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Answering The Atheist
October 7, 2007 / Volume 7, Issue 40

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Was Jarius' daughter alive when Jesus was approached? Matthew 9:18 says she was already dead, but Mark 5:22-23 says she was still alive. Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
As we look at the two accounts, it is noteworthy that Mark provides more details than Matthew. At first, Mark records that the young girl "lieth at the point of death" (Mark 5:23), but shortly thereafter, word was received from Jarius' servants, "Thy daughter is dead." (Mark 5:35). Matthew mentions nothing about the servants coming afterward. It is believed by some commentators that in rendering Jarius' statement, "My daughter is even now dead," Matthew may simply be summarizing the two reports into one. That is certainly possible, and not a foreign literary occurrence in the Scriptures.

Consider Matthew's account from a few different translations:
— "My daughter is even now dead" (KJV)
— "My daughter has by this died" (Darby)
— "My daughter has just died" (NKJV)
— "My daughter is just dead" (Weymouth)

Darby's phrase is interesting, she "has by this died". "By this" what? The inference is, by this time. The Greek arti can mean "just now", "henceforth", "hereafter", "hitherto", "even now". The phrase contains the assumption of death having occurred, due to the passage of time, but is not a firm affirmation of the girl's death. It is no different than that which appears in Mark's account, where she is said to be "at the point of death".

One might comment of a traveling friend, ‘He is at the point of arrival' (ie. he's approaching or approached his destination). One might equally say, ‘By now, he's arrived,' or more forcefully, ‘even now he arrived', or ‘he just arrived.' All the statements share the same meaning.

Matthew and Mark provide different details, and word Jarius' statement differently, but the accounts are in agreement. There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible