The Investigative Reporter – Luke

Fact or fiction, the Gospel of Luke? Many have endeavored for centuries to prove or disprove the Gospel’s validity. Some have focused on the identity of the author of the unpinned writing, others on the content.

Who wrote the Gospel of Luke, the same author of the Book of Acts? Debate will continue, but there is one piece of evidence to consider. Among the first to document the identity of the author was Irenaeus, a student of Polycarp who was in turn a pupil of John, one of the original 12 Disciples of Jesus.[1] He named the author as the Gentile doctor Luke, the inseparable traveling companion of the Apostle Paul.[2] With a source this close, how likely is it that Irenaeus was wrong?

Credibility of a statement, the Gospel included, can be determined regardless of the identity of the author. Assumed to be Luke, the author’s first defining point of credibility is that his investigative report is addressed to a specific person identified as Theophilius, the same person as the Book of Acts, establishing both accountability and consistency. Very clearly Luke describes the basis of his investigation:

LK 1:1-4 “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eye-witnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” (NIV)

Not himself an eyewitness, instead Luke identifies the sources of his investigation as being original eyewitnesses. Evidence of this can be seen in the quotes and in the parallels found in the older Gospels of Matthew and Mark.[3]

Nearly half of Luke’s content is unique in which 6 miracles are reported, including the resurrection of a dead boy, and 15-17 unparalleled parables (was it an illustration or a parable?).[4] Included, too, are the birth circumstances of John the Baptist; identities of his father, Zachariah and his mother, Elizabeth, and her role with Mary during their pregnancies; the naming of Gabriel, the archangel, and his messages from God delivered separately to Zachariah and Mary; and Mary’s hymn of praise.

Focusing deeper, found only in Luke and Acts are two Greek words, apographo and apographe – a verb and a noun – cited as the impetus for Joseph taking his nearly 9-month pregnant wife, Mary, to Bethlehem 90 miles away. Neither Greek word translates to an equivalent English word as “census” often imprecisely used in the Christmas Nativity story.[5]

Seven government rulers are identified in Luke, all corroborated in secular Roman history including Caesar Augustus, Tiberius Caesar, Judean King Herod, and Tetrarchs Herod and Philip.[6] Two “governors,” Quirinius and Pilate, were both identified using the exclusive Greek word hegemoneuo, meaning to act with authority as governors, though not necessarily official “governors.” [7]

Two specific crucifixion scenarios are found only in the Gospel. Quoted is the conversation between the criminals being crucified with Jesus. Upon his death, the distraught witnesses reacted by “beating their breasts” in severe mourning.

Resurrection day, witnesses are distinctively identified and quoted. Most notable is Cleopas with his traveling partner headed home to Emmaus after being with some of the Disciples that weekend.[8] Unrecognized, Jesus joined them walking down the road and asked what they were discussing so intently.

Cleopas was incredulous how this stranger could not know what had just transpired in Jerusalem. He is quoted explaining the sequence of events involving the encounter by the women of Galilee with angels at the empty tomb who proclaimed Jesus was alive and how the empty tomb was confirmed by other unnamed witnesses. It would not be expected for Cleopas to name the witnesses to a stranger and Luke did not embellish the statement by naming them.

Truthful witness statements characteristically reflect information being recalled from memory in the sequence in which it actually occurred. Cleopas, who was not alone, consistently used the plural pronouns “we” and “us” combined with past and present tense perspectives. All are hallmark characteristics of an accurate, honest statement being recalled from memory in real time – based on the structure of his statement, Cleopas appears to be completely truthful.[9]

Corroborating John’s eyewitness Gospel account of the gathering of Disciples and followers in the locked room that evening, Luke adds a distinguishing depiction of events. Cleopas and his partner had rejoined the gathering telling of their encounter with the resurrected Jesus and, in turn, were told Jesus had also appeared to Simon (Peter).

Continuing, Luke described the excited group being terrified when Jesus suddenly appeared in the locked room. Thinking they were seeing a ghost, Jesus calmed their fears, quoted as saying “Do you have anything here to eat?”[10] Jesus then ate some fish to prove he was not a ghost.

Omitted seemingly key information can expose hidden insights. Missing is the name of Cleopas’ traveling partner; Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the resurrected Jesus and John running with Peter to see the empty tomb, all that astounding morning.

One reason is revealed in Cleopas’ statement. Chronicling what had transpired over the weekend unwittingly to Jesus, Cleopas ended at the point when he departed for home before anyone had reported seeing the resurrected Jesus. Luke’s omission is thus explained – being unaware of Mary Magdalene’s Resurrection encounter with Jesus, Cleopas could not truthfully include it in his factual quoted statement.

Why is Mary Magdalene’s encounter with Jesus at the tomb omitted in the earlier chronology of Resurrection events? Luke had to be aware of it through his investigation by knowing Paul, contacts with Disciples and interviews of other witnesses.[11] He could have easily enhanced the Resurrection story by including the incident, but he didn’t – why?  There is a big clue of omission.

Mary Magdalene is mentioned only twice in the entire Gospel.[12] She is one of the three named women generally reported to have run back from the empty tomb to tell the Disciples. Just once before, she is identified as the one from whom Jesus expelled seven demons early in his ministry. Neither time can the information be directly attributed to Mary Magdalene herself and therein lies the possible reason for the omission.

Mary Magdalene as a witness was apparently not available to Luke. If he did not have direct access to her as an eyewitness source, then Luke chose not to include secondhand information of her experiences. Likewise a similar reason for Cleopas’ unnamed traveling partner – being an unavailable witness and with the information expected to be the same, consequently his or her identity is no longer important in his investigative report.

Peter is the only one called out as running to see the empty tomb – no mention of John who, in his own eyewitness Gospel, adds himself as the “other disciple” who joined the race.[13] Why was John not mentioned in Luke? Likely the same reason – Peter was an eyewitness source who recounted only his personal experience whereas John was not available to Luke and thus omitted. Nevertheless, John would be expected to include himself in his own eyewitness account.[14]

Forthright acknowledgements, exclusive specific details, corroboration by secular history and other Gospels, named witnesses,  quotes, credibility of statements, lack of personal opinions or injections, and ignored opportunities to embellish – all characteristics of a straightforward, true investigative reporter. If Luke’s report to Theophilus meets the standard of credible investigative reporting, what does it say about the validity of his account of the Resurrection of Jesus?

 

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:

[1] Schaff, Philip. “Introductory Note to Irenæus Against Heresies.” Ante-Nicene Fathers. Volume I. n.d. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. 2005. <http://m.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ix.i.html Schaff, Philip. “Introduction Note to the Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians.” Ante-Nicene Fathers. Volume I. n.d. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. 2005. <http://m.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.iv.i.html Irenaeus of Lyons. Against Heresies. Book III, Chapters I.1, X.1, XIII.3, XIV.1, XIV.1, XIV.2 quoting Luke 1:2, XIV.3, XV.1, 3, XXIII.1. Philip Schaf, ed. Ante-Nicene Fathers. Volume I. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. 2005. <http://www.ccel.org/search/fulltext/Heresies
[2] Colossians 4; Philemon 1; 2 Titus 4. Irenaeus, Heresies. Book III, Chapter XIV.1.  Aherne Cornelius. “Gospel of Saint Luke.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Volume 9. 1910. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09420a.htm>
[3] Swete, Henry Barclay. The Gospel According to St. Mark,  pp. xxxvix – xl, LXX, LXXII, LXXIV-LXXV. 1902. <https://books.google.com/books?id=WcYUAAAAQAAJ&lpg=PA127&ots=f_TER300kY&dq=Seneca%20centurio%20supplicio%20pr%C3%A6positus&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false Smith, Barry D. “The Gospel of Mark.”  Crandall University. n.d. <http://www.mycrandall.ca/courses/NTIntro/Mark.htm> “Introductions to Matthew.” Ryrie Study Bible. Ed. Ryrie Charles C.  Trans. New American Standard. 1978. “Introductions to Matthew.” Ryrie Study Bible. “Introduction to the Book of Mark.” Ryrie Study Bible. “Introduction to the Book of Luke.”&Ryrie Study Bible.  “New Testament.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/11498-new-testament>  “gospel.” ReligionFacts.com. 2016. <http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/texts/gospels.htm>  Gloag, Paton J.  Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels. pp 45, 204.. 1895. <http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/008728595>
[4] Gloag, Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels. pp 38-42. 1895. <http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/008728595> Smith, Barry D. “The Gospel of John.”  F. 5.3.3.  Crandall University. 2015. <http://www.mycrandall.ca/courses/NTIntro/John.htm Sween, Don and Nancy. “Parable.” BibleReferenceGuide.com. n.d. <http://www.biblereferenceguide.com/keywords/parable.html Sween. “Parable.”  Swete. The Gospel According to St. Mark, pp. LXXIV, 83. 1902. <https://books.google.com/books?id=WcYUAAAAQAAJ&lpg=PA127&ots=f_TER300kY&dq=Seneca%20centurio%20supplicio%20pr%C3%A6positus&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false>  “Luke.” Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary. 3rd Edition.  Christian Classics Ethereal Library. n.d. <http://www.ccel.org/e/easton/ebd/ebd/T0002300.html#T0002331>  “Parable.” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.  2018. <http://www.internationalstandardbible.com/P/parable.html> “The Parables of Jesus.” Ryrie Study Bible. “The Miracles of Jesus.” Ryrie Study Bible. Fairchild, Mary. “37 Miracles of Jesus.” ThoughtCo. 2017. <https://www.thoughtco.com/miracles-of-jesus-700158
[5] Luke 2; Acts 5. Net.bible.org. Greek text. “aprographe <582>.” Lexicon-Concordance Online Bible. n.d.  <http://lexiconcordance.com/greek/0582.html>  “apographo <583>.” Lexicon-Concordance Online Bible. n.d. <http://lexiconcordance.com/greek/0583.html>  The Complete Works of Josephus. Trans. and commentary. William Whitson. 1850.  <https://books.google.com/books?id=e0dAAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q=census&f=false
[6] Luke 2, 3. Net.bible.org. Luke 2:1 footnote #5 and Greek text. “hegemoneuo <2230>” Lexicon-Concordance Online Bible. Josephus, Flavius. Antiquities of the Jews. Book VIII, Chapter XV; Book X, Chapter IV; Book XIV, Chapter IX, & XII; Book XVIII, Chapter VI. The Complete Works of Josephus. Trans. William Whitson. http://books.google.com/books?id=e0dAAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false> Josephus, Flavius. The Life of Flavius Josephus. #9, 17. The Complete Works of Josephus. Trans. William Whitson. <http://books.google.com/books?id=e0dAAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false Josephus, Flavius. Wars of the Jews. Book I, Chapter XXVII. The Complete Works of Josephus. Trans. William Whitson. <http://books.google.com/books?id=e0dAAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false>  Josephus, Flavius.  Against Apion. Book II, #22. The Complete Works of Josephus.  Trans. William Whitson. <http://books.google.com/books?id=e0dAAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false> “Pontius Pilate.” Livius.org. Ed. Jona Lendering. 2014. <http://www.livius.org/pi-pm/pilate/pilate01.htm> “legate.”  Encyclopædia Britannica. 2018. <https://www.britannica.com/topic/legate-Roman-official>
[7] Net.bible.org. Luke 2:1 footnote #5 and Greek text. “hegemon <2232>.” Lexicon-Concordance Online Bible.  n.d. <http://lexiconcordance.com/greek/2230.html>  Josephus. Antiquities. Book VIII, Chapter XV, Book X, Chapter IV; Book XIV, Chapter IX, X, XII; Book XVIII, Chapter VI; Book XX, Chapter XVIII.  Josephus. The Life of Flavius Josephus. #9, 17.  Josephus. Wars. Book I, Chapter XXVII.  Josephus. Against Apion. Book II, #22.
[8] John 19. Luke 24:18 footnote Ryrie Study Bible.  “Cleopas.” Bible-history.com. n.d. <http://www.bible-history.com/links.php?cat=43&sub=1173&cat_name=Bible+Names+A-G&subcat_name=Cleopas>
[9] Sapir, Avinoam. LSI Laboratory for Scientific Interrogation, Inc. n.d. <http://www.lsiscan.com/index.htm>  “SCAN – Scientific Content Analysis (Statement Analysis).” Advanced Polygraph. 2011. <http://www.advancedpolygraph.com.au/scan.htm>
[10] NET, NIV, NLT. Luke 24. CR Mark 16.
[11] 2 Timothy 4; Philemon 1; Colossians 4.
[12] Luke 8, 24. 
[13] Luke 24; John 20.
[14] Smith, Barry D. “The Gospel of John.”  Fonck, Leopold.  “Gospel of St. John.”  The Catholic Encyclopedia.  Volume 8.  New York:  Robert Appleton Company.  1910.   New Advent.  2014.  <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08438a.htm>  Kirby, Peter.  “Gospel of John.”  EarlyChristianWritings.com. 2014.  <http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/john.html>  “The Book of John.”  Quartz Hill School of Theology. 2017. <http://www.theology.edu/biblesurvey/john.htm>  “Gospel of John.”  Theopedia.com.  Encyclopedia of biblical Christianity.  n.d.  <http://www.theopedia.com/Gospel_of_John

Zechariah 12:10 – Circumstances of the Death of the Messiah? 

Zechariah 12:10 is a short prophecy recognized by both Jewish and Christian authorities alike – but with a couple of twists. Bible translation versions of the Hebrew text are not the issue:

Zech. 12:10 “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look unto Me because they have thrust him through; and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.”
Jewish Publication Society

Zech. 12:10 “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”
New King James Version

Translations of the Hebrew text word daqar as either “pierced” or “thrust him through” is the small difference of little consequence. The literal definition of daqar is:  “a prim. root; to pierce, pierce through.”[1]

To set the historical context, Zechariah authored his prophetic book by the same name soon after Zerubbabel, grandson of Jeconiah the last sitting king in the House of David, had led the Jews from Persia back to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and Temple destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. The developing scene in Jerusalem became the backdrop for the future centuries later when the Temple would be greatly enhanced by King Herod followed by the appearance of Jesus of Nazareth.

Messiah prophecy interpretations by Christian and Jewish authorities are typically where controversies originate. This time, however, disagreement about Zechariah’s prophecy started among the ranks of the Rabbis producing the Babylonia Talmud Gemara Sukkah 52a.

Initial rabbinic discussion was centered on the topic of whether men and women should be separated during worship and mourning services. A Rabbi cited Zechariah 12:10 to support his position that men and women should be separated during services of mourning because of the “Evil Inclination,” the temptation that leads to misconduct, in this case lust.

One inquisitive Rabbi looked at the entirety of Zechariah 12:10 and asked why the people were weeping and mourning – didn’t it made more sense that if the prophesy was about the death of the Evil Inclination, they should be rejoicing? The Rabbi argued that the death of the Messiah by those who “thrust him through” was the true reason for the mourning, as deeply as a parent for the death of an only son:[2]

Sukkah (52a)

“What is the cause of the mourning [mentioned in the last cited verse]?  R. Dosa and the Rabbis differ on the point.  One explained, The cause is the slaying of Messiah the son of Joseph, and the other explained, The cause is the slaying of the Evil Inclination.

“It is well according to him who explains that the cause is the slaying of Messiah the son of Joseph, since that well agrees with the Scriptural verse, And they shall look upon me because they have thrust him through, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son; 

“but according to him who explains the cause to be the slaying of the Evil Inclination, is this [it may be objected] an occasion for mourning? Is it not rather an occasion for rejoicing? Why then should they weep?”

With that question, the rabbinic dialog switched direction generating a new discussion around the prophetic context of the verse itself. Split on the meaning of the prophecy, several Rabbis took the side favoring the “Evil Inclination” view.[3] Another Rabbi characterized the alternative Messiah interpretation saying the Holy One would send the Messiah, the Son of David, begotten by God who would be slain but given eternal life and the inheritance of the nations.

Centuries later, the renowned sage Rabbi Rashi, whose commentary appears in The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary, agreed with the rabbinic faction in Sukkah 52a who believed Zechariah 12:10 refers to the Messiah.[4]

“…as one mourns over an only son: As a man mourns over his only son. And our Sages expounded this in tractate Sukkah (52a) as referring to the Messiah, son of Joseph, who was slain.”[5] – Rabbi Rashi

Three characteristic facets appear in Rashi’s commentary – “the Messiah” who is “slain” followed by deep mourning likened to the death an “only son.” Added to the unambiguous first part of the prophecy saying those in the “house of David” and “Jerusalem” will be blessed by his appearance results in the 5 defining details packed into a single verse.

Rashi’s preceding commentary, however, differs on the specific reference to “thrust him through” as the manner of the Messiah’s death. The Rabbi stated that “thrust him through” was a metaphor about Israel saying:  “And they shall look to Me to complain about those of them whom the nations thrust through and slew during their exile.”

Literal interpretation views of the prophecy where the death of the Messiah who is pierced or thrust through does not, however, clearly indicate how daqar is inflicted – was it by means of nails or a weapon? The answer can be found through language analysis.[6]

Nine other times the Hebrew word daqar appears in the texts of the Old Testament or Tanakh including another in Zechariah.[7] In all instances, daqar is used in the context of wounds inflicted by a type of weapon such as a sword or spear. To be fully consistent with the word usage of daqar in all other instances, then Zechariah 12:10 specifically refers to being “thrust through” or “pierced” by a weapon.

John’s Gospel account of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth some 500 years after Zechariah’s prophecy describes how Jesus was both pierced by nails and had a spear thrust into his side as the witnesses looked upon him hanging on the cross.[8] Later, John described the resurrected Jesus suddenly appearing in a locked room where the Disciple Thomas touched the wounds in his hands and side exclaiming in confirmation, “My Lord and my God!”[9]

Were the Gospel accounts of the Jerusalem crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, born in the lineage of David, a fulfillment of the Zachariah 12:10 prophecy as the slain Messiah subjected to being daqar, the only begotten Son of God?[10]

 

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:

[1] “daqar.” Lexicon-Concordance Online Bible. n.d. <http://lexiconcordance.com/hebrew/1856.html>
[2] Sukkah 52a.  Halakhah.com. Trans. Soncino Babylonian Talmud. n.d. <http://www.halakhah.com/rst/moed/16b%20-%20Succah%20-%2029b-56b.pdf>
[3] “Jewish Messianic Interpretations of Zechariah 12:10.” Jews For Jesus. 2005. <https://jewsforjesus.org/answers/jewish-messianic-interpretations-of-zechariah-12-issues-prophecy>  “The Hillel Sandwich.”  The MT | Messianic Times.com. 2016.  <https://www.messianictimes.com/lifestyle/ask-the-rabbi/j/item/4272-the-hillel-sandwich>
[4] “Rashi (Solomon Bar Isaac).” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/13862-solomon-b-isaac-rashi>
[5] The Complete Jewish Bible – with Rashi Commentary. Zechariah 12:10. <https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16216#showrashi=true>
[6] Sapir, Avinoam. LSI Laboratory for Scientific Interrogation, Inc. n.d. <http://www.lsiscan.com/index.htm>  “SCAN – Scientific Content Analysis (Statement Analysis).” Advanced Polygraph. 2011. <http://www.advancedpolygraph.com.au/scan.htm> “Introduction to Text Analysis: About Text Analysis.”  Duke University | Libraries. 2017. <https://guides.library.duke.edu/text_analysis>  “What Is the Definition of Textual Analysis?” Reference.com. 2018. <https://www.reference.com/education/definition-textual-analysis-a95087916fcb24cb> Pfarrer, Mike “What is content analysis?” University of Georgia | Terry College of Business. 2012. <http://www.terry.uga.edu/management/contentanalysis>
[7] Net.bible.org. “daqar.” <http://classic.net.bible.org/search.php?search=hebrew_strict_index:01856>
[8] John 19.  Net.bible.org. Greek text.  Strong. “nusso <3572>”  CR Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23.
[9] John 20.
[10] John 3:16.

Implications of the Miracles

Miracles performed by Jesus of Nazareth reported by the Gospels, if true, would have dual implications. Not only would they serve to corroborate that Jesus is the Messiah, they would also demonstrate the integrity of the Gospels.

Did Jesus actually perform miracles? Aside from the obvious Christian perspective, at least some Jewish authorities support the Gospel’s accounts of miracles and wonders. Encyclopedia Judaica noted without any disclaimer that the miracles ascribed to Jesus in the Gospels define him as a “miracle maker and preacher”:[1]

“…Matthew, Mark, and Luke present a reasonably faithful picture of Jesus as a Jew of his time. The picture of Jesus contained in them is not so much of a redeemer of mankind as of a Jewish miracle maker and preacher.  The Jesus portrayed in these three Gospels is, therefore, the historical Jesus.” – Encyclopedia Judaica

All four Gospels contain accounts of Jewish religious leaders wanting retribution for Jesus when he performed miracles on the Sabbath.[2] To support their accusation of violating the Sabbath, they first had to acknowledge these miracles had occurred:  restoring a withered hand; healing a woman with an 18-year infirmity that kept her doubled over; healing a man who had been an invalid for 38 years; and restoring sight to a man born blind.

Jewish sage Rabbi Maimonides in his premier Jewish work Mishneh Torah (circa 1180 AD) commented on miracles by the Messiah.[3] With Jesus of Nazareth apparently in mind when mentioning the miracle to “resurrect the dead,” a miracle only attributed to Jesus, Maimonides expounded that performing “miracles and wonders” was not proof of the Messiah because miracles are not a requirement for the Messiah…

Mishneh Torah launched Maimonides into celebrity status causing a great response from the Jewish community of his day sending him letters with questions, some to which he responded in what is known as Responsa (Teshuvot).[4] One question was posed by Rabbi Jacob al-Fayumi of Yemen regarding the Isaiah 52-53 parashah prophecy.  Known as the Epistle Concerning Yemen, Maimonides’ Responsa clarified his views about “the signs and wonders” that Isaiah prophesied would be performed by the Messiah:[5]

“…there shall rise up one of whom none have known before, and the signs and wonders which they shall see performed by him will be the proofs of his true origin…”

“…and so confounded at the wonders which they will see him work, that they will lay their hands to their mouth; in the words of Isaiah, when describing the manner in which the kings will hearken to him, At him kings will shut their mouth; for that which had not been told them have they seen, and that which they had not heard they have perceived.” – Rabbi Maimonides

Author of the book, the Gospel of Luke, in his second, the Book of Acts, quoted the Disciple Peter who said the miracles of Jesus of Nazareth attested to the fact that God was manifesting Himself through Jesus:[6]

Act 2:22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know ––” NKJV

If the Gospel accounts of miracles are indeed true and serve to attest that God manifested Himself through Jesus, this is based on the Gospels being credible sources. For those who believe the Gospels are the result of a conspiratorial effort to make Jesus appear to be the Messiah or are fictional books merely comprised of recycled materials, then their accounts of miracles are deemed baseless.[7] Comparing all four Gospels – literary analysis – offers a different perspective. 

Contrary to popular perceptions, the four Gospel accounts of miracles have less in common with each other than they have in common. A total of 35 miracles are recorded that occurred before the crucifixion of Jesus, but only one is common to all four – the feeding of the 5000. One of the most famous miracles is Jesus walking on water and it does not even appear in Luke![8]

Less than a third of the miracles, only 10, are commonly recounted by the three Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Nearly half of all the miracles performed before the crucifixion, 17 in all, are uniquely detailed by a given Gospel author – 3 by Matthew, 2 by Mark, 6 by Luke and 6 by John.[9] Both instances of Jesus resurrecting the dead are exclusively narrated, the first in Luke and the second in John.[10]

If the allegation was true that the Gospels are the result of a conspiratorial effort to make Jesus appear to be the Messiah, the question begs to be asked, then why did the alleged Christian conspirators – authors, witnesses, translators, transcribers – fail to make their fictional Messiah profile appear to be stronger by tightly syncing up their accounts of miracles, signs and wonders performed by Jesus? Undoubtedly, it was not a coordinated effort.

The greatest miracle story ever told in the history of the world, detailed by all the Gospels, is the unique self-resurrection from the dead by Jesus of Nazareth – the sole basis of Christianity. No credible evidence has ever been produced to debunk the miracle of the Resurrection.[11]

Often overlooked are the miracles, signs and wonders recounted after the crucifixion. The same day of the reported Resurrection, Jesus appeared to Cleopas and his traveling partner on the road to Emmaus, sat down to dinner and prayed with them, then vanished before their eyes.[12]

Later that evening, Mark and Luke describe when the resurrected Jesus suddenly appeared inside a locked room terrifying those present; then after eating and speaking with them, Jesus instantly disappeared.[13] John exclusively reports it happened again 8 days later in the locked room with the doubting Disciple Thomas present who was allowed to touch the healed wounds of Jesus.[14]

John, the eyewitness, described a miraculous fish catch orchestrated by the resurrected Jesus that took place on the Sea of Tiberius (Sea of Galilee).[15] Outside of the Gospels in the Book of Acts, Jesus rose in the sky and disappeared into a cloud.[16]

Multiple reports of miracles, signs and wonders based on witness accounts were recounted by the authors of the Gospels – do they attest to integrity of the Gospels and the reality that Jesus of Nazareth was sent by God as the Messiah…and if they do, what does that say about Gospels’ claim of the greatest and unique miracle, the Resurrection?

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:

[1] “Jesus.” Encyclopaedia Judaica. Page 246.  CR “Jesus.”  Encyclopedia.com. <https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/jesus>
[2] Matthew 12; Mark 3; Luke 6, 13; John 5, 9.
[3] Maimonides, Moses.  Mishneh Torah.  Moznaim Publications.  Jewish year 4937 (1177 AD).  Trans. Eliyahu Touger.  Chabad.org. 2018. <https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1188356/jewish/Melachim-uMilchamot-Chapter-11.htm>  Rich, Tracey R.  “What Do Jews Believe?”  Judaism101. 2011. <http://www.jewfaq.org/beliefs.htm>
[4] Mangel, Nissen. “Responsa.” Publisher:  Kehot Publication Society. 2018. Chabad.org.  2014.  <http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/107783/jewish/Responsa.htm>
[5] Maimonides .“Letter to the South (Yemen)”.  Neubauer and Driver.  The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters.  pp 374, 375. <https://books.google.com/books?id=YxdbAAAAQAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=advent&f=false>
[6] Acts 1:3, 15; I Corinthians 15. Irenaeus of Lyons. Against Heresies. Philip Schaf, ed. Ante-Nicene Fathers. Volume I. Book III, Chapter XIV.1. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. 2005. <http://www.ccel.org/search/fulltext/Heresies> Aherne, Cornelius. “Gospel of Saint Luke.”  The Catholic Encyclopedia. Volume 9. 1910. New Advent. 2015. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09420a.htm>  Cline, Austin. “Luke the Evangelist: Profile & Biography of Luke.” About.com|Agnosticism/Atheism.  n.d. <http://atheism.about.com/od/biblepeoplenewtestament/p/LukeEvangelist.htm>  Singer, Isidore; Adler, Cyrus, et. al.  The Jewish Encyclopedia. Volume 9. “Luke.”  Page 251. 1912. <http://books.google.com/books?id=lfoOtGOcIBYC&lpg=PA594&ots=6qoCfVVUz7&dq=wave%20sheaf%20encyclopedia&pg=PA594#v=onepage&q&f=false>
[7] Gloag, Paton J.  Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels. pp vii-viii, 1-3. 1895.  Online Books Page. Ockerbloom, ed.   <http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/008728595>  “Gospel Contradictions.” 2000. Walker, ed. PositiveAtheism.org. n.d. <https://web.archive.org/web/20150324003025/http://www.positiveatheism.org/mail/eml9449.htm>  Smith, Ben C. “Gospel manuscripts – The manuscripts extant for the four canonical gospels.” TextExcavation.com. 2018. <http://www.textexcavation.com/gospelmanuscripts.html> Vick, Tristan D. “Dating the Gospels: Looking at the Historical Framework.” Advocatus Atheist. 2010. <http://advocatusatheist.blogspot.com/search?q=Dating+the+Gospels>  “New Testament.”  Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/11498-new-testament> Etinger, Judah. Foolish Faith. Chapter 6. 2018. FoolishFaith.com. <http://www.foolishfaith.com/book_chap6_history.asp> Shamoun, Sam. “The New Testament Documents and the Historicity of the Resurrection.” Answering-Islam.org.  2018. <http://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/documents.htm>
[8] “The Miracles of Jesus.” Bible.org. 2018. <https://bible.org/series/miracles-jesus> Fairchild, Mary. “37 Miracles of Jesus.” ThoughtCo. 2017. <https://www.thoughtco.com/miracles-of-jesus-700158> Ryrie Study Bible. Ed. Ryrie Charles C. Trans. New American Standard. “The Story of Jesus.” “Part 13 –His Miracles of Nature.” n.d. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. <https://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/CN171-MIRACLES.htm> “The Story of Jesus.” “Part 14 –His Healing Miracles.” n.d. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. <https://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/CN175-HEALING.htm> “Gospel of John.” Theopedia.com. n.d. <https://www.theopedia.com/gospel-of-john>
[9] Fairchild. “37 Miracles of Jesus.” Ryrie. “The Miracles of Jesus.” 
[10] Luke 7; John 4.
[11] Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20; I Corinthians 15. Strobel, Lee. The Case For Christ. 1998. Part 3.
[12] Luke 24; CR Mark 16.
[13] Mark 16; Luke 24. NET.
[14] John 20. NRSV.
[15] John 16. “Gospel of John.” Theopedia.com.  “The Book of John.”  Quartz Hill School of Theology. n.d.  <http://www.theology.edu/biblesurvey/john.htm>  Smith, Barry D. “The Gospel of John.”  Crandall University. 2015. <http://www.mycrandall.ca/courses/NTIntro/John.htm>
[16] Acts 1.