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The ‘Seven’ Last Words: A Numerical Motivation for the Insertion of Luke 23.34a



Luke 23.34a, ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’, has been a textual conundrum in text criticism. The weight for the external evidence points to the probability that this logion of Jesus from the cross was not in the earliest manuscript of Luke. What motivation then led to this saying being added to the text of Luke? In this article, the argument is made that a numerical motivation is at the heart of the addition. Luke 23.34a was added in order that there be seven sayings and not six that Jesus spoke from the cross. This issue arose as the four Gospels were collected together and read as one narrative of the life, ministry, and passion of Jesus.


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New Testament Studies
  • ISSN: 0028-6885
  • EISSN: 1469-8145
  • URL: /core/journals/new-testament-studies
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