In my previous two posts I stressed that knowing that there are differences, even discrepancies, among the Gospels does not need to be considered in a purely negative light. There are very serious positive pay-offs. These differences/discrepancies open up possibilities for interpretation, because they (in theory) prevent a person from importing a meaning into a text that is difficult to sustain from the words of the text itself. When John says that Jesus died on the day before the Passover meal was eaten, but Mark says that Jesus died on the day *after* the meal was eaten (both are quite explicit), then the interpreter’s energy really should not be taken up with showing that they both are saying the same thing. They are saying different things, and not recognizing this means failing to recognize what each Gospel is trying to say. In this particular case, John almost certainly is the one who changed the historical datum (although, OK, this is debated). It allows John to portray Jesus as the “lamb of God” who is killed, in this version, on the same day, at the same hour, and by the same people (the priests) as the ones who kill the Passover lamb. This is not Mark’s message. It’s John’s message. And without admitting there’s a difference between the accounts, you can’t see it.


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