18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
Mk. 10:45 (atonement / for our sins)
45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’
Lk. 10:22 (christology / the person of Jesus Christ)
22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’
Matthew, Mark and Luke did not write a
theology; they wrote Gospels
of the Synoptics
Luke makes reference to previous gospel writings in his preface
Mt & Mk use the same narration on apocalytic discourse - 'Let the reader understand' (Mt.
24.15//Mk 13.14), this something that would have been passed around in oral tradition
The wording and order is in close agreement across all 3 gospels
Evidence points to a literary tradition rather than purely oral
What is the
The study of the similarities and differences of the Synoptic
Gospels in an attempt to explain their literary relationship.
Why study the
Are they accurate?
Which one is more reliable?
The quest for the historical Jesus
The development of early Christinaity
The differences on comparing
parallel texts can stimulate
Eucharist - Matthew 26.27-28 / Mark 14.25-24 / Luke 22.20 / Corinthians 11.25
3. Cultural factors
Mainly focused on historical-critical work
Little work has been done using contemporary methods so far
4. The Puzzle
Important conclusions about
the synpotic problem
Matthew & Luke both used Mark's gospel as one of their sources
Before Mark, the gospel was transmitted as individual units (pericopae)
By separating the 'pearl' from the 'string', you can identify Mark's purposes
Matthew & Luke had access to a collection of sayings that differ from Mark (Q)
Matthew - 5–7, 10, 13, 18, 24–25
Luke - 9:51–18:14)
A minority of scholars (Goodacre) dispute the existence of Q and
believe Luke obtained the additional teaching from Matthew
How were the individual units of
tradition (parables, miracle stories,
wisdom sayings etc.) transmitted?
Assumed Mark brought together individual
units (pericopae), as Mark's pericopae were
only loosely linked together and form critics
conclude they represented oral tradition.
Focused on the needs
of the early Church
What sources were used by the Evangelists
(Gospel writers) to construct their Gospels?
What was the theology (or ideology) of the Gospel writers that
led to their editing or redaction of the available sources?
1. Looks at the
modifications they made
2. Looks at the whole gospel's
structure (redacted and
unredacted) - composition criticism
How does a Gospel affect a reader? In other words, how
does it function as literature?
Pioneered by German
Attempted to identify a change of
emphasis of one of the sources
i.e. Luke changed the
apocalyptic view of Mark for a
continuing church age.
Tatian (120AD-180AD) wrote 'Diatessaron' (harmonised all 4 gospels)
Griesbach (1776) produced first synopsis and
problems (gospels in parallel)
syn = with; opsis = look at
Only includes Mt, Mk & Lk -
John is written differently
Two Source Theory
Matthew and Luke independently used two
sources, Mark and an hypothetical source called Q.
Doubt the existence of 'Q'
Luke knows Mark & Matthew
Mark comes third, using Matthew & Luke
Found in all 3
Wording and order
Substantial agreements between
Matt & Mk and Mk & Lk
Only minor agreement
between Matt & Lk
Mk is the common
element ('middle term')
Agreements between Matt & Lk, not Mk
Referred to as 'Q' material
Largely 'sayings', with
The order of material is generally
different between Matt & Lk
Known as 'M' material
Unique to Matthew's gospel
Some material is
intimately connected with the Triple
Tradition contexts in which it is embedded.
Some material is said to have
a 'legendary' character.
Known as 'L' material
Some of the most
the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, Dives and
Lazarus, the Pharisee and the Publican, the Unjust Judge, the Friend at Midnight, the Rich Fool.
Material is similar to pericopae in Mark.
Not Quite Triple Tradition
Mk is the common element
Agreements between Mt & Mk and Mk & Lk
Always appears in Markan order
Mark is not the
Mustard Seed - Matthew 13.31-32 Mark 4.30-32 Luke 13.18-19
Substantial agreement between Matthew
and Luke against Mark.
Wording and order simiilar
Pericopae common to all 3 gospels
Mark would not have omitted the birth narratives or the
sermon on the mount if he had known about them
Mark portrays a more
'human' Jesus, than Mt or Lk
He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers
into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven he sighed and said to him 'Ephphatha", that is, 'Be opened" (Mk
Healing in secrecy -
Jesus is mysterious
And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man. and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the village; and when he had spat on his eyes and laid his hands upon him, he asked him, "Do you see anything?" And
he looked up and said, 'I see men; but they look like trees, walking'. Then again he laid his hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and saw everything clearly. And he sent him away to his home, saying, 'Do not even enter the village' (Mk 8.22-26).
His power takes
time and is limited
'And he could do no mighty work there, except
that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them' (Mk 6:5)
Mt & Lk might not
have wanted to give
Matthew - 'Jewish' Jesus
Luke - Jesus to the gentiles (?)
Although Mk claims Jesus was the
Messiah, which is understood in line with
a major stress on his suffering and death.
Mark might have been influenced by Paul's teaching on the suffering of the Messiah
Mark's gospel is the most colloquial, this
makes sense if his source was oral tradition (?)
There is a lack of new material that you
would expect if he was writing third
Assumes he relied
on literary material
rather than oral
Some of the 'omitted' material would have been
congenial to Mark's gospel. i.e. The Lord's Prayer
Matthew & Luke seems to be
aware of the events of 70 CE
Matthew 23.37-39 Luke 13.34-35
Matthew 24.15; 21-22 Mark 13.14: 19-20 Luke 21.20-21: 23-24
Matthew 27.32 Mark 15.21 Luke 23.26
Jerusalem was overrun by the
Roman army after the Jewish
War beginning in 66 CE
All gospels known by
Mark makes a reference to 'the father of
Alexander and Rufus' in Mk.15:21, meaning his
readers know these children and are close to the
events it reports. Mt & Lk (and their readers) are
not aware of these children, and therefore omit
Editorial fatigue - Mt & Lk make charateristic
changes to the early part of the pericopae, but lapse
into the same wording as Mk in the latter parts.
The Leper - (Matthew 8.1-4 Mark 1.40-45 Luke 5.12-16) - crowds and healing in private.
Death of John the Baptist - (Mk 6.14-29//Mt.14.1-12) - king/tetrarch, herod's grief.
Paralytic - (Mk 2.1-12//Lk. 5.17-2) the house.
In Mt/Lk, events/themes are mentioned later
in the material that were not introduced at the
beginning like they are in Mk
Mark omitted the pericopae because
it was uncongenial to his message
Mark made explanatory additions
to Mt & Lk's pericopae
Patristic evidence (external) - Early Christian writers
stated belief that Mt was written first
Iraneas (2nd century)
Clement (placed Mk third), Origen,
Augustine and Jerome
The Priority of Matthew was a natural
consequence of the belief that his Gospel
was the one directly written by an apostle.
Concerned with 'who' rather then 'when'
Although the earliest
testimony (Papias) doesn't
tell us either way