A Harmonization of Matt 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10

Jack Russell Shaffer | May 19, 2010

A strict harmonization of Matt 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10 has been considered impossible by many recent biblical scholars because of seeming discrepancies between the two accounts. Matthew locates the encounter between Jesus and the centurion almost immediately after the Sermon on the Mount; Luke puts it soon after the Sermon on the Plain. The illness that had come to the centurion’s servant—not his son—was some type of lameness that kept the centurion from bringing or sending him to Jesus. Various authors have proposed three options for solving the problem of harmonizing the two accounts. The first says that Matthew and Luke adapted a common source called Q, but a lack of verbal agreement and an impugning of biblical inspiration rule this option out. The second option holds that Matthew used literary rhetoric to describe the encounter, but Matthew plainly supports the personal coming of the centurion— not his servants in his place as the view holds—to Jesus. The third option states that Matthew and Luke faithfully recorded the events and dialogue of the encounter. This option is feasible as an alignment of the texts according to a strict harmonization shows, and is the best option because it acknowledges the integrity of the human authors and the integrity of the Holy Spirit who inspired the accounts.

Vol. 17, no. 1 (Spring 2006)

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Shaffer, Jack Russell. "A Harmonization of Matt 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10." The Master's Seminary Journal 17, no. 1 (Spring 2006): 35-50.