§ 53. Visit of the relatives of Jesus

Critique of the Gospel History of the Synoptics
by Bruno Bauer

Volume 2



§ 53.

Visit of the relatives of Jesus.

Matth. 12, 48-50.

When Mark announces to the Lord the arrival of his relatives, who sent for him, with the words: “your mother and your brothers are looking for you outside” (C. 3, 31.), he has really told us why they sought him out and wanted to have him brought out. The two others, since they omit the preliminary remark about the intention of the relatives, must include in the announcement of their visit some more definite words, which say something about their intention: Luke lets them announce with the words: “they want to see you” (C. 8, 20.), Matthew (C. 12, 47.) with the words: “your mother and your brothers are looking for you outside. 12, 47.) with the words: “they want to speak to you,” after he himself had said (v. 46.) that they had arrived with this intention: But neither of them can make us understand why Jesus rejects His own so harshly by asking: who is my mother? who are my brothers? In our day, the theologian will no longer want to say that it was purely and solely his heavenly majesty that led him to declare himself so revolutionary against the family context.


Matthew and Luke also betray their dependence on Mark in that they foreshadow a certain situation which they did not hint at beforehand, the opposite of which they rather presupposed. Luke tells the Lord, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside”: if it could still seem here that this expression “outside” was used because Jesus was surrounded by the crowd and, as Luke himself says in v. 19, his relatives could not reach him because of the crowd, Matthew removes all doubt that one could still have concerning the original report. He also lets Jesus report what he himself had said before, that his relatives were standing outside, but when he says at the end of his account C. 13, 1: Jesus went “out of the house,” the meaning of the “outside” is explained: the relatives could not reach him because of the crowd that surrounded the house in which Jesus was. But Matthew did not say anything before about Jesus being in a house, nothing about him being in a city at all: but in the account of Mark all these details essential to a historical account are present: Jesus returns “home” with the apostles who had just been appointed, and on the news of his return the people gather together and his relatives go out to capture him (Mark 3, 20. 21.). Of course, the fact that Jesus “summoned” the scholars when they brought their accusation (Mark 3, 23.) presupposes a freer and wider space than the interior of an ordinary house can provide, but Mark himself may be responsible for that, just as the fact that the scholars arrived from Jerusalem for the sake of this accusation falls on his shoulders.


Now to the matter in hand! To the theologian who still believes in the miracles of the conception, birth and childhood of Jesus, the circumstance that the mother of Jesus makes common cause with his bitterest enemies and wants to capture him because he is mad, while the scribes declare him to be an ally of the devil, must seem very difficult, but no! very easy to explain. She wavered, says Olshausen *), and “a moment of weakness and struggle of faith” had come upon her. But a woman with whom we are intimately connected, especially a mother, is firm; the mother who conceived us poor human children in a natural way remains faithful to us when everything about us goes astray and despairs, she comforts us when everything leaves us, she inspires us with the infinite strength of her feminine hope and forbearance when everything falls upon us, and the mother who carried the God-begotten under her heart is supposed to want to capture him as a madman at the very moment when the scribes accused him of alliance with the devil? Impossible! Even if she had not miraculously conceived him, she would have denied all maternal feeling – which we cannot so easily assume without reason, as Mark wants to move us to do – if she had acted as she is said to have acted according to the account. So impossible must it seem even to the theologian to twist the text and have the audacity to claim **) that in her hard temptation “the sorrowful mother came more to get comfort from her son and Lord than really to take him home.”

*) I. 427.

**) Olshausen, a, a. O.

Only Mark, who still knows nothing of the miracles of Jesus’ birth and childhood, could dare to send the mother out against him, as he does, if he had an interest which was more powerful than reason and did not let him notice the unnaturalness of the situation in which he placed Jesus’ mother. He wanted to make it understandable that it was indeed time for Jesus to choose helpers in the Twelve, since his miraculous activity so attacked and exhausted him that his relatives had already begun to think that he had lost his mind. The assertion of the scribes that Jesus cast out the demons with the help of Satan is only the purely educated intensification of the suspicion of the relatives and should lead us to the conclusion that Jesus had indeed fought so bravely and overpoweringly with the devilish spirits that his unbelieving opponents believed that so much success could only be explained by the fact that he was in contact with the devil himself.



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