§ 40. The Healing of Two Blind Men

Critique of the Gospel History of the Synoptics
by Bruno Bauer

Volume 2



§ 40.

The Healing of Two Blind Men.

Matth. 9:27-31.

It has already been shown above that Matthew copied the conclusion of his account of the healing of the two blind men from Mark’s account of the healing of the leper. The beginning and middle of this account are also borrowed from Mark’s writing; they are nothing but a copy of the story of the blind man from Jericho, which Matthew therefore relates twice, as he also picks it up again where he finds it in Mark’s writing. We also do not know why we should not mention here what Wilke has also demonstrated, that Matthew speaks of two blind men both times, whereas only one blind man is healed at Jericho according to Mark, because with this story he combines another healing of a blind man, which his predecessor reports at another place (after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, Mark 8:22-26).


The evidence is as follows. The only thing that still interests and perhaps stands out as content in Mark’s narrative of the healing of the blind man at Bethsaida is the description of the way in which the healing gradually takes place and the patient regains the use of his eyes. However, Matthew does not love the details, often neglecting them where he should have taken his predecessor’s account as a model. At times, though, we cannot blame his more educated reflective standpoint, especially when the elaborations on how the healing occurred and the illness disappeared seemed worthless to him in the miracle reports. It was of the utmost indifference to him how a patient was healed, if he could only write that the healing was miraculously brought about by Jesus’ word *). If a narrative contained nothing more than the note that a patient was healed, and consisted of nothing more than a detailed description of the way in which the illness was cured, it had no value for him, and it cost him little effort to leave it out or to combine it with another narrative. Thus, he had not reported particularly on the healing of the possessed man in the synagogue at Capernaum, and without much consideration, he had made this possessed man the companion of the demoniac of Gadara. Similarly, he did not consider it worthwhile to report the healing of the blind man from Bethsaida; however, he did not want to conceal the miracle, and quickly he turned the one blind man from Jericho into two blind men.

*) Μark, for example, describes in great detail how Jesus heals the demoniac after the Transfiguration below the mountain Mark 9:24-27: επετιμησεν τω πνευματι τω ακαθαρτω λεγων αυτω το πνευμα το αλαλον και κωφον εγω σοι επιτασσω εξελθε εξ αυτου και μηκετι εισελθης εις αυτον. και κραξαν και πολλα σπαραξαν αυτον εξηλθεν (literally the same as in Mark 1:25-26) και εγενετο ωσει νεκρος ωστε πολλους λεγειν οτι απεθανεν, ο δε ιησους κρατησας αυτον της χειρος ηγειρεν αυτον και ανεστη. Luke did not write down all these words, which could be found in any medical work, and Matthew, what does he do? He rightly says nothing more than: (C. 17, 18.) και επετιμησεν αυτω ο ιησους και εξηλθεν απ αυτου το δαιμονιον και εθεραπευθη —   there comes again his usual closing formula – ο παίς από της ώρας εκείνης.


The incident that occurred at Jericho is in his mind, even the account of Mark, when he reports the healing of the two blind men that occurred after the raising of Jairus’ daughter. As Jesus, he says in Chapter 9, verse 27, continued on from there, namely from the house of Jairus, two blind men followed him. But how can two blind men “follow” the Lord so surely and freely? Nothing is easier! Matthew reads in the scripture of Mark that the blind man followed Jesus, and without further ado, he writes the same thing down because he urgently needed a transition and in the rush did not immediately notice that the blind man of Mark only “follows” the Lord after his healing *). The two blind men cry out and shout, “have mercy on us, Son of David,” they shout now as they did later when they sit by the roadside again in Jericho, and just like the blind man of Jericho whom Mark tells about *). That Jesus enters his house (after leaving Jairus’ house) and that the blind men come to him here is modeled on the story of the blind man who was healed in Bethsaida, because even if he does not come to the Lord himself, at least he is brought to Jesus when he had stayed in Bethsaida **). According to Mark’s account, Jesus asks the blind man from Jericho: “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replies, “I want to see again,” and Jesus then says to him, “Go, your faith has healed you!” Matthew gives the same exchange, only that he borrows the expression of confidence that Jesus could perform the miracle from the story of the leper (Chapter 8, verse 2 in Mark, Chapter 1, verse 40). Finally, he returns to Mark’s account of the blind man from Bethsaida, and finds that Jesus sent the blind man whom he had led out of the village and healed here in the wilderness back home with the command not to enter the village or speak of the matter to anyone in the village. But Matthew cannot use this specific situation when he lets his two blind men be healed in Capernaum, yet he wants to conclude with the same prohibition and now takes up the conclusion of the account of the leper (Mark 1:43-45), which he had omitted above.

*) If one were to say that this is too adventurous, we refer to things that we have already become accustomed to in the Gospel of Matthew. We will learn more of such pragmatic creations that arose only from a hasty combination of information in the Gospel of Mark. One of the most remarkable can be found in Matt. C. 14, 12. Perhaps we can explain his understanding this time so that it no longer seems too adventurous. In Mark 10:46, he reads that when Jesus left Jericho, he was accompanied by his disciples and a considerable crowd (και των μαθητών αυτού και όχλου ικανού). On the other hand, he expresses a simpler version in Matt. C. 20, 29 that when the company left Jericho, a large crowd followed them (ξαλ éxito evoμένων αυτών ….. ηκολούθησεν αυτώ όχλος πολύς). Perhaps he already had this simpler version in mind when he wrote the section in C. 9:27 and used the blind men instead of the crowd because the crowd was not immediately present. The matter remains always adventurous.

*) Matth. 9, 27 κράζοντες και λέγοντες, ελέησον ημάς υιέ Δαυίδ. Matth. 20, 30 έκραξαν λέγοντες, ελέησον ημάς, κύριε υιός Δαυίδ. Mark 10, 47 ήρξατο κράζειν και λέγειν, ο υιός Δαυίδ Ιησού, ελέησόν με.

**) Matth. 9, 28 ελθόντι δε εις την οικίαν, προσήλθον αυτώ οι τυφλοί. Mark 8, 22 και έρχεται εις Βηθσαϊδάν και φέρουσιν αυτώ τυφλόν.


Otherwise, when Matthew changes the sequence of events and suddenly connects narratives that are far apart in the writing of Mark, we find the reason for these rearrangements, which were brought about by a kind of necessity, in the pragmatism that had already been established in the previous sections and had become a commanding force. However, this time, nothing can be discovered in the previous sections that would explain why Matthew had to jump from the resurrection of Jairus’ daughter to an event that, according to Mark’s account, happened after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and shortly before the entry into Jerusalem in Jericho. Nevertheless, Matthew had his good reason for letting the healing of the blind happen right now. He is in a hurry to instruct the apostles, wants to report the message of the Baptist immediately after this, but, as Luke prescribes, he has to begin the answer with which Jesus dismisses the messengers of the Baptist with the words (Ch. 11, 5.): “the blind see!” and now wants to give these words, by already reporting a healing of the blind beforehand, a historical basis and justification. Luke, who first introduced this new element into the original type of the Gospel story, did not yet think of prefacing the justification to Jesus’ answer. Or perhaps he was just not thinking about this aspect of the miraculous activity, as he lets the raising of the young man from Nain precede the message of the Baptist so that the reader can understand how Jesus could say in his response to the Baptist, “The dead rise!” (Luke 7:22).



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