Synoptic Problem

Something very strange happens in John’s Gospel. Unlike any of the other Gospels, it indicates—directly—who its author is. And yet it also doesn’t tell us who he is. At the very end of the Gospel, we are told that it was written by a figure who has become known as “the beloved disciple.” But he […]

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It sounds like a trick question. You’re tempted to say, “Uhh . . . that would be John?” Yes, but which John? A handful of names were extremely popular in first century Israel. These included Simon, Judas, James, and, John. The frequency with which they occurred sometimes makes it hard to sort out who is […]

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Some recent discussions have employed the concept of “editorial fatigue” as a way of shedding light on the Synoptic Problem. The basic idea is that, in the process of adapting material for his own work, a later author may grow mentally fatigued and begin to edit in an inconsistent way, retaining some elements of his […]

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In its entry on the (apocryphal) Epistle of Barnabas, the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary states: Although Barnabas 4:14 appears to quote Matt 22:14, it must remain an open question whether the Barnabas circle knew written gospels. Based on Koester’s analysis (1957:125–27, 157), it appears more likely that Barnabas stood in the living oral tradition used […]

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People are sometimes confused by the differences in the Gospels’ infancy narratives and their resurrection narratives. Sometimes it is claimed that they contradict each other. I’ve already written about how the infancy narratives fit together. You can read that here. Now I’d like to show how the Gospels’ resurrection narratives fit together, not only with […]

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The Orchard hypothesis, which holds that Mark is a transcript of lectures that Peter gave on Matthew and Luke, is a unique solution to the Synoptic Problem. It was proposed in the late 20th century by the British scholar Dom Bernard Orchard, along with other authors, including Harold Riley, David Alan Black, and Dennis Barton. […]

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God may have created man in his image, but there is a well-known tendency among biblical scholars to re-create Jesus in their own image. The tendency is particularly notable among skeptical scholars, who feel more free than their conservative counterparts to dismiss or discount Gospel passages that don’t fit their theories. In writing books on […]

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The question of how the costs producing the Gospels would have affected the choices that their authors made is almost totally ignored. We will seek to remedy this by looking at the cost that producing the Gospels would have had on the Synoptic problem. Today, when there are ministries that give away Bibles for free, […]

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According to many scholars, Matthew and Luke based their Gospels principally on two sources: Mark and a now-lost source dubbed “Q.” The reason for the latter is that Matthew and Luke contain about 235 verses that are not paralleled in Mark. This amounts to about a fifth of each of their Gospels, which is too […]

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In this paper we will look at what the Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke may tell us about the way these Gospels were composed. Specifically: We will look at an argument (described more fully here) that the two Infancy Narratives are so different that Matthew and Luke did not know each others’ Gospels. This […]

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