A quick question on.....

...differences in details in parallel passages

[created 3/18/97]
Dear Glen,

First I would like to thank you for doing this incredible work on the internet. I have been a (serious) Christian for most of my life but am now, for the first time, facing the questions in my head instead of ignoring them. Your web site has been a great help and I pray that you will be able to continue this wonderful work.

My question is about the two demon possessed men in the book of Matthew 8:28-34. The story is so amazingly similar to Mark 5:1-20. Mark's story goes into more detail about the verbal interaction between Jesus and the demon possessed man, but both stories tell of (1) Jesus crossing the water in a boat, (2) Jesus meeting the demons in a grave yard, (3) Jesus casting the demons into the pigs, (4) the pigs running off the cliff, and (5) Jesus being asked to leave. It seems that both must be an account of the same occurrence. The problem I run into is that if they are two accounts of the same thing and since the scriptures are inerrant, then why in Matthew are there two men and in Mark there is one man. I may be getting to picky but this question is bothering me. Thanks for your time and God Bless.
Dear JJJ

Thanks for visiting the Tank, for your questions, for your kind words, and for your willingness to face your questions for Him!!!

Your question came in during Oct--I am obviously 3-4 months behind in emails--did you already get an answer on this? I have not looked at it, and would have to put it on the "list", but let me point out that the gospel writers OFTEN will single out ONE actor (among multiple ones) for their story...there would have been two (or even more) demoniacs there, but Luke and Mark only tell about one--they don't say "ONLY ONE"--this occurs often, and really doesn't mean much...its simply a matter of how much detail the writer wants to put in the story (or even 'likes')...Matthew was a VERY detailed tax-collector, and so his stories tend to have more detail...Mark is very 'blunt' and forceful, following Peter's summary stories, and collapses narratives into smaller 'overviews'...its largely a literary style issue...

[I finally answered this in 2011: Did Matthew inflate his numbers?] hope this helps,

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