Critique of the Gospel History of the Synoptics
by Bruno Bauer
The calling of the first four apostles.
The account of Matthew.
With the same words, the same sentence construction as Mark, Matthew also reports the calling of the first four apostles, and like him, he immediately connects his account to the note that Jesus appeared in Galilee preaching about the kingdom of heaven. At the Sea of Galilee, Jesus finds the two pairs of brothers, Peter and Andrew, and James and John, occupied with their fishing, and with the words “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,” he immediately persuades them to join him.
Matthew is the later of the two writers; the few and, moreover, insignificant deviations he has allowed himself prove that he is copying Mark’s account. Matthew says (V. 18), Jesus “saw two brothers, Simon Peter and Andrew his brother.” Likewise V. 21: Jesus “saw another pair of brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother.” But why mention twice that Simon and Andrew were brothers? Even the most unskilled writer would not do this if he were writing from his own head. Just look at how Mark writes: Jesus (1, 16) “saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon” (V. 19) “saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother”: This is how a man writes who is looking straight at the subject matter while writing and not looking left and right – who knows where? – or perhaps looking at a book he is copying from. Matthew did the latter. In the moment when he wants to say that Jesus saw Simon and Andrew, he immediately remembers that they were brothers, impatiently writes it down, and does not immediately see that Mark also brings up this note at that time, when he notes that Andrew was the brother of Simon. After so hastily writing down his statement that they were brothers, he is still so dependent on the writing of his predecessor and so in the flow, that he also copied his note, thus a note that he had already written down in the same moment. He does the same thing when he comes to the Zebedee family.
After such an obvious proof, we hardly need to mention that the sentence of Matthew: “they left the ship and their father” (V. 22.), is only freed from this clumsy doubling of the accusative when we reshape it back into the form that Mark originally gave it, when he says (1, 20): “they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants.”
The account of Luke.
At the same point where Mark and Matthew told the story, Luke could not recount the calling of the four disciples. His interest was focused on explaining how Capernaum, not Nazareth, became Jesus’ usual place of residence. Therefore, when he recounted how the Nazarenes drove the prophet out of town, he was irresistibly compelled to bring the Lord to Capernaum at the same time, i.e. he comes to the point in Mark’s narrative where Jesus enters this town, teaches in the synagogue, heals a demoniac, is led from the synagogue by Peter to his house, heals his mother-in-law, and in the evening, when the news of his presence in the house had become known and all the sick of the place were brought to him, he also healed them. Luke copies all of this from the writings of Mark because he has brought the Lord to Capernaum and now he must tell what happened there. Now he must copy at least so much, that he reports that the next morning Jesus withdrew into the wilderness, followed by people who begged him not to leave, but he claimed that it was his destiny to preach the Kingdom of God in other cities as well, and so he wandered around preaching in the synagogues of Galilee.*)
*) Luke 4:31-44. Mark 1:21-39.
So, Luke could not tell the story of the calling of the disciples at the same place where he read it in Mark; he had to bring the Lord from Nazareth straight to Capernaum. So, when will he be able to report the calling of the apostles? When Jesus has left Capernaum. Now, as he travels around Galilee teaching, he can come to the lake where the two pairs of brothers are to be found. But Jesus is teaching by the lake to a large crowd who want to hear the word of God. How does he get to the fishermen? Mark tells him: from his account, he sees that the Lord liked to escape the crowd at the lake by having a boat ready (Mark 3:9); Mark also tells him that when a large crowd had gathered around the lake to hear him, Jesus got into a boat and taught from there (Mark 4:1). Well, Jesus did the same thing this time, concludes Luke, and his account is introduced in the best way possible. Jesus is at the lake of Gennesaret, he sees how eager the people are to hear the word of God from him – we do not find out what he is really teaching, of course! Because this whole introduction is used for a foreign purpose: Jesus is only supposed to come to the lake to come into contact with the fishermen who absolutely have to be called. And how does he find them? – he sees two boats on the shore of the lake – but why exactly two boats? – the two pairs of brothers are supposed to be called! What are the two pairs of brothers doing at the shore at this moment? They are washing their nets!
Stop! Not so fast! The confusion has become so great that we must pause to consider where we are. These people are supposed to be called now, especially Peter is to be convinced to follow through an incredible miracle, and what are they doing at the moment when the crowd is clamoring for the Lord to let them hear the word of God, what are they doing? They are washing their nets! Either they were not worthy to be called, or it would indeed take a miracle to fill their boats with fish if they were to be shaken out of their dullness.
However, they are innocent! It is only Luke’s pragmatism that makes them appear so dull. It was he who created the occasion for Jesus to be teaching and surrounded by a crowd eager to learn, so that they and their boats would catch his eye when he was to make their acquaintance. Only Luke has them engaged in washing their nets in this new environment, where they must have had different thoughts, because he read in the Scripture of Mark that they were partly occupied with fishing and partly with mending their nets when Jesus found them (Mark 1:16, 19). Luke lets them continue their work undisturbed, as he sees them in Mark’s narrative, and precisely this activity of washing their nets he assumes at this moment because he wants the boats to be close enough for the Lord to step into one of them immediately.
If one demands stronger evidence before conceding that Luke created this pragmatism, that he put a note he found in Mark’s Gospel into a new but foreign context, then one will hear more than he wanted to hear, so much that he can only resort to condemning the critic. But why does apologetics force the critic to reveal the nature of the letter through its literalistic interpretation?
It is clear that the occupation of the two pairs of brothers, as the crowd is eager to hear the Lord, does not belong in this context; that the situation in which Jesus stands from the crowd after being pressed into a boat is borrowed from other accounts in Mark, we have noted. But to complete the proof, we can also show that the crowd is not in its place here. Jesus, as previously mentioned, leaves Capernaum, the crowd follows him and wants to persuade him not to leave, but Jesus does not respond to their request and preaches in the synagogues of Galilee. Yet it says (Luke 5:1) that the crowd was eager to hear the word of God from him! “The” crowd! It is not indicated that it is a different, new crowd. So where does “the” crowd come from? The author needs it, and all other considerations must yield to his need.
The whole story of the fishing and the calling of Peter is not in its place here. Before this (Luke 4:44), the evangelist has reported that after leaving Capernaum, Jesus preached in the synagogues of Galilee. Afterwards (Luke 5:12), he says that while Jesus was in one of the towns, a leper approached him for healing. For now, we can observe that the note about Jesus traveling around in Galilee is meant to explain how Jesus could be met by the leper in “one of the towns” and be asked for help. But that note and the account of the healing of the leper are now separated by the long story of Peter’s fishing trip, which has a separate interest in itself, and they have lost the close connection that immediately connects them in the Gospel of Mark (Mark 1:39-40). Wilke *) does try to help Luke’s account a bit, by suggesting that the note that Jesus was already traveling through Galilee **) when he called the first disciples should be deleted because it was transferred from Mark 1:39. He suggests that the crowd that is pressing Jesus by the sea and wanting to hear the word of God from him is the same crowd that was holding him back from leaving Capernaum. Jesus gives in to them, teaches by the sea, and only then (Luke 5:11), after calling the two pairs of brothers, sets out on the journey where he encounters the leper. However, it is Luke himself who has transferred the note that Jesus was traveling around in the synagogues of Galilee from the Gospel of Mark. He is not so restrained and cautious that he would not copy a note at the very moment when he is copying a report of Jesus leaving Capernaum that is still closely connected to it, and which he very much needs. He must have the disciples called on a journey of Jesus, just like Mark, indeed on a journey where Jesus is preaching; he must have given the note of the real journey since he does not give it after the calling of the disciples and only says that the new companions followed the Lord. So Jesus was already on the journey when he called them *).
*) p. 590.
**) Luke 4:44 και ην κηρυσσων εν ταις συναγωγαις της Γαλιλαιας
*) that is, Luke, because out of obedience to Mark’s account, he had to write that the Lord was on a journey when he happened to come to the Sea of Galilee and called the first disciples – he forgets that Jesus was already near this sea when he left Capernaum and set out on the journey that would take him to the Sea of Galilee.
Luke wants to recount the first calling of Peter. Jesus sees, as the crowd presses in on him, two boats on the shore and happens to step into the one belonging to Peter. After teaching the crowd, he tells Peter to sail out to the deeper part of the lake and cast his nets. Peter says they had been fishing all night and caught nothing, but he will do it at Jesus’ word. When he does, the catch is so great that the nets begin to tear. Peter then recognizes in Jesus the holy one before whom, as a sinful man, he cannot stand. Jesus tells him not to be afraid, as from now on he will catch people.
“No!” says the apologist *), Luke does not want to recount the first calling of Peter. Doesn’t Jesus already know the disciple if he was previously a guest in his house? Luke must explain why he leads Jesus as a guest into the home of a man of whom he had not previously reported how he became acquainted with the Lord. Luke has not mentioned in any way that Jesus had already chosen the fishermen as his disciples; he has not reported anything about a “first calling,” and when he describes the fishing trip, he sheds light on the meeting between Jesus and the two sets of brothers in such a way that it is clear that he wants to, indeed he must, report on their first chance encounter. But why should we continue arguing with the stubborn apologist, since we have already explained why Luke could only report the calling of the first disciples here? Why fight when we can show him that Luke understood the difficulty better than he did! When Mark leads him into the house of Peter, he has no choice but to mention the name of Simon in his account, as he must also mention the latter’s mother-in-law, who is healed of her fever. But he knows that he has gone astray. In Mark’s account (1:36), he reads that the next morning, when Jesus leaves Capernaum, Peter and the others, namely the other disciples, rush after him and tell him that everyone is “looking for” him in Capernaum. At least here, where he could have done it, he suppresses the name of Peter, saying that the crowd (4:42) “looked for” Jesus, caught up with him, and tried to persuade him to stay, but he could not suppress the name of the disciple without distorting the whole structure and meaning of the original account. If the crowd chooses the Lord, it is because, according to the context, the miraculous healings had aroused their interest in Jesus. However, Jesus’ response, which Luke has retained (4:43), “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also because that is why I was sent,” does not fit. It only fits in Mark’s account, where Peter and the others seek out Jesus and he responds to their request for him to stay with the words, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”
*For example, Hoffmann, p. 344.
Although Luke, if he already met Peter before he tells his calling story, avoids him as much as possible, his person has nevertheless become familiar, important and significant to him – he was forced to let the Lord stay in his house – and therefore the last contradiction has arisen, which we must still emphasize.
Does Luke report the calling of the two pairs of brothers? Yes and no! Both! That is the contradiction! Peter is the main person, his brother Andrew is completely forgotten, the Lord gets into his boat to teach and he alone gets the rich catch of fish and Jesus calls out to him: “From now on you will catch people.” And yet – impossible! but it is written (5:11)! – and yet, just as Peter is being called, Luke writes the words: “And they left everything and followed him.” “They,” the others, of whom Luke, solely focused on Peter, has not said a word that they are also called, but whom he must bring into play and send after the Lord as followers because he reads in the account of Mark that they became disciples of the Lord at the same time as Peter. He already has them in mind when he leaves two boats on the shore by chance, as he later presents the situation in such a way that the other boat, in which the companions of Peter, the two sons of Zebedee, were also present, had accidentally gone along when Peter, on Jesus’ command, sailed deeper into the middle of the lake; they had to be at hand so that Peter could wave to them, so that they could assist him in pulling out the heavy nets, and so that they too could be amazed at the miracle like Peter and follow the Lord – in short, they are a coincidental addition and yet could not be missing because Mark is an invincible authority and demands it that way. Luke only has Peter called, but Mark commands him to also add the sons of Zebedee to the Lord as disciples. He obeys blindly.
If the apologists believe that not the first calling of the four disciples, but the strengthening of their faith through a particular miracle is being reported here, then a similar thought may have occurred to Luke. Not the same thought! That is certain: he wants to tell the story of the first calling of Peter and his companions, whom he had not yet been able to introduce into his account. But once Jesus had been led – although unannounced – into the house of Peter, Luke had become familiar with the person of the latter, despite all his reluctance, and in essence, Jesus cannot be completely unfamiliar with the man in whose house he had spent the night as a guest. So how can the first calling of the apostle, which is to be reported, still proceed as simply as it did according to Mark? It is to be the first calling, but it must take on a character that suggests that it is also a growth in Peter’s understanding of the nature of the Lord. A simple word is no longer sufficient if the one who is to be called is the man under whose roof the Lord has just rested as a guest. Something extraordinary must happen, so that Peter himself can express his amazement and his faith and no longer needs to follow the Lord silently, as happens according to Mark’s account. In short, a miracle is necessary here, and here on the sea, where fishermen are called to become fishers of men, no other miracle was closer than the wonderful catch of fish that the Lord provided for Peter.
*) The fact that Peter appears as the main character in this calling story, as Luke has fashioned it, is partly also due to Mark. When he speaks of those four first disciples in chapter 1, verse 36, he puts Simon at the head, so that the others only appear as his entourage. Peter is the outstanding focal point, the others the subordinate surroundings: ὁ Σίμων καὶ οἱ μετ’ αὐτοῦ
We have already shown the apologists who, like Hoffmann, do not see the first calling of the four disciples in the account of Matthew, that Luke wants nothing to do with them and their reasoning. If he reads in Mark’s account that Jesus said to Peter, who wanted to keep him in Capernaum, “Let us go to the other towns, so I can preach there too,” if he reads that Peter followed the Lord on his journey with the others, would he then forcibly suppress the name of Peter and arrange it so that Jesus only happened to see the two boats on the lake later that belonged to Peter and the sons of Zebedee *)?
*) Calvin correctly said: “If they had been called earlier, it would have followed that they were apostates who, deserting their Master and rejecting their calling, returned to their former way of life.” Of course, now Calvin must say: “The calling of the four apostles is described more briefly by Matthew and Mark, which Luke elaborates on in more detail.” But the reports are not only quantitative, but qualitatively different.
Once the mystery is solved and the origin of the report in the third Gospel is recognized, all talk about the miracle of the great catch of fish falls away. Luke had no other source than the Gospel of Mark and his own pragmatism in this section of his Gospel. So we know where he got the miracle from: his own pragmatism. We don’t need to babble and say, as Hoffmann does, that the miracle served “to prepare the disciples for the knowledge of the person of Jesus they were to receive” **), that is, we have escaped the danger of madness or foolishness that we would necessarily succumb to if we were to assume that a lucky catch of fish was the basis and foundation of Christian knowledge. We are spared the senselessness and do not need to assert with Hoffmann that “the vision” was revealed in the miracle of the great catch of fish, with which Jesus was able to “penetrate deeply into physical nature”. As far as we know, this can only be called a deep insight into nature that understands its order and laws. But to know where a couple of fish or hundreds of them happen to be located! Enough, enough! No further!
**) ibid., p. 345.
Even Neander and the apologists who concede that Luke, like the other synoptics, wanted to report the same event cannot confuse us anymore when they claim that “Matthew gives us an abbreviated account, while Luke provides a more detailed, vivid account from an eyewitness *)” – Mark does not exist for them. We have seen what this vividness amounts to. Everything, every single detail contradicts the other in Luke’s account; everything is haphazardly patched together. We must speak bluntly if we are forced to accept this terribly anxious admiration for vividness.
But if Neander then gushes with admiration for the “simple sense of truth” which he claims Schleiermacher demonstrated in explaining this section of the Gospel of Luke, if he tries to take away from the critic his palladium, his consolation, his good right, his consciousness that he is the sincere friend of truth, then we must also show him that there is nothing more terrifying than the secret cunning of the literalist. Who asks Schleiermacher to give Luke **) a faith that he takes away from Matthew? A coincidence, a preference, a feeling that is not justified, but which must be all the more tyrannical and barbaric in asserting itself. Thus, Schleiermacher finds it significant that Luke does not mention Andrew; but we saw how this comes about very simply because for this evangelist, Peter is already the main person, and how he even forgot the brother only by chance. Schleiermacher attaches importance to the fact that according to Luke’s account, the calling of Peter and the sons of Zebedee are interconnected and are one. But what a beautiful calling of the sons of Zebedee that Luke doesn’t even report! What a splendid vividness when the sons of Zebedee appear until the end as a random appendage and suddenly at the end of the story become disciples and followers of the Lord.
*) Neander, p. 159.
**) Schleiermacher, a. a. O. p. 71-72.
Is it “finer tact, humility, and simple truthfulness” when, like Schleiermacher, one time raises Luke high above Mark and his fellow sufferers, and then knows how to find a backdoor through which they can slip into the heaven of glory that the apologist has built? We want nothing to do with these virtues. Honesty is the best policy! To comfort the mistreated, to not let Mark and Matthew suffer too much, Schleiermacher says, “we should not be surprised about the differences between their account and that of Luke. For the three disciples *) could not have told the incident, which had certainly remained memorable to them, in exactly the same way due to their differing ways of expressing themselves, sometimes more clearly and precisely, and at other times not.” Where is our understanding? Or what causes us this dreadful headache when we are told that we should admire these kinds of reasoning but cannot? Terrible agony! The variations that the three disciples played on the same theme are said to be the cause of the differences in the gospel accounts! Mark, Matthew, and Luke are not writers, not people, they are the echoes of a song that – who knows how long before the moment they echoed it – was sung! Oh! Who will free us from these sufferings to which the human mind must succumb? How anxious is our situation when we are human, want to see people in front of us, and want to interact with people, but are supposed to see dead masks in the evangelists.
*) Andrew, namely, must definitely retreat: as far as Luke himself in the speech that is supposed to reconcile Mark and Matthew.
Schleiermacher’s index card theory cannot at least bring us back to being human. This time, says the apologetic critic, Luke has again copied the work of a collector who set the calling of Peter later because he “learned about it later and added it to the others in the order he learned it.” We would indeed like to know what would become of historiography if it were a law that the historian had to tell the facts in the same order in which he learned them. Pleasure! Air! We’re done for! Ha! What a relief! We feel like humans again, we interact with human beings again: we remember again which scripture Luke used and how he came to tell the incident, which he knows from Mark’s account, just as he did, and to place it where we find it *).
*) The general expression of apologetics that Schleiermacher applies when he says that someone can arrange the events in a history book in the order in which they learn them can be found in Augustine’s well-known harmonistic work. As the newer apologetic reasoning consistently returns to this point, lacking only the openness and naivete of expression available to Augustine, we want to present the view of the great Church Father here for the benefit and profit of all.
“What is told at a later point does not necessarily have to have happened later. An evangelist can rather “make up” for what he “omitted” before.” De consensu Evangelistarmu Lib. II, c. 51).
So how does Augustine conceive of this making up and omitting? Does it happen consciously or not? It seems not consciously.
“For no one has the power to decide in what order he wants to remember things, no matter how well and accurately he knows them. What is to come to our mind sooner or later does not depend on our will, but on how it is given to us.” (Quid enim prius posteriusve homini veniat in mentem, non est, ut volumus, sed ut datur.)
But what chance then tossed the individual parts of the report together so randomly and arbitrarily in the minds of the evangelists?
God! Augustine replies. “It is certainly enough,” he says at the same place, “that each evangelist believed he had to tell in the order that God pleased to insert what he now tells into his memory.”
Augustine says the same thing ibid. c. 44 and often.
Therefore, the historical sequence and that of memory (ordo rei gestae und ordo recordationis) must be carefully distinguished, idid. c. 81.
But – and how could the apologist exist without the but, which devours the previous something down to the last morsel? – but it is of the utmost importance to always keep in mind – although Augustine just said the opposite before! – to always consider that the evangelists did not omit anything involuntarily and unconsciously, not because they did not know exactly what the order of events was, but that they followed the order of their memory, which was different from the actual order, with full consciousness. With full consciousness, they omitted something to make up for it later, just as they also anticipated some things in their reports (ibid. c. 81.).
Every word about this theory would be superfluous since it destroys itself with its two contradictory sides, and criticism teaches us how the disorder of the gospel reports came about. But we must still rejoice when apologetics so naively express and diligently develop their theory.
Compared to this neat and precise elaboration, how flabby and negligent appears the statement with which Olshausen (I, 24.) dismisses everything, saying that “the presentation of the official work of Jesus in the synoptic gospels is handled in such a way that one does not see anywhere the intention (!) to preserve a specific chronological sequence in the reported events,” a statement that finds its quick death at every transition from one event to another!
It has been such a struggle and taken so much time to navigate through the apologetic twists and turns to reach the original source, Mark!
The account of Mark.
But before that, we have another question to ask. Can we make that extreme concession, which we haven’t really brought up yet in the debate between the Synoptics and the fourth Gospel, but which we’ve referred to as a possible way out? Is it really true that “the Lord first came into contact with some disciples in Judea and then later in Galilee he permanently bound them to his person *).” Once we pose the question – and we must now do so in all seriousness, since the authority of the fourth Gospel could not withstand criticism – we would like to see the reason that might compel us to answer in the affirmative. We no longer know that Jesus went to John’s baptism; we know that he never came into the close contact with the Baptist as the fourth Evangelist portrays. There is no trace in the Synoptic accounts that some of Jesus’ disciples had been followers of the Baptist before. However, we can say how the fourth Evangelist came to make the Baptist the intermediary through whom the first disciples were brought to Jesus. The testimony of the Baptist in this specific form ascribed to him by the Evangelist was important and indispensable for the entire pragmatism of his writing. As he laments so often that it was not properly appreciated and recognized by the people, he had to create some faithful persons in his writing who were better disposed and who experienced the full force of this testimony by being moved to join the Lord. It was clearly evident from them that the preaching of the Baptist was the turning point to salvation. They themselves had to have gone through the discipline of John, this important point of transition, in short, they had to be disciples of the Baptist who were moved by their master’s testimony to become followers of the Messiah. Naturally, Jesus had to win his first disciples in the Jordan Valley where the Baptist was staying.
*) Kr. d. ev. Gesch. des Joh. p. 49. 50.
Mark now stands alone, but not more firmly than his successors. The glory remains with him that his portrayal is original, simple, pure, and nothing but the expression of the general idea he wants to convey. But the idea, however simple and pure it may be presented, when squeezed into a single fact, is so revolutionary in its universality that it does not rest until it has wrestled itself out of the contradiction of being a single event and regained its self-awareness of its universality, which manifests itself quite differently in history.
It must be striking how Jesus calls four completely unknown people who are busy with their trade at Lake Gennesaret to become disciples. Equally striking is how these people leave their trade, their home, and their father on the word of a man who was hitherto unknown to them and about whom they have not yet learned anything that could seem significant to them.
Otherwise, in the life that we know, the formation of a circle of disciples happens quite differently, namely gradually through the growing experience of the importance and the stimulating or creative power of the man, that is, through the thorough experience that is only capable of bringing individuals to the point where they completely surrender their personality to someone else’s.
Therefore, the account of Mark lifts us up into a world that is infinitely different from the ordinary, into the world of wonders, and Jesus would have had to put a miraculous power into his call if he had really called the first disciples in this way, to force them to obedience, people whose destiny he also miraculously understood at first sight *). But as soon as we no longer see, like Mark and the earlier immediate faith, only the reflection of the idea in the fact, and the apologist haggles about the individual fact, we must express that such magic is not only impossible but also unworthy, even if it had been at the Lord’s disposal. Free people can only be convinced to join something greater through experience and through the inner voice, and if it were possible that someone else could chain them to themselves with magical power at first sight, just with a word, before they have learned anything about him, then he must first despise the humanity in them and degrade them to machines.
*) Calvin: Here the energy of the voice of Christ is apparent: not that the voice alone penetrates so effectively into the hearts of men, but because the Lord, who wants to draw and carry away those to himself, compels them from within by the Spirit to obey his voice.
And what magical power, what coincidence must have played here, if Jesus had bound four men, the two pairs of brothers whom he happened to encounter close to each other at the lake, to his person through the same call!
Furthermore, it is usually not the first step for men who appear with a new principle to call disciples. Instead, they gather and acquire their disciples by developing and publicly expressing their principle.
Mark knew nothing less than the specific circumstances under which the first disciples were motivated to join Jesus. In fact, it was not even a specificity of the idea that prompted him to portray the calling of those disciples as the first thing that Jesus did when he appeared. Did Elijah call Elisha the moment he appeared? Did Moses choose the elders before he began the work of freeing his people, or did he not already speak as a legislator before then? Indeed, did not Mark himself know well where the selection of a circle of disciples belonged, when he later told (Chapter 3, 13-14) that Jesus chose twelve according to his will to be around him? There was nothing more than a random circumstance that made the Christian church think of the selection of disciples as the first public act of their Lord. Mark wants nothing more with this arrangement of his account than to explain how it came about that Jesus made Capernaum the center of his travels in Galilee. As a guest of Peter, he resides in this city and in order to find this residence, he must wander around the Sea of Galilee “by chance” at his first appearance and call the two pairs of brothers who are settled in Capernaum. This arrangement of the story passed unchanged into the Gospel of Matthew, as far as possible into that of Luke, it passed into the belief of the community, and even the fourth evangelist cannot change it anymore, he also retains it, only that with him the new interest is added that he wants to portray the testimony of the Baptist as the power that led the believers to Jesus.
So the account of Mark proves to be pure fabrication, it is modeled after the Old Testament story of the calling of Elisha by Elijah, and the call of Jesus, “I will make you fishers of men,” is a slight combination of the former profession of these disciples and their later ministry.
Weisse *) considers it “possible that the Old Testament memory, as in many other cases, was intended by Jesus himself and placed in his action. However, that he spoke those words expressly as an invitation to the still hesitant disciples to follow him and devote themselves entirely to him (!) is made probable by the emphasis with which it is also elsewhere affirmed that it was not the disciples who chose Jesus, but Jesus who chose the disciples.” However, Mark knows nothing of the disciples having even hesitated to devote themselves to the unknown man up until then. But let us consider the picture that would emerge if the Lord had to gradually draw the still hesitant disciples out of their resistance through the magic of his words; magic would still have to be exercised by the unknown man, but the picture becomes oppressive and torturous if the disciples even offer the slightest resistance, while in Mark’s account, where a single word makes these people into different individuals, everything is in order, even though this order does not belong to the real world.
Furthermore, why would Jesus have said so interestedly (John 15:16): “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” What man who is even somewhat secure in himself would speak like that! It is much more self-evident that the higher spirit draws others to itself through the power of its superiority. But let us remember just how interested the Lord is said to have spoken; the fourth evangelist has created a contrast here that is so exaggerated, so unsustainable, as has only ever been written down by him. What in the real world becomes gradual and apparently coincidental, this relationship between master and disciple he wanted to see through an abstract dogmatic theory in the light of a higher necessity. Mark incorporated this idea of necessity into the story.
*) 1, 476
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