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promise of the suggestions of the Holy Spirit to enable them to defend themselves; which Matthew represents as preceding their first mission, in which they might look for unbelief or neglect, but not persecution. To the same head of priority of composition, and consequently more lively recollection, we should refer the numerous passages in which Mark, relating the same event as Matthew or Luke, accompanies his narrative with those minute circumstances which impress an eyewitness, and, when the event is recent, are as distinctly remembered, and therefore as naturally set down, as the more important matters for the sake of which the story is related. As the same narrative passes from a contemporary journal to a formal biography, and still further to a history, these circumstances, the adjuncts rather than the essentials of the story are gradually dropt. Where the same events are related Mark is more circumstantial than Matthew, and Matthew than Luke, though the difference is not so great between the last and the second, as between the second and the first. We shall give some examples, following the order of our Gospels.
In the account of the calling of James and John, Mark (i. 20) says, that they left their father in the fishing vessel “with the hired servants;” Matthew (iv. 22) omits this last circumstance, but mentions their father Zebedee; while Luke (v. 11) makes no mention even of the father. In the history of the preaching of the Gospel, such as it was his
purpose to write, it was of no moment who was left behind in the vessel; the important point was that the Apostles immediately obeyed the call of Christ, left all and followed him. In the account of the crossing the Lake to the country of the Gadarenes, Mark (iv. 35) mentions that other small boats accompanied the vessel in which our Lord embarked. It was a circumstance which would strike a journalist recording what he saw; but it was of no importance as a link of the narrative, for these boats gave no aid in the storm which ensued, nor are their crews ever mentioned again; and no notice is taken of them by Matthew and Luke, though in other respects they closely agree with Mark. In the narrative of the cure of the paralytic man, Mark (ii. 1, 3) begins by saying that when it was known that he was gone into a house, great numbers
CHRISTIAN TEACHER.–No. 47.
came together, so that there was not even room to get to the door, and then proceeds to relate how the cripple was let down through the roof. Luke (Matthew ix. 1) is here very concise, says nothing of the assembling of the crowd, but alleges its existence (v. 19), as the reason why the bearers carried the cripple up to the housetop. This difference is instructive. The journalist sets down circumstances in the order in which they occur, the historian introduces them when necessary to explain the connection of events.
After his transfiguration our Lord descends from the mount and cures a lunatic boy. Mark (ix. 14) thus describes the transaction: “ When he came towards his disciples he saw a great multitude about them, and scribes . disputing with them; and the whole multitude was struck with awe when they saw him, and ran towards him and saluted him." This is the style of the eyewitness and contemporary recorder. Matthew simply says, “When they came to the multitude a man approached him kneelings (xvii. 14). Luke only, that the “ multitude was waiting for him” (ix. 37). But the eager rush of the crowd towards Jesus on his appearance is clearly no circumstance added by Mark to enliven the narrative: the disciples had failed in their attempts; and therefore it was that the appearance of the master was hailed with such emotion. Twice it is recorded that our Lord had children before him, and in both cases Mark mentions that he took them in his arms (évayka coduevos aŭro, ix. 36, x. 16), a circumstance not noticed by the other Evangelists (Matt. xviii. 2; Luke, ix. 47; Matt. xix. 13; Luke, xviii. 16). It was not necessary to the lesson of humility in the one case, or the benediction in the other, that he should take them in his arms; and it is dropped by the historians : but who that enters into our Lord's character can doubt that Mark's is the true and full account? Nor was it important to the moral of the story of the young man who inquired what he should do to inherit eternal life, that we should know that when “ Jesus looked on him he loved him ;" a circumstance which Mark alone mentions (x. 21-comp. Matt. xix. 16; Luke, xviii. 19), but in which we recognise the Saviour, observed by a living witness, who records his impression while the colours of memory are yet warm and glowing.
Mark (x. 32) thus describes our Lord's disclosure of his approaching sufferings to his disciples : “ And they were on the way going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them, and they were filled with awe, and were afraid as they followed; and Jesus again taking the twelve began to speak to them of the things which were about to happen to him.” This graphic description of the disciples lingering behind their master in perplexity and dread while he goes boldly onward towards the scene of his suffering, Matthew (xx. 17) reduces to the simple announcement,
Jesus was going up to Jerusalem he took the Twelve apart on the way, and said to them."-And yet Mark is called an epitomater of Matthew. As Jesus enters Jericho, blind Bartimæus, the son of Timæus, sits by the way begging; and hearing that Jesus was passing, cries aloud for aid. Our Lord passes on, and the crowd reprove the blind but he cries the more loudly, and our Lord halting, when he was beyond the reach of his own voice, commands those about him to call Bartimæus.* The command is repeated to him ; and casting away the in
1 cumbrance of his upper garment, he rises from the ground and comes to him. This is the account of Mark (x. 46); that of Matthew (xx. 29) is substantially the same, except that he speaks of two: but he has dropped the circumstance, that Jesus called him by the medium of others, and the throwing aside his garment, which marks so strongly the eagerness of his hope. We shall mention but one contrast more under this head. In the introduction of the prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, Mark says (xiii. 1), that as he was going out of the temple one of his disciples said to him, Master, lo! what large stones and what large buildings !-a remark most naturally suggested by the unusual size of the substructions by which the Temple was supported, precisely at the place where they must have descended in order to cross the valley and reach the Mount of Olives. In Matthew it is said (xxiv. 1) that as he went out from the Temple “ the disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the Temple;" as if the whole body, or a considerable part, had gathered
• Elsewhere Mark is more precise than Matthew in regard to names (v. 22), and a remarkable instance (xv. 21).
round him for the express purpose of drawing his attention to the Temple architecture, instead of its being the passing remark of one, suggested by the special locality. Luke's description is still more vague:
« When some said concerning the Temple, that it is adorned with beautiful stones, and offerings, &c.;" a remark which might have been made anywhere. Matthew omits the interesting circumstance, that when our Lord prophesied the destruction of the Temple, he was "right over against it” (Mark xiii. 3). Luke says nothing of the locality in which the prophecy was delivered.
If we compare the accounts given respectively by Mark and the other Evangelists, especially Matthew, of our Lord's actions and discourses, we shall generally find those of Mark recommended by their internal evidence. We take the example of the conversation between Christ and the Syrophænician woman (Mark vii. 25-30; Matt. xv. 22. 28). When she prefers her request for the cure of her daughter, our Lord answers, according to Mark, " Suffer the children to be filled first of all; for it is not right to take the children's bread and cast it to the dogs :" but according to Matthew he says only, “it is not right to take the children's bread, and cast it to the dogs." Between the two expressions there is all the difference of a harsh refusal and a gentle putting aside of the request. Our Lord's mission was primarily to the lost sheep of the house of Israel; this woman was, as Mark informs us, a Gentile (Ellnvís), and he therefore intimates to her that the time was not yet come when those of her nation could partake of the benefits of his divine power. There is no humiliating contrast drawn between the two classes, as if the food destined for the children would be profaned by being cast to the dogs, but the children of the house must first be served, and the food prepared for them not given away till they are filled. And this brings out the beauty and aptness of the answer which affection suggested to the mother, " True, Lord, for the dogs (kuvápia) under the table eat of the children's crumbs." Adopting his own illustration, she makes good her petition; “the dogs" (not unclean animals banished
“ from the house, but favourites admitted to the same apartment with the children) " are not condemned to wait till the children have finished, but, as the meal goes on, gather the crumbs. And so, while thou displayest thy beneficent powers profusely among thy countrymen, deign to let fall one blessing on the head of a Gentile.” Mark has been charged by Strauss with a disposition to exaggerate the statements of the other Evangelists. We think the reverse is the case-certainly in the following instance. In reporting the simile of the grain of mustard-seed, Matthew and Luke represent our Lord as saying, “ it becometh a great tree, so that the fowls of heaven lodge in its branches." We need not inform our critical readers with what fruitless labour the botany of the East has been explored for a plant bearing the name of oivati, which grows into a tree, and yet can be reckoned among potherbs (λάχανα. (Lázava). The passage in Mark (iv. 31) presents no difficulty: he does not call it a tree, nor does he say that the birds of the air lodge in its branches, but under its shadow.* This is true of the plant even in our climate, much more in the East. If there is exaggeration here, it has not been on the part of Mark. So, in the account of the resurrection, Mark's “ young man clad in a white robe," becomes in Matthew " an angel, whose countenance was as lightning, and his garment white as snow.” It
may be said these contrasts prove that Mark retained more faithfully or repeated more judiciously his master's words and actions than Matthew or Luke, but not that he wrote before them. But there are other
in which the difference has evidently proceeded from a desire on the part of the later Evangelists to avoid what to popular apprehension might seem to derogate from the character and dignity of the subject of their biography. Now the whole history of the doctrine respecting our Lord's person, character, and office, from the time when Peter described him as "a man approved of God,” to the concoction of the Nicene Creed, was one of gradual exaltation. Hence a presumption arises that of his own biographers he who speaks of him with the greatest freedom and plainness
* Wetstein on Matthew xiii. 32, quotes a Rabbinical author. “ Dixit R. Simon f. Chalaptha : Caulem Sinapis habui in horto meo in quem ascendi, sicut ascendere quis solet in summitatem ficus.” We fear this mustard-plant belongs to the same department of botany as a well-known beanstalk. It is, however, a good illustration of the passage in Matthew, only not exactly in the way that the commentator has taken it.