Mark 1:12

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And straightway the Spirit driveth him forth into the wilderness. (ASV)


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Where was Jesus after the baptism?


Bart Ehrman points out in Jesus, Interrupted that Jesus is in different places after the baptism in different Gospels:

Mark 1:12-13

12 And straightway the Spirit driveth him forth into the wilderness.
13 And he was in the wilderness forty days tempted of Satan.


John 1:34-36

34 And I have seen, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.
35 Again on the morrow John was standing, and two of his disciples;
36 and he looked upon Jesus as he walked, and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God!

--JoeWallack 09:54, 25 June 2009 (EDT)

JW: Was Jesus Perfect According to "Mark" and "Matthew"?

A brief examination of selected verses in each seems to indicate that "Mark�s" Jesus was Not perfect while "Matthew�s" Jesus was (at least in "Matthew's" eyes). Consider the following:

Mark 1: (KJV) 12 "And immediately the spirit driveth him into the wilderness."

Compare to Matthew 4: (KJV) 1 "Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil."

Note the differences in description of what happens after the baptism. In "Mark" immediately after the baptism where Jesus received the spirit of God he is forcibly driven into the wilderness by the spirit of God. According to "Mark" Jesus received something at the baptism that he previously did not possess. This is consistent with "Mark�s" depiction of Jesus not being born great but achieving greatness. "Matthew" has toned down the force of the spirit on Jesus saying "led" instead of "driven" and "then" instead of "immediately"?. Apparently, for "Matthew" it was a problem showing Jesus as significantly different after the baptism.

"Mark�s"? Jesus apparently lacked something and needed to be driven forward while "Matthew�s" Jesus didn�t although he still needed to be lead.

Mark 2: (KJV) 26 "How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him"

I Samuel describes the meeting as follows:

I Samuel 21: (JPS)

2 "Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest; and Ahimelech came to meet David trembling, and said unto him: 'Why art thou alone, and no man with thee"

So according to the Tanakh Ahimelech was the high priest at the time and not Abiathar. "Matthew" recognized "Mark�s" error and omitted the reference to Abiathar.

"Mark�s" Jesus quotes in error while "Matthew�s" doesn�t. This raises an interesting question normally not discussed by Christian Bible scholarship:

Did "Mark"? accurately quote Jesus or a source superior to his Gospel that had Jesus quoting in error but not edit it because he felt he didn�t need to present a perfect Jesus while "Matthew" felt he did?

Mark 2: (KJV) 26 "How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him"

As indicated above the account in the Tanakh indicates that David was alone so Jesus� audience could not have read that David gave the shewbread to "them which were with him". "Matthew" also recognized this error and omitted the explicit statement that David gave bread to those with him.

Mark 5: (KJV) 7 "And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. 8 For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. 9 And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. 10 And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country. 11 Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. 12 And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. 13 And forthwith Jesus gave them leave."

Compare to:

Matthew 8: (KJV) 29 "And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? 30 And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. 31 So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. 32 And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine:"

There are many strange aspects of "Mark�s" story here that "Matthew" has exorcised in his version. Note that in Mark the demon actually resists Jesus' initial command to leave, "Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit". Matthew saw resistance to Jesus' commands as a theological impossibility so in his version the demons obey Jesus' initial command, "Go".

"Mark�s" Jesus had a limit on his power here while "Matthew�s" Jesus didn�t.

Mark 5: (KJV) 27 "When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. 28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. 29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes"

Compare to:

Matthew 9: (KJV) 20 "And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: 21 For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. 22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour."

In "Mark" Jesus� act of healing in this story is an unconscious act. In "Matthew" it's a conscious act. As usual "Matthew" has healed a perceived deficiency in Jesus according to "Mark".

"Mark's" Jesus shows a lack of knowledge here which "Matthew's" Jesus possesses.

Mark 6: (KJV) 5 "And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them."

Compare to:

Matthew 13: (KJV) 58 "And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief."

"Mark" states that Jesus could not do mighty work. In typical "Matthew" style, Matthew undoes a Markan limitation on Jesus and says that Jesus chose not to do mighty works.

"Mark's" Jesus here shows a lack of power while "Matthew's" Jesus lacks this lack.

Mark 7: (KJV) 19 "Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats"

A superior translation for "purging all meats" above is an editorial comment by the author, "thus he declared all foods clean" and this is the most common translation of a majority of modern Bible translations. This contradicts the report of "Matthew" that Jesus claimed he would not change the Law in any way. Note that "Mark" never has Jesus promise that he won�t change the Law like "Matthew" does. This subject is a good example of how "Mark" is more consistent within itself than "Matthew" because it's not based on an editing of another Gospel like "Matthew" is. "Matthew" didn't accept "Mark's" position that Jesus did change the Law but Matthew still wanted to include specific stories from Mark that showed Jesus changing the Law.

"Mark's" Jesus broke the Law but that's no big deal if your Jesus isn�t perfect. "Matthew's" Jesus couldn�t break the Law (at least according to "Matthew" because then he wouldn�t be perfect.

Mark 9: (KJV) 13 "But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him."

There is no prophecy in the Tanakh that Elijah would suffer during his mission or fail in any sense. Compare to:

Matthew 17: (KJV)

12 "But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they Listed."

When the author of "Matthew" ran this part of "Mark" through the Zerox machine he whited out "as it is written of him" because he realized there was no such prophecy.

Another example of an imperfect Jesus being allowed an imperfect quote.

Mark 9: (KJV) 16 "And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them"

Compare to:

Matthew 17: (KJV) 14 "And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, 15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water."

In Mark's account Jesus has to ask what's going on. As usual Matthew has changed Mark so that Jesus is not asking a question which would imply lack of knowledge on his part.

"Mark's" Jesus has to ask. "Matthew's" doesn't.

Mark 9: (KJV) 28 "And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting."

Compare to:

Matthew 17: (KJV) 19 "Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? 20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting."

According to "Mark" the reason for the disciples� failure was they didn�t use the right method (prayer. "Fasting" is a later addition not supported by the evidence of the early manuscripts). According to "Matthew" the reason for the disciples� failure was a lack of faith. Matthew�s finish to the story "Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer" is the perfect ending, just not the way Christians think it is. In the story Matthew just gave Jesus didn�t use prayer to make that kind go out, he used the standard rebuke maneuver. Mark�s story here is actually just an apology to try and explain why officially designated followers of Jesus who were supposedly given the authority from Jesus to heal anyone could not heal some people (like those who were really sick). The apology is that anyone who is not immediately healed must have the type of demon which can only be cured through praying for an INDEFINITE time period (like until they get better, die, are branded a non-believer or every one forgets all about them, whichever comes first).

Mark 10: (KJV) 2 "And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him."

Compare to Matthew 19: (KJV)

3 "The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause"

"Matthew" has changed "Mark's" question from "is divorce lawful" to "is divorce lawful for any reason". Mark had no problem having Jesus blatantly contradict the law of the Tanakh and justify the contradiction with a contrived explanation supported by Jesus� supposed authority to reinterpret/change. Matthew tried harder to have his Jesus respect the existing law and since the Tanakh clearly permitted divorce Matthew changed Mark�s question.

Another example of "Mark�s" imperfect Jesus being able to not follow the Law.

Mark 10: (KJV) 2 "And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. 3 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? 4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. 5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. 7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; 8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. 11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her."

"Matthew's" Jesus promised not to change the Law in any way but here�s "Mark's" Jesus changing the Law (again). Note that Mark�s Jesus never promised not to change the Law.

Mark 10: (KJV) 17 "And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? 18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God."

Compare to:

Matthew 19: (KJV) 16 "And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments."

Normally, when "Mark" and "Matthew" are presenting narratives of the same story I won�t claim an error unless there is a significant difference in their descriptions. For conversations though I�ll apply a stricter standard as the record of a conversation should not have any variation. I�ll still only claim error when comparing records of conversations if there is more than a trivial difference in meaning. Mark and Matthew are clearly providing records of the exact same conversation above and the difference in meaning is more than trivial. According to Mark the event starts with Jesus being addressed as "good teacher" and explaining that only God is good. This is consistent with Mark�s presentation of a more human Jesus who is subservient to God. The KJV translation of Matthew above is not supported by the overwhelming evidence from early manuscripts. Almost all other modern translations lack the "good" before "master" and have Jesus ask "why do you ask me about what is good" instead of "why callest thou me good". This is consistent with Matthew�s presentation of a Jesus without any flaws. This leaves Matthew�s story though with the nonsensical question "why do you ask me about what is good". Gosh, why would anyone ask Matthew�s Jesus that?

"Mark's" Jesus indicates there is someone perfect but it�s not him (unless he was referring to "Matthew's" Jesus). "Matthew's" Jesus� removes himself from the comparison to the one who is good.

Mark 10: (KJV) 19 "Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother."

Compare to:

Matthew 19: (KJV) 18 "He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

Same conversation, different commandments. "Mark�s" "defraud not" may have been intended to be a summary of several commandments but �Matthew?? was apparently bothered by the fact that there is no such specific commandment so he deleted it when he copied from Mark.

Once again "Mark's" Jesus is permitted to quote inaccurately.

Mark 11: (KJV) 14 "And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it."

Compare to:

Matthew 21: (KJV) 19 "And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away."

Mark doesn�t report the tree suffering any immediate ill effects. Matthew reports that it immediately withered away. Once again Matthew is upping the Templo.

"Mark's" Jesus� power is slower than "Matthew's" Jesus.

Mark 14: (KJV) 33 "And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;"

Compare to Matthew 26: (KJV) 37 "And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy."

Mark�s "sore amazed" above has the meaning in Greek of being greatly distressed and implies an internal struggle. Matthew�s "sorrowful" above tones down the internal struggle as the author of Matthew always wants to present Jesus as completely in charge.

"Mark's" Jesus displays some conflict while �Matthew�s" Jesus does not.

We can summarize these perfection differences as follows:

1) Deficiency in character.

2) Inaccurate quotes of the Tanakh.

3) Limit on Jesus' power.

4) Lack of knowledge.

5) Inability to follow the Law.

6) Testimony that he's (Jesus) not perfect.

7) Struggling with mission.

In conclusion, the quotes above seem to indicate that "Mark" intended to present a Jesus who was not perfect while "Matthew" intended to present a Jesus that was perfect.

--JoeWallack 10:52, 10 Jun 2006 (CDT)

[COLOR=Blue]JW: The observation that "Mark", writing first, presented a [B]less [/B] than perfect Jesus and "Matthew", using "Mark" as a primary source, [B]evolved [/B] "Mark's" Jesus into a perfect Jesus, fits the theory that the Gospels are based to a certain extent on [B]Imagination[/B] as opposed to history. If we look for these types of significant differences in Jesus' development over time in the Gospels we see an Evolution of Jesus' entire existence possibly based primMarily on Fiction rather than Fact. The Origin Of Jesucies based on History would gradually have [B]Less[/B] known about him over time as the distance between the History and Evidence available to authors increased. The Origin Of The Jesucies based on Imagination would gradually have More known about him over time as the distance between the time the Character supposedly lived and the time available to the Imagination of authors increased. We can see in the order of composition in the Christian Bible that [B]subsequent authors know more[/B] about their Jesus than predecessors supporting the theory that their primary source is Imagination rather than History:

1) In "Mark" the starting point is the [B]Baptism[/B] where Jesus becomes "the son of god".

2) In what was likely the original "Matthew" used by the Ebionites, Jesus' starting point is birth, but only a [B]natural[/B] one.

3) In "Luke" Jesus is [B]born as the son of god[/B], quotation "Marks" removed, and "Mark's" necessary Baptism becomes a theological contradiction and embarrassment for a Gospel claiming Jesus was born the son of god.

4) In "John" Jesus is pushed back to "[B]The Beginning[/B]" and now Jesus' Baptism isn't even narrated.

My illustration of "Mark" presenting a less than perfect Jesus and "Matthew" evolving Jesus to a perfect organism fits the theme of subsequent development based on Imagination also because of the [B]certainty/uncertainty [/B] issue. A report based closer to actual history should have more certainty in general than a report based farther from history because certainty should decrease with time if it's based on history. That "Matthew" is certain that Jesus was perfect as compared to "Mark" indicates that Imagination is being used rather than history.

At Tweeb where I presented this, JP Holding decided to take the tac of disputing that "Mark" and "Matthew's" Jesucies had different degrees of perfection:


I've never heard this tac before. Apologists will always argue here that "Mark" showed the human side of Jesus and Phil Indeblank showed the fill-in-the-blank side of Jesus. Where the hell was JP when we were losing the America's Cup to the Kiwis? We sure could have used him. Recently, when I pointed out the Messianic Secret theme of "Mark" Holding "defended" with "Mark" writing to an Honor/Shame Society (apparently another Secret). When I pointed out that "John" explicitly has Jesus declare his candicy for office Holding claimed that John was not writing to an Honor/Shame Society (even though the audience was the same according to Holding). So he may just be trying out new material.


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