Thursday, August 20, 2009

Matthew, Mark, and "among his own kin"

Matthew 13:57-58:
And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house." And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.

Mark 6:4-6:
And Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house." And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.

This morning, the class was asked why there is this missing verse in Matthew's account while it is there in Mark's.

One suggestion given is that Mark included ‘among his own kin’ because that is a natural literary flow from Mark’s earlier portrayal of Jesus’ immediate family rejecting his ministry (Mark 3.32-35).

I think that is unlikely based on 2 reasons:

1. Both Matthew and Mark mention ‘in his own house’ in the narrative. These are direct references to Jesus' immediate family. This therefore making 'among his own kin' as again referring to Jesus' immediate family redundant.

2. Both Matthew and Mark have the incident where Jesus’ family doubted his ministry (Matt 12:48-50; Mark 3.32-35). That means 'among his own kin' is not necessary the result of Mark's literary flow. If it is a literary flow, then Matthew would have the same literary flow to highlight the same thing Mark highlighted: Jesus being doubted by his family.

Thus, I think Matthew’s lacking of ‘among his own kin’ is not because he didn’t know about Jesus being rejected by his family, nor Mark’s inclusion of the phrase is a natural literary flow.

Although the Greek word for 'kin' (suggenes) refers to 'relative', it can also means one's own ethnic group, or one's nationally akin people (Romans 9.3-4). The fact that Paul used this word to refer to ethnic/national kin suggests that Mark could had used it in the same way.

My take is that Matthew’s lacking of the phrase ‘among his own kin’ is more likely the result of the author's intention of not wanting to portray Jesus as being entirely and outrightly rejected by his own ethnic/national group, that is the Jews.

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