To whom did God speak? - BibelCenter [apparent] contradictions
To whom did God speak?
von Wolfgang Schneider

Matthew 3:17 — "This is my beloved Son …"
Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22 — "Thou art
[you are] my beloved Son …"

When comparing the wording given in the different gospel accounts of what the voice from heaven spoke after the spirit had descended in a figure like a dove on Jesus, there appears to be a contradiction and it is not clearly evident to whom this voice was actually directed and to whom God was really speaking. The record in Mark and the one in Luke indicate that the voice was obviously directed to Jesus himself when they say, "THOU art my beloved Son …", wheras the record in Matthew gives the impression as if the voice was directed in a more general way at those standing by when it says, "THIS is my beloved Son …" Is this really a contradcition, and how can it be solved in harmony with the rest of Scripture?

First it is necessary to clear up if the respective wording which we find in our Bibles today is actually the wording foundi in the Greek and Aramaic manuscripts, or if perhaps there is a translation problem involved, or else if perhaps a different reading in an old maniscript is to be preferred for any of these passages.

Mark and Luke agree in their wording, and there is also no extraordinary reading in any of the old Greek manuscripts which would deviate from the way the translation now reads. These two records show then that the voice at the baptism of Jesus was actually directed to Jesus himself, not to any other people who just happened to be there at that time.

In reference to Matthew 3:17 however there is an interesting deviation in some old Greek manuscripts, which also have the same wording as is found in Mark and Luke for this verse in Matthew 3:17, "Thou art my beloved Son …" (cp. the remarks in the critical apparatus for Mt 3:17 in Nestle/Aland, Novum Testamentum Graece, 27ed , Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993). With this wording, the passage in Matthew would be in harmony with what the other two gospels record about the identical situation.

This apparent contradiction then is solved when we compare the old Greek manuscripts and prefer the particular reading which happens to agree and be in harmony with what the other clear sections of Scripture in the other two gospels have which speak of the identical situation.

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Copyright © 2009 by Wolfgang Schneider
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Last changed: 10.02.2009