2

In Matthew 20:20-28 we read

20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” 24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,[c] 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,[d] 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:35- 45 we see

35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,[d] 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave[e] of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

They seem to be describing the same event. Who made the request? The mom, or James and his brother? I've heard that they could be different events but why are the words so similar and why would the disciples get indignant twice? Is there something I'm missing? Copyist error? Bad translation? Or misinterpretation?

6
  • 3
    The mother came ('with her sons' - Matthew) and knelt and asked. The sons came and asked (Mark). There is nothing contradictory in these two statements. The mother represented the sons. – Nigel J Oct 23 '20 at 12:11
  • 1
    @NigelJ But who made the request? Matthew says the mother did and Mark says the brothers did. – RandomUser Oct 23 '20 at 14:33
  • 1
    The mother represented the sons. She made the request. The sons made the request through her. – Nigel J Oct 23 '20 at 14:36
  • 1
    @NigelJ This would've been a fitting answer if the author of Mark was merely being imprecise in his paraphrasing of the details of conversation, but he provides literal quotations of what would've supposedly taken place -- "Grant us to sit...", and Matthew -- "Say that these two sons of mine are to sit...". Two accounts are provided, in Matthew, in which the mother is the one raising the question, and Mark in which the sons are the ones raising the question. – RandomUser Oct 23 '20 at 15:07
  • 3
    The two authors, Matthew and Mark, had good reason for viewing the conversation from two different aspects. That is what should concern us. I am unable to help you further with this and I shall comment no further. Regards. – Nigel J Oct 23 '20 at 15:20
0

The answer may be that both accounts are correct. (Who initiated this idea is another matter that I will not address.)

That is, the mother and her two sons came to Jesus - both the sons and the mother made the request. Thus, Mark and Matthew reported different parts of the same conversation but both are correct. This means that either:

  • The mother supported her sons request by repeating what they said, or
  • The sons did as the mother instructed them and repeated what the mother said.

Such an approach is quintessentially Hebrew as seen in 1 Kings 1:14 during Bathsheba and Nathan -

Then, while you are still there speaking with the king, I will come in after you and confirm your words.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.