Critique of the Gospel History of the Synoptics
by Bruno Bauer
Chapter 7, verse 1.
Matthew suddenly returns to the speech of Luke, which he included in the Sermon on the Mount. He quotes the Lord as saying, “Do not judge, so that you will not be judged. For with the judgment you make, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
In judging others, people provide themselves with the standard by which they will be judged.
Matthew has simplified a saying from the Lord’s speech in Luke and brought it into a very successful general expression, in which its meaning is infinitely expanded. For when it says in Luke (6:37), “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven,” the idea is immediately restricted to specific directions, and the full generality of the interaction cannot be asserted. Matthew removes the specific elements concerning condemnation and forgiveness, and instead adopts the construction of the following saying in Luke, “with the measure you use, it will be measured to you,” creating a universal expression that contains all the relationships of this idea. “With the judgment you make, you will be judged,” that is, your judgment of others is in itself and in every case a judgment of yourself. Depending on whether you find the weak, only the bad and not the good in others, you reveal how much power the good has for you personally.
“Whatever measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2) is the abstract expression of the same idea, and rightly connected by Matthew immediately with the saying about judging. Luke also concludes the saying about judging with this sentence, but his previous elaboration of the same (verse 37) extends to verse 38 so much that the concluding sentence, “Whatever measure you use,” can only with difficulty be brought back to the theme of “Do not judge.” “Give, and it will be given to you: A good, pressed, shaken, and overflowing measure will be given to you. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” What does “give” mean here? It cannot be said with certainty whether it still belongs to the theme and perhaps should remind us to give recognition to others. The expression would not be particularly suitable in this context, and if we do not want to be plagued with strained interpretations, we must ultimately give in to the impression of the words to the extent that we admit that they express the idea of retribution, which the benevolent can expect. That is, we must then admit that Luke has introduced a foreign idea into this context.
But not only that: he has also substantially changed a saying that he borrowed from Mark and given it a new position. We cannot blame him for doing it at all in this case, but he did it badly in that he did not do it more skillfully and did not make the key words he took from the text of Mark stand out more clearly. Mark, in whose work we first find this proverb, did not phrase it correctly. According to the interpretation of the parable of the sower (Mark 4:24-25), Jesus says to the disciples: “Consider carefully what you hear. With the measure you use, it will be measured to you – and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” But how can this saying relate to the understanding and acceptance of truth? The following saying (v. 25), “Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them,” is appropriately placed where the theoretical interest in truth is discussed, but the saying about measurement is impossible. Wilke says,” *) Indeed, these words – (with what measure) – have meaning only when they are understood as an exhortation to reflect on the meaning of parabolic speeches, because here a gain really takes place for the one who has.” Indeed, for “the one who has.” “But ‘with what measure you measure,’ what does that have to do with understanding a truth presented? It is certainly true that the evangelist seemed to place the proverb of the measure in its appropriate place here, but it is equally true that he inserted it at a very inappropriate time, since it refers solely and exclusively to the moral relationship to others and to the evaluation of them. The same thing happened to Mark here, which only did not happen to him as often as to his followers because he did not accumulate as much material for preaching as they did: he allowed himself to be misled by an external reference, that of the relationship of exchange contained in the saying, ‘to him who has, more will be given,’ to insert the proverb of the measure here. Luke has already given the proverb its correct position when he connected it with the speech on judging others, but he has not yet succeeded in carrying out the connection completely. By working out the idea of mutual giving and receiving so elaborately, the appearance has arisen as if he were speaking at the same time about giving and sharing in the sense of benevolence. Only Matthew has combined the element that in the writing of Mark had received its place by chance and in the writing of Luke had found its natural connection through the inner power of elective affinity with the subject matter to which it properly belongs, into an organic whole. He would have provided proof again that Will was accusing him unfairly when he claimed that we found in him ‘mere rearrangements and relocations of the parts of speech from their original position’ *). We find not only clever combinations and elaborations in him, but it has often happened that sayings, after wandering through the writings of Mark and Luke in rather tumultuous and disruptive surroundings, found a proper connection only with him and were introduced by him into their ideal home.”
*) ibid. p. 379
*) ibid. p. 691
We say “through him” and “into their ideal home!” This must present no small difficulty to the apologist, and to the critic who is still entangled in the material interests of apologetics, when he is asked to explain why the same sayings of Jesus in the different Gospels are not only delivered on different occasions but also in substantially different senses. However, Fritzsche says that there is no need to be surprised about this, as it is inherent in the nature of such proverbial expressions that they could be used in one sense or another depending on the occasion *). Therefore, if Matthew presents the same saying twice on different occasions, he must have known that Jesus had delivered it twice and specifically on these occasions. Or if each evangelist only allows the same saying to arise once, but each on a different occasion, then each of them would have known only one of these occasions as the home of the saying. Tholuck sees the matter in the same way. “With what right, he asks, has the latest criticism of the Gospels so persistently refused to admit that Christ could have repeated himself in individual utterances or even in smaller discourses)?” *)
**) Fritzsche on Mark 4:21-25: minime mirum est, cum ejusdem proverbiales locutiones pro re nata modo in hunc, modo in illum intellectum ferantur.
*) a. a. O. p. 16. Similarly, Paulus, I. 585.
If we still followed the traditional hypothesis, we would answer: the entire substance of the gospel narrative is not the life of Jesus in its empirical expansion, but in its ideal condensation in memory. Here, brevity and simplification are the first law, and all that is essential is only present once, but in memory it can appear differently and therefore also have a different meaning.
However, we no longer follow this hypothesis and no longer need its still mysterious attempts at explanation, as with each step forward that criticism takes, the mystery of the literary origin of the Gospels becomes more and more revealed. The last two Synoptics, especially Matthew, include a saying at different occasions, when they anticipate it once from the scripture of their predecessor and then copy it again when they come to its original position. They have the saying only once but at different occasions, unless they copy it with its context after its anticipation. This has happened this time, both Luke and Matthew leave out the saying about the measure when they give the speech that Jesus gave to the disciples when they asked him to interpret the parable of the sower.
2. The Judging of Splinters.
Matthew 7, 1-5.
Although the thought takes a essentially different direction when judging was previously talked about, with which one sets the standard for oneself, and now the splinter-judging of the hypocrite is characterized, Matthew is still concerned at least with the external connection that is given in the thought of judging, when he places both sayings directly next to each other and omits and preserves the sayings that separate and distinguish them in the scripture of Luke (Luke 6, 39-42) for later use.
He later used them appropriately, as we will see. But here in the discourse of Luke, they have no connection whatsoever with the preceding or following saying about the speck and the log. Luke is now exhausted, just as Matthew was at his time, and no longer has the strength required to create a coherent whole out of his main idea and let the individual sayings emerge from it. He even creates a new paragraph with the words of verse 39: “He also told them this parable” and then follows with the saying: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?” At best, this saying could be related in a remote way to the following saying about the speck and the log *), although it would have to be very remote, since nothing in the latter saying could induce one to reflect on the fate of the lesser sinner who is judged over his speck. No, there is no connection possible, any more than there is any connection between the saying in verse 40, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher,” and the saying about the blind guide and the speck and the log (verses 41-42). When it is remarked that a disciple is not above his teacher, it is only meant to urge him to the appropriate humility. But what is the point of this exhortation here?
*) Schneckenburger, Beiträge p. 18, even says: “What Luke gives from verse 30 onwards is so well connected internally that we may well consider it to belong together originally (!).” Even if it were so connected – but we will see that it is anything but – this does not mean that it is original, etc. A completely new type of human or inhuman memory would have had to be invented for sayings of this kind and of such a connection to have been preserved in memory.
And what is the rationale for the following verse on judging specks, which only considers the hypocrite’s faults in relation to the smaller faults of the brother, when in the next verse (v.43), it is stated “for there is no good tree that produces bad fruit, nor on the other hand a bad tree that produces good fruit”? What is the purpose of this verse, which contains a completely different logic? Either it can be related as a justification to everything and everyone, or it should not stand here as such.
Matthew only takes this verse later to incorporate it into his Sermon on the Mount; before that, after criticizing splinter-judging, he gives the exhortation, which was probably an original norm for the apostles, not to waste holy things and pearls of truth in the face of insensitivity (v. 6), and then he jumps back to the place in Luke’s scripture where he had already borrowed the Lord’s prayer.
1. Prayer answered.
Prayer is answered, it is certainly answered: for if self-interest, which otherwise wants to prevail everywhere in human relationships, remains silent in the family and in the relationship between father and children, how much more will the heavenly Father give good things to his children when they ask him?
After the Lord had taught his disciples to pray, Luke continues, he described to them in a parable (Luke 11:5-8) the power of persistent and unremitting prayer and then (vv. 9-13) guaranteed the certainty of prayer being answered in his own words *), which are the same as those we read in Matthew.
*) καγω υμιν λεγω
Schleiermacher is aware, of course *), that this discourse “relates to the prayer of the Lord in its main content.” That is indeed how it seemed to the evangelist, but it is not the case: just because the discourse mentions prayer, he believes himself entitled to include and elaborate on this saying about prayer answered. But before, the issue was not about whether one should pray at all, or whether one should pray constantly and persistently, but in what formula.
*) Ibid. pp. 173, 174.
Even though the connection is not the best, it does not follow that Luke has no authorial contribution to the parable and the accompanying exposition of the idea of the certainty of prayer being answered. Instead, we can still detect his handiwork. At the end (v. 13), it says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” This mention of the Holy Spirit, especially as it forms the climax of the whole passage, is not prepared for. Luke could not yet master the elements and thoughts that presented themselves to him while writing. Matthew changed it with a correct touch and instead of the “Holy Spirit,” he simply used “good things.” – αγαθα
An gospel that allows the Lord to pray so often should encourage believers to pray more frequently as well. So it uses the structure, flow, and punchline of the parable that was already recounted in chapter 11, verse 5, but only the characters are changed, to emphasize the necessity of constant and persistent prayer once again. It is expressly noted in the introduction to this parable of the widow who, through her persistent begging, persuaded the harsh and unwilling judge to grant her rights (Luke 18:1-5), that this need for persistence should be recommended. However, suddenly, at the end of the parable, the thought is given a special direction, and it is reminded that God, who is not as harsh as that judge but patient, will even more readily grant justice to His chosen ones who cry out to Him day and night. Jesus emphatically adds, “I tell you, he will give them justice speedily (Luke 18:6-8). – εν ταχει. ” But then, the discourse takes a new direction again by asking at the end if the Son of Man, when he comes, will find such faith on earth? Why? The evangelist wants to indicate that the chosen ones will receive their justice when the Son of Man comes.
From the Parousia of the Son of Man, which had just been discussed in detail in chapter 17, verses 20-37, the parable, which was introduced with a general exhortation, was supposed to be added as a parenthetical appendix through the concluding remark. But how was this possible when nothing had been said before about the Parousia of the Son of Man being able to be accelerated, and therefore nothing could have been hinted at that fervent prayer would have this accelerating power? The Evangelist did not strictly work out the context, but we only find coherence when we turn to the Gospel of Mark and read in the discourse on the Parousia (chapter 13, verse 20) that God would shorten the days of distress preceding the coming of the Son of Man for the sake of the elect. Luke remembered this remark when he spoke of the Parousia in chapter 17 and included it. By concluding that the prayer of the elect would be the reason why God would shorten those days and bring the day of judgment soon – εν ταχει –, he introduced this remark through the parable he had already developed in another context with the same essential content.
Later, when he takes up the discourse on the Parousia at the place where Mark communicates it, he remembers that he had anticipated the idea of the acceleration of the day of judgment, and he includes it here.
4. The Law and the Prophets.
Therefore, whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
But why “therefore” – ουν? Nothing is said about it when Tholuck notes that “some clauses have fallen out of the Evangelist’s report immediately beforehand” *). This would come down to a meaningless assertion – or rather, it is itself – that the Evangelist later remembered that Jesus had connected this saying very closely with a previous saying through “therefore,” but had forgotten what that earlier saying was. What a terribly precise and yet so superficial and careless inspiration!
*) ibid. p. 499
Fritzsche believes that the saying is related to the remark that love reigns in the family relationship, a love that should also be extended to one’s neighbor **). However, the fact that a human father shows kindness to his son was only the metaphorical premise of the conclusion, that the heavenly Father will fulfill the requests of his children to a much greater extent, and had fulfilled its whole purpose as that premise. If something new was to be linked to what came before, it had to be connected with the main idea, with the idea of the certainty of prayer being answered, not with an image that only served to explain this idea.
**) to Matth. p. 292
So in the end, we would have to agree with Calvin that the connecting particle is unnecessary, and the sentence should be read separately on its own *). That is indeed the case, but the Evangelist saw it differently; he thought to bring the sentence that he had not yet included from the Gospel of Luke here in the best context, here where it is impossible for us to discover a kind of connection for it.
*) ουν: “The connecting particle is unnecessary, as is often the case in concise sentences. I have said before that not only one sermon of Christ is referred to by Matthew, but that the sum of his doctrine is woven together from various sermons. Therefore, this sentence should be read separately.”
5. The Narrow Gate.
When Jesus was on his journey to Jerusalem and was teaching in towns and villages, someone asked him: “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” (Luke 13:22-24)
What a curious question! It already contains the answer, and in fact, it is nothing but the theme that Jesus only elaborates on metaphorically in his response when he says, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”
Questions of this kind, which already contain the answer, are nothing but creations of pragmatism, and it is only reasonable that Matthew separated the saying from such a contrived context and incorporated the content of the question into it **). By omitting the question, he designates the narrow gate as the gate that leads to life, and since he is engaged in developing the theme freely, he calls the way to it narrow and says that few find it (not clear whether the way or the gate). Actually, he should have combined both, the way and the gate, but he only thinks of the gate, which he reads about in Luke and which he is particularly concerned with: a confusion that shows he is dominated by a tert who only speaks of the gate. Finally, he freely creates the counterpart to the gate of salvation by setting the wide gate and the broad way that leads to destruction against it: again not without some confusion, as he adds to both the way and the gate that many go through it (έισέλθωσιν), thus again having only the gate in mind and forgetting the way in the construction of the sentence.*)
**) ολιγοι εισιν οι ευρισκοντες αυτην Ch. 7:14
*) De Wette’s explanation, 1, 1, 70 “δι’ αυτης scil. Οδου, not πυλης see 8:14” (the way is arranged in this way by the gate), is simply incorrect, and we do not understand what the reference to Matthew 8:14, where the entrance into a house is mentioned εισ την οικιαν, but not the passage through a gate, is supposed to mean or help. We only see that it is unnecessary torture.
Schleiermacher does not fail to notice that Jesus “used the same image somewhat differently on another occasion” **). But if, firstly, it is highly probable that Luke transformed an image that had arisen and become common in the community into a saying of Jesus, then it is absolutely certain that it was only Matthew who developed this figurative saying extensively. The proof lies in the confusion just demonstrated and in the agreement between the introduction and construction of the saying ***).
**) p. 194
***) Luke: αγωνιζεσθε εισελθειν δια της στενης πυλης οτι — και. Matthew: εισελθετε δια της στενης πυλης οτι — και
6. The false prophets.
Matt. 7, 15-20.
Habit, even the habit of words, is a very special power. When we think of teachers whose statements we do not immediately trust, or to whom we definitely deny our belief, the last sentence with which we calm ourselves down or which we use as the final argument in polemics is the saying: “By their fruits you will know them.” We even experience often enough how this argument is taken up at the wrong time, when it was more important to explore a doctrine to its inner core instead of drawing hasty conclusions from it. But it is so, this argument is very sought after and is so frequently sought after because it is written.
However, or rather precisely because of that abuse, we allow ourselves some modest doubts as to whether the saying about the fruits originally arose in and with the reflection on the false prophets and as a criterion for their teaching. First, it cannot be denied that the criterion is too general to be limited solely to the doctrine of false prophets. “You will know them by their fruits” can refer to the entire worldly environment of the believers and contain advice for them on whether something is similar to them or not, and they should judge from the ultimate result of each direction.
Even more general is the idea in the saying, “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit,” and in the extensive elaboration of this saying. The fact, it is meant to say, depending on its moral or immoral determination, has the general determination of the inner as its presupposition.
Finally, the thought takes on a new, unexpected turn when judgment is mentioned at the end, verse 19: “Every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” The evangelist draws attention to the dissonance and lets us hear it clearly so that we do not lose it in the flow of hearing or reading. “Therefore, you will know them by their fruits,” he lets the Lord conclude in verse 20. But what does the statement of the criterion of spiritual health have to do with the reflection on judgment, and what does the saying that the exterior corresponds to the interior have to do with it?
The evangelist has confused sayings that have nothing to do with each other and brought a saying that was originally much more general into a narrower relationship.
The test! Matthew returns to Luke’s discourse, which he left after the saying about speck and plank, and thus comes to the saying that the fruit always corresponds to the nature of the tree. Here, with Luke, the thought is pure, that is to say, in the generality that belongs to it, the saying that “every tree is known by its own fruit” remains in this generality, in which the saying remains from the outset. Even the following, that the good person brings forth good things from the good treasure of his heart and the bad person brings forth bad things, for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks, still belongs to the same dialectic of the inner and outer (Luke 6:43-45).
Matthew has changed things: he has given a more restricted relationship to a general thought by making the saying about the fruit of the tree into a criterion that believers should use against false prophets. Because once the tree is mentioned, he copies the saying about the fate of the tree that does not bear good fruit word for word from Luke 3:9 for the second time. But he omits the saying about the speech that comes from the treasure of the heart because the intervention of the false prophets had already made the execution of this section rich enough. He brings it up again at a later opportunity, where he does not fail to take up the saying about the fruit of the tree again from Luke’s scripture (Matthew 12:33-35).
Who are the false prophets? Whether they are teachers within the community or others who are outside the community and have found a special way to salvation? The question is so important and so infinitely difficult to answer despite the analogy we have in the Old Testament regarding the use of that word, that it would be unfair if we were to answer it and rob good theologians of the joy they find in dealing with such extremely grand tasks from commentary to commentary.
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