Presuppositions And Harmonization: Luke 23:47 As A Test Case -- By: Vern S. Poythress

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 56:3 (Sep 2013)
Article: Presuppositions And Harmonization: Luke 23:47 As A Test Case
Author: Vern S. Poythress


Presuppositions And Harmonization:
Luke 23:47 As A Test Case

Vern S. Poythress*

* Vern Poythress is professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary, 9260 Church Road, Glenside, PA 19038.

How do presuppositions about meaning and history influence the ways in which we may deal with problems in harmonization?1 And what can we do about it? We can examine the influence of presuppositions by considering a test case, namely the centurion’s statement in Luke 23:47 and the parallels in Matthew and Mark.

I. The Challenge

In Luke 23:47, the centurion says that Jesus was innocent: “Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, ‘Certainly this man was innocent!’”

Matthew has something more elaborate: “When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’”(Matt 27:54).

Finally, Mark has the following: “And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God’” (Mark 15:39).

For a direct comparison, see the following table:

Matthew 27:54

Mark 15:39

Luke 23:47

When the centurion

and those who were

with him,

keeping watch over Jesus,

saw the earthquake and

what took place,

they were filled with awe

and said,

“Truly this was

the Son of God!”

And when the centurion,

who stood facing him,

saw that in this way

he breathed his last,

he said,

“Truly this man ...

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