A Note on the Fishermen

After reading my post for Day 2, a congregant alerted me to Luke’s account of the calling of Simon, Andrew, James, and John.  In Luke’s version (Luke 5:1-11), the fishermen are partners, and Peter owns his own boat.  Taking this information from Luke puts a big hole in my speculation about the difference in means of the two sets of brothers, with Simon and Andrew being less well off than James and John.  At the same time, this information is not in Mark’s account, where a partnership is not mentioned.  Here we see one of the difficulties of reading the gospels side by side.  Each gospel writer is painting a portrait of Jesus that accentuates different features, and sometimes the details of the stories do not line up neatly.  The challenge is to read these accounts of Jesus together while also letting each stand on its own merit.

In any case, I must admit my thoughts on the social disparity of the fishermen were conjecture following a very brief speculation by David Garland in his commentary on Mark.  As such, they shouldn’t be held too tightly, though they do catch my imagination.  Ultimately, our own experience and other pieces of the gospel (the calls of Levi and Simon the Zealot) bear out the idea that following Jesus can put us in strange company, and speculation about the fishermen is unnecessary to the argument.

Thanks to my congregant and friend for bringing Luke’s account to my attention!  This is part of the beauty of reading the Bible together.  We help one another see things that we otherwise might not have seen.  In this case, I have been challenged to reassess an idea that I enjoy and also to reread Mark’s calling of the fishermen.  Doing so has helped me see that if Mark does mean to allude to a class difference, he doesn’t make much of it.  Indeed, it may be best to rely on Luke to disprove the hypothesis.  For in Mark, the focal point of the story is not about a difference in class.  It is a shared willingness to leave all to follow, regardless of how much is left behind.  And this willingness to follow should not be overshadowed.  For this challenge and correction to my gaze, I am grateful.

Author: Mike Smith

A disciple of Jesus who likes to write about stuff.

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