SOURCE CRITICISM It is a method that has been used to analyze the synoptic Gospels in trying to understand the Synoptic Problem. THE SYNOPTIC PROBLEM The term synoptic is derived from the term synopsis. It means seeing or analyzing items alongside each other. The 3 Gospels; Mark, Matthew, and Luke are so

strikingly similar in terms of chronology and content in general. Because of that the 3 are referred to as The Synoptic Gospels. John is not grouped together with the Synoptic Gospels. REASONS FOR JOHNS EXCLUSION 1. Johns presentation of Jesus ministry is very different from the other Gospels. E.g. the setting of Jesus ministry includes all the four places, Judaea, Galilee, Samaria and Jerusalem.

2. The chronology of Jesus ministry in John is different from the one in the Synoptic Gospels. 3. The Jesus of John does not perform exorcisms. 4. The Christology of John is very high (John 1:1ff). SYNOPSIS OF THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS reveals the following: 1. There is verbatim agreement among the three Gospels. 2. There is verbatim agreement between Matthew and Luke.

3. There is verbatim agreement between Matthew and Mark. 4. There is verbatim agreement between Luke and Mark. 5. There are sections that are peculiar to each Gospel. DEFINITION OF THE SYNOPTIC PROBLEM The Synoptic Problem therefore is a problem which we encounter when we try to account for the similarity and peculiarity found in the three Gospels.


MT & LK LK SOLUTIONS TO THE SYNOPTIC PROBLEM 1. PRIMITIVE GOSPEL HYPOTHESIS Earlier attempts to solve the problem were championed by scholars such as J. D. Michaelis, G. E. Lessing, St. Augustine, J.J. Schleiermacher, J.G. Herder, etc. All these earlier attempts to solve the problem agree in

principle that there was a primitive Gospel which might have been oral or written. This Gospel was consulted as a source by the 3 Gospel writers, independently. This Gospel has been referred to as Primitive Gospel. CRITIQUE 1. The verbatim correspondence among the three Gospels actually implies that there was some interdependence. 2. The Gospel writers copied each other, and this shifted the debate towards identifying the writers that copied

from the others. 3. Some scholars argued that Matthew was written first, Luke, then copied Matthew, and Mark abbreviated Luke. 4. Whereas for some, Luke was written first and was abbreviated by both Matthew and Mark. 5. The majority of scholars say that Mark was written first, then Matthew expanded Mark, and Luke expanded Matthew. 6. As to when and where the coping

happened scholars are not certain. 2. TWO DOCUMENTARY HYPOTHESIS The two documentary hypothesis proceeds from two basic assumptions: (a) The Priority of Mark. (b) The probability of Q. THE PRIORITY OF MARK

Mark should be given the priority as the first Gospel to be written. 1. Content: There are 661 verses in Mark with 601 verses appearing in both Matthew and Luke. These 601 verses form 90% of the Gospel according to Matthew and 50% of the Gospel according to Luke. This can only be explained if we postulate that Mark was written first.

2. Logic: If we accept that Matthew was written first and Luke earlier than Mark, a difficult question arises. Why did Mark leave out so much of Matthew and of Luke? In particular, why did Mark exclude the infancy narratives from his Gospel? Logic, therefore, demands that Mark was written first. 3. Both Matthew and Luke display evidence that they

often consulted Mark independent of each other. EXAMPLE. Mark 1:42, The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Matthew 8:3, His leprosy was cleansed immediately. Luke 5:13, And the leprosy left him immediately. It seems that both Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source, but condensed the saying in the manner they liked. ARGUMENTS FOR THE PROBABILITY OF Q

It is highly probable that there was a certain source called Q (Quelle) in German, which was also used by the Gospel writers. (a) This is based on the exact verbatim agreement between Matthew and Luke. (b) There is also agreement in terms of terms which are used by both Matthew and Luke against Mark. c) There exist doublets in both Matthew and Luke. For instance, Mark 4:25, Matthew 13:12, and Luke 8:18.

In Mark the saying occurs only once in the context of the parable of the sower. We have doublets in Matthew 25:29, and in Luke 19:26. In both cases the statement is said within the context of the parable of the talents. Scholars who argue for the probability of Q agree in principle that the source of Matthew 13:12 and Luke 8:18 is Mark but the source of Matthew 25:29 and Luke 19:26 should be Q. (

ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE PROBABILITY OF Q (a)The Q document has never been found. (b) If the document is as old as Mark, why did Mark ignore it? It has been argued the document was younger than Mark, so he could not uses it. According to T.W Manson, it was never archived because Christians expected the imminent return of Christ. N.B. This argument does not hold water because most of

the documents written were kept by the early Christians. WHAT DOES THE TWO DOCUMENTARY HYPOTHESIS STATE? The hypothesis revolves around three basic points: 1. Triple attestation, Mark is the source. 2. Double attestation, in Matthew and Luke, the source is Q. 3. Changes in both Luke and Matthew, the divergence can be explained by the fact that Matthew and Luke approached Mark independently. Hence, the Two Source Hypothesis argues that Mark was

written first and both Matthew and Luke used it as a source. But apart from Mark, Matthew and Luke consulted Q, and both these sources were approached independently. DIAGRAM OF THE TWO DOCUMENTARY HYPOTHESIS MARK Q

MATTHEW LUKE CRITIQUE The hypothesis does not seem to account for the slight agreement between Mark and Q. 1. Scholars think that there is 6% agreement between Mark and Q, and though minimal, the agreement should be accounted for because of the implications that can be drawn from that

likeness. 2. It could be that either mark or Q copied the other. 3. Because of that challenge some scholars have argued that there was an earlier Gospel of Mark, but this cannot be supported by evidence. 4. The Two Source Hypothesis does not ask for the information that is peculiar in either Matthew or Luke. 5. That challenge led to another hypothesis which is referred to as the Four Documentary/Source

Hypothesis. THE FOUR DOCUMENTARY/SOURCE HYPOTHESIS This hypothesis incorporates all the points raised under the Two Source Hypothesis. But in addition scholars argued that Matthew consulted a special source which is referred to as the M Source. And Luke consulted the L source.


M SOURCE MATTHEW Material that came from the L source include: The Prodigal Son, The Parable of the Good Samaritan, etc. Material that came from the M source include: The Discourse of Jesus and John, The Wise men, etc.

B.H. Streeters two-fold observation 1. The Gospel according to Luke in particular, Streeter observed that the material which is thought to have come from Q occurs almost invariably combined with material that came from L (L + Q). 2. According to Streeter, Q was not static. Matthew consulted Mark and Q earlier than Luke. Luke, at a later stage consulted Mark and Q, but Q was no longer in its original form. So Luke consulted the Proto Luke source.

WEAKNESSES OF SOURCE CRITICISM 1. Source criticism ignores a number of things: (a) It ignores the fact that the larger document of the bible can be split into simpler units/genres. (b) Source criticism ignores the fact that these simpler units originated from within a specific setting in life/Sitzim-Leben. (c) It also ignores the fact that the literary forms have a history of oral transmission. Because of the above weaknesses form criticism was established.

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