§ 41. The Healing of a Mute Demoniac

Critique of the Gospel History of the Synoptics
by Bruno Bauer

Volume 2



§ 41.

The Healing of a Mute Demoniac.

(Matthew 9:32-34)

Strange contradiction! Matthew is so bound to the letter, indeed he treats it so arbitrarily, that he tears out events which are firmly fixed in their place by the strongest bonds in the scripture of Mark, and places them elsewhere as it suits him and appears appropriate, in short, at any other place. And yet he is again such an unresisting servant of the letter that he copies the information of his predecessor for the second time, when the opportunity arises for the reports that he had already anticipated. It is, in general, the contradiction that is inseparable from positive religion: if the religious consciousness rises once into the sphere of its pure universality and becomes the pure contemplation of its essence, then the individual positive determinations, in which its essence is otherwise given to it, appear to it as indifferent, or at least it goes so far as to believe that it does not matter whether these determinations are always held fast in their sensual particularity; – but the next moment, and immediately after that elevation, it falls back into the servitude of the positive and stiffens itself on the letter: of course! Since that view of the essence, being highly indefinite in itself, cannot last long and must draw its fulfilment from the positive determinations of the letter. The religious consciousness is this immediate union of indefinite freedom and the most determined servitude in the service of the letter.


The proof will be given to us again by Matthew.

At the sea, where he had withdrawn himself from the Pharisees’ pursuit, Jesus healed crowds of sick people and had much to do with demoniacs. Faced with the crowds of the sick, Jesus withdrew to the mountain and chose twelve disciples as companions and assistants, so that they could take on a part of his exhausting work and, if he deemed it appropriate, go out and heal the sick and cast out demons. When he came home with the disciples, an enormous crowd of people gathered again, and in addition, his relatives came to arrest him, for they claimed that he would lose his mind, even that he had already lost it, and at the same time, scribes who had come from Jerusalem accused him of driving out demons by the ruler of the demons.


With these statements, Mark (Chapter 3, 7-22) introduces the third section of his presentation of Jesus’ public life.
Luke had used the note about the choosing of the twelve and the many healings that the Lord performed in his scripture only after the calling of the apostles as a historical introduction to the speech that Matthew made into the Sermon on the Mount. It could not escape him that the accusation of the scribes referred to the expulsion of demons, which Mark had previously reported and he himself mentioned (Chapter 6, 18); but after the long speech that he followed, which had already diverted the interest from the historical introduction, he can no longer bring up that accusation later, and since he also did not find a suitable place for it later, he puts it into the wide bag of notes that he had obtained in the great travel report (Chapter 9, 51-18, 31). Here he does not hesitate to blindly place one note next to the other, although he still dares to make pragmatic transitions at times. This time – he had just reported (Chapter 11, 1) that Jesus was praying and teaching the disciples to pray “somewhere” – he does not make a transition and drops the remark out of the blue that Jesus had just driven out a demon that was mute (Chapter 11, 14). But when the evil spirit departed, he continued, then spoke the mute one, and the crowds were amazed. However, some of them (he does not say that they were the scribes) said, “He drives out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.” Others, however, to test him, demanded a sign from heaven.

That a report like this is not original, that it is a patched-up one, hardly needs to be mentioned, since it is not said who these desperate enemies were, and it is inexplicable how one could demand a sign from heaven from a man who was accused of being an ally of the devil at the same time. Luke compiled various accounts of Mark’s.


But he also left something out. Why? And what did he do with the omitted material? Luke no longer saw that both, the accusation by the scribes and the suspicion of Jesus’ relatives that he was out of his mind due to excessive exertion, belonged together. He also could not find it believable that Jesus’ mother and brothers wanted to forcefully seize him because he was out of his mind (εξεστη). Therefore, he leaves out this note. However, the following, that Jesus’ mother and brothers come and call him out while he defends himself against the scribes, could be better used because of Jesus’ answer: “Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” This saying reminded him of the parable of the sower, which also speaks of those who hold fast to the word of God in their hearts and bear fruit. Without further ado, he now has Jesus’ relatives arrive at that occasion when the parable of the sower was presented so that the two sayings about the true doers of the word would stand close together. He even shapes Jesus’ answer to those who wanted to call him out to his relatives after the conclusion of the parable. However, he cannot make it comprehensible to us why this time Jesus’ relatives “wanted to see him” (Luke 8:15, 21) *). Moreover, he cannot really relate both the conclusion of that parable and the saying about the true relatives of the Lord, even though he purposely omits the other parable that Mark still reports. He must add some sayings that are not related to the conclusion, but to the fact that the disciples had asked for an explanation of the parable. In all directions, the connection between both reports reveals itself to be external and forced.

*) Μark 3, 35 : δε γαρ αν ποιήση το θέλημα του θεού, ούτος άδελφός μου και αδελφή μου και μήτηρ εστί.
Μark 4, 20: και ούτοι εισιν οι επί την γήν την καλήν σπαρέντες, οίτινες ακούουσι τον λόγον και παραδέχονται και καρποφορoύσιν, εν τριάκοντα, και εν εξήκοντα, και εν εκατόν.
Luk. 8, 15: το δε εν τη καλή γή, ούτοι εισιν οίτινες εν καρδία καλή και αγαθή, ακούσαντες, τον λόγον κατέχουσι και καρποφορούσαν εν υπομονή.
Luk. 8, 21: μήτηρ μου και αδελφοί μου, ούτοι εισιν οι τον λόγον του θεού ακούοντες και ποιoύντες αυτόν.
Luk. 11, 28 : μενούν γε μακάριοι οι ακούοντες τον λόγον του θεού και φυλάσσοντες αυτόν
Matth. 12, 50 literally agrees with Mark 3, 35. Although Matthew before 12, 22-45 used the account of Luke C. 11 diligently, he also has the scripture of the original evangelist in front of him and his eye turns to it again when he wants to report the dispatch of Jesus’ relatives. Matthew also gives C. 13, 23 the full ending of the sentence as Mark had formed it C. 4, 20. Luke had abbreviated it to make both sayings (8,15.21.) more uniform.


When Luke reports Jesus’ defense against the accusation of having a partnership with the devil (C. 11, 17.), he turns again to the writing of Mark and finds here the word about those who do the will of the Father. He is so caught up in the letter at this moment that he cannot bring himself to leave it out. He must somehow bring it in, but cannot rewrite the occasion for which Jesus’ relatives had come to speak with him. So he ingeniously, as he is skilled in drawing and executing such individual sketches, creates a new occasion: a woman in the crowd exclaimed in admiration, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that nursed you,” to which Jesus replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:27-29) *).

*) Under the pen of Luke, but not as Strauss assumes, “in the legend,” this second version was formed for that saying of Jesus. After Luke had taken the first variation of the same story “at an earlier occasion,” Strauss (l, 761. 762.) says, “he found himself, when he came to the place where in ordinary tradition that anecdote had its place, prompted to insert it now in the second form here.” But if the tradition did not have that information, why did Jesus’ relatives come to see him (because it is absent in Luke and Matthew and only belongs, as Strauss also assumes on p. 758, to the exaggerations which Mark likes to bring forward)? It is inexplicable how they could always find the same place for that incident. In the legend, in this fluid element, an anecdote should have been fixed to a preceding event without the help of a bracket, if Luke did not appreciate and use this bracket in Mark’s writing and place the story of Jesus’ relatives’ arrival in a location where it is out of all context?


However significant and compelling the preceding words of Jesus are, in which he rebuffs the accusation of the Pharisees, they are by no means so powerful as to have persuaded a woman to exclaim in admiration and to bless the mother of such a speaker. Nevertheless, if we set aside this aspect of the context and still consider every word that the evangelist attributes to the Lord as admirable *), we must reflect on another aspect of the context, namely that there is no connection at all. Luke has left the saying about the doers of the word standing here, has even created a new occasion for it, and has done so precisely at a time when he should have striven for the shortest possible length and the most precise coherence of the individual parts. He has placed the Lord in the situation of having to defend himself against the accusation of a covenant with the devil and to reject the demand for a sign at the same time – was it not already inappropriate for the Lord to reject the schemes of his opponents one after the other, as if answering an indictment paragraph by paragraph, and after having exposed the senselessness of the first accusation (v. 17-26), to calmly expose the wickedness of the nation that asks for a sign? Certainly, it was inappropriate, but even more inappropriate was that Luke placed the exclamation of that woman and Jesus’ response between the two paragraphs of the defense speech and now had to make a new approach to introduce the second paragraph by saying (v. 29) “the crowds were pressing in,” creating the appearance that the crowd had crowded closer to see a sign and now had to be rebuked with the harsh words “This is an evil generation!”

*) Luk. 11, 21: εγένετο εν τω λέγειν αυτόν ταύτα.


The result is simply this: Luke has brought together two narratives from the writing of Mark that are far apart. The detailed description of Jesus’ miracle-working, which in Mark led to the slanderous accusation of the Pharisees, Luke had already used for other purposes. If he now also wanted to convey that accusation, he needed a new occasion, and without looking far, he found it in a later place in the scripture of Mark, where another healing gives occasion for the Pharisees to attack Jesus. Although it is only a deaf mute *) whom the Lord heals this time, before the Pharisees come out and demand a sign from heaven to test him, Luke, on account of the accusation of the Pharisees, needed an exorcism: but how easy was it for him to turn that deaf mute into a possessed person **)? Luke needed these two narratives of his predecessor (Mark 7:32–37, 8:11–12) for another reason as well. When Mark reports earlier (3:21–22) that the Pharisees accused Jesus of being in league with the devil, this note is complemented by the other, that his relatives wanted to seize him and thought he was out of his mind. Through the juxtaposition of relatives and scribes, it creates a kind of contrast, so Luke must have felt a gap when he omitted the note about the relatives. This gap is sufficiently, indeed more than sufficiently, filled if Luke has the people who accused Jesus of being in league with the devil also come forward with those who demanded a sign from him, and in addition, for the sake of the contrast, has the crowd stand there and let the miracle be admired. The material for this contrast was provided to him by Mark’ account of the healing of the deaf mute *).

*) Mark 7:32: κωφον μογιλαλον.

**) δαιμόνιον . . . . κωφόν Luk. 11:14.

*) Luk. 11, 14: ελάλησεν ο κωφός, και εθαύμασαν οι όχλοι. Mark 7, 37 : και υπερπερισσώς εξεπλήσσοντο λέγοντες, καλώς πάντα πεποίηκε (- out of it came εθαύμασαν of Luke) και τους κωφους ποιεί ακούειν, και τους αλάλους λαλείν (Luke recounts the success: και ελάλ. ο κωφ.).


Although Matthew had used the account of the strenuous miracle-working of Jesus from the Ur-gospel as an introduction to the Sermon on the Mount after the example of Luke, yet the context, when in chapter 12 he reports on the Sabbath violations and the persecutions of the Pharisees, leads him again to that passage in the Ur-gospel where the Lord, in seclusion, heals the crowds of sick brought to him – Matthew carelessly says, those who followed him – and he unhesitatingly copies the passage, since he is already in the flow. But not completely! He only says (ch. 12, 16): he healed them all and commanded them not to make him known **) – but why? Matthew does say that this was to fulfill the word of the prophet Isaiah – but which word? Matthew writes out in detail the prophetic utterance of Isaiah 42:1-4, but does not say which aspect of this prophecy was fulfilled at this moment. Was it the fact that God called the Messiah his beloved son? That he gave him his spirit? Or the authority to proclaim judgment to the nations? Or the kindness with which the Messiah would not extinguish a smoldering wick until he had brought judgment to victory? Or was it the fact that the nations would hope in his name? None of these, but solely the prophetic praise of the Messiah that he would not cry out and that his voice would not be heard in the street was important to the evangelist and seemed to him to be the reward for the humility that the Messiah demonstrated this time by forbidding the healed not to make him known. For it cannot be the intention of Matthew that Jesus gave this command so that he would not be betrayed to the enemies from whom he had just escaped (ch. 12,15). The Lord demonstrated humility when he did not want to be made known by the healed, and this same humility was already praised by the prophet. But now it was impossible to exercise this virtue, since the crowd of people (οχλοι πολλοι) surrounded the Lord, and it is just as impossible that Matthew would have copied the long prophetic passage here if he were working purely from his own perspective. He has the writing of Mark before his eyes, reads here (ch. 3,11-12) that Jesus forbids him to be betrayed, but overlooks that he forbids the demons who call him “the Son of God,” and now quotes so unfortunately that he lets the healed be given the prohibition, quoting the saying of the old prophet in which he selects a hint that was possible only in the context of Mark’s account, not in his adaptation of the Ur-text. It now also becomes clear why he writes out the whole long prophetic passage: he wants – as Mark (ch. 3,22) prescribes for him – to let the Pharisees make their accusation, but like Luke, he cannot understand how Jesus’ relatives could come forward with an accusation, or at least a suspicion, that could only be explained by the most stubborn unbelief, like the most determined enemies against him. Therefore, he omits this feature altogether, but he also no longer sees how the appearance of the scribes and Jesus’ relatives is motivated by the preceding miraculous healings. Furthermore, Luke has already created a special occasion for him for the accusation of the Pharisees, in short, in the Ur-text, he immediately jumps from ch. 3,12 to v. 22 and now fills the gap that has arisen by his long quotation.

**) και επετίμησεν αυτοίς, ίνα μη φανερόν αυτόν ποιήσωσιν. Mark 3, 12 : και πολλά επετίμα αυτοίς, ίν, μή αυτ. φαν. ποιήσ.


Then Luke tells him that Jesus had just healed a demonic and the people were amazed by it. Matthew makes the contrast even greater: the people had already voiced their suspicion that he might be the son of David *) — when the Pharisees came out with the claim that he was rather in league with the devil. But Luke, who only speaks of a mute demonic, cannot be the only witness of Matthew, who speaks of a demonic who was both blind and mute — where does this double affliction of the sick come from? Mark, whose writing he correctly opened at the place C. 7, 32 where Luke had used it, speaks of a deaf-mute and lets the people, as they were astonished at the miracle, exclaim ecstatically: “He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak” — so shouldn’t Matthew give credit to the truth, especially as it made the matter appear more glorious, and make the sick person twice as sick? He knows very well what he has to do and does even more than he actually should: namely, he did not think it was enough that the sick person was deaf-mute, because this affliction is usually one and the same, he wanted to make the duality of the affliction much more prominent and therefore made the demonic blind and mute. Now when the people in Mark’s account exclaim, “He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak,” the twofoldness of the miracle is much more clearly heard, when Matthew can say that the blind and mute spoke and saw. But why did the sick person have to be blind? Because blindness only remained if, instead of deafness, the lack of an equally important sense, such as hearing, had to be added to the affliction of muteness. But also because Matthew used the story of the blind man from Bethsaida (Mark 8:22), which is also before his eyes together with the story of the healing of the deaf-mute, and, just as he had already made this blind man the companion of the blind man from Jericho, he combined his suffering with the suffering of the mute *).

*) Luk. 12, 23: και εξίσταντο πάντες οι όχλοι και έλεγον, μήτι ούτός έστιν ο υιός Δαυίδ.

*) Perhaps the same beginning in the two accounts of Mark of the deaf-mute and the blind man also led him from one to the other.

Luk. 11, 14 it just says: και ήν εκβάλλων δαιμόνιον και αυτό ήν κωφόν.

Against it Mark 7, 32: και φέρουσιν αυτώ κωφών μογιλάλον.

Mark 8, 22 : και φέρουσιν αυτώ τυφλόν.

Matth. 12, 22 : προσηνέχθη αυτώ δαιμονιζόμενος τυφλός και κωφός.


Matthew knew very well where to find the Gospel of Mark if he wanted to compare Mark’s account of the healing of the deaf-mute with Luke’s report. First, Mark led him to the parallel narrative in Luke with his report of the hostile accusation of the Pharisees (Mark 3:22), and he had to take this into account because it provided him with more material for his story. But he also found here that people were demanding a sign from the Lord – is it surprising that he turned to Mark’s account of the healing of the deaf-mute, which preceded the demand for a sign, and the healing of the blind man that followed it **), and used them in the way he did?

**) Mark 7:32 – 8:22

Matthew follows Luke and puts the accusation that Jesus had made a pact with the devil and the demand for a sign in immediate connection. Although he did not like that both should be the work of a moment, he now presents the matter as if only after Jesus had defended himself against the suspicion that he had made a pact with the devil, some of the scribes and Pharisees said, “Master, we want to see a sign from you” (Matthew 12:38). However, essentially, he did not improve the matter, for this would be a fine answer from the Pharisees, which is attributed to them here, after they had just been strongly refuted and even accused of sinning against the Holy Spirit! At least, in the original placement of the speech of Jesus in the type of the Gospel story, it was meant to strike down the opponents, to “shut their mouths” and take away all desire to object or even to make such a naive request for a sign.


In his account, Matthew omits the small picture of the woman who blessed Jesus, which Luke inserted between the two paragraphs of Jesus’ defense speech. He couldn’t use it anyway, as he wanted to have the Pharisees and scribes respond immediately after the first paragraph of that speech. Besides, he realizes that the essence of that picture is contained in Jesus’ words about his true mother. Therefore, he turns to Mark, whose scripture he already had in front of him when he reported the Pharisees’ accusation, and borrows from it as soon as possible the story of the relatives who called for Jesus. But even though he does it as soon as possible, it comes too late, because this story comes after the demand for a sign in Matthew 12:46, just like in Luke 8:19, so it’s torn out of its proper context and no reader will understand why Jesus suddenly rebuked his relatives so harshly.

If Matthew followed Luke’s example in the way he did, he has already combined two pieces from Mark’s scripture (Mark 3:7-8) completely, and he even knows what he has done because he compared both pieces in the original Gospel and then specified and completed Luke’s presentation accordingly. However, shortly afterwards he forgets everything again, and when he comes to the place in Mark’s scripture where Jesus heals the deaf mute and the Pharisees demand a sign from heaven, he writes the whole story again (Mark 15:30-31; 16:1-4). He only changes a few things, namely the rhythm of the story, that Jesus heals, the crowds are amazed, and the sick are healed, the blind see, the mute speak – this rhythm that he had already borrowed from Luke’s (11:14) and Mark’s (7:32-37) presentation in Matthew 12:22-23, he also keeps this time, as the course of events leads him to the original report (Mark 7). But he doesn’t want to copy it entirely and instead of bringing just one deaf mute to Jesus, he lets the crowd come with many others, including lame, blind, mute, crippled, and many others. Of course, then the crowd must be amazed again when they see the mute speaking, the crippled healed, the lame walking, and the blind seeing (Matthew 15:31). However, the amazement of the crowd only fits into the context if it occurs on the occasion of a remarkable healing. But if there are as many healed as Matthew states, and one imagines the whole crowd running, jumping, speaking, and proving the miracle of healing through their actions, then the picture becomes restless, and instead of being amazed, the people would have lost their ability to hear and see.


The same rhythm, that a demon-possessed mute is brought to the Lord, that the mute speaks after the demon was cast out, and the crowd marvels – the same story that he thus tells three times, Matthew has omitted from his narrative in Chapter 9, verses 32-34, in the form in which it was handed down to him by Luke, where the Pharisees’ claim forms a contrast to the wonder of the crowd. Now as before (verses 27-31), it was not dependence on the letter of a foreign scripture, but rather free combination, that led the evangelist to place this story here. In the following instructional speech, Jesus says to the apostles: “The servant is not above his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?” (Chapter 10, verses 24-25). Matthew sees quite rightly that the disciples and his readers would not understand this saying if they did not know the fact on which it was based, and so he weaves in without any hesitation the incident that once brought the ruler of the demons together with Jesus into the preceding narrative context.


The second and third time he tells the same story, his dependence on Mark and Luke would lead him to do so.



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