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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Synoptic Problem

- parallel passages from Matthew and Luke, identical wording in red

The latest NT Pod podcast by Duke University NT Professor Mark Goodacre is titled What is the Synoptic Problem? If you're like me and not up to speed on New Testament studies, here's a brief explanation of the synoptic problem from Wikipedia ....

The synoptic problem concerns the literary relationships between and among the first three canonical gospels, those of Mark, Matthew, and Luke. These are known as the Synoptic Gospels .... how this interrelation came to be and the nature of the interrelationship itself. Any solution must account for the similarities and differences in content, order, and wording ...

And here's a bit about the synoptic problem from the Catholic Encyclopedia ....

" [...] These resemblances and differences, the extent and complexity of which grow upon the student who compares carefully the Synoptic Gospels and contrasts them with St. John's narrative, constitute a unique phenomenon in ancient and modern literature. They are facts which no one can refer either to mere chance, or to the direct influence of inspiration. On the one hand, the resemblances are too numerous and too striking to be regarded as explicable on the hypothesis that the first three Evangelists wrote independently of one another. On the other, the differences are at times so significant as to imply that they are due to the use of different documents by the Evangelists, as for example in the case of the two genealogies of Jesus Christ. The harmony and the variety, the resemblances and the differences must be both accounted for. They form together a literary problem, — the Synoptic Problem, as it is called, — the existence of which was practically unknown to the ancient ecclesiastical writers. In point of fact, St. Chrysostom and St. Augustine are the only Fathers who have formulated views concerning the mutual relation of the Synoptic Gospels, and the writers of the Middle Ages do not seem to have taken into account these patristic views which, after all, were far from affording a complete solution of that difficult question. Subsequent leading scholars, such as Grotius,Rich, Simon, Le Clerc, had little more than a suspicion of the problem, and it is only in the course of the eighteenth century that the scientific examination of the question was actually started ... "

But back to Mark's podcast .... in this 12 minute episode, the first of three on the synoptic problem, he gives an introduction to the problem itself, discussing the Triple Tradition, Double Tradition, and material especial to Matthew or Luke, rather than launching immediately into the worth of the various solutions (he disbelieves the Two Source theory). Mark has also made available an extended 40 minute version of the podcast for those wanting a more in-depth discussion of the issue.

And for those interested in seeing what Mark thinks about the solution to the synoptic problem, visit The Case Against Q website. Also worth a look - Stephen C. Carlson's The Synoptic Problem Home Page, and The Synoptic Problem from Felix Just, S.J.


Blogger Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks for the plug, Crystal.

10:04 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

No thanks necessary - I'm really enjoying the podcasts.

10:36 PM  

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