I was talking with a friend, and he offered this up as a contradiction between the two accounts. When Jesus is about to be crucified, during his flogging Matthew says the soldiers clothed him in scarlet while Mark says it was in purple. I have never noticed this specific difference in accounts before and didn't have an explanation, hopefully this forum can help.
The first passage is Matthew 27:27-30 NASB (v. 28 given in Greek with the word translated scarlet highlighted below).
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head.
καὶ ἐκδύσαντες αὐτὸν χλαμύδα κοκκίνην περιέθηκαν αὐτῷ
I also found the following definitions for κοκκίνην
- crimson, scarlet coloured. A kernel, the grain or berry of the "ilex coccifera"; these berries are the clusters of the eggs of a female insect, the "kermes" (resembling the cochineal), and when collected and pulverised produces a red which was used in dyeing (Pliny)
- scarlet cloth or clothing
The second passage is in Mark 15:16-19 NASB (v. 17 given in Greek with word translated purple highlighted below).
The soldiers took Him away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium), and they called together the whole Roman cohort. They dressed Him up in (4)purple, and after twisting a crown of thorns, they put it on Him; and they began to acclaim Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting on Him, and kneeling and bowing before Him.
καὶ ἐνδιδύσκουσιν αὐτὸν πορφύραν καὶ περιτιθέασιν αὐτῷ πλέξαντες ἀκάνθινον στέφανον
Again, I found the following definitions for πορφύραν
- the purple fish, a species of shell fish or mussel
- a fabric coloured with purple dye, a garment made from purple cloth
Additionally, in my copy of "A Harmony of the Gospels - New American Standard Version" by R. L. Thomas, & S. N. Gundry 1978 1st Harper & Row Edition I found this interesting footnote on pg. 240
(4). A term for shades varying from rose to purple.
This footnote seems to suggest that the color of the robe Matthew provided as κοκκίνην could be considered to be the same as the color πορφύραν given by Mark. I understand that rulers and wealthy people would often wear purple. In fact there is a good video explaining the use of purple throughout history here that also provides some insight. Is it possible that the modern distinction between reddish/rose colors and purple colors was more blurred during the first century? This would seem to make sense of the different passages and work with the evidence from the footnote.