just thinking  Explaining Variations in Jesus' Words

There are several good explanations for why each of the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) sometimes carry slightly different accounts of what Jesus said: In some cases it could be that it is a different event being recorded and that Jesus said similar things on differerent occasions (just as any traveling preacher might do); in some cases one writer may have recorded one part of what Jesus said and another writer may have recorded another part of what he said; or it could be that the Aramaic words Jesus used could be translated into the Greek of the New Testament using different (legitimate) words, and the gospel writers chose different words to bring out a different emphasis in what Jesus said; or, finally, it could be that the authors are paraphrasing - legitimately giving the meaning of what Jesus said - but not always giving the words verbatim.

All of these are good possibilities and probably they all apply in various situations.

But in reading the letter of 1 John it occurs to me that there may be another good explanation, and that is, simply, that Jesus said the same thing multiple ways on the same occasion.

Listen to 1 John 2:12-14:

I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.

And then it repeats, but with differences:

I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father.
I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

So, here we have John, one of Jesus' main disciples, who may well have picked up some of his teaching style from his Master, saying one thing and then immediately repeating it with some variation.

I suspect that Jesus may have done the same thing; say things one way, then immediately say them in another way. Then - in some cases - one gospel writer may have recorded one of Jesus' comments and another writer may have recorded another.

As I reflect on this, I recall that just this last Sunday the pastor at our church said the same thing four or five times in a row, sometimes repeating what he said verbatim, sometimes with variations, as a way of emphasizing his point.

If my pastor did this, and if the apostle John did this, I'm sure Jesus may have done it as well.

7/29/2008 07:31:00 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

Newer Posts              Older Posts