Luke 8-9

Chapter 8

This chapter starts with a listing of several women who were followers of Jesus; Luke is the only gospel to do so. Mary Magdalene is the only name I recognize. Next we’re back to the farmer sowing seed. I compared it to the versions in Mark and Matthew, and it’s pretty similar, except it cuts out some of the schlock in the middle (compare to Matt 13:14-17). Then the parable of the lamp – similar to the previous versions.

V 19 is the ‘Jesus rejects his own family’ bit, and Luke sanitizes it again. He cuts it short compared to the other gospels, and removes Jesus’ verbal insult completely, leaving only “Jesus replied, ‘My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.'” A totally political and evasive answer. Next up is Jesus calming the storm – lifted straight from Mark 4.

The next story is the one with the demons being driven into a herd of swine. In comparing versions, it’s notable that both Matthew and Luke removed the most graphic and unpleasant descriptions of the poor man’s mental illness (Mark 5:3-5). Otherwise, Luke’s account is pretty much lifted right from Mark’s. And the last stories of this chapter, about raising Jairus’ daughter, and the bleeding woman, are not significantly different from their counterparts in Mark and Matthew; all I can see that’s noteworthy is that Luke agrees with Mark that the girl wasn’t dead yet when Jesus was summoned, and that the ‘magic words’ in Mark 5:41 are omitted in both Matthew and Luke.

Chapter 9

Jesus sends his disciples out on their mission. It’s lifted right from Mark 6, except no sandals or walking stick are allowed. Luke seriously truncates the story about the death of John the Baptist and Herod’s confusion about Jesus’ identity (compare to Mark 6 and Matthew 14). He doesn’t seem to care about John’s death at all – surprising since he makes John’s birth and life such a big deal in earlier chapters.

After that we’re feeding 5000 people again – this is becoming a bore. It’s unchanged from the other gospels. In v 18 we have Peter’s declaration about Jesus’ identity. It’s the same as Mark’s version – which leaves out the ‘on this rock I will build my church’ spiel from Matthew 16:17-19. Next Jesus foretells his own death. He tells it similarly to Mark 8 and Matthew 16, but curiously, he omits the ‘get thee behind me, Satan’ section that was in both previous gospels, and also the line about coming in glory with the angels and judging people according to their deeds, that was in Matthew.

V 28 tells of the Transfiguration. Luke fleshes it out at the beginning with a few more details than Mark and Matthew provided, such as what Jesus was talking to Moses and Elijah about. But then he cuts it short at the end, completely omitting the whole section about why Elijah must return before the Messiah comes. Why??

The next story is Jesus curing the epileptic boy by driving the demon out of him. It’s similar to both Mark’s and Matthew’s versions, except that it leaves off the point at the end about the disciples not being able to accomplish the task because they lacked sufficient faith. I wonder why Luke would leave that out? At v 43 Jesus foretells his death a second time, but unlike the way Mark and Matthew tell it, he fails to mention that he will rise again after 3 days; in fact, he doesn’t mention death directly at all, only betrayal – isn’t that strange? It’s kind of a central point…

At v 46 Jesus gives an abridged version of the ‘anyone who welcomes a little child welcomes me’ speech. Both of the previous versions were more complete. The next little section about the Samaritans refusing Jesus wasn’t in the previous gospels. And it comes with a curious footnote to v 54 – “some manuscripts add ‘as Elijah did’”. Really? Yup – 2 Kings 1:10. So that’s what the disciples were after; but Jesus turned the other cheek and moved on. At least that’s a point in his favor. And this interminable chapter ends on a sour note, with a retelling of the costs of following Jesus. It was bad enough in Matthew 8; Luke ramps the cruelty up another notch. So much for the gentle Jesus myth – he has no sympathy whatsoever! But as this image from an ‘educational resource’ website shows, even that is somehow rendered as positive and fed to children.

dead bury the dead

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