A Harmonization Of Matt 8:5-13 And Luke 7:1-10 -- By: Jack Russell Shaffer

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 17:1 (Spring 2006)
Article: A Harmonization Of Matt 8:5-13 And Luke 7:1-10
Author: Jack Russell Shaffer

A Harmonization Of Matt 8:5-13 And Luke 7:1-10

Jack Russell Shaffera

A strict harmonization of Matt 8:5–13 and Luke 7:1–10 has been considered impossible by many recent biblical scholars because of seeming discrepancies between the two accounts. Matthew locates the encounter between Jesus and the centurion almost immediately after the Sermon on the Mount; Luke puts it soon after the Sermon on the Plain. The illness that had come to the centurion’s servant—not his son—was some type of lameness that kept the centurion from bringing or sending him to Jesus. Various authors have proposed three options for solving the problem of harmonizing the two accounts. The first says that Matthew and Luke adapted a common source called Q, but a lack of verbal agreement and an impugning of biblical inspiration rule this option out. The second option holds that Matthew used literary rhetoric to describe the encounter, but Matthew plainly supports the personal coming of the centurion—not his servants in his place as the view holds—to Jesus. The third option states that Matthew and Luke faithfully recorded the events and dialogue of the encounter. This option is feasible as an alignment of the texts according to a strict harmonization shows, and is the best option because it acknowledges the integrity of the human authors and the integrity of the Holy Spirit who inspired the accounts.

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For approximately seventeen hundred years—after the last drop of ink had dried and the canon of Scripture had closed—there was little debate to speak of within Christianity regarding the accuracy of Scripture. Though the Bible, particularly in the parallel Gospel accounts, had apparent discrepancies, these were almost always explained through the process of strict harmonization.1 Not until the Enlightenment period did the question of the integrity of Scripture come to have

prominence in academic circles.2 The underlying disbelief in the supernatural led liberal scholars to attack the inspiration, and thus, the veracity of the Bible. Scripture began to be analyzed as any other classic piece of literature—devoid of any divine oversight. The skepticism of the times was the seedbed for what is now called the “Synoptic Problem.”3 For about the past two hundred years, a reversal has taken place in how those apparent discrepancies in the Synoptic Gospels are reconciled. Today, except in a pejorative s...

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