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The Miracles of Jesus

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Triple Tradition:

  • Peter’s mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-31; Matt 8:14-15; Luke 4:38-39)
  • exorcism in the Capernaum synagogue (Mark 1:21-27; Luke 4:31-36; omitted in Matthew)
  • evening of healings/exorcisms (Mark 1:32-34; Matt 8:16; Luke 4:40-41)
  • summary statement (Mark 1:39; Matt 4:23-24 [?]; Luke 5:15)
  • healings/exorcisms in Galilee (Mark 1:39; 3:10-12; Matt 4:23-24 [?]; Luke 6:17-19)
  • leper (Mark 1:40-45; Matt 8:1-4; Luke 5:12-16)
  • paralytic (Mark 2:1-12; Matt 9:1-8; Luke 5:17-26)
  • man with a withered hand (Mark 3:1-6; Matt 12:9-14; Luke 6:6-11)
  • apostles as exorcists/healers (Mark 3:15; 6:7, 13; Matt 10:1; Luke 9:1, 6)
  • Beelzebul accusation (Mark 3:22-30; Matt 12:24-26, 29, 31; Luke 11:15, 17-18, 21-22; see here for triple, double, or single tradition in this so-called “Mark-Q overlap”)
  • stilling the storm (Mark 4:35-41; Matt 8:23-27; Luke 8:22-25)
  • Demoniac at the tombs (Mark 5:1-20; Matt 8:28-34; Luke 8:26-39)
  • hemorrhaging woman (Mark 5:25-34; Matt 9:19-22; Luke 8:43-48)
  • resurrection of the synagogue ruler’s daughter (Mark 5:35-34; Matt 9:23-26; Luke 8:49-56)
  • Limited healings at the Nazarene synagogue (Mark 6:5; Matt 13:58; omitted in Luke 4:16-30)
  • Ministry in the villages (Mark 6:6; Matt 9:35; Luke 8:1)
  • feeding 5000 (Mark 6:32-44; Matt 14:13-21; Luke 9:10-17)
  • healings at Gennesaret (Mark 6:53-56; Matt 14:34-36; omitted in Luke)
  • walking on water (Mark 6:45-52; Matt 14:22-27; omitted in Luke)
  • Syro-Phoenician (or Canaanite) woman’s daughter (Mark 7:24-30; Matt 15:21-28; omitted in Luke)
  • feeding 4000 (Mark 8:1-10; Matt 15:32-39; omitted in Luke)
  • epileptic child (Mark 9:14-29; Matt 17:14-19; Luke 9:37-42)
  • rival exorcist (Mark 9:38-41; Luke 9:49-50; omitted in Matthew)
  • blind man/men at Jericho (Mark 10:46-52; Matt 20:29-34; Luke 18:35-43)
  • withered fig tree (Mark 11:12-14; Matt 21:18-19; omitted in Luke)
  • resurrection of Jesus (Mark 16:1-8; Matt 28:1-8; Luke 24:1-8)

Double Tradition:

  • centurion’s servant (Luke 7:1-10; Matt 8:5-13)
  • response to inquirers sent by the baptizer (Luke 7:18-23; Matt 11:2-6)
  • demon causes muteness (Luke 11:14; Matt 9:32-33; 12:22)
  • Beelzebul accusation (double tradition in Matt 9:34/12:24-32 and Luke 11:15-26/12:10 such as Matt 12:27-28/Luke 11:19-20; see here for triple, double, or single tradition in this so-called “Mark-Q overlap”)
  • commissioning the apostles to heal (Luke 10:9; Matt10:7-8)
  • mighty works in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum (Luke 10:13-15; Matt 11:21-23)

Single Tradition:

  • deaf-mute man (Mark 7:31-37; cf. replaced by the summary statement of healings in Matt 15:30-31)
  • two-stage healing of blind man at Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26)
  • two blind men (Matt 9:27-31)
  • the twelve are to freely offer their healing services (Matt 10:8)
  • coin in fish’s mouth (Matt 17:24-27)
  • healing in the temple courts (Matt 21:14)
  • miraculous catch of fish (Luke 5:1-11; cf. John 21:1-14)
  • Jesus’s speech in the Nazarene synagogue (Luke 4:16-27)
  • widow’s son at Nain (Luke 7:11-17)
  • exorcism of Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2; cf. Mark 16:9)
  • seventy disciples as exorcists (Luke 10:1, 17-20)
  • crippled woman (Luke 13:10-17)
  • man with edema or swelling (Luke 14:1-6)
  • ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19)
  • the ear of the high priest’s servant (Luke 22:51)


  • clairvoyant perception of Nathaniel (1:47-51)
  • water to wine (2:1-12)
  • royal official’s son at Cana (4:46-54)
  • paralytic at the pool of Bethesda (5:1-9)
  • feeding 5000 (6:1-14)
  • walking on water (6:16-21)
  • blind man at the pool of Siloam (9:1-12)
  • resurrection of Lazarus (11:38-44)
  • resurrection of Jesus (20:1-29)
  • miraculous catch of fish (21:1-14)

Controversial Sabbath Healings: A Closer Look

  • The man with the withered hand (Mark 3:1-6), the crippled woman (Luke 13:10-17), the man with edema (Luke 14:1-6), and the healings at the pools of Bethesda and Siloam (John 5:1-17).
  • The Sabbath command in the Decalogue (Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15; cf. Exodus 31:14; 35:3-4). Note that the practice is justified by God’s rest on the seventh day of creation (cf. Genesis 2:2-3) or the reminder of deliverance from their heavy labour in Egypt.
  • The Pharisees, and later the Rabbis (cf. Mishnah Shabbat 7.2), efforts to “build a fence around the Torah” and to define work in their oral tradition.
  • Permissible exceptions: self-defense (1 Maccabees 2:41; Tosefta Eruvin 3.5; but cf. Jubilees 50:12-13) and saving life (Mishnah Yoma 8.6Bavli Yoma 85b).
  • Did healing by speaking a word constitute work? Did picking up one’s mat (John 5:10) or making mud (John 9:6, 15-16) constitute work?
  • Synoptic defenses: the precedent of David eating the sacred bread perhaps on a Sabbath (Mark 2:23-28; cf. 1 Samuel 21:1-6; Leviticus 24:8), rescuing an animal in a pit (Matthew 12:11-12; Luke 14:5; contra Damascus Document 11.13-14), and the principle of doing good and the kingdom overcoming Satan.
  • John’s defenses: circumcision on the Sabbath (John 7:23) and Jesus’s equality with the Father (John 5:17-18)
  • A short bibliography:
    • Bockmuehl, Markus. Jewish Law in Gentile Churches: Halakhah and the Beginning of Christian Public Ethics. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000.
    • Casey, Maurice. Jesus of Nazareth: An Independent Historian’s Account of His Life and Teachings. London: T&T Clark International, 2010.
    • Collins, Nina. Jesus, the Sabbath and the Jewish Debate: Healing on the Sabbath in the 1st and 2nd Centuries CE. LNTS 474. London: Bloomsbury, 2014.
    • Crossley, James. The New Testament and the Jewish Law: A Guide for the Perplexed. London: T&T Clark International, 2010.
    • Doering, Lutz. “Sabbath Laws in the New Testament Gospels.” In The New Testament and Rabbinic Literature. Edited by R. Bieringer, F. García Martínez, D. Pollefeyt, & P. Tomson. JSJSup 136. Leiden: Brill, 2010.
    • Meier, John P. A Marginal Jew, Volume IV: Law and Love. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009.
    • Sanders, E. P. Jesus and Judaism. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1985.
    • Vermes, Geza. Jesus the Jew: A Historians Reading of the Gospels. London: Collins, 1973.

The Gerasene Demoniac: A Closer Look

  • The text critical issue: Gerasa was 55 kilometres (34 miles) from the lake and Gadara was 8 kilometres (5 miles) from the lake. Origen thought the location may be “Gergesa” in his Commentary on John (6.41)
  • A dramatic account of an exorcism of a multitude of demons, a politically subversive story, or both?
  • Earthly empires represented in the heavens (cf. Daniel 10:13, 20-21).
  • Invaded and colonized by a foreign power.
  • A Roman legion could have up to 5100 soldiers.
  • The Legio Decem Fretensis had a boar’s head as one of its emblems and played a role in the Jewish War.
  • The herd of pigs drowning in the Sea is reminiscent of the fate of Pharaoh’s army in Exodus 14:26-28.
  • A short bibliography:
    • Dormandy, Richard. “The Expulsion of Legion: A Political Reading of Mark 5:1-20.”Expository Times 111 (2000): 335-37.
    • Horsley, Richard A.  Hearing the Whole Story: The Politics of Plot in Mark’s Gospel.  Louisville; London; Leiden: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001 (see also Robert Gundry, “Richard Horsley’s Hearing the Whole Story: A Critical Review of its Postcolonial Slant” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 26 [2003]: 131-149 and Horsley’s response on pages 151-169).
    • Incigneri, Brian J.  The Gospel to the Romans: The Setting and Rhetoric of Mark’s Gospel.  Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2003.
    • Myers, Ched. Binding the Strongman: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus. Second Edition. Marynoll: Orbis, 2008.
    • Newheart, Michael Willett. My Name is Legion: The Story and Soul of the Gerasene Demoniac. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2004.

Walking on Water: A Closer Look

  • The Ancient Near Eastern Combat Myth (cf. the Babylonian/Akkadian myth Enuma Elish and the Ugaritic/Canaanite Baal Cycle)
  • The defeat of the chaotic sea monster (Job 26:12; Psalm 74:13-15; Isaiah 27:1); compare this with the sovereignty of Elohim over the formless void and waters in the priestly creation account (Genesis 1:2).
  • Yahweh trampling upon the waters of chaos (Job 9:8; 38:16). There are Greek and Roman stories of deities (or the horses pulling Poseidon’s chariot) running at super-speed across water.
  • Moses and Elijah divided the waters (Exodus 14:21–29; 2 Kings 2:8; cf. Joshua 3:14-17) and multiplied food (Exodus 16:1–36; Numbers 11:1–9; 1 Kings 17:14–16). Philo praises Moses’s command of the elements (Life of Moses 1.55-58). Note the sequence of sea and feeding miracles, alluding to the sea-crossing followed by the provision of manna in the wilderness.
  • The hubris of imperial rulers: the Persian emperor Herodotus commands that the Hellespont receive 300 lashes after a storm thwarts his efforts to cross over it on a bridge of boats (cf. Herodotus, Histories 7.35-57) and Antiochus IV Epiphanies imagines that he could sail on the land and walk on the sea (2 Maccabees 5:21; 9:8).
  • Yahweh extends his power over the sea to king David (Psalm 89:9-10, 25)
  • Does Mark 6:48-51 use the imagery of a theophany in the description of Jesus passing by the disciples (cf. LXX Exodus 33:17–23; 34:6) and use of ego eimi (“I am” or “it is I”)?
  • Peter is invited to walk on the water, but he begins to sink in doubt before Jesus takes hold of him in Matthew 14:28-31.
  • Compare the disciples’ hard hearts in Mark 6:51-52 with their confession and worship in Matthew 14:33.
  • A short bibliography:
    • Collins, Adela Yarbro. “Rulers, Divine Men, and Walking on the Water (Mark 6:45-52).” In Religious Propaganda and Missionary Competition in the New Testament World: Essays Honoring Dieter Georgi, 207-227. Edited by L. Bormann, K. del Tredici, and A. Standhartinger. Leiden: Brill, 1994.
    • Cotter,  Wendy J. The Christ of the Miracle Stories: Portrait through Encounter. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010.
    • Hays, Richard. Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness. Waco: Baylor, 2014.
    • Kirk, Daniel and Young, Stephen L. “I Will Set his Hand to the Sea: Psalm 88:26 (LXX) and Christology in Mark.” Journal of Biblical Literature 133 (2014): 333-340.
    • Mcphee, Brian D. “Walk, Don’t Run: Jesus’s Water Walking is Unparalleled in Greco-Roman Mythology.” Journal of Biblical Literature 135.4 (2016): 763-777.


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