I don't know how tough a question this is, but would appreciate your input. Regarding the sending out of the 12, could they take a staff (Mark 6:8), or not (Matt. 10:10; Luke 9:1-6)? The (few) commentaries that I have checked have been less than helpful.
This was a GREAT question because it highlights one of the MAIN sources of 'mistaken contradictions'--morphological similarity.
What this means is that when two authors use the SAME word-form, somebody decides that the two different authors meant the SAME word-meaning. Let's look at the passages in question:
At the surface, the 'contradiction' seems obvious: Matthew and Luke SEEM to agree that Jesus prohibits the disciples from taking a staff, while Mark SEEMS to allow them to take one...At first blush--assuming all the 'takes' mean the same thing(!)--SOMEBODY must be wrong!
So, we have two sets of contradictions here: Matthew vs. Mark (different word forms for 'take'), and Luke vs. Mark (same word forms for 'take').
So, let's try to determine what those word-forms mean for the authors:
This is NOT Matthew's word for 'financial purchase'. He uses the term 'agorazo' for that (a term also sometimes used by Luke, by the way). For example,
As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy ("agorazo") themselves some food." (14.15)Matthew does not use this "purchase/procure" word, but the more general one for 'locate and obtain'. Accordingly, the prohibition in Matthew is against HUNTING FOR and securing/obtaining a staff (presumably because of the urgency and haste of the trip--as indicated in all versions; much of this saying probably would have been standard prophetic hyperbole--perhaps indicated by the strong 'take nothing' in some of the passages--since most of them would have already had walking sticks).
"`No,' they replied, `there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy ("agorazo") some for yourselves.' 10 "But while they were on their way to buy ("agorazo") the oil, the bridegroom arrived. (25.9-10)
The chief priests picked up the coins and said, "It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money." So they decided to use the money to buy ("agorazo") the potter's field as a burial place for foreigners. (27.6-7)
Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, `Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, `Get up, take ("airo") your mat and walk'? (2.9) [the notion is 'pick it up off the ground and carry it away']So, Mark is specifically ALLOWING them to 'pick up and physically carry' their walking staff (presumably the one they would each probably have already)
On hearing of this, John's disciples came and took ('airo') his body and laid it in a tomb. (6.29) [the notion is 'lifted the dead body and carried it out']
"I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, `Go, throw yourself ('airo') into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. (11.23) [the notion is 'pick yourself up and carry yourself away'!]
Let no one in the field go back to get ('airo') his cloak. (13.16) [the notion is 'retrieve it']
I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get (ktaomai).' (18.12) [the notion is of financial income.][The only possible exception is Luke 21.19 where the sense is 'win', which has some transactional notion in it, of course].
(With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought (ktaomai) a field; (Acts 1.18) [the notion is specifically that of 'purchase'. Notice too that Luke uses ktaomai, but Matthew uses 'agorazo' for the same act in his account of the purchase!]
Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy (ktaomai) the gift of God with money! (Acts 8.20) [the notion is clearly that of purchase.]
Then the commander said, "I had to pay (ktaomai) a big price for my citizenship." (Acts 22.28) [the notion is clearly a financial transation.]
So, for Luke, it would make ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE for his readers to 'see' Jesus
forbid the disciples to "buy money" (!)...a very misleading and only marginally coherent notion.
What this means is that Luke HAD TO find ANOTHER, DIFFERENT word that could convey
'locate and acquire' OTHER THAN Matthew's word ktaomai.
Luke selects 'airo', a more general term.
That Luke probably did NOT mean the same sense of 'airo' as Mark
did (removing the problem) is suggested by a similar issue in Luke 10.4. In that passage--the sending
of the 70--Luke uses the verb "bastazo" (which has a narrower range than
airo) which for Luke means 'bear, carry' [== the same sense as Mark's 'airo'].
Mark uses airo 21 times for physical 'picking something up to move', and
uses bastazo only once--referring to a man already in the PROCESS OF CARRYING a
One interesting piece of comparative data is that in ONE description of the 'taking up and
carrying the cross', Mark uses airo (8.34; 10.21), but Luke uses bastazo
(14.27). What this strongly argues for is that Luke's bastazo = Mark's airo (at least sometimes). These words still overlap some, but it is sufficient for our purpose to show that they generally diverge.
In other cases Mark's airo is the SAME as Luke's airo. But this identical-usage ONLY OCCURS in the
Triple Tradition--passages which are shared by ALL three of the synoptic writers:
Well, airo is CERTAINLY used that way in Luke 17.31 ("On that day no
one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down
to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything.
"). Notice that the SAME MOTIF of HIGH-URGENCY is present; under the
extreme urgency, no one should 'take the time to collect materials for a
journey--leave with WHAT YOU HAVE!'.
[There are other places in Luke where airo is used of
acquire-without-procure...It is also used in Luke 6.29 of
those that 'seize' one's cloak (definitely acquire, without purchase or
luggage-carrying). Other 'seize' passages are 11.22, 52; 19.24, 26;
23.18. Passages in which acquire-without-purchase is present is 19.21,22.]
[I might also point out that the resolution of this issue provides some support for the neo-Griesbachian hypothesis--that Luke uses Matthew, but did NOT use Mark. It is easy to see from the above argumentation how the phenomena in Luke is derived from Matthew--the grammatical construction is identical, only the verb is changed due to different usages. But IF Luke had had MARK in front of him as well, then Luke would probably have found another way to say it--simply to avoid the appearance of such an obvious conflict in the verb forms. The fact that the problem even surfaces--coupled with the substantial similarity between Luke and Matthew--is evidence that Luke did NOT have a finished text of Mark in front of him.]
So, the morphological similarity of the words, in this case, would have misled interpreters if they did not pay attention to the usage patterns of the authors. As it stands, there is no disagreement between the accounts--in fact, they strangely appear to be saying the say exact thing--"Hurry up and get moving!".
Hope this helps,