Problems of Harmonization among the Synoptics
We have been looking at topics pertaining to the general trustworthiness of the Gospels. Now it is time to look at specific issues that might question the reliability of the Synoptics. Does looking at a cross section of the “apparent contradictions” give us more confidence?
I. CONFLICTING THEOLOGIES?
Jesus walking on the water
II. THE PRACTICE OF PARAPHRASE
A. Theological clarification (“perhaps”)
B. Representational changes in culture (roof)
C. Synecdoche (Holy Spirit)
D. Partial reports (cup and bread)
III. CHRONOLOGICAL PROBLEMS
Location of first public ministry
A. Presupposing what is explicit elsewhere (divorce)
B. Excerpting different parts of a longer original (Jairus’ daughter)
C. Following conventional standards of speech (centurion)
D. Compressing or telescoping a narrative (fig tree)
V. COMPOSITE SPEECHES?
VI. APPARENT DOUBLETS
Two blind men
VII. VARIATIONS IN NAMES AND NUMBERS
B. Rounded numbers
If we impose twenty-first century standards on the first century world, we will find mistakes.