In the Gospel according to Luke, after Jesus is tempted by the devil he preaches in the synagogues in the region all around Galilee, becoming well known (famous, as the KJV has it) in the process:
Then Jesus, in the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, [Lk 4:14a]
(Both English and Greek text is taken from the NET)
Having done this, Jesus then preaches in two named places: Nazareth (in Lk 4:16-30) and Capernaum (in Lk 4:31-36), after which (rather implausibly) the news about him spreads all over again around the same area (Capernaum being on the shore of the Sea of Galilee)!
So the news about him spread into all areas of the region. [Lk 4:37]
Jesus then leaves the synagogue in Capernaum, and heals Simon’s mother-in-law and others (Lk 4:38-41). Following this he goes to a desert place where the people ask him to stay, but he says that he has to preach in other towns, and so he continues to preach in the synagogues of (according to the NET) Judea:
But [he] said to them, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns too, for that is what I was sent to do.” [Lk 4:43]
Although the NET has “Judea” at the end of Lk 4:44, the majority of mss read “Galilee,” and so according to this alternative reading, Jesus went back to Galilee yet again to preach in their synagogues once more. The variants in Lk 44:44 are discussed in this note in the NET:
Most mss (A D Θ Ψ Ë13 33 Ï latt) have “of Galilee”; others, “of the Jews” (W). “Judea” (read by Ì75 א B Q 579 892 pc sa, and [with minor variation] C L Ë1 1241) is probably the original reading since it is both the harder reading and supported by the best witnesses. “Galilee” is an assimilation to Mark 1:39 and Matt 4:23.
There are some significant narrative problems here:
From their similarity, it is clear that Lk 4:14b/37 and 4:15/44 are doublets, and it is a reasonable inference that one of the verses in each doublet is 'more original' than the other. On this point it is worth noting that Lk 4:14b-15 have no parallels in either Mark or Matthew, while Lk 4:37 has a close parallel at Mk 1:28, and Lk 4:44 at Mk 1:39a.
So the news about him spread quickly throughout all the region around Galilee. [Mk 1:28]
In fact, the whole passage from Lk 4:31-44 has a close parallel at Mk 1:21-39a, which, assuming Markan priority, is almost certainly the origin of these verses in Luke. Consequently, either Lk 4:14b-15 come from a non-Markan source, or are later interpolations in Luke, based on Lk 4:37 and 4:44 (or perhaps Mk 1:28 and 1:39a) respectively.
Despite the whole Capernaum passage at Mark 1:21-39a being a close parallel to Lk 4:31-44, there is one big difference: In Mark (and also in the shorter parallel in Matthew) this passage takes place before Jesus preaches in the synagogue at Nazareth, while in Luke it takes place afterwards (i.e. in Luke Capernaum and Nazareth are swapped when compared with Mark and Matthew). Also, as neither Mark nor Matthew have equivalents to Lk 4:14b-15, in these gospels there is no problem when we read at the end of the Capernaum episode that Jesus then preached throughout Galilee, because this had not already happened.
In both Mark and Luke the statement that Jesus preached in the synagogues in Galilee (or perhaps Judea) marks the end of the Capernaum episode. However, while in Mark the preaching in Nazareth is still to come, in Luke it has already happened, and, apparently, Jesus has already (Lk 4:14-15) preached all over Galilee. Therefore, as it appears that these latter two verses are redundant, why are they present in Luke at all?
Even though in Luke Jesus preaches in Nazareth before Capernaum, in Nazareth Jesus is able to say:
“No doubt you will quote to me the proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ and say, ‘What we have heard that you did in Capernaum, do here in your hometown too.’” [Lk 4:23]
As at this point in Luke there has been no mention of Jesus preaching in Capernaum, so how can he make such a suggestion? The answer is that this is the function (the only function) of Lk 4:14b-15: to provide some context suggesting that Jesus could have already preached in Capernaum before Nazareth. There is no equivalent to these verses in either Mark or Matthew simply because Lk 4:23 has no equivalent in either of these gospels, and so their function is not required.
However, there is plenty of evidence that in Luke Capernaum originally came before Nazareth (see Capernaum or Nazareth First?), as it also did in Marcion’s Gospel of the Lord, and therefore at this time Lk 4:14b-15 would have served no purpose, so would not have been in Luke (and indeed were not in Marcion’s gospel - see Lk 4 – Capernaum First ...). Instead, this text was only added later, when Capernaum and Nazareth were swapped (so occupying the positions in which we see them today), in order to suggest that Jesus could have preached in Nazareth before Capernaum.
This then makes sense of the variant seen at the end of Lk 4:44, which in the NET reads “Judea,” but most mss read “Galilee.” Here the assessment of which variant is likely to be original is wrong, as it is based on the (incorrect) assumption that the original order of the verses in Lk 1-4 was the same as we see today. However, when it is acknowledged that in Luke Capernaum originally came before Nazareth then it is easy to see that “Galilee” is the original reading in Luke, following the parallel at Mark 1:39a. The other two readings (“Judea” and "of the Jews”) then only came about later, after Capernaum and Nazareth were swapped (so occupying the positions in which we see them today) and Lk 4:14b-15 had been added, in order to avoid the implication that Jesus had simply gone back to Galilee again to preach, and had ignored everywhere else.
Brooks, E. Bruce: Prolegomena to Proto-Luke, SBL, San Diego, 2007
Padfield, David: Capernaum: the City of Jesus
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