Friday, January 29, 2010

Internal Evidence of Matthean Priority

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The old Catholic Encyclopedia gives some good internal arguments that St. Matthew wrote his Gospel before St. Mark.{1} Lots of scholars assume that St. Matthew depended on St. Mark for his narrative, but it is hard to explain the following facts within the framework of the theory that St. Matthew had St. Mark's Gospel before him.

Mk 1:13: and He remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to Him.
Mt 4:1-3: Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards He was hungry.
Comment: Why would St. Matthew omit St. Mark's mention of "wild beasts" and ministering angels?{2}

Mk 1:15: "This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel."
Mt 4:17: From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."
Comment: Why would St. Matthew omits St. Mark's mention of "believe in the Gospel"?{3}

Mk 14:56,59: Many gave false witness against Him, but their testimony did not agree. … Even so their testimony did not agree.
Mt 26:60: but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward...
Comment: Why would St. Matthew omit St. Mark's mention of contradictory witnesses?{4}

Mk 1:19-20: He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then He called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed Him.
Mt 4:21-22: He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed Him.
Comment: Why would St. Matthew add the tautology of "two ... brothers" to St. Mark's account?{5} Why would St. Matthew omit "the hired men" from St. Mark's account, since doing so would make the illustrious Sts. James the Greater and John the Theologian seem like violators of the Fourth Commandment [Ex 20:12]?{6}

Mk 5:13,18-19: And He let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine. The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea, where they were drowned. ... As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with Him. But He would not permit him but told him instead, "Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in His pity has done for you."
Mt 8:28-34: When He came to the other side, to the territory of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met Him. They were so savage that no one could travel by that road. They cried out, "What have You to do with us, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the appointed time?" Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding. The demons pleaded with Him, "If You drive us out, send us into the herd of swine." And He said to them, "Go then!" They came out and entered the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea where they drowned. The swineherds ran away, and when they came to the town they reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw Him they begged Him to leave their district.
Comment: Why would St. Matthew omit St. Mark's mention of the number of swine,{7} or St. Mark's mention that our Lord commanded the grateful Gaderene demoniac to inform others of the exorcism rather than follow Him as a disciple?{8}

If St. Matthew depended on St. Mark's Gospel, he would have referred to Mk 12:41-44 in Mt 22-23,{9} and he wouldn't have made St. Mark's third [Mk 1:40-45] and second [Mk 1:23-31] miracle accounts his first and third miracle accounts [Mt 8:1-15], respectively.{10}
Notes & References
{1} MacRory, Joseph. "Gospel of Saint Mark." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 29 Jan. 2010 <>.
{2} Ibid.
{3} Ibid.
{4} Ibid.
{5} Ibid.
{6} Ibid.
{7} Ibid.
{8} Ibid.
{9} Ibid.
{10} Ibid.

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