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INTRODUCTION

TO
THE
SINOPTIC GOSPELS

BY

FR. MARTIN SUHARTONO, S.J.

(Notes of lecture on the Synoptic Gospels delivered in June - September 2004)

SAENGTHAM COLLEGE - LUX MUNDI MAJOR SEMINARY

SAMPHRAN, THAILAND
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 2

1st Day: 4 June 2004:

1. Fr. Martin led the Opening Prayer based on Mat 11:25-27; next time the students will lead
the prayer.

2. The students are requested to answer the following Questionnaires:


A. What do I know about the Synoptic Gospels?
a. Concerning their authors
b. Concerning their background
c. Concerning their basic/theological views
B. Which of the Synoptics I like best? Why?
C. What do I expect/hope from this course?
D. Write down the name of all the books of the New Testament in its order!
E. What is the Bible for me?

It is not an examination with A, B, C marks; but a way of measuring the students' present
knowledge of the Synoptics; so there is actually no need of "collaboration" to answer them.

3. English translations of the Gospels to be used by the students:


The students may use any English translation of the Bible; there are, for example: The
(New) Jerusalem Bible (the complete edition has also valuable footnotes), The (New)
Revised Standard Version, The (New) International Version, The (New) American Bible, as
well as the (New) King James Version with its rather archaic English but beautifully
poetical as in Shakespeare or Today's English Version with its simple and everyday English
(this is the English text used in the bilingual Thai/English Bible). If we compare various
translations we may become more aware of the meaning of the verses.

4. Bibliography
The students are required to learn by themselves the basic introductory knowledge about
the Synoptic Gospels (cf. the questionnaires: about authors, background, basic theological
views etc.) through reading any commentary to Mat, Mark, and Luke. But the following
books are highly recommended:

The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (Editors: Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer,
and Roland E. Murphy): especially the following chapters on: "Synoptic Problem", "The
Gospel according to Mark", "The Gospel according to Matthew", "The Gospel according to
Luke".

An Introduction to the New Testament (by Raymond E. Brown), especially: Chapter 6


(Gospels in General), Chapter 7 (Mark), Chapter 8 (Matthew), Chapter 9 (Luke).

Students will have enough time to read them; there will be no lectures on the following
dates: 9th and 16th of July, 6th and 13th of August. Please, make efforts to read them, so
that in the classroom enough time could be dedicated to answer questions (coming from the
students' reading) or discuss various important topics.

5. Examination
The examination will be both written and oral. Students are required to submit a written
paper in English (minimal 2 pages - maximum 5 pages long; paper A-4; using Times New
Roman Fonts 12; typed in 1,5 space between lines) by the 17th of September 2004. The
oral examination (10-15 minutes for each student) will be based on the student's own
paper and covers the materials of both the lectures and required readings. The oral
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 3

examination will take place on the day announced for the examination of the Synoptic
Gospels, that is, on the 27th of September 2004.

6. The term "synoptic"


Answers from the students are read; at least, all students (minus one!) know that the
Synoptics are the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. These three Gospels are called
"Synoptic Gospels" not because they speak about Jesus (as some students said! John's
Gospel also speaks of Jesus but it is not called Synoptic!), but because if they are put one
next to the other, we will see (cf. "optic") them together or at the same time or at once (cf.
"sym", "syn") that there are great similarities between them. Therefore, they can easily be
arranged in parallel text as in the Gospel Parallels: A Synopsis of the First Three Gospels
by B.H. Throckmorton (1967). But at the same time, we can also see that there are
differences between them.

6. The Synoptic Problem


The great similarities and yet differences between Mat, Mark and Luke make us ask
ourselves: "What is the relationship between Mat, Mark and Luke?" "How do we explain
the similarities and dissimilarities / differences of Mat, Mark and Luke?" Those questions
are the questions which form the Synoptic Problem. Let us see first what the similarities
are.

A. Similarities of CONTENTS:
Mat, Mark and Luke narrate what Jesus did and said. Their materials include
miracles stories, parables, sayings of Jesus, and important events in the life of Jesus. Mark
has around 661 verses, Mat 1068, Luke 1149; (John 846). There are materials which can be
found in each Gospel only (Single Tradition): in Mark only (10% of Mark), in Mat only
(30% of Mat), in Luke only (50% of Luke). 80% of Mark are reproduced in Mat, and 65%
in Luke. There are materials (around 350 verses) which are found in the three Gospels
(Triple Tradition). There are materials (around 220 verses) which are found in Mat and
Luke only (non-Marcan material; Double Tradition). There are 50 verses similar in Mark
and Luke only; there are 170 verses similar in Mark and Mat only. See the figure below for
giving us an idea of the overlapping of verses between them:
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 4

2nd Day: 11 June 2004

1. After Bro. Wuthikrai led the opening prayer, Fr. Martin asked several students (Bro. Kowith,
Songrith, Sonthaya, Sao, Ayuwath, Phathanachai, Chanwith) about last week's lectures.
Results: Not too bad! Important points were explained again briefly.

2. Continuing last week's topic: The Synoptic Problem

B. Similarities of STRUCTURE:
After each student tried to find the outline / basic pattern / structure of the Gospel
of Mat, Mark and Luke, they divided themselves in three groups and discussed the matter.
Each group wrote the results of their discussion on the board. At first, Group B saw only
the themes of Mat without indications of place, but then they agreed also with Group A
(Mark) and Group C (Luke) that the three Gospels narrate the ministry of Jesus in a journey
with a geographical pattern from Galilee to Jerusalem. Jesus, according to the Synoptics
starts his works in Galilee, walking around Galillee and its surroundings, and then
continues his journey to Jerusalem and ends his life and works in Jerusalem. The results of
the three groups can be summarized this way:

Mat Mark Luke


(Infancy Narratives) 1-2 ------- 1-2
Introductory stories 3:1-4:11 1:1-13 3:1-4:13
Ministry in Galilee & surroundings 4:12-18:35 1:14-9:50 4:14-9:50
Journey to Jerusalem 19-20 10 9:51-19:28
Ministry in Jerusalem 21-25 11-13 19:29-20:38
Passion 26-27 14-15 22-23
Resurrection 28 16 24

As an illustration, the lecturer shows the outline of John's Gospel, which is so different
from the Synoptics; John mentions that Jesus visits Jerusalem at least three times (John
2:13; 7:2; 11:55).

C. Similarities in LANGUAGE:
Apart from similarities in contents and structure, there are also similarities in the
Greek words and terms which Mat, Mark and Luke used (rarely found in other Greek
literature), quotation from the Old Testament, rare construction of sentences in Greek, and
many sentences with similar expression word by word.

3. However, there are also DISSIMILARITIES, DIFFERENCES among the Gospel of Mat,
Mark and Luke:

A. Differences in CONTENTS:
It has been mentioned earlier that there are materials which can only be found in
Mark, or in Mat, or in Luke. Even when they narrate the same event, sometimes the details
of the story are different. For example, compare the prayer Our Father (in Mat and in
Luke), the Beatitudes (in Mat and in Luke).

B. Differences in STRUCTURE:
Mat and Luke start with the Infancy Narratives, but Mark with the proclamation
of John the Baptist. Even when they narrate the same story, the length or the structure of
the story are not the same. For example, Jesus' journey to Jerusalem (Mark 1 chapter, Mat
2 chapters, Luke 10 chapters).
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 5

C. Differences in LANGUAGE:
The Greek which Mark uses is rather simple and sometimes with grammatical
mistakes and mixed with Latin words. Mat's Greek is better than Mark's but it is sometimes
influenced by Aramaic/Hebrew. Luke's Greek is the best, of a literary nature, and often
corrects the grammatical mistakes in Mark.

Considering these similarities and dissimilarities/differences in Mat, Mark, and Luke, some
students (Ayuwath, Phathanachai, and Chanwith) correctly said that the Synoptic Problem
then deals with the question "Which one is the source?" "Which one copied the other?" in
other words, "Which Gospel came first?" But these questions presupposed already that we
accept that there was a literary dependency among them, meaning that one Gospel
influences the other, or that one Gospel depends on the other. The topic of dependency (or
no dependency) among the Synoptic Gospels will be explained next time. This time the
lecturer tried to make the students reflect on the similarities of structure among the
Synoptics.

4. Geographical pattern as an expression of theological concern/insights:


The lecturer explained that the simple geographical structure in the Synoptics
(one straight line of journey of Jesus: Galilee -----> Jerusalem) may indicate a deeper
meaning, a theological meaning. John's Gospel mentions at least three visits to Jerusalem
during Jesus' ministry, covering a period of two/three years time. The Synoptic Gospels
mention only one visit to Jerusalem at the end of Jesus' ministry coinciding with Easter,
covering a period only of one year time. Many biblical scholars think that John's pattern is
more probable; it is more probable that Jesus visited Jerusalem more than once during his
ministry. According to the Jewish tradition, every Jewish man must make a pilgrimage to
Jerusalem at least three times a year, on the three Great Jewish Feasts (Unleavened
Bread/Passover, Weeks/Pentecost and Tabernacles, see Deut 16:13, 16). The Christian
tradition about Jesus practically combined both the Synoptics and John: the tradition which
mentions that Jesus started his ministry when he was 30 years old follows Luke's Gospel
(Luke 3:23); that Jesus' ministry lasted three years follows John's Gospel.
We will not deal with the historical question, "How long did Jesus' ministry
actually last?", "Who is right, the Synoptics or John?", but with the theological question
about the meaning of the pattern, "What do the Synoptics want us to understand from
their geographical pattern?" "What message do they want to convey to us through their
geographical pattern?" Look at the opposition between Galilee and Judea (with its
center in Jerusalem). Jesus was well accepted in Galilee; he was rejected and killed in
Jerusalem. Galilee is inhabited by the Jews who mixed with other nations (see Mat 3:15
"Galilee of the nations / heathen / Gentiles", people of no faith, living in darkness); they are
considered as "impure" Jews. Judea, especially Jerusalem, is inhabited by the pure Jews,
who considered themselves the real Jews, fully obedient to the Torah. The Jews in Galilee
are considered as not fully obedient to the Torah; no prophet comes from Galilee (cf. John
7:52).
Galilee becomes a symbol of those who accept Jesus, whereas Jerusalem a
symbol of those who rejected Jesus. The Risen Jesus orders the Disciples not to remain in
Jerusalem, but to go to Galillee and continue his works there among the nations. This
geographical pattern shows that the salvation of God is not only for the Jews, but directed
towards all nations. Trayrong's question ("Why did Jesus work in Galilee?") is thus
answered: it is always God's plan that the salvation is for all the world, not only for the
Jews (Mat's pattern, 3:15: God's promise in OT ---> Fulfillment in NT/Jesus).
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 6

3rd Day: 18 June, 2004

1. Bro. Surisa led the prayer. Several students (Phonthep, Phakhawi, Piyasak, Suria, Phira,
Somchai) were questioned about last week's lecture. Guidelines for the paper were
explained.
2. Activity: In the questionnaires most students wrote that "The Bible is the Word of God". So
this time they have to answer:
1. What do you mean by "word of God"? Do you agree with the statement
"The Bible is the Word of God"? Why?
2.. Explain the meaning of the word "Gospel".
Each student read his answers; the lecturer wrote and systematized them on the board.

3. Reflection: the meaning of the expression "word of God"


By listening to all the answers, we got a more complete understanding of what we
mean by "word of God". Most importantly, it has to be admitted that "Word of God" cannot
be limited only to the written book of the Bible. The expression "word" refers to
communication. Communication happens through both verbal (using words) and non-
verbal ways (not using words, but through gestures, face expression, eyes etc.). Therefore,
essentially "word of God" refers to God's act of communication, to God's act of revelation.
What is communicated or revealed is God's Self, Thoughts, and Will (see Vatican Council
II, Dei Verbum). And the communication or the revelation took place not only through
words but also action. It is significant that the Hebrew term for "word" (dabar) does not
only mean "word" but also "event, reality"
Therefore, the expression "word of God", meaning the communication /
revelation of God to men (and don't forget, women!), includes the following meanings (see
the opinion of Cardinal C. Martini referred by R.F. Collins, "Inspiration", no. 67, in The
New Jerome Biblical Commentary) :
1. The events of history of salvation (such as the Exodus of the Israelites)
2. The oral utterances/sayings or spoken messages of divine messengers, especially of
the prophets and Jesus
3. The person of Jesus Christ who is the Word of God (John 1:1)
4. Christian preaching
5. God's general message to human beings
6. The Bible
So we see that our traditional formula "The Bible is the word of God", although
simple, is rather complex and needs further explanation. This formula is true in the sense
that the Bible has its origins in the self-communication of God; but this formula is not true
if it is understood as meaning that all of the self-communication of God is identical with
the written Bible. We have to remember that the words contained in the Bible are human
words. Therefore we have to remind ourselves that there is always a distance between the
written expression in the Bible and the self-communication of God in itself. According to
Collins ("Inspiration"), instead of saying "The Bible is the word of God", it is less
confusing to say that the Bible is a testimony / witness to the word of God. This is the
concept that John has of its Gospel; that it gives witness to the Word of God incarnated in
Jesus Christ (John 21:24).

4. Continuing the topic: The Synoptic Problem: Various attempts at solving the problem.
Those similarities & dissimilarities make us ask: "Is there any relation between the
Synoptic Gospels?" The answer could either be "yes" or "no", as we see below:

A. "No": each Author worked alone, independently, not knowing one another:
But where did each author get his sources from? There are three answers:
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 7

1). Source: One oral tradition: J.G. von Herder (1744-1803) thought that there was one
oral tradition in Aramaic with a fixed outline (works, teachings, passion and resurrection of
Jesus). Each Author independently chose and took from it materials adapted to the needs of
his community and arranged and translated them into Greek.

2). Source: Many separated oral stories: F. Schleiermacher (1768-1834) thought that
many individual, separate, stories circulated in the time of the Apostles. Then each Author
worked independently in choosing, collecting, arranging and composing from those stories
according to each Author's interest and insights.

3). Source: One Written Gospel: G.E. Lessing (1729-1781) thought that there was one
original written Gospel in Aramaic. Then each Author translated into Greek independently
through a long process of revisions.

All these opinions of literary interdependence cannot explain how come there are both
similarities and dissimilarities in the Synoptics. No scholar supports these now.

B. "Yes" (literary dependency) among the Synoptic Gospels:


Opinions differ regarding which Gospel was the source for the others.

1). The Priority of Matthew: The only opinion in the Church until 19th Century had been
that Mat was the source for Mk and Luke (St. Augustine: Mat  Mark  Luke). That is
why we have the order Mat, Mark, Luke, John in our Bible! Papias (Bishop from
Hierapolis, 2nd Century) said that Mat put together the sayings (logia) of Jesus in Hebrew
and each author translated as best he could. It is concluded then that there was once an
Aramaic Gospel, and it is assumed that this is the same with our Mat. A variation of this is
the hypothesis of J.J. Griesbach (1812) (Mat  Luke  Mark): Mark took from Mat and
Luke; supported by C.S. Mann in the Anchor Bible series commentary on Mark (1986).
There is also a very complex theory of L Vaganay which held that the Aramaic Mat (but 
our Mat!) was the source for the other Gospels; this is the opinion adopted in the
introduction of the Jerusalem Bible.

2). The Priority of Luke: That Luke was the source for other Gospels is a very rare
opinion among scholars. Exception: R.L. Lindsay The Synoptic Problem, 1965.

3). The Priority of Mark: G.C. Storr (1746-1805) proposed that Mat and Luke took
from Mark. Many other scholars confirmed it through their researches. F. Schleiermacher
in 1832 proposed that there was once a document that he called Q (Jerman, Quelle,
meaning "source") which contained the sayings (logia) of Jesus. Untill now such document
has never been found, but it is quite probable that something similar may have had
circulated in the first/second century (cf. Papias' opinion and the Gospel of Thomas, 2nd
Century, which is a collection of Jesus' sayings). J. Holtzmann (1832-1910) proposed the
Two-Source Theory (1863): Mat and Luke, each one working independently, took from
two sources, namely, Mark and Quelle. According to this theory, Triple Tradition
(materials in Mark = Mat = Luke) came from Mark; the Double-Tradition (materials in
Mat = Luke but  Mark) came from Q. With some variations, this is now the most
accepted opinion among scholars.

In general, the priority of Mark and the Two-Source Theory (with its variations) are well
accepted not because we have the absolute certainty but because they can solve the
Synoptic Problem better than any other opinions. Literary dependence of Mat on Mark and
of Luke on Mark are well accepted. Not so clear is the literary relation between Mat and
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 8

Luke. The year of composition commonly proposed for each Gospel is: Mark (60-70), Mat
(70-80 / same period as Luke), Luke (80-90), John (90-100).

4th Day: 25 June, 2004

1. Br. Sakkiat led the prayer. Questions to students on last week's lecture and brief review.

2. Questions from students:


*. Br. Somchai: "How do we explain the 'single tradition' (text found only in one
Gospel)?". Answer: It is reasonably assumed that each author had his own source/s.
*. Br. Thairong: "What is the Aramaic Matthew?". Answer: Some people assumed that
there was one original Gospel written in the language of Jesus (Aramaic) and our Mat
either was its Greek translation or used it as its main source. The fact is that until now we
never find this text; all the Gospels we have are in Greek. See Notes p.6.

3. Activities: In the questionnaires students wrote automatically that "Gospel is the 4 books on
Jesus' life" or "Gospel is the Word of God". Now students formed groups to discuss their
homework research about the word "Gospel" and each group wrote the results on the
board. The lecturer systematized them and explained further, as written below:

4. Reflection: the background and meaning of the word "Gospel"

*Origin of the word: The word "Gospel", from the Anglo-Saxon "God-spell" meaning
"good tidings" (good news), translates the Greek euaggelion (pronounced: euangelion).
Originally it does not refer to a book/writing, but a proclamation or message. In the Greek Old
Testament (Septuagint) it translates the Hebrew root "bsr" (besorah) which refers to the good
news brought by messengers to proclaim Israel's victory in war. So it refers to the proclamation
of God's glorious act of salvation for his people Israel (Is 40:9; 41:27; 52:7; see Is 61:1). In a non
Christian Greek or in the Greek/Roman world, it refers to the good news of victory in battle and
to the emperor's birth and accession to throne.

* Christian use: Initially it refers to the proclamation (kerygma) of the coming of the
Kingdom of God. John the Baptist is described as proclaiming the good news (Luke 3:18). Jesus
announces also the coming of the Kingdom (Luke 4:43; Mat 4:17,23). Only later on, the Gospel
is identified with Jesus himself. The Kingdom of God is made present in Jesus' deeds and words.
It is the good news of what God has done (once proclaimed to Israel) in and through Jesus. We
see this transition if we compare the similar saying of Jesus in Mark 8:35 (Mat 16:25 and Luke
9:24): Mark mentions "for my sake and the sake of the Gospel", thus indicating a distinction
between Jesus and the Gospel, whereas Mat and Luke mention "for my sake" only, thus
indicating an identification between Jesus and the Gospel. Paul uses it to refer to the identity of
Jesus (Rom 1:3-4); for Paul the essence of the Gospel is the suffering, death and resurrection of
Jesus which brings salvation (Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 15). While Mark and Mat use the noun
(euaggelion), Luke uses the verb (euaggelizesthai); Paul uses both. The preference of verb over
noun may indicate the author's focus on the action of proclaiming. John does not use the term.

*Later applied to writings/books: Only later it is applied to the writings which narrate
Jesus' life and ministry. At first these writings circulated without titles or name of authors; being
circulated and read in its original community, there was no need for these indications, because
everyone knew what it was and where it came from. Only by the end of 2nd century, titles were
put to the four Gospels: "The Gospel according to .."
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 9

*The nature of the Gospel writings: Although the Gospels may have been inspired by
stories of lives of the prophets in the Old Testament or by biographies in the Roman/Greek
world, they are different from those other writings. The uniqueness of the Gospel writing can
been seen from the following aspects:
-its anonymity: initially without the author's name;
-its clear theological emphasis and missionary goal (see: geographical structure which
contains a theological meaning);
-composed from the tradition of a community and responding to its needs
-being read in community worship
-it is not only to provide information, but to "receive a response of faith and to bring
salvation" (John 20:30-31; cf. Rom 1:1-4; 1 Cor 15:1-8; 11:23-26).

So it is more appropriate to speak of the Gospel writings not as "biography" but as


"Christology in narrative form". The transition from the "oral proclamation" to "written
proclamation" brings us to the problem "How did it all happen?". For this, see below:

5. The Three Stages of the Gospel Formation:

1. The public ministry of Jesus of Nazareth: (...until year 33)


This is the period when Jesus orally proclaimed his message, performed his miracles,
interacted with others, and chose companions who traveled with him. They saw and heard what
Jesus said and did. Their memories of Jesus' deeds and words became the raw "Jesus material":
already selective, not about all that Jesus said and did (John 20:30-31)

2. The Apostolic Preaching about Jesus: (year 33 - 65/70)


After Jesus' suffering, death, resurrection, and appearances (1 Cor 15:5-7), his followers
came to full faith in the risen Jesus as "the one through whom God had manifested ultimate
salvific love to Israel and eventually to the whole world" (Brown). They expressed their faith
through various titles (Messiah/Christ, Kyrios/Lord, Son of God etc). The post-resurrectional
faith illumined the memories of what they had seen and heard during the period of Jesus'
ministry (John 2:22). So they proclaimed his words and deeds with deeper meaning. Their
proclamation was not "factual reporting" [in the modern sense], but "kerygmatic", intended
to bring other people to faith. The proclamation was enriched also by other preachers who came
after the first generation of disciples (such as Paul, Barnabas). It is also adapted to the new
audience. Jesus spoke Aramaic, the proclamation was in Greek. Apart from preaching, there
were also liturgy and worship which may have added the elements incorporated in the written
Gospels. Some written Gospel materials may have already appeared but lost in time. Paul already
wrote his important letters.

3. The Written Gospels: (year 65/70-100)


This is the period where our four Gospels were written. According to the tradition of 2nd
century, the authors were apostles (Mat and John) and apostolic figures (Mark, companion of
Peter; Luke, companion of Paul). Most modern scholars do not think that the authors of the four
Gospels were eyewitnesses of the ministry of Jesus. But it doesn't mean that the 2nd cent
tradition was wrong! In the ancient world (different from ours!), "author" did not necessarily
mean the person who actually wrote it, but the authority behind the work, the person responsible
or who initiated the tradition preserved in the work, or to the one who wrote the main source of
the work. That the authors were not "eye-witness" explains the differences we find in the
Gospels. Each author of the Gospel selectively took from the "Jesus materials" and arranged
them in such a way to portray Jesus that would respond to the needs of the community for which
he was writing the Gospel. "The Gospels have been arranged in logical order, not necessarily in
chronological order" (Brown). That is why, each Gospel is actually unique; it is better to
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 10

appreciate each one of them than to try to harmonize the differences. Cardinal Martini said that
Mark is for the cathecumens who begin their journey in the Christian faith, Mat for members of
the community who seek how to live the faith in community, Luk for the catechists who
proclaim the faith, and John for the presbyters (leaders) who are required to go deeper in their
faith.

5th Day: 2 July, 2004

1. Prayer by Br. Phakhawi; followed by Questions to students on last week's lecture.

2. Activities: Students are grouped into 4 groups. Each group discussed "How does each
Evangelist (Mat, Mark, Luke, John) begin his Gospel?" Included in this question are matters
such as "Literary means or forms or types of writing that he uses", "What events he refers to"
"Any particular/special words or terms that he uses" etc. And then each group reported it on
the board. The lecturer then systematized and discussed the results.

3. Reflection: The Importance of a Beginning


There is a proverb which says, "Every beginning is difficult". This is the common
experience of many people in various activities. But it is also the experience of many people
that once the beginning is done, the rest is easy. The first lecture is important, because it
gives the orientation of the whole course of studies, the methods employed by the lecturer,
the requirements for students in lectures, in exams, in writing paper etc., and the
bibliography. If the student misses the first lecture, he/she would find it difficult to follow
the lectures. The preface or introduction to a book is important for the readers; without it, the
readers wouldn't know what to expect from the book. Authors usually spend much time in
preparing the beginning of his/her writing. So it is with the Gospels. By giving attention to
how the Gospels begin, we will learn a lot about each particular Gospel as well as the four
Gospels as a whole.
The relevant results of the discussion-groups can be seen below:

Mark Matthew Luke John


Form Title, Narrative Genealogical Prologue for history, Poetical Prologue,
list, Narrative Narrative Narrative
Events Appearance of Announcement Announcement of The Beginning: Word
John the Baptist of Jesus' Birth the Baptist's Birth was with God

We can see how each author begins his Gospel uniquely; no one repeats what the others
has done, neither in form each one uses nor in the events each one narrates. We see how
from Mark to John, the use of the forms are more and more complicated, from a simple tittle
(Mark), to a genealogical list (Mat), and then a prologue typically used for books of history
in the Greek/Roman world (Luke), and finally with a poetical prologue (John). Regarding the
event each author narrates, there is a regression in time: from the event of appearance of
John the Baptist (Mark), to the announcement of Jesus' birth to father Joseph (Mat), and to
the announcement of John the Baptist's birth to his father Zechariah (Luke), and to the
infinity, "The Beginning" (John). So the beginning is always pushed further back in
history until it can go no further!
And in fact, each author uses the term or the conceptual understanding of a beginning:
"The beginning of the good news" (Mark), "An account of the genealogy.." (Mat; it says in
Greek, Biblos Geneseos, "Book of Genesis of ...", meaning "Book of the beginning of...), "...
from the beginning ... from the very first ..." (Luke 1:1-4), and "In the Beginning was the
Word" (John). Apparently, for the first Christians, the event of the appearance/baptism of
John the Baptist was an important beginning; when they had to elect someone to occupy
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 11

Judas' place among the Twelve Disciples, the requirement is that: ".. who was with us ....
beginning from the baptism of John until the day when Jesus was taken up from us ..."
(Acts 1:22). So what is our beginning, the beginning of each one of us?

4. Post-Resurrectional Faith as the Standpoint for the Gospels' narration

From "The Three Stages of the Gospel Formation" (p. 8), the lecturer explained further the
sentence from Brown "The post-resurrectional faith illumined the memories of what they had
seen and heard during the period of Jesus' ministry". John 2:22 is given as the reason for that
statement. The time-structure can be explained thus:

During Jesus' Ministry Death & Resurr PostResur.Faith Narration


Jesus Cleaned the Temple Died & Resurr Sent Holy Spirit is Proclaimed
Disciples Saw and heard Saw and heard Remembered, Selected,
Understood & Proclaimed,
Believed Wrote

When Jesus did and said those things, the Disciples saw and heard but they didn't come yet
neither to understanding nor to faith; many times they misunderstood! Only after Jesus'
resurrection and especially after the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Disciples began to
remember what they had experienced with Jesus, what they saw and heard, and then began to
understand and come to faith. Based on this post-resurrectional faith, they began to select
from the abundance of memories or stories that they had things that they will narrate in their
activities of proclaiming the Gospel and later on in their writings the Gospel. Not all that
Jesus did and said would be proclaimed, but only things which are relevant for the purpose
of the proclamation of the good-news, see John 20:30-31, "Many things/signs that Jesus did
.. that were not written here, but ..... so that ....."

The lecturer comes back to what is said about the Gospel, that the Gospel is not a biography,
but a Christology in a narrative form, as many biblical scholars said. The Gospel is not
interested in narrating as many details as possible of the life of Jesus, but things which are
relevant only in building up their own faith and in their proclaiming or giving testimony to
their faith in Jesus, so that those who hear or read them will also come to faith in Jesus. So
what is proclaimed and then later on also written in the Gospels are narrated from the
standpoint of post-resurrectional faith, as they are understood and believed after Jesus'
resurrection.
As it happens also in our lives, many things happened in our life in the past. When those
events happened, we didn't understand them yet; but later on in life, we gradually came to a
fuller and fuller understanding of what had happened to us. For example, the students' life as
seminarians; many things will be understood only after the ordination, after the priesthood!
So it is also with the Evangelists' understanding of who Jesus is; later and later in time,
their understanding grew and grew ever fuller as can be seen below: Compare the
years of their composition and the event referred to in the Beginning of each Gospel!

Jn Lk Mt Mk Mk Mat Luke John


<---------|-----------------|--------------------|----------------|--------||-----|--------|-------|---------|----->
The Beginning: Announcement: Announcement: Appearance: 60/70 70/80 80/90 90/100
Word with God The Baptist's Birth Jesus' Birth The Baptist
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 12

6th Day: 23 July, 2004

1. Prayer by Br. Surinth, followed by a review of our last lecture, see below.

2. Reflection: Dialectical Process of Experience and Understanding.


What happens behind the resurrectional faith as standpoint for the Gospel's narration (the last
point in our previous lecture) is a dialectical process of experience and understanding. It is
described as "facts/events experienced"  "understanding/faith" that produces
"meaning". It is an ordinary process which happens also in our everyday experience, for
example, when we reflect on our experiences (either daily, monthly, or annually in a retreat),
we then obtain an understanding of the meaning of our experiences, and then we write it in
our diary. What we write in our diary is not a simple report of the facts/events ("This and
That happens..."), but our understanding of the meaning behind that fact/event ("This is what
that fact means to me .... "). What we experienced initially as something negative might be
understood as something positive later on after a further reflection and deeper understanding.

3. Activities: Students read carefully Mark 2:1 - 3:16 from the point of view of "Comparison
between Beginning and End", "Theme/Main Topic", "Structure", and "Characters". After
a personal reading, students are then grouped into 3 groups to discuss their findings.

4. Insights from Narrative Criticism:


We have seen that the Gospels are Christology in a narrative form. So first of all, we have to
understand them as narrative. By using some tools from Narrative Criticism we may get a
better understanding of the Gospel narratives. Here are some important points.

* Comparison between Beginning and End:


In a narrative something happens. When something happens, it usually has a beginning, a
middle part, and then an ending. To understand what really happens in a story, it is
important to see its beginning and its end. By studying the beginning and the end, we may
get an understanding of the dynamic process which happens in the story. Usually a change,
a shift, a transformation happens in the story. For example,
- change in situation: war  peace; darkness  light; poverty  richness
conflict  conflict resolved (or: conflict reaches its climax/peak)
- change in characters: bad  good; poor  rich; stupid  clever
hate  love (or: hatred reaches its climax/peak)

* Theme:
Theme refers to the main topic of the story, to what is narrated in the story. There are many
ways to identify the theme of a story, such as: from the "key-word" which occurs over and
over again in the story, from the comparison between the beginning and the end of the
story, from the action of the main character (protagonist), from the interaction among the
characters, and so on. Therefore when we read a story carefully we should ask ourselves,
"What is this all about?"

* Structure:
Even a simple letter has a definite structure, such as "opening greetings, main contents,
closing greetings". So does a homily or a sermon. By knowing the structure we will be able
to understand better the story, the movement or the dynamic process of the story. Important
in this context is the phenomenon of "inclusion". There is an inclusion if something is
mentioned or happens in the beginning and it (or something similar to it) is mentioned or
happens again at the end. For example, A ------- A' (prayer ------- prayer). There is also a
"parallelism", for example, A --- B --- A' --- B', and a " inverted parallelism" for
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 13

example: A --- B --- B' --- A' or a "concentric parallelism" (there is a center), for
example: A --- B --- C ---B' --- A' .

* Characters/Characterization:
"Characters" refer to the persons / actors narrated in the story. "Characterization" refers to
the process or the way by which a character is presented or narrated in the story. We know
that there is usually a "protagonist" (main actor, leading actor) and there is also an
"antagonist". And because of the interaction of the protagonist and the antagonist the story
becomes interesting, otherwise it will be boring.

5. Application of narrative criticism to Mark 2:1 - 3:6


Each group of the students can feel that there is a growing process of dynamism in the
whole story of Mark 2:1 - 3:6, either with a culminating climax/peak (like going on steps, up and
up and up) or with a center point (going up, reaching a climax, and then down again). They all
see that each story doesn't stand alone; all five stories are interconnected.
At first sight, one group identifies the theme as "Jesus' authority", other as "New
Covenant". But if we read carefully the details of the story we can feel that there is a process of
conflict which goes greater and greater. In fact, most scholars give a title "Five Conflicts" to this
section. See the details given in the story: how the opposition grows stronger and stronger
(please, read this scheme from below upward)

(3:6) "Pharisees & Herod's party" "made plan to kill Jesus"


(2:24) "Pharisees" "said [rebuked] Jesus"
(2:18) "some people" "asked Jesus"
(2:16) "some teachers of the Law, who were Pharisees" "asked his disciples"
(2:6) "some teachers of the Law" "thought to themselves"

The whole section can be structured as below:

Behind the structure there is a conflict over Jesus' Identity / Power

A. 2:1-12: Healing - Paralyzed Legs (God: the Only One who can forgive sins)
B. 2:13-17: Disciples - Food (God: the Healer)
C. 2:18-22: No Food (God: the Bridegroom)
B' 2:23-28: Disciples - Food (God: the Lord/Owner of Sabbath)
A'. 3:1-6: Healing - Paralyzed Arm (God: the Saver of life)

So there is a structure of concentric parallelism (two parallel things/situations: A//A' and B//B',
and a center point: C). The words mentioned in the structure are the key words which indicate
the parallelism. Observe how three main ideas related to human beings are present: Living (food
sustains life), Moving (legs) and Working (arms).
We can understand why the conflict culminates in the plan to kill Jesus, because behind
the conflict, the questions are: "Who is Jesus?" and "How could he assume or take the
positions or titles which are given only to Yahweh / God by the Jewish people?"
Br. Somchai asked: "Did Mark or the redactor arrange the story like that?". Answer: We
only consider the final text, and we call the person responsible for it "the author" (whoever he
is). It is a wrong assumption to think that the author narrates the events in the Gospel without
any order and then a redactor comes to give order to the events. When an author narrates a story,
he/she narrates the events already in a certain order (called: PLOT)!
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 14

6. Six Stages in the Gospel of Mark

There are several structures proposed for the Gospel of Mark. But there is one structure which
is simple and helps us to understand better the Gospel of Mark. According to this structure,
there are six stages in Mk.

Each stage starts with a "Summary", which contains a short description of Jesus' activity,
followed by a "Narrative", which contains a narrative related to the Disciples.

TITLE: 1:1 Jesus is "CHRIST" (Messiah) and "SON OF GOD"


PROLOGUE: 1:1-13: John the Baptist - Baptism of Jesus - Temptation of Jesus

Summary (Jesus) Narrative (Disciples)


I. CALLING 1:14-15 1:16-20: First disciples 3:6
II. FORMING 3:7-12 3:13-19: Twelve Disciples 6:6a
III. SENDING 6:6b-7 6:8-113: 8:30
=========================================== CLIMAX: 8:29 "CHRIST"
INVITATION...
IV. TO FOLLOW 8:31-33 8:34 - 9:1 10:31
V. TO SERVE 10:32-34 10:35-45 13
VI. TO PARTICIPATE 14:1-2 14:12-16 16:8
(Paschal Mystery)
====================================== CLIMAX: 15:39: "SON OF GOD"
The title of the Gospel of Mark
("The beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God") already gives
indication how the story will be developed. The title can be understood as saying "This the
beginning of the Good News, that Jesus is the Christ/Messiah and Son of God". So Mk is
divided into two parts, the first part will have its climax in the confession of Peter, "You are
the Messiah!" (8:29), and the second part will have its climax in the confession of the
Centurion, "Truly he is the Son of God!" (15:39). The Messiah is recognized as Son of God
only after and in his death.

Dynamic relation between Jesus and the Disciples


The structure above makes us also the dynamic relation between Jesus and His Disciples. A
summary of Jesus' activities is always followed by a narration about the disciples. And what
Jesus does to His disciples grows deeper and deeper: from calling the disciples to forming
them into a special "task-force" (The Twelve Disciples), and then to sending them after
having given them power. Their relation culminates in Peter's confession (8:29). But then the
meaning of "Messiah" is explored through a growing invitation, from an invitation to follow
Jesus closely, to do as he does, that is, serve others and die for others (participating in the
Paschal Mystery).

We might be tempted to ask, "Did the author of the Gospel of Mark ever think of that scheme
when he wrote the Gospel?" But there is no need to ask this, because once an author produced
a book, his book becomes independent and can acquire meaning more than what the author
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 15

him/herself intended. When St. Paul wrote his letters, did he ever dream that one day his
letters would become a part of the Holy Bible for us?

7. Structure of the first stage:

I. FIRST STAGE: THE KERYGMA OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

1. Summary : Jesus' activities (1:14-15)


2. Narrative : Calling of the first disciples (1:16-20)

3. (a). The Kingdom of God is spread around (1:21-45)

*Capernaum, Sabbath, Synagogue: Impure spirit is cast out (1:21-27)


*Throughout Galilee: Jesus' fame is spread (1:28)
*Peter's house: Peter and other disciples (1:29-31)
*Door: Healing of all sick people (1:32-34)
*Deserted place: Peter and other disciples (1:35-38)
*Throughout Galilee: Jesus proclaims and heals (1:39)
*Synagogue (?): Purification of a leper (1:20-45)

(b) The Kingdom of God is opposed: Five Conflicts (2:1-3:6)

*Peter's house: Healing of paralyzed legs (2:1-12)


*Along the sea, Levi's house: Disciples - Food (2:13-17)
*Peter's house (?): Disciples - Fasting (2:18-22)
*Along the grainfields: Disciples - Food (2:23-28)
*Capernaum, Sabbath, Synagogue: Healing of a paralyzed arm (3:1-6)

The spreading and opposition:


So we see from the structure, at the very beginning of the spreading of the Kingdom of God, it
meets with opposition and resistance. His first preaching in the synagogue of Capernaum made
the evil spirit manifest itself (1:23: as soon as Jesus taught, an unclean spirit possesses a man).
The spreading of the Kingdom of God is described as the spreading of the power of God
which heals sickness and casts away evil spirits. As we already see, the opposition or the
conflict that Jesus experiences is an opposition to the power that Jesus shows in his preaching,
teaching and healing. The enemies of the Kingdom of God saw that Jesus exhibits power and
authority as those of God Himself (see the Five Conflicts). Ironically, the evil spirits know for
certain who Jesus is (1:24 "Holy one of God"; 1:34 "they knew Him") but the Pharisees do not
know.

The Headquarters of Jesus Movement:


We see also from the structure, there are two places in which Jesus works: the house of Peter
in Capernaum and the Synagogue/s. The house of Peter in Capernaum becomes a center of
Jesus' activities; it becomes some sort of a headquarters for the "Jesus movement". Whereas the
synagogue is the center of the Jewish life. In reality, from an archaeological site found last
century, the house of Peter lies just 50 meters in front of the synagogue in Capernaum (see Mark
1:29: as soon as Jesus left the synagogue, he enters the house of Peter). After Jesus' died and
resurrected, His disciples still preached in the synagogue, as did also Paul. But later on, the
schism between Jewish religion and the followers of Jesus became wider and wider, so much so
that in the time of the Gospel of John (year 90-100), confessing faith in Jesus meant that people
would be cast out or excommunicated from the synagogues (John 9:22).
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 16

7th Day: 30 July 2004:

1. Br. Kowith led the opening prayer. And then the lecturer reviewed last week's lecture by
stressing the narrative nature of the Gospels and the insights from narrative criticism.

2. Reflection: the whole Gospel of Mark as the beginning


The title of Mk "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of God" can be understood
as "This is the Beginning of the Good News that: Jesus is the Christ/Messiah and Son of
God". But, what does the "beginning" refer to? Does it refer to the title (Mk 1:1) only? Or
Mk 1:1-8 (the appearance of John the Baptist)? Or Mk 1:1-11 (including also Jesus'
baptism)? Or Mk 1:1-13 (including also the temptation of Jesus)? It can mean any of them;
therefore there are various opinions when scholars should decide which verses are included
in Mark's prologue.
Another way to understand the "beginning" is to take it as referring to the whole Gospel
of Mark (1:1 - 16:8). Br. Withanu asked "How?" Remember, answered the lecturer, the
whole Gospel of Mark is the beginning for a reader who receives the Good News that Jesus
is the Messiah (8:29) and the Son of God (15:39). It is the beginning of his faith in Jesus, the
beginning of his new life in Jesus. Br. ภควี asked, "If the Gospel is the beginning, what is the
ending?". Well, said the lecturer, why should we assume there is an ending? Perhaps, there
is no ending; in fact, there is no ending to our life in faith! We always begin. That is why it is
important to read and read and read again and again the whole Gospel. The Church arranges
that we read Mark in the liturgical year B, so once every three years.
A story may have a "close ending" (we cannot think of any other story after it), but there
is also an "open ending" (the story doesn't end although the book is ended); that is why we
have "Spider Man 1" and "Spider Man 2" etc. The film director has arranged that the end of
the film is not the ending, but the beginning of a new story etc.

3. Original "open ending" of Mark in 16:8.


Br. Sonthaya asked why the lecturer mentioned that Mark ends in 16:8, and not in 16:8b or
16:20? Well, actually it can be seen in every footnote of a good edition of the Bible. The New
Revised Standard Version has a footnote for 16:8 "Some of the most ancient authorities
[meaning: manuscripts / codex / text] bring the book to a close a the end of verse 8. One
authority concludes the book with the shorter ending [16:8b]; others include the shorter
ending and then continue with verses 9-20. ....." So most probably, the original ending of Mk
is 16:8, with the women running from the tomb and they said nothing to anyone because they
were afraid. Therefore, the ending of Mk is an open ending. That is why perhaps, other
endings (shorter and longer) were added to make it a close ending.

4. How to divide a story into a structure:


We can divide a story according to the following elements:
-Place: for ex. Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, and so on.
-Time: morning, night, Sabbath, and so on.
-Person/s: Jesus, disciples, Pharisees, and so on.
-Action / event: being sick, sleeping, eating, healing and so on.
-Key words: testimony, beginning, parables etc.
-Literary signs: "Therefore", "First, second ...", and so on.

Sometimes, we can find all elements, sometimes only one or two. It is like dividing a drama
into scenes or acts. See the structure below.
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 17

5. Structure of the second stage:

II. SECOND STAGE: THE MYSTERY OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

1. Summary : Jesus' activities (3:7-12)


2. Narrative : Forming of the 12 Disciples (3:13-19)

3. (a) Jesus Power: is being questioned (3:20-35)

*Peter's house: Jesus' family (3:20-21)


*Peter's house: the Scribes accused Jesus (3:22-30)
*Peter's house: Jesus' family (3:31-35)

(b) The Mystery of the Kingdom explained (4:1-34)

*Introduction: Jesus teaches in parables (4:1-2)


*Parable of the Kingdom: the Sower (4:3-9)
*Kingdom: secret (4:10-12)
*Different kind of soils (4:13-20)
*Lamp: secret disclosed (4:21-23)
*Different kind of measures (4:24-25)
*Parable of the Kingdom: the Seeds (4:26-32)
*Conclusion: Jesus teaches only in parables (4:33-34)

(c) Jesus' Power: in Action (4:35 - 6:6a)

*Jesus sleeps, awakened, fear (4:35-41)


*Man (possessed): no one can bind (5:1-17)
*Man (healed) asks to follow Jesus (5:18-19)
*Man (healed) proclaims Jesus' power (5:20)
*Leader of synagogue asks Jesus to heal (5:21-24)
*Woman (sick, bleeding): no one can heal (:25-34)
*Jairus' daughter "sleeps", awakened, fear (5:35-43)

Jesus was refused: Synagogue - by people of his own hometown (6:1-6a).

The Mystery of the Kingdom: Mystery of Death and Life

At the center of the second stage is the explanation of the mystery of the kingdom. The Kingdom
is explained by using symbolism of life (seeds which grows), of energy of healing and expelling
death / evil. Jesus' power is described as the power of live over death. We find the symbolism of
death in: sleeping, tombs, sea, darkness/night, and bleeding / loosing blood (life). Jesus is
presented as the One who brings life, wins over death and darkness.
At the beginning we find Jesus in Peter's house and his family came to look for him. At
the end we see again Jesus in a synagogue and as at the first stage, which ends in a plan to kill
Jesus, here the second stage also ends in a scene where Jesus is refused by people of his own
home town.
The lecturer used the structure also to explain "intertextuality", "intratextuality" and
"contextuality" (original and present context).
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 18

6. Structure of the third stage:

III. THIRD STAGE: THE KINGDOM OF GOD IN JESUS

1. Summary: Jesus' activities (6:6b)


2. Narrative: Sending of disciples (6:7-13)

3. Jesus' Identity: the opinions of people and Herod (6:14-16)


[Death of John the Baptist: 6:17-29]

(a) * Bread: Multiplied (6:30-44)


*Disciples: do not understand (6:45-52)
* Healing: Many sick people (6:53-56)

(b) * Bread: About eating and purification (7:1-16)


*Disciples: do not understand (7:17-23)
*Healing: Son of foreign woman, a deaf man (7:24-37)

(c) *Bread: Multiplied (8:1-9) - Sign from heaven (8:11-12)


*Disciples: do not understand (8:13-20)
*Healing: a blind man (8:22-26)

Jesus' Identity: Peter's confession (8:27-30).

Jesus as Bread:
In the third stage, the reader of the Gospel is asked to reflect deeper on the identity of Jesus.
After the usual summary and narrative, it begins with questions about the identity of Jesus (6:14-
16) and ends with Peter's confession (8:27-30). We hear many opinions on Jesus' identity and
finally we are asked (as Peter was) to form a personal opinion about who Jesus is for us.
Mk introduces the reader to Jesus as Bread, broken up for us all. The story of the death of
John the Baptist at first doesn't seem to belong to the structure; but later on we will realize that it
actually introduces the idea of death, which Jesus will also experience in the future. The theme
of "Bread" is connected with the theme of "death": to feed all humanity as bread, Jesus will have
to experience death first! Peter's confession of Jesus as Messiah cannot be separated from these
two themes (bread and death).
The disciples are being presented as those who do not understand the meaning of Jesus'
actions and words. It is not easy to penetrate the mystery of Jesus' identity. Three times the same
structure is repeated (Bread - Non-understanding - Healing). We are reminded that to know
Jesus, we need to be healed first: to have strong faith (as the Syrophoenician woman), to be able
to hear (healing of the deaf man) as well as to be able to see (healing of the blind man). Only
then can we recognize and confess who Jesus is.
At the end of the Gospel, we will hear the confession of the Centurion that Jesus is the
Son of God (15:39). It is to make us understand that only at his death is Jesus recognized as Son
of God.

7. Other matters:
Students are required to read by themselves the matters on the author of Mk, time and place of
composition, its audience, as well as its main ideas from any commentary. The structure of Six
Stages is adopted from J. Radermakers, La bonne nouvelle de Jésus selon Saint Marc, 1974).
Too bad, we have no time to explore the remaining three stages.
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 19

8th Day: 20 August 2004:

1. Br. Seksan led the prayer. Review of last lecture focused upon the Third Stage: The
Kingdom of God in Jesus.

2. Activity: Students are asked to compare between the two versions of Bread Multiplication in
Mark. Several indicators are observed: number (5, 7, 12) and place (Galilee, Tyre and
Sydon). It is shown that the first version (Mk 6:30-44) happens in the land of the Jewish
people and directed towards them (12 as symbol of the 12 tribes of Israel). The second
version (Mk 8:1-9) happens outside the land of the Israelites and directed towards the
Gentiles (7 as symbol of completeness, perfection, and universality). It is shown through
these two versions that the salvation of God is not only for the Jewish people but for all
people. Bro. Phakhawi and Phira asked why is it that the lecturer said that Mark presents
Jesus as Bread, and his being Bread cannot be separated from his Death. To answer this, we
should know that there are different ways of forming the opinions of the readers.

3. Reflection: "Showing" and "Telling" way of narrating


There are authors who like to tell the readers what to think of a certain character or event in
the story. So the narrator would say that, for example, "Joseph is a righteous man", "The
Pharisees are hypocrites" and so on. Other authors prefer to show what happens and let the
readers think and conclude for themselves what to think of a certain person or event. So the
narrator would narrate how Solomon solved the quarrel between two woman who claimed a
baby as son, by telling ordering them to cut the baby into two. And it is for the readers to
conclude that Solomon is a wise person.
So it is with Mark. The narrator of the Gospel of John tells the readers that "Jesus is the
Bread of Life", "The Bread from Heaven". The narrator of Mark's Gospel never tells the
readers, but shows to the readers through the series of events in the Third Stage that Jesus is
the Bread of Life. See the contradictory sentences in Mark 8:14: the disciples forgot to bring
any bread; and they had only one loaf with them. Through showing the readers how Jesus
rebuked the disciples for not understanding the meaning of the bread multiplication, the
narrator made the readers reflect on the deeper meaning of these events.
The same thing happens when at the end, the narrator shows how the Centurion
confesses that Jesus is the Son of God when he saw how Jesus died; through this showing,
the narrator let the readers conclude that Jesus' title "Son of God" cannot be separated from
his Death; Jesus was recognized as the Son of God through his Death.

4. THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW


Activity: Students are asked to think of the implication of the "literary indicators" in Mat
7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1, namely "After having said these things, Jesus did ....". Many
students mention the philosophical and theological meaning, such as "Jesus' Words are not
separated from his Deeds, his Saying from his Action". However, logically it simply mean
that before this, Jesus has been saying lots of things, has been teaching!

In fact, Mat collected the sayings of Jesus into Five Groups of Sermons:
1. Sermon on the Mountain (Mat 5-7)
2. Sermon on Mission (Mat 10)
3. Sermon on Parables (Mat 13)
4. Sermon on Community (Mat 18)
5. Sermon on the Last Day (Mat 23-25).
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 20

5. The Union between Words and Actions of Jesus in Matthew. The students are right in
recognizing also this theme. In fact, Mat combines beautifully and equally the "narratives" of
Jesus' action and the "sermons" that Jesus taught. See the concentric structure below and the
shift back and forth between narration and sermon:

-narration: Mat 1-4 Mat 26-28


-sermon: Mat 5-7 Mat 23-25
-narration: Mat 8-9 Mat 19-22
-sermon: Mat 10 Mat 18
-narration: Mat 11-12 Mat 14-17
-sermon: Mat 13

6. Main parts in Matthew:


There are other literary indicators in Matthew. This time it refers to what comes after,
namely "From that time on ...." (4:17 "From that time Jesus began to proclaim ..." and 16:21
"From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem...").
These two indicators are then used by scholars to divide the main parts of Mat. Therefore,
from 1:1 onwards "Introduction to the Person of Jesus" until:
from 4:17 onwards "Jesus as Messiah" until:
from 16:21 onwards "Messiah as the one who dies, ..."

7. Six Stages in Matthew: The combination between the five indicators (7:28; 11:1; 13:53;
19:1; 26:1 "After having said these things ...") and the two indicators (4:17 and 16:21 "From
that time on...") give rise to the following structure of the Gospel of Matthew.

I. Jesus' Origins: 1:1 - 4:16

II. Jesus' Ministry in Galilee: 4:17 - 10:42 ------- (2 sermons: Mat 5-7 and Mat 10)

III. Reactions to Jesus: 11:1 - 16:20 --------------- (1 sermon: Mat 13)

IV. Journey to Jerusalem: 16:21 - 20:34 ---------- (1 sermon: Mat 18)

V. In Jerusalem: 21:1 - 28:15 ----------------------- (1 sermon: Mat 23-25)

VI. In Galilee: 28:16-20

8. I. Jesus' Origins: The first stage can be structured as the following

* Origins of Jesus' Life: Who: 1:1-17: (genealogical list of Jesus)


How: 1:18-25 (Joseph's dream)
Where: 2:1-12 (Jesus' birth in Bethlehem)
Where to: 2:13-23 (Jesus' exile in Egypt)
*Origins of Jesus' Work: John the Baptist: 3:1-12
Baptism: 3:13-17
Temptation: 4:1-11
Beginning of Ministry: 4:12-16

9. Activity: Students are asked to observe the list of Jesus' genealogy. Some students rightly
observe: women among men's names (Tamar; Rahab; Ruth; wife of Uriah; Mary) and
different formulation when it comes to Jesus (not "Joseph fathered ..." but "Joseph, the
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 21

husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born". The lecturer explained it; as well as the
meaning of: 14 - 14 - 14 and the Three Pillars of Mat Gospel (1:23; 18:20; 28:20).

9th Day: 27 August 2004:

1. Bro. Chanwith led the prayer. The six stages in Matthew is adopted from Donald Senior,
Invitation to Matthew, 1977.

2. Questions: Br. Sirawith asked about the Centurion's confession in Mark 15:39. Mk shows
how the centurion's confession is related to (or: is caused by) his seeing HOW Jesus died.
There must be something special about Jesus' death which had caused him to realize that he
is the Son of God. In Mk 15:37 we have the scene of Jesus' death, then in verse 38 the scene
of the curtain of the temple torn in two, and in verse 39 the confession of a Non-Jewish
person. By showing these events to the readers, Mk would like us to understand the meaning
of Jesus' death; with his death, the curtain of the temple, which separates the dwelling of the
divine (only the High Priest could enter here once a year, at the Day of Atonement) and
human beings, is torn apart. The divine is no longer limited to a place, to the High Priest, to
the Jews, but is now opened for all people (represented by the Centurion). Mk only shows us
the events, he doesn't tell us what it means; it is for the readers to understand the meaning of
Jesus' death.

3. The 2nd Stage: Jesus' Ministry in Galilee

Two literary markers limits this stage: 4:17 ("from that time....") and 11:1 ("when Jesus has said
these things..."); see below:

A. Jesus proclaims (Mat 4:17)


B. Jesus calls the first disciples (Mat 4:18-22)
C. Jesus goes around, teaches and heals (Mat 4:23-25)
D. Jesus teaches with Authority (Mat 5-7)
D'. Jesus heals with Power (Mat 8-9)
C'. Jesus goes around, teaches and heals (Mat 9:35-38)
B'. Jesus calls and sends the Twelve Disciples (Mat 10)
A'. Jesus teaches and proclaims (Mat 11:1)

Reflections: Jesus & Disciples, Words & Deeds, Proclaiming and Teaching. The students are
asked to see what the structure implies. They are asked also to distinguish between
"proclaiming" and "teaching". From this structure we can already see how Mat would like to
show us the union between Jesus' ministry and the participation of his Disciples. Mat also
shows the union between Jesus' words and deeds, his teaching and healing. "Proclaiming"
(kerygma) is directed to those who haven't become Jesus' disciples, to bring them into faith;
"teaching" (catechism) is directed to those who have become believers so that they may
deepen their faith.

3. Jesus teaches with Authority: Sermon on the Mount (Mat 5-7)

In 7:28 we have one literary marker ("when Jesus has said these things"); that is the ending; the
beginning is in 5:2 "He began to speak ...". The structure of the Sermon on the Mount follows
the structure of the Covenant between God and Israelites in Sinai, between God and Abraham,
between God and Noah: Blessings - Commands/Rules - Warnings. This is also the structure of
the Treaty between a King and his Vassals/Vice-Regents, between a big king and little kings in
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 22

ancient time. They invoked blessings from their Gods, and then declared the obligations of each
party of the treaty, and finished with the curses if they are not loyal to the treaty. Therefore,
essentially the Sermon on the Mount is a covenant between God and his people.

A. INTRODUCTION (5:1-2): Place and Audience


B. BLESSINGS (5:3-12)
C. COMMANDS:
-Summary (5:13-16): salt, light, city, lamp
-General Principles (5:17-20): More than Pharisees' righteousness
-Attitudes towards:
(1) LAW (5:21-48): 6 Antitheses
(2) GOD: -Alms (6:1-4) |
-Prayers (6:5-15) } 3 pillars of religion
-Fasting (6:16-18) |
(3) THINGS: -Don't ... (6:19-21): keep treasure on earth
-Eye (6:22-23): eye is the lamp of the body
-Proverb (6:24): two masters
-Principle (6:25-34): trust in God
(4) OTHERS: -Don't ... (7:1-2): judge others
-Eye (7:3-5): speck and log in eyes
-Proverb (7:6): pearl and pig
-Principle (7:7-12): trust in God & Golden Rule
B'. WARNINGS (7:13-27): narrow gate, tree-fruits, doing will of God, house on rock
A'. CONCLUSION (7:28-29): Audience
(This structure is adopted from D.C. Allison, Jr, “The Structure of the Sermon on
the Mount”, Journal of Biblical Literature 106 (1987), p. 423-445).

Reflections: More than just obedience to legal prescriptions, but a life centered in God. The
general principle (5:17-20) states that the aim of all these is to enable us to enter the Kingdom of
Heaven, it is more than just obeying rules and obligations, or written laws. That is why in the 6
Antitheses, we hear "It is written ... BUT I say to you ....". Our faithfulness is not directed to a
book, written rules, but to Jesus himself. Essentially, the covenant is between us and God the
Father through Jesus. Students are asked to observe when the expression "Your Father in
heaven" or "Your heavenly Father" or "Your Father who is/sees in secret" occurs in Mat 5-7.
Amazingly we have: 7 times (5:16, 45, 48; 6:1, 4, 6a, 6b) and 7 times (6:14, 18a, 18b, 26, 32;
7:11, 21) and in the middle, between these two groups, there is one expression "Our Father in
heaven" (6:9), from the Lord's Prayer! In the Hebrew Bible it is common for them to print the
Tetragrammaton (4 holy characters) YHWH, the name of God, in a large font when it occurs in
the middle of all the holy name that appeared in the five books of Moses (Torah). That is why in
the 6 antitheses Jesus goes to the "root-cause" of every crime, not just the killing itself, but even
a slight gesture of hatred is not allowed.
"An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth": obligation or limitation? Sometimes this
expression is quoted to justify revenge, as though God is giving us an obligation to take revenge!
But this goes against the spirit of the Old Testament that "revenge" "vengeance" belongs to God
and human beings are not to take revenge at all (Lev 19:18; Deut 32:35). That expression (Exo
21:24; Lev 24:20; Deut 19:21) should be understood as a limitation to what was common in the
ancient times, to take revenge on others much more than the injuries caused by others to us (Gen
4:24: Cain is avenged 7 X, Lamekh is avenged 77 X!). It was common to kill the whole people
in a village, if a man from that village has killed one man from other village. So God said, "Let it
be enough an eye for an eye, and not two eyes for an eye, and certainly not a life for an eye!
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 23

4. Jesus heals with Power (Mat 8-9):

After Mat shows us how Jesus teaches with authority, now Mat shows us how Jesus manifests
his power through a series of 10 Miracles; and again, the miracles are connected with Jesus'
disciples through various themes of discipleship.

| a leper (8:1-4)
A. MIRACLE OF MERCY: | centurion's servant (8:5-13)
| many people (8:14-17)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
B. FOLLOWING JESUS: RADICAL WAY OF LIFE (8:18-22)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

| calming the storm (8:23-27)


A'. MIRACLE OF POWER | a possessed man (8:28-34)
| a paralytic (9:1-8)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
B'. FOLLOWING JESUS: NEW LIFE (9:9-17)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

| a girl and a woman (9:18-26)


A''. MIRACLE OF FAITH | two blind men (9:27-31)
| a mute man (9:32-34)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
B''. FOLLOWING JESUS: GOD'S GRACE (9:35-38)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Explanation: Two miracles (the healing of the daughter of a leader of the synagogue and the
woman with hemorrhages/flowing blood) can be grouped into one episode (9:18-26) which has a
sandwich structure (inside a house - on the road - inside a house). Actually "God's mercy",
"God's power" and "men's/women's faith" are present in each miracle, but the aspect of mercy is
more present the 1st series (conclusion in 8:17 "He took our infirmities"), the power is dominant
in the 2nd series (conclusion in 9:8 "such authority"), and faith is more visible in the 3rd series
(faith in 9:22; 9:29 and "no-faith" in 9:34: the Pharisees do not believe although they saw the
healing!).

Reflections: God's mercy and our radical choice; God's power and the new life caused by
it; following Jesus as God's grace and our faith. Students are asked to reflect on the relation
between the aspect of each group of miracle and the theme of following Jesus which comes after
it. Is there any relation? This structure of series of miracles and theme of following Jesus could
be a good materials for a retreat on vocation!

Socio-historical background: Who are the "Fox" and "Bird" (Mat 8:20)? "Fox" refers to
King Herod: an Idumean; according to the Jews, the Idumeans have a fox-face! Besides, Herod
has an astute character like a fox too (see how Jesus calls him "fox", Luk 13:32). "Bird" refers to
the image of "eagle" painted in the Roman banners. What Jesus meant was: if people became
followers of King Herod and the Roman Emperors, surely they would have all the assurances
and conveniences of life; but to follow Jesus needs a radical way of life which doesn't depend on
all those.
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 24

5. Sermon on Mission (Mat 10):

A. Introduction (10:1-4)
B. Acceptance of Jesus' disciples (10:5-15)
C. Confirmation in persecution (10:16-23)
D. Grand Principle: Disciple = Master (10:24-25)
C'. Confirmation in persecution (10:26-39)
B'. Acceptance of Jesus' disciples (10:40-42)
A'. Conclusion (11:1)

Reflection: Identification between the Master and His Disciples. Throughout this sermon, it
is clearly shown that the disciples are united and identified with their Master.

6. The Third Stage: Various reactions to Jesus (11:2 - 16:20)

A: REACTION TO JESUS:
Intro: John asks about Jesus (11:2-15)
Negative: 1. "this generation" (11:16-19)
2. "unbelieving towns" (11:20-24)
Positive: 1. "these little ones" (11:25-30)

Negative: 1. The Pharisees protest (12:1-8)


2. The Pharisees plan to kill Jesus (12:9-14)
Positive: 1. Large crowd follows Jesus (12:15-21)

Negative: 1. The Pharisees blasphemed against Holy Spirit (12:22-37)


2. Wicked generation asks for a sign (12:38-45)
Positive: 1. Disciples are Jesus' brothers (12:46-50)

B. SERMON ON PARABLES OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN


a. The SOWER and the seeds (division) (13:1-23)
b. The weeds (division) (13:24-30)
c. Power of the KH: mustard (13:31-32) & yeast (13:33-35)
b' The weeds (division) (13:36-43)
c' Value of the KH: hidden treasure (13:44) & pearl (13:45-46)
a' The FISHERMEN and fish (division) (13:47-52)

A': REACTIONS TO JESUS


Intro: Death of John the Baptist (14:1-12)
Negative: 1. Bread (disciples ask people to go) (14:13-21)
2. Peter's little faith (14:22-33)
Positive: 1. People's faith (14:34-36)

Negative: 1. Bread (The Pharisees criticized) (15:1-11)


2. Peter's ignorance (15:12-20)
Positive: 1. People's faith (15:21-31)

Negative: 1. Bread (disciples ask how to give food) 15:32-39)


2. Disciples' ignorance (16:1-12)
Positive: 1. CLIMAX: Peter's confession (16:13-20)
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 25

10th Day: 3 September 2004

1. Bro. Sonthaya led the prayer.


2. Questions & Answers:
(a). "Jesus brings division"? Bro. Sirawith asked about Mat 10:34-39. It is not that
Jesus wanted to bring division among people, but his way of life, his teaching and what he
did are so different from what other people did. This is clearly shown in Mat's Third Stage:
there are two kinds of reaction, positive (accepting Jesus) and negative (refusing Jesus), see
page 23. Simeon predicts the baby Jesus would be "a Sign of Contradiction" (Luk 2:34).
John gives an answer: because although we are IN the world, we are NOT FROM the world;
his Kingdom is not from this world. That is why the world cannot accept him.

(b). "Newness in Jesus"? Bro. Somchai asked about Mat 9:14-17: ordinary or
deeper/spiritual meaning? Confusing? Well, usually what Jesus taught had a deeper meaning;
but he would usually start from the simple things. Asian people might not know the habit of
keeping wine, so it might be confusing; but if we start from "new piece of cloth and old
cloak", people will understand it. Or new software used in an old computer. Paul speaks of
"old man" and "new man", "life in flesh" and "life in spirit", John speaks of "children of
darkness" and "children of light" to stress the fact that Jesus brings a newness in our life.

(c). "Jesus is sent only to the Jewish people"? The lecturer asked students how to
understand Mat 10:5 (disciples were sent only to the lost sheep of Israel) and Mat 15:24
(Jesus was sent only to the house of Israel); what about the universality of Jesus' mission and
salvation? The verses should be understood in the whole context of the Gospel of Matthew
(intratextuality): see the genealogical list in Mat 1 (ideas of universality: "Son of Abraham",
"four foreign women") and Mat 28 (make all people disciples). While Jesus still lived in
Palestine, the disciples was told to focus on the Jews; but after he rose from the death, the
mission is enlarged to all people. From the beginning, the salvation of God was never meant
to be for the Israelites alone, but that through Israelites it is given to all people in the world:
all nations are blessed in Abraham's seed (Gen 15), all nations will worship God in Sion
(Isaiah 2:1-2), other people will ask a Jew to bring them to God (Zach 8:20-23). Israelites are
Instruments of God's salvation (cf. Church as Sacrament).

3. THE GOSPEL OF LUKE


Please read about the introductory matters on Luke (author, time of writing, place of writing,
to whom it was written, the main ideas etc.) in any introductions to Luke.
One Gospel in Two Volumes: Actually, the Gospel of Luke cannot be separated from
the Acts of the Apostles. They are two volumes of the same Book, see the Prologue /
Introduction to each Gospel (Luk 1:1-4; Acts 1:1: both are directed to Theophilus). Some
people call both of them the Gospel of the Holy Spirit: volume one (Luke) is the Holy
Spirit in Jesus and volume two (Acts) is the Holy Spirit in the Church. The main
structure for both volumes is simple, organized geographically. Luke: after the preparation,
the story moves from Galilee, journey towards Jerusalem and Jerusalem. Acts (1:8): from
Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and ends of the World (Rome).

4. Structure of Luke:
Prologue: 1:1-4
I. Infancy narratives & Preparation for ministry (1:5 - 4:13)
II. Jesus' Ministry in Galilee (4:14 - 9:50)
III. Journey to Jerusalem (9:51 - 19:27): there are ten chapters!
IV. Climax in Jerusalem (19:28 - 24:53)
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 26

There is also an inclusio (begins and ends with a similar thing): it begins in the Temple
(Zechariah offering sacrifice, 1:5-23) and ends in the Temple (disciples praying, 24:53). The
Prologue is written in the way a Roman/Greek historian wrote the introduction of a historical
book.

I. Infancy Narratives: (1:5 - 2:52)

A. The Birth of John the Baptist:


Zechariah (1:5-23): name of "John", Zechariah became mute
Elizabeth (1:24-25): John was conceived
Mary (1:26-38): at home in Nazareth
Mary & Elizabeth: (1:39-56a): "Magnificat"
Mary (1:56b): goes home to Nazareth
Elizabeth (1:57-58): John was born
Zakharia (1:59-80): name of "John", Zechariah sang "Benedictus"

B. The Birth of Jesus:


Betlehem (2:1-7): Jesus was born
Field (2:8-15): angels glorify God
Betlehem (2:16-19): testimony to Jesus
Field (2:20): shepherds glorify God
Betlehem (2:21): Jesus was circumcised and given a name

C. Jesus as Adolescent:
Jerusalem (2:22-38): Temple, Jesus was presented
Nazareth (2:39-40): Jesus grows
Jerusalem (2:41-50): Temple, Jesus taught
Nazareth (2:51-52): Jesus grows

Reflections: (1) Symbols of Space. We see in the structure how Luke communicates what he
wants to say through symbolical space: Betlehem (House of Bread: which gives life), Field (the
whole world), Jerusalem and the Temple (negative: symbol of old religion / Israel; positive:
Place of God), Nazareth (Jesus' human origins), symbolical characters: Zechariah/Elizabeth
(symbolized Abraham/Sara, parents of Samuel -- Old Testament figures), Angels ("malakh",
"emissary of God", presence of God), Shepherds (poor / marginal people).

(2) Holy Spirit as he/she/it? In Hebrew the gender for "spirit" is feminine
(ruach); in Latin it is masculine (spiritus), in Greek it is neutral (to pneumatos). Bro. พัฒนะชัย
protested: "If Holy Spirit is feminine, how could she make a woman pregnant (Mary)?". It is a
misunderstanding if we think "Holy spirit has sex with Mary so she becomes pregnant" (hence
the title "Bride of the Holy Spirit) as in Greek / Eastern mythologies where a divine being has
sex with a human and give birth to a half human/half divine person. In Scriptures it is
understood as "Creative Force of God" who creates, makes things anew: old or barren woman
gives birth (Sarah, Elizabeth, Hana), bones alive again (Yeh 37), virgin gives birth (Mary). Some
scholars interpreted Luke 1:35 "The Holy Spirit will come upon you AND the power of the most
High will overshadow you..." this way: "Holy Spirit" as "feminine aspect of God" and "Power"
as "masculine aspect of God", they are both united and produced Son of God, and Mary's womb
is borrowed, as in the case of modern technique of uniting man's seed and woman's egg in a tube
to produce a baby.
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 27

Day 11: 10 September, 2004

1. Bro. Phathanachai led the opening prayer.


2. Review on the symbolism of time ("night and day", "dark and light"), space
("mountain/hill", "sea/lake", "river", "Jerusalem" and so on), and characters / persons.

3. Luke's Prologue: Bro. Somchai and Sakkiat asked about Luke's first verses. The name
"Theophilus" can be taken both as referring to a real person (important / prominent person
known by Luke's community) and symbolical ("lover/friend of God") as referring to every
reader of Luke's gospel. This second sense means that the Gospel should be read from the
eyes of love (as lover of God). Luke mentions that before him, some other people had written
Gospels; so why did Luke write another Gospel? An Author writes because he/she thinks he
has a special message to say to the readers. Luke wrote because he wanted to show that the
teachings (catechism) that Theophilus received was true (actually, the Greek word asphaleia
referred to "firmness").
Couldn't there be just one Gospel, why so many? (again Bro. Phathanachai protested).
The Christian communities in the early Church must have felt that Jesus Christ is so perfect
that one story about him is not enough! Each Gospel is so unique that the one and same story
is narrated differently and has specific meaning. For example, the story about Jesus' birth.
The four Gospels help us to understand Jesus better and more fully.

4. Infancy Narratives: We have two versions of Jesus' infancy narratives, Mat's version and
Luke's version. Luke's version is narrated from the perspective of the mother. See the
structure which has Mary as the centre; Mary who received the news from the angel. Mat's
version is narrated from the perspective of the father; Joseph who had a dream (remember,
the other Joseph from the Old Testament, who is called a dreamer?). But both versions
should be understood more on the theological level than historical level. The story is narrated
from the point of view of the disciples' faith and understanding after Jesus' resurrection and
the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. So in Mat's version, the dominant image is Jesus
as the future King of the Jews who had undergone the same fate as his people (threatened to
death, exiled in Egypt and back again in Israel). In Luke's version, we have Jesus as the
promised Saviour/Redeemer.
The age of 12 years is very meaningful: it is the age when a Jewish boy is considered an
adult in the matter of faith and the law. He will have a big celebration called Bar Mitzwah
(meaning: Son of the Law). In front of many people in a synagogue he will be called to read
the Scriptures and explain it. After this he is to fulfill the law obligations as any other Jewish
man: 613 rules to obey! The age of 30 years is the age when a Jewish male is considered
ready to start a public life / ministry; David was 30 when he was enthroned as king, Samuel
was 30 when he started his duty; at 30 Jesus started his ministry (Luke 3:23).
What about the story of Mary (pregnant) and Joseph going around looking for a room in
a hotel? They couldn't find a place in any hotel, so they had to stay in a stall for animals?
Most probably, Joseph went back to the house of his own parents. But since there were so
many relatives coming back too, the house was so crowded with people that there was no
free space for Mary to give birth and lay the baby, and the baby had to be laid in a manger.
So what is meant is not "There was no place in the inn" (Luke 2:7), but "there was no space
(free) in the house".

5. Jesus' genealogical lists: Mat starts the genealogical list of Jesus "from above" (Abraham
and so on until Jesus), but Luke starts his list "from below" (from Jesus and then up). In
Christology we also have "Christology from above" (starting from God, Word of God
incarnated, Jesus) and "Christology from below" (starting from the humanity of Jesus). It is
possible that Mat's list is from the side of Joseph, while Luke's list is from the side of Mary.
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 28

6. The Beginning of Jesus' Ministry (3:1 - 4:44)

A. Preparation:

Desert: Ruler of the World - Word of God (3:1-2)


Jordan: Holy Spirit (3:3-22)
Genealogical List: Son of God (3:23-28)
Jordan: Holy Spirit (4:1a)
Desert: Ruler of the World - Word of God (3:4b-13)

B. Jesus' Mission:

Teaching: in synagogues, all around Galilee (4:14-15)


"To Proclaim the Kingdom of God": Nazareth, rejected by many (4:16-30)
To Heal: Capernaum, "The Holy of God" (4:31-37)
To Heal: Capernaum, House of Peter (4:38-39)
To Heal: Capernaum, "Son of God" (4:40-41)
"To Proclaim the Kingdom of God": deserted place, sought by many (4:42-43)
Proclaiming: in synagogues, all around Judea (4:44)

7. Images from the Beginning (Genesis): River is a symbol of border, stage of transition, a
passage in life. The river Jordan becomes a border for the promised land; every Jew who
comes back from "across the Jordan" / "beyond Jordan" (meaning outside of the area of the
promised land), after crossing the river Jordan must clean his/her shoes from the dirt / dust of
the unholy land. That is why baptism is done in a river, indicating a passage of from sins to
forgiveness of sins, from death to life. Desert symbolizes death, or the power of death; it is
here that Satan appears. But desert refers also the to beginning of time, the creation of the
world, "void and formless". There we have also the Spirit of God (hovering over the deep
water) and the Word of God (in creating, "God said, <let there be .... > and it happened
thus").

8. Proclamation of Mission in Nazareth: Luke uses only the verb (to proclaim the Gospel,
euaggelizasthai) and not the noun (Gospel, euaggelion). Again we see here that the
proclamation of the Kingdom of God is done both through preaching and healing. What is
meant by proclaiming the Kingdom of God is to free people from the power of the enemies
of God.
The same story in Mark and Mat (Mk 6:1-6; Mat 13:54-58: Jesus being rejected in
Nazareth) is narrated also in Luke (4:16-30), but with a different meaning. In Mark and Mat,
Jesus couldn't do any miracle (or a few) because the people of Nazareth lacked the faith; they
lacked faith in Jesus, because they know that he also comes from Nazareth, the same as
everyone of them. Luke didn't say that Jesus couldn't do any miracle. In Luke, Jesus didn't
want to do any miracle there. The people of Nazareth are shown as very eager to see Jesus
do also a miracle in his own village as he does in other places. When Jesus refused, they
became angry and forced Jesus to the brink of the cliff, not in order to kill him (as we usually
think!!!) but to force him to jump down off the cliff (as Satan once tempted him to do!) so
that they could see a miracle: Jesus saves himself or be saved by the angels. Salvation is a
free gift of God, we cannot force God to give it.
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 29

Day 12: 17 September, 2004

1. Bro. Phonchai led the opening prayer.


2. Review on last week's lecture: the one and the same event can be narrated differently by
each Gospel (rejection in Nazareth; Genealogical list of Jesus).

3. Stage TWO. Jesus' Ministry in Galilee (4:14 - 9:50)


A. Jesus is on Mission (4:14-4:44): see page 27
B. Jesus is Forming a Community around Him (5:1 - 9:50): see below.

(1). Jesus is calling people/disciples (5-7):

a. Peter: "Because of Your Word" - "Away from me, a Sinner" (5:1-11)


Healing: Leper - Reintegration to Society (5:12-16)
New Age (Signs of): - Remission of sins: paralyzed man (5:17-26)
- Banquet: - Eating with sinners/Levi (5:27-32)
- Fasting/Bridegroom (5:33-39)
- New Sabbaths: - Eating in the field (6:1-5)
-Withered arm recreated/restored (6:6-11)
b. The Twelve: "Jesus prayed, called and gave name" (6:12-16)
Healing: Many People (6:17-19)
New Age (How to live in ...): - Blessings: Happy/Woe (6:20-26)
- Commands: - To love others (6:27-36)
- Not to judge others (6:37-42)
- Warnings: - Tree & Fruit (6:43-45)
- House & Foundation (6:46-49)
c. Foreign Officer: "Your Word only ..." "Do not come to me" (7:1-10)
Healing: Dead Son of a widow - Reintegration into Life (7:11-17)
New Age (Foundations of): - God's will/plan: John the Baptist (7:18-30)
- God's wisdom: Pharisees refused (7:31-35)
- God's mercy: sinful woman (7:36-50)

(2). Jesus is founding a community around Him (8:1-21)

a. Group around Jesus: The Twelve and some rich women (8:1-3)

b. Obedience to God's Words: - Sower and Seed (8:4-15)


- Lamp (8:16-18)
c. Group around Jesus: brothers and sisters of Jesus (8:19-21)

(3). Jesus is inviting his group to participate in His Mission and Destiny (8:22-9:50)

a. To participate in Jesus' Mission & Power (8:22-9:21):


*Jesus' Power: - Storm: "Who is He?" (8:22-25)
- Possessed man from Gerasene: "Many ..." (8:26-39)
- Jairus' daughter: "Peter" (8:40-56)
*The Twelve are sent: - Power given & Rejection and Acceptance (9:1-6)

*Jesus' Identity: - Herod: "Who is He?" (9:7-9)


- Multiplication of Bread: "Many ...." (9:10-17)
- Peter's Confession: "Peter" (9:18-21)
Martin/Synoptics2004/p. 30

b. To participate in Jesus' Destiny (9:22-50):


*Prediction I of Passion: Requirements for Disciples to follow Jesus (9:22-27)
Transfiguration: Jesus' glory - "Father's voice" (9:28-36)
Exorcism: by Jesus - Disciples couldn't do exorcism (9:37-43a)
*Prediction II of Passion: Disciples do not understand (9:43b-45)
Conflicts: Disciples seek glory - "That who sends Jesus" (9:46-48)
Exorcism: by others in Jesus' name - Disciples protested (9:49-50)

And then comes the Third Stage (9:51-19:27): Jesus' journey to Jerusalem. Now that the
special group/community around Jesus is formed, Jesus brings them with him to travel around
and around towards Jerusalem. It is difficult to find a satisfying structure to the journey, but
some scholars think that it resembles the journey of the Israelites in the desert for forty years
before they finally entered the Promised Land.

4. Questions and Answer:


* Literary structure: Bro. Thairong asked about the literary structure used in Luke. It is
called "parallelism" (simple: A - B // A' - B'; or inverted: A - B // B' - A'); and when there is
one element in the center, it is called "parallelism concentric" (A - B - C - B' A). This
structure was very often used in ancient literature. Apart from its literary beauty, it also
makes it easier to memorize them. See the shortest Psalm 117: "Give praise to the Lord, all
nations; Extol Him, all peoples. For His Mercy is strong; and His Faithfulness is
everlasting" is structured in a parallel way as A - B // A' - B; C - D // C' - D'. However, the
second pair in the original Hebrew is structured as "inverted parallelism", C - D // D' - C,
because it says: "Strong is His Mercy upon us, and His Faithfulness is everlasting", so that
God's Mercy and God's Faithfulness are put together in the Center!
Can one find different structure in the same story/narration? Yes, it is possible. See this
example: Elephant - Chicken - Man - Cow - Eagle. It depends which criteria we are using to
read, for example: "animal" and "human being"; or "four-leg animal" "two-leg animal", or
"animal commonly eaten" "not commonly eaten", "starting with C or E".

* "Time in Real Life" and "Time in Narration": Bro. Thairong asked again, the fact that the
author orders the events in his Gospel according to a certain pattern, does it mean that the
events in the Gospel are not narrated according to the chronology as they had happened in
Jesus’ “real life”? Yes, because the materials that the authors of the Gospel used are taken
from various sources, most probably without any temporal order, just collections of memories
of what had happened. Only several events are clear: baptism at the beginning and death at
the end of Jesus’ ministry! See that the Synoptics put the story of the purification of the
Temple at the end, just after Jesus entered Jerusalem; John puts it at the beginning of his
ministry (John 2:13ss). Events in real life (A happens, then B, then C, then D, then E…) can
be narrated differently (C, D, A, B, E).

* Bro. Somchai asked: “The Centurion asked Jesus not to come to his house, is this good or
not?” It is good, just as Peter asked Jesus to keep away from him, because he felt unworthy.
Besides, for a Jew, entering the house of a Gentile creates impurity (see John 18:28: the Jews
didn’t enter Pilate’s palace because they didn’t want to be impure).

Thank you for your patience and attention, May God bless you all!