Did Matthew And Luke Believe That Mark Was Infallible?
Did every one of the Bible's authors believe that every other book of the Bible was without error? We can actually do a detailed investigation of this question for three of the Gospels, because Bible scholars agree that the authors of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke had a copy of the Gospel of Mark and used it as one of their primary sources when they were writing their own Gospels. This video compares 9 stories in the Gospel of Mark with the same stories reported in Matthew and/or Luke, to see if Matthew and Luke agreed with Mark or contradicted him.
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Did Matthew And Luke believe that the Gospel of Mark was Infallible?
Many modern Christians believe that the Bible, including the Gospel of Mark, is the infallible, inerrant Word of God. These include Southern Baptists, some kinds of Presbyterians, Pentecostals and many others.
But did you ever wonder whether the Bible’s authors believed that it was infallible, that is, without any errors in it?
The Bible itself provides enough information for us to investigate this question, at least for the Gospel of Mark, because Matthew and Luke both copied from Mark’s Gospel when they wrote their Gospels.
In fact, Bible scholars have calculated the Gospel of Mark was the source for 41% of the Gospel of Luke and 46% of the Gospel of Matthew.
Many of these passages are almost word-for-word the same. Here is one example, Mark 2:13-17.
Here is another example, Mark 10:46-52.
But do Matthew and Luke always agree with Mark? This is where it gets interesting. Authors are always going to change the story a little – adding or removing details.
But are there any places where they just don’t line up, where they contradict each other?
Let’s start with Mark 5:1-20. This is the passage where Jesus commands a legion of demons to leave a man and go into a herd of swine. But Matthew said there were two demon possessed men.
Moving just a few verses ahead, we find the story of Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter in Mark 5:22-43. This is actually two stories, a story within a story, because while Jesus is walking to Jairus’ house, Jesus heals a woman who has had a flow of blood for 12 years. Before Jesus heals the woman with a flow of blood, Mark says that Jairus said that his daughter was “at the point of death” or “near death”, and asks Jesus to come to his house so that she “may be healed”, not that she would be raised from the dead. But Matthew says that Jairus said that his daughter was dead.
In Mark 6:8-9, Jesus sent out His Apostles to perform miracles. Mark says that He gave them a short list of things to take with them, which included a staff and sandals. But Luke and Matthew both say that Jesus specifically told them that they should take neither sandals nor a staff.
Next, let’s look at where Jesus heals the blind man in Mark. The parallels here are very striking, as are the differences. Matthew and Mark both say that this happened after James and John had asked to sit at Jesus’ left and right hand.
Both say that it happened as Jesus left Jericho accompanied by a great number of people.
But Mark says it was only one blind man, while Matthew says it was two blind men. Notice that Matthew did not even name one of them – Bartimaeus – even though the Gospel of Mark told Matthew who he was. So the author of Matthew must have thought that this was wrong, that neither man was named Bartimaeus.
Even though there was only one blind man in Mark and two in Matthew, these men all say almost exactly the same thing, “Have mercy on us, Son of David”.
The crowd rebukes the blind man, or men, in both stories. This tells us that these are the same event because it could not have happened twice. If these had been two different events, the crowd would have learned from the first one and not rebuked anyone in the second one. And notice that, in both cases, the blind man or men say very similar things, “Son of David, have mercy”.
Both say that Jesus stood still. But Mark says that Jesus told someone to call the blind man. Matthew says that Jesus did so himself.
In both stories, Jesus uses almost identical language to ask the blind man, or men, what they want Him to do.
All of them ask Jesus to heal their blindness.
All of them are healed immediately and then they follow Jesus.
Then both Gospels move on to the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, without any events in between.
Shortly after the triumphal entry to Jerusalem, Matthew says that Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple, then He cursed the fig tree.
But Mark says the exact opposite, that Jesus cursed the fig tree, then he threw the money changers out of the temple.
Matthew and Mark also disagree about when the fig tree died. Matthew says it was immediate, and the disciples were amazed that it withered so fast. But Mark says that the disciples only heard Jesus curse the tree, and did not notice that it was dead until the next morning.
A few days later, all of the Gospels say that Jesus and his disciples had the Last Supper. At this supper, according to Matthew and Luke, Jesus told Peter, “This very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times”.
But, according to Mark, the cock would crow twice before Peter denied Christ three times. Mark goes on to say that these two cock crows occurred at different times.
So, according to Matthew and Luke, Peter denied Christ 3 times, then the cock crowed.
But, according to Mark, the cock crowed after Peter’s first denial but before the other two. Then it crowed again after Peter had finished denying Christ 3 times.
Matthew and Luke disagree with several things that Mark says about Christ’s resurrection. First, Mark says that the stone door of the tomb was already rolled away when the women got there.
But Matthew says that the women were present when the angel rolled the stone away.
There’s just no way that both of these reports can be true. Matthew had a copy of Mark’s Gospel, and he obviously believed that Mark was wrong.
Next, Matthew says that the angel sat on the stone after he rolled it, and was sitting on the stone when he told the women that Christ had risen.
But Mark says that the women had entered into Christ’s tomb, and saw a young man sitting inside the tomb, who told them that Christ had risen.
Luke not only disagrees with Mark about where the angel was when he told the women that Christ had risen, he also disagrees about the number. Mark said there was one. Luke says there were two.
Once again, you just can’t line these up. Although they are obviously describing exactly the same event, Matthew and Luke both disagree with Mark’s report about where the angel was, and Luke even disagrees with Mark about the number of angels.
If Christianity is true, this is the most important announcement in human history, “Christ is risen”, but the Gospel writers do not agree with each other about simple details.
And now, the last verse in Mark, and the last contradiction in this video. The Gospel of Mark, in its very last verse, says that the women did not tell anyone about Christ’s resurrection.
But Matthew and Luke say the exact opposite, that the women quickly ran to tell the disciples that Christ has been resurrected. It is difficult to imagine a more clear, direct contradiction between Mark’s report and the report in Matthew and Luke.
Did the women NOT tell anyone? Or did the women RUN QUICKLY to tell the disciples. Obviously, the writers of Matthew and Luke thought that Mark was wrong.
This video has presented 9 examples where the writers of the Gospels of Matthew and/or Luke decided that the Gospel of Mark incorrectly reported an event, and so they made a substantial change to the story that directly contradicted the Gospel of Mark. This indicates that Matthew and Luke believed that Mark was a good source of information, but not a perfect one. They did NOT believe that Mark was without error.
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