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The Evolution on the character of Jesus in the New Testament Gospels
By Sami Zaatari
As we read the first 4 Gospels of the NT, it becomes apparently clear that character of Jesus keeps on changing from one Gospel to another. Bassam Zawadi has already written one article on this issue which can be located here:
In this article I will simply show some more verses from the NT showing this evolution taking place on the character of Jesus.
To begin with, let us first give the order in which the Gospels were written:
So let us now go on and see these modifications:
The Baptism of Jesus:
And it came to pass
in those days, that Jesus came from
Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.
coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the
Spirit like a dove descending upon him:
And there came a
voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am
immediately the spirit driveth him
into the wilderness.
And he was there in
the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the
wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.
13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
This is an obvious modification to the story, Matthew modified the story to simply make it look better, and to make Jesus look better.
The one to come after John
In each Gospel account we first see the apostle John speaking about Jesus, the one to come after him, but when we read each account, each one is different and each one is changing to make Jesus look more special.
5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; 7 And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. 8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
15 John bare
witness of him, and cried, saying, This
was he of whom I spake, He that
cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.
And of his
fulness have all we received, and
grace for grace.
For the law
was given by Moses, but grace and
truth came by Jesus Christ.
No man hath seen God
at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the
Father, he hath declared him.
Jesus' death on the cross
33 And when
the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land
until the ninth hour.
And at the ninth hour
Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying,
is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken
And some of them that
stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he
And one ran and
filled a spunge full of vinegar, and
put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let
us see whether Elias will come to take him down.
And Jesus cried with
a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.
And the veil of the
temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.
And when the
centurion, which stood over against
him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said,
Truly this man was the Son of God.
45 Now from
the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the
ninth hour. 46
And about the
ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying,
Eli, Eli, lama
is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Some of them that
stood there, when they heard that, said,
This man calleth for Elias.
And straightway one
of them ran, and took a spunge, and
filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to
The rest said,
Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.
Note the major difference. Now in Matthew's version we see that after Jesus dies a major earthquake happens, and that the saints rise from the dead and start walking through Jerusalem!!!!! This is an obvious evolution in the text, once again Matthew is trying to make things seem better and more special, and try to make an impact on his reader.
The criminals beside Jesus on the Cross
When we read the crucifixion story, we read that there were two other men to be crucified along Jesus as well, they were crooks and were being punished for their crimes. However this is one of the best examples of how this simple fact was modified into something very special and lovely.
25 And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. 26 And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27 And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. 28 And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors. 29 And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, 30 Save thyself, and come down from the cross. 31 Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. 32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.
33 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, 34 They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. 35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. 36 And sitting down they watched him there; 37 And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. 39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, 40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. 41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. 43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. 44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth
So basically Mark and Matthew are in basic agreement. We do not see anything special happening with the thieves who were to also be crucified, in fact Matthew shows that they too also disbelieved In Jesus.
However let us now read Luke's version:
32 And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. 33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. 34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. 35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. 36 And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, 37 And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. 38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
Luke obviously modified the story from the two earlier accounts of Mark and Matthew, and wanted to make it seem as a great lovely moment to bring tears to the eyes of the reader who believed this.
The lady who touched Jesus
28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. 29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? 31 And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? 32 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. 33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. 34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.
20 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: 21 For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. 22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole.
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