Gospel Parallels Essay

This is a research report of what I read and studied among the two paragraphs in Throckmorton’s Gospel Parallels: Paragraph 6, “The Baptism of Jesus,” and Paragraph 249, “The Crucifixion.” This report will note where the parallel Gospels differ and where they are similar. Additionally, you will find interpretations by me of the text critical notes and then I’ll decide which reading is the better one.

The Beatitudes “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

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The Beatitudes are a group of sayings by Jesus that began with the words, “Blessed are,” and went on to identify who was blessed and why. It then finished with an exhortation. In this first case, the “poor in spirit” are those who are blessed because they will receive the kingdom of Heaven. The Beatitudes can only be found in Matthew and Luke, and while they have many similarities, there are also differences. These help us to discover things about the sources used, as well as the intention of the author.

First of all, one must note that Mark was not used as a source, since the Beatitudes are not found in Mark, yet Matthew and Luke still have many exact or common phrases. The similarities point to a common source, which we will call “Q.” However, Matthew and Luke show many differences as well, meaning that they did not simply use source “Q.” Matthew and Luke each inserted some sort of oral or written tradition before writing their own text.

Many of the blessings stated in the texts are parallel between the two gospels. They both talk about the poor as well as the kingdom of Heaven. They talk about those who are hungry and how they will be filled. They also talk about those who are hated on account of Jesus. Finally, they end with a command to rejoice, for those persecuted will have a great reward in Heaven since the same kind of persecution was done to the prophets.

At the same time, however, Matthew and Luke clearly have different objectives or opinions regarding the text. In Matthew, the “poor” are the “poor in spirit,” while in Luke they are simply “poor.” Similarly, when talking about the hungry, Matthew is referring to those who are spiritually hungry while Luke talks about those who are physically hungry. Also, Matthew’s list of Beatitudes is much longer and includes talking about those who are merciful, pure in heart, the peacemaker, and those who are persecuted. Luke leaves these out entirely, probably because Luke was focusing more on the physical well-being of people.

What is the reason for these differences? There seems to be an overarching theme that is carried out within both of these books. Matthew focuses on the divinity and suffering/rejection of Jesus. This then shows up within the Beatitudes as Matthew focuses on the spirituality rather than physicality of the believers (poor in spirit verses simply poor), in the same way that he focuses on the divinity rather than physicality of Jesus. In addition, Jesus is portrayed as one who is rejected, which is also a common theme as Matthew talks about the rejection of the believers and how they will be given the kingdom of Heaven.

So, just as Jesus is rejected in Matthew, so will the believers be rejected. Furthermore, it can be seen that Matthew is talking to an audience that wants to incorporate all believers, not just Jews. Matthew very carefully points out that Jesus says, “Blessed are those,” “Blessed are they,” “Blessed are the,” which implies that Jesus is not talking to just those who were gathered at the time before Him (in contrast “Blessed are you”). Jesus means that anyone is blessed when they do these things.

In Luke, the Beatitudes are focused more on those who are in need, a familiar theme throughout Luke. Here, Jesus is portrayed as one who is concerned for the poor, the marginalized, women, etc. Luke clearly points out in his Beatitudes that Jesus is concerned with those who are in need and gives them hope for the future, that they will be filled, receive the kingdom of Heaven, have reason to leap for joy, etc. This comes just two chapters after Jesus’ mission statement from Isaiah 61 as He proclaims that He has been anointed to preach good news to the poor. While Luke also wants to incorporate the gentiles into his audience, he does have Jesus saying, “Blessed are you,” while speaking to the Jewish crowd that had gathered around Him.

This is no surprise since Luke wants to undertake a more concise and put-together account of Jesus’ ministry. It seems that he thinks it more likely that Jesus would have addressed his audience directly. It does, however, deviate in the last line as Jesus says “for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets” rather than “for that is what your ancestors. . .” This could perhaps be an argument for Luke’s idea of the universality of the church.

Both of these accounts provide glimpses into Jesus’ ministry and the heart or direction of the author, and though both contain varying accounts, it seems all the more credible since they were written to a certain audience at a certain time.

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