Problem: Accounts conflict over a drink for Jesus
Verses: Matthew 27:34, Mark 15:23; Status: Minor

Matthew differs from Mark in a small detail regarding a drink that was offered to Jesus. Here is Matthew 27:32-35:

As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. (ESV)

And Mark 15:21-24:

And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. (ESV)

The context of the two verses is identical, so we can pretty much dismiss the idea that these are descriptions of different events. So, was the wine mixed with gall or myrrh? Of course it's possible that it was mixed with both, but it's odd that Matthew should mention one and Mark should mention the other, with neither mentioning both...

However, I'm informed by the author of Errancy.com that the Greek word Matthew uses can simply mean "a substance with an unpleasant taste", in which case there's no problem at all.

Now a different issue: you may encounter the claim that Matthew states that the drink was vinegar. (He doesn't in the ESV translation.) According to the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, the original Greek word in Matthew is ozos, which can apparently mean vinegar or sour wine. So this doesn't seem like a major problem either.

Updated: 2009-04-14

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