§ 39. The Raising of Jairus’s Daughter

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

Critique of the Gospel History of the Synoptics
by Bruno Bauer

Volume 2



§ 39.

The Raising of Jairus’s Daughter.

Matthew 9:23-26

“The child is not dead but sleeping!” Jesus said upon entering the house of the father and seeing the flutists and noisy crowd. “Go,” he said to them, “go away, the child is not dead.” After the crowd had been set aside, he went into the room of the dead where he took the hand of the child and caused the girl to rise.

In all three accounts, the words of Jesus, “It is not dead, but sleeping!” are the same. Therefore, Olshausen concludes *), we have here no real–no real! so perhaps an unreal one?–raising from the dead. “The child probably (!) was in a deep swoon.”

However, while the words are indeed present in all three accounts, they are each presented in a context that explains them quite differently from how Olshausen would have us understand them out of superstitious respect for the isolated letter. Moreover, in one of the accounts, they are presented and explained in such a way that there can be no doubt as to their meaning. First and foremost, it is clear that we can no longer speak of a swoon when, according to the report of Mark and Luke, the father of the child comes out and remarks that the child is lying on its deathbed in its last moments, and shortly thereafter the message comes that it has indeed died. According to all three accounts, Jesus found the mourners in the house, who were weeping and wailing (Mark 5:38). Matthew calls them “the noisy crowd *)” and also adds that the flutists had already been present. These preparations would not have been possible for the evangelists–that is, for Mark–in the extremely short time that had passed since the news of the child’s death had just reached the father, unless they had been of the utmost necessity; but they were necessary, for the reader should no longer doubt the actual death of the child **). Furthermore, all three evangelists report that when Jesus said the child was not dead but sleeping, the people laughed at him; as Luke correctly adds (v. 53), they knew that the child was really dead, and despite Jesus’ words, the reader should be sure that this time it is indeed the resurrection of the dead ***). It is impossible for the reader to orient himself and resolve the contrast between the words of Jesus and the actual state of affairs if nothing more than this contrast is given to him and other information is missing that would enlighten him as to how Jesus meant his words or what he intended to accomplish with them. Therefore, Matthew erred when he included only this contrast in his account and omitted what Mark reports and what explains the matter. According to the original gospel, Jesus sternly forbade the parents, who were horrified at the enormous miracle, to let the people know about it. He could not hide from the parents, whom he took into the death chamber, what he had done, but the others, whom he drove out of the house before entering the death chamber, were not to know that he would perform such an enormous miracle this time. Therefore, he only told them from the beginning that the child was not dead but sleeping; in short, he did not want too much fuss to be made about the matter. *)

*) l, 327.

*) C. 9, 23 “τον όχλον θορυβούμενον,” he uses the word “θόρυβοv” that is found in Mark.

**) Calvin: tantum commemorant Evangelistae, quo certior constet fides resurrectioni. Diserte etiam ponit Matthaeus adfuisse tibicines.

***) Bengel: is ipsum confirmavit veritatem mortis et miraculi. The same is true for Calvin.

*) Wilke, a. a. O. p. 534.


Otherwise, he knew from the beginning, when the news of the death arrived, what he had to do; he was determined to revive the dead woman — “Do not be afraid, only believe,” he says to the father when the messengers tried to dissuade him from bothering the Master further — but he also immediately decided not to involve the crowd, so that the miracle would not create too much commotion. Therefore, he did not allow anyone to follow him on the way to Jairus’ house except Peter, James, and John; upon arriving at the house, he drove away the crowd of mourners and only then did he go with the parents of the child and his disciples into the room of the dead (Mark 5:37-40). To Luke, it was too tedious to pay closer attention to these subtle nuances and to give the narrative such a slow movement. He immediately lets the Lord arrive at Jairus’ house without first saying how he got there and now combines three statements from Mark at the one point where Jesus enters the house, i.e., in confusion. He could change things, but then he would have had to do so with deliberation and not have been allowed to mechanically put together the words and elements of his excellent predecessor’s narrative. When Jesus entered the house, Luke says, he allowed no one to enter except Peter, John, James, the father, and the mother of the child. As if the mother had followed the Lord on the street! Thus, Luke reports 1) Mark’s note that Jesus entered the house, he reads 2) in his predecessor’s scripture that Jesus only let a few follow him, but he is already at the house with his report, the crowd of people that he himself mentioned (Luke 8:43) is forgotten — because he didn’t need to say that Jesus couldn’t take the countless crowd into the house — and if he wants to say that Jesus only let a few follow him, he has to reach further into Mark’s narrative and let what happened 3) when Jesus entered the room of the dead happen when he entered the house. This is how it came about that even the mother of the child, who according to Mark followed the Lord into the room of the dead from the front rooms of the house, now followed him with the others from the street into the house *).

*) Luke 8 8, 51 ελθών δε εις την οικίαν, ουκ αφήκεν εισελθείν ουδένα ει μή Πέτρος και Ιωάννην και Ιάκωβον και τον πατέρα της παιδος και την μητέρα. Mark 5, 37 και ουκ αφήκεν αυτώ συνακολουθήσαι ει μή Πέτρ. και Ιάκ. και Ιωάν. V. 40 παραλαμβάνει τον πατέρα του παιδίου και την μητέρα και τους μετ’ αυτού. Because Luke gave this description of the company, among whom was also the mother, too early, and could not add it afterwards, when Jesus went on with the work; because, moreover, by mentioning the parents, he made the beginning of his account so full, that he left no room for the description of the mourners, and now merely says, “but they all mourned and lamented the child” (b. 52.), the other confusion has arisen, that at first one understands by these weepers the parents and the next following of Jesus, at least cannot understand why Jesus drives them out, and how now, when (v. 54.) “all” have gone out, the parents can still be present when Jesus performed the miracle (v. 56.).


Matthew was not exposed to the danger of confusing his predecessor’s account so much, as he had already dismissed the crowd from the beginning; however, he also did not have an interest in including the further nuance that, after the expulsion of the mourners, Jesus went with his own and the parents of the child into the chamber of the dead. Nevertheless, he remains dependent on Mark to the extent that he says, after the expulsion of the people, “he went in” (v. 25 ειςελθων, also a participle); but of course, he cannot tell us where and with whom. He did not need the parents for his purpose because he omits Jesus’ prohibition, which the others report, and instead concludes with the remark, “the news of it spread throughout the whole land.”


If Mark is recognized as the first creator of the account, then another small detail in his presentation can be explained, which is otherwise considered the surest sign of his inferiority and proof of his standpoint, on which only individual exaggerations of the simpler accounts of his predecessors remained. He gives the words of Jesus that brought the child back to life in an Aramaic form (talitha kumi), so that he and the readers should believe that he gives them in the same form in which the Lord pronounced them. As the first one, he still felt how great the magic must be that is required to bring a dead person back to life, and therefore the words that Jesus used seemed to him to be magic formulas and as such were worth reporting in their original form. However, the later ones considered miracles to be something quite ordinary, so they didn’t know what to do with this magical formula, left it out, and either gave, like Luke, only the Greek translation or reported, like Matthew, only the fact that the girl got up when Jesus took her hand.



§ 34. Arrival on the Other Side

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

Critique of the Gospel History of the Synoptics
by Bruno Bauer

Volume 2



§ 34.

Arrival on the Other Side.

Matt. 9:1

Matthew combined two departures from Capernaum into one in chapter 8, verse 16, and since he had already reported on the most important event of the first departure – the healing of the leper – he only needed to report on the events of the second departure – the calming of the storm and the healing of the possessed. This was all very easy and could be done without effort, although the evangelist made a mistake when he reported the departure of the Lord. However, the situation became more difficult later when the return to Capernaum had to be reported, as important events followed both departures that now had to be arranged in a way that formed a single sequence. Let’s see if Matthew has overcome the difficulties.


1. The Bringing of the Paralytic.

Matthew 9:1-2.

Jesus had just arrived in Capernaum when a paralyzed man was brought to him on his bed. And seeing “their faith” *), he said, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”

“Their faith!” What did this mean? How did it show itself? We are not told, because the mere fact that they brought the sick man is not so significant and extraordinary in itself that it could testify to their faith and attract Jesus’ special attention. The account of Mark clarifies the matter. When it was heard in Capernaum that the Lord was back home, the crowd immediately gathered, so that there was no room even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Then came the people who carried the paralyzed man on the bed – there were four of them – but because of the crowd, they could not get close to him, so they uncovered the roof where he was and broke it through, and let the sick man down on the bed in front of Jesus. So when he saw their faith **), he said to the paralyzed man, “Take heart, my child, your sins are forgiven!” Luke also portrays the situation in such a way that the carriers did not know how to bring the sick man inside because of the crowd, so they climbed onto the roof and, by removing the tiles, lowered the sick man on the bed down into the midst of the people before Jesus. However, the fact that Luke, who was the later writer and used the account of Mark, could take for granted certain presuppositions found in it as so natural that he forgot to communicate to his readers that Jesus was in a house. The readers must learn the situation from the circumstances later. Only a writer who has the representation of another in front of him, and finds the specific presuppositions given in it present and coherent in his consciousness, tells a story like this, but precisely because they are already too familiar and present to him, he no longer has the need to intelligently process them in his presentation. He was also forgetful this time because he added new elements to the beginning of his report, namely, he noted beforehand that “Pharisees and scribes were sitting there, who had come from every corner of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem, and that the power of the Lord was just right to heal them.” Anyone who engages in so much pragmatism naturally does not find a place for such an insignificant note as that Jesus was in a house, especially if he is a writer who pragmatizes so unluckily. “To heal them!” Αυτους! Who are these “them?” Luke did not say, as he had only mentioned the Pharisees and scribes before, but they had not come to be healed of illnesses, but we do not know why. It is very unlikely that they had come with hostile intentions from the beginning, since the Lord had just appeared and was still unknown to them, and it was only through the bold words, “Son, your sins are forgiven,” that he provoked their resistance. Therefore, Mark mentions them only at the moment when they take offense at the Lord’s boldness. And now the Pharisees and scribes are said to have come from all over Palestine, now that the Lord has barely appeared! Luke wrote down the note after Mark and borrowed it from the beginning of a story, which he does not exclude or at least reproduce in a substantially altered form in his own writing *) — a proof that he already had an approximate plan of the whole in his head at the beginning of his work and already knew what he wanted to change about that story of Mark’s, but also a proof of how an evangelist could err when he partially changed the pragmatism of his predecessor and yet retained the letter. When Mark says, “And the Pharisees came to him, and some of the scribes, who had come from Jerusalem,” he says it in the right place, and we understand how it was possible that the people of Jerusalem now became aware of the Lord. He had soon concluded his Galilean activity, the time of his journey to Jerusalem was not far off, and now it was appropriate for the capital to send its messengers so that the connection with it could be opened. Finally, Luke immediately says at the beginning of his story, “And the Pharisees were sitting there,” without realizing that Jesus, before whom they were sitting, was in a house — but why did he also write down these words from Mark without first indicating the presuppositions that Mark gave the reader *)?

*) έδων την πίστιν αυτών.

**) Mark 2:5: ιδών δε την πίστιν αυτών.

*) Mark 7:1, Luke 11:37. Compare Mark 3:22, Luke 11:15.

*) Mark 2:6: ήσαν δέ τινες των γραμματέων εκεί καθήμενοι. Luke 5:17: και ήσαν καθήμενοι φαρισαίοι.


Let’s return to Matthew. It can no longer be denied that his account lacks an essential motive and that he does not allow us to see the faith of the people that Jesus sees, even though we must see it if the narrative is to be understandable. He has borrowed a transition from Mark’s account – (But when Jesus saw their faith) – but has not touched upon the starting point, that is, he has formed a transition that is nothing less than a transition. He could not proceed otherwise, as it was difficult for him to abandon the literary transition to Jesus’ bold words or to replace it with a new one, and on the other hand, he was not allowed to tell the extraordinary circumstances that gave rise to those words. The carriers are determined to bring the sick man to the Lord despite all obstacles and at this very moment – but why are they in such a hurry? Why do they break through the roof? Does it really have to happen now, and can’t a person with a non-acute illness like paralysis wait a day? No! Because Jesus is only a guest in Capernaum, and if the last time he only stayed one night in Peter’s house and left unnoticed early in the morning, then it is possible that he only stayed one night this time as well, and the sick man had to be brought to him now, had to be brought by all means. But in Matthew’s account, Capernaum has become Jesus’ permanent residence, “his city”, so if it was likely, even certain, that Jesus would stay here for a longer time, then the effort of those people and their recklessness in breaking through the roof would have been very hasty, inappropriate, and inexplicable.


In short, only Mark has made it understandable to us how the Lord could be received upon his return from a journey in such a way that he had cause to be amazed at the people’s faith – but not Matthew.

Now it’s time to move on to the second return!


2. The Request of Jairus.

Matthew 9:18.

Jesus had just been speaking about fasting in the home of the tax collector Matthew when one of the Jewish leaders, whom Mark and Luke call Jairus, comes to him and asks him to bring his daughter, who had just died, back to life. Jesus follows the father to his house and on the way, the woman with the issue of blood is healed by touching his garment. However, Mark and Luke present the matter in such a way that Jairus, a synagogue leader, meets the Lord just as he lands on this side of the shore, having been expelled by the Gadarenes, and is received by the crowd waiting for him here. Jairus only says that his daughter is dying, and only later, as Jesus goes with the crowd to save the child and speaks to the woman with the issue of blood, do messengers come from Jairus’ house to inform him that it is now pointless to trouble the Master, as his daughter has died.


Matthew, according to Calvin, wanted to be brief and therefore immediately began with what happened later in time *). But why did he want to be brief? There is even a question whether he was allowed to do so – no! not even a question! we must say outright that he could not have done so if he knew the details, as reported by Mark and Luke. If Jairus had only asked for help for his daughter, even if she was very ill, there was still a spark of life that the miracle worker only needed to ignite, and we can at most consider it possible that the father thought of seeking help. He was also faithful in this case; but how immense will his faith be changed when the matter is presented as if he had asked from the beginning for the resurrection of his deceased daughter. Bengel suspects that Jairus may have expressed the request that Matthew puts in his mouth only when he received the message of his daughter’s death **). But then Luke and Mark do not even dare to ask Jairus for his child’s life when the message of his death came, and they could have done so if it had been possible in any way, since they had put the request for the salvation of the sick daughter in his mouth before. Would it not have been an appropriate escalation if the man’s requests had followed in this way? Both evangelists, however, did not consider it appropriate; they rather let the man be silent when the news of his daughter’s death arrived, and only let the Lord say: “Fear not, only believe!”

*) compendio studens.

**) ita dixit ex confectura aut post nuntium acceptum de filia mortua, quam reliquerat morti proximam. Calvin, as usual the most sober and thoughtful of apologists, almost only reports the facts about the relationship of the reports in a general formula. Bengel theorizes, creates a new story, and does not notice that Matthew’s account does not yet match the subsidiary reports even in the new form it has taken under his hands; for if Jairus really had already feared from the outset by conjecture that his daughter was dead, and had then arranged his request accordingly, then the more precise report of Mark and Luke can no longer exist. Augustine says in De cons. Evang. Lib. II, 66: considerandum est, ne repugnare videatur, et intelligendum, brevitatis causa Matthaeum hoc potius dicere voluisse, rogatum esse dominum ut faceret, quoä eum fecisse manifestum est, ut scilicet mortuam suscitaret: adtendit enim non verba patris de filia sua, sed quod est potissimum, voluntatem et talia verba posuit, qualis voluntas erat. Ita enim desperaverat, ut potius eam vellet reviviscere, non credens vivam posse inveniri, quam morientem reliquerat. Then either the two others left the main point out of consideration, or Matthew exaggerated Jairus’s faith disproportionately.


The newer criticism answers that they have reworked the story, which Matthew reports in its initial simplicity, in such a way that the miracle power of Jesus is “subjectively heightened by contrast and the unexpected.” If Jesus is asked from the outset to awaken a dead person and does so without further ado, then the immense ability to awaken the dead is assumed as something that goes without saying. On the other hand, if the father believes he is only allowed to ask for the healing of a sick person and is warned against any further hope when death occurs, then “the extraordinary nature of that ability is emphasized in a determined way *).” But what, we must ask in response, will be the first thing in the sculpture of religious historical belief? Once the notion has arisen that Jesus has raised the dead, will the historian who shapes this notion for the first time write as if everyone assumed that Jesus could and would raise the dead if asked to do so in faith? Certainly not! Even if he knows that the raising of the dead will happen, and even if he has decidedly designed the entire report around this outcome, he will inevitably allow the immense deed to emerge from Jesus’ free decision, after the request, which had previously focused on a less heroic act of help, was pushed into the background by the intensification of the misfortune, and the hope that help could also be found for the greater misfortune was cut off. Only cautiously could the first historian, whom we are talking about, carry out the development of the collision, which demanded the greatest effort of the miracle power; he had to incorporate this cautiousness into the historical material itself and place the request for help for the sick child before the raising of the dead. Matthew, the later one, was beyond these scruples, since he had not only formed this particular view of miracles but had long been accustomed to the idea that Jesus had raised the dead, and what was a commonplace assumption to him could also be shared without hesitation as the same assumption with the father of the child. The Jewish leader immediately asks at the outset that Jesus may revive his dead child. The miracle has become, so to speak, the ordinary order of things.

*) Strauss, L.J. II. 148.


For another, very prosaic reason, Matthew had to change the account so that the ruler goes to the Lord from the deathbed of his daughter.

According to Mark’s account, Jesus was awaited by a large crowd on the shore and accompanied by them as he followed Jairus into his house. On the way, the woman with the issue of blood touched his garment and was healed. Jesus immediately noticed that power had gone out from him and, turning in the crowd, he asked who had touched his clothes. The disciples drew his attention to the press of the crowd, which almost crushed him, but he knew that the touch of his garment had been peculiar and looked around for the person who had touched him. Then the woman came, fell at his feet, and told him the whole truth (Mark 5:24-33, essentially the same as Luke 8:42-47). Matthew knows nothing of the crowd, Jesus goes only with the disciples to Jairus’ house, and so everything is missing in the following story of the woman with the issue of blood that presupposes the presence of the crowd. The woman touches Jesus’ garment, he simply turns around, sees her, and says to her, “Be of good cheer, daughter; thy faith hath made thee whole” (Matthew 9:19-22). With the crowd missing, however, the whole action lacks its necessary environment and presupposition, since it is unmistakable that the woman could only do what she did secretly and unnoticed, i.e. in the press of the crowd. The writer who first developed this view could not do without the crowd, while in Matthew’s account the scene is much too bare and the woman, if she follows the Lord alone over the street, is left without support. Matthew is the later writer, he has fundamentally changed the account of Mark.


And he had to change it, just as he did. If Jairus had come to pick up the Lord from the house of the tax collector, where he was just sitting at the banquet, then of course there was no crowd of people present that could serve to fill the scene. Furthermore, when Jairus receives the Lord at the lake and asks for help for his dying daughter, there was plenty of time and space for the message of his child’s death to arrive along the way; but how could this message be inserted when Jesus was already in Capernaum and only walking from one house to another on the street? It had to be omitted, the crowd had to be missing, and the father of the child had to immediately come with the request that Jesus raise the dead.

The account of Mark is original and, from the point where the crowd awaits the Lord on the shore of the lake, also original compared to that of Luke. We have already noted that Luke separated the departure to the eastern shore from the assumption that Jesus was already in a boat during the parable lecture, even eliminating this assumption at its place – (he wanted to connect the arrival of the mother and brothers of Jesus with the parable lecture and therefore had to move Jesus from the boat to the middle of a crowd of people C. 8, 19.) – yet he follows Mark in writing that on the return from the eastern shore the crowd received the Lord, as they had all been waiting for him – but how could they be waiting for him when they were not present when he departed for the other shore? Only Mark motivated this reception when he suggests that Jesus “had departed in the presence of a gathered multitude or on the day when he was occupied with such a crowd *).”

*) Wilke, p. 603.


So far – that is correct – the representation of Mark proves to be the original in every respect, which the other two confused in contradiction with their internal presuppositions because they merged the same with new elements, or rather did not merge it, but only externally connected it, partly copied it literally and could not change it completely. But even it is not free from all contradiction. Even if Jesus may have departed in the presence of a gathered multitude, it is not explained that they were expecting him on the next day **) – how could they know or even presume that Jesus would be so unfavourably received over there that he would return so soon? “She ‘had witnessed the danger from the shore to which the boat had been exposed’,” answers Schleiermacher and after him Neander ***), but did she have to assume that the Lord would now come back, did she have to be so sure of herself that she “expected” him? She could not think of such a prompt return, since according to Mark’s own presupposition, Capernaum was only momentarily Jesus’ place of residence and it only happened by chance through the unfriendly reception that Jesus received over there that he immediately returned after barely landing. So even Mark is not without contradictions, but they are only those that have arisen from the original tendency of his pragmatism and must arise if not the pure art view, but the need of prosaic and external interests determines the writer, no matter how free he may be in the development of the individual. Mark needed the crowd for the following representation, Jairus had to emerge from it, it had to surround Jesus on the way to the mourning house and again make the secret touching of Jesus’ clothes possible for the woman with the issue of blood – it had to stand on the shore and wait for Jesus and it appeared at the right time when the writer needed it for his purposes.

**) Mark 5:21: και διαπεράσαντος του Ιησού εν τω πλοίω πάλιν εις το πέραν, συνήχθη όχλος πολύς επ’ αυτόν· και ήν παρά την θάlacoav. Luke has correctly rewritten it in 8:40: &yéveto dè &v tớ únoστρέψαι τον Ιησούν, απεδέξατο αυτόν ο όχλος: ήσαν γάρ πάντες προς-δοκώντες αυτόν.

***) Schleierm, a. a. D, p. 126. Neander, p. 340. 341.




Reasons not to doubt the historicity of Jesus raising the daughter of Jairus

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

In Chapter 7, I give reasons why there should be no doubt that the whole of this healing narrative [the raising of the daughter of Jairus in Mark 5] is literally true, and that it is dependent ultimately on an eyewitness account by one of the inner circle of the three of the Twelve, who were present throughout, and who accordingly heard and transmitted exactly what Jesus said. (p. 109 of Jesus of Nazareth by Maurice Casey; a footnote here directs the reader to pages 268-69 in that chapter 7.)

Things about Jesus in the Gospels that are “literally true” — that is what this historical Jesus scholar believes he can establish. Not only that, Casey will give reasons why there should be no doubt that we find this healing recorded in the Gospels because of the direct eyewitness testimony of one of Jesus’ own disciples. Continue reading “Reasons not to doubt the historicity of Jesus raising the daughter of Jairus”