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Thread: Contradiction? Matthew/Mark vs Luke - Last Supper Chronology?

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  1. #1

    Contradiction? Matthew/Mark vs Luke - Last Supper Chronology?

    Hi,

    I'm having a difficult time with the accounts in Matthew/Mark vs Luke at the Last Supper. My first assumption is all four gospels are written chronologically - meaning the events are written in order (A happened, then B, then C).

    Matthew 26:21-25 has Jesus declaring and condemning a betrayer. Then the institution of communion. Then the "won't partake" statement after communion.

    Mark 14:18-21 is exactly the same (except for slight wording and the absence of Judas asking if he is the betrayer as is in Matthew) - communion is instituted and then the "won't partake" statement afterward.

    Luke, though, presents the "won't partake" statement BEFORE communion and Jesus declares and condemns the betrayer AFTER communion.

    My question is: how is it possible to reconcile these specific details in the three gospels, while still maintaining the individual timelines? Most harmonies I've looked at simply adopt one timeline from Mark, Matthew or Luke, then plug in the other gospels to make it fit.

    I thought inerrancy meant there was no incorrect information in the bible - that it was perfect? If all four gospels are chronological, how could all four timelines be correct? Specifically, how can Matthew/Mark be correct while Luke has these events in opposite order?

    Thanks for any help.

    why1942

  2. #2
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    Re: Contradiction? Matthew/Mark vs Luke - Last Supper Chronology?

    Quote Originally Posted by why1942 View Post
    My first assumption is all four gospels are written chronologically - meaning the events are written in order (A happened, then B, then C).
    There's your problem.

    The Gospels, as Greco-Roman biography, are not strictly chronological like modern biographies. Nothing wrong with this, it's just the nature of the genre.

    I thought inerrancy meant there was no incorrect information in the bible - that it was perfect? If all four gospels are chronological, how could all four timelines be correct? Specifically, how can Matthew/Mark be correct while Luke has these events in opposite order?
    You can still hold to inerrancy while believing that the Gospel writers sometimes arrange their events in different orders for whatever reason.

  3. #3

    Re: Contradiction? Matthew/Mark vs Luke - Last Supper Chronology?

    Quote Originally Posted by BrckBrln
    The Gospels, as Greco-Roman biography, are not strictly chronological like modern biographies. Nothing wrong with this, it's just the nature of the genre.
    To add to this: Many Christians today take the modernist and postmodernist perspectives that if the gospel doesn't present events in a strictly chronological order, it thus means that the author(s) were lying or deceiving their audiences. But in that culture and time, no one would have thought of it that way. It needs to be recognized by Christians (and critics) today, that it would never be considered as deceptive in ancient times for one (or all four) of the gospel authors to rearrange closely-knit historical events if it served the purpose of the story they're presenting.

  4. #4

    Re: Contradiction? Matthew/Mark vs Luke - Last Supper Chronology?

    Thank you BrckBrln and markedward for your responses. Everyone else I have asked about this just dances around the issue itself or simply responds with, "there isn't a contradiction" but without explaining why.

    Quote Originally Posted by markedward View Post
    Many Christians today take the modernist and postmodernist perspectives that if the gospel doesn't present events in a strictly chronological order, it thus means that the author(s) were lying or deceiving their audiences.
    This is exactly what I was thinking, the mindset that I have been approaching the sections with. This is because I was taught that the bible was inerrant - not that it was infallible. These were from a combination of teachers: Southern Baptists, Independent-Fundamental Baptists and Calvary Chapel Adherents. I was told the bible was a supernatural message originating from God, and written by 40 men who were moved to do so by the Holy Spirit. Inerrancy (as it was explained to me) is the perfection of Scripture, the idea that every sentence, word, even the letters are in the perfect place, and have several meanings (such as the gospels each having certain types of words that are divisible by 7 proving that each gospel was written first - i.e. supernatural design).

    I was taught that the bible is inerrant in the originals and infallible in the copies and modern translations - meaning the inerrancy was lost through our twisting of Scripture, but God still preserves the message that saves.

    So, what books or websites would you recommend that deal with this concept specifically: that in their culture and time it was commonplace to write theologically and not chronologically?

    Thanks again for the help.

    why1942

  5. #5
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    Re: Contradiction? Matthew/Mark vs Luke - Last Supper Chronology?

    Quote Originally Posted by why1942 View Post
    So, what books or websites would you recommend that deal with this concept specifically: that in their culture and time it was commonplace to write theologically and not chronologically?
    A quick browse through google provided this link:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=trs...styles&f=false

  6. #6
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    Re: Contradiction? Matthew/Mark vs Luke - Last Supper Chronology?

    If you place a coffee cup in the center of a table, and seat 4 people around it, one on each side, and ask them to describe the cup, 1 will tell you the cup has a handle on the right side, while another will say there is a handle on the left side, another in the middle, and one won't mention a handle at all. All four are correct, and do not contradict each other. 4 perspectives.
    Generally the gospel that is used for chronological purposes is Luke, because Luke states that his gospel 'sets in order':
    It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, Luke 1:3
    Also, Luke was a Gentile, not a Hebrew, and he was a physician. Those two things suggest that his thinking was more linear, like ours, and thus he would naturally write chronologically.
    The others however were Hebrew, and chronology was not nearly as important to them.
    In studying the 4 gospels, one will eventually realize that each presents Jesus in a different light.
    One shows Him as a suffering servant, another as a king, one shows him as son of God, and the 4th as son of man.
    The things each author points out is directly related to his general 'theme', and thus you find some things in one gospel but not another. John for instance writes a small bit about the very beginning of Jesus' ministry, then skips all the way to the 3rd year, and writes mostly about that timeframe. He admits that many more things could have been written about Jesus, about what He did, so that the world could not contain the books, which tells us he was very selective in choosing what to write about.
    Those four perspectives, by the way, coincide with the 4 colors found in the tabernacle and temples, which were scarlet, blue, white, and purple, the 4 camps with their standards (flags) which contained pictures of 4 creatuers, around the tabernacle in the wilderness, and the 4 creatures around the throne of God in Revelation, which are a bullock, an eagle, a man, and a lion.
    So how do they correspond?
    Blue, like the sky or heavens - eagle, who's abode is the heavens, Christ theSon of God, Whose abode is heaven
    Scarlet, like blood - bullock, the sacrifice and servant - Christ the Suffering Servant and Lamb of God
    White, purity - man - Christ the Son of Man, the Last Adam
    Purple, royalty - lion, king of the creatures - Christ The Coming King

    This tends to tie much of the Bible together, from Genesis and Exodus and the prophets to the Gospels and Revelation, showing that there is actually only One Author of it all, who used a number of different vessels to write His singular message.

  7. #7

    Re: Contradiction? Matthew/Mark vs Luke - Last Supper Chronology?

    Kahtar,

    Quote Originally Posted by Kahtar View Post
    If you place a coffee cup in the center of a table, and seat 4 people around it, one on each side, and ask them to describe the cup, 1 will tell you the cup has a handle on the right side, while another will say there is a handle on the left side, another in the middle, and one won't mention a handle at all. All four are correct, and do not contradict each other. 4 perspectives.
    I would agree with you. But what I'm talking about is, take those 4 people and instead of them describing a static object (a coffee cup) have them recount a specific sequence of events (say, the order of event that occurred in the upper room). It would be possible that person 1, 2, and 4 recounted relatively the same events in the same order, but person 3, though he had all the events listed, had them listened in a different sequence.

    We know it is impossible that sequence A, B, C, D, E could have happened in two distinct ways simultaneously. B has to come after A and before C, otherwise it would not be 'B'. So either 1, 2, and 4 are incorrect and 3 has the correct sequence, 3 is wrong and 1, 2, 4 are correct or 1, 2, 3, and 4 are all incorrect. There is no way that 1, 2, 3, 4 could all be correct since this is a sequence of events and there is only 1 possible outcome that could have happened.

    Perspective does play a roll, which is why some things I mentioned by John and Matthew that are not mentioned by Mark and Luke, etc. These different pieces fit into the puzzle without problems. The difficulty is when Luke describes the same events that Matthew and Mark describe, but in a different order of occurrence. This can't be correct. Someone got it wrong (or, 1 or more gospel writers never intended to write chronologically in the first place as has been asserted).

    If all 4 are chronological, then this is a direct hit to the idea of inerrancy, since this is the belief that even the words are perfect (in the originals).

    why1942

  8. #8

    Re: Contradiction? Matthew/Mark vs Luke - Last Supper Chronology?

    Kahtar,

    Thank you very much for the book recommendation. Actually has this one at the library, so I will be reading it next.

    why1942


  9. #9

    Re: Contradiction? Matthew/Mark vs Luke - Last Supper Chronology?

    Quote Originally Posted by why1942 View Post
    such as the gospels each having certain types of words that are divisible by 7 proving that each gospel was written first - i.e. supernatural design).
    Huh? I have never heard anything about anything such as this and I must admit it sounds a little hokey. Could you elaborate on what you are talking about here?

  10. #10
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    Re: Contradiction? Matthew/Mark vs Luke - Last Supper Chronology?

    is it possible that Jesus spoke it twice?
    some of the disciples did hear it, and then Jesus had to repeat.

  11. #11

    Re: Contradiction? Matthew/Mark vs Luke - Last Supper Chronology?

    Quote Originally Posted by Elijah Lau View Post
    is it possible that Jesus spoke it twice?
    some of the disciples did hear it, and then Jesus had to repeat.
    Going by this theory, I tried an idea out to see if it might work. let's say these are the events in question: betrayal part, the breaking of bread part, and the drinking vine part. Matthew and Mark both have it in the same order: betrayal-bread-vine. But Luke has it in the opposite order: vine-bread-betrayal. If Jesus repeated both the betrayal and the vine events then it would look like this:

    betrayal - vine - bread - vine - betrayal.
    or
    vine - betrayal - bread - betrayal - vine

    i chose the former because it looked more plausible to me (but you can try out the sequences yourself). Here's what it would look like if using the books Luke and Matthew:

    When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.” Matthew 26:20-25
    When the hour had come, He reclined, and the apostles with Him. And He said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, "Take this and share it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes." Luke 22:14-18
    Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:26-28
    I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Matthew 26:29
    "But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table. For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!" And they began to discuss among themselves which one of them it might be who was going to do this thing. Luke 22:21-23

    however this would mean that jesus gave out the cup of fruit of the vine twice... either it was given out twice or, the first time it was given to one part of the group, and the second time it was given to the other part of the group.

  12. #12

    Re: Contradiction? Matthew/Mark vs Luke - Last Supper Chronology?

    Quote Originally Posted by david View Post
    Going by this theory, I tried an idea out to see if it might work. let's say these are the events in question: betrayal part, the breaking of bread part, and the drinking vine part. Matthew and Mark both have it in the same order: betrayal-bread-vine. But Luke has it in the opposite order: vine-bread-betrayal. If Jesus repeated both the betrayal and the vine events then it would look like this:

    betrayal - vine - bread - vine - betrayal.
    or
    vine - betrayal - bread - betrayal - vine

    i chose the former because it looked more plausible to me (but you can try out the sequences yourself).

    however this would mean that jesus gave out the cup of fruit of the vine twice... either it was given out twice or, the first time it was given to one part of the group, and the second time it was given to the other part of the group.
    Hi David,

    Thanks for this attempt. The concept is interesting, but I don't see how it actually works out. In order to place Jesus saying the Kingdom statement and the betrayer statement twice, it also requires that they all questioned the betrayer was twice.

    There are three verses or passages that are out of order in Luke. Luke 22:15-18, 19-20, and 23.

    The order in Luke is: Kingdom, Communion, Betrayer Declared, Betrayer Condemned, All Question Themselves.

    The order in Matthew/Mark is: Betrayer Declared, All Question Themselves, Betrayer Condemned, Communion, Kingdom (Matthew and Mark add the Betrayer dipping with Hand between Questioning and Condemnation; Matthew adding Judas' question "Is it I" after Condemnation).

    It's interesting that Kingdom, Communion is at the beginning in Luke but at the end in Matthew/Mark only reversed (Communion, Kingdom). Luke has Betrayer Declared, Betrayer Condemned, All Question, while Matthew/Mark reverses Betrayer Condemned, All Question to All Question, Betrayer Condemned. It's almost as if these two accounts (Luke vs Matthew/Mark) are a mirror image of each other, though this falls apart as you look at the point at which the mirror resides, as it is not a perfect reflection: Betrayer Condemned and Question order in Luke is reversed in Matthew/Mark, leaving Betrayer Declared in the same position.

    So, at whatever position we shift Luke down to align a specific event with Matthew/Mark, there are additional events that then conflict, even if we allow for the repetition, there is still difficulty in placing Judas from John into the time frame.

    When I read through the individual accounts, they all really seem to be referencing the same events (not events repeated several times). Just from a logical standpoint, I would have to ask why Jesus is repeating himself so much? Why are the disciples also repeating themselves? Doesn't seem to jive.

    The JW publications state that "apparently Luke was not written in chronological order." Of course, they adhere to Matthew/Mark's chronology because they don't want Judas at communion (because they say only the 144,000 can take communion).

    I am leaning toward the gospel writers not adhering to chronology (but not because of the JW explanation) simply because there seems to be no way to resolve the conflict without violating at least one individual timeline, or accept that Scripture is not inerrant (which would be fine if, in fact, Scripture were only infallible, but I need to do more research on the subject before I make a decision).

    why1942

  13. #13

    Re: Contradiction? Matthew/Mark vs Luke - Last Supper Chronology?

    I've done some research on the chronology and harmony of the Gospels. I have found that there's a critical assumption concerning the timing that is often made which causes confusion when trying to correlate the records.

    This site shows detailed quotes, descriptions, charts and diagrams http://4Gospels.info . It includes information on the Last Supper.

    Besides harmonizing the 4 accounts, the site makes the following ovservation: By starting with the chronology in the Gospel of John, noting Yahushua’s attendance at the Feasts, and correlating this to the Synoptic Gospels, we discover that his public ministry was approximately a year long, with no significant gaps in the record.

  14. #14

    Re: Contradiction? Matthew/Mark vs Luke - Last Supper Chronology?

    Hi GitRDunn,

    Quote Originally Posted by GitRDunn View Post
    Huh? I have never heard anything about anything such as this and I must admit it sounds a little hokey. Could you elaborate on what you are talking about here?
    I can absolutely elaborate.

    Chuck Missler, in his Matthew commentary, describes it as a code of authentication. He says it is:

    An automatic security monitor, watching over every single letter of the
    text, that doesn’t rust or wear out, running continually over several
    thousand years… the Fingerprint signature of the Author; a noncompromisable
    design. For instance, “sevens” in the Bible occur in over
    600 passages; some overt, some structural, and some hidden. Are these
    underlying Heptadic structures used as a signature? -
    He goes on to provide this challenge (which he states is how the genealogy of Jesus Christ is written in Matthew 1:1-11 in Greek):

    The number of words must be divisible by 7, evenly.
    • The number of letters must also be divisible by 7, evenly.
    • The number of vowels and the number of consonants must also be
    divisible by 7.
    • The number of words that begin with a vowel must be divisible by 7.
    • The number of words that begin with a consonant must be divisible
    by 7.
    • The number of words that occur more than once must be divisible
    by 7.
    • The number of words that occur in more than one form must be
    divisible by 7.
    • The number of words that occur in only one form must be divisible
    by 7.
    • The number of nouns shall be divisible by 7.
    • Only 7 words shall not be nouns.
    • The number of names shall be divisible by 7.
    • Only 7 other kinds of nouns are permitted.
    • The number of male names shall be divisible by 7.
    • The number of generations shall be divisible by 7.
    He goes on to describe the chances of such patterns and discusses Ivan Panin's work in discovering some of the mathematical design underlining the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures.

    Now, I don't mention this because I necessarily BELIEVE these claims to be true. I mention it because Missler is a staunch supporter of inerrancy - as he contends the bible is a "supernatural message system from beyond our time domain that was created to resist hostile jamming."

    If there is any credibility at all to these mathematical calculations, though, it would stand to reason that the text would be utterly perfect (in the originals). As such, then, there would be a way to reconcile the four accounts into one timeline (that is, of course, if the original writers intended a timeline to begin with).

    -----------
    As a side note, I have tested some of Missler's claims concerning the Torah codes and they do not necessarily come out as he describes them. A response I got back from his website states that he acknowledges this in a book he later wrote. I have never tested these claims of Matthew's genealogy. But that wasn't really the point I was getting at.

  15. #15

    Re: Contradiction? Matthew/Mark vs Luke - Last Supper Chronology?

    Quote Originally Posted by why1942 View Post
    Hi GitRDunn,



    I can absolutely elaborate.

    Chuck Missler, in his Matthew commentary, describes it as a code of authentication. He says it is:



    He goes on to provide this challenge (which he states is how the genealogy of Jesus Christ is written in Matthew 1:1-11 in Greek):



    He goes on to describe the chances of such patterns and discusses Ivan Panin's work in discovering some of the mathematical design underlining the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures.

    Now, I don't mention this because I necessarily BELIEVE these claims to be true. I mention it because Missler is a staunch supporter of inerrancy - as he contends the bible is a "supernatural message system from beyond our time domain that was created to resist hostile jamming."

    If there is any credibility at all to these mathematical calculations, though, it would stand to reason that the text would be utterly perfect (in the originals). As such, then, there would be a way to reconcile the four accounts into one timeline (that is, of course, if the original writers intended a timeline to begin with).

    -----------
    As a side note, I have tested some of Missler's claims concerning the Torah codes and they do not necessarily come out as he describes them. A response I got back from his website states that he acknowledges this in a book he later wrote. I have never tested these claims of Matthew's genealogy. But that wasn't really the point I was getting at.
    That is certainly an interesting idea, although I don't know that I agree. Which language is this supposed to work it? If it's in English, which translation is it supposed to work for? It just seems a little farfetched to me. Thank you for explaining, though.

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