§ 25. A look back at the fourth Gospel

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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 1



§ 25.

A look back at the fourth Gospel.

It must be a reconciling look.

And a look, if it is only heartfelt and sincere, is enough.

We are not yet in a position to judge the relationship between the historical material of the synoptic Gospels and the fourth Gospel, even as far as we have come to know the former. This particularly concerns the question of why the fourth Gospel lacks a prehistory, a question whose sufficient and satisfying answer has not yet been given, if we were to infer only indirectly from its content whether it excludes or presupposes it. We need clear indications as to whether it consciously excludes or assumes the holy prehistory, or whether it does so unconsciously. To gain this final certainty of judgment, we must have achieved certainty through the complete comparison as to whether the fourth evangelist was familiar with one or more writings of the synoptic circle. So, for now, let’s leave this for later!


One point, and a point of comprehensive importance, we can already shed light on. In our criticism of the fourth Gospel, we have shown that the speeches it attributes to the Lord (as well as to the Baptist and other persons) are the free literary work of the author. Despite this result, we acknowledged that reflection also played a role in the synoptic presentation of Jesus’ speeches, but we said that the subjectivity of the means through which they passed is here most abolished since they passed through the general spirit of the community. We thus still left the appearance that we possess in the synoptic presentation the speeches of Jesus in their historical originality, and we had to leave this appearance standing, as only later investigation could show us in what sense to understand that category of the original. Now we can make the first accounting.

The contrast has now become rational. The speeches of Jesus in the synoptic Gospels are not any less the product of later reflection than those reported in the fourth. Nonetheless, the contrast remains, but as an inner one, as a contrast in one and the same line of development of one and the same principle. Both are free literary works: the circle of teaching development that the Synoptics created and the one in which the fourth Evangelist leads us. Both are the reflection of the same principle, but we find its original reflection in the synoptic writings, and its later work in the presentation of the fourth. The Synoptics took the principle in its simple universality, which it had found in the community up to their time, and they give us its religious reflection, which expresses itself positively in individual sentences, sayings, gnomic and parabolic forms, and they only differ in that Matthew, the latest, tries to set the positive determinations more freely in flow and bring them into a kind of systematic connection, although he cannot completely break away from the standpoint of his predecessors since he inserts positive sentences he finds or creates and elaborates new sentences himself that have no inner connection with the initiated context.


The reflection of the fourth gospel stands opposed to the original and religious reflection and its positive nature. Its assumption is no longer the simple generality of the principle as it is immediately given in the life and faith of the community, but the universality as it has contracted into the simplicity of the essence and seeks to fathom the inner necessity of the individual determinations in this world of essence and their eternal presuppositions.

At least this much we had to express here in order to give the fourth evangelist the satisfaction which the criticism of the synoptic gospels has given him. We can now proceed with a lighter heart, since the previous tension between the two circles of the evangelical view has diminished, and we are given the certainty that we are dealing with free humanity and works of self-consciousness in both circles – a certainty that we may hope and expect will be even more comprehensively confirmed in the following part of the investigation and bring about the final reckoning.


§ 23. Unconnected Sayings

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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 1



§ 23.

Unconnected Sayings.

Matthew 7:1-10.

1. Judging.

Chapter 7, verse 1.

Matthew suddenly returns to the speech of Luke, which he included in the Sermon on the Mount. He quotes the Lord as saying, “Do not judge, so that you will not be judged. For with the judgment you make, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

In judging others, people provide themselves with the standard by which they will be judged.

Matthew has simplified a saying from the Lord’s speech in Luke and brought it into a very successful general expression, in which its meaning is infinitely expanded. For when it says in Luke (6:37), “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven,” the idea is immediately restricted to specific directions, and the full generality of the interaction cannot be asserted. Matthew removes the specific elements concerning condemnation and forgiveness, and instead adopts the construction of the following saying in Luke, “with the measure you use, it will be measured to you,” creating a universal expression that contains all the relationships of this idea. “With the judgment you make, you will be judged,” that is, your judgment of others is in itself and in every case a judgment of yourself. Depending on whether you find the weak, only the bad and not the good in others, you reveal how much power the good has for you personally.


“Whatever measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2) is the abstract expression of the same idea, and rightly connected by Matthew immediately with the saying about judging. Luke also concludes the saying about judging with this sentence, but his previous elaboration of the same (verse 37) extends to verse 38 so much that the concluding sentence, “Whatever measure you use,” can only with difficulty be brought back to the theme of “Do not judge.” “Give, and it will be given to you: A good, pressed, shaken, and overflowing measure will be given to you. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” What does “give” mean here? It cannot be said with certainty whether it still belongs to the theme and perhaps should remind us to give recognition to others. The expression would not be particularly suitable in this context, and if we do not want to be plagued with strained interpretations, we must ultimately give in to the impression of the words to the extent that we admit that they express the idea of retribution, which the benevolent can expect. That is, we must then admit that Luke has introduced a foreign idea into this context.

But not only that: he has also substantially changed a saying that he borrowed from Mark and given it a new position. We cannot blame him for doing it at all in this case, but he did it badly in that he did not do it more skillfully and did not make the key words he took from the text of Mark stand out more clearly. Mark, in whose work we first find this proverb, did not phrase it correctly. According to the interpretation of the parable of the sower (Mark 4:24-25), Jesus says to the disciples: “Consider carefully what you hear. With the measure you use, it will be measured to you – and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” But how can this saying relate to the understanding and acceptance of truth? The following saying (v. 25), “Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them,” is appropriately placed where the theoretical interest in truth is discussed, but the saying about measurement is impossible. Wilke says,” *) Indeed, these words – (with what measure) – have meaning only when they are understood as an exhortation to reflect on the meaning of parabolic speeches, because here a gain really takes place for the one who has.” Indeed, for “the one who has.” “But ‘with what measure you measure,’ what does that have to do with understanding a truth presented? It is certainly true that the evangelist seemed to place the proverb of the measure in its appropriate place here, but it is equally true that he inserted it at a very inappropriate time, since it refers solely and exclusively to the moral relationship to others and to the evaluation of them. The same thing happened to Mark here, which only did not happen to him as often as to his followers because he did not accumulate as much material for preaching as they did: he allowed himself to be misled by an external reference, that of the relationship of exchange contained in the saying, ‘to him who has, more will be given,’ to insert the proverb of the measure here. Luke has already given the proverb its correct position when he connected it with the speech on judging others, but he has not yet succeeded in carrying out the connection completely. By working out the idea of mutual giving and receiving so elaborately, the appearance has arisen as if he were speaking at the same time about giving and sharing in the sense of benevolence. Only Matthew has combined the element that in the writing of Mark had received its place by chance and in the writing of Luke had found its natural connection through the inner power of elective affinity with the subject matter to which it properly belongs, into an organic whole. He would have provided proof again that Will was accusing him unfairly when he claimed that we found in him ‘mere rearrangements and relocations of the parts of speech from their original position’ *). We find not only clever combinations and elaborations in him, but it has often happened that sayings, after wandering through the writings of Mark and Luke in rather tumultuous and disruptive surroundings, found a proper connection only with him and were introduced by him into their ideal home.” 

*) ibid. p. 379

*) ibid. p. 691


We say “through him” and “into their ideal home!” This must present no small difficulty to the apologist, and to the critic who is still entangled in the material interests of apologetics, when he is asked to explain why the same sayings of Jesus in the different Gospels are not only delivered on different occasions but also in substantially different senses. However, Fritzsche says that there is no need to be surprised about this, as it is inherent in the nature of such proverbial expressions that they could be used in one sense or another depending on the occasion *). Therefore, if Matthew presents the same saying twice on different occasions, he must have known that Jesus had delivered it twice and specifically on these occasions. Or if each evangelist only allows the same saying to arise once, but each on a different occasion, then each of them would have known only one of these occasions as the home of the saying. Tholuck sees the matter in the same way. “With what right, he asks, has the latest criticism of the Gospels so persistently refused to admit that Christ could have repeated himself in individual utterances or even in smaller discourses)?” *)

**) Fritzsche on Mark 4:21-25: minime mirum est, cum ejusdem proverbiales locutiones pro re nata modo in hunc, modo in illum intellectum ferantur.

*) a. a. O. p. 16. Similarly, Paulus, I. 585.


If we still followed the traditional hypothesis, we would answer: the entire substance of the gospel narrative is not the life of Jesus in its empirical expansion, but in its ideal condensation in memory. Here, brevity and simplification are the first law, and all that is essential is only present once, but in memory it can appear differently and therefore also have a different meaning.

However, we no longer follow this hypothesis and no longer need its still mysterious attempts at explanation, as with each step forward that criticism takes, the mystery of the literary origin of the Gospels becomes more and more revealed. The last two Synoptics, especially Matthew, include a saying at different occasions, when they anticipate it once from the scripture of their predecessor and then copy it again when they come to its original position. They have the saying only once but at different occasions, unless they copy it with its context after its anticipation. This has happened this time, both Luke and Matthew leave out the saying about the measure when they give the speech that Jesus gave to the disciples when they asked him to interpret the parable of the sower.

2. The Judging of Splinters.

Matthew 7, 1-5.

Although the thought takes a essentially different direction when judging was previously talked about, with which one sets the standard for oneself, and now the splinter-judging of the hypocrite is characterized, Matthew is still concerned at least with the external connection that is given in the thought of judging, when he places both sayings directly next to each other and omits and preserves the sayings that separate and distinguish them in the scripture of Luke (Luke 6, 39-42) for later use.


He later used them appropriately, as we will see. But here in the discourse of Luke, they have no connection whatsoever with the preceding or following saying about the speck and the log. Luke is now exhausted, just as Matthew was at his time, and no longer has the strength required to create a coherent whole out of his main idea and let the individual sayings emerge from it. He even creates a new paragraph with the words of verse 39: “He also told them this parable” and then follows with the saying: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?” At best, this saying could be related in a remote way to the following saying about the speck and the log *), although it would have to be very remote, since nothing in the latter saying could induce one to reflect on the fate of the lesser sinner who is judged over his speck. No, there is no connection possible, any more than there is any connection between the saying in verse 40, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher,” and the saying about the blind guide and the speck and the log (verses 41-42). When it is remarked that a disciple is not above his teacher, it is only meant to urge him to the appropriate humility. But what is the point of this exhortation here?

*) Schneckenburger, Beiträge p. 18, even says: “What Luke gives from verse 30 onwards is so well connected internally that we may well consider it to belong together originally (!).” Even if it were so connected – but we will see that it is anything but – this does not mean that it is original, etc. A completely new type of human or inhuman memory would have had to be invented for sayings of this kind and of such a connection to have been preserved in memory.


And what is the rationale for the following verse on judging specks, which only considers the hypocrite’s faults in relation to the smaller faults of the brother, when in the next verse (v.43), it is stated “for there is no good tree that produces bad fruit, nor on the other hand a bad tree that produces good fruit”? What is the purpose of this verse, which contains a completely different logic? Either it can be related as a justification to everything and everyone, or it should not stand here as such.

Matthew only takes this verse later to incorporate it into his Sermon on the Mount; before that, after criticizing splinter-judging, he gives the exhortation, which was probably an original norm for the apostles, not to waste holy things and pearls of truth in the face of insensitivity (v. 6), and then he jumps back to the place in Luke’s scripture where he had already borrowed the Lord’s prayer.

1. Prayer answered.

Matthew 7:7-11.

Prayer is answered, it is certainly answered: for if self-interest, which otherwise wants to prevail everywhere in human relationships, remains silent in the family and in the relationship between father and children, how much more will the heavenly Father give good things to his children when they ask him?

After the Lord had taught his disciples to pray, Luke continues, he described to them in a parable (Luke 11:5-8) the power of persistent and unremitting prayer and then (vv. 9-13) guaranteed the certainty of prayer being answered in his own words *), which are the same as those we read in Matthew.

*) καγω υμιν λεγω


Schleiermacher is aware, of course *), that this discourse “relates to the prayer of the Lord in its main content.” That is indeed how it seemed to the evangelist, but it is not the case: just because the discourse mentions prayer, he believes himself entitled to include and elaborate on this saying about prayer answered. But before, the issue was not about whether one should pray at all, or whether one should pray constantly and persistently, but in what formula.

*) Ibid. pp. 173, 174.

Even though the connection is not the best, it does not follow that Luke has no authorial contribution to the parable and the accompanying exposition of the idea of the certainty of prayer being answered. Instead, we can still detect his handiwork. At the end (v. 13), it says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” This mention of the Holy Spirit, especially as it forms the climax of the whole passage, is not prepared for. Luke could not yet master the elements and thoughts that presented themselves to him while writing. Matthew changed it with a correct touch and instead of the “Holy Spirit,” he simply used “good things.” – αγαθα

An gospel that allows the Lord to pray so often should encourage believers to pray more frequently as well. So it uses the structure, flow, and punchline of the parable that was already recounted in chapter 11, verse 5, but only the characters are changed, to emphasize the necessity of constant and persistent prayer once again. It is expressly noted in the introduction to this parable of the widow who, through her persistent begging, persuaded the harsh and unwilling judge to grant her rights (Luke 18:1-5), that this need for persistence should be recommended. However, suddenly, at the end of the parable, the thought is given a special direction, and it is reminded that God, who is not as harsh as that judge but patient, will even more readily grant justice to His chosen ones who cry out to Him day and night. Jesus emphatically adds, “I tell you, he will give them justice speedily (Luke 18:6-8). – εν ταχει. ” But then, the discourse takes a new direction again by asking at the end if the Son of Man, when he comes, will find such faith on earth? Why? The evangelist wants to indicate that the chosen ones will receive their justice when the Son of Man comes.


From the Parousia of the Son of Man, which had just been discussed in detail in chapter 17, verses 20-37, the parable, which was introduced with a general exhortation, was supposed to be added as a parenthetical appendix through the concluding remark. But how was this possible when nothing had been said before about the Parousia of the Son of Man being able to be accelerated, and therefore nothing could have been hinted at that fervent prayer would have this accelerating power? The Evangelist did not strictly work out the context, but we only find coherence when we turn to the Gospel of Mark and read in the discourse on the Parousia (chapter 13, verse 20) that God would shorten the days of distress preceding the coming of the Son of Man for the sake of the elect. Luke remembered this remark when he spoke of the Parousia in chapter 17 and included it. By concluding that the prayer of the elect would be the reason why God would shorten those days and bring the day of judgment soon – εν ταχει –, he introduced this remark through the parable he had already developed in another context with the same essential content.


Later, when he takes up the discourse on the Parousia at the place where Mark communicates it, he remembers that he had anticipated the idea of the acceleration of the day of judgment, and he includes it here.

4. The Law and the Prophets.

Matt. 7:12.

Therefore, whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

But why “therefore” – ουν? Nothing is said about it when Tholuck notes that “some clauses have fallen out of the Evangelist’s report immediately beforehand” *). This would come down to a meaningless assertion – or rather, it is itself – that the Evangelist later remembered that Jesus had connected this saying very closely with a previous saying through “therefore,” but had forgotten what that earlier saying was. What a terribly precise and yet so superficial and careless inspiration!

*) ibid. p. 499

Fritzsche believes that the saying is related to the remark that love reigns in the family relationship, a love that should also be extended to one’s neighbor **). However, the fact that a human father shows kindness to his son was only the metaphorical premise of the conclusion, that the heavenly Father will fulfill the requests of his children to a much greater extent, and had fulfilled its whole purpose as that premise. If something new was to be linked to what came before, it had to be connected with the main idea, with the idea of the certainty of prayer being answered, not with an image that only served to explain this idea.

**) to Matth. p. 292


So in the end, we would have to agree with Calvin that the connecting particle is unnecessary, and the sentence should be read separately on its own *). That is indeed the case, but the Evangelist saw it differently; he thought to bring the sentence that he had not yet included from the Gospel of Luke here in the best context, here where it is impossible for us to discover a kind of connection for it.

*) ουν: “The connecting particle is unnecessary, as is often the case in concise sentences. I have said before that not only one sermon of Christ is referred to by Matthew, but that the sum of his doctrine is woven together from various sermons. Therefore, this sentence should be read separately.”

5. The Narrow Gate.

Matthew 7:13-14.

When Jesus was on his journey to Jerusalem and was teaching in towns and villages, someone asked him: “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” (Luke 13:22-24)

What a curious question! It already contains the answer, and in fact, it is nothing but the theme that Jesus only elaborates on metaphorically in his response when he says, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”

Questions of this kind, which already contain the answer, are nothing but creations of pragmatism, and it is only reasonable that Matthew separated the saying from such a contrived context and incorporated the content of the question into it **). By omitting the question, he designates the narrow gate as the gate that leads to life, and since he is engaged in developing the theme freely, he calls the way to it narrow and says that few find it (not clear whether the way or the gate). Actually, he should have combined both, the way and the gate, but he only thinks of the gate, which he reads about in Luke and which he is particularly concerned with: a confusion that shows he is dominated by a tert who only speaks of the gate. Finally, he freely creates the counterpart to the gate of salvation by setting the wide gate and the broad way that leads to destruction against it: again not without some confusion, as he adds to both the way and the gate that many go through it (έισέλθωσιν), thus again having only the gate in mind and forgetting the way in the construction of the sentence.*)

**) ολιγοι εισιν οι ευρισκοντες αυτην Ch. 7:14

*) De Wette’s explanation, 1, 1, 70  “δι’ αυτης scil. Οδου, not πυλης see 8:14” (the way is arranged in this way by the gate), is simply incorrect, and we do not understand what the reference to Matthew 8:14, where the entrance into a house is mentioned εισ την οικιαν, but not the passage through a gate, is supposed to mean or help. We only see that it is unnecessary torture.


Schleiermacher does not fail to notice that Jesus “used the same image somewhat differently on another occasion” **). But if, firstly, it is highly probable that Luke transformed an image that had arisen and become common in the community into a saying of Jesus, then it is absolutely certain that it was only Matthew who developed this figurative saying extensively. The proof lies in the confusion just demonstrated and in the agreement between the introduction and construction of the saying ***).

**) p. 194

***) Luke: αγωνιζεσθε εισελθειν δια της στενης πυλης οτι — και. Matthew: εισελθετε δια της στενης πυλης οτι — και 

6. The false prophets.

Matt. 7, 15-20.

Habit, even the habit of words, is a very special power. When we think of teachers whose statements we do not immediately trust, or to whom we definitely deny our belief, the last sentence with which we calm ourselves down or which we use as the final argument in polemics is the saying: “By their fruits you will know them.” We even experience often enough how this argument is taken up at the wrong time, when it was more important to explore a doctrine to its inner core instead of drawing hasty conclusions from it. But it is so, this argument is very sought after and is so frequently sought after because it is written.


However, or rather precisely because of that abuse, we allow ourselves some modest doubts as to whether the saying about the fruits originally arose in and with the reflection on the false prophets and as a criterion for their teaching. First, it cannot be denied that the criterion is too general to be limited solely to the doctrine of false prophets. “You will know them by their fruits” can refer to the entire worldly environment of the believers and contain advice for them on whether something is similar to them or not, and they should judge from the ultimate result of each direction.

Even more general is the idea in the saying, “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit,” and in the extensive elaboration of this saying. The fact, it is meant to say, depending on its moral or immoral determination, has the general determination of the inner as its presupposition.

Finally, the thought takes on a new, unexpected turn when judgment is mentioned at the end, verse 19: “Every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” The evangelist draws attention to the dissonance and lets us hear it clearly so that we do not lose it in the flow of hearing or reading. “Therefore, you will know them by their fruits,” he lets the Lord conclude in verse 20. But what does the statement of the criterion of spiritual health have to do with the reflection on judgment, and what does the saying that the exterior corresponds to the interior have to do with it?


The evangelist has confused sayings that have nothing to do with each other and brought a saying that was originally much more general into a narrower relationship.

The test! Matthew returns to Luke’s discourse, which he left after the saying about speck and plank, and thus comes to the saying that the fruit always corresponds to the nature of the tree. Here, with Luke, the thought is pure, that is to say, in the generality that belongs to it, the saying that “every tree is known by its own fruit” remains in this generality, in which the saying remains from the outset. Even the following, that the good person brings forth good things from the good treasure of his heart and the bad person brings forth bad things, for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks, still belongs to the same dialectic of the inner and outer (Luke 6:43-45).

Matthew has changed things: he has given a more restricted relationship to a general thought by making the saying about the fruit of the tree into a criterion that believers should use against false prophets. Because once the tree is mentioned, he copies the saying about the fate of the tree that does not bear good fruit word for word from Luke 3:9 for the second time. But he omits the saying about the speech that comes from the treasure of the heart because the intervention of the false prophets had already made the execution of this section rich enough. He brings it up again at a later opportunity, where he does not fail to take up the saying about the fruit of the tree again from Luke’s scripture (Matthew 12:33-35).

Who are the false prophets? Whether they are teachers within the community or others who are outside the community and have found a special way to salvation? The question is so important and so infinitely difficult to answer despite the analogy we have in the Old Testament regarding the use of that word, that it would be unfair if we were to answer it and rob good theologians of the joy they find in dealing with such extremely grand tasks from commentary to commentary.


§ 22. The True Concern

Creative Commons License
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 1



§ 22.

The True Concern.

Matth. 6, 19—34.

“Here, says Tholuck *), the connection breaks off in a striking way.” As if the connection had been the best so far! The matter is rather to be understood in this way. So far, the evangelist had formed larger sections, which he placed side by side without any connection, and just as he had worked in chapter 5,17. 6,1 so he does it here: he does not think of connecting the following section with the previous one. He only wants to have coherence within the individual sections, and there he has always used transitional articles – ουν, γαρ, δε – even if the coherence was missing in the section from which we just came.

Even now, he wants to give a self-contained section, for the beginning and end of it deal with the thought that the concern for earthly things does not befit the believer, but here he is already faced with the fact that he cannot insert a transitional particle twice (v. 22, 24) even with the best of intentions: he is forced to insert two sayings without any connection. He is already starting to falter, his strength is leaving him, and he despairs of being able to give the rich treasury of sayings at his disposal and which he wants to use in the Sermon on the Mount, this treasure of pearls strung on cords, to his readers. Already here in the present section, he no longer forms such beautiful wholes out of his own strength, as before; without any essential change, he takes the sayings as he finds them in the scripture of Luke and afterwards – to mention it immediately – in chapter 7, 1-20 he does not even attempt to form separate, similar sections in them, but counts the pearls for his reader one by one.

*) a. a. O. p. 452.


1. The Care for Heavenly and Earthly Goods. 

Matthew 6:19-21, 25-34.

The exhortation not to seek after earthly treasures but rather heavenly ones (Matt. 6:19-21) has two points: that the latter are imperishable while the former are perishable, and that where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also. Although both points can be easily tolerated side by side in Matthew’s presentation, it is better motivated that the latter is added as a reason for the whole statement, since in the beginning of Luke 12:33-34 it is said: “Sell what you have and give alms.” There we know what the reminder that the heart is attached to treasure is meant to do: the believer should free himself from everything he possesses that is earthly.

With a new approach, the warning against earthly worries begins in Matthew 6:25: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink.” Why? Because (v. 24) no one can serve two masters, and therefore not God and Mammon. But the following passage does not speak of the service rendered to Mammon, only of worry about earthly needs. The “little faith ones” are reminded that the heavenly Father feeds the birds of the sky — why shouldn’t He also provide for them, who are worth much more? — that no one can add a cubit to his height — why worry, then, about clothing? — that life is more than food, and the body more than clothing — that is, whoever has given the greater will not deny the lesser — that the lilies of the field do not toil and yet grow in their splendor, that only the Gentiles are concerned with earthly needs, while the heavenly Father knows that His own need everything necessary for bodily nourishment: but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well.


It is not in the slightest bit implied here that one should serve Mammon. Neither is it in the passage from Luke that Matthew copied and appended to his own account. Matthew even preserved the transition phrase, as Luke had used it:  διὰ τοῦτο λέγω ὑμῖν.  But Luke was justified in using this transition because he was not speaking about the service of Mammon but rather about the foolishness of accumulating wealth in order to eat, drink, and be merry, rather than being rich in spiritual things (Luke 12:16-31). In that context, the conclusion of the discourse, “Seek first the kingdom of God,” and the introduction, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life,” have meaning, significance, and coherence.

The conclusion, “But seek first the kingdom of God,” *)  is a real conclusion that is prepared for by every individual part of the preceding development, and thus summarizes and dominates the whole. In Matthew’s account, however, it is not this conclusion because, to mention just one thing, he does not take into account the idea of the twofold service. Finally, even more importantly, this saying does not stand at the end of the development, but a new reason is given for not worrying, one which pertains to tomorrow, and that is a new qualification. The reasoning here is that tomorrow will take care of its own needs, and each day has enough trouble of its own. Perhaps the reason the evangelist added this new point at this juncture was the fact that, in Luke, after that conclusion (Luke 12:32), the exhortation follows that the little flock should not be afraid, for it has pleased the Father to give them the kingdom. Perhaps Matthew thought it was more appropriate to replace this exhortation with a new point that was indeed very striking, but that did not belong either in the context or at the conclusion of this discourse.

*) Luke 12:31 πλην ζητειτε την βασιλειαν του θεου, Matthew 8:33 explanatory ζητειτε δε πρωτον την βασιλειαν του θεου


If someone looks at the matter in a humane and understanding way and reads the speech in Luke 12:22-31 with its rich reasoning, its rapid succession of individual reasons, and at the same time with its clean depiction of images in a straightforward manner as is necessary for questions of this kind, and properly appreciates its artistic structure, they must concede that it is a free literary creation and nothing less than a speech of Jesus that has been preserved in this form in memory for years. The security of Christian self-awareness, which knows itself to be secure in possession of its eternal treasure and lifted above anxious care for earthly needs, created this speech. Also, the parable of the rich man who intended to gather his treasures and died before enjoying them is also a literary work and its point, which had already become a proverb in 1 Corinthians 15:32, is borrowed literally from the book of Sirach (C. 11:19).*) 

*) This reminiscence is also noted by Weisse, who remarks (II, 150) that it is “not likely that we possess this parable in its genuine form.” Rather, we have it in the form in which it first arose, we have it firsthand — from that of Luke.

That Luke freely composed this entire passage is not unlikely, even though he has tied it to an occasion that is sharpened to a different point: we have already noted that the plastic art of the evangelical narrative did not reach so far that it could have created a complete connection in the whole and the large. Before the warning to seek earthly treasures stands Jesus’ response in which he rejected the request of a man from the crowd to settle the dispute over the division of the inheritance between him and his brother. “Man,” Jesus replied, “who made me a judge or an arbitrator between you?” (Luke 12:13-14). It is true that this word is not directed against greed or worldly concerns in general but is the expression of the same opposition to positive law that we have already learned about above. It should not be said that with this response of Jesus, he merely “does not want to interfere with the development of the state’s life in general,” *)  but that the new principle has nothing to do with this forum of law at all. So even if it is certain that different things are brought together here, we must nevertheless go further and assert that it is not even certain that Luke had no literary share in the representation of that collision that was supposed to be the occasion for the following speech on the true concerns. First of all, it is unlikely enough that a stranger ever made a proposal to the Lord to settle an inheritance dispute between him and his brother, not to mention at this occasion where he was surrounded by countless strangers. It is more likely that the same thought, the same reaction against positive law that produced the exhortation to believers to settle their disputes amicably among themselves (Luke 12:57), also created that collision in order to express in a different turn that the Christian principle cannot involve itself in the decisions of positive law. The thought was given and familiar to the Gospel from the community: why should it not be represented in various forms? And if he used it this time (C. 12:13-15) to create an occasion for the speech on earthly concerns, what does that prove other than that he was not more successful with his pragmatism this time than usual?

*) Weisse, a. a. O.


2. Worship and Service to Mammon.

Matthew 6:24.

That the idea that one cannot serve two masters, and thus cannot serve both God and Mammon at the same time, although the connection, “for he will hate the one and love the other,” is supposed to be very close, does not have such a close connection with the following exhortation not to worry about life, as the transitional formula claims. We have already noted that this formula belongs in a completely different context.


At the end of the parable of the rich man and before the prohibition of earthly concerns, Matthew reads in the Gospel of Luke (12:21) the remark: “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” This contrast, this resonance that lies in the words treasure and riches, reminds the evangelist of another form of this contrast where riches are also mentioned, and without further consideration, he writes down the saying he read later in the Gospel of Luke (16:13), a saying that has found its place here only because of its external connection, as the parable of the unjust steward (Luke 16:9) and the subsequent saying about faithfulness and its testing in small matters (verse 10-12) also mention Mammon.– 

Matthew’s willingness to follow even the most distant resonance, to let himself be drawn in the most unexpected direction by a single word, and his precise knowledge of the Gospel of Luke are demonstrated to us at this point in his Sermon on the Mount with an example that is strong enough to bring down the whole edifice of apologetics. How deep and firm must be the foundation of this building then?

3. The Inner Light.

Matthew 6:23.

After the exhortation to seek not earthly but imperishable heavenly treasures (verses 19-21), for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also, follows the saying that the believer must always maintain the inner light if he does not want to be surrounded by deep darkness. This inner light is just as important and indispensable to spiritual life as the eye is to the body as a lamp.


If even the evangelist did not dare to connect this sentence with the preceding and following ones through transitional particles, does the apologist think he can establish and develop the connection in the best way possible? “The direction towards earthly goods,” says Tholuck, “makes the mind only concerned with earthly things.” – What a tautology! – “But if the eye of the mind is earthly, how will the whole person be in darkness * )!” However, the mind, namely the heart, which was previously mentioned, is already the general aspect of the human being, or the whole person. On the other hand, “the light within you” is a last, but highest point in humans, from which all decision and self-determination ultimately arise, and which therefore must also be maintained with the greatest care in its purity as this source and as the last refuge of truth.

And how should this saying be related to the following one about serving two masters? “The health of the inner eye,” Tholuck replies **), “consists in recognizing the true, highest good as the only one, to which everything else must be subordinated.” With a “therefore” like this, one could connect the most remote things. The saying about the inner eye deals purely and solely with the inner relationship of the spirit to itself; in the saying about serving two masters, it is a matter of the division of the spirit between opposing interests.

*) a. a. O. p. 458.

**) p. 462.

In the Gospel of Luke, after the saying about the imperishable treasure, Matthew reads the admonition (Luke 12:35-36): “Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast.” Matthew does not copy this saying – he later works it into a parable – but the word “lamp” reminds him of another saying about the lamp of the body and the spirit that he reads in Luke (11:34-36) and that has found its place here only through an external allusion – “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket” (verse 33). Matthew copies it, but leaves out the unclear and confused tautology of the closing statement (verse 36). This is how this saying ended up here.


§ 21. The righteousness of hypocrites

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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 1




The righteousness of hypocrites.

Matthew 6:1-18.

A new section that is self-contained. Once again, a parallel is drawn between the righteousness of hypocrites and that of believers, and at three points – giving alms, praying, and fasting – this contrast is illustrated.

This section begins, if we follow the reading of some manuscripts, with the general admonition not to perform “righteousness” before people in order to be seen by them. This way of introducing the topic would correspond to the author’s method of introducing the dialectic between the old and new law with a general remark. However, a completely different idea is explored here than before. The discourse is directed against external activity and against the boasting that makes the externality of such activity count before people. Previously, the dialectic was carried out between the idea and its limited, positive formulation in the Old Testament law. Now, pure, abstract Pharisaism is fought against, previously the simple, traditional law.


The author is well aware that there is no direct connection between the two parts of the discourse – the form and elaboration of the contrast is different – and he does not even think of connecting the two sections with a transitional particle. However, for him there is a connection in the sense that the thought of the Pharisees’ hypocrisy is close at hand when the law in general is mentioned, as he himself demonstrated when he inserted the mention of the Pharisees and scribes in the wrong place in the previous section (Ch. 5, 20).

So, the connection only lies in this resonance, that if one of these strings is touched, the other also begins to ring in the mind of the evangelist. In the saying about oaths, this resonance had caused the confusion (Ch. 5, 34-36), which we have already resolved.

In any case, the connection should not be understood as Tholuck understands it: “after the Redeemer has shown the extent of the fulfillment of the law that comes to his disciples, he shows here first and foremost the way in which it is practiced with regard to those three types of good works to which the pride of Pharisaic piety is particularly attached: almsgiving, prayer, fasting *).” If this transition is more than a blind spot, then the Lord should not have already spoken so thoroughly about the way the new law is to be carried out beforehand, and he would have to choose the examples of how the law is to be practiced from the previous section in this new section.

*) a. a. O. p. 345.


1. Giving Alms and Fasting.

Matthew 6:1–4, 16–18.

Whoever gives alms and fasts should do it for themselves and in secret, if they want to gain the heavenly reward that will be given publicly in the future. Otherwise, if they do it for the sake of human praise, they have already received their reward and achieved what they wanted.

The hypocrites, who else are they but the Pharisees, of whom it is already said in the earlier Gospel (Mark 12:38–40) that they seek the appearance of piety, walk in their robes, and pray much for show? Do we now have before us in Matthew’s detailed discourse the original polemic of Jesus against the Pharisees? But why only in the Gospel of Matthew, the latest one? Why don’t we find this discourse in the Gospel of Luke? Why didn’t he include the Lord’s Prayer in a context where he also argued against the hypocrites?

We should not see these polemics as the words of Jesus that have come to us by chance, who knows how. This is the place where we must eradicate one of the prejudices that have made it impossible to fully understand the historical accounts of the Gospels. We will not even talk about the fact that Gospel passages that contain references to Palestinian conditions, whether in collisions or in speeches, are considered as historical reports. This prejudice falls away by the following reflection. But to conclude from the local references of such passages that they had meaning only for Jewish Christians or even only for Palestinians, or to see these passages as evidence that the scripture to which they belong was written by a Jewish Christian, perhaps even in Palestine, is a prejudice that can be no greater or more harmful for the critic.


Why, then, does Mark not have as many of Jesus’ speeches against the Pharisees, why does the apostle Paul, who also dealt with Jewish Christians, not fight more vigorously against the school he once belonged to, and why does the Gospel of Luke lack the polemic against Pharisaic hypocrisy that we read in the present section?

The answer given by Paul is strange. He says that the Sermon on the Mount in Luke is an “excerpt from a complete, unwritten essay.” This excerpt was already made by a Palestinian Christian before Luke, who wanted to provide an “extract for all Christians to read” and therefore excluded everything “anti-Pharisaic” and what “related to specific Palestinian circumstances.” What self-denial!

The person whose essay Luke transcribed, according to Schleiermacher *), “may have made his recording (of the Sermon on the Mount) initially for someone whom he believed might find some things incomprehensible (!) and insignificant, as the polemic against the Pharisees might seem to a Gentile Christian.”

*) a. a. O. p. 89.

And if one were, we answer, the most fervent Gentile Christian, had never seen Palestine or a Jewish Christian, if he wrote a gospel, he could weave a thousand references to the Pharisees into it and add Palestinian local colors that were known to everyone to his historical painting. Such colors become categories in the end – Pharisees and scribes are still standing categories for us – and are applied most diligently and in relationships that have nothing to do with the historical originals. This type of representation and historiography is therefore abstract and reveals itself through this abstract attitude as the later and less original. It is manufactured and artistic work.


So, once again, Matthew has freely worked. In order to have Jesus fight against hypocrisy, he has him argue against those who were already regarded as hypocrites.

What kind of tradition must one have in mind to believe that such a diligently crafted exposition as the sections on giving alms and fasting had vegetated as an actual speech by Jesus in the memory of the listeners and those who had heard them again from the first listeners? Just look seriously at the sentences once: this exchange of command, exhortation, description of the opposition, reflection, and prohibition – this should have been in the head for years and not rather owe its origin to the pen?

Matthew worked freely: he used a prayer, which he reads in the Gospel of Luke in a completely different context, to further fill out the present section.

2. The Prayer.

Matt. 6:5-13. Luke 11:1-4.

First, Matthew follows the original direction of the section he created by having the Lord command that people should not pray like the hypocrites in front of others, but in secret, because God sees in secret (verses 5-6).

There follows a punchline (verses 7-8) that is connected to the previous only by the fact that prayer is also mentioned. “And when you pray,” it says, “do not babble like the pagans, for they think that by their many words they will be heard. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

The Evangelist does not reflect on the fact that this punchline actually goes further than was necessary if the much babbling during prayer was to be proven useless, and that it brings forth the appearance in its boldness that prayer is not necessary at all. Instead, he has the Lord continue: “Thus – ουτως – you should pray” (verse 9), and then follows the prayer that we also read in the Gospel of Luke 11:2-4.


“So shall you pray!” that is, at the same time, the formula of true prayer *) or rather, since the previous discussion was not about the content of the prayer but only about speaking too much, the formula of prayer as such should be conveyed to the believers. The fixed prayer formula! But what a surplus! The statement about speaking too much during prayer is fully concluded with its point in verse 8. Why add a new point, a point against an enemy who has already been defeated and is a dead enemy? And what a disruptive surplus! Now it seems, or rather it is so: a literally fixed formula should be given, which the believers should use to avoid the danger of speaking too much. That is the meaning that lies in the context as Matthew has constructed it, but a meaning that Jesus could never have intended if he really conveyed this prayer to his followers. This view, that a formula should be fixed, is never formed at the point where a principle is born and expresses itself with its first originality, but later, when it has become a positive and external power for consciousness with its expression.

It is of no use to deny the context as Matthew has constructed it **); it is also useless to seek help from Luke! Neander agrees with Schleiermacher when he asserts: “In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, this prayer is only inserted by someone who possessed only the formula without the information where and when it was first conveyed.” “The pragmatic context in Luke 11:1 is, however, very natural.” *) But what does it help Neander to say: “Certainly (!) Christ did not want to give the disciples a formula to repeat in their prayers,” when Luke explicitly says that the disciples asked Jesus once to teach them to pray, just as John had taught his disciples to pray, and now Jesus immediately fulfills their request and says, “When you pray, say!” It can only be a stubborn apologetic interest to deny that the prayer of the Lord should be conveyed not only as “a formula in their prayers,” but as the only prayer formula. So it remains with an interpretation that we also find in Matthew, but which we cannot share.

*) Bengel: ουτως, his verbis, hac sententia.

**) such as Calvin very naively protests against this context. He is content to remark on ουτως: quamquam (!) non jubet Christus suos conceptis verbis orare, sed tantum ostendit, quorsum vota omnia precesque reflerri deceat. Even Friztche, in his book on Matthew, p. 263-264, has not grasped the context sharply enough when he says: e Matthaei mente Jesus vituperata gentilium loguacitate concisarum precum ponere decrevit exemplum. Not an example, but a formula!

*) Schleiermacher, p. 173. Neander, p. 235. 236.


Before we ask whether Luke actually reports excellently on the occasion on which this prayer was taught, we must allow the apologist to speak up for Matthew. Tholuck does so. He wants to defend both evangelists. “Is there anything violent,” he says **), “or is there any compulsion in assuming that the disciples, having presented a prayer that Jesus had set forth before the people ****) as an example of how to pray without using vain repetitions ***), which really did not have the character of a formula in our context ***), did not regard it as a special formula †) designated for them, and therefore later asked for a special formula for themselves ††), ignoring the type of a true prayer †††)?”

**) ibid. p. 378. 379.

***) So only as an example, which is set aside when the idea that it was supposed to explain is grasped? No! As a formula!

*****) But Matthew says in the historical introduction to the sermon that it was addressed to the disciples.

†) Really not?

††) Then they had their ears elsewhere when the Lord said, “When you pray!” προσεύχεσθε! προσεύχεσθε υμείς!

†††) Is it still an example?


This is very violent! Just as violent as this whole reasoning is anxious and precarious! Wouldn’t the Lord have had to give them a strict reprimand for being very inattentive and handling his words very carelessly? Shouldn’t they have doubted whether this instruction to pray, when Jesus gave it to the people, also applied to them? What reprimand would they have deserved if they thought they needed something special, a particular formula?

“And if one were to find it completely unlikely that everyone would have fallen into such a misunderstanding,” Tholuck continues to argue, “could it not have been one or the other? But Luke only speaks of one of the disciples.”

All, all are innocent! Even the one Luke speaks of is innocent; no one has ever come up with such a ridiculous misunderstanding. Because when this one, who asks Jesus for a prayer formula in Luke’s script, appeared for this purpose, the Sermon on the Mount was not yet written, and Matthew had not yet included this prayer in the Sermon on the Mount from Luke’s script. But this one is also innocent because he never existed, never asked the Lord for a prayer, and is only a product of pragmatism, as Luke needed him to bring the Lord to words and give him cause to share this prayer.

So it is: the occasion that Luke speaks of is manufactured and very unfortunate. On the journey to Jerusalem (Luke 10:38), when Jesus was somewhere praying (Luke 11:1) – but only in Luke’s script is Jesus’ prayer this stereotypical formula – one of the disciples spoke to him when he stopped, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples to pray.” How pragmatism teaches! Where else could Luke have gotten this news about John but from his own pragmatism? If they really had to lag behind John’s disciples in this regard, should the apostles have only noticed and felt this lack now, when they were leaving Galilee?


Schleiermacher, of course, knows how to appease us: earlier, when Jesus was in Galilee and when he performed the prayer (!) at the “usual prayer times”, he was always “found in multitudinous surroundings and the disciples could not immediately, when he stopped, take the opportunity to ask him for a formula, which they at the same time (!) wanted as a brief epitome of his religious views, but then also as something peculiar to his school (!) and unknown outside of it *)”.

*) a. a. O. p. 172.

But Luke himself reports often enough that “the Lord was with the disciples in solitude,” and, according to his account, Jesus prays in the solitude to which he has withdrawn with the disciples, as in Luke 6:12, 9:18, and 28! And always, constantly, when he traveled with the disciples in the country or even when he was in Capernaum, the crowd could not have besieged him. Finally, what does Schleiermacher read into the disciples’ desire **)? They want to learn to pray, but they do not ask for a symbol that would distinguish them as members of a school or church from other communities.

**) and Neander attributes this to him when he says, p. 236-237, Jesus “used this opportunity – the disciples’ request – to summarize the essence of Christianity in a few words in the form of a prayer!” As Schleiermacher simply refers to the disciple’s question, Neander refers to Jesus’ words: “When you pray, say!”

It was right for Matthew not to care in the slightest about the occasion on which, according to Luke, the Lord’s Prayer was supposed to have originated, to let it fall calmly and to insert the prayer into his Sermon on the Mount. He acted more sensibly than the apologists who usually value such features of evangelical pragmatism differently. The occasion that Matthew created when he lets the Lord recite the prayer so that the disciples could use it as a formula and avoid the danger of too much babbling is not particularly well constructed, but we cannot expect the evangelist to conduct critical investigations into whether it was in the spirit of the Lord to prescribe a standing prayer formula and whether it was the time to prescribe positive formulas of any kind when the new principle had not yet formed a church community during the lifetime of Jesus. Enough, Matthew finds the prayer recommended as a formula in the scripture of Luke and, as such, lets Jesus recite it in the Sermon on the Mount.


If it is certain that Jesus did not prescribe this prayer as a fixed formula for his disciples, the question still remains whether he even communicated it to them. But what do we mean by “communicated”? It would still be a prescribed formula! Did he, therefore, use it with them repeatedly, and did the habit of it stick in their memory? Again, a formula! Why ask these questions, since it was not in the spirit of Jesus to prescribe formulas, as formulas as the positive form of devotion only develop in the existing community! This prayer also developed in the community. We say in the community because we cannot determine how much influence Luke had in the development of the prayer that he first communicates. Mark knows nothing about the whole affair.

This prayer has developed from the simple and general religious categories that the community inherited with the Old Testament, and only one request, “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors,” is purely in line with Christian self-awareness. If we have to follow the authority of some respected manuscripts, which do not include the closing of the prayer in Matt. 6:13, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen!” this is evidence that the prayer gradually developed in the community. This is the same evidence that is already established in the fact that in Luke’s account, the two petitions, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” and “Deliver us from evil,” are still missing and are only added by Matthew.


After the conclusion of the prayer, Matthew suddenly returns to a single part of the prayer, attempting to give the best possible coherence. When it says before (V. 12): “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors,” the speech continues in verse 14-15 as a justification: “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” It is already inappropriate that in this justification, the point that immediately precedes it, verse 13, which had already led the thought in a different direction, is skipped over. Moreover, this relationship between the sentences should appear even more inappropriate to us when we see that in verse 12, the equality of the relationship – “as we also have forgiven” – was the main idea, while in the justification of this idea in verse 14-15, the behavior of people is made a condition for the same behavior from God. Only the resonance of the word “forgiveness” has led the evangelist to include this saying here. He has taken it from the scripture of Mark (Mark 11:25-26).

Furthermore, Matthew must not be distracted from his theme, the warning against hypocrisy. He even resists the temptation to add the saying about the power of prayer that follows the prayer instruction in the scripture of Luke – later he makes up for this omission in chapter 7 verse 7. He returns to the theme once more (chapter 5:16-18) only to suddenly switch to a new subject in verse 10.


§ 20. The New Law

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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 1




The New Law.

Matth. 5, 17—48.

In an almost completed, only interrupted at a few points, context, Jesus explains how his relationship to the law should be understood.

Firstly, the question arises whether this fairly long explanation is connected to the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. Tholuck answers with yes and no, as befits a theologian. No, namely: “an immediate – but therein lies already the hidden yes! – an immediate connection with the preceding words cannot be easily demonstrated *).” Yes, namely: “until V. 16 the introitus and now – now the yes emerges from its first hiding place – and now follows the originally intended argumentum **).” But we do not know whether there can be a greater and more precise connection than when what follows was already intended in the preceding. More is not needed to see the best, indeed “immediate” connection in a speech; or should there only be a connection if the speaker has first presented the logical division of his speech in advance or if he moves from one part to another with mathematical sequences of consequences? It is enough if it is clear that what follows was already intended in the preceding. But in this speech it is not clear, indeed the opposite is certain. We ask the apologist to study the speech as Luke gives it, to see what connection means. Here the Beatitudes are the appropriate introduction, which is already in internal connection with the matter itself and is also correctly linked rhetorically; here what follows is already intended in the Beatitudes, for the whole speech only develops the thought that believers should strive for kindness and love in relation to the world in general and their fellow believers, and they should do so, says the introduction, even if they are oppressed and confined in the world. They are in opposition and yet should love it and through meekness cause it to no longer be an opposition to them. That’s what you call connection!

*) a. a. O. p. 131.

**) a. a. O. p. 132.


However, if the proclamation of the new law, which now follows, should already have been intended in the Beatitudes of Matthew, then they must have emphasized the difference between the old and new economy with definite emphasis, and the Beatitudes must have been carried out in this sense, which did not happen and could not have happened because Matthew here used the introduction to a speech that did not consider such dialectics.

Moreover, it had just been about the disciples. Does the new law only apply to them, should not all believers hear it, and is it not expressed as if everyone really heard it?

Neander tries it differently. He says: “pointing to the completion of the kingdom of God in verse 18, in which everything was to find its final fulfillment, Christ also (!) points to the ultimate goal in the fulfillment of the promises associated with the Beatitudes, and thus this is connected with what was said earlier *).”

*) a. a. O. p. 160. 161.

Yes! It must be true that humanity still has a lot of time left for its development, so it does not need to hurry! That so much useless torture is written down, admired! And so much time must be wasted to expose their insignificance!

In our text, we read nothing of a “at the same time” of this kind; the correct explanation of this section will also destroy any illusion that there is a relationship to those Beatitudes, and how unclear Jesus would have spoken if he wanted to refer to the Beatitudes and did not mention them at all! In this whole section (v. 17-48), he is solely concerned with the relationship between the old and new law. He begins with the words: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets” – what it has to do with the prophets, we will soon see – he makes the relationship between the old and new law tangible through several individual cases – should we still think of the Beatitudes? We forget them, as the evangelist did.


This section of the New Testament is particularly dangerous for the apologist. They cannot bear to hear anything about the difference between the Old and New Testaments, so they try to silence this speech. Our task is to thoroughly and openly develop the content of this section and free it from the torture to which the apologists have subjected it.

As a reward for our efforts, this section will finally reveal its origin to us.

1. The introduction and the theme.

Matthew 5:17-18, Luke 16:17.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them,” says Jesus in Matthew 5:17.

Jesus could have spoken like this only if he had given the impression, through word and deed, that his intention was to abolish the entire Old Testament law. Whether his audience actually had this opinion, as reported by Matthew, is not something we need to question since it is the premise for the entire speech. However, we do not find any traces elsewhere that indicate that this opinion prevailed in Jesus’ environment. It is not clear how people could even have thought that Jesus wanted to abolish the prophets. It was only late, shortly before the journey that would lead to his death, that the disciples recognized him as the Messiah, and only then did he refer to the prophecies of the scriptures, but in a way that could not arouse suspicion that he intended to abolish the prophets in the end. Didn’t he say that he had to suffer, as it was written?


The mention of the prophets is partially to blame for the fact that this entire section dissolves to the extent that it shows it did not come from the Lord.

First of all, it remains the case that Jesus did not give any reason to believe that he wanted to dissolve the prophets. He could not have done so, because he did not always mention the declaration that he was the Messiah, and therefore could not have given rise to comparisons between his actions and the prophecies of the prophets. Later on, in the community, there was indeed a great deal of enthusiasm for searching for the image of the Lord in the prophecies of the Old Testament, but they were so convinced from the outset of the unity of fulfillment and promise that no one thought of a difference between the two, or of the possibility that the Lord might have dissolved the prophetic views.

Furthermore, Jesus only speaks in the following text about the law, its commandments, and how he fulfills them. But he does not mention the prophets at all. Even Tholuck *) must admit: “As far as he fulfilled the prophecies, Christ does not mention it further.” But then why mention the prophets at all and raise the expectation that he would speak more extensively about them and explain that he had no intention of dissolving them? Could he, if he wanted to fulfill his duty as a teacher and if indeed the prejudice existed that he held revolutionary ideas about the prophets, as Tholuck expresses it, only “casually” say that his entry into the world was the fulfillment of the old prophecies? He could not. Neander indeed says: “If Christ had the whole Old Testament in mind in relation to both parts, he could still emphasize one particular relationship afterwards *).” But did it matter what he had in mind at the time? Would not a very dangerous prejudice have led him to make these statements, and would he not have had to oppose it just as extensively, to the extent that it would have harmed the correct appreciation of the prophets? He would have had to do so. But he did not need to, because he did not have to fight against a prejudice of this kind, in short because he simply could not say: “Do not think that I intend to dissolve the prophets.”

*) p. 136.

*) a. a. O. p. 159. 160.


The last torture would finally resort to the means of not separating the prophets as heralds of the future from the law, but of setting them with the law as legislators, so that Jesus here in the introduction, as in the following, always only spoke of the law. In vain! When an evangelist speaks of the prophets, he thinks of their prophecies, especially Matthew regards the prophets only as God’s men who prophesied about the Messiah, and it remains that law and prophets should designate the two main parts of the Old Testament, that is, we come to the result that only Matthew made this confusing combination because the formula “the law and the prophets” was too familiar to him, that if he wrote down the first word, he should also immediately add the following. And if he wanted to write down the word “fulfill”, then he had to think immediately of the prophets, whose prophecies he has often demonstrated the “fulfillment” of? Only here can he bring nothing about these prophecies, and only the habit of the formula has put the prophets here.

Now the law stands alone. Jesus says he does not want to dissolve it but to fulfill it, that is, to complete it, to lead it to perfection, and to confirm it in a higher sense than it was given and had been valid so far. Whoever speaks like this assumes that the law, as it is expressed in the Old Testament, has not yet been set in its truth and that it will be raised to its true meaning only through him and his higher and fundamentally transforming confirmation. *)

*) This is also how Weisse understands the matter, II, 31, only that he could not yet eliminate the prophets.


From the elevated standpoint of this consciousness, Jesus later says, when he shows through individual examples how he fulfills the law, namely to lead it to its truth: “You have heard that it was said to the ancients – (through Moses) – but I say to you.”

Nevertheless, Jesus declares in verse 18: “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” How does this reconcile with the bold statement that through him the law gains its truth, a truth that cannot be achieved unless the old is fundamentally abolished? It reconciles very well! When the law is abolished in its higher confirmation, this is not done superficially, so that a kind of quintessence is expressed from the whole of the law, but the true negation is the most thorough thing that can happen, and it becomes truly, that is, itself the most meaningful position and creation when it gives attention to every determination of the old and incorporates it into the process of higher confirmation. Of course, the letter of the old is not excluded as such, but its idea, but this will now create its own specificity out of itself, which is parallel to the iota and dot of the old.

It is still worthwhile to consider for a moment the double end-date to which this statement refers. Our effort will be rewarded by being led to the source from which the evangelist drew this time. The double indication of the end date is already disturbing, and the fact that both indications are not related to each other. But both are also kept very indefinite. When it is said, until heaven and earth pass away, is it assumed that they will really pass away? Some, like Tholuck, affirm it because it is the teaching of scripture that at the end of time a new heaven and a new earth will be created. However, it must be stated specifically as in 2 Peter 3:13, that the new heaven and new earth will be created when the old is “burned up,” or as in Revelation 21:1, it must be specifically said that “the first heaven and the first earth” will pass away.


And then, “when all is accomplished,” will some jot and some tittle of the law be able to be pushed under the bench? Tholuck affirms it to the extent that there will come a time when God will be all in all and the law will disappear in grace. Of course, it would not help if we were to say that the law is eternal and does not lose its determinative power even if it has become internal. Rather, we ask what the evangelist was thinking. Well, he did not think beyond these end dates. He borrowed this saying – we do not yet want to say the entire theme of this discourse – from Luke’s scripture. Here the Lord says (chapter 16, verse 17): “Is it easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the law to become void.” And Matthew caused those unanswerable questions only when he transformed a case that is given as an example of the impossibility of violating the law into a possible one, albeit one that is in the farthest distance.

We have now reached the critical point where the question can no longer be avoided as to whether Jesus expressed himself in this way about the law. But how did he express himself about it? We have just heard it, but the apologist does not want us to hear it that way. He wants us to hear it differently out of fear that it could cause damage to the Old Testament and the assumption of the unity of revelation. Therefore, we must first heal him of his fear or show him that the Christian principle as such does not want to share it with him.


Tholuck *) claims that “Jesus here is not only dealing with the Old Testament but with its teachings in the form given to it by Pharisaism.” But if Jesus always only contrasts the legal commandment and its fulfillment without ever mentioning parallels to Pharisaic interpretations and traditions, how can he then be fighting against Pharisaism? In these parallels, Tholuck continues, “Christ essentially (!) does not form a contradictory opposition against the Old Testament, but rather everywhere gives the latter its fulfillment.” If not essentially, then at least in words? And is fulfillment without negation even possible? Must not the moment whose sole supremacy hitherto hindered fulfillment be removed and overcome? Must it not cease to be an inner determination, and how is that possible without the most painful operation? We will not follow Tholuck’s principle “that we must consider the statements of Christ as indications of the spiritual meaning of the commandments of the Old Testament,” at least not in the sense in which it is formulated. Jesus does not say, “the spiritual meaning says,” but rather, “but I say to you!” And even if we were to maintain the category of the “spiritual meaning” and say that Jesus drew it from the Old Testament, as noted, this extraction is not so easily achieved as if only an innocent shell were to be removed from the Old, but rather the actual historical determination of the latter must be negated. The seriousness, splendor, and richness of history would otherwise be transformed into child’s play.

*) a.a.O. p. 162. 163.

But then Olshausen **) responds, “an inappropriate sense would arise that Jesus opposed himself and his teachings to the Mosaic.” Well, then, let it be inappropriate like all truth! We have already answered this when we remembered that an earlier standpoint can be recognized as “eternal truth” and yet undergo a penetrating negation in this recognition.

**) Bibl. Comm. l, 218. Similarly, Fritzsche on Matthew, p. 222.


We only draw the sum that results from these apologetic arguments; for one must finally come to this point on these fearful surreptitious paths, that one says, as Bengel does, that the law of Moses did not declare Jesus to be imperfect – imperfecta. There is no difference at all between Moses and Christ, and the law of Moses has not been surpassed by the preaching of Christ *). Or one must finally say with Calvin that God had indeed promised a new covenant for the time of Christ’s coming, but at the same time showed that it would not be different from the first one **).

*) Nulla pugna est inter Mosen et Christum. Mosis legem pon excedit sermo Cbristi.

**) Pollicitus quidem fuerat deus novum foedus Cbristi adveplu, sed simul ostenderat, mipime diversum fore a primo.

So the question is: did Jesus examine this dialectic between the law and the new principle – and let us note that this dialectic is read in this context in Matthew 5:17-48? No! When Luke says, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter in the Law to fail,” he immediately adds an example (Luke 16:18) from which one can see in what sense the law is to remain eternal. “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.” The law therefore remains eternal, but is also transformed into something else, since under Moses’ law divorce was subject to the unconditional discretion of the husband. Luke took this statement from the Gospel of Mark, since when he explains Jesus’ teaching on divorce, he wisely does not copy the entire story of the Pharisees’ question that led to it. But did Matthew also take this statement from Luke’s Gospel? Indeed! How else would he have included it twice? The first time he borrowed it from Luke’s Gospel, where he found it in the passage about the eternity of the law, which gave him the idea for his parallel between the old and new laws. The second time he wrote it down (Matthew 19:9) was when he came to the story of the Pharisees’ question in the Gospel of Mark. Luke had taken only the point from this story of his predecessor and turned it into a reflection, namely that nothing from the law could perish. Matthew adds only the defensive turn to this reflection, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law,” and just as Luke explains the meaning in which the law will endure forever with one example, so Matthew explains the idea of the duration and completion of the law with a long series of examples.


Jesus had not yet given any reason for a prejudice to arise among the disciples or the people, to which he would have had to respond with the words: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law.” If he had really pursued the dialectic of the Law and the new principle to such an extent, the struggles that Paul had to endure would have been unnecessary and impossible. Only at a later time, when the danger of antinomianism threatened, could it be said: “Do not think, etc.”

If we can no longer see the personal work of Jesus in this parallel between the Old and the New, as drawn by Matthew, we still possess in it the work of his spirit, as he worked in the community. Indeed, as the Gospel of Luke teaches us, Jesus’ saying about the Old Testament determination regarding divorce and the true unity of marriage provided the initial impulse for this parallel, insofar as it only carries out the extraordinary idea of the abolition of the Law in the higher idea of morality in a series of several examples. Just as in the question about the right to divorce, it is possible that Matthew has also used actual sayings of Jesus and worked them into the other points of the parallel. Whether this is the case will be the task of the following investigation to decide. But we can now state with certainty that the dialectical structure that we see in this section is the admirable work of Matthew.


2. The Consistent Value of the Law.

5: 19-20.

Jesus had said that the fulfillment of the law must be carried out so thoroughly that not a single stroke of it should fall away. “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” According to his assumption that we have actual sayings of Jesus before us, Weisse must naturally assert *) that it is not probable that this sentence was spoken “in immediate connection with the preceding one, because such an elaboration of that bold paradox would give the appearance of being more than fair to the literal sense.” But the preceding sentence is not a saying of Jesus, and the present sentence is a free elaboration by the evangelist, and he can be sure that with this elaboration he will not cause any lasting misunderstanding because in the following he explains thoroughly in what sense each individual commandment of the law is to be observed and fulfilled.

*) II, 34. 35

Even the following saying in verse 20: “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven,” does not belong to Jesus. How could such an isolated saying, which in itself has no particular point, have been preserved in the memory of the disciples and the community? Was it necessary for this saying to exist before one could know what Jesus thought of the righteousness of the Pharisees? Was it not generally known what Jesus thought of them, and were there not completely different sayings from which it was clear that he considered them worthless? Only from his otherwise knowledge of Jesus’ view, did Matthew form this saying and put it here.


But he has formed it at the wrong time and placed it in the wrong position, even if he also designates it with the particle “for” as a justification for the preceding saying. If he wanted to justify the preceding saying, he should have shown what an infinite value each individual determination of the law has – but what does the reflection on the Pharisees serve for this? Indeed, what do the scribes and Pharisees have to do with this place, where something completely different is at stake, where it is about the dots and strokes of the law? In the following dialectic of the old and the new – as we will prove – no regard is given to the Pharisees and their interpretation of the law, but the law as such is drawn into the dialectic in its historical origin. Only later in chapter 6, 1-18, where a completely new theme is being pursued, is there talk of the righteousness of the hypocrites. So, what do the Pharisees have to do with it already here, where only the law as such is being considered? They do not belong here, the evangelist has thought of them at the wrong time, he has thought of them too hastily, and through an innocent oversight of his pragmatism, by not being able to push the thought of the Pharisees back in a discussion of the law, he has caused false interpretations of a section in which he does not mention the Pharisees and their interpretation of the law with a single syllable.

The apologists cling to this inappropriate reflection of the evangelist when they claim that in the following parallel Jesus had to deal with “the Old Testament doctrine in the form in which Pharisaism gave it” *). Even Neander, who admits that Jesus in this section “sets up a contrast against the standpoint of the law in general,” must, for the sake of the evangelist’s reflection, once again force the reference to the Pharisees onto the section and say that Jesus “at the same time emphasizes the contrast against the Pharisaic interpretation and application of the law” **). But criticism has freed us from this confusion, and the correct explanation of the following section will confirm this result of criticism.

*) Tholuck, p. 162. Also Bengel, Calvin, Olshausen, Fritzsche, Paulus 1, 580, de Wette 1, 1, 55.

**) ibid. p. 162. 163.


3. Killing.

Matth. 5: 21—26. Mark 11: 25. Luk. 12: 58-59.

To the Old Testament commandment, “Thou shalt not kill, but whoever kills is guilty of judgment,” Jesus opposes his own words: whoever is angry with his brother ***) is guilty of judgment, but whoever says to his brother, “You fool,” shall be liable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says to him, “You madman,” shall be liable to hellfire.

Where is there any trace of Pharisaic determinations here? Yes, says de Wette†), “but whoever kills is guilty of judgment” is “an addition of the scribes,” Paul even calls it a “weakening” addition. As if the law did not command that the murderer be judged, as if Jesus were only adding this legal provision in order to oppose the escalation that goes from judgment to hellfire.

***) The addition “without cause” – εἰκῆ – is certainly added here only later and arose from the fear that too many might fall under Christ’s judgment, even if justified anger was the cause.

†) 1, 1, 58.

††) a. a. O. I. 580.


Whether or not Jesus actually formed and delivered this and similar sayings that we will encounter in this context cannot be decided and is, for the matter at hand, irrelevant. What remains certain, however, is that the infinity of self-consciousness that entered the world with him produced this idea of the infinity of moral determinations. Let us not rely on the fact that the Sanhedrin is mentioned in this saying, for just as easily as a contradiction of the situation could arise if a later reflection were reported as a saying of Jesus, it could also often happen that determinations were included in such a saying that corresponded to the assumed situation and were used with a free consciousness for historical custom, because they were still generally known.

Regarding the meaning of the saying *), we only briefly note that, like all the following sayings that are similar to it, it is meant entirely seriously. But the seriousness is not this awkwardness, as if the meaning were now that someone who calls his brother a fool should be brought before the court; rather, the saying has a complete awareness of this incongruity, but this seriousness and awareness of incongruity are not brought together in the form of a reasonable reflection. But the expression itself is such that in its peak it goes beyond itself and points to an idea for which a single sentence is not sufficient to express and fully present it. Through this dissolution of itself, in which it goes beyond itself, the determined sentence becomes again the appropriate expression of the idea, since it represents in itself the drive towards the infinity of the same and draws the idea into this drive in a lively manner.

*) developed well by Weisse, II, 40. 41.

A new thought follows! One should not only refrain from disturbing the relationship with one’s neighbor, but if it is disturbed, leave everything else and restore it first. “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you – εχει τι κατα σου – leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (v. 23-24). Nothing but further elaboration of the saying in Mark 11:25: “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” – ει τι εχετε κατα τινος. Wilke *) says that in the Gospel of Mark, this saying was inserted, originally it must have stood before Matthew 6:14, and the whole of Mark 11:24-26 is a later addition. However, firstly, the hand that transcribed that saying from the Gospel of Matthew would have also taken over the following from the same scripture, and certainly would have retained the same construction of the whole, which did not happen. Furthermore, Matthew repeats the same saying several times, but not exactly the same in one section, which he would have done if Mark 11:25 belonged before Matthew 6:14. Finally, even though Mark, even if he is still so original and mostly delivers a complete composition, is not always correct, and in particular in the speech passages his pragmatism often suffers from the lack of coherence, which is even more striking in the writings of his successors. So this time, the first words that Jesus speaks on the occasion of Mark 11:20-21, which we must leave standing, as we will later see, are alien to the inner nature of the occasion.

*) p. 666.


Without emphasizing that a new idea is being introduced, the speech continues (v. 25-26): “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” The only connection to the previous statement is the idea that one should fulfill their obligation at the last moment when there is still time. In the previous statement, it is when one is about to offer a gift on the altar, and here it is when one is still on the way with their adversary. In both statements, the demand to reconcile a disrupted relationship is also the point, but in a completely different sense. In the first statement, one should leave everything until they have reconciled with their brother, and in this statement, one should not leave it to the decision of formal justice.


It is obvious that there is no connection here: the proof of this lies in the fact that Matthew took a saying from the Gospel of Luke without copying the point of the same. Specifically, Luke (12:58) introduces the same saying, which we read in Matthew, with the words: “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?”. This explanatory sentence was left out by Matthew when he included the saying itself in his Gospel, perhaps because that introduction would have interrupted the flow of his presentation.

In Luke, the saying stands in no connection with its surroundings. It is already disjointed that Jesus is speaking to the crowds (v.54), a formula that for us can have no other meaning than if Luke had said: “Now I want to share some of Jesus’ sayings.” What Jesus is saying to the crowds this time is that they know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but not the signs of the times. But if, as in v.58 without further ado, it is to be continued, “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?”, then the disadvantages of legal proceedings must have been discussed beforehand. Perhaps the similarity of “judging” and “discerning” ( δοκιμάζετε and κρίνειν v.57) and “deciding” caused this juxtaposition.

If we find sayings compiled in the Gospel of Luke that have no internal connection whatsoever, this is not proof that he picked them up individually from other writings and placed them unchanged next to each other. Matthew provides us with enough examples of how a new, larger whole can emerge from a found saying, no matter how small it may be; and Luke has shown us with the saying on divorce how he knows how to provide a new general foundation for a new sentence. He may have worked independently here as well, and if he cannot create a complete connection, it may be because he has not yet learned to arrange the richness of the given material and to combine it with his own literary creations into a whole. *) The kind of pragmatism that melds the facts and teachings, the events and the thoughts that emerge from the speeches into a completed whole seems not to be inherent in Christianity when it comes to producing a larger whole. Even Mark usually fails when he tries to incorporate larger speech material into his narrative. Interest in form and the ability to process content to the extent that it finds the form that makes it a whole and nothing but its necessary self-representation had to come to the Christian spirit from another realm of life. As long as the immediate religious interest prevailed, it could not even feel the need for form; the positive as such had meaning for it, and the mental activity that cannot be absent in any realm revealed its greater mobility only in the transformation and further processing of the individual, which was positively given to each evangelist.

*) The saying about divorce and the eternity of the law is immediately preceded by the saying: “The law and the prophets were until John: from that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every one presseth into it.” Luke 16:16. As far as this, we can see a complete connection, in that the saying about the eternity of the law should specify, restrict, and indicate the thought contained in verse 16, that it is not just the law in the abstract that is over. But with what precedes and what follows, this reflection in verses 16-18 is completely disconnected. Before it, there is a saying against the Pharisees, that they justify themselves before men, but God knows their hearts, because what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. Verse 15 is already inappropriate in itself, as the Pharisees are not seen as something exalted, but rather as those who feign moral purity, for only such can be accused of God knowing their hearts. And how does the religious-historical reflection that the law and the prophets extend up to John fit with this accusation against the Pharisees? Why would there be a religious-historical reflection where there was only a sermon against the Pharisees? Finally, after the reflection on the law, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus follows in verse 19, whose first point is that whoever enjoys his own things here will suffer there beyond, and whoever suffers here will enjoy there beyond. Where the lack of coherence is so great, it is not even worth the tiny effort to reject the attempts of those who try to find coherence here. But there is indeed coherence with what is further back, where Jesus warned against watching for temporal treasures, because one cannot serve God and mammon at the same time, verse 13. There is a kind of coherence here, even if it is clumsily executed. The saying about mammon is heard incidentally by the Pharisees, who are described as greedy (φιλάργυροι), and they murmur against it, verse 14. The Lord then speaks against them, but says not a word about their love for wealth, but rather against their self-righteousness. With the occasion that the Pharisees murmur because Jesus had spoken against mammon worship, the speech about the law in verses 16-18 has no affinity. It is only in verse 19 that the speech turns to wealth, but it will never be able to be brought into internal coherence with the occasion, as it is not only irrelevant, but also very unfortunate. For does it really go without saying that the Pharisees and the rich (φιλάργυρος) are one, that the Pharisees must immediately murmur when love of wealth is criticized, and that the parable of the rich man must be directed against them?


This time, Luke did not even need to use a written source for his saying, because what he presented here is nothing else but the principle that one should stay away from secular courts. Jesus had not yet established a particular community and therefore could not have instilled this antipathy against the formal legal system in his followers. That saying only arose from the revolution in which the community drew its members into it.


4. Adultery.

Matthew 5:27-30, Mark 9:43-47.

Jesus opposed the legal prohibition against adultery with the statement that whoever looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

The only basis for this statement was probably the word about the eye that should be plucked out and thrown away if it offends, which Matthew finds in the scripture of Mark (9:47) and copies to this point, even adding the word about the right hand, while later, when he copies the saying where Mark has it, he repeats it in full, also speaking of the foot that should be cut off if it offends.

There is no thought of a supposed addition by which the Pharisees and scribes had deprived the law of its power. But, as de Wette says*, “it should be added that the scribes merely stopped at the accomplished, external adultery.” Well, if they did so, they thought like the law!

*) 1, I, 61

The extraordinary audacity of this saying, which is set against the law, must have appeared too great to the apologists and its sharpness too cutting to let it stand as it is. “The involuntary rising lust,” says de Wette, “is not designated as sin,” but according to the Tertullian it is sin, when “the rising desire is nourished intentionally and repeatedly.” **) But in the context of this section, that which is considered the slightest offense, even no offense at all to humans, should appear as a sin that is to be prohibited and avoided just as strictly as the transgressions that the law punishes. However, intentional cultivation and maintenance of desire is one of the most extreme offenses and is also considered such where only humans live together *). Fritzsche thinks that it is called adultery if someone looks at a woman in the case that they both feel desire for each other **); but that would again be an offense which has always been considered so dirty in human society that it did not need a new legislator to be described as punishable and immoral.

**) Ibid., also Tholuck, a, a. O. 214.

*) Also Fritzsche, Matthew p. 231, disagrees with this explanation: lascivus est, ut irritante libidinis causa feminam intueri velit.

**) Fritzsche, Matthew p. 232: quicunque mulieri oculos adjiciat ad concupiscendum, i. e. ut adsit cupiditas, mutua opinor.


The saying, however, only deals with the man and is so far from designating only deliberately harbored lust as adultery that rather his opinion is: even the lust that arises in a moment at the sight of a woman is to be equated with actual adultery. The expression used by the evangelist is somewhat imprecise and had to be, because it is about the will and this can never be described as something only involuntary and accidental and even if it is involuntarily aroused, it does not cease to be will. According to the evangelist, προς το επιθυμησαι αυτης should not be the same as ωοτε, the accidental result, but also not an abstractly cherished and nurtured intention. Desire is the will that is immediately connected with the sight or arises with it in the same moment.

5.  Divorce.

Matthew 5:31-32, Luke 16:18.

When Jesus, with the exception of the case where the woman has broken the marriage by mixing with another, asserts the complete indissolubility of marriage, it was impossible for the apologists to find an addition of the scribes against which he would declare himself here, for the will of man cannot be favored more than it is by the Old Testament law. And yet, says Olshausen, Jesus declares himself here against the Pharisaic interpretation, which “reckoned the legal permission of divorce as part of the essence of marriage” *), as if the will of man were not authorized by the law in all aspects of the marital relationship. This standpoint, which does not recognize the dialectic between the law and the Gospel, then produces such horrific expressions as that of the same apologist **): “The correct view of marriage as an indissoluble soul life was based on the Old Testament” – the Old Testament, which exposed the wife to the immoral will of man!

*) p. 224.

**) Ibid. p. 223.


The Protestant commentator is in a bad position when he wants to justify the admissibility of divorce not in the concept, but in a biblical passage, or perhaps in both. “Since Jesus,” says de Wette ***), “admits one sacrosanct reason for separation, he also admits several others.” Strange! When Jesus, with the words “except for adultery,” declares divorce absolutely inadmissible for all other cases except this one!

***) 1, 1, 63.

How great – truly terrifying! – must be the embarrassment of the apologist when it is perfectly certain that initially there was no case known in which Jesus had allowed divorce, and that only the latest of the synoptics attempted to soften the harsh saying by inserting the clause on his own initiative! Neither Luke (16:18) nor Mark (9:11) say a word about Jesus having allowed divorce in any case; according to their accounts, he simply forbids it. Only Matthew, who pushed and developed the dogmatic reflection in the circle of synoptic storytelling most boldly, took offense at the unconditional prohibition of divorce and added the clause twice when he borrowed the saying from Luke and had to put it back in place on the order of Mark (19:9), that the man could dismiss the woman on the grounds of adultery, i.e., on the grounds of sacrosanct adultery.


6. The Oath.

Matthew 5:33-37.

The law only prohibited perjury and required that sworn vows be faithfully kept; but I tell you, says Jesus, not to swear at all (v. 34), rather let your speech be simply yes or no.

Here, too, we are supposed to see a “addition” by the scribes*) in the words “you shall fulfill your oaths to the Lord!” But it is impossible for us to do so, as it is simply the straightforward commandment of the law that vows taken must be seriously carried out. We find nothing here about the scribes “only looking to see that the vows were properly fulfilled out of preference for the hierarchy, but otherwise letting false swearing go unpunished”**). We find only the contrast between the legal command not to commit perjury and the new command not to swear at all.

*) de Wette, 1, 1, 63.

**) Ibid.

Nor can we find anything in our text to suggest that Jesus only intended to “exclude frivolous swearing” ***). It is equally impossible for us to forget the text so far as to claim *) that because the law allows oaths, even commands them, Jesus must express the same view of oaths here. Finally, if Bengel says **) that in this passage both the false and true ways of swearing are prohibited, but not swearing in general, then our thoughts fail us and we only regain our senses when we return to the holy text and acknowledge that here the abstract postulate of truthfulness is being established, a postulate that has arisen from the revolutionary position of the community in relation to positive worldly conditions.

***) Tholuck, a. a. O. p. 280.

*) For example, Calvin: lex non modo permittit jurare, sed diserte etiam jubet. Itaque (!) nihil sibi aliud voluit Christus, quam illicita esse juramenta omnia, qual sacrum dei nomen abusu aliquo profanant, cujus reverentiae servire debuerant. But can there be stronger words than μη ομοσαι ολωσ? με ολως, Not at all!

**) ulrumque falso et vere jurandi genus, non tamen verum juramentum universaliter prohibet. Verus juramenti usus in lege non modo ut divortium permittitur sed plane stabilitur, neque hic a Christo tollitur!


Indeed, the evangelist has inserted a thought into this saying, which actually does not belong here and has a completely different point, namely the idea that one should not distinguish between oaths as if some were weaker than those made to God and therefore could be neglected with less danger (v. 34-36). Against this distinction, the evangelist has the Lord polemicize in his speech against the Pharisees and scribes and dissolve the hypocritical distinction until it is clear that the oath at the temple or in heaven is not different from the oath made to God because the temple and heaven can only have the meaning of God’s dwelling and throne (Matt. 23:16-22).

In the Sermon on the Mount, the evangelist only adds a new example when he shows, in the case of an oath made on one’s head, that it is made on something that is so little in the control of human beings – for who can make a hair white or black? – that it forms something absolutely fixed for him and the oath made on it is just as significant as if it were made to the Absolute itself.


The evangelist has thus combined different points, but he has woven them into one and completely removed any reason for the apologist not to recognize the prohibition of oaths in this passage.*)  He has the Lord speak in one breath: “But I say to you, do not swear at all, neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God, nor by the earth, etc.” Certainly – to use the word again – the evangelist has not yet achieved perfect unity in his presentation. If he first prohibits oaths altogether, he should have said when transitioning to the second thought: “You must not even  – μηδε – swear by heaven, for it is just as if you were swearing by God.” He has overlooked something in the combination of both thoughts. But it is completely clear that only the one thought, that every oath should be avoided, occupies him, as he closes the dissolution of that false distinction of oaths with the words (V. 37): “Let your word be ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’.”

*) Tholuck, for example, in the same place: “From v. 35-38 it follows that the Redeemer had in mind primarily the oaths of ordinary life με ομοσαι are prohibited and that the oath spoken with due reverence is not included in it.” But even if the evangelist had not woven both points together so skillfully as he has done, if he had thus let the here foreign thought of v. 35, 38 emerge sharply and independently, that would still not be a reason to deprive the other thought – “do not swear at all” – μη ομοσαι ολψε – of its force. Even Fritzsche, in his commentary on Matthew, p. 238, has been led astray by the argumentation in v. 35-36 to the apologetic misunderstanding of this entire passage.


7. Retaliation.

Matthew 5:28-42.

While older interpreters like Bengel, unconcerned about how their explanation fits into the text, simply write that retaliation is the most appropriate punishment *), the modern apologist has to work harder to dispel the appearance that Jesus is in opposition to the Old Testament law. Thus Tholuck **) finds that Jesus “is not addressing the authorities” – but isn’t he speaking about positive law and commandments? – one must therefore “assume that the fleshly sense of the scribes had made that judicial norm of retaliation the norm for ordinary life, even for satisfying uncontrolled revenge.” But to simply write such a peculiar note without any evidence, a couple of citations, and the like, is not enough. The caricature that the apologist unconsciously paints in his anxiety is too extreme!

*) Talio poenarum convenientissima.

**) p. 307.

Jesus is opposing the Old Testament law and fulfilling it by forbidding the desire for revenge and the irritable nature that still characterized the law.

Matthew has returned here to the speech of Luke, which he had left after the Beatitudes, but he does not take it up again at the same point where he had left it before, otherwise he would have had to write down the commandment of loving enemies in Luke 6:27 before the prohibition of revenge. In the speech as it is shared by Luke (Luke 6:27-36), the idea of loving enemies is the dominant one, and it is the perspective under which the individual commandments are placed, so it is appropriate for the transition from the Beatitudes and Woes. “But I say to you” – the transition in verse 27 is meant to impress upon the listeners – although the world stands against you as an enemy force, and you must suffer, love your enemies and do everything possible so that at least from your side the harshness of the opposition will be softened. This is also the basis for the commandment that believers should not retaliate against those who offend and oppress them, and should not respond to pressure with the counter-pressure of revenge, but with the yielding of love (verse 29-30). You should not treat people as they do, but as you would have them do to you (verse 31). And what would you do special if you only wanted to repay love with love; you would only follow the natural self-esteem that even sinners cannot deny. God acts differently, he is also kind to the ungrateful and wicked, so if you truly want to be sons of the Most High, be merciful – do everything on your side that can mitigate the opposition – as your Father is merciful (verse 32-36). And do not judge, do not condemn, forgive! – The speech continues in an appropriate context in verse 37.


To the commandment “Do not judge!” Matthew only returns very late, after he has inserted the sayings that follow in Chapter 6 into his discourse. He even brings the saying “Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them” only in Chapter 7, verse 12. Why? In the dialectic of the fulfillment of the law, he is only concerned with the sayings that explicitly refer to the pressure and enmity of the opposition. But for this interest, that saying seemed too general to be inserted in the middle of the dialectical development. Finally, Matthew has separated the sayings that, in Luke’s account, are placed under the aspect of the commandment of love for enemies – and rightly so – into two groups: first (verses 38-42) he has the Lord prohibit the revenge of retaliation, and then (verses 43-48) command the love for enemies. Therefore, he does not start this development, as Luke does, with the words “Love your enemies.”


However, we cannot simply accept Schneckenburger’s *) claim that the section of Matthew 5:38-48 is “much better logically ordered than Luke 6:27-36”. While Matthew has separated more sharply the commandment of loving one’s enemies, which is contained in the prohibition of retaliation, and presented it separately, this does not mean that Luke’s composition is less skillful if he develops both ideas in one context. If Matthew deserves praise for more accurate distinction, Luke should not be denied the credit for presenting the prohibition of revenge in its true meaning, as one and the same as the commandment of loving one’s enemies. As Schneckenburger continues, “since the better logical arrangement cannot simply be attributed to the more systematic redaction of Matthew, we must assume a better tradition that flowed to him.” But where in the world should this tradition come from, which should remember that Jesus separated these two closely related ideas so precisely on this occasion that no longer exists for us? It is Matthew, the later writer, who had the text of Luke calmly before him and could subdivide the given material into more precise subcategories, and it was he who separated them here.

The proof will be completed immediately.

*) Briträge p. 18.


8. Love of Enemies.

Matthew 5:43-48.

Now, here it is clear, triumph the apologists, that the Lord is only “arguing against the carnal interpretation of the Old Testament commandment”! “You shall love your neighbor!” is commanded in the law, but where, asks the victorious apologist, where does it say that you should hate your enemy? “Love your enemy!” is an “addition by the scribes” *), a “false gloss of the Pharisees” **), a “conclusion” that only the Pharisees drew from the Mosaic commandment ***).

*) Tholuck, p. 325.

**) de Wette, 1, 1, 65.

***) Paulus, 1, 582.


Let’s take it easy! When one asks so boldly where in the Old Testament the commandment of hatred is written, we have much more reason to ask where it is reported to us that the Pharisees added this addition to the law. Where is the evidence?

We don’t know them. We only know so much that the Jew in general hates his opponent, who appears to him at the same time as an opponent of Jehovah, and that this hatred is the necessary consequence of the law because in this the love is linked to the natural bond of the national connection, and from the Psalms we see that the sufferers and persecuted speak most eloquently when they invoke all evil upon their opponents, and that they believe they are divinely entitled to their curses and that their prayers will be heard.

“To hate your enemy” is a correct conclusion from the legal view, but a statement that, despite all its correctness, is so harshly spoken, as is done here, is hard, awkward in its form – as a positive commandment – and as superfluous in the present context as it is disturbing and dragging. If love of enemies is to be recommended, if it is to be recommended in contrast to the Mosaic law, then the commandment “you shall love your neighbor” would suffice for the parallel, and it would only need to be said: not only the neighbor but also the enemy you must love.

So who made the addition “you shall hate your enemy”? Not the Pharisees, not Jesus, but the same writer who worked out these parallels between the old and new law: the pragmatist whom the church called Matthew. He reads the commandment of love of enemies in the scripture of Luke, he wants to set it in contrast to the Old Testament law, and if he wanted to make the parallel completely and precisely, he certainly did not just need the old commandment of neighborly love, but for the sake of external completeness, he had to write down the other as a consequence of this commandment: “you shall hate your enemy.”


By linking the saying of Luke to the reflection on the Old Testament law, Matthew gave rise to a question that the saying in its original form could not have prompted. According to the law, the neighbor is the fellow countryman, the Israelite in general, and more specifically, the compatriot who is in closer relationship through tribal and urban affiliations. But is the law mentioned in this sense here? Is the new law of love for enemies formulated in such a way that the boundaries of nationality should not limit love? Not in the least! However, it does not follow, as Tholuck concludes *, that Jesus does not want to contrast another law against the Old Testament commandment. Rather, it cannot be denied that Matthew has confused different things. The saying that he opposes to the law does not even consider polemicizing against the limitation of love to the kinship of the people. This limit is already generally overcome in the relationships between neighbor and enemy. Especially when we see how in the original version of the saying, believers are reminded that even “sinners” love those from whom they receive love, that this kind of love is nothing special and basically selfish (Luke 6:32-34), any thought of polemicizing against the national limitation of love fades away. In itself, in the idea of ​​the boundlessness of this love, the boundary of nationalism is indeed overcome, and in this respect, Matthew did not put this idea in an incorrect opposition when he opposed it to the Old Testament commandment of love. On the other hand, it happened involuntarily that he expanded the Old Testament version of the commandment and regarded the neighbor spoken of therein as a friend in general. Otherwise, he could not have opposed the enemy to the neighbor at all. In short, the idea is not as pure and simple in Matthew’s presentation as in the scripture of Luke, where the polemical consideration of the Old Testament commandment is still absent.

*) p. 330.


This is not to be called a change when Matthew (Ch. 5, 45) illustrates God’s kindness and mercy, which he also shows to the evil and ungrateful, by saying that he causes his sun to rise on the good and the bad and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous, which is also mentioned in Luke 6, 35. But it is certainly a change when Luke only says that even “sinners” love those who love them back, and Matthew speaks of tax collectors in Chapter 5, 46 and, if we can trust the manuscripts *), also of the Gentiles in verse 47, who demonstrate that the mere love of a friend is not yet an act of morality. This change is interesting and very important for a later question, as it proves how later pragmatism strives to incorporate more restricted local relationships into the historical narrative. At the time when Matthew wrote, the living interest among the Jews in tax collectors and sinners as a class of people no longer existed in the community; but according to Mark 2, 15.16, the formula tax collectors and sinners had become a standard one, and if Matthew now finds sinners mentioned in Luke’s speech, he has nothing else to do but to add the more specific word “tax collectors”.

*) namely, even if they are reputable manuscripts that read so, since from Matthew 18, 17 the combination “heathen and tax collector” became a common formula and the scribes were reminded of the Gentiles by the mention of tax collectors. It is possible that Matthew himself was already one of these scribes, but it is also possible that he was content to substitute “tax collectors” for “sinners”.


The last parallel of the old and new commandment of love is concluded by Matthew (Ch. 5, 48) with the exhortation: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” It cannot be denied that the apologist will take considerable offense at this conclusion. The exhortation to perfection is too general in this context: “perfect” – teletai is also, according to De Wette, “in the immediate context and according to Luke 6:36, in a restricted sense: elevated above hate, to accept” – a meaning that the word can never have. Tholuck has recognized this and says that we must give the sentence a more general turn: “in this, as in all other matters.” But how would this more general reference fit with the section in verse 27, with the section in verse 33? And is not the exhortation to perfection closely linked to the exhortation to love your enemies through “therefore,” οὖν and does it not remain the case that the exhortation, which refers to a specific duty, is expressed in far too general terms, indeed suddenly in the widest generality?

Everything is explained when we turn to the Gospel of Luke. Here, after the exhortation to love your enemies, Matthew reads at the end, and in a transition that is also made with “therefore” – οὖν – the exhortation (Ch. 6:36) that believers should imitate God in the compassion of mercy – γινεσθε ουν οικτιρμονες. He stays with this and leaves this exhortation in its old place, but at the same time feels the need, because he has just listed a long series of commandments of the new law, to give the concluding formula a more general reference. It should be the last exhortation, but it should also impress all the preceding ones once again through the reference to the divine example – from which there was no mention before, of course! – because only at the last point does Luke bring him to this thought of the divine example – the formula should therefore have both a specific and a general reference at the same moment: hence this confusion.


“Indeed”, says Weisse *), “we certainly believe that Jesus expressed in the sense and partly in the expressions of the present discourse a cycle of expanding, limiting, and more definite contrasts against Mosaic laws.”

*) Ibid. II. 39.

We have proven the opposite.

Weisse suspects that in Matthew’s presentation, “the rhythmic structure of the whole may have been lost.”

We have seen that what exists of rhythmic structure was created by Matthew.



§ 19. The Introduction

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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 1



Section Four.

The Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 5:3 – 7:27


§ 19.

The Introduction

Matthew 5:3-16.

1. The Beatitudes.

Matthew 5:3-15. Luke 6:20-26.

Some keywords in the Beatitudes, with which Jesus, according to Matthew’s account, begins his sermon, contain the assumption that the listeners to whom these words apply are in a depressed state. This speech does not only contain, as Neander, for example, believes *), “the opposition against the fleshly direction of the Jewish spirit, which was expressed in the ideas of the messianic kingdom,” but from the beginning, its macarisms are addressed to those who are already affected by the misfortune of the world, shattered and humiliated, and who face those who possess power and authority as the suffering ones. But these depressed individuals are blessed because the opposition that is currently oppressing them is not permanent, and their reward is eternal. The mourners (V. 4) shall be comforted. The meek (V. 5), namely those who endure their suffering calmly and calmly, and who are not tempted by the worldly pressure, or their abandoned situation, to lose control and despair of the good cause, will possess the earth. The merciful (V. 7) can also be these same depressed people, insofar as they are not led to harshness by the opposition; they have not become roughened by the pressure, do not wish destruction upon the opposition, and instead have compassion for those who seem lost. However, we must admit that this reference to the pressure of the opposition is not even hinted at in this verse. Note well: we mean the pressure of the opposition that the world exerts on the church. In the verse about the peacemakers (V. 9), this reference to the general opposition of the world is also not expressed. If one were to say that the peacemakers are those who do not increase the struggle of the world by throwing themselves into it passionately and impulsively, but rather calm it through kindness and gentleness, one would bring a direction into the verse that is not expressed in the slightest. Just look at how clearly V. 10 expresses the idea of the struggle: Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Yes, in the final beatitude, which concludes the whole, the speech is so full in its description of the pressure that the believers experience, that it is clear – now what? – initially – that the speaker, if he wanted to speak about persecutions and sufferings, understood how to make his intention quite clear. “Blessed are you,” it says in V. 11-12, “when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

*) a. a. O. p. 148. 149.


What does Tholuck conclude from this increase in tone, from this greater richness of rhythm with which the speech concludes? Something that the evangelist had as little thought of as it would ever come to the mind of a true connoisseur of style. We read nine Beatitudes in our text, Tholuck only reads seven. But where are the other two? Tholuck cannot account for the holy and significant number seven. “The beatitude in verse 10 is to be thought of as an appendix, of which verse 11, as the structure of the sentence already proves, is to be regarded only as a further elaboration” *).

*) Tholuck, op. cit., p. 111.


It’s strange! The clear, definite, marked, and complete – in short, everything that can only exist as a concluding element in a speech – should be just an attachment. Rather, it is the point, it is the final expression of the matter itself, to which everything that has gone before only relates as a starting point and preliminary stage.

We infer something quite different from the present arrangement of the Beatitudes – and at this conclusion one must probably remain – namely that the final beatitude (v. 11) is not really prepared for in the speech as reported by Matthew, that it presupposes quite different antecedents that lead up to it, and therefore does not stand here in its true context. Whether the merciful and the peacemakers are to be understood as such in relation to the general opposition of the worldly persecutors is by no means indicated. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (v. 6), those who are pure in heart (v. 8), need not necessarily be pressed and persecuted by the world as such, and the spiritually poor (v. 3) can also be the rich, the rulers, and the worldly happy. Nevertheless, the last two beatitudes, which address the persecuted, are supposed to be the concluding expression of the preceding blessings, but in these, except for the second and third (v. 4, 5), nothing suggests the assumption of a worldly pressure.

The lack of coherence is still apparent from another perspective. The first seven beatitudes relate to all who are worthy of the goods of the kingdom of heaven. Even the eighth is still quite general: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” But if the persecuted are finally comforted (v. 11, 12) by the fact that the prophets were also persecuted, then the idea of a common fate must be motivated by the fact that they have the same task to fulfill as the prophets. They teach and proclaim the truth like the prophets, so they are the apostles. However, this transition to the apostles is not prepared for when, after seven general beatitudes, immediately before (v. 10), only those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake are blessed. Finally, the last beatitude is supposed to be the summary of everything so far and the general expression which is motivated and explained by the details of the preceding beatitudes. Instead, it is something new that enters unexpectedly and takes a direction that suddenly deviates from the one that has been followed so far.


Tholuck does indeed say that “from the parallel with the prophets one cannot conclude that the Savior is only speaking of the apostles. To a certain extent, every Christian enters the hostile world as a prophet.” *) But if the listener were to think about how every Christian is a prophet “to a certain extent,” etc., and were to stray so far into the realm of a remote analogy, then some hint should have been given to him.

The speech continues immediately (v. 13-14): “You are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world.” These are not addressed to the apostles, the same ones who were just comforted with the fate of the prophets (v. 12), according to Tholuck himself **): “These words (v. 13) primarily apply to the apostles, but also to anyone who is filled with the spirit to the extent that the apostles were.” As if the exegete and critic, when it comes to the context of a biblical verse, could play the preacher who can expand a Bible verse for edification and give it a broader application, and not have to ask much more about which subjects the verse originally referred to.

*) a. a.O. p. 115,

**) p. 121


Fritzsche admits that the first blessing for the persecuted applies to all believers and the second (v. 11-12) applies to the apostles. But when he says that the latter is an application to the apostles, the Tert is unaware of this category, since it does not indicate a transition from the general to the specific, without any suggestion that it wants to move on to something new. On the contrary, it speaks as if it is still heading in the same direction that it has taken from the beginning.

It is clear that the Beatitudes have a conclusion and a climax, whose underlying theme – that of suffering – is not only not dominant and not the soul of them, but, apart from lacking unity of thought, they are supposed to converge in a certain direction at the end, which was completely foreign to them up to that point. They lack internal coherence, and the leap to the reference to the apostles is precisely a leap that no one could have thought of in the whole previous direction of the speech. If the evangelist nonetheless thought he was creating a coherent whole, then he could only be mistaken to such an extent if he really had an organic whole before him in a foreign writing, whose keywords, beginning, and end he retained while enriching it with new members that were originally foreign to him, i.e. breaking its symmetry.

The unanimous assertion of all those *) who have spoken on this matter so far would give us cause for concern if the number of voices could be counted. Who would dare to claim that the Beatitudes of Matthew originated from those that we read in the Gospel of Luke, when theologians and critics compete to characterize the low standpoint on which the beatitudes of Luke stand? Even Neander says *) : “The presentation in Luke comes from someone who understood the beatitudes in too narrow and limited a way.” Even Weisse says **) that in Luke “the depth of those sayings – (which he read in the authentic collection of sayings of the apostle Matthew) – is clearly flattened.”

*) Wilke, of course, excepted, a.a.O. p. 685.

*) p. 155-156.

**) II, 31


It does no harm! We know of no law that requires the perfect to be the beginning. But there is a strict, inviolable law that the original is coherent in its structure and contains the seed of the later, more perfect creation. If luck is on its side, the later creation can be just as perfectly rounded as the original, but it cannot do so if it immediately retains the structure of the original, and the confusion of form that then arises reveals it to be a derivative work.

In Luke’s account, we find perfect coherence. There are four beatitudes: the fact that the fourth begins with an increase in tone and a more intense rhythm at a point where the listener or reader still has the preceding passages in their ear and can fully grasp them is already soothing. If, as in Matthew, eight approaches have already been made, and the theme has already been carried out eight times, this advantage is lost, and the listener can no longer have all these iterations of the basic melody present, as must be the case if the final full development of the thought is to make its proper impression. Just listen to a piece of music once, examine an original piece of writing, and see if the final recording and final execution of the theme will come so late, after the impression of the first sentence has been weakened or even blurred by so many new approaches.

In Luke, however, the final sentence also truly carries through the thought that has been expressed in the previous three sentences. It is one thought in all four parts. When it is said at the end (6:22) that blessed are you when people hate you, exclude you, insult you, and reject your name as evil, we know that the same people who were just praised and comforted as the poor, hungry, and weeping are being talked about (v. 20-21).


When in the final words of comfort (v. 23) it says, “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets,” then, as with Matthew, the reference to the apostles also applies to the general comfort intended for all believers. However, it is no longer disruptive here because it was not mentioned as frequently as it was in Matthew, where the reference to the apostles becomes dominant, as in the case of the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Furthermore, in Luke’s speech, there is no printer’s mark to suggest that the mention of the prophets should be understood as referring to the apostles. It only says, “for so their fathers did to the prophets,” who are only a selected part of the people that the entire rest of the masses opposes. But when Matthew says, “so persecuted they the prophets which were before you,” and immediately afterwards, the addressees are compared to the prophets and called the salt of the earth and the light of the world, it is clear that only the apostles are meant.

Luke says, “when they hate you, etc., and reject your name as evil.” *)  Matthew puts the keyword “evil” in a different position, saying, **) “when they speak all manner of evil against you.” But how clumsily the addition “lying” follows afterwards! The writer who first wrote down the praise of the suffering, reviled and insulted could not possibly have thought that he had to add that they would be reviled and insulted by liars, so that everyone would know that he was only speaking of innocent sufferers. That went without saying. Only a later writer who saw the work already finished and was no longer fresh with the idea from which it had originated could have thought of adding that superfluous qualifier. *)

*) και εκβαλωσιν το ονομα υμων ως πονηρον

**) και ειπωσιν παν πονηρον ρημα καθ υμων ψευδομενοι

*) The addition is missing in some manuscripts, but it may also be that the inappropriateness of it was felt later, and it was omitted for that reason.


When they cast you out and revile you, it also says in Luke, “for the sake of the Son of Man”: this speech was inserted by Luke according to the nature of the scripture, since in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus was only recognized as the Messiah by the disciples late and he himself did not give them further revelations concerning his destiny and messianic mission. Matthew has completely destroyed the type of this scripture, he cannot imagine it any other way than that Jesus always spoke of his messianic destiny from the beginning and pointed to his person: he now lets the Lord say, “if they revile you for my sake.”

One should not look down so condescendingly on the limited standpoint of Luke’s beatitudes because they give the promise to the poor, hungry, and weeping that their suffering will end in the future and that their reward in heaven is great **). It is true that the third Synoptist has given his special preference to the poor and oppressed, and when he speaks of the poor, he means those who are poor in the sense that they lack the goods of this world. But in the present context, he by no means means that the poor, simply because they are poor, are the object of divine favor, but he thinks of them as also those who inwardly toughen themselves in worldly suffering in order to obtain eternal goods, and therefore have to suffer in the world because they strive for heavenly reward. In this lies the peculiar view of the evangelist that he considers suffering and poverty and the striving for heavenly reward as manifestations of one and the same essence.

**) If the Bible and Spinoza were to reclaim their property from the apologetic arguments about the category of reward, i.e., if they deemed it worthwhile, we would not know what they would get back. Probably nothing! For on the one hand, the apologists are so opposed to the idea of reward that they flee to Spinozist principles, which are again so notorious to them that they hold fast to the idea of reward – in short, they have neither one nor the other, neither Bible nor Spinoza. However, when we mention Spinoza, we do him a disservice, for the theologian, as an apologist, cannot even seriously grasp the idea of inner blessedness; he needs the reward again, even if he smuggles it in under a different name. On the other hand, it should be noted briefly that religious consciousness, because it objectifies the inner determinations of the spirit to the external, cannot do without the category of reward and takes it completely seriously. The reward is a consequence of its self-determination, which is completely independent of the latter, set by God and determined by unconditional volition. Therefore, the reward is not again a consequence of the self-determination of the spirit, but it is the purpose, the goal, for the sake of which the religious spirit decides, resolves, and persists in its resolution.


According to the usual understanding, Luke did not include the spiritual aspects that the Beatitudes have in Matthew either because they were not present in the source he used, or because of the unfavorable circumstances of the audience, etc. However, it can also be shown that Matthew took offense at Luke’s presentation, which he had in front of him, and deliberately elevated the Beatitudes to a spiritual level. The hungry became those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the mourners became the grieving, and the entire speech was enriched with new determinations that drive the thought with irresistible force into the realm of spiritual interests. Only the beginning of the speech, “Blessed are the poor,” could not be easily abandoned by Matthew, at least he had to retain it if he wanted to give the speech he found in Luke. So what does he do to elevate this determination to the spiritual realm? He writes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit!” This is how this difficult expression came into being, which is so hard to explain, i.e., not to express in a few more general terms, precisely because it does not contain an original concept determination and is not created purely as such from the spirit and its self-awareness. We are infinitely far from denying its deep meaning, and we even think that criticism could best fathom and bring to light its meaning if it dissolved the fancies that have inflated the human spirit, made it proud and unloving towards others. We only say that the meaning that Matthew generated through that simple combination is, despite its infinite depth, that accidental one which we can call the wit of contrast. This play of contrast, if it only brings together opposing words, can indeed evoke a deeper resonance but must also let it fade away in an indeterminate depth.


Luke followed each of the four Beatitudes with a corresponding Woe upon the rich, the full, those who laugh now, and those who are well spoken of by others. This was appropriate because the Beatitudes themselves already formed a contrast by choosing one side of the opposing parties, comforting those who are persecuted, oppressed, and brought to earthly defeat for their love of the Kingdom of Heaven with the promise of their reward in heaven. Would not the tension of the reader remain unsatisfied if the other side of the contrast were not also determined? Luke knew from the Old Testament narrative (Deuteronomy 27) that this must be the case.

Matthew left out the Woes, not as Bengel suggests, because he knew he would count eight Woes later in the Gospel over the Pharisees *), but because he did not create the speech in terms of its structure and could no longer feel the original direction of the speech, nor the gap that arose from leaving out the Woes. Before that, he was too preoccupied with reworking the Beatitudes, and afterward, the connection of his last macarism to the apostles drew him into too narrow a direction for him to have the space and the thought to rework Luke’s Woes and set them in symmetry with his own Beatitudes.

*) Gn. N. T .: conferri ex opposito possunt oeto vae eorumque arüo (!), guae in seribas st pdarisaeo» pronuneiabantur. But then there would have to be at least nine Woes to read in Chapter 23 if they were to be connected with the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount. In any case, Matthew also based these Woes on Luke’s scripture.


The final proof that in the writing of Luke the speech can be found in its originality, lies ultimately in the completed coherence that the Beatitudes and Woes have with the following. But I tell you, Jesus continues here after the end of the Woes: love your enemies and do good to those who hate you. Magnificent! This is a depth of connection that can be compared with the depth of individual Beatitudes in Matthew. Actually, only one Beatitude in Matthew has truly infinite value and is clearly developed: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Whether the meek and merciful are blessed because they are in opposition to the external worldly opposition is not indicated at all. But here, with Luke, the depth of thought has come out completely clearly: even if you are pressed and oppressed, suffering under the pressure of the world, I tell you: do not hate the opposition, but love those who persecute you, bless those who curse you (Luke 6:27).

The speech in Luke is a literary product of the evangelist, and the one that Matthew conveys is adapted by him based on the former.

If we were to draw a conclusion from the above according to DeWette’s guidance regarding the origin of the entire Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, what would be said? De Wette, at least, could not reproach us. He says: “This introduction (5:1-16) particularly sets the authenticity of the speech beyond doubt, for it belongs to the most ingenious and meaningful passages in the Gospels.” However, we will not draw the opposite conclusion, but examine the following first. But as for the fame of the meaningful, it has already become certain to us that when Luke and Matthew wrote, the new principle was still creatively working in the spirits.

*) I, 1, 51.


Olshausen is a bit more forceful in his approach. “If one were to consider the more detailed presentation of Matthew as an elaboration of the shorter discourse of the Lord,” he says **), “this view would undoubtedly be refuted by the peculiarity of the sentences that Matthew alone has; a subsequent elaboration of the thought would be less original and profound.” Olshausen, it seems, only wants to dispute the view that the discourse in Matthew is a subsequent elaboration that Jesus himself gave to the shorter discourse that Luke relates. We will not mention the obvious fact that Jesus may have understood how to shed completely new light on a topic he had already addressed earlier. Instead, we will ascribe to the more terrifying view, to which we have come, the view that Olshausen disputes. So, later in the community, an already earlier planned topic could not be further elaborated upon, even more deeply? Especially during a time when the principle was still working in its first force and was busy spreading its richness? In the historical development of a principle and its self-awareness, the deeper always follows later. The deeper, as far as it is truly deeper, can then also be more original in the sense that it is drawn deeper from the eternal source of the spirit than the earlier view.

**) I, 206.


Of course, Olshausen had to add apologetically: “In the shortened form of Luke, nothing essential is missing.” We just don’t understand why the apologist still speaks of the depth in the presentation of Matthew and what purpose that talk should serve if there is no essential difference.

Ah! The criticism frees us from such pain, from such involuntary lies! Don’t say we speak like the Pharisee! No, we speak as human beings who feel themselves again as human beings and breathe free air after being bound by the letter for millennia and played with the chains like slaves! Free means: moral!


2. The Salt of the Earth.

Matth. 5, 13. Luk. 14, 34. 3S. Mark, 9, 50.

“You are the salt of the earth,” Jesus says in Matthew, “but if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”

Augustine attempted to connect this saying with the preceding one. He explains it as follows *): “If you, from whom the people are to receive seasoning, lose the kingdom of heaven for fear of temporal persecutions, where will people come from who will heal you of this error?” But in vain! The preceding thought of the persecutions is not in the slightest degree brought into this new saying; and if one is to think of persecutions, one must rather assume that salt can become tasteless in happy, peaceful times. Moreover, the image becomes forced, painful, and even ridiculous when the words “with what shall it be salted” are supposed to be the salt itself as the subject, so that the thought would be that if the salt loses its power, there is no way to strengthen it again. Those addressed, however, are only relevant in their relation to the world: if you lose the power of salt: with what will the world be salted then?

*) Augustine on the Sermon on the Mount, Book I, 16.


The basis for this saying can be found in Luke Ch. 14, 34-35. Here Jesus says: “Salt is a beautiful thing, but if salt loses its flavor *), with what shall it be seasoned? It is neither useful on the land nor in the manure heap; it is thrown out **).” But even here this saying stands in no appropriate context. Jesus travels around with many people following him; he turns around and speaks to them (14:25-26): “If anyone comes to me and does not give up everything (v. 27), he cannot be my disciple.” This idea is taken up again in verse 33 with the same conclusion, “Whoever does not give up everything cannot be my disciple,” from which the saying about salt immediately follows in verse 34. But what relationship can there be between these two statements? Salt is the corrosive force and as such has a relationship to others, while giving up one’s own possessions only concerns the personal relationship of the individual to the kingdom of heaven. De Wette explains the connection as follows ***): “Disciples who are not capable of such renunciation do not correspond to their calling to instruct and improve others.” However, neither before, when the demands made of the true disciples were discussed, was it in such a way that speaking of their giving instruction and improvement to others was mentioned; rather, only what they had to do for their own person to gain the kingdom of heaven and become worthy followers of Jesus was discussed. Moreover, on the other hand, the idea of renunciation is again excluded in the saying about salt, and in the image of salt, it is not even contained at all. The saying about salt, “Salt is a beautiful thing,” already stands without connection to the preceding words through this beginning.

*) εαν δε το αλας μωρανθη in Luke as in Matthew

**) εξω βαλλουσιν αυτο Matthäus has expressed this more gracefully by connecting it with the preceding phrase: “it is good for nothing.” ουδεν ισχυει ετι ει μη βληθηναι εξω

***) ibid. 1, 2, 77


But Matthew found a connection here: he sees that just now what is the duty of those who want to be Jesus’ disciples was being discussed, so he concludes that the power of salt is also essential to true disciples, and by taking the disciples in the narrower sense in which they are the apostles, the saying that we read in his writing arises.

Between the exposition of the idea of the necessity of renunciation, Luke has inserted another thought (V. 28-32), namely that one must take counsel with oneself before every undertaking. Whoever wants to build a tower first calculates the cost and whether he can pay for it from his wealth. The king who wants to fight another estimates his power beforehand to see if it is sufficient for the undertaking. But if this idea is to prove the necessity of renunciation – V. 28 γὰρ, V. 33 ουτως ουν – then it is not clear where the proving power could lie. Once it is written, however, there must be coherence for the apologist. “For which of you (V. 28), if he wants to build a tower, does not first calculate the cost to see if he can carry out the matter?” This “for” says de Wette*, “refers to the previous invitation to consider whether one feels capable of such a following.” But there was not only no mention of such deliberation and consideration before, but it was excluded when it was said that everyone must renounce the dearest thing if he wants to be Jesus’ disciple.

*) Same source.

So the proving transition from the idea that one must consider important undertakings to the necessity of renunciation is neither proving nor a real transition at all, but only a blind one. Luke does not even take up that first idea again in the transition; he does not say, “So now let each one consider what he must do and how far his strength reaches, etc.,” but he could not have made the transition better. For at the beginning, when the demands on the true disciples were discussed (V. 26-27), not a word was said about the necessity of deliberation, and afterwards, in the figurative speech about the estimation of the costs of an undertaking and one’s own means, it was not mentioned again that one must renounce all property.


If it becomes certain from this confusion that Luke has combined thoughts here that he did not create himself, but found, it is not excluded that he proceeded freely and independently in the elaboration. He created the occasion for this whole discourse himself, that Jesus is wandering around and looking back at the crowd of people following him, from the beginning of the speech: “Whoever comes to me.” But he also, regarding what concerns us here first, developed the saying of the salt that he found in the scripture of Mark from his own resources.

He borrowed it from the scripture of Mark: he retained the same beginning: “a beautiful thing is salt” – καλον το αλας –; he also continues in the same construction: “but if the salt” – εαν δε το αλας – “should become foolish,” while Mark writes: “should become saltless.” Mark goes on to write: “With what will you season?” – εν τινι αρτυσετε *); Luke says: “With what should it be seasoned?” – εν τινι αρτυθησεται, for which Matthew has written: “should be salted” – ἁλισθήσεται, retaining the expression that Mark had used earlier (9:49).

*) The common text reads Mark 9:50 εν τινι αυτο αρτυσετε; In no way did Mark write this object αυτο, so that he would give the impression that he was saying: with what would you season it, namely the salt? He says too specifically in v. 49 that salt serves to season the offering, but the believer should also be an offering that is prepared by salt. So he can only mean that if the salt loses its power, there is no longer anything with which to season the offering, the individual himself. It is even probable, based on the authority of respected manuscripts, that Mark had already written the passive αρτυθησεται.


If we now ask whether the statement in Mark’s account is in proper context, we must answer in the negative. Jesus speaks to the Twelve and rebukes them because they had been arguing among themselves about who was the greatest. The meaning of the rebuke cannot yet be examined here: enough, Jesus puts a child in their midst with the words, “Whoever receives one of these little children receives me, and whoever receives me receives not me but him who sent me.” After this (9:42), having indicated the great guilt of anyone who would cause one of the little ones who believe in him to stumble, the speech suddenly jumps to the offense (v. 43) that each one finds in his own person, and Jesus commands that if anyone finds that one of his members causes him to stumble, he should remove it from himself before he is thrown with the offensive member into the eternal fire. For, the speech continues, by connecting with the keyword “fire,” “Everyone will be salted with fire, and every sacrifice will be salted with salt. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another” (v. 49-50).

We can immediately omit, namely disregard, a part of this speech, namely the final conclusion, “be at peace with one another,” if we want to discuss the context of the speech. Mark wrote the words, he wrote them to bring the speech back to its occasion—the disciples’ argument with each other. But any question of whether this exhortation is connected with the statement about salt and the members of the body that one should remove if they cause offense would be superfluous since it is so clear that Mark added the exhortation only at the end to return to the beginning.


The question now remains as to how the speech about salt relates to what came before it. According to Mark’s account, there should be a very close connection when he makes the transition with the word “for” –  γὰρ.  Just before this, the eternal fire of hell was mentioned and the saying about salt begins with the words: “For every one will be salted with fire.” If we really relate the two, as they appear to be related, the sense that arises could be: for every one of the condemned must be salted with fire, as if it were a sacrifice offered to divine justice, just as according to the law (Lev. 2:13) every sacrifice is seasoned with salt. However, the abstract, perpetual torment of hell cannot be compared to salt, which cleanses, refreshes, strengthens and invigorates. The condemned cannot be said, without further ado, to be a sacrifice for God, and if they were really the subject, they would have to have been mentioned earlier – which is not the case – they would have to have already been mentioned as these subjects, and then the evangelist would necessarily have to say, to keep the speech focused on them: each one of them.

Perhaps a connection will emerge if we understand “every one” as it must be understood, namely as raising these thoughts to universality and incorporating the subjects of whom there was already talk before. Verse 43-48 spoke of those who overcome the offense they feel in themselves, thus attaining eternal salvation through pain and care *): they are the ones who, by fire, that is, by this self-denial pain, escape the hellfire. However, then the saying itself would bypass the immediate context where hellfire was mentioned or rather jump over it and with “for”, which must be linked to the next thing, connect to a more distant saying.

*) For example, Fritzsche on Mark, p. 403: “to be prepared for the happiness of eternal life by means of tribulation”.


So now arises the last possible explanation that includes both the reference to the hellfire and to the suffering of those who voluntarily overcome temptation. “Because of the general sinfulness of humanity,” says Olshausen *), “each one must be salted with fire, whether they voluntarily engage in self-denial and serious purification from sin or whether they are involuntarily led to punishment.” But even so, a healthy connection is still not established: for even if it were possible to compare the inner struggle with temptations to fire, in one sentence, “for everyone must be salted with fire,” two very different fires are combined as if they were one and the same. The fires of hell are not purifying because they are eternal, while the fire of self-denial refreshes and renews. Indeed, if it is said that everyone must be salted with fire, then it refers to the fire that refreshes and purifies like salt and makes the one who is purified by it pleasing to God like an offering that is made pleasing to God only by salt. And yet, with “for,” it is intended to be connected to the mention of the hellfire, that is, the connection that the transition word intends is not present.

*) I, 565. de Wette agrees with him in 1, 2, 166.

But the whole saying about salt divides itself into two parts, in which salt is used as a metaphor for spiritual qualities with essentially different meanings. The first sentence is unclear enough when the necessity of purification through self-denial is taught by mixing two metaphors, “salted with fire.” But if it is immediately followed by, “a beautiful thing is salt, but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? Have salt in yourselves,” then the metaphor has become completely different, and the two halves of the saying fall apart without connection. De Wette wants to reunite them, but the bond he applies is not suitable. According to his explanation, in the second half of the saying, salt is wisdom, and this “concept of the salt of wisdom” should already “play a role” when the necessity of being salted is mentioned before (v. 49) *). However, it cannot play a role, and it should not play a role because salt is never a metaphor for the purposeful wisdom, but always for the stimulating and exciting power of the mind. Furthermore, the salt with which everyone should be salted (v. 49) is – one must accept the expression as it is written – the fire of self-denial, and the being salted refers to the temptations that one finds in oneself and overcomes in the fire of testing – in short, it is an inner process that arises from the occasion of temptations and is the struggle of the spirit with itself. On the other hand, the salt whose corrosive power is discussed in the second half of the saying is not possessed by everyone, cannot be possessed by everyone because it is the stimulating power of particular personalities that influence others and, like salt, awaken and refresh their life force.

*) 1, 2, 166.


Already Luke has omitted the first unclear half of the saying when he borrowed the second half from the Gospel of Mark. Matthew, who does not hesitate to include the same saying twice in his Gospel, that is, if he has borrowed it once from Luke, he writes it again from the Gospel of Mark when he finds it here in another place and is just in the process of incorporating it into his work, acted differently this time: when he comes to the account of the dispute among the disciples over rank in the Gospel of Mark and is just copying the passage on the sin of the eye, etc., which he had already included in an earlier part of his Gospel, he takes great care not to copy any further. This saying about salt is still too vividly in his memory, he knows how much he struggled with its ambiguity and how much effort it took him to present it clearly and to bring out its underlying meaning. Matthew had worked hard, but also with much success, when he reworked this saying into a word to the disciples and an admonition that they should always remember their purpose to be the salt of the earth.


It remains to be asked how Mark came to a confusion of presentation in this instance, which is otherwise so rare in his writing. Either he was dependent on foreign literary works that he could not fit properly into his plan, or he had not yet been able to fully master and reconcile the echoes that presented themselves to him while working on this speech. We opt for the latter. The self-overcoming of the believer seemed to him to be a sacrifice that was true and pleasing to God, and the pain of testing naturally corresponds to fire, the feeling of the penetrating and corrosive power that is inherent in the will in self-denial to salt, and this combination reminded him of the legal requirement (Lev. 2:13) that every offering be seasoned with salt. Once he was occupied with the idea of salt, he praised the corrosive, refreshing power of the spirit, whose counterpart it is, and put into the Lord’s mouth the exhortation that the disciples should guard the salt that was indispensable to them. And he added that they should keep peace among themselves so that the occasion of this speech would not be forgotten.


3. The Light of the World.

Matt. 5:11-16. Mark 1, Luke 8:16, 11:33.

“You are the light of the world,” says the Lord to the disciples (Matt. 5), and after briefly alluding to the same idea in another image – the city on a hill that cannot be hidden – he develops the idea under the image of light, stating that their effectiveness must and will have an influence on the world. To think or want otherwise would be just as absurd as imagining people would put a light under a basket instead of on a lampstand.


The conclusion of this passage (verse 16) is disturbing, as it says: “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” The salt and light metaphor of the disciples is indeed meant to have an impact on others, but a person’s behavior and good works do not have this immediate relation to others. Rather, the person who leads such a life is concerned with their own purely personal relationship. The evangelist has expanded a thought that was originally meant to move in a particular direction at the end.

The image of the light that is not put under a basket or under a bed, but on a lampstand, is first found in this brief passage in Mark (4:21), then with the addition “so that those who come in may see the light” in Luke (8:16), and Matthew has only slightly changed this addition when he says, “and it gives light to all in the house.” Both Mark and Luke have the Lord speaking this parable just after interpreting the parable of the sower for the disciples. It must therefore have been intended to insinuate to the disciples *), that they should make use of their abilities when hearing the parables. However, before we have critically examined the pragmatism of the Synoptics, which is linked to the interpretation of the parable of the sower, in its entire extent, we can already note here that Mark and Luke were not particularly fortunate in their use of the image of the light. Luke even emphasizes the inappropriateness of the image, which must be inherent in this context, when he says: “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.”

*) as Wilke also explains on page 327.


Correct! The light that is put on a lampstand shines not only for the one who lights it, but for all who are in the house or enter it. Mareus was misled by an indefinite allusion to put the proverb in an inappropriate place, while Matthew, with his tact, omitted it in this place where Jesus explains the parable of the sower. But he cleverly applied it to indicate the necessary position of the disciples in the world. Finally, he was particularly successful in strengthening the image in its relationship to the illuminating power of the disciples by adding that the mountain city could not escape the view. It must be seen; so the disciples must let their light shine, and it is their inner, unstoppable purpose to shine as the light of the world.

Luke also used the proverb once again in the context where some demanded a sign (Ch. 11:16), but Jesus rejected this demand when the crowds later became more dense, and reminded them that the Queen of the South and the Ninevites, who believed without a sign, would put this superstitious generation to shame (V.29-32). Therefore, if immediately afterward (V.33) the parable of the light and lampstand is mentioned, the only possible interpretation is that Jesus speaks of his mission to shine everywhere. It may be that the Evangelist had a similar allusion in mind, but it is certain that this parable was spoken by Jesus to encourage others not to hide their light. The context is missing here just as much as later when the Evangelist, carried away by the keyword “light,” adds the saying about the inner light (V.34-36), a saying that we find again in another place in Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount.


§ 18. Transition to the Sermon on the Mount

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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 1




Transition to the Sermon on the Mount.


1. The account of Matthew.

Ch. 4:23-5:1.

Matthew does not mention that after the calling of the four fishermen, Jesus went to Capernaum, preached and healed there. According to his account, Jesus immediately travels throughout Galilee after calling the first four disciples, preaching and healing every disease among the people. As a result, all the sick are brought to him after his fame had spread throughout Syria. Matthew lists the various ailments of the sick people, and Jesus heals them. Many crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and the region beyond the Jordan follow him.

The description is very comprehensive, with the words “whole, all” used in every case, so we see a very general presentation before us. Suddenly, however, the narrative becomes specific when Matthew says: “When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them” — the Sermon on the Mount.

This is inconsistent. The crowds have been around Jesus for a long time, he is teaching them and healing their sick; how can he only now, upon seeing them, go up on the mountain? He has already seen them for some time. Fritzsche’s explanation: “When he saw them once, he went up on the mountain” *), is not acceptable to the narrative, as it would be far too complicated and even tedious. Matthew knows nothing of this “once,” nor does he need it, as it is much easier for him to dive headfirst from the general into the specific. He needs no transition, he forgets the expansion of the general when it suits him, and it immediately shrinks to a single detail. Then he can say, “When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on the mountain.”

*) Matthäus p. 197. Hanc turbam aliquando conspicatus montem petiit. = (Matthew p. 197. Having seen this crowd at some point, he went up the mountain.)


However, we cannot follow this leap into the individual, since we cannot forget that the crowds did not just come to Jesus at that moment, but had long been around him, so he would have had to climb the mountain long before, if the sight of the crowds was a reason to do so. We must say that an event that falls from the sky is no longer an event for us and for this world, and the sermon that Jesus delivered on the mountain can never – to put it cautiously – have been delivered on this occasion.

This is also difficult: Matthew does not say that the crowd followed the Lord to the mountain; only the disciples are reported to have approached him, and he delivered the following sermon to them. But at the end (7: 28-29), it says that after Jesus finished his speech, the people were amazed by his teachings because he preached with authority, unlike the scribes. But where did the people suddenly come from? We do not know. And where did the disciples come from, to whom the speech is addressed according to chapter 5, verse 1? We do not know either, because the expression “his disciples” cannot possibly only refer to the four who have been called so far. So, for this speech, we lack nothing less than a not insignificant detail in the real world, the occasion and the audience, because even if the people are mentioned suddenly at the end, we do not know how they could have heard the speech, as the Lord withdrew to the mountain in front of them.


We know where all these necessary details for a speech come from if we open the Gospel of Mark. Here we read that Jesus once, after having worked for some time under opposition, withdrew with his disciples to the Sea of Galilee. A great multitude came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and from the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon when they heard about his deeds. Jesus healed them, but wanted to avoid the large crowds, so he had a boat prepared and eventually went up to the mountain, where he called only those whom he designated as his permanent companions and apostles at that moment (Mark 3:7-14). Here, the ascent of the mountain makes sense, as Jesus wants to avoid the crowd, and, as Mark reports, he has an even more specific reason, he wants to avoid complete exhaustion, as the sick come to touch him and be healed by him.

In Matthew’s account, the retreat to the mountain makes no sense, as it is not even said that Jesus was exhausted or could have been while healing. Nothing is indicated in this regard since the evangelist rushes to the speech and can’t introduce it soon enough.

However, his entire interest is focused on the speech. He reads in the Gospel of Mark that Jesus immediately appeared as a teacher in public (in Capernaum) after calling the fishermen (Mark 1:21). This note is too dull for him, and he wants to convey a speech himself to provide a clear example of how powerfully Jesus taught, and when he has delivered the speech, he does not forget, like Mark, to note that the people were astonished at Jesus’ teaching because he taught with authority and not like the scribes (Mark 1:22). He literally repeats his predecessor’s remark.

In the general description of Jesus’ activities, Matthew first makes the insignificant change that he substitutes Decapolis for Idumea, then adds the remark, “his reputation spread throughout all Syria,” instead of the phrase “those from the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon came to him,” because he wants to bring up Mark 1:28. But the most significant change is that he maintains the depiction in the broadest generality, which becomes even more extensive but also less specific since this description is intended to make us more familiar with Jesus’ activities. Jesus teaches, heals, heals everything, all illnesses that are important to the evangelist—in short, we have a compendium of everything that belonged to Jesus’ activities before us. This is the abstraction of the later view, for which everything was already finished at the beginning, Jesus’ recognition was generally grounded, and his activities encompassed everything that they could encompass.


One part of the difficulties is solved. However, everything will become clear when we see how Matthew came to link the Sermon on the Mount to that miraculous activity of Jesus. He received this combination from Luke.


2. The account of Luke.

Chapter 6, 17-20.

Only Luke knows something about a Sermon on the Mount. Not Mark. After the account of the fishing expedition of Peter, Luke took up the Gospel of Mark again at the point where he had left it, and he follows it until that turning point where the hostile attitude of the Pharisees awakens. He also tells that Jesus (6: 12) went up the mountain to pray and after a night spent in prayer, he chose twelve from his disciples to be apostles. With them, he descended to the plain and – but the evangelist does not think of a proper construction of sentences or connection of words – suddenly a large crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea (v. 17) and Jerusalem and from the coast of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases – one does not see what this multitude is all about – the evangelist does not say how, where – enough, he is satisfied that they are here, he wants nothing more, and after briefly saying that the whole crowd sought to touch Jesus because power was coming from him and healing them all, he reports that Jesus lifted up his eyes to his disciples and gave them the sermon, which is held here in the plain. Jesus gave this speech to his disciples, and yet it says at the end (7: 1): when he had finished saying all this to the people (εις τας ακοας του λαου), he went on, and so on.


How beautiful, how vivid is this motivation of the sermon, Jesus spends the night in prayer before choosing the twelve disciples, and so on. And yet nothing could be less vivid, more confused and laboriously compiled. Jesus ascends the mountain to pray, but only Luke knows this intention, for whom it is a standing formula that he prayed. We do not learn why Jesus chose the disciples at this particular time, but as we will see with Mark, the calling of the apostles has a very specific motive. Mark motivated Jesus’ ascent of the mountain by saying that Jesus wanted to avoid the crowds of people; in Luke’s account, Jesus finds the crowd of people below in the plain when he descends from the mountain. But now, of course, we cannot find out where this crowd suddenly came from, and even the evangelist cannot even manage to incorporate the note of the people’s presence into his account. But it is clear why he rearranged Mark’s account: he wants to have an audience before which the following sermon could be delivered, but he had to report on the calling of the apostles beforehand because Mark compels him to do so, and because it is appropriate for Jesus to proclaim the general principles of the Kingdom of Heaven to the newly chosen officers after such an important act. But at the end, he notes that Jesus gave this speech to the people; he forgets that it was addressed to the disciples – naturally, why should he have bothered to gather the crowd around the Lord, and did not the principles presented in the speech apply to everyone? Hence this contradiction regarding the audience, a contradiction that is natural and original only in Luke’s scripture because the selection of the narrower circle of disciples comes first here, a contradiction that Matthew faithfully copied even though he did not report on the calling of the twelve beforehand. Matthew was not yet allowed to report on this here, for it was still too early at this point, but he could certainly insert the speech at the beginning of his historical account, especially since his interest was focused on the Lord’s speeches in general and it was important for him to proclaim the general principles that should apply in the new economy right from the beginning.

*) See this reference, for example, in Schneckenburger, Beiträge zur Eint, ins N. T. p. 17.


The contradiction regarding the audience is explained *), Matthew was dependent on Luke. But if both Gospel writers contradict each other regarding where the speech was held, that is also explained. According to Mark, Jesus can only move the selection of the apostles to the mountain; the crowd, according to Mark again, can only be found in the plain. So when the purpose for which he climbed the mountain is fulfilled, Jesus must descend to the plain if he wants to find the people whose presence will give him a reason for his speech. However, Matthew cannot report on the selection of the apostles yet, but he still writes according to Mark that Jesus climbed a mountain when he was surrounded by crowds from all neighboring countries: so what else can Jesus do on the mountain except give the speech that only became the Sermon on the Mount through Matthew **)?

*) and we do not need the tortured harmonics of Frische’s, Matthew p. 201: “Jesus addressed the disciples following his prayer, but there were people listening in from afar, I suppose.”

**) The only thought that can keep us going through such a lengthy, but in itself very insignificant work and give it its only value, is that we ourselves become free and moral people when we see how the contradictions in the Gospels arose and no longer waste our time with half-truths, deceive our minds, and mistreat the Gospels. A truly apologetic half-truth, a theological juste milieu, is the harmonistic reconciliation of the contradiction that Bengel undertakes. “Jesus prayed on the mountain, that is, on the upper part of it, and appointed the apostles” – but does Matthew say a word about it? – afterwards he came to the middle region of the mountain where is it written? he himself descended, encountered the people who were climbing up and here in the middle region — —- —- Oh, what agony!


Luke differs from Mark by providing larger speeches of the Lord and selecting historical occasions for them. At the very beginning of his account of Jesus’ public ministry, he expanded the saying about the fulfillment of time in this way and gave a detailed account of how Jesus appeared as a teacher in Nazareth. Therefore, he does not need to present Jesus more extensively as a teacher here at the beginning and is satisfied with copying Mark’s account of Jesus’ appearance in the synagogue of Capernaum with the note of the powerful impression of his teaching. He waits until the apostles are chosen to let the Lord teach the laws of the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew has an even greater interest in presenting the Lord as a teacher and preacher. He cannot wait until the apostles are chosen, he wants to show immediately at the beginning of his account how powerful Jesus’ speech was. Therefore, he is silent about the Lord’s appearance in Capernaum and hastens to include the great speech that he finds in Luke, in order to give a solid basis for Mark’s note on the powerful impression of Jesus’ teaching (Mark 1:22).

Luke was the first to link this speech to this particular occasion, but he created the occasion himself by placing the crowd that surrounded Jesus before he climbed the mountain, listening to the Lord in the plain when he descended from the mountain.


He formed the occasion very unfortunately because the crowd surrounded Jesus and “tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all” (Luke 6:19), so where does the “peace and quiet” *) necessary for the delivery of the sermon come from?

*) Wilke, p. 585.


3. The Mountain.

If we do not know the occasion on which this sermon was delivered, we know even less about which mountain it was delivered on. Matthew was the one who first referred to it as the Sermon on the Mount. Nevertheless, if we still ask which mountain it is, we do so with the awareness that we are dealing with a concept. However, it is worth looking at it more closely, since it is an evangelical category and we should never treat categories superficially. “The mountain,” this specific, individual mountain, is something very general, since it is mentioned several times in very different historical contexts, more often by Matthew than by the other Evangelists. “The mountain” makes Jesus’ sermon, which we will get to know soon, the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:1) and is originally the mountain on which Jesus chose the Twelve (Mark 3:13, Luke 6:12). “The mountain” is also where the Transfiguration takes place according to Luke (9:28), while Mark and Matthew speak only of “a high mountain” (Mark 9:2, Matt. 17:2). According to Matthew (16:29), the second feeding of the multitude took place “on the mountain,” although he and Mark say nothing about the first feeding, nor does Luke, who only reports one feeding that he knows of. However, the fourth Evangelist tells us that Jesus climbed “the mountain” and sat down there when he fed the crowd (John 6: 3, 5). Finally, Matthew alone reports that the apostles went “to the mountain” when the angel (28:8) summoned them to Galilee, where they would see the risen Jesus (28:16).


“The mountain!” How strange! Always in the most different situations, “the mountain!” Matthew, who uses this category more often than the others, tells us what kind of mountain it is, where it is located, and what its characteristics are. For him, at least, it is certain that it is the mountain that is the necessary and appropriate stage for great, far-reaching events, the basis for the great. Or should we still prove it in detail to the apologist? Should we ask how Matthew, if he had a specific geographical understanding, could simply say (5, 1) “Jesus went up to the mountain,” after previously saying only: “Jesus traveled throughout Galilee”? Is there only “the mountain” in “all of Galilee”? Should we ask which “mountain” it is where the second feeding occurred, and how Matthew came to know about a mountain that the other two knew nothing about, just as they knew nothing about “the mountain” on which the disciples saw the risen one again?

Furthermore, where does “the mountain” come from, where, according to Luke’s account, the Transfiguration took place, the mountain that Matthew knows as little about as Mark.

And we would like to see the mountain on which Jesus (after climbing it alone) can sit down and arrange and direct the feeding of the people who lay in the grass in the valley (John 6:10)!

The apologist’s excuse *), that “the mountain” το ορος is the mountain range, which they try to apply in Matthew 5:1, is even cut off at the only place where it seems applicable, Mark 3:13, i.e., at the place where we first see the mountain in an apparently understandable historical context. Because even this context is a pure fabrication **) and the mountain from which it was appropriate for the twelve to be called is not a mountain range with its wide branches, canyons, forests, and countless elevations, but a mountain that tapers properly to a single elevation, namely the one height on which such a sublime and significant action must take place.

*) de Wette, I, 1, 50.

**) as Wilke, p. 574, has clearly shown.


The mountain is always a specific one, meaning that it corresponds to the ideal height of the event that takes place on it. It is the mountain where revelations, transfigurations, and legislation have been at home since the time of Abraham and Moses.

What did Matthew care so much about – he was not a modern apologist who alone knows the torment of this great world question – where the mountain was located on which the Lord proclaimed the laws of the new economy? To him, it was the mountain on which words had to be spoken that were of infinite importance and were spoken to be spread far and wide and heard by the whole world. Matthew does not even say that the crowd followed the Lord when he descended from the mountain where he gave the sermon they heard – as it eventually turns out (chapter 7, verse 28) – but he cannot say it because Mark does not dictate it to him and even forbids it, but why would he care about such trivialities that would not add or detract from his report and whose omission would only bring death to apologetics as long as he can let the Lord preach? And if he wants to say, as Luke commands him, that the people heard the sermon, he says it without worrying about how they could hear it. If the sermon contained words of life for the people, they would have heard them no matter how it happened.

Gfrörer says *), the mountain received this degree of fame in the legend from the feeding that took place on it. But Mark knows nothing yet of this locality of the feeding story. Gfrörer, of course, relies on the testimony of the fourth evangelist. But – shall we say it again? – we would like to see the mountain on which and so on. Art, to be sure, knows how to show us mountains on whose summit Jesus stands and is visible while the people are standing in the plain a few spans below. From such a mountain, the painter can make the Lord speak down to the people or give him any other relationship to the people. But such mountains do not exist in the real world. Nature is not Raphael and has quite different laws of spatiality than the ideal view of the evangelists.

*) Heil. Sage. l. 199.


4. The task of criticism.

As we now move on to the critical examination of the structure, composition, and inner character of the Sermon on the Mount in order to discover its origin, we must first gain insight into the nature of our task, to the extent possible and necessary before the examination itself.

Despite having the same beginning, the same ending, and coinciding points of contact, the speeches which the two synoptics convey are very different. Matthew’s is much longer and thus contains elements which would cause the individual parts of the sermon that Luke conveys to fall apart if one were to attempt to bring them together. Many of these elements are unique to Matthew’s writings alone, while Luke has included many of them as sayings of Jesus spoken on other occasions. Similarly, Matthew doesn’t include some parts of Luke’s sermon, but presents them as sayings of Jesus on other occasions.

From this fact, the task of criticism has emerged, or rather, criticism must explain this fact.

The difficulties arising from the evangelical accounts of location, time, occasion, and audience are for us a thing of the past, as we have seen how they originated and that the occasion on which the speech was supposed to have been delivered never existed and purely arose from the pragmatism of Luke and Matthew. Our task is therefore simplified and the difficulties that concern those points, as well as views that seek to solve them in other ways, can no longer hinder or occupy us. For example, Strauss says: “Jesus spoke to the assembled people in general (!), but with special (!) reference to his disciples, for we have no reason to doubt that a specific solemn act of speech underlies all this” – we have shown that none of this can be the case.

*) I, 640.


All opinions that consider the sermon as one that was spoken at a specific occasion or even at a certain one that has long been resolved have lost all claims to consideration. At least the point where they seek the difficulty falls far short of where it really lies, and we have to grasp and solve it. At the highest peak of difficulty, the standpoint on which those views are based disappears, and it is completely dissolved when we solve the difficulty in its most acute form.

For Neander, for example, the Sermon on the Mount is “an example of a connected exhortation speech **). “The two versions of this speech in Matthew and Luke, he says, certainly stem from different traditions and different listeners. In Matthew, we have the speech more complete, more precise” ***).

Paulus explains this precision by the fact that one of the listeners, “perhaps Matthew himself, who as a tax collector could not be inexperienced in writing,” wrote down the speech shortly afterwards. “The record from which Luke drew or extracted had not grasped the context without many gaps.” On the other hand, the greater extent of the speech in Matthew may be explained by the fact that “related thoughts” were added later *).

**) ibid. p. 145.

***) Ibid. p. 148.

*) Exeg. Handb. l, 584. 585.


It is important to note “related in meaning”! Later on, when discussing the issue itself, it will be important to understand how this category is defined. The apologist has the question of coherence in mind. Similarly, Neander says, “the Greek editor of the underlying document from Matthew had inserted many related sayings of Christ that had been spoken on other occasions within these organically connected utterances.”

It must be related in order to avoid breaking the coherence.

Schleiermacher also tells us, when Paulus explained the accuracy of the speech in Matthew so well, how the brevity of the speech in the writing of Luke arose. “Our informant seems to have had a less favorable place to hear from, so he did not hear everything and lost the context here and there; and he may have come to record it later, when he had already forgotten some things.” **)

**) Ibid, p. 89. Now only the apologetics remain with their “they could tell the truth,” when the favor of circumstance, an unfavorable place, etc., is so important!

Moreover, in this context of little significance, at least unexpected for everyone, Schleiermacher adds the other possibility: “He may have inadvertently included some analogous (!) things from other sayings of Christ.”

Even Schleiermacher does not dare to favor his favorite against Matthew this time, when he assigns such an unfavorable place to the informant, whose work Luke is copying here. So let us not be surprised when Tholuck calls “the speech, as it appears – in the Gospel of Matthew – original in all its parts.” It is “more orderly” than that of Luke. “The sayings scattered back and forth by Luke and also by Mark are presented in it in a coherent and Christ-like way.” *)

*) Interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount. 1833. p. 22.


However, Tholuck takes a step back. The speech in Matthew is only an “excerpt.” “For this latter reason, we will also not be offended if the connection is less apparent here and there” **).

**) Ibid. p. 23.

No! we will pay close attention to whether this praised connection really exists. “Even if it is less apparent!” As if there is only a connection where it is apparent! Listen to the apologist! He has a purpose! He means, as he should, we should be satisfied with the assumption of connection even if it is not apparent. Even if it is not——–o, the best connection is there in itself! The thunder of the apologist over the critic, the thunderbolt and lightning and curse and perished over the critic if he does not acquiesce in the silent recognition of the connection or call the apologetic evidence of the connection failed in stubborn disbelief!

No, we now forget the result of the above criticism: we now set ourselves the task of determining from the Sermon on the Mount itself, through the internal criticism of its components,

  1. whether it is held as a whole by Jesus,
  2. whether its connection is really so extraordinary,
  3. whether Luke is rightly inferior to Matthew.

We start the matter from scratch, or rather from the bottom, we take the subordinate standpoint of the apologist and see if reason can feel at home here.

But we go further. The apologist resists the possibility that individual sayings of Jesus, which arose on different occasions, have been united into a whole in the Sermon on the Mount. The mere idea of such a possibility appears to Schleiermacher as “impermissible, at least unsupported by anything” *).

*) Schleiermacher, ibid. p. 90. De Wette (1, 1, 48.) also considers “the representation in Matthew to be original and that in Luke to be derived and erroneous.” Matthew did not compose the speech he provided from sayings made at different times and on other occasions. “Only an expansion of the speech by Matthew” can be admitted.


Weisse was the first to show that this idea is not only supported by much evidence, but that it is not just an idea, but more, that it is a reality.

On this higher standpoint of historical criticism, the first question is now the relationship between Luke and Matthew, until the question reaches its highest point and becomes the question of whether we actually read the words of the Lord in the Sermon on the Mount. Weisse does not yet reach this final point in his investigation. He leaves an unexamined positive standing. The first and third Synoptics have used here, as elsewhere, the “collection of sayings of the Apostle Matthew” which was written in Hebrew. “These pieces borrowed from such an authentic scripture are in every respect to be regarded as authentic, reliable and unadulterated as the reports of Mark” **).

**) ev. Gesch. II, 3.

But both differ greatly from each other in the parallel sayings! How does this reconcile with this praise?

The first and third evangelist, Weisse replies, “did not draw on each other, as both did in relation to Mark, but both independently from each other from the common source. Luke used it less completely than the Gospel that bears its name.” The first evangelist has shown “greater fidelity” in reproducing the collection of sayings of Matthew, and his presentation is “more original” compared to that of Luke **).

*) ev. Gesch. ll, 4.

**) p. 28.


But not only is Luke’s account less complete, but in most parts – we must immediately add the scattered parallels to the speech that Matthew provides – fundamentally different.

Furthermore: so far it has been shown to us that in all parts where Matthew does not have agreement with Mark, but only with Luke, he is dependent on the latter. Now has he completely disassociated himself from Luke? Now, at this moment, where he borrowed the occasion for this speech from him?

If the differences in their presentation of the speech sections, which we are now turning to critique, are essential, then one of them must have proceeded independently and creatively in this presentation. But if one, why not both? Both! This is at least possible.

Our task is set!

  1. Is the account of the first synoptist the more original?
  2. Did the first evangelist use the writing of Luke for his account of the Sermon on the Mount?
  3. If so, where did Luke get his material from, and do we still have sayings of Jesus before us in these speech sections?




Gospels Cut from Jewish Scriptures, #5

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by Neil Godfrey

I have taken time out to track down and catch up with several of the French works that Charbonnel cites and that has a bit to do with the long time between the last post in this series and this one.

It’s been too long since I visited our French scholars of the Bible so here I continue with part 5 of Nanine Charbonnel’s table setting out the “Old Testament” sources of the Gospel narratives. In Jésus-Christ, Sublime Figure de Papier Charbonnel is presenting a case for the gospel figure of Jesus Christ being created entirely from a form of “midrashic” type composition in which diverse scriptural texts are woven together into a new story to meet new community needs.

The table below is my own adaptation of Charbonnel’s French-language multi-page table, with a few slight editorial changes and my own translations and summaries.

The work of checking every scriptural reference (they are all hyperlinked for you to check them easily too) has impressed upon me just how totally the gospels are very likely pastiches of Jewish scriptures and some non-canonical writings. There appears to be nothing left over requiring explanation as if from any other source. Jesus walking on water was not an exaggerated retelling of a biographical event where Jesus happened to be walking on a sandbank (as some have said); nor were the healing miracles exaggerations of some real-life psychological power Jesus had over those with ailments. . . . they, everything, was written as a renewal of a sacred saying or scripture. Nor is there anything new about the teaching of Jesus: everything he is narrated as having taught is a re-writing of Scriptural or proverbial teachings of the time of the evangelists.

Jesus is created as a new voice and representative of a new Israel. The kingdom of God has come, the promises have been fulfilled in Jesus. Nations, gentiles and Jews, are now one in Him. The gospels are written, surely, as a new set of scriptures through which the old are to be interpreted anew.

There is no historical person of Jesus behind the narrative. If there had been then there would be some indication of a real person that the narrative had to adapt somehow to scriptures. What we find instead, however, is a figure entirely, entirely, made up of scriptures. Scriptural rewriting is the warp and woof of what he does, what happens to him, and what he says and teaches.

Here we look at the Jewish Scripture sources for:

a. the calling of disciples and sending them out to preach

b. teachings of Jesus – to both Jews and gentiles

c. miracles of Jesus – to both Jews and gentiles

d. the fate of John the Baptist and the beginnings of the rejection of Jesus

Continue reading “Gospels Cut from Jewish Scriptures, #5”


The Sermon on the Mount: Matthew’s (not Jesus’) Creation

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by Neil Godfrey

I’m continuing here with John Drury’s analysis of the parables in the Gospels.

Anyone paying attention to the previous posts (What Is a Parable? and Jesus Did Not Speak In Parables – the Evidence) knows that the meaning of “parable” in the Gospels derived from its usage in the Septuagint (Greek) Old Testament. It could range from riddles and metaphorical sayings through to allegorical narratives.

According to Drury Matthew’s special teaching contains four themes:

  • Christian discipleship,
  • Judaism (in relation to the Church),
  • Eschatology
  • and Christology.

This post highlights his emphasis on discipleship and what is required to be a good follower of Christ. His concerns are the spiritual and moral virtues of the members of the Church. This comes through most loudly in the Sermon on the Mount; the parables of the lost sheep, of the two debtors, of the labourers in the vineyard, of the marriage feast, and more. (From Drury, Parables in the Gospels: History and Allegory)


After the Beatitudes that open the Sermon on the Mount Matthew tells us that Jesus drew an analogy with salt:

5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men. (All Bible quotations from KJ21)

Matthew has taken this salt simile from Mark 9:49-50

49 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.

50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost his saltness, with what will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.”

  • Mark’s “everyone shall be salted with fire” alludes to persecution and Matthew’s saying on salt segues from the Beatitude speaking of persecution of Jesus’ followers.
  • Matthew strips away the obscurity and awkwardness in Mark’s saying: “Have salt in yourselves” is transformed into a less cryptic phrase that is more clearly pushing one of Matthew’s constant themes, discipleship: “You are the salt of the earth”.
  • Another idea uppermost in Matthew’s mind (it recurs frequently throughout his gospel as the finale of parables) is the casting out of evildoers in the day of judgement and here he adds it to Mark’s saying: “Good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot”.

The evidence for Matthew’s sayings of Jesus being an adaptation of Mark’s is strong.


Matthew’s metaphor of light follows: Continue reading “The Sermon on the Mount: Matthew’s (not Jesus’) Creation”


Victimhood and the Sermon on the Mount

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by Neil Godfrey

There is another more subtle way that the Sermon on the Mount has the potential to cripple true believers psychologically. (I have already addressed the self-absorbed, fear-driven, irresponsible submissiveness that its supposedly noble teachings actually promote.) Some of its most exalted sayings are really guidelines for anyone taking them seriously to go through life playing the victim game. (But firstly, I am well aware that there are two types of victims: there truly are those who have been cruelly victimized, but there are also many who find the victim game an alternative to getting on with more positive and productive mentality. Unfortunately few among one of those types can tell the difference.)

Blessed are the poor, the mourners, the meek, the merciful, the pure . . . . Continue reading “Victimhood and the Sermon on the Mount”


The questionable ethical standard of the Sermon on the Mount

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by Neil Godfrey

Why is the Sermon on the Mount so often upheld as the ultimate in ethics? Surely we have progressed ethically in 2000 years. Continue reading “The questionable ethical standard of the Sermon on the Mount”