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Fatigue in the Synoptics

by Mark Goodacre

This article first appeared in New Testament Studies 44 (1998), pp. 45-58.
I am grateful the editor and to Cambridge University Press for permission to reproduce it here. Web version by Mark Goodacre. Numbers in bold refer to the original (NTS) page numbers.

Marcan Priority

Many believe in the priority of Mark but few are able to give a good reason for it. Arguments that were once thought to be decisive, like appeals to Mark's rough Greek or the ordering of triple tradition material, are now seen to be unconvincing and reversible. For most, this is not a problem: the Marcan priority theory has been honoured by time; it provides a sound basis for convincing redaction-critical readings of Matthew and Luke (1) and, most importantly, the alternatives seem unattractive and implausible (2).

There is, nevertheless, something disturbing about a situation in which none of the standard text books find it easy to provide strong, textual grounds for believing that it was Mark and not Matthew who wrote first, particularly given the universal Patristic support for the opposite view. It is not necessary, however, to settle for this unhappy status quo. There is some data that points clearly to Marcan priority, data which though it has occasionally been [46] spotted, has a potential for solving the synoptic problem that has rarely been exploited. This is evidence of what might be called 'editorial fatigue' (3) or 'docile reproduction' (4) .

Editorial fatigue is a phenomenon that will inevitably occur when a writer is heavily dependent on another's work. In telling the same story as his predecessor, a writer makes changes in the early stages which he is unable to sustain throughout. Like continuity errors in film and television, examples of fatigue will be unconscious mistakes, small errors of detail which naturally arise in the course of constructing a narrative. They are interesting because they can betray an author's hand, most particularly in revealing to us the identity of his sources.

The clearest way to explain the phenomenon is to illustrate it. Though he did not use the term 'fatigue', G. M. Styler, in his famous article on Marcan priority, draws attention to a strong example, the Death of John the Baptist (Mark 6.14-29 // Matt 14.1-12). (5). For Mark, Herod is always 'king', four times in the passage (vv. 22, 25, 26 and 27). Matthew apparently corrects this to 'tetrarch'. This is a good move: Herod Antipas was not a king but a petty dependent prince and he is called 'tetrarch' by Josephus (Ant. 17. 188; 18. 102, 109, 122) (6). More is the shame, then, that Matthew lapses into calling Herod 'the king' halfway through the story (Matt 14.9), in agreement with Mark (6.26).

Styler points further to a more serious inconsistency in the same verse. The story in Mark is that Herodias wanted to kill John because she had a grudge against him,

'But she could not because Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him.' (Mark 6.19f).

In Matthew's version of the story, this element has dropped out: now it is Herod and not Herodias who wants him killed (Matt [47] 14.5). When Mark, then, speaks of Herod's 'grief' (perilupoV) at the request for John's head, it is coherent and understandable: Herodias demanded something that Herod did not want. But when Matthew in parallel speaks of the king's grief (kai luphqeiV o basileuV, Matt 14.9), it makes no sense at all. Matthew had told us, after all, that 'Herod wanted to put him to death' (14.5).

The obvious explanation for the inconsistencies of Matthew's account is that he is working from a source. He has made changes in the early stages which he fails to sustain throughout, thus betraying his knowledge of Mark. (7) This is particularly plausible when one notes that Matthew's account is considerably shorter than Mark's: Matthew has overlooked important details in the act of abbreviating. (8) It would be difficult, one would imagine, to forge a convincing argument against this from the perspective of Matthean priority. (9)

Of course the evidence of one pericope alone will not do to establish Marcan priority. It will be helpful, therefore, to turn to Michael Goulder who, in two inspired but brief surveys, draws attention to this 'widespread' phenomenon and lists several examples. (10) One of the most striking is the story of The Cleansing of the Leper (Matt 8.1-4 // Mark 1.40-45 // Luke 5.12-16). (11) Here, just after the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7), Matthew is returning to triple tradition material. He resets the scene by introducing, as often, 'many crowds' (8.1). This soon leads Matthew into difficulties since, like Mark, he has Jesus' injunction to the leper, 'Tell no-one, but go, show yourself to the priest . . . ' (Matt [48] 8.4 // Mark 1.44). As it stands in Matthew this is inexplicable: a miracle that has been witnessed by many crowds is to be kept secret. The parallel in Mark makes it clear how Matthew has become involved in the contradiction: Mark does not have crowds; the leper meets Jesus privately and the command to silence is coherent. That Matthew is involved in docile reproduction here is all the more plausible given the little stress in his Gospel on the secrecy theme that is so prominent a feature of Mark.

We might add a third example that equally points to Matthew's use of Mark, the story of Jesus' Mother and Brothers (Matt 12.46-50 // Mark 3.31-35 // Luke 8.19-21). Here Matthew has returned, once more, to triple tradition material after a section of double tradition material (Matt 12.33-45). The transition between the different kinds of material is smooth, with Matthew's characteristic, 'While he was still speaking to the crowds, behold . . . ' (Matt 12.46). However, the apparent ease of progression from one pericope to the next masks an incongruity, a genuine continuity error in Matthew's account. As in Mark, the mother and the brothers of Jesus are 'standing outside' (eisthkeisan exw, Matt 12.46; Mark 3.31: exw sthkonteV). This makes perfect sense in Mark where Jesus and his disciples are in a house (3.20: kai ercetai eiV oikon) (12) but it makes no sense in Matthew in which no house has been entered and the most recent scene change was a departure from the synagogue, with many following Jesus, in 12.15.

It is unlikely that Matthew has simply allowed himself to be a little loose in terminology here. He seems to be presupposing Jesus' presence in a house that he has not previously mentioned and this is confirmed by 13.1 which follows on from this pericope, 'On that day, after Jesus had left the house (exelqwn o IhsouV thV oikiaV), he was sitting beside the sea'. Matthew has, therefore, in switching between sources at 12.46, forgotten to refer to the house that had been mentioned earlier on by Mark. By reproducing Mark faithfully at this point, Matthew has inadvertently betrayed his hand, leaving the detective a key piece of evidence. (13)

This data, so easily explained if Matthew is secondary to Mark, will need, however, to be supplemented by similar data from Luke if we are to establish Marcan priority. Nor shall we be disappointed: there are many examples of the same phenomenon in Luke and I will take several of the most prominent.

[49] First, the Parable of the Sower and its Interpretation (Matt 13.1-23 // Mark 4.1-20 // Luke 8.4-15) present exactly the kind of scenario where, on the theory of Marcan priority, one would expect to see some incongruities. The evangelists would need to be careful to sustain any changes made in their retelling of the parable into the interpretation that follows. (14)

On three occasions, Luke apparently omits features of Mark's Parable which he goes on to mention in the Interpretation. (15) First, Mark says that the seed that fell on rocky soil sprang up quickly because it had no depth of earth (Mark 4.5; contrast Luke 8.6). Luke omits to mention this, for whatever reason, but he has the corresponding section in the Interpretation, 'those who when they hear, with joy they receive the word . . .' (Luke 8.13; cf. Mark 4.16). (16)

Second, in Luke 8.6, the seed 'withered for lack of moisture' (dia to mh ecein ikmada). This is a different reason from the one in Mark where it withers 'because it had no root' (dia to mh ecein rizan, Mark 4.6). In the Interpretation, however, Luke apparently reverts to the Marcan reason:

Mark 4.17: 'And they have no root in themselves (kai ouk ecousin rizan en eautouV) but last only for a little while.'

Luke 8.13: 'And these have no root (kai outoi rizan ouk ecousin); they believe for a while.'

Third, the sun is the agent of the scorching in Mark (4.6). This is then interpreted as 'trouble or persecution' (qliyiV h diwgmoV). Luke does not have the sun (8.6) but he does have 'temptation' (peirasmoV) that interprets it (Luke 8.13).

What we see three times we should know to be true: Luke has an interpretation to a text which interprets features that are not in that text. He has made changes in the Parable, changes that he has not been able to sustain in the Interpretation. This is a fine example of the phenomenon of fatigue.

For a second example of Lucan fatigue, it will be instructive to look at the Healing of the Paralytic (Matt 9.1-8 // Mark 2.1-12 // [50] Luke 5.17-26), to which Michael Goulder has drawn attention. (17) Here Luke omits to mention entry into a house, unlike Mark in 2.1 which has the subsequent comment that 'Many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door' (Mark 2.2). In agreement with Mark, however, Luke has plot developments that require Jesus to be in a crowded house of exactly the kind Mark mentions:

Mark 2.4: 'And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay.'

Luke 5.19: 'Finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus.'

There are obvious difficulties here similar to those that Matthew has with Jesus' Mother and Brothers (above): continuity errors like this are natural when a writer is dependent on the work of another. Luke omits to mention Mark's house and his inadvertence results in men ascending the roof of a house that Jesus has not entered. (18)

It might be added, as further evidence from the same pericope, that Luke has the scribes and the Pharisees debating not, as in Mark, 'in their hearts' (en taiV kardiaiV autwn, Mark 2.6) but, apparently, aloud (dialogizesqai . . . legonteV, Luke 5.21). This is in spite of the fact that Jesus goes on to question them, in both Luke and Mark, why they have been debating 'in' their 'hearts' (en taiV kardiaiV umwn, Mark 2.8 // Luke 5.22). (19) The latter phrase has simply come in, by fatigue, from Mark. (20)

The best example of the phenomenon, though, is Luke's version of the Feeding of the Five Thousand (Matt 14.13-21 // Mark 6.30-44 // Luke 9.10-17). In spite of, or perhaps because of, the familiarity of the story, a feature in Luke's account is sometimes [51] missed. (21) Mark says that the disciples go away with Jesus into a desert place (eiV erhmon topon, Mark 6.31). Luke, however, resets the scene in 'a city (poliV) called Bethsaida'. (22) This then causes all sorts of problems when Luke goes on to agree with Mark:

Mark 6.35b-36: 'And when the hour was already becoming late, his disciples having approached him were saying, "This is a desert place (erhmoV estin o topoV) and already the hour is late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages to buy something for themselves to eat."'

Luke 9.12: 'And the day began to draw in and the twelve having approached him said, "Send away the crowd, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside to lodge and find provisions because we are here in a desert place (wde en erhmw topw esmen)."'

The adjective used by both Mark and Luke is erhmoV, lonely, desolate, abandoned. Clearly it is nonsense to say 'we are here in a desolate place' when in the Lucan setting they are not. After all, if the crowd were in a city, they would not need to go to the surrounding villages and countryside to find food and lodging. (23) Further, since in Bethsaida food and lodging ought to be close to hand, Luke's comment that the day was drawing to a close lacks any relevance and, consequently, the feeding lacks the immediate motive that it has in Mark. In short, by relocating the Feeding of the Five Thousand, without being able to sustain the new setting with its fresh implications throughout, Luke has spoilt the story. (24)

On several occasions, then, an evangelist's faithfulness to his source at one point has apparently led his account into difficulties at other points. These six examples all seem to point clearly to Marcan priority. Matthean priorists, however, might object that [52] there are many well-known examples of incoherence in Mark and that, perhaps, these could be explained as Marcan fatigue with Matthew or Luke. Is the argument from fatigue therefore reversible? Could Marcan incoherence provide a good counter-argument?

I do not think so. There are undoubtedly several inconsistencies and clumsy expressions in Mark's Gospel, (25) incoherences that on the standard view Matthew and Luke have taken care to tidy-up. But this is different from the phenomenon of fatigue. The examples above are not merely cases where Matthew and Luke show signs of incoherence in relation to a coherent Marcan account. Rather, in most cases, Matthew and Luke differ from Mark at the beginning of the pericope, at the point where they are writing most characteristically, (26) and they agree with Mark later in the pericope, where they are writing less characteristically. It is not possible to find the same phenomenon in Mark.

To take the first example, the Death of John the Baptist (Mark 6.14-29 // Matt 14.1-12), Matthew is turning Mark's incorrect 'King Herod' into the proper 'Herod the Tetrarch' just as, in the Passion Narrative, he will specify that Pilate (Mark 15.1, 4, 9, 12, 14, 15, 43, 44) is properly called 'the governor' (o hgemwn, Matt. 27.2, 11, 14, 15, 21, 27, 28.14), and 'the high priest' (Mark 14.53) is 'Caiaphas the high priest' (Matt. 26.57) or in his Birth Narrative, that Herod the Great is a 'king' (2.1, 3) and that Archelaus is not (2.22). It is characteristic of Matthew, then, to say 'Herod the Tetrarch' in 14.1 and uncharacteristic to call him 'the king' in 14.9. (27)

Similarly, at the beginning of The Cleansing of the Leper (Matt 8.1-4 // Mark 1.40-45), Matthew is making a characteristic change by introducing 'many crowds' (8.1). ocloi polloi occur also at Matt 4.25, 13.2, 15.30 and 19.2 and they are never present in Mark. (28) And it is the presence of these 'many crowds' that causes the problems: Matthew is writing uncharacteristically by ending the pericope on the element of secrecy that is so famous a feature of Mark.

[53] Further, in the pericope on Jesus' Mother and Brothers (Matt 12.46-50 // Mark 3.31-35), Matthew once again begins characteristically with Eti autou lalountoV toiV ocloiV, idou . . . (Matt 12.46). This construction, genitive absolute followed by idou, comes eleven times in Matthew and never in Mark. (29) On two of these occasions (9.18 and 17.5), as here, idou interrupts speech.

In all three pericopae, then, Matthew begins by writing characteristically. He makes typical Matthean changes to his source, changes that will ultimately disrupt the coherence of the account. Fatigue provides a plausible explanation of what is happening.

The same is true of two of the examples from Luke. One is not surprised to see Luke cutting some of the picturesque detail in his version of the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8.4-8 // Mark 4.2-8). He does the same, apparently, with the Husbandmen (Mark 12.1; contrast Luke 20.9), the Mustard Seed (Mark 4.30-32; contrast Luke 13.18-19) and the Fig Tree (Mark 13.28; contrast Luke 21.30). On each of these occasions, Luke has less detail than Mark but only in the case of the Sower does this cause any problems since this is the only parable in Luke with an appended (Marcan) interpretation with which he might become fatigued.

Similarly, Luke's introduction to the story of the Paralytic (Mark 2.1-12 // Luke 5.17-26) is quite characteristic. 'And it came to pass on one of those days, and he was teaching' (Luke 5.17) is the kind of general, vague introduction to a pericope common in Luke who often gives the impression that a given incident is one among that could have been related. (30) The reference to the house has, fatally, been missed by Luke in his re-writing of the introduction to the pericope. (31)

In five out of the six cases, (32) therefore, Matthew [54] and Luke appear to be making characteristic changes at the beginning of a pericope only to involve themselves in problems later on as fatigue sets in. There is nothing in Mark like this. (33) To make sense of Matthew and Luke in the given places, we need the hypothesis of their dependence on Mark. (34)

The phenomenon of fatigue appears, then, to shed light on the issue of Marcan priority. It is hard work to find convincing examples that go the other way, to find places where one might be able to see fatigue in Mark on the assumption of Matthean or Lucan priority. Such a state of affairs alerts us to another interesting possibility, that 'fatigue' might help us to solve the other important aspect of the synoptic problem, the question of the double tradition or 'Q' material in Matthew and Luke.

The Double Tradition

There are two ways of explaining the double tradition: either Luke and Matthew are both dependent on a common source, Q - the majority view - or Luke has read Matthew, the view originating with Austin Farrer and developed with vigour by Michael Goulder. (35) Now if the Farrer Hypothesis is correct, one will expect to see the same traits in Luke's postulated use of Matthew as one sees in his use of Mark. In other words, one will hope to see him becoming as fatigued in Q material as he does in Marcan material.

Let us look at two pericopae, first (36) Matt 10.5-15 // Mark 6.6b-13 // Luke 9.1-6 (Mission Charge). (37) The relevant section is Luke 9.4-5:

Luke 9.4-5: And into whatever house (oikian) you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, as you leave that [55] town (thV polewV ekeinhV), shake the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.'

'As you leave that town,' Jesus says. The reader naturally asks, 'Which town?' - none has been mentioned in the previous verses. The answer to the question is found in Matthew. His version of this passage reads:

Matt 10.11: And whatever town (polin) or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it, and stay with them until you depart. 12. As you enter the house (thn oikian), salute it . . . 14. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, as you leave that house or town (thV oikiaV h thV polewV ekeinhV), shake off the dust from your feet.'

It seems likely that Luke has imagined the disciples in a town, the one mentioned in Matthew, but he has forgotten that he omitted to mention entry into that town. Once more, editorial fatigue will explain the incongruity but this time there may be a cost: the suggestion of Lucan dependence on Matthew. (38)

For a second example from double tradition, it will be fruitful to turn to the Parable of the Talents/Pounds (Matt 25.14-30 // Luke 19.11-27). (39) The Matthean version of the parable is deservedly the more popular of the two, for it is simpler, more coherent and easier to follow. There are three servants; one receives five talents, one two and the other one. The first makes five more talents and is rewarded, the second two more and is rewarded; the other hides his talent and is punished.

The Lucan version begins with ten servants and all receive one pound. When the nobleman returns, he summons the servants and we hear about 'the first' (19.16), 'the second' (19.18) and amazingly, 'the other', o eteroV (19.20). (40) It turns out, then, that Luke has three servants in mind, like Matthew, and not ten after all. (41)

Further, in Luke's parable, the first two servants receive 'cities' [56] as their reward (19.17, 19), the first ten and the second five, whereas in Matthew they are 'put in charge of much' (25.21, 23). It is striking then that Luke seems to share Matthew's story-line towards the end of the parable:

Matt 25.28: 'So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.'

Luke 19.24: 'Take the pound from him and give it to him who has the ten pounds.' (42)

The account lacks cohesion: the man in Luke actually has ten cities now, so a pound extra is nothing (43) and, in any case, he does not have ten pounds but eleven (19.16: 'your pound made ten pounds more'; contrast Matt 25.20). (44)

Luke's version of the Parable, then, does not hold together well (45) and there is a straightforward explanation to hand: Luke has attempted to reframe the parable that he found in Matthew but his ambition, on this occasion, exceeds his capability. Editorial fatigue soon drags the plot of the parable back to Matthew, with its three coherent servants, the first earning his five coherent talents.

Other, similar examples from the double tradition could be adduced. Among them are Matt 8.5-13 // Luke 7.1-10 in which Luke begins by describing the Centurion's boy as a douloV (Luke 7.2-3; cf. 7.10) but continues with paiV (Luke 7.7), in agreement with Matthew who calls him paiV throughout (Matt 8.6, 8, 13). (46) Or in Matt 13.16-17 // Luke 10.23-24, Luke apparently begins by dropping 'and your ears because they hear' as inappropriate, only to include the related clause in the next verse. (47) Or in Matt 18.6-9 // Luke 17.1-2 (cf. Mark 9.42-48), Luke, unlike Matthew, has no referent for toutwn.

However, instances like this, from the double tradition, are not as straightforward as instances from triple tradition material. Where one is looking at Matthew in relation to Mark or at Luke in relation to Mark, the issue is one of priority. The phenomenon of fatigue helps in the attempt to establish whether or not Mark [57] is prior to the other synoptics: it can show direction of dependence. When one comes to the question of Luke's connection with Matthew, the question is different. The alternatives are Luke's use of Matthew or Luke's (and Matthew's) use of Q - there is no issue here of direction of dependence.

In the examples from triple tradition material we found help from considering the characteristic wording of an evangelist at the beginning of the pericope in question. In double tradition material the same criterion is not so helpful since, in any instance, Luke might be re-writing in characteristic vein the beginning of a Q pericope, only to become fatigued and lapse into the Q wording later on. It is characteristic of Luke, for example, to feature the number ten, or the proportion 10:1, which may hint that the number ten is his addition to the parable of the Talents/Pounds. (48) But we do not know whether he has added the number to Q or to Matthew, and, consequently, whether he is becoming fatigued with Q or with Matthew.

What one will want to know, therefore, is how one can tell, in cases like this, what source Luke is working from. There are, of course, reconstructions of the text of Q, most recently that of the International Q Project, (49) against which one might want to compare the text of Matthew. However, such reconstructions cannot really help here since they are based, quite naturally, on the texts of Matthew and Luke which we have in front of us. They are an attempt to make sense of what Q would have looked like on the assumption that it was the source behind the double tradition material. In asking whether Luke is fatigued, in a given instance, with Matthew or Q, it is of (at best) limited value to appeal to a text that takes the existence of Q for granted.

The best way, therefore, to seek an answer to the question will be to bear in mind that if the Two Source Theory is correct, one will expect to see not only Luke but also Matthew showing signs of fatigue in double tradition material. Those who believe in the existence of Q will have to look for their own examples of editorial fatigue in Matthew's versions of double tradition material. I have looked for examples and cannot find any. On the Q theory it does strain plausibility that Luke should often show fatigue in double tradition material and that Matthew should never do so, especially [58] given Matthew's clearly observable tendency to become fatigued in his editing of Mark.


Theories about the Synoptic Gospels stand or fall because of the degree of plausibility which scholars find in the argument. Not everyone will agree that the examples adduced here are indeed examples of editorial fatigue and some will be unhappy with the solution to the synoptic problem to which they apparently point. The advantage, however, of this kind of approach is that it can only be properly answered by adducing good counter-examples, the cumulative effect of which would be to undermine the argument for the solution to the synoptic problem that is favoured here.

Therefore, those who do not believe in Marcan priority would need to find strong illustrations of the phenomenon as a control to those examples that make good sense on Marcan priority. Those who believe in Q would need to find cases where Matthew shows signs of fatigue in double tradition material. If such counter-examples are not forthcoming, perhaps it will be time to reinforce the theory of Marcan priority and to think again about dispensing with Q.


1. See, for example, W. D. Davies and D. C. Allison, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Matthew, vol. 1 (ICC; Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1988), 98.

2. Thus for many the strongest argument for Marcan priority remains the implausibility of the Griesbach hypothesis, for example E. P. Sanders and M. Davies, Studying the Synoptic Gospels (London: SCM, 1989), 92 and 117; and in more detail, C. Tuckett, The Revival of the Griesbach Hypothesis (SNTSMS, 34; Cambridge, C.U.P., 1983).

3. The term 'fatigue' is coined by Michael Goulder in Midrash and Lection in Matthew (London: SPCK, 1974), 35; and then used again in Luke: A New Paradigm (JSNTSup, 20; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1989), 109-10, with references on 274, 291, 334, 335, 368, 381, 423 (twice), 481, 512, 640 and 667. The term is also used by John Drury, Tradition and Design in Luke's Gospel (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1976), 130 and 137; cf. 91, 142 and 162; and by Robert Gundry, Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), 10.

4. This term is also used in passing by Goulder, Midrash, 35.

5. G. M. Styler, Excursus 4 in C. F . D. Moule, The Birth of the New Testament (3rd ed., London: Black, 1981), 285-316; this example 294. The same example is used to make the same point elsewhere, for example W. G. Kümmel, Introduction to the New Testament (ET, London: SCM, 1966), 48.

6. Likewise, Luke correctly calls him tetrarch (3.19, 9.7; Acts 13.1; cf. Luke 3.1).

7. The wording is slightly different between Matthew and Mark, kai luphqeiV o basileuV (Matt 14.9) and kai perilupoV genomenoV o basileuV (Mark 6.26). It is not necessary, however, that Matthew should retain the exact wording of Mark: the thesis is one of direct dependence rather than direct copying in minute detail. In this and the forthcoming examples, the fatigue occurs where changes at the beginning of a pericope require changes in the overall plot or story-line which do not get made, so revealing dependence on the source.

8. This is Goulder's explanation of the fatigue here - Midrash, 35 and 376-7. On this example see also Davies and Allison, Matthew, 107, 'Matthew unwittingly disturbs the coherence of Mark 6.17-29.' Styler (Excursus, 294) adds that the story is introduced by Matthew in 'flashback' (14.3, 'For Herod . . .') which Matthew has forgotten by 14.13 ('When Jesus heard this . . .').

9. H. Riley, in B. Orchard and H. Riley, The Order of the Synoptics. Why Three Synoptic Gospels? (Macon, Georgia: Mercer, 1987), 100, attempts to answer by offering a counter-example, Mark's change from 'Baptizer' in 6.24 where there is no parallel in Matthew to 'Baptist' in 6.25 where there is a parallel (Matt 14.8). This is not strong: 'Baptist' and 'Baptizer' are equally correct. Mark's variation is not unusual or surprising in the way that Matthew's 'tetrarch' and 'king' would be on the assumption of Matthean priority, to say nothing of the king's 'grief'.

10. See n. 3 above. Goulder takes for granted his solution to the synoptic problem in his discussion of 'fatigue' but he does not use the phenomenon as an argument for that solution.

11. This example is taken from Goulder, Midrash, 35 and 319.

12. It is worth adding that Mark 3.20 contains reference also to Jesus' family, thus forming a famous Marcan sandwich: house and family (3.20f) - Beelzebub (3.22-30) - house and family (3.31-35), a sandwich disturbed by Matthew's rearrangements.

13. I am unaware of any study or commentary which has noticed this feature in Matthew.

14. One can see an example of the phenomenon in Matthew here: Mark 4.7 has the thorns choking (sumpnigw) the seed, 'and it yielded no grain' (kai karpon ouk edwken). In Matt 13.7 they only choke (pnigw) the seed. In the Interpretation (Mark 4.19 // Matt 13.22), however, anxieties and love of riches choke (sumpnigw) the word, 'and it proves unfruitful' (kai akarpoV ginetai).

15. C. F. Evans, Saint Luke (London: SCM, 1990), 374, notes that Luke is revising Mark's Interpretation rather than commenting on his own version of the parable.

16. Luke does, however, omit the element of immediacy in both the Parable (Mark 4.5 // Luke 8.6) and the Interpretation (Mark 4.16 // Luke 8.13).

17. Luke, 331, though Goulder does not refer to this as an example of 'fatigue'.

18. J. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke I-IX (Anchor Bible 28, New York: Doubleday, 1981), 582, notices that Luke has omitted to mention the house and suggests that 'they sought to bring him in' (5.18b) is his substitute for it.

19. A. Plummer, Gospel According to St Luke (ICC, Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1896), 155, sees this but feels that 'legonteV may be used of thoughts', comparing Luke 12.17 and Matt 21.25. Fitzmyer, Luke, 584, likewise appeals to 12.17 but this is one of Luke's soliloquies. A closer parallel is Luke 20.14 (a redactional addition to Mark on the assumption of Marcan priority) where the tenants are clearly debating aloud, dielogizonto proV allhlouV legonteV . . .

20. There may be even a third example of the phenomenon in the same pericope: H. Conzelmann and A. Lindemann, Arbeitsbuch zum Neuen Testament (5th ed., Tübingen: Mohr, 1980), 56-7, suggest that Luke's switch from nomodidaskaloi in 5.17 to Marcan grammateuV in 5.21 (// Mark 2.6) is evidence of Luke's use of Mark.

21. It is seen by Goulder, Luke, 433, though he treats this as an example of 'muddle', on which see my Goulder and the Gospels (JSNTSup, 133; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1996), Chapter 11.

22. Some witnesses read kwmhn, and others topon erhmon, but this simply shows that some scribes also felt our difficulty. The readings are discussed by B. H. Streeter, The Four Gospels: A Study of Origins (London: Macmillan, 1924), 569 and J. M. Creed, The Gospel According to St Luke (London: Macmillan, 1930), 128.

23. On the lodging element, which is unique to Luke, see H. J. Cadbury, The Making of Luke-Acts (London: SPCK, 1958), 250, and 'Luke's Interest in Lodging', JBL 45 (1926), 305-22. It is actually another possible example of careless editing on Luke's part: having added a reference to lodging, he is unable to develop this idea in the remainder of the pericope which naturally focuses on the feeding element (cf. the reference to 'prayers' as well as 'fasting' in Luke 5.33, an element that has dropped out in Luke 5.34 // Mark 2.19; cf. Goulder, Luke, 109).

24. Explanations for the incongruity are lacking in the commentaries. The mystery is why Luke would want to relocate to Bethsaida. J. Nolland, Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 35A, Luke 1-9.20 (Dallas: Word, 1989), 440, says: 'No really satisfactory explanation has yet been offered'. I. H. Marshall, The Gospel of Luke, A Commentary on the Greek Text (Exeter: Paternoster, 1978), 360, attempts one: 'The indications are that they are further round the E side of the lake than Bethsaida, possibly in Gentile territory (the Decapolis) where Jews might not be sure of a welcome.'

25. One of the most famous instances is Mark 4.10-12; see also 1.2-3 and the question of the names of the women in Chapters 15 and 16, among others.

26. I am of course aware that one often defines what is characteristic of Matthew and Luke by how they differ from Mark and thus one is partly bound into a circle. It is not, however, the only means of establishing what is characteristic of each evangelist and in each case one has to ask whether the 'fatigue' explanation is more or less plausible than the alternatives.

27. The problem with the king 'grieving' in 14.9 is similar. Matthew has characteristically depicted Herod as weak but evil (14.5). Herod the Great is much the same - frightened (2.3) but a murderer (2.16).

28. These verses are redactional additions to Mark on the assumption of Marcan priority. The phrase is also at Luke 5.15 (at the end of this pericope - a minor agreement) and Luke 14.25. Altogether, the phrase comes five times in Matthew, never in Mark and twice in Luke.

29. The construction comes eleven times in Matthew, never in Mark and once in Luke. At least four of the instances are redactional additions on the assumption of Marcan priority (9.10, 9.18, 17.5 and here).

30. Cf. R. Bultmann, The History of the Synoptic Tradition (ET, 2nd ed., Oxford: Blackwell, 1968), 360-1, which gives several examples. Further, en mia + genitive occurs in 5.12 and hn didaskwn in 4.31, both redactional additions to Mark on the assumption of Marcan priority; cf. also 6.12.

31. On Lucan introductions to pericopae in relation to Matthew and Mark, see further my Goulder and the Gospels, Chapter 5.

32. The exception is Mark 6.30-44 // Luke 9.10-17 (Five Thousand), on which see n. 24 above.

33. De Wette did use arguments from Marcan incoherence in favour of Mark's use of Matthew and Luke, citing, for example, Mark 5.15 // Luke 8.35 in comparison with Luke 8.27 - see Bo Reicke, 'Griesbach's Answer to the Synoptic Question' in B. Orchard and T. R. W. Longstaff, eds., J. J. Griesbach: Synoptic and Text-Critical Studies 1776-1976 (SNTSMS, 34; Cambridge: C.U.P., 1978), 50-67 (64). But it never seems to be the case that the Marcan incoherence involves Mark specifically writing characteristically at the beginning of a pericope.

34. It ought to be added that two of the examples from Luke above would make sense also on the theory of Matthean priority. The parable of the Sower (Matt. 13.1-9; 18-23) and the Feeding of the Five Thousand (Matt. 14.13-21) both share the elements in Mark with which Luke is apparently becoming fatigued. With the Paralytic, however, this is not the case since Matthew (9.1-8) does not have any reference to the house that is mentioned in Mark and assumed in Luke.

35. Austin Farrer, 'On Dispensing with Q' in D. E. Nineham, ed., Studies in the Gospels, Essays in Memory of R. H. Lightfoot (Oxford: Blackwell, 1955), 55-88; for Michael Goulder, see n. 3, above. Griesbachian scholars also explain the double tradition by Luke's use of Matthew, W. Farmer, The Synoptic Problem. A Critical Review of the Problem of the Literary Relationships Between Matthew, Mark and Luke (New York: Macmillan, 1964).

36. This example is taken from Sanders and Davies, Studying, 95, though they do not use the term 'fatigue'.

37. The pericope is, of course, usually taken as a 'Mark-Q overlap', but the feature discussed here is in Matthew and Luke alone.

38. Luke could, logically, be fatigued with Q and not Matthew. Sanders and Davies (ibid.) note the possibility but think that it is unlikely. I will comment on the general issue below. In this instance, the International Q Project Reconstruction is unsure about thV polewV ekeinhV (Q 10.10) - it has a probability of only {C} ('a hesitant possibility') on the descending scale of {A} to {D}, no doubt because of the difficulty that Luke's wording differs between 9.4 and 10.10, JBL 114, 475-485 (480).

39. This example is taken from Goulder, Midrash, 289 and 441f and Luke, 681.

40. The International Q Project reconstructs the wording of Q 19.20 with - [[eteroV]], the double square brackets indicating a 'hesitant possibility'. The translation given is 'And [[another]] came . . .', JBL 114 (1995), 475-85 (484). However, if Luke had meant 'another', he would, no doubt, have avoided the article: cf. 14.15-24 (Great Banquet), o prwtoV . . . eteroV . . . eteroV (14.18, 19, 20).

41. This feature is often noticed but the significance for the question of Luke's sources is less often realised. J. Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus (6th ed., ET, London: SCM, 1963), 61 writes: 'In 19.13 Luke would seem to have ten servants, but the continuation (cf. especially o eteroV in 19.20) betrays that three was the original number'.

42. Because of the closeness in wording, the International Q Project reconstructs Q 19.24 just as it stands here in Matthew and Luke, JBL 114 (1995), 475-85 (484).

43. Goulder, Luke, 681, 'a mna is an absurd sum, a tip.'

44. Further, the naming of the servant as 'the one who has ten pounds' is in line with Matthew's naming throughout, 'the one who received the five talents' etc. (25.20, 22, 24, 28), and not with Luke's 'the first', 'the second', etc.

45. Cf. Evans, Saint Luke, 665-6, 'Luke's "ten of his servants" (v. 13) is very odd, and points to slovenliness at some stage.'

46. Cf. Goulder, Luke, 110 and 378.

47. Cf. Goulder, Luke, 481.

48. For Luke's fondness for fives and tens, see my Goulder and the Gospels, Chapter 15.

49. The critical text is reproduced in JBL 109 (1990), 499-501; 110 (1991), 494-8; 111 (1992), 500-8; 112 (1993), 500-6; 113 (1994), 495-500, 114 (1995), 475-85. I have drawn attention to the relevant parts in notes 38, 40 and 42 above.

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