Dependence of Mark upon Matthew (Continued)

3. Markan Awareness of Matthew

There are some 75 instances of this presented here, wherein the Markan awareness of Matthew is of the type that gives itself away through one or more redactions, whether minor or gross, whether through additions or omissions, and whether of a textual or logical nature. All the other Markan alterations to Matthean textual content are also seen to involve Markan knowledge of Matthew, of course, but they more aptly fall under the continuations of Sections 4-7. In the following analysis, Luke is considered to be dependent upon Mark (and Matthew), as indicated by the external evidence (tradition), rather than Mark being dependent upon Luke; for reasonable evidence to support this has been given by supporters of the two-document hypothesis or two-source hypothesis (Mark-Matthew-Luke) as well as by supporters of the Augustinian hypothesis (Matthew-Mark-Luke). Hence there will be little discussion of Luke here. Again, Gospel verses quoted in English stem from the RSV Bible (1952).

Mk 1:2    "As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, 'Behold, I send my messenger before thy face...'" This is the well known error on the part of the writer of Mark wherein he attributed this first part of his scriptural citation to Isaiah although it derives from Malachi; only the latter portion derives from Isaiah though it appears to have been copied from Mt 3:3. This error is plausibly attributed to his having used the citation from Mt 11:10, which however doesn't mention who the prophet was, thereby leading to the erroneous assumption by the writer of Mark that it was Isaiah. Since he didn't utilize this section of Matthew, which extolled John the Baptist, he was free to borrow the verse from it to use in his own early discussion of John.

If, on the other hand, Mark were considered primary, one would need to assume that not only did the writer of Matthew notice this error in Mark, he decided to repair Mark's error by not using the Malachi verse within Mt 3:3 but instead within a section of his text (Mt 11:2-15) which fortuitously needed this quotation to complete the pericope's major theme. In addition, if he had been correcting Mark in that manner, he would likely have mentioned the name of the prophet involved (Malachi) in support of his alteration of Mark. This he does not do. Thus the odds strongly favor Mark's dependence upon Matthew here.

Mk 1:6    "Now John was clothed with camel's hair..." Although this verse closely parallels Mt 3:4, in location it comes after the verse (Mk 1:5) stating about all the people that went out to hear John. In this location, Mk 1:6 gives undue emphasis to his clothing and diet, since it appears sandwiched between the two more important items of Mk 1:5 and of the following verse that tells something of what he spoke.[1] Moreover, Mark's repetition of John's name here, just two verses after it was previously introduced and without any other name intervening that could cause confusion, further suggests that this and other Markan verses were taken out of order relative to Matthew. For Matthew's parallel had started out the same way, with John's name mentioned, because in its account the pronoun "he" was already utilized in the previous verse to refer to the prophet Isaiah. Thus, Mark's especially awkward syntax here is explained by his abbreviations and reordering of the Matthean text. The relative order of parallel verses here is:
Mt 3: 1 2 3   4 5 6 7-10 11a 11b 11c 12
Mk 1: 4a 4b 2a,3   6 5a 5b -- 8a 7 8b --

By placing Mk 1:6 where it is, the writer of Mark caused these discrepancies, which are then a result of hasty editing. Motivation for the alterations in order and abbreviation was, primarily, so that the Gospel of Mark would be as different in appearance as possible from the Gospel of Matthew, which was Mark's source.

Although it could be argued that the writer of Matthew utilized Mark and improved upon it and expanded it, this fails to explain why Mark's wording was so inept in the first place. With Matthew being the source for Mark here, and being closer to its own source and therefore better constructed logically, the discrepancies in Mark are explained without introducing unexplained problems in Matthew.

Mk 1:13    "and the angels ministered." This is the first we hear of any angels having been around at that time. Hence they should have been referred to simply as "angels," as in the parallel Matthean verse (Mt 4:11). Thus the writer of Mark betrays that he had the angels of Matthew in mind here, and so called them "the angels."

Also, from Matthew it is apparent that Jesus needed their ministrations due to having fasted 40 days, while no reason is given in Mark. One must assume that they were administering food to him. This oversight easily stems from the writer having abbreviated Matthew too heavily. Although it might be suggested that he had had access to "Q" and abbreviated it, there is no necessity for postulating any such unattested document when Matthew suffices so well as his source.

Further indication that this was a hasty extraction from another's account, namely Matthew's, is that the angels are not mentioned to have arrived after Satan left. It rather reads as if the angels and Satan had been together there at the same time. One then needs Matthew to make some sort of sense of this inept editorial summary by the writer of Mark. It may be argued that Matthew's account cannot be realistic or historical either, and so what was its source? This is discussed under Mt 3:16f in the Mt-TJ section of this website.

Another indication that Mark is secondary here is that its 2-verse presentation of Jesus' supposed wilderness experience has no point to it. This is consistent with it being an all too brief summary of Matthew's temptation story. Mark's clause, "and he was with the wild beasts," appears to be an addition made partly for the sake of change (see Section 7) and partly to portray Jesus' bravery and authority (e.g., as in his authority over demons, and as in Mk 11:16, where Jesus does not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple). The reason for the writer of Mark to have abbreviated Matthew's temptation story so heavily is here thought to be the story's lavish use of quotations and allusions from the Hebrew scriptures with which he was either unacquainted or which he felt were irrelevant for his gentile audience.

Mk 1:14    "Now after John was arrested, Jesus came..." Again the account of Mark is so abbreviated that it presumes the reader already knows, from some other writing, that by this time John had indeed been arrested. Knowledge of this then came from Matthew, since Luke has no parallel to it, and in Matthew mention of John's arrest is more than an afterthought. Actually, the Greek text of Mark is even more obscure, reading "the to-be-delivered John." The writer of Mark had strong motivation for abbreviating Matthew and not faithfully following its text here: In Matthew (Mt 4:12) the reason Jesus left wherever he had been and withdrew to Galilee was due to his having heard of John's arrest. This was a sign of weakness and fear that the writer of Mark apparently did not wish to attribute to Jesus. If one attempts to turn this argument around, it is practically inconceivable that the writer of Matthew, upon reading Mark's account, would have amplified it for the purpose of implying that Jesus was fearful.

Mk 1:16    "he saw Simon and Andrew." This is too abruptly specific, as Jesus didn't yet even know their names. However, they were already known to the writer of Mark and to any other readers of Matthew from the gospel parallel of Mt 4:18, where the brothers were introduced in a natural manner. Obviously the writer of Mark knew how to write it properly if he had been more careful, as when he introduced Jairus in Mk 5:22 as "one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name." (By the time the TJ was written, its writer had apparently forgotten Jairus's name. Hence it does not appear within the TJ or within Matthew. But the writer of Mark knew of it from its mention in the document Peter and (John) Mark brought with them to Rome, which languished there until finally used by the writer of Mark.)

Mk 1:19    "he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother." This discloses the same problem as above, with Mt 4:21 now providing the foreknowledge.

Mk 1:22,27

22And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.

The parallel verses of Mt 7:28b-29 at the end of the Sermon on the Mount are practically identical, so that it is clear that either Mark depends on Matthew here or vice versa. In Matthew the reasons for stating Jesus taught with authority are clear: that Sermon is very authoritative, especially with its verses like "You have heard that it was said... but I say to you." Mark, on the other hand, does not here give even a sample of what Jesus' teaching was that astonished his listeners. This state of affairs could easily have come about through the writer of Mark abbreviating out most all of Matthew's Sermon on the Mount, which he did not care to include, but then retaining this final verse from it because it exalts Jesus. It is less likely to have come about through the writer of Matthew having composed the Sermon on the Mount, then deciding to borrow Mk 1:22 as a fitting close to the sermon but opting not to include Mark's healing miracle which follows immediately after this verse.

This deduction is supported by the reference back to this verse of Mk 1:27, following Mark's healing miracle. The verse reads,

27And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him."
Again, what this new teaching was is not mentioned, but if the writer of Mark had not omitted it (Matthew's Sermon) from his gospel, there would have been cause for astonishment at a new teaching. As it stands in Mark, the onlookers in the synagogue who watched the healing miracle would have been astonished at the miracle rather than at teachings unworthy of mention.[3]

Mk 1:44    "....and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them." (Although the RSV Bible replaced "them" with "people," except in a footnote, its RSV's Greek source uses "to them.") Here one must refer back to a previous pericope to find some people for "them" to stand for. Hence it appears the writer of Mark was following Matthew and copying its "them" from Mt 8:4, which (with a lesser stretch) refers back to the crowds of people at the beginning of the leper-healing pericope. Also, Mark's additional "for your cleansing" has the appearance of a clarification to Mt 8:4.[4]

Mk 2:10    Here, in the story of the healing of the paralytic, the writer of Mark, upon making use of Mt 9:6, uses the "Son of man" expression. This openly revealed Jesus' messianic status, since "Son of man" most easily refers to the messianic figure by that title in Daniel. However, this was supposed to be kept a secret in Mark (the messianic secret), except from the disciples, until Jesus was raised from the dead (Mk 9:9-10). Yet the messianic secret is seen to have been otherwise in place following Mk 1:24, where the demon, in speaking to Jesus, calls him the "Holy One of God." This has no Matthean parallel. Although the same problem does occur in Matthew, it is more severe in Mark due to the latter's greater emphasis upon the messianic secret. This suggests that the writer of Mark used Matthew, because if it were the other way around and the writer of Matthew had noticed this problem in Mark, he would logically have eliminated the problem, not merely have reduced it by making fewer references to the secrecy theme. Thus, the writer of Mark failed to realize, here and elsewhere, the contradiction his usage of Matthew's "Son of man" expressions would bring about with his messianic-secret theme.
        Although it might be thought that Jesus' messianic status was revealed early on, at the baptism, this is often denied on the assumption that only Jesus saw the Spirit descending like a dove and heard the voice from heaven saying, "Thou art my beloved Son."

Mk 2:14    "he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting..." Again, Jesus would not yet have known his name. Here, however, the writer of Mark is likely letting his audience know he is aware that Matthew the disciple did not write the gospel that was labeled "according to Matthew." What better way than not even have the disciple's name be Matthew at this point? But how would he know this? He would know it because he had on hand the document Peter and Mark had brought to Rome decades earlier, which contained the same episode, and its author was not listed as Matthew.

Mk 2:27    This verse begins with "And he said to them..." However, prior to this point Jesus was already speaking to the Pharisees, and he continues to do so in the remainder of this verse and in the next. So why did the writer of Mark break Jesus' response to the Pharisees right in the middle with an interruptive clause? Upon comparison with the parallel in Matthew, one finds that at this very point Mark omits Mt 12:5-7 and has an extra sentence (at Mk 2:27b) just after resuming with "And he said to them..." This interruptive clause then has the appearance of being an editorial addition suggested to the writer/editor because he himself had to pause for a while to decide how much to omit and how much, if any, to add, before resuming his close following of Matthew's text, which does not have any such needless interruption in its direct speech. At the same time, the addition of the interruptive clause would serve to remind the reader that Jesus was still speaking (quotation marks and other punctuation were not yet invented at this time), and would serve to make the text of Mark be different than that of Matthew (change for the sake of change). Obviously, it would not suffice to have his gospel be too similar to that of Matthew and yet claim that it stemmed from an independent source -- the man (John) Mark.

This argument derives from that of H. G. Jameson.[5] It carries added weight if Mark is found to exhibit the same feature -- a needless interruptive clause -- at other places. This it does also at Mk 4:9,13,21,24; 6:10, 7:9,20; and 9:1, while not occurring in the Matthean parallels to these points. The interruptive clause is either the same as "And he said to them..." or similar, and it occurs where the writer of Mark has apparently made an omission, an addition, and/or some other alteration to Matthew.

The probability is exceedingly slim that an original writer with access to Jesus' words would for no good literary reason repeatedly insert an interruptive clause like this into his writing. But the reasons have been set forth above why a second gospel writer, who is making use of the text of the gospel that came before his but who does not wish to acknowledge that source, would have adopted this editorial oddity at some of the points where he has made alterations, especially if it contributed to one of his goals, namely "change for the sake of change."

Now it might be argued that Mark is primary to Matthew, whose writer noticed all these interruptive clauses in Mark and edited them out. This not only would be improbable, but would fail to take account of the improbability that if Mark were a primary gospel, it would exhibit these needless interruptive clauses. On the other hand, the absence of this peculiarity within Matthew is consistent with it being a gospel closer to the source than is Mark. The writer of Matthew was not under any requirement to make his gospel be different in content and appearance than his source, since his source would never be transcribed and never circulated except to one or two other persons; it could be destroyed within a few years or decades after completion of the Gospel of Matthew.

Mk 3:1-6    Here Jesus enters the synagogue (in an episode apparently not related to his previous discussion with Pharisees in the grain fields), and heals the man with the withered hand. A nebulous "they" watch this event and hear Jesus speak to them angrily. This "they" then turn into Pharisees who go out and hold counsel against him. Here the writer of Mark had apparently become a little careless in not noticing that the Matthean text he was following and translating (Mt 12:9f) had referred to their synagogue, which linked the story with the preceding one involving Pharisees who had evidently followed Jesus into their synagogue. The "they" in Mk 3:2,4 can hardly refer to "the people," as a nebulous "they" usually does, since Jesus would not have had cause to speak to all the people in the synagogue angrily. However Mk 3:2 forces the reader to assume that all those in the synagogue were aiming to accuse Jesus. In Matthew it is clearer that "they" refer to the Pharisees who must have followed Jesus into their synagogue. Thus the error made here by the writer of Mark was to alter Matthew's "their synagogue" into "the synagogue," or into "a synagogue" according to two valued Greek manuscripts. Either way, the failure of Mark's text to utilize "their synagogue" causes the problem; if "a synagogue" be interpreted as "he went to synagogue," instead of "to a synagogue," the same argument prevails.

The reverse interpretation -- that the writer of Matthew purposely eliminated Mark's problem -- is much less credible. He would have had to perceive that he could alter Mark's "a synagogue" into "their synagogue," and thereby imply that it was the synagogue that the Pharisees attended who had queried Jesus in the grain field. If he had simply been intent to improve upon Mark, however, he would much more likely have replaced Mark's first nebulous "they" (in Mk 3:2) with "the Pharisees inside" or some such expression.

Mk 3:13    "And he went up into the hills, and called to him those whom he desired; and they came to him." This verse is a rather close, but isolated, parallel to the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:1), which begins, "Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him..." So is it more probable that the writer of Mark borrowed it from Matthew, or vice versa? The former makes sense, in that Mark's subsequent six verses, also taken from Matthew, were then his substitution for Matthew's Sermon on the Mount, most of which the writer of Mark did not wish to include, for reasons discussed elsewhere in this analysis. His substitution is awkward in several respects, including the fact that within it the disciples, though called once in Mk 3:13, are appointed a second time in Mk 3:16 (upon following the Greek text), even though in Mk 6:7 they will be called again and given a more detailed mission. Thus, it appears to be a clumsily crafted substitution based upon either Mt 10:1-4 and/or upon the recovered document that Peter and (John) Mark left behind in Rome (see Section 1).
       At the same time, Mk 3:13 can be considered an attempted improvement to Matthew. Matthew leaves it uncertain where and when the additional seven disciples were appointed. This was a sufficiently salient point that even the writer of Mark may have noticed it and decided to correct it, by writing Mk 3:13b.

If argued the other way around, it would be supposed that the writer of Matthew noticed that Mark had called the disciples twice. And so he consolidated Mark's two calls into one. But instead of simply relocating Mark's first call with its names of disciples into the position of the second call, the writer of Matthew decided to invent a 108-verse Sermon to take its place. This seems to be the less probable solution by far. Also, if the writer of Matthew had utilized Mark, he could scarcely have helped but notice that in Mark all twelve disciples are called into duty, and he would have had no reason to omit such a fact.

Mk 3:15    Here Jesus gives the disciples authority to cast out demons but no more authority than that. In the Matthean parallel (Mt 10:1) he gives them authority also to heal diseases and infirmities. One sees here, and in the light of Section 6, that this easily fits into that section's category of the writer of Mark not desiring to portray the disciples at all favorably. If the writer of Matthew had built his gospel around Mark's, however, he is very unlikely to have taken it upon himself to invent this important, additional authority for the disciples because it detracts from the divinity of Jesus if others could do the wondrous deeds that he could do. Hence the granting of this authority must have been present within his source document -- the TJ discussed earlier, where it is indeed present. From certain portions of the TJ we know that the writer of Luke had had access to it, apparently only after the writer of Matthew was finished with it, but that the writer of Mark, being in Rome, had not. Thus the writer of Luke did realize that the granting of this authority within Matthew had represented fact, and so he included it within his gospel (Lk 9:1-2). (However, nowhere in the synoptic gospels or the TJ do the disciples perform any healings.)

The desire not to allow Jesus' divine stature be eroded may then have been additional reason why the writer of Mark omitted this authority for the disciples. Mark's omission of Peter's walking on water, present in Matthew, can be explained in the same manner. On the other hand, it may be noted that at Mk 6:13 the disciples are said to have healed many that were sick, a verse not associated with parallel Matthean material at Mt 10:14. It is likely that this verse was extracted from the special material available to the writer of Mark (the recovered stolen writing), as this material is thought to have included material within Mt 8-11. The inconsistency between not having granted the disciples power to heal and the healings in verse Mk 6:13 was then overlooked by the writer of Mark.

Mk 4:2,33

2And he taught them many things in parables... 33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them...
These two verses occur at the beginning and end, respectively, of the parable section in Mark, and indicate that its writer knew that what he presented were only selections from all the parables that Jesus had taught. But how would he know that unless the parables he didn't present were in his source? Since the several parables he omitted are in Matthew, while the parables he did include of the sower and of the mustard seed indicate a very close dependence between Matthew and Mark, by far the most obvious conclusion is that the writer of Mark abstracted from Matthew.

Mk 4:10-34    Here Jesus starts explaining the parable of the sower to his disciples and to a certain number of others from the crowd. He keeps speaking to "them" in Mk 4:13,21,24,33. However by the time one reaches Mk 4:34 it is clear that "them" has shifted from referring to just the twelve disciples and a few others to the whole crowd. This error is mainly a consequence of the writer's insertion of Mk 4:21-25 -- verses found in the Sermon on the Mount -- into the parable section, as it's not clear if they are spoken to the crowds or just to the disciples and a few others.

Specifically, at Mt 13:24, which begins, "Another parable he put before them," it should be clear that "them" refers back to the crowds, since it was only during the explanation of the parable of the sower that Jesus spoke privately to his disciples. This is confirmed by Mt 13:34, "All this Jesus said to the crowds in parables..." Since Mk 4:26 starts out paralleling Mt 13:24, that is the place, therefore, where one can infer, with the help of Matthew, that Jesus was again speaking to the crowds. However, this inference is uncertain because of the inserts of Mk 4:21-25.

With the Gospel of Matthew on hand to follow, the writer of Mark had again grown careless (or fatigued) and failed to redefine Jesus' listeners, or clarify who they were, at or following his insertions.

Mk 4:12     Jesus was telling the people gathered about him that those outside the kingdom of God hear everything just in parables, "so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; lest they should turn again, and be forgiven." The Matthean parallel to this occurs at Mt 13:13-15, where its Isaian source is mentioned and a rendering of two verses (Is 6:9-10) is given. Now, if Mark is dependent upon Matthew here, we see that it is an abbreviation of Matthew's account, omitting any mention that it involved a quotation from Isaiah. This of course would be fully consistent with the editorial behavior of the writer of Mark all along. But we see that it fails to give any answer to the original query addressed to Jesus concerning the parables. It fails to give any reason why the people should not be allowed "to turn again and be forgiven," and thus no reason why they should not be allowed to hear and understand. To comprehend why, one must read the subsequent three verses of the Isaian passage. Hence the Markan passage does not fit in with any real life situation involving a wisdom teacher speaking coherently, which is a strong indication of its secondary nature. Any passage that is sensible initially turns into illogic or nonsense if abbreviated too far.

However, whether or not Matthew depends upon Mark, we see that Matthew at least provides an answer of some sort -- its passage involves a quotation from scripture, and for its writer that was answer enough. Now, if Matthew did depend upon Mark here, and its writer had noticed that Mark contains a couple of unattributed lines from Isaiah that he could fill in, this would nevertheless not explain the meaninglessness of the Markan account in the first place. As Butler discussed, it cannot be at all likely that Jesus intended to reveal the meaning of the parables to his disciples "but deliberately to cloak it from the crowds, in order that they may see and yet not see, hear and yet not hear, for fear lest they should be converted and forgiven!"[6]

Lamar Cope gives a somewhat different set of reasons why Mark is dependent upon Matthew here.[7] One of his points is that in Mk 4:10 (..."To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God") "secret" is singular while in Matthew and Luke the plural is used. Thus, if the writer of Luke utilized Matthew here as much or more than Mark, he betrayed it by using the plural. My own speculation is that the writer of Mark altered "secrets" to the singular so that it would fit his intepretation of the big "secret" that Jesus was God's Messiah, in keeping with his emphasis of the "Messianic secret." The writer of Luke could see that Mark's use of the singular "secret" was less satisfactory than Matthew's plural.

The position here, then, is that the Matthean account came first, and the quotation from Isaiah was supplied by its writer as an explanation to the query of why Jesus spoke to the people in parables. Considering that the writer of Matthew had his own source other than Mark, it may be of interest as to what this source actually had to say in answer to the original query. The writer of Mark chose to retain a summary of Matthew's Isaiah quote, without attribution, since it indicated that those Jesus was preaching to at that time (Jews) would not understand the secret, and would therefore not make suitable disciples; by implication, gentiles would, however. This is consistent with Mark's anti-Jewish remarks in Section 6.

Mk 4:13    "...all the parables." At this point Jesus had only preached the one parable, so that "all" does not belong. And "the" also does not belong, since it implies that "the parables" were already a known aspect of Jesus' teaching and that there were several or many of them, which then came from foreknowledge of Mt 13. Hence what "all the parables" actually means here is "all the other parables Jesus was about to teach that are present within Matthew but omitted from Mark."

In addition, this verse contains the needless interruptive clause discussed in this section under Mk 2:27, which further indicates its secondary character relative to Matthew.

Mk 4:21-22    -- the sayings on allowing one's lamp to shine forth and exposing all secrets. These sayings would not have been expressed by Jesus at this point following seven verses of his explanation of the parable of the sower. His listeners would still be thinking about the explanation and would not be able to comprehend a sudden reversion back nine verses to where he had been speaking of the secret of the kingdom (Mk 4:11), although a reader is better able to do this. Thus by being far out of context the sayings betray the fact that the writer of Mark borrowed them from elsewhere in Matthew (from the Sermon on the Mount) and failed to insert them at an appropriate spot.

In addition, Mk 4:21 reads: "Is the lamp brought in to be put under the bushel...?" What lamp did the writer have in mind? -- why the lamp already made known from Mt 5:15, where it is, as should be expected, a lamp. (The RSV Bible's translation of Mark's Greek substitutes "a lamp" for the Greek "the lamp.")

Further, this verse contains the needless interruptive clause discussed in this section under Mk 2:27, also suggesting its secondary character relative to Matthew.

Mk 4:24    The saying about "the measure you give will be the measure you get" is here prefixed by the editorial interruption "And he said to them" that we have already discussed under Mk 2:27. As noted by Mann,[8] this suggests that this verse had not originally been attached to the previous ones, 4:21-22, as does the fact that the subject matter of the two sets of sayings shows no connection between them. In that case, these verses were not spoken consecutively by Jesus after all, and thus are not in their original contexts, indicating that the writer of Mark borrowed them from somewhere. The simplest solution, then, is that he borrowed them from Matthew, as indicated partially above, with 4:24b having stemmed from Mt 7:2. As mentioned by Butler, it "is obvious" that this saying belongs with the first half of Mt 7:2.[9]

If argued the other way around, the writer of Matthew would have had to notice that Mk 4:21 could be given a proper context if placed in a lengthy Sermon (at Mt 5:15), Mk 4:22 could be given a fitting context if placed at Mt 10:26, and Mk 4:24 could be given a fitting context if placed at Mt 7:2. This would be a less plausible hypothesis, since it is the Markan text that exhibits the greater indications of editing here.

Mk 4:26-29    This parable of the seed appears as but a pale echo of the preceding parable of the sower -- the kingdom of God is likened to the scattering of seeds that somehow sprout and grow so that when the grain is ripe it may be harvested. It thus lacks sensible motivation for its existence unless the writer of Mark had been following along Matthew's parables, in which case he had come to Matthew's parable of the weeds (Mt 13:24-30) and was giving his own, revised version of it here. Either or both of two reasons for this immediately comes to mind. Matthew's parable may not have been understandable to him and thus not have been anything he would wish to justify to a gentile audience. Or quite likely he did not appreciate that the weeds, representing evil or evil persons, were allowed to grow along with the grain, since he had apparently disliked Matthew's Sermon exhortation of not resisting evil and had thus omitted it. So he could easily strip Matthew's parable of its undesired and non-understood features, though that left it as a vacuous parable.

In this parable there was little reason for the writer of Mark to have written that the man who sowed the seed slept and rose, night and day, to represent the passage of time while the seed germinated, except for his having been prompted by the word "sleep" in the Matthean parable. The parable's main thought, of the man not knowing how the seeds grew, might have been prompted by the writer not knowing how to sensibly interpret the Matthean parable. If viewed the other way around, the writer of Matthew would need to be credited with having recognized these various deficiencies in Mark's parable and with having a totally different theme (weeds and the enemy) ready in his mind to substitute for it. (For the reason Matthew's parable is incomplete and thus difficult to understand, see the relevant verses discussed in Mt 13.

It is less probable that the writer of Matthew, if that gospel had come after Mark, would have constructed his parable of the weeds around Mark's parable of the seed, as this would require excessive creativity. The presence of the weeds in Matthew's parable and the problem of how to get rid of them are all-important extraneous features not in Mark's parable.

Mk 4:34    "he did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything." By this point one sees that Mark omits any explanation to its parable of the seed (Mk 4:26-29), which, as noted above, appears to be a highly abbreviated version of Matthew's parable of the weeds (or parable of the wheat and tares, Mt 13:24-30).  The writer of Mark could not very well produce an explanation for his parable of the seed if he had hastily produced it himself through the editorial process of abbreviating Matthew. Thus he did not explain it. But since the writer of Matthew did provide an explanation for the parable of the weeds, it is understandable that the writer of Mark felt he should cover for his lack of an explanation here by noting that "to his own disciples he [Jesus] explained everything" (see Chapman  [10]).

Mk 5:30-32

30And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, "Who touched my garments?" 31And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing all around you, and yet you say, 'Who touched me?'" 32And he looked around...

The parallel Matthean verse of Mt 9:22 does not contain any such insulting question by the disciples. (Although the "yet" within the Markan question is not present in the Greek, the verse still represents great insolence.) The implication here is that the Jewish disciples were so dumb and insolent as to expect that Jesus should have seen who within the crowd all about him had touched the hem of his garment before he had even turned around. The question is so unrealistic, plus coming from the mouths of all the disciples at once, as to enable the discerning reader to notice that it was the hostile invention of the writer of Mark, and not any piece of a historical narrative that the writer of Matthew later omitted out of reverence. Section 6 presents a substantial number of the other Markan slurs directed against the disciples.

Mk 6:3    "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary...?" If Jesus had learned carpentry at some earlier time, perhaps in his youth, he nevertheless by this time would have been absent from the trade for many months at least, and would not likely still be known as a carpenter. In fact, the probability seems vanishingly small that he could swiftly have switched from being a carpenter before being baptized to a worker of miraculous healings and deeds afterwards without having gone through some sort of lengthy training period -- probably of many years duration -- which would have divorced him from any trade as a carpenter. Hence the odds greatly favor Jesus' stepfather, Joseph, as having been the carpenter, as stated in the parallel passage of Mt 13:55. Thus the writer of Mark in all probability stole the carpenter theme from Matthew and altered it. A probable reason for his alteration is so that he would not need to mention Jesus' stepfather, Joseph; consequently he attached the carpenter label to Jesus instead. He had already decided to omit Matthew's genealogy, and may have felt obliged to say something about Joseph's ancestry were he not to avoid mentioning him altogether. Of course, it is quite possible that he did not even believe that Joseph wasn't the biological father, and so this course of action would spare him from having to say anything about the immaculate conception. His phrase, "the son of Mary," also indicates he wished to avoid mentioning Joseph.

Mark was favored over Matthew by the writer of Luke, and yet even he did not pick up on Mark's carpenter label as attached to Jesus. This is despite the fact that the writer of Luke presented some aspects of Jesus' childhood which many analysts find follow too closely the wording of 1 Samuel (e.g., 1 Sm 2:21,26).[11] He could easily have inserted something about Jesus' supposed young adulthood as a carpenter there if he had felt that tradition justified it. Instead, he avoided the carpenter issue and referred to Joseph by name (Lk 4:22).

Mk 6:7-11a    These instructions to the disciples, which have parallels within Mt 10:8-14, start out by being narrated by the writer of Mark. Then, half way through, he switches over to direct speech by Jesus. In Matthew, on the other hand, it is all written in direct speech. It is plausible that the writer of Mark found it cumbersome to continue paraphrasing the direct speech in Matthew, and so at Mk 6:10a switched over to the use of direct speech in following Matthew. It is less plausible that the writer of Matthew, if following Mark, had noticed this particular awkwardness in Mark and so fixed it up. If the latter had occurred, however, the especially clumsy construction within Mark would remain unexplained.

Mk 6:11b    "And if any place will not receive you and they refuse to hear you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet for a testimony against them." The italicized phrase does not occur in the Matthean parallel (Mt 10:14). It can be seen to be out of context in Mark upon reading the Greek words, which actually translate to "for a testimony to them." It would be no testimony to them if they didn't receive the disciples in the first place and so didn't even watch them leave. And usually "for a testimony to them" refers in the Gospels to some favorable Christian testimony. This error in Mark can be seen to have occurred because its writer had glanced ahead four verses in Matthew and noticed its "for a testimony to them" in a different context but decided to use it here in his own inapt context.[12]

Mk 6:14    "a) King Herod." The writer of Mark read ahead to Matthew's use of "king" at Mt 14:9 and preferred it over "tetrarch" for use throughout. This is the criticism one sees most often in reversed form. However, it fits perfectly well into the present pattern of Markan foreknowledge. It is quite plausible that the writer of Mark did not think that readers/listeners of his gospel would know what a tetrarch was, or be concerned over the difference between a tetrarch and a king.

b) "King Herod heard of it." Just what did Herod hear? The statement follows immediately after a verse telling of the healings performed by the disciples, not by Jesus. Thus that is what, in normal writing, one would infer Herod heard about. But from the rest of the sentence it is clear that Herod must have been referring to the powers wrought by Jesus. If one assumes Markan priority, one then assumes that this is an example of extra clumsy writing in Mark, without any explanation on hand of what may have caused it. However, assuming Matthean priority one sees that the writer of Mark, with Matthew in front of him where its translation read, "Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus...," (Mt 14:1), already had Jesus' ability to work miracles in mind when writing "it." The writer's editorial rework then is what was awkward, not an original writing of his. This has more explanatory power than the scenario that assumes Markan priority, and is thus to be preferred.

Mk 6:14-16

14King Herod heard of it; for Jesus' name had become known. Some said, "John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him." 15But others said, "It is Elijah." And others said, "It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old." 16But when Herod heard of it, he said...
This is seen to contain one of Mark's many pleonasms, since the "Herod heard of it" clause is repeated. But what has been filled in here, following the first member of this pleonasm, can be seen to have been extracted from Mt 16:14, since there John the Baptist, Elijah and one of the prophets appears in the same order. The fact that "Some" (or "They") and "others" are used in the Markan verse is strong indication that the writer of Mark extracted it from Matthew, looking ahead in Matthew at this point, rather than vice versa. In the Matthean context, "some" and "others" are appropriate, but in the Markan context they are not, because there is no clue as to whom they refer to.

In Mark this forms a doublet with Mk 8:28, whereas Matthew has no parallel to Mk 6:14-15 so that its verse (Mt 16:14) is not part of a doublet. Mark's doublet here is an actual doublet and not just some favorite expression repeated on the lips of Jesus, nor a pleonasm either. So which is more plausible: (a) that Mark's account, which could well have been formed from Mt 14:1-2 and received heavy editing in forming the doublet that appears to have used Mt 16:14, is nonetheless the original Gospel account, with Matthew's account being a (secondary) improvement of it? Or (b) that Matthew's account, which does not show signs of having received significant editing, was the original account, with Mark's being secondary? It should be clear that we must opt for (b), since the account receiving the most editing must ordinarily be considered the most secondary or most dependent.

Mk 6:30-35    Were the apostles with Jesus or not? Mk 6:30-31 has the apostles returning to Jesus and then going away by themselves, apparently, in a boat to a place to rest, at Jesus' suggestion. ("He said to them, 'Come away by yourselves,'" not "by ourselves.") And Mk 6:32 seems to confirm this interpretation by saying "they went away... by themselves [or privately]," with "they" still referring to the disciples. Yet Jesus seems to have been with them, because he afterwards goes forth, from the boat apparently, to join the crowd that had congregated ashore ahead of them. However, at this point (Mk 6:34), only Jesus is referred to as landing or going forth; the disciples are lost track of until later, in Mk 6:35, they come to Jesus, which suggests they perhaps hadn't been together with him in the boat after all. Yet, to make overall sense, one must assume he had been with them all along, at least until disembarking. It wouldn't make any sense to suppose that Jesus had stayed ashore where he was as the disciples departed in the boat, while the crowd ran along the shore to follow the course of the disciples in the boat, leaving Jesus behind. To understand what actually happened, one must read Matthew's account, which is what we then must infer that the writer of Mark did.

This confusion within the story more strongly implicates the writer of Mark of having edited the Matthean text than the writer of Matthew of having improved upon Mark. This is because incoherence or inconsistency in a story, especially to this great a degree, is the hallmark of fabrication, relative to the consistency of a more original story. The writer of Mark is seen as having altered the Matthean parallel at Mt 14:12-13 so as to cause Jesus' disciples to return to him immediately following the beheading-of-John episode; in that manner he improved upon Matthew by avoiding its well known flashback problem. But in following Matthew's general content otherwise, in which Jesus went away by himself in a boat, then landed and joined the crowd to heal their sick (Mt 14:13-14), this series of errors or ambiguities crept into his text. At Mt 14:14 Jesus goes ashore alone, the disciples not having been with him, thus explaining the ambiguity in Mk 6:34 where only Jesus is mentioned, as if the disciples in Mark were not present to go ashore with him. If they had been present with him at this point in the original story, they surely would have gone ashore with him, if only to tie up the boat or ensure that the crowds would not crush him -- a danger the writer of Mark could have mentioned, as he did in Mk 3:9b. But here he seems not to have thought of that because he had resumed following Matthew's story in which the disciples were still absent. Only at Mt 14:15 do Jesus' disciples rejoin him, thus explaining why the disciples show up in Mark (Mk 6:35) at the corresponding point as in Matthew.

Mk 6:32    "the boat." There has been no mention of a boat earlier, in the previous 52 verses, but here "the boat" suddenly appears, coming from the parallel of Mt 14:13 (which has the anarthrous form: "a boat"). The writer of Mark certainly knew how to use the anarthrous form, since there are numerous examples of his having used it properly. But having this boat already known to him from the text of Matthew at hand, he thought of it as "the boat."

Mk 6:54-55

54And when they got out of the boat, immediately the people recognized him, 55and ran about the whole neighborhood and began to bring sick people on their pallets to any place where they heard he was.
Instead of the italicized words, however, the actual Greek text just says "they." The editors of the RSV Bible replaced this "they" with "the people" in order that it make some sense. It should be noted that this "they," since it occurs only a few words after a "they" that had referred to Jesus and the disciples, would normally again refer to Jesus and the disciples and would not be an "indefinite they." Now, in the Matthean text that the writer of Mark was following at this point (Mt 14:35), the phrase in question reads "the men of that place," which does faithfully render its Greek. So it very much appears that the writer of Mark knew in advance, from the Matthean verse, just who these persons were and through carelessness referred to them prematurely as "they."

Mk 7:17    Here Jesus' disciples ask him about "the parable." However, the previous saying: "the things which come out of a man are what defile him" is no parable. It is plain talk, as it referred to things coming out of a man, such as evil words, evil thoughts and evil actions. It is no more a parable than is "the Son of man is lord even of the sabbath." So why did the writer of Mark call it a parable? Because that word was used in the Matthean parallel he was following at this point (Mt 15:15). However in Matthew it refers back to the parable of the uprooted plants of Mt 15:13, which indeed is a parable, but was a parable omitted by the writer of Mark.

Mk 7:32     In this cure of a deaf man, "they" bring him to Jesus. The persons whom this "they" refers to is unknown and not stated. It might have been the disciples, since they had presumably been traveling along with Jesus through the region of Decapolis. Or it might have been people of the region. However, from the parallel Matthean text (Mt 15:29-30a), which follows along in the same order as the preceding parallel passages, we see it was the latter, as it is mentioned there that great crowds came to Jesus, bringing those who ailed. Once again the writer of Mark is seen to have had Matthew so much in mind that it did not seem necessary to use anything other than the indefinite pronoun to refer to the people who came to Jesus. (However, at this point the writer of Mark inserted a different pericope from the one in Matthew, though returning to Matthew at the pericope's end.)

Mk 8:10     "the boat." Once again, in its context it should have been "a boat," since 15 verses had elapsed since Jesus had even been to the Sea of Galilee, with an "in those days" moreover intervening. The writer of Mark copied "the boat" from the Matthean parallel at that point, Mt 15:39, without giving sufficient thought to whether it should instead be "a boat." In Matthew's case, it had been only 9 verses back (still quite a stretch) but with no intervening "in those days" since Jesus had been to the Sea of Galilee, so "the boat" might be considered appropriate there. Thus either way, whether he copied Matthew's dubious usage without thinking or simply used "the boat" because its mention in Matthew had particularized it in his mind, the writer of Mark appears to betray his dependence upon Matthew.

Mk 8:14-17    Here in Mk 8:14a Mark continues to parallel Matthew rather closely, in saying the disciples had forgotten to bring bread (loaves) along. However, in 14b an exception is mentioned: they did bring one loaf; no such statement is in Matthew. But Mk 8:15-17 again parallels Matthew very closely (Mt 16:6-8), in repeating twice more that they had no bread (no loaves). This creates a problem because they still affirm that the disciples had not brought bread (loaves) along, after saying they had brought one loaf. Thus the practice or habit of the writer of Mark of inserting a minor detail into what the Matthean text he had been following said, initiated the problem. His continued following of the Matthean text subsequently, and failure to adjust his subsequent text to conform to the added detail, which could be called Markan "fatigue,"[13] constitutes the problem itself.

It might be argued that there is no discrepancy here; they had brought one loaf along but had not brought "loaves" along. However, in actual speech, which this was, such nitpicking doesn't occur, unless the conversation is one of insincere banter, which this wasn't. Further, if the same argument were to be made with respect to Mt 22:24 -- arguing that for a person "not to have children" only means "not to have more than one child" -- it would be roundly rejected by all as being very special pleading. Furthermore, in the case of "no loaves," one loaf would have been very significant and nothing Jesus would have ignored, for if with five loaves he could feed five thousand, surely with one loaf he could feed his twelve disciples.

Again from the point of view of Markan priority, ignoring the above, it might be claimed that the writer of Matthew was merely removing a Markan discrepancy. However, this writer, if following Mark, would have been more likely to have removed Mark's discrepancy by stating consistently, in Mt 16:5-8, that they had brought only one loaf, thereby preserving a historical detail, rather than by stating consistently that they had no loaves.

Mk 8:27-29    This is Mark's episode of Peter's confession of the Messiah. In it the Matthean statements of Peter being blessed and being the one upon whom Jesus would build his church do not appear (Mt 16:17-19). Otherwise the dependence of the one gospel upon the other is unmistakable. Those supporting Markan priority assume that Mt 16:17-19 were verses inserted by the writer of Matthew into the Markan account, since the writer of Matthew was pro-Peter in outlook, relative to Mark, and since "church" or "ecclesia" indicates a later redaction. And those supporting the priority of Matthew can point out that Mark was anti-Peter in outlook,[14] and so plausibly omitted those verses when copying from Matthew (and translating from Matthew).

However, other considerations point to the priority of Matthew here. If the writer of Matthew was following Mark and invented the three verses giving Peter a privileged place, he would have been writing in Greek, as many modern scholars assume. Yet the three verses have a very Semitic flavor to them, as pointed out by Wilcox and others.[15] This would mean they had first been written in Aramaic and later translated into Greek, where their Semitic character shows through. It is less plausible that a Semitic flavor was imparted to it by the writer of Matthew if writing in Greek, unless he had these verses already available to him, written in Aramaic, in which case he would likely have had many other verses available too -- i.e., a source document written in Aramaic. And Butler has noticed how audacious it would have been of the writer of Matthew if he had inserted these three verses favoring Peter as his own invention, considering that just a few verses later he allows Peter to be chastised by Jesus saying, "Get behind me, Satan!"[16]

But if the writer of Matthew had altered his source here, would its Semitic flavor still have shown through? The answer is "Yes," because he himself was writing in a Semitic tongue, and because his alterations in wording from that of his source were minimal, yet sufficient to completely alter the meaning. How this was accomplished in this instance can be seen within the Mt-TJ verse-comparison section by entering here.

Mk 8:32    In the first half of the verse Mark has the addition: "And he said this plainly," referring to the Son of man having just told the disciples about his coming ordeal. This is followed in the second half by Peter rebuking Jesus, or starting to rebuke him. This latter half makes no sense without knowledge of Matthew, for why would a disciple rebuke his lord for informing him of what he foresaw? In the Matthean parallel (Mt 16:22), however, the rebuke is seen to be scarcely that but an understandable wish that Jesus be spared the prophesied ordeal. But why then was the seemingly irrelevant first half of the verse added by the writer of Mark? As can be seen after reading Section 6, the omission by the writer of Mark of the Matthean text of what Peter said in his objection served the purpose of making Peter look especially deserving of a counter rebuke by Jesus. The irrelevant first half of the verse was then a clumsy attempt to support this impression, by indicating that Jesus had spoken clearly so that no rebuke by Peter had been called for.

Furthermore, "And he said this plainly" or "openly" is not the case, because in the preceding verse of Mark the substitution "Son of man" was made for the "Jesus" in the parallel Matthean verse of Mt 16:21. This altered Matthew's plain talk into a veiled talk which the disciples, if as obtuse as is portrayed generally in Mark, would not have understood. This incoherence of the Markan account, resulting from an apparent editorial alteration, also betrays its secondary status relative to Matthew.

Mk 9:13    "But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him." Here the writer of Mark was following along at Mt 17:12-13, but he omitted Mt 17:13, which states that the disciples then understood that Jesus was talking to them about John the Baptist. He omitted it probably because he did not make any sense out of Elijah "coming again," or because he did not wish to give credit to the disciples' ability to comprehend. In so doing, he added the clause "as it was written of him," as a nebulous substitute for what he had omitted. But in so doing, he introduced a fiction, if the Elijah who came was John, for John had been beheaded only a relatively short time earlier; hence there had been insufficient time for anyone to have written this about him since then, and to have emplaced it within a sacred writing. And there is no prophecy within the Scriptures that said John the Baptist or Elijah either one would be jailed and then beheaded. Quite possibly, the writer of Mark slipped up here by having Matthew in mind -- all about John's beheading was written there - and Matthew had come out a few years earlier and was receiving a wide circulation.

From the viewpoint of Markan priority, it might be argued that Mark refers here to the Elijah of the past, not the Elijah who was to come. And that may have been his intention, since Mark contains no parallel to the statement "he [John] is Elijah who is to come" of Mt 11:14. If so, however, the writer of Mark again suffered from editor's "fatigue" in that he utilized Matthew's expression "Elijah has ... come" of Mt 17:12.

Mk 9:30-31    In 9:30b we find the line with no Matthean parallel that follows the common Markan "messianic secret" theme: "And he would not have any one know it." In this case its insertion seems strained, for they were merely passing through Galilee at the time, and this they should try to keep secret? But in order to reconnect the train of thought following this insertion to what was in Matthew's parallel (Mt 17:22), the writer of Mark then wrote "for [Greek "gar"] he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, 'The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men....'" This "for" is also forced in here,[17] since whatever Jesus privately taught his disciples would not be cause for not letting anyone know they were passing through Galilee. Hence the "gar" suggests editorial action on the part of the writer of Mark while following Matthew.

Mk 9:33    Here Mark, though it omits Matthew's story of the shekel from the fish's mouth, contains two elements from it. These are: "And they came to Capernaum," and "coming to [or being in] the house." These might be considered coincidental were it not that they are quite specific, and that Mark's textual content before and after this point follows along Matthew's. It is more feasible that the writer of Mark, in omitting Matthew's silly shekel-tax story as a whole, did borrow these pieces from it, than that the writer of Matthew decided at this point to insert a separate story of his own right inside of Mark's story.[18], [19]

Mk 9:33-35    Here is where Jesus asks the disciples what they were discussing en route to Capernaum and they keep silent instead of replying. Only the narrator tells us they had been discussing who was the greatest, presumably which one of them was the greatest. But then in Mk 9:35 Jesus abruptly tells them that to be first (greatest) you must be last. How did he know what they had been discussing? Here is an instance, then, where Jesus might have read their minds and have known their discussion topic by that means. However, since Jesus had had to ask them in the first place, we surmise that he had not read their minds nor overheard their discussion; but if perchance he had nevertheless read their minds, the writer of Mark would in all probability have brought this out in order to demonstrate more of Jesus' occult powers, as he had, for example, in Mk 2:8. The remaining possibility is that the writer of Mark was aware from Matthew (Mt 18:1) that Jesus had known what the disciples had been discussing, because there he had been directly asked.

But why then, after Jesus called the twelve to him, did he start lecturing on "the first must be last," which was not in his Matthean parallel (Mt 18:3-4), and which he would repeat as a doublet in Mk 10:43b,44? Butler astutely proposed the following answer. Since Mark omits Matthew's immediately preceding Temple-tax incident, there must have been a reason why he did not care for it. It tended to place Peter in an exalted position, above the other disciples and almost on a par with Jesus himself, in that the shekel tax payment was to be from Jesus and Peter. And so not only did the writer of Mark omit this incident for that reason, but he gave Peter a lesson in humility by having Jesus then lecture on how he who would be first must instead be last.[20]

Within the alterations of this Markan pericope its writer again leaves behind his calling card -- an example of his editorial ineptitude -- by saying Jesus "called the twelve" (in Mk 9:35) although all the disciples were still in the same house with him, and did not need to be "called." The Matthean verse he was following at this point (Mt 18:2) starts out, "And calling to him a child...", and this could have prompted him to think of "call" at this point and apply it to the disciples. (However, the same Greek word for "called" would not necessarily be used in Mark here as in Matthew since the Gospel of Matthew available to the writer of Mark was written in the Hebrew language.)

Mk 9:36-37    Further indication of Markan foreknowledge of Matthew occurs in the same pericope. After telling the disciples that any person who wished to be first must be last and be servile, Jesus places a child in front of them. But instead of continuing with the theme of servility or humility he switches to the theme of Mt 18:5-6a (receiving a child in Jesus' name). The writer's omission of Matthew's intervening topic of humility was responsible for this unrealistic change in subject.[21] At the same time, this omission may represent an attempted Markan improvement over Matthew, since children are not known for being humble, but rather for being without pretense. This omission is furthermore consistent with Mark's omission of other Matthean verses (in the Sermon on the Mount) that urge humility.

Mk 9:38-39

38John said to him, "Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us." 39But Jesus said, "Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me."

This passage is too close to Mt 7:22-23 not to be a parallel of it:

Mt 7:22-23     22"...many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not... cast out demons in your name, and do mighty works in your name?' 23And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers."

With Mark being dependent upon Matthew, we see that Mark's author did not approve of this Matthean verse, for what was Christianity all about if not doing mighty works in the name of Jesus? So Mark altered it into a verse that favored doing mighty works in the name of Christ. At the same time, he managed to portray the disciples in a bad light by having Jesus contradict them. This passage gives another indication of why the writer of Mark did not include Matthew's Sermon on the Mount, but instead selected only a few scattered verses from it for use in different contexts.

Mk 9:41   

41For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward.
This was supposedly spoken by Jesus himself. However, the title "Christos" was not any known title for Jesus until after Paul made it so. Hence this part, at least, of the verse is obviously non-genuine. In the Matthean parallel, Mt 10:42, "in the name of a disciple" is the phrase (in the Greek) that the writer of Mark altered to "the name of Christ." This is a reverential upgrading of Matthew. It is also very consistent with the editorial behavior of this writer that he would not have wished the name of a Jewish disciple, which Matthew's verse can imply, to be granted such religious power.

Additionally, the listener would not know what reward is being spoken of. The previous verse gives the adage "he that is not against us is for us," and the one previous to that had dealt with not being able to speak evil against Jesus after having done a mighty work in his name. Neither these or earlier verses deal with rewards. The reward for following Jesus is not discussed in Mark until its next chapter. Yet this verse in question is such a close parallel to Mt 10:42 that a dependence between the two is unmistakable. It is seen as having been taken from the Matthean verse because its previous verse did deal with rewards. The writer of Mark thus had Matthew's context in mind for the reward here, but his omission of the previous Matthean verse caused the above problem.

The introduction to this pericope (Mk 9:38-39b) moreover indicates further editorial ineptitude by the writer of Mark: in 9:38 John (presumably the disciple) tells Jesus that they (the disciples) had forbid a man to cast out demons. This had occurred some time in the past. Yet in 9:39a Jesus responds as if the man was still there to be told it was OK after all.

In addition, the previous two verses of Mark also stem from scattered pieces of Matthew (Mt 7:22 and 12:30). The fact that Mk 9:38-41 does not have any coherent theme indicates the difficulty for a Gospel writer of trying to piece together extracts from another's Gospel to form a sensible pericope of his own. Hence, for example, the hypothesis that the writer of Matthew constructed the Sermon on the Mount out of Mk 9:50, 4:21, 11:25-26, 4:24, 9:38-39 and 1:22 is untenable.

Mk 9:49-50   

49For everyone will be salted with fire. 50Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltness, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.
The first half of verse 50 is a parallel to Mt 5:13b. The only connection to preceding Markan verses -- a very flimsy connection -- is the theme of the fire of hell. It may have brought the subject of fire to the writer's mind, which in turn brought "salting with fire" to mind as a clause indicating purging of sins. The topic of salt in turn may have reminded the writer of Mt 5:13, which he then plagiarized here. At this point the writer of Mark, had he continued to follow Matthew, would have written of the little ones (children) again and their angels in heaven. But this, being a strange, unheard of concept (children having angels), he therefore omitted, we surmise, along with the rest of Mt 18:10-14. Instead, he tried to continue with his theme of salt ("Have salt in yourselves"). He went on to omit the content of Mt 18:15-22 involving disputes and agreements between two persons, in all probability because it contained Judaistic advice regarding how to resolve disputes, and most importantly, because it contained a blatant slur against gentiles (Mt 18:17b). In its place, he substituted the clause "be at peace with one another," which simply does not connect up with "have salt in yourselves," whatever the latter's interpretation may be. But the "peace" clause does serve to summarize the 8 omitted verses of Mt 18:15-22. This is the key factor here that suggests the writer of Mark had been following along Matthew's text.[22]

Mk 10:23-26   

23And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!" 24And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God. 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 26And they were exceedingly astonished...
The first statement attributed to Jesus here would not have occasioned amazement on the part of the disciples. They had previously been told that when they themselves go out, administering, they should not take any money with them (Mk 6:8), and this did not cause any reported amazement. Instead, all indications are that the writer of Mark here was thinking a verse or two ahead to Mt 19:24-25, which Mk 10:24b-25 parallels, and inserted 10:24a, along with a repeat of 10:23, into the Matthean passage he was following, where astonishment is expressed at the saying of the camel and the eye of a needle. This was apparent to Harold Riley, for example.[23] The motivation for this Markan addition seems twofold: change for the sake of change, and causing the disciples to appear dumb. The latter is brought about by their amazement over what should not have been surprising, by Jesus having to repeat to them, and by his calling them "children."

Mk 10:31

31But many that are first will be last, and the last first.
This is practically identical to the parallel of Mt 19:30 and, as in Matthew, follows immediately after Jesus' reply concerning what those who have forsaken everything to follow him will receive as a reward. In neither gospel is it a particularly appropriate saying for that context. Butler found that "the obvious explanation is that St Mark is copying Matthew, leaves out the parable [of the laborers in the vineyard] (as he leaves out such large quantities of discourse), but retains the opening words."[24] He also noted, however, that Markan priorists would say that when the writer of Matthew came upon this Markan verse, he would realize that a parable he had in mind or had on hand -- the parable of the laborers of the vineyard -- would illustrate the paradoxical saying. And so he inserted the parable, finishing it off with essentially the same saying or inclusio. Although Butler commented that this reversed interpretation credits the writer of Matthew with too much ingenuity, I believe there is a more cogent refutation, as will follow.

In the first place, an explanation is needed by either hypothesis as to why the saying appears where it is hardly apropos. The question had been in regards to what reward the followers of Jesus would gain for having forsaken all to follow him, and a culminating response as to who would get it first and who last is rather out of context. In the second place, if Matthew came after Mark, would the writer of Matthew be so enamored with Mark's first-is-last saying as to illustrate it with a lengthy parable he would invent? It is more probable that he would do so if he had invented the saying himself than if it had come from the writer of a gospel directed towards gentiles, i.e., Mark.

Elsewhere in this website one may notice that the TJ indicates this is what happened. The writer of Matthew extracted the first-is-last saying from a lengthier TJ sentence that had been in context and placed it at the end of his invented verses: Mt 19:28-29, where it did not fit so well. Having created the saying himself and therefore liking it, but realizing it could be ambiguous, he invented the parable of the laborers of the vineyard to illustrate it. Then he capped it off with the inclusio, "So the last will be first and the first last."

Since the meaning of the parable itself is rather obscure, the writer of Mark could easily afford to omit it in his desire to abbreviate Matthean non-essentials from use in his own gospel.

Mk 11:11-17    This is Mark's version of Jesus coming to the temple and "cleansing" it. It occurs in two parts, as discussed in Section 5, apparently so as to allow ample time for the miracle of the drying up of the fig tree to occur over a full one-day period. It is seen to be an alteration of the Matthean version because the writer of Mark, in making the alteration, lost track of the people involved. In the Matthean version, some at least of the people who followed Jesus into Jerusalem are implied to have been present to witness the cleansing of the temple, since at the end of that event the blind and lame among them were healed. In Mark, these followers are not heard from again on the day of his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, whereupon Jesus goes into the temple, looks around, and goes back out again without doing or saying anything. Those who had been following Jesus into Jerusalem seem to have vanished by the time he reached the temple. Only after Jesus' second entrance into the temple, when the cleansing occurs according to Mark, is there suddenly a multitude of people present at the temple to hear him teach; where they came from is not mentioned. There had been no announcement that Jesus would appear in the temple on the very next day. At this point, then, one sees that the writer of Mark had resumed following Matthew's outline, at Mt 21:14, of a single temple event. Thus the writer of Mark again suffered from "editor's fatigue," making an alteration that added a first entrance into the temple without any mention of the many people who had been following Jesus there, and then resuming his following of the text of Matthew by having a multitude suddenly be present on the next day for Jesus' cleansing of the temple and teaching.

It is not unreasonable that an editor altering another's story would slip up in this manner. However, it would be unreasonable to expect that, if Mark had come first, the writer of Matthew would decide to omit Mark's first temple visitation of Jesus, for whatever reason, and then notice that by so doing the unexplained disappearance of the people on the first day and their unexplained reappearance on the second day would both be resolved. This analysis is not meant to imply, however, that Matthew's version is free from redactions of its own made by its writer when converting his source document into an acceptable gospel.

Mk 11:18-19     These two verses have no parallels in Matthew. In the first of them the chief priests and scribes are said, by implication, to have heard of Jesus' cleansing of the temple and therefore "sought a way to destroy him." The use of "heard" here makes it appear that they were not around when the event occurred. Yet in the same verse they are said to have feared him because "the multitude was astonished at his teaching," thus implying that they had been around after all when he had supposedly taught, in order to have witnessed the astonishment of the people in the temple. Since the Matthean version does not suffer from this unrealistic aspect, it must be preferred as holding priority over Mark.

The preferred reading of the second of these two verses is, "And when evening came, they went out of the city." Here, "they" should normally refer back either to the multitude or to the chief priests and scribes, but to make sense it needs to refer to Jesus and the disciples. However, the disciples are not mentioned in the previous four verses. These two problems with these verses are indicative of the inept editing of the writer of Mark when making additions to Matthew.

Mk 11:21-23     Here Peter points out the withered fig tree to Jesus, who then answers them, as if he should be answering not a question from Peter, but a question from some or all of the disciples. And he talks not at all about the fig tree but instead about having the faith to move mountains. These out-of-context responses are understandable if they derived from the editorial alterations made by the writer of Mark to the parallel text of Mt 21:20-21. He changed the disciples' question there of how Jesus was able to cause the fig tree to dry up into an exclamation of amazement by Peter alone. However, since in Matthew Jesus had answered them at this point, the writer of Mark, in continuing to follow Matthew's content, carelessly repeated them instead of using the word him. Equally incongruous is that in Mark Jesus' response did not even mention the fig tree! It appears that at this point the writer of Mark was eager to move on to Jesus' discussion of the much greater potential miracle of moving mountains, and so he abbreviated out Matthew's clause indicating how much greater a miracle could be accomplished than the tree-withering miracle, causing the discontinuity in discourse. Noteworthy also is that in Matthew Jesus is talking to the disciples here, as if they should be capable of performing such miracles, but in Mark this potential power is extended to "whoever," i.e., to all, which would include gentiles.

Mk 11:25    "And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses." The analysis of John Chapman can scarcely be denied here that this verse contains parallels to portions of the Lord's Prayer in Mt 6:9a and 6:14.[25] Now if Mark had preceded Matthew, it is practically inconceivable that the writer of Matthew, upon noticing this verse within Mark, would have gained the impetus to scroll way back in his own text and there construct a lengthy Lord's Prayer around the Markan verse. However, it would have been expedient and plausible for the writer of Mark, upon noticing that the portion of Matthew he had been following at that point (Mt 21:22) related to prayer, to dip back into Matthew's Sermon on the Mount for the thoughts from the Lord's Prayer that would comprise Mk 11:25.

Although it might be assumed that the Lord's Prayer was known before any of the Gospels came out, that assumption has no support. Bishop Ignatius makes no mention of it whatever in his several epistles, which otherwise contain much reverential material, and mention "prayer" 22 times.

Additional support for this position stems from Mark's use of "Father... in (the) heaven(s)," a phrase its writer preferred not to use, judging from his sole use of it here versus the 20 uses of it in Matthew. Thus it is more likely a Matthean expression, and an Aramaic or Hebrew one at that, borrowed this once by the writer of Mark, than a rare Markan expression repeatedly used by the writer of Matthew.[26]

Still further support comes from the inappropriateness of Mark's "whenever you stand praying, forgive." The instruction to forgive would not plausibly have been restricted to occasions when praying standing up. However, if the writer of Mark had been extracting from the Lord's Prayer of Matthew here, he would have noticed in its introductory context (Mt 6:5) the bit about "when you pray... they love to stand," which he then utilized in part.[27] This even suggests that the writer of Mark felt that the rendering of prayer need not require a humble posture, but could be performed standing up.

A comprehensive, well-argued discussion of Mk 11:25 and its dependence upon Matthew is given by Butler.[28]

It is sometimes questioned how or why the writer of Mark could have omitted the Lord's Prayer, if he had been extracting from Matthew, since this prayer became such an important part of the observance of the church, and his gospel indicates that prayer itself was not distasteful to him. Although this has been covered elsewhere in this website, the key point here is that the Lord's Prayer in Matthew is immediately preceded by the admonition, "do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do," and "do not be like them." It does not take an expert in psychology to realize that this would have raised the hackles of the writer of Mark, if he was a gentile writing his gospel in Greek for gentiles while relying upon the Hebraic form of Matthew as his main source. To that, add that Matthew had probably not yet had more than a very few years to circulate before Mark was written, and so the Lord's Prayer had not yet even become established within the churches. Thus the writer of Mark was simply omitting what would obviously have been distasteful to him -- Do not pray like the gentiles, but pray like this... .

Mk 11:30-33

30"Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men? Answer me." 31And they argued with one another, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say, 'Why then did you not believe him?' 32But shall we say 'From men'?" -- they were afraid of the people, for all held that John was a real prophet. 33So they answered Jesus, "We do not know."...

At verse 32a we see that the question among the chief priests, scribes and elders concerning "From men?" is left hanging.[29] If this had been a rendition of an actual reported discussion, the discussants would likely have expressed to themselves why it was they would not be able to answer "From men" to Jesus' question. It would not be left for a later Gospel editor to fill in the reason. Before embarrassing themselves in front of Jesus by not having an answer, they would at least have had to express amongst themselves why it was they dared not reply "From men." The parallel account in Matthew (Mt 21:25-27), then, appears as the more historical account, for there the discussion does occur among the group. The Markan version is thus seen as being an editorialization of that which occurs within his source -- Matthew. This editorial behavior on the part of the writer of Mark is consistent with his desire seen more distinctly elsewhere of seeking change for the sake of change, relative to the Gospel of Matthew. It is also consistent with his desire to place the Jewish clergy in the worst possible light: in Matthew their fear of the people was only a possibility that could come about if their reply was "from men," while in Mark such fear has become a fact.

Mk 12:1    "And he began to speak to them in parables." Following this, however, Jesus speaks only the one parable of the Vineyard. Hence Mark's "parables" -- plural -- here was inappropriate. In Matthew at this point, however, Jesus had just spoken the parable of the Two Sons, not in Mark; and immediately following the parable of the Vineyard he spoke a third -- that of the Wedding, which also does not appear in Mark. So it was appropriate that Mt 21:33 begins "Hear another parable." Mark's inaccuracy can be seen to have been an error subconsciously incurred by the writer because he was aware from Matthew that Jesus at that time was speaking more than one parable. This seems ever so much more plausible than that the writer of Matthew noticed that Mark's "in parables" was used too loosely or improperly and so inserted two more parables here from some source so that Mark's plural would become valid.

Mk 12:28    After Jesus has verbally put down the Sadducees, Mark reads,

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?"
One must wonder about the scribes. What scribes? No scribes are mentioned as being around, and even in the episode previous to Jesus' encounter with the Sadducees, it is not mentioned that scribes were among the Pharisees and Herodians. However, in the Matthean parallel that the writer of Mark was evidently following here (Mt 22:34-35), the Pharisees are mentioned to have regrouped together, with one of them being a lawyer. So the writer of Mark could assume that among them were some scribes, who were little different from lawyers in their learning. This suggests Markan dependence upon Matthew; for looking at it the other way around, the writer of Matthew, if he were to have noticed this problem in Mark, would in all probability have fixed it by adding the presence of scribes to Mt 22:34. However, there are no scribes mentioned there in Matthew.

Additional evidence of Matthean priority in this verse is that in the Matthean parallel the question is "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" The use of "great" instead of "greatest" or "first" is a definite Aramaism. This (and many other of its Aramaisms) points to canonical Matthew being the translation of a Semitic original, with the writer of Mark not happening to preserve this awkward Aramaism in his parallel text. (During translation, the original content of necessity is expressed in a manner compatible with the language of the final product, without many idiomatic expressions from the original language necessarily showing through.) If viewed the other way around, with Matthew being secondary and first written in Greek, one sees no reason why its writer would have introduced Aramaisms that were not present in the text he was purportedly utilizing/copying.[30] Is he supposed to have tried to fool the clergy and other people of his own era into thinking that his text had first been written in Aramaic when all would know that it hadn't, if Mark had come first? But of course, we know that the tradition was that Matthew had indeed been first written in the Semitic tongue, and was the first Gospel. In this same verse the Judaistic flavor of "in the law" is consistent with this conclusion.

Mk 12:34b    "And after that no one dared to ask him any question." This is a close parallel to Mt 22:46b, which sensibly refers to the Pharisees' embarrassment over not being able to answer Jesus' questions to them. Here in Mark, however, the remark follows after Jesus' compliment to the scribe for having spoken wisely. Thus in Mark one sees that it is entirely inappropriate, being so because the writer of Mark decided to place it ahead of the Matthean pericope (Mt 22:41-45) that involved the question about David's son which Jesus' confronters could not answer, rather than after it. He did so apparently because he wished to substitute a different sentence after his own rendition of this pericope, and yet still wished to make use of the "no one dared to ask him" sentence. Although this sentence is not true, we may blame the writer of Matthew for that; the writer of Mark merely made use of it without, apparently, thinking about whether or not it is correct.

Mk 12:38-40    "And in his teaching he said, 'Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes...'" [there follow extracts that parallel Mt 23:6-7,14]." This needs to be pointed out as an apparent Markan dependence upon Matthew because it is so much simpler for the redactor to extract three verses from another's lengthy exposition of 39 sentences than it is to reverse the procedure. (The same has been noticed regarding Mark's brief summary of the wilderness-temptation story and use of a few verses from the Sermon on the Mount.)

Moreover, in Mk 12:38a above we find the additional problem that what is said about the scribes in the first clause is not derogatory, in contrast to the rest of the pericope, and lacks any substance. To go about dressed in a robe was simply normal behavior. Here it is to be mentioned that the word "long" modifying "robes" was inserted into the English translations of the gospel; it is not present in the Greek from which the English was derived. In abbreviating the invective of Mt 23:5 against the scribes and Pharisees, so as to eliminate mention of the phylacteries and fringes on the robes -- items that would not be understandable or relevant for gentiles, the writer of Mark is seen to have produced this vacuous clause involving scribes wearing robes. Careless editing of another's text is a common way in which such a problem arises. Less likely is that an original text deriding the scribes utilized such fatuous language.

Also to be noticed here is that "And in his teaching he said..." betrays the fact that Jesus had spoken more than what the writer of Mark presents, which is then only a summary. His knowing there had been more at this point is consistent with Matthew having been his source of knowledge. This subtle slip-up is precisely the kind of error that an editor plagiarizing another's work can easily incur. The discussions here stem from the work of Butler and Chapman.[31]

Mk 13:9    "they will deliver you up...". This "they" is especially ambiguous, as it might refer to one nation or another, one kingdom or another, or to false prophets. But in the parallel of Mt 10:17-18 it is apparent that "they" refers to the "men" of Mt 10:17a. Again the writer of Mark has betrayed his knowledge of Matthew, by copying its "they" without proper consideration of how his alteration of the Matthean verse would affect the literal sense of its meaning. This error can be seen to have occurred because within his eschatological discourse the writer of Mark dipped back to Matthew's instructions to the disciples (Mt 10:19-22) to use in his parallel of Mk 13:9-13. Matthew's doublet of "But he who endures to the end will be saved" there and in the eschatology (Mt 10:22b & 24:13) may be what prompted him to make the connection. However, the real context of this theme of persecution of the disciples lay within the instructions to the disciples.[32]

Mk 13:14     This verse reads:

14But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

This parenthetical insert occurs in the Matthean parallel also (Mt 24:15). So obviously either Mark depends upon Matthew here or vice versa. The Matthean verse includes the clauses: "...sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place." It then provides enough information for the reader to understand, if he is familiar, or becomes familiar, with Daniel (Dn 9:27, 11:31 and 12:11). Hence its parenthetical insert makes sense. However, the Markan verse omits this, apparently in keeping with its writer's desire to minimize dependence upon the Jewish scriptures. In so doing, the parenthetical insert that he retained does not let the reader understand anything. And his wording "where it ought not to be" is his replacement for Matthew's "holy place." Either of two hypotheses of the MAH explains this.
       1) The writer of Mark was covering up for his ignorance or uncertainty of what this holy place was. (According to F. W. Beare, it was the great altar of the temple in Jerusalem upon which Antiochus IV Epiphanes, for example, had once built an altar to Zeus.[33])
       2) He did not want Jesus to refer to the Temple, which he had had to cleanse, as a holy place.

Mk 13:26

26And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory.

Again "they" has no reference noun, as it appears within a fresh pericope that had started out with "But in those days." However, in the parallel of Mt 24:30 that the writer of Mark appears to have been following, we see that it refers back to "all the tribes," a phrase the writer of Mark omitted by the present hypothesis because it implied a reference to the twelve tribes of Israel and thus shunned the gentiles. This omission caused the problem.

In addition, upon comparison with Mt 24:30 we see that it has the Son of man coming "on clouds of heaven with power and great glory." This expression, when combined with the "Son of man" phrase, allows one to be quite certain the source of the Matthean verse is Dn 7:13-14:

...behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man... And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom...

Without the "of heaven" present in Mark, one can't be at all certain it derived from Daniel. But since it's in the Matthean verse, this points to the writer of Matthew having borrowed it from Daniel. Hence Mark was likely secondary here on this account also,[34] and its writer, in copying it from Matthew, was careless or desirous of making small changes like this for the sake of change. It is not at all clear that he even realized it had stemmed from Daniel, here or at Mk 14:62, since Matthew does not state that the verse has any connection to Daniel or any other prophet.

Mk 13:33-37    This is the parable of the master going away on a journey and in the meantime entrusting his home to his servants; its emphasis is upon a warning to the servants to stay ever alert for their master's return, which could be at any hour -- even at midnight or at dawn. Because of its total lack of realism, since the servants need their sleep after a hard day's work, it is not seen as any original parable available to the writer of Mark, but rather as an amalgamation of pieces from other parables in one or more sources at his disposal.[35] It very easily fits into the category of Matthew having been this source. Matthew's absent master of Mt 24:45-48 and of the parable of the talents (Mt 25:14-30), which occur in the vicinity of Mark's parallel verses, provided the thought that the master would leave on a long journey, entrusting his property to his servants. Matthew's theme that the Son of man is coming at an hour that is unexpected, which occurs at the point of parallelism (Mt 24:42,44), provided the same Markan theme as applied to the master's return. Matthew's verse about the thief coming at an unknown hour of the night (Mt 24:43) provided the Markan input for the master's return to be at any hour including late at night. The very close identity between the parallel verses just before this parable (Mt 24:36 = Mk 13:32) rules out anything but a direct connection between Matthew and Mark here, and the much greater plausibility of two Matthean parables being condensed into one by the writer of Mark rather than the reverse procedure implicates Mark as secondary to Matthew.

Thus the writer of Mark is seen to have fused Matthew's "thief in the night" and its "absent master" into one person.[36] This explains why, in Mark, the unknown time of return of the Son of man (Mk 13:26,32) requires that a vigil be kept each night as if to ward off a thief (Mk 13:34).

Mk 14:9

9"And truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her."
Here "the gospel" is used in an absolute sense -- not followed by "of God" -- strongly indicating that some preexistent written gospel already was known at the time of writing of Mark. In Matthew, the parallel verse (Mt 26:13) has "this gospel," which then probably refers to the Gospel of Matthew itself rather than to oral "good news," since preparing one's live body for burial cannot be considered good news. It should be especially clear that in the case of Mark it does not refer to an unwritten, oral gospel, because it requires a particular gospel to be referred to as "the gospel" that would contain the incident of the anointing at Bethany, and because oral gospels all differ on what they comprise, depending upon the reciter. By altering Matthew's "this gospel" to "the gospel," the writer of Mark was perhaps suggesting that his gospel written in Greek, and not Matthew's (at that time written in Hebrew and/or Aramaic), would constitute the gospel for the world.

Mk 14:39-41    Here Jesus' second prayer at Gethsemane is not stated explicitly; rather, it is just stated that he used the same words as before, in his first prayer. No third prayer is mentioned at all, except that he came again to the disciples to ask them if they were still sleeping. One has to assume that there had been a third prayer in order to make sense out of "And he came [to the disciples] the third time." In Matthew (Mt 26:36-45), on the other hand, the first two prayers are stated and a third is mentioned as being the same as before. These prayers must have been especially disconcerting to the writer of Mark, who we have seen wanted his Jesus to be brave and authoritative. It is understandable then that he abbreviated these sorrowful prayers by one third -- probably as much as he dared since their occurrence was known from the Hebraic Gospel of Matthew. This behavior is more likely than that the writer of Matthew, if following Mark, invented words of the second prayer. Mark's omission of the words of this prayer, moreover, may additionally have been prompted by its contorted logic: "..if this [cup] cannot pass unless I drink it, thy will be done" (Mt 26:42). He did drink it -- face up to the crucifixion -- but it happened anyway; it didn't pass him by. A writer who is keen on abbreviating another's work will tend to omit that which he doesn't understand, and which his readers would likely also not understand.

In addition, one may notice Mark's use of "the third time." If the story were being told for the first time in Mark, its writer would likely have used "a third time." In Mt 26:44 the preferred Greek text upon which the Gospel translations are based reads "a third time." This little alteration in Mark is further confirmation of Markan foreknowlege of the contents of Matthew here.

Mk 14:50   

50And they all forsook him and fled.

"They" was intended here to refer to the disciples, but by placement it instead refers to the arresting party and its complement of priests, scribes and elders. One must search back eight verses to find the last point where disciples were indicated. However, in the Matthean parallel (Mt 26:56b), which the writer of Mark is seen to have been following at that point, "disciples" is mentioned explicitly, which was grammatically necessary. The writer of Mark, having Matthew's "disciples" in mind, then carelessly wrote "they" when referring to them.

Mk 14:65    "Prophesy!" This doesn't make sense -- prophesy about what? -- unless the writer of Mark was thinking in terms of the Matthean text in front of him (Mt 26:68) and its "Who is it who struck you?" More on this in the next section (4).

Mk 14:68    In Peter's first denial of Jesus, he supposedly says, "I neither know nor understand what you mean." The Matthean parallel at this point (Mt 26:70) reads, "I do not know what you mean." One sees that the Markan penchant for adding dualisms to the narrations in his text has here crept into the direct speech in too blatant a form to be ignored. The extra "nor understand" simply would not have been uttered in the real life situation depicted. Instead, it is typical of the sort of redundancy the writer of Mark fed into his gospel throughout -- over 200 dualisms. In this case, the redundancy served also to emphasize Peter's stupidity. Thus the Matthean version without the dualism holds priority here over Mark.

Mk 14:70    Here the bystanders told Peter, "Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean." The problem here is that this statement doesn't give the reader any explanation of how they knew Peter was a Galilean. The unknowing gentile reader might think that Galilee was a hotbed of radicals, and that any Jew in an upset state of denial, as Peter was then, was from Galilee. But if the writer of Mark was continuing to follow Matthew here, one sees that he simply made a minor alteration in Matthew's "Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you." Thus the writer of Mark knew how Peter's Galilean provenance was known, because he had Matthew in hand, but it did not occur to him that his alteration had gone too far.

If viewed from the possibility that Mark preceded Matthew, one sees that there are several possibilities the writer of Matthew might have chosen at this point. In decreasing order of estimated probability, he could have (a)repeated Mark as it was, not noticing the problem. Or he could have (b) assumed that one of the bystanders recognized Peter from having seen him around Jerusalem with Jesus in preceding days, or he could (c) assume it was due to his accent. Thus the odds are not very good that the last possibility would come to pass, while the odds are quite good that the writer of Mark would make an inept editorial alteration to Matthew for gentile readers, considering the accumulation of evidence that already points in this direction. Gentiles in Rome would not much care or know about the differences in language between Jerusalem and Galilee.

Mk 15:1     Here the name "Pilate" appears for the first time, parallel to Mt 27:1. In Matthew he is introduced as "Pilate the governor," which was the usual procedure, then and now, to let the readers/listeners know what a person's title or status is the first time he is mentioned. In Mark, however, it is just "Pilate." The writer of Mark quite likely supposed that the name was so familiar that it needed no introduction. And why such great familiarity? Because the Gospel of Matthew had by then been around for a few years. This is only suggestive, however, since oral tradition might be able to explain it.

Mk 15:7     Here, in introducing Barabbas for the first time, a literal translation of the Greek reads, "Now there was the one named Barabbas in prison with the rebels." Obviously, it should read "a man named Barabbas" or "one named Barabbas." This error is another of the type suggesting that in being well aware of the contents of the gospel he was copying/translating from, the writer of Mark regarded the subject, Barrabas, as a figure already know to him and his readers. In Matthew (27:16) Barrabas is introduced correctly with the anarthrous form of the noun: "a prisoner," not "the prisoner." The RSV Bible corrected Mark's grammar here to what it should have been.

Mk 15:8-9

8And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he was wont to do for them. 9And he answered them, "Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?"
The problem is that the crowd had not previously heard of Jesus being referred to as the King of the Jews, and so this would not have been understandable to them.[37] Only the chief priests, elders, scribes and council had heard of this, earlier that same morning (at Mk 15:2). On the other hand, the Matthean parallel (Mt 27:17) here has:
17So when they [the crowd] had gathered, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release for you, Barabbas or Jesus who is called Christ?"
In Mt 23:10 the Jerusalem crowds were previously exposed to the reference of Jesus being the Christ or Messiah, and so this problem does not apply there. Hence, the above Markan change for the sake of change has here betrayed the fact that Mark is secondary to Matthew. However, this and other references to "Christ" in Matthew (and hence indirectly Mark) are found to be secondary to the Talmud of Jmmanuel source, which does not use the word "Christ," and uses "Messiah" only once. In its parallel to Mt 27:17, it reads: "Which one do you want me to release, Barabbas, the criminal, or Jmmanuel, who is said to be a king of wisdom and the son of an angel?"

Mk 15:13

13And they cried out again, "Crucify him."
The problem here is that the crowd in Mark had not previously cried out anything to Pilate about what to do with Jesus. They had not previously shouted "Crucify him." Yet, here in Mark we find the word again. . The writer of Mark had omitted two Matthean verses here, the second one being Mt 27:20, which mentioned that the people had been persuaded to ask Pilate to destroy Jesus. Knowing that, however, the writer of Mark evidently thought of that as being equivalent to "Crucify him," so that when the crowd did first shout the phrase at this point within the Matthean text he was following (Mt 27:22b), he inserted "again."[38]

Mk 15:17-19

17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on him. 18And they began to salute him, "Hail, King of the Jews!" 19And they struck his head with a reed, and spat upon him, and they knelt down in homage to him.

It doesn't seem very realistic that the soldiers would have first mocked Jesus, then have struck him in the head and spat on him, and then once again mocked him by kneeling down in homage.[39] So one must compare the Matthean parallel against this to determine if it stands a better chance of having represented the real situation, with careless editing having caused Mark's problem. Mt 27:28-30 reads:

28And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe upon him, 29and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on his head, and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him they mocked him, saying "Hail, King of the Jews!" 30And they spat upon him, and took the reed and struck him on the head.
This appears to stand a better chance to have represented reality, as the kneeling before Jesus was part of the mockery. Moreover, the somewhat puzzling aspect in Mark as to why a reed would be used as the weapon with which to hit Jesus over the head is answered. The reed had first been grabbed and thrust into Jesus' right hand to represent a royal scepter, as part of the mockery. Then when the brief fun was over, it was readily available with which to hit Jesus on the head.

This appears more primary than Mark's account because one sees plausible possibilities why the reed-as-scepter line in Matthew was omitted by the writer of Mark. He may not have realized it had symbolized a scepter or perhaps felt that his gentile audience would not realize it; or since he very much wished Jesus to be treated as a king, he omitted some of the mockery that pertained to Jesus as king. But if Matthew were thought to have come after Mark, one has to argue that the writer of Matthew was creative enough to invent the use of the reed as a scepter, and perceptive enough to place the mock kneeling somewhat earlier in the event.

Mk 15:20

20And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak, and put his own clothes on him.
The problem here is that nowhere in preceding verses was Jesus stripped of his own clothes. The soldiers had only placed a purple [robe] on him (Mk 15:17). So they could not then have put his own clothes back on him if they had not previously taken them off. In the Matthean parallel (Mt 27:28-31) he had been stripped before the scarlet robe was placed around him. Thus the Matthean account, representing what could actually have happened, must be preferred as primary to the Markan account, which could not have happened as related.

That is, if Mark had preceded Matthew, one must assume that the latter writer had noticed this minor discrepancy and corrected it and that the writer of Mark had just been careless in the first place. But with Mark having come after Matthew, one finds a plausible reason for this problem in Mark without needing to assume anything implausible about Matthew at this point. One then sees that either the writer of Mark's penchant for abbreviating Matthew, or his desire that Jesus have been treated with dignity, caused the problem.

Mk 15:26    "the inscription of the accusation." There is no previous mention of any inscription in Mark, or of its equivalent -- an overhead-placed writing or placard of the main charge against Jesus. Hence the writer of Mark should have written "an inscription" (anarthrous) here, had he not been following Mt 27:37 and its mention of the written charge placed above Jesus' head. Would the writer of Mark have been familiar with such an inscription from oral tradition? I know of no literature preceding the Gospels, or even including the epistles of Ignatius, that lets us know that oral tradition was aware of any inscription having been emplaced. From Mark's referral to it one might mistakenly infer that the emplacement of an inscription was the normal procedure followed in crucifixions by the Romans.

Mk 15:37-39

37And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed his last. 38And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he thus breathed his last, he said, 'Truly this man was a son of God!'

The problem here is that the mere fact that Jesus apparently breathed his last and died at that time, would have been no cause for the centurion to make his "son of God" exclamation. Dying, with or without a cry beforehand, even a loud cry, was the expected outcome of crucifixion, and if Jesus died more quickly than usual on the cross, this would have been no reason for the centurion to make such an exclamation. As Jackson noted, the great cry with which Jesus supposedly died "fails as a satisfactory explanation for the centurion's confession."[40] Nor can the supposed rending of the curtain form a satisfactory explanation, as the curtain within the temple, which was torn from top to bottom, was not visible from outside, according to Beare.[41] Even if Beare were wrong on this, the odds are negligible that the centurion, with his attention focussed on Jesus at the time of his crying out, would have noticed the curtain of the temple in the distance at the moment of its rending, or even later. There is simply no rational reason for the centurion's outburst. In the Matthean parallel, however, the reason for the centurion's "son of God" exclamation there (Mt 27:54) was the earthquake, whether fictitious or not. It was violent enough to split rocks, to somehow rend the curtain, and to release bodies raised from the dead, which wandered about and were visible to many (though apparently, in Matthean afterthought, this latter occurred only after Jesus' resurrection). In this manner the writer of Mark betrayed his knowledge of the text of Matthew. It is understandable that he chose not to replicate Matthew's fictitious release of raised bodies, but with the omission of the earthquake also, which released the bodies from their graves, the centurion was left with nothing to marvel about.

Mk 15:47-16:1

47Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid. 1And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.
This is the same mother Mary in both verses, since earlier she is referred to as Mary the mother of James the younger and Joses (Mk 15:40), and in all cases she is accompanied by Mary Magdalene and Salome. So why is she referred to as the mother of James in Mk 15:47 and the mother of Joses in the immediately following verse? This obviously represents change for the sake of change, and so tends to indicate a secondary status for Mark relative to its close parallel here, Mt 27:61 and 28:1.

The motivation for this particular change for the sake of change is evident. It would have been too repetitious even for the writer of Mark to have mentioned them in this redundant manner and not use a pronoun in his second reference to them, without making some alteration, even if only a small one. This also supports Markan dependence upon Matthew here, because Matthew understandably does not use a pronoun when referring to the two Mary's the second time, as its two usages are separated by five verses. And so with the writer of Mark following along with Matthew's order and text, while abbreviating out these five Matthean verses that he did not find acceptable, he carelessly followed Matthew's use of writing out the identities of the two Mary's in both places.[42] But to remove some of the obvious redundancy in so doing, he wrote in "James" rather than "Joses."

The section of Matthew here that the writer of Mark omitted was Matthew's discussion on the setting of the guard. He had strong motivation to do so, in order to avoid portraying the guards at the tomb as fearful gentiles who needed to turn to the chief priests for solace.

Mk 16:2-8     This last portion of Mark pictures the two Mary's plus Salome having gone to the tomb, and after arriving there, saying to each other, "Who will roll away the stone for us...?" However, Mk 16:8 states that shortly thereafter they fled from the tomb and said nothing to anyone. How then would anyone, including the writer of Mark, know that they had been questioning each other about who would roll away the stone? So Mk 16:2 and 16:8 involve a serious contradiction indicating that one or both verses are largely fiction.

Furthermore, the editorial nature of Mark here displays itself in that the last portion of Mk 16:4 ("for it [the stone] was very large") is grossly out of place. The writer of Mark evidently knew the stone was large before writing Mk 16:3. How did he already know it? From having read Matthew, in particular, Mt 27:60.

Mk 16:2 moreover is seen to be an inept editorial addition invented by the writer of Mark because, even before reaching the tomb, the two Mary's and Salome would immediately have noticed its open entrance with the stone rolled away; hence they would not then start wondering who would roll it away for them. And if they had been wondering that earlier, they would have brought some husky man along with them to roll it away. Thus the Markan account appears to be secondary in that it does not conform closely to an original, historical account, but rather shows dependence upon Matthew.

Mk 16:6-7     Here the three woman are "amazed" when they see the young man in white sitting down. This reaction does not ring true, however, since in reality they would simply have assumed he had been the one who had rolled away the stone. And the wearing of a white robe does not impart amazement. Instead, the amazement seems to have been brought in by the writer of Mark because he had been following the Matthean account at Mt 28:2-7, where the angel who caused the guards to tremble with fear must indeed have caused amazement, if not fear, in the two Mary's. Further, Mark's young man in white possessed angelic powers of discernment, for he somehow knew (in Mk 16:7) that Jesus had earlier told his disciples that they would see him going to Galilee before them. Hence this also appears patterned after Matthew, namely Mt 28:7.

Mk 1 - 16     Previous analysts who have presented arguments favoring Markan dependence upon Matthew have noted the improbability that the writer of Matthew, if his gospel were second after Mark, would, over and over again, just happen to have on hand relevant chunks of material to slip into the Markan text here and there, leaving no detectable suture. Examples of this include Mt 3:7-10,12,14-15; 4:3-10,13; 8:19-22; 10:5-8,13,15-16,23,27-32,34-40a,41; 11:16-30; 12:6-7,27-28,33-45; 13:14-17,25-30,33,36-52; 14:28-31; 15:12-14,23-24; 16:2b-3,17-19; 17:13; 18:7; 19:10-12; 21:10b-11,28-32,43; 22:40; 23:1-5,8-13,15-39; 24:9-13,37-41; 26:52-54; 27:19,24,43,62-66; 28:4. It should be evident that the omission of many pieces of Matthew by the writer of Mark easily explains this. This is a cumulative argument, hence all this is here lumped into a single point of evidence favoring Matthean priority over Mark. On the other hand, many of the additions that the writer of Mark appears to have made to the Matthean text disclose reasons for suspecting this was indeed what happened. This is not to say, however, that the writer of Matthew's text itself doesn't exhibit sutures here and there indicative of his editing of the source document (Talmud of Jmmanuel) available to him.


1. Meagher, John C., Clumsy Construction in Mark's Gospel (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1979), pp. 36-37.

2. Meagher, Clumsy Construction, pp. 38-39.

3. Butler, B. C., The Originality of St Matthew (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1951), pp. 126-127.

4. Mann, C. S., in The Anchor Bible: Mark, vol. 27 (New York: Doubleday & Co., 1986), p. 220.

5. Jameson, H. G., The Origin of the Synoptic Gospels (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1922), pp. 120-121.

6. Butler, Originality of St Matthew, p. 91.

7. Cope, Lamar, "The Argument Revolves: The Pivotal Evidence for Markan Priority Is Reversing Itself," in New Synoptic Studies, W. Farmer, ed. (Macon, GA: Mercer Univ. Press, 1983), pp. 144-148.

8 Mann, Anchor Bible, vol. 27, p.268.

9. Butler, Originality of St Matthew, p. 89.

10. Chapman, John, Matthew, Mark and Luke (New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1937), p. 6.

11. Goulder, Michael, Luke -- A New Paradigm, Vol. 1 (Sheffield, England: JSOT Press, 1989), pp. 255-256.

12. Maluf, Leonard, Message #8966 of the Synoptic-L archives.

13. Goodacre, Mark, "Fatigue in the Synoptics," J. New Testament Studies 44 (1998), pp. 45-58.

14. Parker, Pierson, "The Posteriority of Mark", in New Synoptic Studies, William R. Farmer, ed. (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1983), pp. 79, 85.

15. Wilcox, Max, "Peter and the rock: A fresh look at Matthew xvi. 17-19," NTS 22 (1975), pp. 73-88; see p. 73.

16. Butler, Originality of St Matthew, pp. 132-133.

17. Jameson, Origin of the Synoptic Gospels, pp. 124-125.

18. Butler, Originality of St Matthew, pp. 94-95.

19. Chapman, Matthew, Mark and Luke, pp. 16-17.

20. Butler, Originality of St Matthew, p. 95.

21. Chapman, Matthew, Mark and Luke, p. 71.

22. Chapman, Matthew, Mark and Luke, p. 18.

23. Riley, Harold, The Making of Mark (Macon, GA: Mercer Univ. Press, 1989) p. 122.

24. Butler, Originality of St Matthew, pp. 150-151.

25. Chapman, Matthew, Mark and Luke, pp. 76-77.

26. Chapman, Matthew, Mark and Luke, pp. 189-190.

27. Jameson, Origin of the Synoptic Gospels, pp. 135-136.

28. Butler, Originality of St Matthew, pp. 134-136.

29. Riley, The Making of Mark, p. 137.

30. Butler, Originality of St Matthew, p. 150.

31. Butler, Originality of St Matthew, pp. 74-75; Chapman, Matthew, Mark and Luke, p. 7.

32. Butler, B. C., "The Synoptic Problem," in A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, R. C. Fuller, L. Johnston and C. Kearns, eds. (Nashville: Nelson, 1969), pp. 815-821; see p. 820.

33. Beare, F. W., The Gospel according to Matthew (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981), p. 468.

34. Riley, The Making of Mark, p. 157.

35. Tuckett, C. M., The Revival of the Griesbach Hypothesis: An Analysis and Appraisal (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), p. 183.

36. Butler, Originality of St Matthew, pp. 83-85.

37. Riley, The Making of Mark, p. 181.

38. Riley, The Making of Mark, p. 182.

39. Riley, The Making of Mark, p. 185.

40. Jackson, Howard M., "The death of Jesus in Mark and the miracle from the cross," NTS 33 (1987), pp. 16-37; see p. 17.

41. Beare, The Gospel according to Matthew, p. 536.

42. Riley, The Making of Mark, pp. 194-195.

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