Date: Tue Sep 19 1995 - 00:35:53 EDT
The more interesting compositional feature of Mark's account of the cursing
of the fig tree is the division of the story in two parts (v.12-14 and
v.20-22), in comparison with Matthew's unitary account (21.18-21).
Mark's two-part story entails a major difference in the narrative, since
in his account the cleansing of the temple happens on the second day of
Jesus' visit, rather on the first day as is narrated by Matthew.
For me, Mark's temporal explanations sound lame and secondary: "when
he had looked around at everything, as it was already late (was Jesus
tired?), he went out to Bethany with the twelve."(v.11). Jesus, according to
Mk. 11.15, drives out the temple clerks on the next day, the second day.
Then on the third day, "Peter remembered and said to him, 'Rabbi, Look!
The fig tree which you cursed has withered away.'" (Mark. 11.21).
Mark's account sounds secondary: the miracle is demoted; the fig tree is
exonerated and left out of the exhortation in v.23 (cf. Mt. 21.21).
Probably Luke leaves out the miracle of the fig tree, because it is
offensive to the rational mind.
Richard Arthur, Merrimack, NH. firstname.lastname@example.org
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