Why Discrepancies Matter for Interpretation

In the last post I pointed out that Mark and Luke have very (very!) different portrayals of Jesus going to his death.  In this post I want to explain why that ultimately matters for understanding each of the Gospels: without understanding this difference, you will misunderstand *both* Gospels.

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I have argued that the two portrayals of Jesus going to his death in Mark and Luke are radically different, and that recognizing this radical difference is of utmost importance for ...

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Why Differences and Discrepancies Matter Theologically/Religiously

On Wednesday I will be having a public debate with Mike Licona at Kennesaw State University on the topic: “Are the Gospels Historically Reliable.”  This is something I’ve thought long and hard about for my entire adult life, and so has he.  But we disagree, heartily.  It should be a lively and interesting debate.

Just now I was looking through the ancient history of the blog, and I ran across this post where I discuss the issue from a different perspective ...

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Jesus’ Death and Resurrection in Mark: Another Blast from the Past

I have been talking about how no one in Mark’s Gospel (as opposed to the other Gospels) knows who Jesus is — not his family, his townsfolk, the Jewish leaders, not even his disciples.  But the reader knows.  Yet  even the reader is not given the full scoop until the end.  Here is how I explain the matter, in a post from years ago.

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Jesus’ Death as the Son of God

It is clear from Mark’s Gospel that Jesus’ ...

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Mark’s Suffering Son of God: A Blast From the Past

In my previous two posts I’ve pointed out that no one seems to understand who Jesus is in the Gospel of Mark.   In this post I want to show how Mark himself understands Jesus.  Here is how I discussed the matter several years ago on the blog.

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Jesus The Suffering Son of God

Throughout the early portions of Mark’s Gospel the reader is given several indications that Jesus will have to die (e.g., 2:20; 3:6). After Peter’s confession, ...

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Jesus in Mark: Who Knew?

In my previous post I pointed out that Jesus’ mother (and brothers) don’t seem to know who he really is in Mark.  This is part of a broader theme distinctive to Mark’s Gospel, a theme that is considerably downplayed in the other Gospels (and almost completely done away with in John).  Mark wants to emphasize, repeatedly, that no one seemed to understand who Jesus was throughout his entire ministry.  Here is what I say on the theme in my textbook ...

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Jesus’ Mother and Brothers in Mark

A brief tangent on Mark’s account of Jesus’ rejection in his hometown (Mark 6:1-6), as summarized in my post.  As I indicated there, Jesus’ townspeople are incredulous that he can deliver such an impressive address in the synagogue.  They ask: “Where did he get such these things?  What what is this wisdom that has been given to him?  And how can such miracles be worked through his hands?  Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother ...

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Jesus Rejected by His Own Townspeople in Mark

I want to show in some depth why I think the parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31 does not originally go back to Jesus himself, but is a story that Luke either came up with himself or inherited from the oral tradition.   Recall:  the rich man feasts sumptuously; Lazarus is impoverished and desperate for the crumbs from the man’s table.  They both die.  Lazarus is carried by the angels to “Abraham’s bosom” where he is in ...

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A Very Different Portrayal of Jesus’ Death

I am talking about how I came to understand and appreciate the Bible once I realized that there were widely different perspectives presented in one author or another – even when talking about the same thing.  The example I’m using is the Gospel portrayals of Jesus’ death.  In my previous post I laid out how Mark depicts it; here I will discuss how Luke does.  What I came to see (back when I was a graduate student, still a committed ...

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How a Non-Historical Account Can Be Meaningful: The Death of Jesus in Mark

I am now at a point where I can explain how I read the Bible when I was a committed Christian who was not, however, a conservative evangelical convinced that the Bible was a completely inerrant revelation from God without any discrepancies or differences in it.  As I have already indicated, my new way of reading of the Bible did not denigrate the Bible at all, as often happens when people realize there are mistakes in it and come away ...

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Is Mark’s Gospel Unsophisticated?

I’ll be be dealing with just one question in this week’s Readers’ Mailbag, since the response will require some explaining.  I has to do with the literary artistry of the Gospel of Mark – is it a fairly unsophisticated account of Jesus’ life and death?

The question itself will require a bit of set-up and explanation.  In an earlier post I argued that Mark’s Gospel almost certainly ended in chapter sixteen at verse 8.   Jesus has been crucified, dead, and buried.  ...

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