Did Jesus heal Bartimaeus on his way into or out of Jericho?

Posted on May.23, 2009. Filed in Matthew, Mark, Luke. Average rating: 6.3 / 10 (Rate It).

The incident where Jesus heals the blind beggar Bartimaeus is recorded in all three of the synoptic gospels. The accounts differ, however, concerning whether this occurred as Jesus was going to or from Jericho.

In Mark’s version of the story, Jesus heals Bartimaeus as he is leaving Jericho:

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart; get up, he is calling you.’ So throwing off his ccloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man said to him, ‘My teacher, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. [Mark 10:46-52]

Matthew’s agrees with Mark that Jesus healed Bartimaeus on his way from Jericho:

As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’ The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but they shouted even more loudly, ‘Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!’ Jesus stood still and called them, saying, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, let our eyes be opened.’ Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him. [Matthew 20:29-34]

Luke, however, has the healing occur on Jesus’ way into Jericho:

As he approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’ Then he shouted, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ He said, ‘Lord, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; you faith has saved you.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, praised God. [Luke 18:35-43]

So did Jesus heal Bartimaeus on his way into or out of Jericho?

N.B. All posts are written in a style sympathetic to the claim of Biblical error, even in cases where the author ("Errancy") disagrees with the claim. See the About page for the site's philosophy.

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  1. 1

    It certainly seems like a mistake to me. I know WL will say that these are separate incidents. But Luke has to be getting his info from somewhere, and it seems certain he’s read one or both of the other synoptics. It seems unlikely that he’s also got some other source that happens to include the precise same words, but places the blind man before Jericho.

  2. 2

    I should mention the other possible solution: that there were two different places that could be called Jericho. But if so, one might expect the authors to be clearer…

  3. 3

    On #2: Yes, I suppose you could say that Luke is describing their entrance into the newer city of Herodian Jericho, while Mark and Mathew are describing their departure from the ruins of the Old Testament Jericho (around which there was still a small village). Then I would say that there were 2, rather than 3 blind men healed near Jericho.

    If you go that way, then a single encounter with 2 blind men probably fits all the texts better. My 3 encounters account assumed that word got about on how the first blind man asked for his healing. The other two beggars asked for the healing in the same way hoping for the same result. But if the healing occurred between the old and the new Jericho, then there would be no time for word to get about. You’d still have Mark only mentioning the blind man that he knew by name and Luke following Mark.

    On #1: We come back to the old argument here. If Luke is simply cribbing from Mark, why would he add a piece of information that he knew to be inconsistent with the very account he’s copying?

  4. 4

    In this case my suspicion is that he simply misread it. Mark does start by saying they “came to Jericho”.

  5. 5

    I does occur to me that the “between Jerichos” account is not the best fit with the texts for a somewhat different reason. Crowds don’t gather in ruins or small villages. All three blind men were healed near a crowd that was accompanying Jesus. So they must have been near the new city of Jericho in all three accounts. If you think about Luke’s account, you’ll see that Jesus was not leading that crowd (the leaders of that crowd were the people trying to tell the blind man to be quiet). This is what makes sense if he was approaching the city: the crowd came out from the city to meet him and was preceding him back into it. On the other hand, Matthew describes Jesus as leading a following crowd. This is what makes sense if Jesus was leaving the city.

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