Gospel Parallel 52:  Hypotheses and Questions


Unspecified in Luke, "at home" in Matthew and Mark

Large crowds of locals in Mark; huge crowds "from every village in Judea" in Luke; none mentioned in Matthew until the end


crowds and scribes in Mark; scribes in Matthew; scribes and Pharisees in Luke

Jesus's activities

None in Matthew; "speaking the word" in Mark; "teaching" in Luke

Perceives scribe's thoughts in Mark; overhears them in Matthew; replies to direct questions in Luke

Has the innate power of healing in Matthew and Mark; has been temporarily given this power in Luke

Refers to himelf or another as Son of Man?


Crowds glorify God, "who has given authority to human beings"

Crowds "have never seen anything like this" or "have seen strange things today" in Matthew and Luke


Mark has a more poetic style than Matthew and is more story-like. If Matthew had Mark's account, why is he more succinct?

Luke has a more influential audience (scribes and Pharisees) and has Jesus primarily teaching rather than healing

Luke also has Jesus being more influential (people are coming to see him from as far away as Jerusalem)

Matthew stresses Jesus's non-divinity and does not suggest that anyone but God could forgive sins

Matthew's crowds fear Jesus as well as being awed by him (preceding story)

Jesus's healing powers are stressed in all three gospels

Jesus's relationship with God is stressed in all three gospels, but its exact nature is unclear.

Jesus's prior reputation as a healer is stressed in Mark and Luke but not in Matthew

Luke is either adding Pharisees to the crowd, or the other two are omitting them

Jesus imputes evil motives to the scribes in Matthew

Only Matthew does not explain what blasphemy might consist of -- perhaps his audience would know

Generally Mark is the middle term -- either Matthew or Luke agree with him, but rarely just with each other -- maybe that means Mark is the source for the other two?

Because Jesus's saying is the most consistent across the 3 narratives, it must be the one part of the story that was well-known and couldn't be altered.

Questions needing answers

Why do Matthew and Luke leave out some of Mark's details?

Who were the audiences for each gospel?

Does Jesus refer to himself or someone else as the Son of Man?

Is Matthew's the first because it is shortest, or Mark's because it has more detail?

"When Jesus saw their faith"  -- in what or whom?

Who is Jesus making his point to -- the scribes/Pharisees, or the crowd?

Are the different levels of divinity apparent in this pericope consistent across each of the gospels?

Inferences not necessarily supported by the evidence:

1. The story of healing is metaphorical and really concerns a diseased soul rather than a physical disease.

2. "Stand up and walk" may be metaphorical for living with adversity.

3. The point of the story is to show that Jesus is the Son of God (theological statement).

4. Matthew is the author of the story and is referring to himself as the tax collector.

5.  Jesus is the Christ of Christian theology so we can use this name of him when speaking of this text.

6. The point of the pericope is to shift from a tradition of forgiveness via ritual to one where faith is important.