The original name for “gospel” in Hebrew is besorah.
The Hebrew word בּשׂוֹרה contains the root בּשׂר, which means “flesh”. In fact, a gospel is a testimony of our Messiah coming in flesh. The Hebrew versions of the Gospels are titled ” Habesorah al pi..” ( testimony from the mouth of), plus the name of its author. The Gospel of John, for instance is called “Habesorah al pi Yochanan”. In some versions, you may also find ” Habesorah hakdosha”, the “Holy Gospel”.
Because some people often complain that the Gospels are ” contradictory” or that details don’t match together on similar episodes of Yeshua’s life, I was motivated to compare at least three Gospels and to point at the common points and differences. You will see, through the following study, that the different stories are not contradictory, but rather complementary.
One must bear in mind that the Gospels were written between 60 and 100 in the 1st Century. They are accurate reports of Yeshua’s deeds and sayings.
The reader must also understand that the description also varies according to the writer’s vision and perception of Yeshua, but it is also conditioned by the target audience the writer intends to reach.
We know as a fact that Matthew ( Mattei in Hebrew, who is also known as Levi, the tax collector) wanted to reach out to the Jewish community. Therefore, the words Matthew uses refer mostly to Hebrew concepts.
I’ve chosen to compare the story of Yeshua announcing His death and resurrection to the twelve in Matthew, Mark and Luke.
Report Nr 1 author: Matthew
Taken out of the Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels
“When Yeshua went up to Yerushalayim, he took the twelve to himself alone and said to them on the road.“Look, we are going up to Yerushalayim and the Son of Man will be handed over to the leading priests and the scholars, and they will condemn him to die. They will hand him over to the Gentiles and mock him, to strike him with whips and to crucify him, but on the third day, he will rise.”
and in Hebrew:
ויהי כּעלות ישׁוּע ירוּשׁלים ויקח אליו את שׁנים העשׂר לבדם ויאמר להם בּדרך׃ הננוּ עֹלים ירוּשׁלים וּבן־האדם ימסר לראשׁי הכֹּהנים ולסופרים והרשׁיעהוּ למוּת׃ וּמסרוּ לגוֹים להתלבּוֹ וּלהכּוֹת אוֹתוֹ בּשׁוֹטים ולצלֹב אוֹתוֹ וּביוֹם השׁלישׁי יקוּם
Report Nr 2 author : Mark
Mark 10: 32-35
“On the road, as they went up to Yerushalayim, Yeshua was walking ahead of them. They were alarmed, walking behind him anxiously. Once more, he took the twelve to himself and he began to tell them what would happen, saying:“Look, we are going to Yerushalayim and the son of man will be handed over to the leading priests and the scholars, and they will condemn him to die. They will hand him over to the Gentiles.They will mock him , strike him with whips, spit in his face. But on the third day, he will surely rise.”
ויחי בּדרך בּעלוֹת ירוּשׁלים וישׁוּע הוֹלך לפניהם והמהנבהלים והוֹלכים אחריו בּחרדה ויוֹסף לקחת אליו את־שׁנים העשׂר ויחל להגיד להם ־אשׁר יקרהוּ לאמֹר ׃ הנה אנחנוּ עֹלים ירוּשׁלים וּבן־האדם ימסר לראשׁי הכּכֹּהנים ולסוֹפרים וירשׁיעהוּ למוּת אֹתוֹ לגוֹים׃ויהתלוּ בוֹ ויכּהוּ בשׁוֹתים וירקוּ בּפניו וימיתהוּ וּביוֹם השׁלישׁי קוֹם יקוּם
Report Nr 3: author Luke
Luke 18: 31-34
” He took the twelve to himself, and said to them,
Look, we are going to Yerushalayim, and all that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. For he will be handed over to the Gentiles, and they will mock him and spit in his face. They will strike him with whips and put him to death, but on the third day, he will surely rise.They did not understand a simple word of this. This word was hidden from them and they did not know what he was saying to them.
ויקח אליו את־ שׁנים העשׂר ויאמר להם
הנני עֹלים ירוּשׁלים וכל־הכּתוּב בּידי הנביאים על בּן־האדם ימלא׃ כּי ימסר לגוֹים והתלוּ בוֹ והתעלללוּ וירקוּ בּפניו׃והכּוּהוּ בשׁוֹטים והמיתוּהוּ וּביוֹם השׁלישׁי קוֹם יקוּם
Here we have the same story, viewed from three different angles.
Main common points and differences between the three Gospel accounts
While we know as a certainty that Matthew wrote essentially for a Hebrew-speaking, Jewish audience, Mark and Matthew seem to have targeted Gentile believers much more.
It appears quite clearly in the Gospel of Luke, where the high priests and the scholars are left out completely, that there is rather an emphasis on Yeshua being handed over to the Gentiles.
So now let us have a look at the common points between all 3 versions:
- Yeshua takes the twelve to Himself
- all versions in Hebrew conclude with the future form יקוּם, He will rise. On an interesting sidenote, I discovered that יקוּם can also be used as a noun. When used as a noun, it carries the meaning of macrocosm, universe, living things of the Creation and of space.
- Yeshua announces precise details about torture, death and resurrection ( Mark and Luke will indicate that the Messiah will be spat at which fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy:
“My back I have given to those smiting. And my cheeks to those plucking out. My face I hid not from shame and spitting.” Isaiah 50:6
Here is a list of discrepancies that seem to arise throughout the different versions. However , I do think that precisely these differences allow us to have complementary views on the same story.
- Mark underlines the disciples’ anxiousness. He is telling us that they were alarmed. The twelve understand that Yeshua is going to make an important statement.
- Mark and Matthew both mention that the leading priests and scholars will condemn Yeshua to die.
- Luke sheds lights on the lack of comprehension from the disciple’s side. Yeshua’s words are sealed. One could ask if they understood the Messianic meaning of the expression ” Ben Adam”, Son of Man. Luke also insists very much on the fulfilling of the prophecies: all that is written about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. One is also entitled to ask if the twelve were acquainted with the prophecies of Scripture Yeshua mentions. If so, did they understand that these prophecies would come true through Yeshua? Luke implies that they had no clue about what our Messiah was saying.
Each writer has his way of narrating the same story. Matthew knew Yeshua personally as He walked the earth. He was one of the twelve disciples. His eye has seen the deeds and his ears have heard the sayings of our Messiah.
Some people attribute the Gospel of Mark to Shim’on Kepha ( Peter), while some others think that the facts recorded in the Gospel of Mark were reported by an adolescent indirectly ( he was told about Yeshua, but didn’t encounter our Savior physically during the 1st Century.) Nevertheless, Mark is providing us with numerous details.
We know of Luke that he was a doctor and that his Gospel is a tell-all book from what he’s been told about Yeshua.
All three exerpts provided by the Gospel writers can compare articles from the press.
It must have been challenging to record precise facts years after Yeshua’s death and resurrection, because our memory is less accurate in detail as time passes by. As a writer I am very much aware of that and I realized the difficulty of it when I started writing about my own grandma. Some memories had just faded out with time. One can assume that the Gospel writers might have written about Yeshua earlier, but that they completed their work in order to show it to a public audience many years later.
Their message about our Lord and Savior never faded out, though. It brought many people to Salvation over the centuries. May this number increase in abundance, before our Messiah returns in glory. Amen.
Copyright© by Isabelle Esling