Much of the challenge (some might say the fatal flaw) of the Composite Gospel approach is the difficulty of putting similar material together in a useful way despite some apparent differences of detail across the Gospel sources. Today’s set of pericopes is a good example, which i’ve put together as follows:
- Pericope 248: Jesus curses a fig tree
- Pericope 249: Jesus clears the temple again
- Pericope 250: The religious leaders conspire against Jesus
- Pericope 251: Jesus explains why he must die
- Pericope 252: Most of the people do not believe in Jesus
- Pericope 253: Jesus summarizes his message
The last three of these are only found in John’s Gospel, and there’s no solid evidence as to when in the week they occurred (though clearly prior to the Passover meal which starts in John 13).
The problem is with the withering of the fig tree: Mark presents it in two episodes, starting on Monday (“On the following day”) but completed Tuesday in Pericope 254: Jesus teaches about faith and prayer. Matthew also provides clear sequencing information (“In the morning, as he was returning to the city”), but shows the fig tree withering “at once”. Mark puts the clearing of the temple in between the two incidents with the fig tree (which he perhaps uses to represent the nation of Israel): Matthew has it before. We can harmonize the accounts somewhat if Matthew is referring only to second half, and that’s the approach i’ve taken, though some problems of the wording still remain.