The Synoptic Gospels’ Inerrancy: Entering or Leaving Jericho?

Earlier we discussed whether Jesus healed one man or two men on His journey between Jericho and Jerusalem (Matthew 20:29–34; Mark 10:46–52; Luke 18:35–43). At least one additional problem presents itself in these three passages. Luke 18:35 says that Jesus was approaching (or, entering) Jericho. But Mark 10:46 says, “as He was leaving Jericho,” and Matthew 20:29 agrees. Which is it?—when Jesus entered Jericho, or when he departed from Jericho?

Blue arrow: OT Jericho — Red arrow: NT Jericho

Explanations for this seeming contradiction abound. Some answer by indicating the possibility Jesus departed from Old Testament Jericho and then entered New Testament Jericho. The two sites are about 1.5 kilometers apart. However, we lack certainty regarding the Old Testament site still being inhabited. Some interpreters say that Jesus healed two blind men upon entering Jericho and one on His way out as He continued His journey to Jerusalem. Others say that Jesus encountered one blind man on His way into the city, but did not heal him. In order to increase evidence of the man’s persistence and faith, Jesus waited until the man encountered Him again as He left Jericho. In all honesty, we cannot be certain of the solution. One thing is certain, however—potential solutions exist. Sometimes we have to rest in that confidence and wait for a better explanation.

Expect an Adequate Solution to All Difficulties

With the lack of a satisfactory conclusion to the matter of whether Jesus was entering or leaving Jericho, let’s take the opportunity to briefly discuss how we should approach this kind of apparent contradiction. Thankfully, this kind of difficulty seldom occurs in the synoptic Gospels—they are not a frequent issue and do not characterize the Gospel accounts. So how do we handle such problems?

  • Never allow our own ignorance to become the determining factor.
  • Never emend the biblical text to make it more understandable.
  • Always continue reading and studying the Scriptures in order to allow the Word of God to provide the solution.
  • Always recognize the superior understanding that the original biblical authors possessed.

Read also:

“The Synoptic Gospels’ Inerrancy: Geographical Realities”
“The Synoptic Gospels’ Inerrancy: Translation Differences”
“The Synoptic Gospels’ Inerrancy: Authors’ Choices”
“The Synoptic Gospels’ Inerrancy: Misrepresentation of Persons”
“The Synoptic Gospels’ Inerrancy: How Many People?
“The Synoptic Gospels’ Inerrancy: How Many Walking Sticks?”
“The Synoptic Gospels’Inerrancy: What Did Peter Say?”