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Answering The Atheist
December 16, 2007 / Volume 7, Issue 50

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
When was the man ( or men) healed? Was it before entering Jericho (Luke 18:35) or after leaving Jericho (Matthew 20:30; Mark 10:46)? Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
That the three accounts are one is evident, as the details are very much the same in each. That there are some variations in the accounts is also apparent, but should be expected. The accounts were given by three separate writers who wrote independent of one another. Each man, directed by the Spirit of God recorded whatever details seemed pertinent.

Mark is the only writer to speak of there being two blind men. Matthew, who was with Jesus, specifically knew the name of one of these men, and thus mentioned Bartimaeus by name. The absence of information in one account (ie. neither Mark nor Luke mention a specific name) or the inclusion of additional information in another account (ie. Mark revealing that there were two blind men) does not constitute a contradiction. Ask for details on any event from more than one person, and you will receive different, but not necessarily conflicting information.

But then we come to the time of the healing. Was it as Jesus entered into the city of Jericho, or was it while he was on his way out of town? Matthew and Mark's accounts are both very clear, that this occurred as they "...went out of Jericho..." The Greek word ekporeuomai is used, which literally means to depart or proceed. Luke does not use the same word, but rather used the Greek word eggizo, which is often translated in the KJV as "draw nigh" or "at hand". The word can refer to the approach to a location, but likewise can simply denote proximity to a place. In Mark 11:1, the same word is used, not to speak of Jesus entering into Jerusalem, but to indicate that He was near Jerusalem, for He was at Bethphage and Bethany.

Can one be near to a place, after having left that place? Certainly. Since the healing of the blind men took place "...as he went out of Jericho...", it is most certainly appropriate to say that he was "nigh" (near) Jericho at the time. Young's Literal Translation does a good job in translating Luke 18:35. There we read, "And it came to pass, in his coming nigh to Jericho, a certain blind man was sitting beside the way begging..." Luke's account neither says that Jesus was entering or leaving the city, but rather than at some point in the time "...in his coming nigh..." to the city, this occasion took place.

There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible