Gospel Accounts of the Passion Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Rst: New Testament

the passion in synoptic gospels vs john'S GOSPEL

The Synoptic Gospels, which are the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke, are called "Synoptic" because their patterns and stories show similar themes as well as differences. Placing them side by side, which has been done many times, can give a quick "historical" synopsis of Jesus' life. While the Synoptic Gospels use many of the same patterns and stories, each author stresses his own themes, particularly in describing Jesus' Passion: his suffering and death. Mark emphasizes Jesus' suffering. Matthew focuses on Jesus' kingship and the jealous plotting against him. Luke stresses Jesus' innocence and its recognition by several of Jesus' key oppressors. The Synoptic Gospels use common historical patterns and stories to convey their messages.

In contrast to the Synoptic Gospels, John's Gospel is less historical and more poetically, theologically developed. John's Gospel does not use the same patterns or many of the same stories found in the Synoptic Gospels. Stressing Jesus' divinity, knowledge and ready acceptance of his mission, and ultimate glory, John's Gospel gives a Passion account in which Jesus is in full control of the people and circumstances. He is unquestionably the glorified only Son of God, who has come here to reveal God to us and return to God in glory. Scholars believe this fourth Gospel was written for specific theological purposes in the early Church.

2. Body

a. The Synoptic Gospels

The Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke are called the "Synoptic" Gospels. They are called Synoptic because they are organized and synchronized segment by segment to easily show their many common stories and themes, as well as their differences (Knight). Ideally, the reader can see a synopsis of Jesus' story at a glance of all three Gospels set side by side. The Synoptic Gospels are different from John's Gospel, which is less about history and more about symbolism and theology (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops). Consequently, when biblical scholars study Jesus' Passion, they often contrast the Synoptic Gospels' accounts with John's Gospel's account.

i. Mark's Account of the Passion

Though Mark's Gospel is the second in biblical order, it is believed to be the first written. Scholars estimate that this Gospel was written around 70 A.D. (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops). The simplest, nearly "bare bones" historical account of Mark's Gospel formed the basis for much of Matthew's and Luke's later Gospels (Just). Modern scholarship proposes that the author was "an unknown Hellenistic Jewish Christian, possibly in Syria" (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops). Mark's account of the Passion is in Chapters 14 and 15 (King James Bible Online). His Gospel stresses Jesus' suffering: his rejection, unfair condemnation; brutal beating; terrible insults; and otherwise cruel treatment by several groups of people (Just). Jesus is rejected by Peter three times before the cock crowed, for example (King James Bible Online). He was also unfairly condemned to death while the thief, Barabbas, was released (King James Bible Online). His brutal beating came at the hands of the soldiers who guarded him, as they whipped him, crowned him with thorns, hit him on the head with a reed (King James Bible Online). In fact, Jesus was so beaten up and weakened that the soldiers pressed Simon the Cyrenian to help him carry his cross (King James Bible Online). Many of the insults against him also came from the soldiers, who mocked him, spat on him and knelt before him (King James Bible Online). Jesus was also mocked by the crowd and even the thieves crucified with him as he hung on the cross (King James Bible Online). Those are just a few examples of the victimization of Jesus, though Mark's Gospel shows other cruel treatment toward Jesus. At least having an inkling of what was in store for him, Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, asking God to "let this cup pass from me" if it was God's will to relieve Jesus of the suffering and death (King James Bible Online). Also, Jesus' victimization is shown when he is hanging on the cross and yells, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (King James Bible Online). In sum, Mark's Gospel is the earliest account of Jesus, showing him to be a victim and a reluctant (though obedient) one.

ii. Matthew's Account of the Passion

Matthew's Gospel was probably written about a decade after Mark's Gospel. Scholars believe it was written around 80 A.D. (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops). Authorship is unknown, though it is known that the anonymous author borrowed heavily from Mark and from "Q" material that is absent from Mark but found in Luke (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops). Matthew's account of the Passion is in Chapters 26 and 27 (King James Bible Online). His Gospel stresses Jesus' kingship and how the "powers that be," such as Pilate and Caiaphas, conspired to eliminate him as a political threat to their power (Just). Matthew's Gospel relies heavily on Mark's stories and is very similar in many respects. However, his emphasis on Jesus' kingship and the jealous plotting against him are found in key spots of his Gospel. Jesus is the newborn king right out of the gate, as Joseph, the three wise men and King Herod are all aware early on that Jesus is the newborn King of the Jews (King James Bible Online). What is more, Jesus' kingship spurs Herod to seek Jesus' death in infancy by having all first born sons of Jews murdered (King James Bible Online). That same basic kingship theme runs throughout Matthew's account of the Passion, where Jesus speaks to his followers of drinking wine with them in his father's kingdom (King James Bible Online) and when Pilate asks whether Jesus is the King of the Jews and Jesus responds, "Thou sayest" (King James Bible Online). The theme of jealous plotting also continues through the Passion, with the chief priests and elders who saw Jesus' kingship as a threat spurred the crowd to have Barabbas released and Jesus crucified (King James Bible Online). As in Mark's Gospel, Jesus is so weakened by his treatment that the soldiers force Simon the Cyrenian to help him carry his cross (King James Bible Online). The themes of kingship and jealous plotting are found in various places in Matthew's Gospel but they are certainly obvious in the beginning and the Passion of Matthew's Gospel. Matthew's account also has the descriptions of Jesus in Gethsemane, his request to be relieved of suffering and death if God is willing, and his mournful cry asking God why He had forsaken Jesus (King James Bible Online). Matthew particularly portrays Jesus as the "suffering Righteous One," an old Testament theme applied here to Jesus, who complains to God about his suffering but knows the he will ultimately be delivered from his suffering (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops). While heavily relying on Mark's stories, Matthew uses them to focus on the themes of Jesus' kingship and the consequent plots against him.

iii. Luke's Account of the Passion

Luke's Gospel was probably written shortly after Matthew's Gospel. Scholars believe it was written between 80 -- 90 A.D. (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops). The author of this account is believed to be "Luke," a Syrian from Antioch who was a second generation Christian disciple (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops). Luke's account of the Passion is in Chapters 22 and 23 (King James Bible Online). His Gospel emphasizes Jesus' innocence, showing how Pilate, Herod Antipas, a centurion, and a crucified thief all recognized his innocence (Just). Pilate declares Jesus' innocence to the high priests and the people when he states, "I find no fault in this man" (King James Bible Online). Herod Antipas, who received Jesus from and eventually sent him back to Pilate, found no fault worthy of death (King James Bible Online). Also, one of the thieves being crucified rebuked the other thief for mocking Jesus, saying, "Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss" (King James Bible Online). Finally, a centurion who saw Jesus' death and the immediate effects of it on the sky and the temple, said, "Surely, this was a righteous man" (King James Bible Online). There is not a specific reference to Gethsemane but Jesus does withdraw from his disciples and asks God to let the cup pass from him if it is God's will (King James Bible Online). Luke's Gospel also speaks of Simon the Cyrenian being pressed into service helping Jesus carry his cross (King James Bible Online). Luke's account does not have Jesus asking God why He forsook him; rather, Jesus lets out a loud cry and says, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" (King James Bible Online). While Luke uses many of the same stories as Mark and Matthew, Luke stresses the innocence of Jesus, which is…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Just, Felix. The Passion and Death of Jesus. 15 August 2014. Web. 15 August 2015.

King James Bible Online. John Chapter 18. 2015. Web. 14 August 2015.

-- . John Chapter 19. 2015. Web. 14 August 2015.

-- . Luke Chapters 22 and 23. 2015. Web. 14 August 2015.

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