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Composition of the Synoptic Gospels

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Lesson

Discussion of the literary dependence among the gospels, formally known as the “Synoptic Problem.” Argues that Mark was the first written source, and Matthew and Luke borrow from him, from a common document (“Q”) and used their own material.

Outline

I. SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES

A. Verbatim parallelism in Greek translation

B. Includes parenthetical comments

C. Order of episodes that are not in chronological order

D. Luke 1:1–4

II. SYNOPTIC PROBLEM EXPLAINED

A. Mark is the oldest source

B. Matthew and Luke relied on Mark

C. Matthew and Luke also used another source (“Q”; c. 235 verses, almost all teachings)

D. Matthew and Luke also use unique material (“M”; “L”)

III. ARGUMENTS FOR THIS RECONSTRUCTION

A. Markan priority

1. Most vivid

2. Grammar is awkward

3. Most embarrassing details

4. Shortest with most detailed passages

5. If not first, why was it written at all?

6. Highest percentage of “Aramaisms”

7. Why omit most of the sermons and parables in Matthew?

8. See consistent patterns of change

B. Q, M, and L

1. Matthew and Luke don’t line up if they were first

2. Example of modern copying

IV. CONCLUSIONS

A. Not exact repetition throughout

B. Enough commonality to suggest there were checks and balances