? What is beginning? It seems more likely that the device is Marcan through and through, and that Matthew got it from Mark. On his own, Matthew produces a different kind of device, even when the structure superficially resembles an intercalation.

These mild observations will garner some hefty support from considerations of fatigue later in this piece.

Mark copied Matthew.

The Marcan abbreviation of teaching material.

The following case comes from Dom Chapman as John Wenham cites him on pages 98-99 of Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

Matthew and Mark both kick off their extended seaside discourse consisting mainly of parables in much the same way. They run together as follows:

Matthew 13.3a. Mark 4.2.
Και ελαλησεν αυτοις
πολλα εν παραβολαις,
λεγων....
Και εδιδασκεν αυτους
εν παραβολαις πολλα,
και ελεγεν αυτοις
εν τη διδαχη αυτου....
And he spoke to them
many things in parables,
saying....
And he taught them
many things in parables,
and said to them
in his teaching....

Matthew then proceeds to give seven parables, two explanations, and three related groups of sayings in the discourse. Mark gives only three parables, one explanation, and two related groups of sayings in the discourse. Matthew gives, in other words, rather many more actual examples of the teachings of Jesus.

Then Matthew and Mark wrap up this discourse as follows:

Matthew 13.34. Mark 4.33-34a.
Ταυτα παντα
 
ελαλησεν ο Ιησους
εν παραβολαις
τοις οχλοις,
 
και χωρις παραβολης
ουδεν ελαλει αυτοις.
Και τοιαυταις
παραβολαις πολλαις
ελαλει
 
αυτοις τον λογον,
καθως ηδυναντο ακουειν,
χωρις δε παραβολης
ουκ ελαλει αυτοις.
All these things
 
Jesus spoke
in parables
to the crowds,
 
and without a parable
he spoke nothing to them.
And with many
such parables
he speaks
 
the word to them,
just as they were able to hear,
but without a parable
he does not speak to them.

What is interesting is that, while Matthew gives us no indication of having either abbreviated or expanded the discourse, Mark appears to indicate that he has abbreviated it. Matthew has Jesus speaking all these things (ταυτα παντα), but Mark has Jesus speaking with many such parables (τοιαυταις παραβολαις πολλαις). It is as if Mark has a longer sequence of parables (or at least teachings of some kind) before him than he has actually used, and he tells us that Jesus in fact uttered others of like kind on that occasion.

All of this comes from the conclusion of the discourse. When we go back to the introduction we notice that Mark is relating what Jesus said in his teaching (εν τη διδαχη αυτου), as if he is not planning to give us all of it.

This impression is reinforced when we turn to the other instance of this Marcan phrase. Matthew 23.1-39 (fin) is a sustained invective against the scribes and Pharisees. Its Marcan parallel is much shorter, consisting of only three verses, Mark 12.38-40. The lead-in is as follows:

Matthew 23.1-2a. Mark 12.38a.
Τοτε
ο Ιησους ελαλησεν
τοις οχλοις και τοις
μαθηταις αυτου, λεγων....
Και εν τη διδαχη αυτου
 
 
ελεγεν....
Then
Jesus spoke
to the crowds and
his disciples, saying....
And in his teaching
 
 
he said....

Again Mark seems to say that the teachings he is giving are not the sum total of all that was taught at that time. And again Matthew in fact has Jesus uttering many more teachings than are available in Mark. As Chapman puts it (on page 99 of Wenham):

Mk. tells us once more, 'In the course of His teaching, He was saying'. What teaching? Look at Mt.; there it is, shoals of it.

Of course, it might be possible to argue the redactional reverse, that Matthew noticed the two Marcan instances of that phrase in his teaching and seized upon the opportunity to offer more than Mark did. But surely the most natural conclusion is that Mark knew he was abbreviating a longer transcription of the teachings of Jesus. It seems more likely that his deliberate abbreviation was real than that it was illusory, the intentional giftwrapping of an opportunity for later imitators to say more. (And I say this even as I am convinced that it was Matthew that copied from Mark as we know him, not Mark from Matthew.)

Editorial fatigue.

Matthew copied Mark.

The Matthean flashback failure.

Both Matthew and Mark narrate the story of the death of John the baptist as a nonchronological flashback (to borrow a term from S. C. Carlson), starting off as follows:

Matthew 14.1-3a. Mark 6.16-17a.
Εν εκεινω τω καιρω
ηκουσεν Ηρωδης ο τετρααρχης
την ακοην Ιησου, και
ειπεν τοις παισιν αυτου·
Ουτος εστιν
Ιωαννης ο βαπτιστης, αυτος
ηγερθη απο των νεκρων,
και δια τουτο αι δυναμεις
ενεργουσιν εν αυτω.
ο γαρ Ηρωδης
κρατησας
τον Ιωαννην
εδησεν αυτον και
εν φυλακη απεθετο....

Ακουσας δε ο Ηρωδης
 
ελεγεν·
Ον εγω απεκεφαλισα
Ιωαννην,
ουτος ηγερθη.
 
 
αυτος γαρ ο Ηρωδης
αποστειλας εκρατησεν
τον Ιωαννην
και εδησεν αυτον
εν φυλακη....
On that occasion
Herod the tetrarch heard
rumor of Jesus, and he
said to his servants:
This is John
the baptist, himself having
been raised from the dead,
and on account of this
powers are working in him.
For Herod, having
arrested
John, had bound him
and placed him in prison....

But Herod heard
and
said:
This man whom I had
beheaded myself, John,
has been raised.
 
 
For Herod himself had
sent for and arrested
John and bound him
in prison....

It is clear from both Matthew and Mark that Herod had already killed John by this point, since he is now thinking of Jesus in terms of John redivivus, raised from the dead. The account in Matthew 14.3-12 = Mark 6.17-29, therefore, is a flashback to a previous time, a perfectly workable literary device. But let us see how each author draws the device to a finish:

Matthew 14.12-13a. Mark 6.29-30.
Και προσελθοντες οι μαθηται
αυτου ηραν
το πτωμα και εθαψαν
αυτο,
και ελθοντες απηγγειλαν
τω Ιησου.
 
 
ακουσας δε ο Ιησους....
Και ακουσαντες οι μαθηται
αυτου ηλθον και ηραν
το πτωμα αυτου και εθηκαν
αυτο εν μνημειω.
και συναγονται οι αποστολοι
προς τον Ιησουν,
και απηγγειλαν αυτω παντα
οσα εποιησαν και οσα εδιδαξαν.
And the disciples
[of John the baptist]
came up and took
the corpse and buried it.
 
And they came and announced
it to Jesus.
 
 
But when Jesus heard....
And the disciples
[of John the baptist]
heard and came and took
his corpse and placed it
in a tomb.
And the apostles gathered
unto Jesus, and announced
to him all things, as many as
they had done and taught.

Keeping in mind that the actions of the disciples of John in burying his corpse and announcing his death to Jesus are part of the flashback, it is plain that Mark has come back to real time, as it were, gracefully while Matthew has not come back at all.

The Marcan version cuts the flashback off cleanly and resumes exactly what was going on before, the mission of the twelve to Israel (Mark 6.7-13, 30-34). The apostles return from their mission and report to Jesus. The Matthean version, however, never cuts off the flashback. It is the disciples of John reporting his death to Jesus, not the apostles their mission.

Both gospels now have Jesus withdrawing to a deserted place (Matthew 14.13 = Mark 6.31), but in Mark it is because the apostles are weary from their mission while in Matthew it is because of the tragic news of John the baptist. Reading on further in Matthew we discover that the evangelist never finishes the flashback that he started.

It would be remiss not to note that the death of John the baptist and the mission of the twelve combine to form one of the synoptic intercalations, but only in Mark and Luke, not in Matthew, who has broken the mission itself (10.5-16) off from the rest of the sequence (14.1-14). The disciples are with Jesus in the intervening material (10.17-13.58), so their mission trip is clearly over by the time we reach 14.1. Not having the apostolic mission to return to, Matthew fails to return at all, which strongly confirms our observation earlier in this piece that the intercalations appear to be a Marcan literary device. When Matthew breaks one up, he stumbles dramatically.

The Matthean housing discontinuity.

Mark Goodacre argues on page 48 of a justly famous article called Fatigue in the Synoptics (New Testament Studies 44, 1998, pages 45-58) for a case of fatigue in Matthew 12.46-50 = Mark 3.31-35. This instance begins, however, earlier in the narrative, at Mark 3.20, in which Jesus enters into a house (εις οικον). There is no actual Matthean parallel to Mark 3.20-21, in which the family of Jesus think him mad and set out to rein him in (apparently to save the family honor). Matthew has instead inserted at this point in the narrative (in 12.22-23) the healing of a demoniac who was both blind and mute; in doing so he happens to have omitted any mention of Jesus entering a house, and, in the words of Goodacre, the most recent scene change was a departure from the synagogue, with many following Jesus, in 12.15.

This Matthean omission makes one scratch the head later on in the narrative when Matthew 12.46, like Mark 3.31, has the mother and brothers of Jesus standing outside (εξω). That Matthew does not mean outside the circle of disciples or some such is confirmed in 13.1, in which we find Jesus coming... out of the house (εξελθων... της οικιας).

This is yet another case of Matthew breaking up a Marcan intercalation ineptly. Mark has the family of Jesus setting out to lay hold of Jesus in 3.20-21, then the controversy over Beezebul in 3.22-30, and then the family of Jesus arriving to follow through with their intent in 3.31-35, a very nice intercalation indeed. In replacing the first segment of this intercalation with a healing, however, Matthew has forgotten to mention the house. He later makes clear that he is still thinking of a house when he has Jesus exiting one, and in doing so has betrayed that he was following the account in Mark all along.

One side point. Mark Goodacre argues on page 53 that it was Matthew characteristically writing ετι αυτου λαλουντος τοις οχλοις, ιδου (while he was still speaking to the crowds, behold) in 12.46 that got him into trouble. I disagree. Matthew 12.46 contains all the necessary information that its parallel Mark 3.31 contains, namely that the family was standing outside. It is not in 12.46 that Matthew gets into trouble, but rather in 12.22, in the omission of the Marcan episode in which Jesus enters a house. Perhaps there is something characteristically Matthean about that substitution, but Goodacre does not argue it; I have therefore placed this example in the category of editorial fatigue, not in the category of combined fatigue and tendency, as Goodacre seems to have it. There is an issue of tendency, to be sure, but it is an issue of Marcan intercalations, not an issue of characteristic Matthean writing.

Matthew copied Mark or Luke.

The Matthean omission of a blindfold.

Matthew 26.67-68 runs as follows:

Τοτε ενεπτυσαν εις το προσωπον αυτου και εκολαφισαν αυτον, οι δε εραπισαν, λεγοντες· Προφητευσον ημιν, Χριστε, τις εστιν ο παισας σε;

Then they spat into his face and buffeted him, and others slapped him, saying: Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is it who hit you?

The call to prophesy is odd here, since there is little or nothing in the text to suggest that Jesus would be unable to tell who it was who had just hit him. While we may be able to imagine that being spat upon and pummeled could cause him confusion, the text itself takes no pains to let the reader know why this kind of prophesying should be such a feat. Is something missing?

I think so. Mark 14.65 has the following:

Και ηρξαντο τινες εμπτυειν αυτω και περικαλυπτειν αυτου το προσωπον και κολαφιζειν αυτον και λεγειν αυτω· Προφητευσον. και οι υπηρεται ραπισμασιν αυτον ελαβον.

And some began to spit upon him and to blindfold his face and to buffet him and to say to him: Prophesy! And the attendants struck him with their palms.

And Luke 22.63-64 has:

Και οι ανδρες οι συνεχοντες αυτον ενεπαιζον αυτω δεροντες, και περικαλυψαντες αυτον επηρωτων, λεγοντες· Προφητευσον, τις εστιν ο παισας σε;

And the men who held him mocked him, smiting him, and having blindfolded him they asked him, saying: Prophesy! Who is it who hit you?

Both Mark and Luke supply what would make perfect sense of Matthew, namely the detail that Jesus was blindfolded at the time (περικαλυπτειν in Mark, περικαλυψαντες in Luke).

Matthew, in other words, presumes the account of either Mark or Luke. The opposite direction of influence, as expressed for instance on pages 108-109 of John Wenham, Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke...:

Again, Matthew's account of the man-handling of Jesus at 26:67f records 'Prophesy to us, you Christ, Who is it who struck you?' but says nothing about his face being covered, which piece of information is necessary to the intelligibility of the story. It is easy to imagine Mark supplying it, difficult to imagine Matthew leaving it out if it was in the document before him.

...is not as convincing to me. It is, of course, possible, but it appears more likely (to me, at any rate) that Matthew was simply too familiar with the material and did not notice that he had left out the blindfold. (His slip at this juncture is comparable to the error of a scribe in copying a manuscript; his source had the men spitting on Jesus and covering his face, which he elided into spitting on his face, neglecting the covering.) An author freely composing without sources seems less likely to leave out such a detail than an author relying on them.

I ought to make mention of an argument sometimes pressed from this very pericope that Mark copied from Luke. For Mark lacks the words τις εστιν ο παισας σε (who is it who hit you). But this case is of a different order than the Matthean omission of the blindfold. The covered eyes are necessary to the coherence of the account, but are not even hinted at in Matthew. Mark still has the command to prophesy, which in conjuction with the blindfold makes a connection relatively easy to see, even if Luke has made it even easier to see. In Mark, then, neither essential element is missing, although one of the elements is less clear than in Luke. In Matthew, however, one of the elements is utterly missing.

Mark copied Luke.

The Marcan clothing oversight.

This example comes from Bernard Orchard, The Order of the Synoptics, page 14.

In Mark 5.6-13 = Luke 8.28-33 Jesus exorcises the Gadarene demoniac, after which event, in Mark 5.14-15 = Luke 8.34-35, both authors narrate that the locals have come out to see what is going on and are amazed to find the demoniac himself, Legion, in his right mind and clothed (ιματισμενον). Is the reader of Luke aware that Legion was up until that point unclothed? Yes, because in 8.27 the narrator notes that Legion for quite some time had not dressed in clothing (χρονω ικανω ουκ ενεδυσατο ιματιον). Is the reader of Mark aware that Legion was unclothed before? No, because Mark has no parallel for the relevant part of Luke 8.27.

Mark appears to presume a detail narrated only in Luke.

Luke copied Matthew.

The Lucan omission of a city setting.

On pages 54-55 of Fatigue in the Synoptics Mark Goodacre draws attention to part of the mission instructions of Jesus to the disciples in Matthew and Luke:

Matthew 10.11-12, 14a. Luke 9.4-5a.
Εις ην δ αν
πολιν η κωμην εισελθητε,
εξετασατε τις εν αυτη
αξιος εστιν
κακει μεινατε
εως αν εξελθητε. 
εισερχομενοι δε εις την
οικιαν ασπασασθε αυτην....
και ος αν μη δεξηται
υμας μηδε ακουση
τους λογους υμων,
εξερχομενοι εξω της οικιας
η της πολεως εκεινης....
Και εις ην αν
οικιαν εισελθητε,
 
 
εκει μενετε
και εκειθεν εξερχεσθε.
 
 
και οσοι αν μη δεχωνται
υμας,
 
εξερχομενοι απο
της πολεως εκεινης....
But, whatever city
or village you go into,
ask who in it is worthy,
and remain there
until you go out. 
And as you go into the
house greet it....
And, whoever does not
receive you or hear
your words,
go out of that house
or that city....
And, whatever house
you go into,
 
remain there
and go out thence.
 
 
And, as many as do not
receive you,
 
go out away from
that city....

Luke manifests a continuity error that Matthew does not. In Luke 9.4 Jesus has mentioned only entrance into a house, but then in 9.5 he tells the disciples to exit that city (της πολεως εκεινης). The attentive reader might well ask: What city? The answer lies in Matthew 10.11-12, in which Jesus instructs his disciples more fully to enter a city or village and ask about a worthy house. Luke betrays that he has a city in mind, but he has not set the reader up for it. It looks like Luke has been copying from Matthew at this point, and has become editorially fatigued.

Luke copied Matthew or Mark.

The Lucan omission of an antecedent.

Luke 17.2 has Jesus telling his disciples that it would be better to drown in the sea than to scandalize one of these little ones (σκανδαλιση των μικρων τουτων ενα). What little ones? The preceding context offers no antecedent for τουτων (these). The answer comes from either Matthew 18.5 or Mark 9.36, in which the antecedent is a child (παιδιον). In copying from either Matthew or Mark, Luke has forgotten that he has removed the immediate setting of the sayings in Luke 17.1-2.

The Lucan confusion at Bethsaida.

On pages 50-51 of Fatigue in the Synoptics Mark Goodacre describes what he regards as the best example of Luke becoming fatigued with Mark:

In spite of, or perhaps because of, the familiarity of the story, a feature in Luke's account is sometimes missed. Mark says that the disciples go away with Jesus into a desert place (εις ερημον τοπον, Mark 6.31).* Luke, however, resets the scene in 'a city (πολις) called Bethsaida'. This then causes all sorts of problems when Luke goes on to agree with Mark....

* I note that, though Goodacre does not mention it, in Matthew 14.13 too Jesus and the disciples go into a desert place (εις ερημον τοπον). So what is true of Mark is also true of Matthew.

Goodacre is referring to the following parallel, in which the disciples are addressing Jesus:

Matthew 14.15b. Mark 6.35b. Luke 9.12b.
Ερημος εστιν ο τοπος
και η ωρα ηδη παρηλθεν.
Ερημος εστιν ο τοπος,
και ηδη ωρα πολλη.
...οτι ωδε εν ερημω τοπω
εσμεν.
The place is secluded,
and the hour already past.
The place is secluded,
and the hour already late.
...because we are here
in a secluded place.

I do not know why Luke decided to reset the feeding of the five thousand in Bethsaida instead of retaining the secluded spot of Matthew and Mark (and if I did know then this example would fall under combined fatigue and tendency instead of fatigue alone), but he fails to follow through with it, thus revealing that his source was probably either Matthew or Mark (or both).

The Lucan neglect of the Passover amnesty.

This instance of editorial fatigue depends completely upon a particular way of reading the textual evidence, but is worth mentioning anyway.

In Luke 23.18, after Pilate has offered to punish Jesus and then release him, the crowd instead asks him to release a certain troublemaker named Barabbas. This request would seem highly unusual (why would an official release a guilty party in the stead of an innocent?) unless the reader happens to have read 23.17:

Αναγκην δε ειχεν απολυειν αυτοις κατα εορτην ενα.

And he was compelled to release one man to them at the feast.

This custom, often called the Passover amnesty, explains both why Pilate would offer to release Jesus and why the crowd would instead request the release of Barabbas; Pilate is obliged to set a single prisoner free at any rate, and he and the crowd are simply haggling over which one.

However, it is a serious question whether the most ancient readers of Luke would have ever found this custom explained in 23.17. The entire verse, while present in many manuscripts (א, W, Δ, Θ, Ψ, 1, 13, Byzantine; D has it after 23.19), is also missing from some very important ones (Ƿ75, A, B, L).

If Luke 23.17, which parallels Matthew 27.15 and Mark 15.6, belongs to Luke, then this example of editorial fatigue is a wash. If, however, Luke 23.17 does not belong to the original text of Luke, then Luke is here presuming the content of Matthew or Mark (or both), thus demonstrating too much familiarity with the material, a common cause of fatigue.

Tendency and fatigue combined.

Matthew copied Mark.

The Matthean mix of king and tetrarch.

On pages 46-47 of Fatigue in the Synoptics Mark Goodacre gives G. M. Styler credit for noticing that in Mark 6.14-29 the evangelist calls Herod a βασιλευς (or king) all four times he gives him any title at all (in Mark 6.22, 25, 26, 27; note also 6.14, which Goodacre does not mention). In Matthew 14.1-12, however, Herod is called a τετρααρχης, or tetrarch, on one occasion (in 14.1) but βασιλευς, or king, on another (in 14.9). (Luke 9.7-9 gives Herod a title only once, and it is τετρααρχης, tetrarch.)

So what does it matter? Only that Herod was, as Josephus affirms in Antiquities 17.8.1 §188 and elsewhere, only a tetrarch, a petty dependent prince (to borrow a term from Goodacre), certainly not a true king.

Matthew has begun well but ended badly. Goodacre notes on page 52 that the use of the correct title is characteristic of Matthew:

Matthew is turning Mark's incorrect 'King Herod' into the proper 'Herod the Tetrarch' just as, in the Passion Narrative, he will specify that Pilate (Mark 15.1, 4, 9, 12, 14, 15, 43, 44) is properly called 'the governor' (ο ηγεμων, Matt. 27.2, 11, 14, 15, 21, 27, 28.14), and 'the high priest' (Mark 14.53) is 'Caiaphas the high priest' (Matt. 26.57) or in his Birth Narrative, that Herod the Great is a 'king' (2.1, 3) and that Archelaus is not (2.22). It is characteristic of Matthew, then, to say 'Herod the Tetrarch' in 14.1 and uncharacteristic to call him 'the king' in 14.9.

It makes more sense to suppose that Matthew has reverted to using his source, Mark, in 14.9 than to suppose that Matthew was sending mixed messages all along and Mark consistently chose the wrong title.*

* On page 56 Goodacre in passing adduces what he perceives to be a similar example of fatigue in Matthew 8.5-13 = Luke 7.1-10, in which Luke describes a servant as both δουλος and παις, whereas Matthew sticks to παις throughout the passage. I do not regard this example as an equivalent to the interchange between τετρααρχης and βασιλευς in the pericope currently under discussion because δουλος and παις are basically synonyms with each other. Neither is correct or incorrect; therefore the only real issue is either word preference or the decision to vary the vocabulary. The situation is different with τετρααρχης and βασιλευς because the former is incorrect, the latter correct. Matthew starting correctly but ending incorrectly, especially given his penchant for correct titles elsewhere in the gospel, begs an explanation.

It is especially interesting to note that in Mark 6.19-20 it is Herodias, not Herod, that wants John the baptist dead...:

Η δε Ηρωδιας ενειχεν αυτω και ηθελεν αυτον αποκτειναι, και ουκ ηδυνατο. ο γαρ Ηρωδης εφοβειτο τον Ιωαννην, ειδως αυτον ανδρα δικαιον και αγιον, και συνετηρει αυτον, και ακουσας αυτου πολλα ηπορει, και ηδεως αυτου ηκουεν.

But Herodias held a grudge against him and wished to kill him, and was not able. For Herod feared John, knowing him to be a just and holy man, and kept him safe, and when he heard him he was very much perplexed, and would hear him pleasurably.

...while in Matthew 14.5 it is Herod himself who wants to kill John:

Και θελων αυτον αποκτειναι εφοβηθη τον οχλον, οτι ως προφητην αυτον ειχον.

And, although [Herod] wished to kill him, he feared the crowd, because they held him as a prophet.

So, when later in the same pericope both Matthew 14.9 and Mark 6.26 affirm that Herod felt grief (περιλυπος γενομενος in Mark, λυπηθεις in Matthew) over the death of John, it is Mark that makes sense; the Matthean account is inconsistent. And it is in this same verse (14.9) that Matthew lapses into calling Herod a king. Matthew is apparently guilty of what Goodacre (page 46), following Goulder (refer to note 4 in the article), calls a docile reproduction of his source.

Matthew copied Mark or Luke.

The Matthean confusion between public and private.

Mark Goodacre points out on pages 47-48 of Fatigue in the Synoptics that Matthew 8.1 has οχλοι πολλοι (many crowds) following Jesus down the mountain after the sermon on the mount, yet still Jesus enjoins the cured leper in 8.4: Ορα μηδενι ειπης (see that you speak to no one), a meaningless injunction amidst the crowds.

What has happened? Mark 1.40 offers no setting for the healing of the leper, thus allowing us to suppose that Jesus healed him in private. Luke 5.12 sets the incident in a city, but does not mention any crowds. Matthew, on the other hand, is writing quite characteristically when he speaks of many crowds; the exact Greek phrase οχλοι πολλοι (6-0-2+0) occurs more often in Matthew than in Mark and Luke, and crowds in general are a frequent feature of his pericopes.

Furthermore, it is Matthew who 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 (notice the line προσενεγκον το δωρον ο προσεταξεν Μωυσης, bring the gift that Moses ordered, in Matthew 8.4, and note the parallels in Mark 1.44 and Luke 5.14). Matthew, then, appears to evince editorial fatigue with a clear redactional tendency in this passage.

Luke copied Matthew or Mark.

The Lucan discrepancy between parable and explanation.

Mark Goodacre points out the parable of the sower and its dominical interpretation on page 49 of Fatigue in the Synoptics. Luke thrice changes or eliminates details in the part of the parable about the seed that fell on rocky soil that either Matthew or Mark retains, or that both retain:

  1. Matthew 13.5 and Mark 4.5 both state that the seed cast onto the rocky soil rose up straightway on account that it had no depth of earth (ευθεως εξανετειλεν δια το μη εχειν βαθος γης; Mark has ευθυς), after which it withered up (εξηρανθη). Luke omits the former details and has only that it withered up when it grew (φυεν εξηρανθη).
  2. Matthew 13.6 and Mark 4.6 state that when the sun arose the seed was burnt up (εκαυματισθη). Luke 8.6 omits the sun entirely.
  3. Matthew 13.6 and Mark 4.6 both state that this same seed withered on account that it had no root (δια το μη εχειν ριζαν). Luke 8.6 gives a different reason, on account that it had no moisture (δια το μη εχειν ικμαδα).

Now notice how each synoptic interprets these parabolic details:

  1. Matthew 13.20 and Mark 4.16 both interpret the immediate growth of the seed as a person who with joy takes in [the word] (μετα χαρας λαμβανων αυτον; Mark has λαμβανουσιν). Luke, who omitted the quick growth of the seed, still has the corresponding interpretation in 8.13 (μετα χαρας δεχονται τον λογον, with joy they receive the word).
  2. Matthew 13.21 and Mark 4.17 both interpret the scorching sun as tribulation or persecution (θλιψεως η διωγμου). Luke, who omitted the sun, still has its interpretation, a season of testing (καιρω πειρασμου).
  3. Matthew 13.21 and Mark 4.17 both refer back to the fact that this seed has no root (ουκ εχει... ριζαν in Matthew, ουκ εχουσιν ριζαν in Mark). And so does Luke 8.13 (ριζαν ουκ εχουσιν, they have no root), despite the fact that Luke had changed the original problem to having no moisture.

Did Luke offer up an incomplete parable that both Matthew and Mark took care to shore up so as to better match the Lucan interpretation? Or did Matthew or Mark have a complete parable from which Luke cut out certain details, only to forget that he had cut them out when the time came to write up the interpretation? Goodacre notes on page 53 that it is not uncharacteristic of Luke to omit such details:

One is not surprised to see Luke cutting some of the picturesque detail in his version of the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8.4-8 // Mark 4.2-8). He does the same, apparently, with the Husbandmen (Mark 12.1; contrast Luke 20.9), the Mustard Seed (Mark 4.30-32; contrast Luke 13.18-19) and the Fig Tree (Mark 13.28; contrast Luke 21.30). On each of these occasions, Luke has less detail than Mark, but only in the case of the Sower does this cause any problems since this is the only parable in Luke with an appended (Marcan) interpretation* with which he might become fatigued.

* Goodacre, arguing for Marcan priority at this point, does not discuss the possibility that Matthew is the source of both parable and interpretation.

I suspect, then, that Luke has copied from either Matthew or Mark (or both) at this point, and has slipped into a passive reproduction of the interpretation, whereas his reproduction of the parable itself had been more proactive.

Luke copied Mark.

The Lucan housing discontinuity.

On pages 49-50 of Fatigue in the Synoptics Mark Goodacre argues for a case of fatigue in Mark 2.4 = Luke 5.19. Once again the instance begins further back in the narrative. In Mark 2.1 it is heard that Jesus is in a house (εν οικω). The Lucan parallel in 5.17-18 has Jesus teaching one day, a vagueness which Goodacre marks on page 53 as a Lucan characteristic:

'And it came to pass on one of those days, and he was teaching' (Luke 5.17) is the kind of general, vague introduction to a pericope common in Luke, who often gives the impression that a given incident is one among many that could have been related.

In this case this Lucan generality will soon get him into trouble, because he has failed to specifically mention that Jesus is in a house. Mark 2.4 has certain men, unable to reach Jesus through the crowd, going up to remove the ceiling (απεστεγασαν την στεγην) over Jesus. Likewise, Luke 5.19 has these men climbing upon the roof (επι το δωμα). What roof? In Mark it is clear, since Jesus is in a house. In Luke, however, it is not so clear, unless one knows the story from Mark (which suggests that Luke himself knew the story from Mark).

Luke copied Matthew.

The Lucan botching of the parable of the pounds.

What is in Matthew 25.14-30 the parable of the talents is in Luke 19.11-27 the parable of the pounds. Mark Goodacre notes on page 55 of Fatigue in the Synoptics:

The Matthean version of the parable is deservedly the more popular of the two, for it is simpler, more coherent and easier to follow. There are three servants; one receives five talents, one two and the other one. The first makes five more talents and is rewarded, the second two more and is rewarded; the other hides his talent and is punished.

The Lucan version is not so simple. It appears that Luke has tried to rewrite the parable. For one thing, the master in Matthew becomes a nobleman in Luke who has his own separate storyline: He goes off amid protests to receive a kingdom (19.12, 14, and upon his return commands that the protesters be killed (19.27). None of this is in Matthew, and all of it is extraneous to what the servants are doing with their pounds.

Furthermore, the nobleman in Luke 19.13 leaves pounds, not with three servants, but with ten (Luke is fond of the number ten; notice the ten coins of 15.8, the ten lepers of 17.11-19, and the ten cities of 19.17). Then, when he wishes to see what the servants have done with the money that he left them, in 19.16 he summons the first (ο πρωτος), in 19.18 the second (ο δευτερος), and in 19.20 the other (ο ετερος). What happened to the ten servants? Goodacre, page 55:

It turns out, then, that Luke has three servants in mind, like Matthew, and not ten after all.

Indeed. It is also interesting that giving the nobleman an entire kingdom has provoked Luke to set the first servant over ten cities and the second over five cities (19.17, 19). So, when the pound from the third servant is taken from him and given to the first (19.24), the reader is left to wonder, so what? What is an extra pound to somebody who has just received ten cities?

Luke has apparently tried to combine two different parables or ideas for parables, the first a parable like we find in Matthew 25.14-30, the second a parable about a man leaving to receive a kingdom and returning to wreak vengeance on his enemies. He has also tried to slip in one of his favorite numbers, the number ten. But he leaves us with a muddle, evidence that he has become fatigued with the Matthean version of the parable.

Matthew copied Luke.

The Matthean botching of the parable of the wedding feast.

Mark Goodacre, in arguing for the Mark-Matthew theory of synoptic relations as pertains to the double tradition (on pages 54-58 of Fatigue in the Synoptics), accumulates several examples of Luke getting fatigued with Matthew, but none of Matthew getting fatigued with Luke. He explains on page 57:

...if the Two Source Theory is correct, one will expect to see not only Luke but also Matthew showing signs of fatigue in double tradition material. Those who believe in the existence of Q will have to look for their own examples of editorial fatigue in Matthew's versions of double tradition material. I have looked for examples and cannot find any.

I think that the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22.1-13 provides just such an example as compared with and contrasted against the parable of the great supper in Luke 14.15-24.

The Lucan version is simple and straightforward. A man decides to host a dinner (14.16), and he sends out his servant to invite the guests (14.17). The servant is met only with excuses (14.18-20 names three, but does not imply that those three exhaust the list). So the man sends his servant out to invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame to the great dinner (14.21-23), vowing that none of the original invitees will ever taste of the meal (14.24).

Things get rather more complicated in the Matthean version. It appears that Matthew has attempted to rewrite the parable. The man hosting a dinner has become in 22.2 a king hosting a wedding feast for his son. The king sends out, not just one servant, but many, and the invitees not only reject the offer but actually kill and otherwise mistreat the messengers (22.6), provoking the king to kill them and, incongruously, to burn their entire city (22.7). Then the king sends his servants out to the streets to invite others, both evil and good (22.10), to the feast. One (only one?) such impromptu guest happens to arrive without wedding clothes, and is promptly cast into the outer darkness (22.11-13).

What has happened to the simple, straightforward tale of frustrated dinner plans? Now a violent subplot of killed servants, a city torched in vengeance, and the outer darkness intrudes. Both the parable of the tenants in Matthew 21.33-46 and the historical fall of Jerusalem in year 70 appear to have infiltrated what was once a parable like that in Luke 14.15-24.*

* The maltreatment of the servants is almost certainly an adaptation to the parable of the tenants from the immediate literary context in the gospel of Matthew; and the burned city appears to reflect the taking of Jerusalem by Titus in what we might take to be the historical context of the author of Matthew; but I wonder if Matthew also knew the present literary context of the parable in the gospel of Luke. Could the motif of the wedding feast in the Matthean version have come from Luke 14.8? Could the change from mere master to king in the Matthean version have come from the utterance about the kingdom in Luke 14.15? I do not know as yet.

The incongruity both of relating a wedding invitation to the burning of a city and of banishing an admittedly impromptu guest out into a place of torment for failing to appear in the proper wedding attire, even though that guest was literally dragged in off the street, is the result of Matthean overreaching.

Matthew has apparently tried to combine three different parables or ideas for parables, the first a parable like we find in Luke 14.15-24, the second a parable about a king wreaking vengeance on those who slew his servants (as in the parable of the tenants), and the third a parable about invited guests arriving at a wedding dressed inappropriately. But he leaves us with a muddle, evidence that he has become fatigued with the Lucan version of the parable.


Index of individual cases.

The Matthean miracle pattern.
The Matthean disconnection between the baptism and death of Jesus.
The Matthean miracle sequence.
The Matthean presupposition of a previous discussion.
The Matthean mission catena.
The Matthean and Lucan dissection of intercalations.
The Marcan abbreviation of teaching material.
The Matthean flashback failure.
The Matthean housing discontinuity.
The Matthean omission of a blindfold.
The Marcan clothing oversight.
The Lucan omission of a city setting.
The Lucan omission of an antecedent.
The Lucan confusion at Bethsaida.
The Lucan neglect of the Passover amnesty.
The Matthean mix of king and tetrarch.
The Matthean confusion between public and private.
The Lucan discrepancy between parable and explanation.
The Lucan housing discontinuity.
The Lucan botching of the parable of the pounds.
The Matthean botching of the parable of the wedding feast.

Discourse examples.

The Matthean mission catena.
The Marcan abbreviation of teaching material.
The Lucan omission of a city setting.
The Lucan omission of an antecedent.
The Lucan discrepancy between parable and explanation.
The Lucan botching of the parable of the pounds.
The Matthean botching of the parable of the wedding feast.

Narrative examples.

The Matthean miracle pattern.
The Matthean disconnection between the baptism and death of Jesus.
The Matthean miracle sequence.
The Matthean presupposition of a previous discussion.
The Matthean and Lucan dissection of intercalations.
The Matthean flashback failure.
The Matthean housing discontinuity.
The Matthean omission of a blindfold.
The Marcan clothing oversight.
The Lucan confusion at Bethsaida.
The Lucan neglect of the Passover amnesty.
The Matthean mix of king and tetrarch.
The Matthean confusion between public and private.
The Lucan housing discontinuity.


Other cases.

Other examples of redactional tendency or editorial fatigue have been adduced in the synoptic debate, but I regard them as considerably less important than the cases that I have already described. I intend to run through some of these briefly.

Good person, good thing.
You do not know.
Child or servant.
The son of David.
Two donkeys.

Good person, good thing.

In Mark 10.17 a wealthy man addresses Jesus as good teacher, and in 10.18 Jesus asks in kind: Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. In Luke 18.18-19 the same conversation transpires. In Matthew 19.16, however, the wealthy man addresses Jesus only as teacher, and he asks what good thing he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus then asks: Why do you ask me about what is good? No problem so far; both the question and the answer in the form of a question have to do with a good thing. But Jesus then continues: There is only one who is good. Now we are back to a good person, like Mark and Luke have all along; perhaps Matthew is betraying his knowledge of Mark or Luke by letting Jesus lapse back into speaking about a person rather than a thing.

On the other hand, there is not much tension within the Matthean version as it stands. It is not as if the reader is unable to follow the flow of the discussion; we easily infer the premise, that only a good person would be fully qualified to instruct on a good thing.

I therefore find that Matthew might well be dependent on Mark or Luke here, but the case is inconclusive. Each of our three accounts makes sense on its own, and the presumption of Matthean fatigue is not as tight as we might wish.

You do not know.

In Mark 10.35-37 the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, ask Jesus a presumptuous favor, and Jesus answers them in 10.38: You do not know what you are asking. The you is plural, since Jesus is addressing James and John. In Matthew 20.20-21, however, it is the mother of James and John who asks the presumptuous favor on behalf of her sons. Yet Jesus still answers: You do not know what you are asking. The you is still plural, and Matthew is silent about Jesus turning to address the sons after fielding the question from their mother.

This example, while not quite as powerful, perhaps, as the main cases on this page, is rather suggestive, at least. It appears that Matthew has lapsed into a passive reproduction of the Marcan plural, neglecting to indicate any change of addressee.

Child or servant.

Matthew 8.5-13 and Luke 7.1-10 both describe the healing of a child servant at the request of his master, a centurion. Matthew calls the servant παις (child) throughout the passage (8.6, 8, 13), while Luke calls him δουλος (servant) most of the time (7.2, 3, 10), but παις (child) once (7.7).

Goodacre puts this discrepancy forward as an example of Lucan fatigue on page 56 of Fatigue in the Synoptics, but I disagree. For there is really very little difference between the two words used; παις can mean servant as well as child. Therefore there is no real tension in the Lucan account; the change of term may be merely stylistic, and there is certainly nothing amiss with the Lucan version on its own.

The son of David.

Bernard Orchard points out on page 102 of The Order of the Synoptics that in Mark 12.35 Jesus answers (αποκριθεις) a question that has not been asked. (In fact, in the immediately preceding verse it is said that no one, ουδεις, at that point is asking him any questions!) In the Matthean parallel at 22.43, however, Jesus is indeed responding (though Matthew does not use a response word like Mark does) to the brief exchange already passed between him and the Pharisees in 22.41-42. Mark, the argument goes, is presuming the contents of Matthew 22.41-42 when he has Jesus answer.

This again is a suggestive case, but not as powerful as many others. The fact that, as Orchard admits, Mark is fond of αποκριθεις and uses it even to make Jesus respond to situations, not questions or comments (instances include Mark 9.5; 10.51; 11.4), mitigates this example, for Mark could have conceived of Jesus answering precisely the situation that no one was asking him any more questions. Nevertheless, especially given the scene change between Mark 12.34 and 12.35 (Jesus is now teaching in the temple), it does seem quite convenient that Matthew should be able to so cleanly drop an exchange in at Matthew 22.41-42 that would give the Marcan Jesus something to answer.

Two donkeys.

In Matthew 21.1-11 Jesus enters Jerusalem with two donkeys, a colt and his mother. In Mark 11.1-10 and Luke 19.29-40, however, only one donkey is mentioned. On page 108 of Redating Matthew, Mark and Luke John Wenham argues that the two donkeys are original, and that Mark (and presumably Luke) would have been wise to leave out the mother donkey, given the number of sidetracks she has provided for modern commentators.

While not prepared to state outright that this example actually demands the opposite reading (that Matthew is secondary, and Mark or Luke primary), I think it at least as likely that it is Matthew who has introduced the mother donkey into the account, probably in literalistic fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah 9.9, quoted in Matthew 21.5, which mentions a king coming on a donkey, and upon a colt.

I grant that, in saying this, I may be embarking precisely on one of those sidetracks of which Wenham writes, but so be it. I do not see any reason to suppose that Mark or Luke had to be trimming two donkeys down to one; Matthew could just as easily have added another donkey.