Collision with the Law and the Pharisees.
Matth, 12, 1-50.
It is no longer necessary that we consider the passage to which we are passing as a whole before we consider it in detail. Its tendency has already been indicated. Jesus’ relationship to the Law is to be illustrated in His struggle with the Pharisees: therefore the passage begins with the report of two Sabbath violations (vv. 1-14). Jesus then demonstrates (vv. 15-21) the humility and modesty by which the Messiah should distinguish himself, as already proclaimed by the prophet through the spirit of prophecy, and with which he should take care of the suffering and miserable who were crushed and broken in the old order of the law. The Pharisees now have the opportunity to express their bitterness against the one who had so decisively opposed the old law, and they dare to accuse him of an alliance with Satan (vv. 22-37; cf. v. 14). If this incident seemed to the evangelist to be in the right place, because the Pharisees were fighting the Lord, he was also compelled to place it here, because he found it in Luke’s Scripture already connected with the demand for a sign, and wanted to report it here, since it had given the Lord cause to confront the law-abiding crowd’s addiction to miracles (vv. 38-45). The passage concludes (vv. 46-50. ) with an event which does not inwardly fit the intended context and tendency of the whole (with the visit of the mother and brothers of Jesus), Matthew did not notice that this piece did not belong here, but rather wrote it down mechanically, because he had found it in the writing of Mark in too close a connection with the report of the accusation of the alliance of the Jews and did not know how to place it differently; he also thought it no harm to include at the end of the section a piece that had no connection with the whole – it could nevertheless drag on here at the end as an incidental appendage, as it could and liked to! – and this kind of ending can seem even less of a harm to us, since it rather proves that Matthew did not form this passage freely from his own viewpoint, but from materials that originally belonged to a completely different context.
Thus it is also proved from this side, what has already been proved to us above from other points, that Matthew has combined in this passage pieces which, according to their original purpose, should serve other purposes and belong to other groups. The accusation of the Pharisees, that Jesus was in league with Satan, and the simultaneous arrival of the relatives, originally belonged together; we have already seen how both pieces were separated, how the former is connected by Luke with the demand for signs, and in this connection is excepted by Matthew; nor are we any longer ignorant how Matthew (vv. 15-20. ) was given occasion to praise the modesty and humility of Jesus; we have already seen, finally, that and why Matthew omitted the story of the two Sabbath violations, when he reworked the second section of the account of the public life of Jesus, as he saw it before him in the writing of Mark, into an entirely different consideration, and used it for his account of the second day’s work. Now he takes up again what he had left behind earlier, first he catches up with the story of the two Sabbath violations (Mark 2, 23 – 3, 6.), then he comes through the mediation of Mark 3, 7-12 to the story of the accusation that the Pharisees brought against the Lord, and by communicating this story in Luke’s connection with the demand for signs, he means to form a special section in which he presents Jesus in collision with the old law, with the harshness of the legal nature and its advocates, the Pharisees – an opinion that is already certain to him when he writes down the invitation to the weary and burdened (C. 11, 28-30.), an opinion that would bring him (C. 12, 15-20.) to the prize of Jesus’ humility and modesty, but which he was no longer allowed to assert when he reported the visit of Jesus’ relatives (v. 46-50.).
What has now been proven to us from all sides that could only come into consideration will finally be confirmed by reflection on the pragmatic connection of the individual pieces.
We do not want to worry about the fact that Matthew says (v.1.) “at that time” Jesus went through the fields *), since even before that, when we think of the message of the Baptist, we did not know where we were when this message, this certain thing, suddenly dropped out of the greatest indeterminacy as if from thin air. Nor do we want to find fault with the fact that the second incident (C. 12, 9-13) is said to have taken place on the same Sabbath as the first, although we cannot conceal the fact that the Pharisees, who had just been dealt with roughly and severely enough, could hardly have felt like meeting the Lord again on the same day. But we cannot and must not be reassured by the fact that Matthew (v. 9) suddenly says: “and he departed thence, and entered into their synagogue” (εις την συναγωγην αυτων), without telling us either before or afterwards in what city Jesus was. “Their synagogue” is a definite one, but at the same time, what it should not be and should not be in a proper history book, a completely indefinite one *). Only a man writes so thoughtlessly who has already worked out the pieces of history in another’s writing before his eyes, and is therefore no longer dependent on shaping them himself from his own free view, on seeing to their connection and determining the situations; only a man who has directed his interest solely to the material and is thereby able to let the hastily and formlessly thrown transitions plunge from the broadest indeterminacy into the most individual definiteness. The definiteness into which he allowed his transition to run this time is only founded in the Scripture of Mark, in which this definite synagogue is the synagogue of Capernaum (C. 3, 1.). Mark also knew when the second battle with the Pharisees after the first, which was brought about by the picking of the grain by the disciples, could occur. Not on the same Sabbath, but – he keeps the matter in the proper vagueness, so that the ideal spread of the content may come into its own – when Jesus went into the synagogue again at all.
*) εν εκεινω τω καιρω, the same formula as C. 11, 25.
*) Fritzsche says (Matth, p. 425) that αυτων refers to the Pharisees: in synagogam eorum i.e. ubi ii adessent, Caphernaumi quidem. If this madness were to happen, then not only would everything have to be said beforehand – but what would not have to be said, and what an absurdity the language would first have to become. De Wette again gives us another example of theological naiveté by referring us in I, 1, 114 to C. 4, 23. And what do we read here?- “and Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues” (εν ταις συναγωγαις αυτων)! As if it were not indicated here to whom the synagogues belonged; to the inhabitants of Galilee! Should we be referred to a passage, it could only be C. 11, 1 (εν ταις πολεσιν αυτων). But if here the “their” (αυτων) was already unmotivated and abhorrent, all thought ceases when a certain synagogue is spoken of, and this is called the synagogue of “them,” without our being told who “they” are.
While Matthew, according to his abstract, summing up manner, attributes both incidents to one Sabbath, Luke is no longer content, like his predecessor, to give the reader the impression through the content that some time must have passed between the two incidents*); rather, when he comes to the second incident (C. 6, 6.), he says that it took place on another Sabbath. Finally, he too has excluded from his account a certainty which is not explained by him, but only by Mark. When he says that Jesus went into “the synagogue,” and yet does not tell us in which city Jesus was, we would like to see the theologian who dared to prove that Luke does not know how to build castles in the air. He has built into the air, because he has borrowed a pragmatic definiteness from the writing of Mark, which in his writing remains only an air construction and only finds its solid ground again when it is brought together with the presuppositions of Marks’ writing. Mark has told us that those battles with the Pharisees were fought when Jesus had returned to Capernaum after His first journey (Mark 2, 1 – 3, 6.); Luke, on the other hand, does not tell us with a word where those battles (C. 5, 17 – 6, 11. ) were delivered, since he saves the formula (εισηλθεν εις καπερναουμ), with which Mark had sent the Lord to Capernaum, as if it were a magic formula, which could only once prove its power, for the later occasion, when, on entering Capernaum (Luke 7, 1 εισηλθεν εις καπερναουμ), he led that centurion to meet the Lord *).
*) Mark did not want to fill in the gap that would have arisen if he had assigned the second incident to another Sabbath, because otherwise both incidents would have been too much separated. However, both should be connected and since he now endeavours to present the activity of Jesus as a continuum, he lets the echo of the first collision with the Sabbath law and the significant statement of Jesus, to which the reproach of the Pharisees gave rise, fill the gap.
*) The expression Luke 6,1: εν σαββατω δευτεροπρωτω διαπορευεσθαι, which has given rise to so important archaeological hypotheses and must finally serve to bring the Synoptic Gospels closer to the fourth, since it (Neander p. 380.) “presupposes a Passover which occurred during Christ’s public ministry,” and if the occurrence of the Passover is once casually presupposed, further presuppositions are permitted: Witte has slain this monster p. 591. But he still let it half live. Luke, he says, wrote C. 6, 1 εν σαββατω πρωτω with reference to the second Sabbath, which he mentions afterwards v. 6. “A busy hand had now written δευτερω next to πρωτω in the margin to the first place with further reference to the Sabbath on which Jesus C. 4, 31 had first appeared in Capernaum, and from the coalition of both indications arose the monstrosity of the reading: δευτεροπρωτω.” Luke, however, did not even write down πρωτω. Witte does say that ετερον v. 6 points to a πρωτον; indeed, but this πρωτον lies in the matter, lies in the circumstance, that an ετερον follows, but need not therefore be written down, nay, it cannot even be written down, because the writer can only count, if he has noticed beforehand in general, that there is now something to be counted, because he can only count when there are more than two to be counted in succession; and as for Luke, he did not count from the beginning, because afterwards, when he comes to the second Sabbath, he ought to have referred to the first aahl and put the article to ετερω. Only a later man, who could now calmly consider both narratives and, with regard to the ετερω, come up with the improper idea of rubricating already in the beginning and hastily pointing to what follows, wrote to V. 1 πρωτω; then another came to remind us that Jesus had already appeared once before on a Sabbath in the synagogue of Capernaum – this other knew how to determine Luke’s vagueness according to the information of Mark – this one now wrote δευτερω in the margin and thus gave rise to the reading which was to cause so much trouble to the later ones.
Now that it has been so clearly shown that Matthew did not create the pragmatic connection of the individual passages at the same time as the passages themselves, nor did he give the events a new natural connection after he had transposed them to his own hand, nor did he even communicate the most necessary prerequisites to his readers, there is no need for further proof of the long-proven proposition that in this passage he also threw together individual passages from the writings of his two predecessors. We will only point out how little the formula “at that time” (v. 22.) is cleverly used to connect what it is supposed to connect, and that the formula: “while he was still speaking,” which connects the visit of Jesus’ relatives with his speech against the Pharisees (v. 46.), is borrowed from Mark, who uses it in another, but in its true place (C. 5, 35.).
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