Earlier today I shared a sample pericope from the Synoptic Gospels wherein Satan/the Devil/the Evil One is mentioned in Matthew 13.19; Mark 4.15; and Luke 8.12 (see “Satan, the devil, the evil one”). I used it to point out how we may explain morphing from one Gospel to another. In the story of the sower (shared in Matthew 13.1-23; Mark 4.1-20; and Luke 8.4-15) if we begin with Markan priority it would move from “the Satan” in Mark to “the Evil One” in Matthew and “the Devil” in Luke. I proposed a solution to these differences when it seems like Matthew and Luke may have had Mark and Luke may have had Matthew as well is that Matthew wasn’t comfortable with Mark’s named “Satan” so he generalized it to “the Evil One” (kind of like he calls the Kingdom of God the Kingdom of Heaven) and that Luke went with the less Hebraic “Satan” in favor of “the Devil”.

Of course, there is one major problem with this solution. As one commenter observed it doesn’t match the data from the rest of the Gospels. Why?

First, Matthew uses Satan in 4.10; 12.26; and 16.23. Mark 1.9-12 tells the story of Jesus’ temptation and he names Satan. In Matthew 4.1-11 we find the parallel story and Matthew names Satan. In Luke 4.1-13 we find the parallel story and Luke calls him “the Devil” in vv. 2, 3, 5, 9, and 13. In Matthew 12.26 Jesus speaks of Satan as being divided against himself. When Luke shares a similar saying in 11.18 he names “Satan”. In 16.23 Matthew has Jesus rebuking Peter calling him “Satan”. Mark does the same in 8.33.

Second, as has been made obvious, “Satan” is used in Matthew (4.10; 12.26; and 16.23), Mark (1.13; 3.23, 26; 4.15; and 8.33), and Luke (10.18; 11.18; 13.16; and 22.3, 31). Likewise, “the Devil” is used by both Matthew (4.1, 5, 8, 11; 13.139; and 25.41) and Luke (4.2, 3, 6, 13). Interestingly enough, I can’t find “the Devil” in Mark. Matthew 13.19, 38 refer to “the Evil One” but this designation for Satan is not found in Mark or Luke.

So returning to what I wrote earlier more data does the following: (1) It disproves my first proposal that maybe Matthew called Satan “the Evil One” because he was not comfortable with “the Satan” since he uses the name Satan at least three times. (2) Mark uses Satan frequently, but I cannot find him using “the Evil One” or “the Devil” (if you find a reference please let me know), so maybe that does lend itself to being more Hebraic. (3) Luke uses Satan so his “the Devil” is not necessarily his way of addressing Gentiles.

I say all that to say that I don’t have a good reason for the morphing from Mark 4.15 to Matthew 13.19 to Luke 8.12, but I do find it interesting that “Satan” is Mark’s unique term for the Devil. Also, “the Evil One” seems to be used by Matthew alone and in a brief literary space.