Sunday, November 09, 2014

I tell you once, I tell you twice.

The gospels emphasize different things about Jesus' life on earth. One day I wondered what their overlap looked like, and decided this morning to try to piece it out. Of course the synoptics overlap a lot, but John's is different enough that the overall overlap isn't quite as huge as you might expect.

I did a quick-and-dirty review and got this list, though I probably missed a detail or three.

  1. This is about Jesus
  2. John says someone more important is coming
  3. John baptizes Jesus (implicit in John's)
  4. The Spirit descends like a dove on Jesus
  5. Some of the apostles are named
  6. Jesus cleanses the temple (non-linear narrative in John's?)
  7. 5000 are fed from a small lunch
  8. Jesus walks on water
  9. Jesus heals people (not the same list in each)
  10. Jesus teaches (not quite the same material quoted in each)
  11. Jesus says he's going to die
  12. Leaders plot against him
  13. Jesus and his disciples have a meal together with last instructions
  14. Peter boasts of loyalty, but then denies Jesus
  15. Judas betrays Jesus
  16. Jesus is tried before a Jewish assembly
  17. Jesus is tried before Pilate
  18. Pilate doesn't want to kill him
  19. Barabbas is released instead by popular acclaim
  20. Jesus is crucified along with a couple of criminals
  21. Women are present (Mary of Magdala, another Mary, others(*))
  22. Jesus quotes scripture on the cross
  23. Jesus dies
  24. Joseph of Arimathea takes custody of the body and buries it in his own tomb
  25. There is a stone in front of the tomb
  26. On Sunday the women (Mary of Magdala and others) find the empty tomb
  27. Jesus appears alive to the disciples

If overlap is there for emphasis, then what is emphasized?

1,2,3,4 testify that Jesus is going to be the one from God. 6 say he cleanses worship; 7,8,9 say he can control the world; 10 shows that he wants to teach us, 11 says he knows what’s about to happen.

The rest of the later ones are the outline of the plot to destroy him and its unexpected result.

The Jewish leaders plot against him and try him in their own court (his own people). The Roman leader can't be bothered to administer justice (their claim to fame). A criminal goes free (like us).

Jesus is crucified. (This is a curse for both Jews and Romans.)

Judas is a traitor (like plenty of others ever since). Peter is a failure (the only good argument I know for assigning him a "first among equals" position).

Women are essential witnesses (seriously counter cultural).

A rich man you never heard of before (or afterwards) takes the risk of burying Jesus--and in his own tomb at that.

After the Sabbath the tomb is empty, and Jesus shows himself alive.

For full instruction you want the union of the gospels, but I think I like the intersection too. Some things to meditate on.

(*) When I was little I was terribly confused by all the different Marys, Herods, and Johns. It still doesn't help that "Mary the mother of Joses" / "Mary the mother of James and Joseph" and Mary the mother of Jesus may or may not be the same person.

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