Some Differences Between the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John

Some Differences Between the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John

20.   Some Differences Between the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John

The Synoptic Gospels-Matthew, Mark and Luke-offer such strikingly similar accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ that, according to one author, “they can be placed side by side and viewed horizontally” (Harris 103).   In contrast, the Fourth Gospel, the Gospel of John, stands alone in its portrayal of Jesus Christ.   The differences in the Synoptic Gospels and John relate to content of each and the variation in purpose or point of view.

According to one author, “The Fourth Gospel…is so different from the other three in …content…, that it has few parallels with the Synoptic accounts” (104).   For example, Matthew, Mark and Luke record thirty miracles.   John records a total of seven (He calls these miracles “signs.”) and only one is recorded by all four gospel writers: the feeding of the 5000 with the few loaves and bread and fishes (Biblecenter).   Obviously, the writers differ in what the miracles indicate.   The Synoptics are “basically descriptive in their approach” while John, who seeks to demonstrate the divinity of Christ to his readers, is more “reflective” in his selection of the signs he wishes to include (Angelfire).   He makes the purpose of his selectivity clear, however, when he acknowledges that while Jesus did many more signs than those included in the book of John, his purpose is that men would come to believe that He was indeed the Son of God and “that believing”, … they would have “life through his name” (John 20:30).   While the Synoptic writers appear to be eyewitnesses or recorders of events as they unfolded, John looks back on certain events after they occurred to examine their significance especially as they demonstrate the true nature of Christ (Angelfire).

Another difference in content and point of view relates to the words of Jesus Himself as recorded in the four Gospels.   In Matthew, Mark and Luke, the words of Jesus are recorded in many parables...

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