Luke 6:39 ~ Mt 15:14
This is one of two core sayings in the third part of the Lukan Sermon.
IQP. Can a blind person show the way to a blind person: Will not both fall into a pit?
- Mt 15:14 (ASV): Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind guide the blind, both shall fall into a pit.
- Lk 6:39 (ASV): And he spake also a parable unto them: Can the blind buide the blind? Shall they not both fall into a pit?
Comment. The Mt saying comes in response to Peter's comment that a previous remark of Jesus had offended the Pharisess; Jesus responds by saying that they are not guides to be followed. Since Peter has not been tempted to follow the teaching of the Pharisees, this is a non sequitur. The Lk saying comes in context of advice not to judge, and thus (see next passage) not to presume to teach. The idea of "blind guides" is appropriate to the Lukan context, but extraneous in the Matthean one. We might think that Luke has removed a badly positioned Matthean saying to a new and more sensible context precisely as an improvement in placing, but how did the saying get into the Matthean context in the first place? We can only look for a motive for Matthew to have removed the saying from its Lukan location, and for this, we will do better to include the next passage (Lk 6:40) in our considerations. For the moment, we will leave the question of directionality undecided.
Authenticity. That the saying about the blind was originally a common proverb is likely enough (the introduction to the Lukan variant could be read as an explicit citation of common wisdom). The question is what use it was put to in early Christian teaching. As a proverb generally known and available, it could easily have been said by Jesus - or by anybody else at any time. There is thus no reason, internal to the saying, to decide either way on whether Jesus himself used it, and we end by deciding that the question is undecidable. See however the next passage, where the signs are a little clearer.
12 May 2011 / Contact The Project / Exit to Alpha Page