Why The Raising Of Lazarus Is Not Reported By The Synoptists -- By: Alexander Weston Moore

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 073:289 (Jan 1916)
Article: Why The Raising Of Lazarus Is Not Reported By The Synoptists
Author: Alexander Weston Moore

Why The Raising Of Lazarus Is Not Reported By The Synoptists

Alexander Weston Moore

The incident mentioned in the title is so important, in view of the prominence given to it in the Fourth Gospel and the striking utterances of Jesus inseparably associated with it, that the question of its authenticity cannot be regarded as answerable in the negative, or even as debatable, without seriously impairing the religious confidence of innumerable Christians. It is considered by many as a purely fictitious episode, because it seems inconceivable to them that a miracle of so startling a nature, if actually performed, should be related only in a single Gospel — and that the latest. The absence of any allusion to it by the Synoptists is conclusive evidence, so they argue, that three of the four Evangelists had never heard of it; and if they had never heard of it, then it never could have occurred.

Commentators have felt the full force of the difficulty, and have spared no effort and no ingenuity in seeking to explain the strange omission. Some have tried to satisfy themselves with the supposition that it was due solely to a regard for the safety of Lazarus, which might have been imperiled had attention been directed anew to the event. The hostility which had sought to encompass his murder at the time when the miracle was wrought might

have been revived with fatal results if it had been obtruded again on the notice of his enemies. But surely a lapse of twenty years or more between the event and the publication of the earliest Gospel — not to mention two of later date — would suffice to remove any such danger if it had ever been serious.

In trying to penetrate the mystery of the silence of the Synoptists it may be well to remind ourselves, at the outset, that the Gospels do not pretend to enumerate all the miracles of Jesus. In all four there are allusions to a great number of remarkable cures or signs which are not reported in detail. Typical cases seem to have been selected to represent the various kinds of diseases which he healed, or because of some special features of interest connected with them, while all the rest are despatched with some such general statement as “he healed many that were sick with divers diseases, and cast out many devils.” No doubt there were interesting cures among those thus summarized; but there were various reasons why brevity should be cultivated in the original reports, and why “the many other things which Jesus did” should be only hurriedly glanced at.

It may be frankly conceded that if the raising of Lazarus were the only work of the kind recorded in the sacred narratives it would be incredible. If no such miracles were attributed t...

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