Re: Contradiction in Nestle-Aland text?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Oct 25 1995 - 15:33:59 EDT

At 9:22 AM 10/25/95, Paul Watkins wrote:
>In Matthew 10:10 we read:
>"mh phran eis odon mhde duo chitwvas mhde upodhmata mhde rabdon"
>does this or does this not say that they are NOT to take A STAFF?
>and yet in Mark 6:8-9 we read:
>"kai parhngeilen autois ina mhden airwsin eis odon ei mh rabdon monon, mh
>mh phran, mh eis thn zwnhn chalkon, alla upodedemenous sandalia, kai mh
>endushsthe duo chitwnas."
>and does this not say that they MUST take ONE STAFF?
>These are indesputably the same events, yet in they directly contradict each
>other in the Nestle-Aland text which I quoted above (from Novum Testamentum
>Graece, 1993).
>I realize that "duo" in the Matthew passage is distributive in can therefore
>apply to the sandals as well as the tunics and so gets rid of that potential
>contradiction, but it can't be distributed to the staff, a singular noun,
>"rabdon"- you can't say "nor two a staff" so we are still left with a blatant
>contradiction for the staff.
>Is it possible to solve this problem with the Nestle-Aland reading?
>If not, does this support the Majority Text reading (rabdous, instead of
>and therefore the "two" distributes to "staves" and destroys the
>-- see Robinson/Pierpont _The New Testament in the Original Greek According to
>the Majority/Byzantine Textform_, 1991.

You read the texts of Mk and Mt correctly and you note the contradiction.
You also ought to note that the alteration of RABDON to RABDOUS in Mt 10:10
will NOT solve your problem because it is still governed by the negation MH
at the head of the verse as a whole and by the MHDE immediately preceding
the word. The problem lies in the fundamental tradition of the Greek NT,
not in the reading adopted by a particular editorial committee.

What to make of the contradiction? It will depend partly upon the
assumptions you bring to bear on the NT text as a whole. You may judge (1)
that the missionary instructions given in these two passages do NOT refer
to the same sending by Jesus of his disciples, or (2) the two accounts do
indeed refer to the same event, but are remembered or transmitted through
intermediaries with the differences noted, and therefore one (or possibly
both) accounts are erroneous in that they don't relate the words of Jesus
exactly as spoken, or (3) the two accounts as presented by the two
evangelists derive from the same basic tradition transmitted orally in the
early church, but they are given a different interpretative slant by one or
by both of the evangelists in accordance with what they believe and
understand to be the fundamental character of the ministry of Jesus and the
mission of the church. With regard to this latter, you should realize that
the tradition of these mission instructions did have a considerable bearing
on the activities of missionaries in the post-resurrection church, and some
scholars would even say that the instructions have been re-shaped in the
gospel accounts in accordance with the missionary activities of the young
church, and for that reason are not verbatim accounts of instructions given
by Jesus.

At any rate, this problem ought to be seen as one that is not likely to be
solved by an endeavor to find manuscript readings that make the two gospel
texts consistent in content. The difference appears to be present in the
Greek text, and it must be accounted for by other explanations.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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