Re: 3 questions......

From: Jonathan Ryder (
Date: Thu Apr 29 1999 - 07:44:24 EDT

Not wanting to get too far removed from Bgreek's focus on grammar/language etc. there
follows my comments below

Nichael Cramer wrote:

> wrote:
> > I have three questions that bother me, I thought that I would bring them up
> > for any further ideas, and clarification.
> >
> > 1.) What was the exact wording on the cross, as (Matthew 27:37, Mark
> > 15:26, Luke 23:38, and John 19:19) all seem to have different wordings?
> >
> > I have no idea, what to make of this one......
> If by "exact working on the cross" you mean what was said "historically"
> we simply don't know (and, in principle, probably have no way of knowing).
> As to the question why the various Gospels record different words at this
> point, the, I believe is quite straightforward: the various evangelists
> are simply recording the different traditions known in each of their
> respective communities.

Not everyone has bought into so-called consensus ('result') of scholarship re
'communities' - see the recent book by Richard Bauckham et al 'The Gospel for all
Christians'. That does not necessarily mean that different traditions did not exist
or in many cases different versions of the same tradition.

I think that here the differences are so slight as not to need separate traditions -
all three contain the key phrase 'the king of the Jews'. That mark misses out the
words 'this (is Jesus)' cf Mt and Lk maybe due to pithiness of style or expansion on
the part of Mt and Lk etc.

To use an old analogy - if you read different newspapers' accounts of the same
events, small differences occur, even with 20th century awareness of accuracy, bias

> > 2.) When Paul was on the road to Damascus he saw a light and heard a
> > voice. Did those who were with him hear the voice (Acts 9:7), or did they not
> > (Acts 22:9)? [...]
> >
> > 3.) When Paul saw the light and fell to the ground, did his traveling
> > companions fall (Acts 26:14) or did they not fall (Acts 9:7) to the ground?
> >
> > I have no idea what to make of this one....
> Similarly here, the author of Acts appears to be recording two different
> traditions about Paul's vision.

I don't think we need to posit different 'traditions' here. The first account is from
the perspective of the author as narrator, whereas both Acts 22 and 26 are form the
perspective of Paul as the narrator on two separate occasions. Granted that the Luke
doesn't record verbatim the speeches of his characters on each occasion, in the
manner of any ancient historian (so I'm led to believe), the differences here can be
explained by the context (story by author, story by character with two different
audiences) and Luke's attempt to write something different on each occasion rather
than repeat word for word (with I for he) his earlier account. It may even reflect
what Paul himself, said on the two occasions.

Alternatively, we could try to harmonize the accounts - they heard the voice but not
the words /or/ they heard the voice with the light but not what it subsequently said
to Paul; Paul, blinded by the light fell to the ground and thought everyone else had
the same experience as he etc. or rather than harmonize try to determine what
actually happened by weighing each account etc. My preferred solution is to allow for
context etc and see the differences, insignificant as they are, as part of the story
(does anyone tell a story in exactly the same way every time?)

> Admittedly this is more problematic. It is easy to understand how
> different evangelists, writing for different communities (not to mention
> in widely different geographic locations) would know of different
> traditions about a specific event.

Or different versions of the same tradition, or the evangelists own 'filling out' of
traditions (oral or written)

> But it is harder to understand why a (presumed) single author of Acts would have
> recorded different traditions. Yet it is difficult to see what else could have been
> going on here.

Better to see Luke as a good story teller and so the differences are to avoid
over-repetition ...

Jonathan Ryder

Tyndale House

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