Free Essay

The Synoptic Problem

In: Religion Topics

Submitted By janedoe89917
Words 1573
Pages 7
| The Synoptic Problem | Understanding the relationship between the synoptic Gospels | |

The New Testament of the Bible begins with the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These four books are a biography of the life Jesus Christ. Most want to views these books as photographs of the life and ministry of Christ, but they should really be viewed as portraits of Christ. A photograph takes a picture and shows you exactly what is there, while a portrait can add different perspectives on the same image. If four people each painted a picture of a sunset each painter would show the sunset from a different perspective (1). Each author of the books of the Gospels adds his own views into each book. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the synoptic Gospels. The word synoptic in Greek means “seeing together” this is appropriate for these books because of the common viewpoint. While John is known as the supplemental Gospel, and has very different characteristics from the other three books.(2) If we view the Gospels as a modern day biography we would want to see all the facts of Jesus's life and them all to be laid out in chronological order. The authors of the Gospels however were basing their versions of Jesus's life off of ancient biographies. These works were not written in chronological order, but were written with specific facts to show the significance of one's life. The way the Gospels were written was very understandable to the people of that time. (1) The synoptic Gospels share an over reaching chronology, or they share the same basic timeline. There are also common stories in each of the Gospels. Some examples of these are the narratives of John the Baptist, the calling of the Apostles, the sermon on the mountain side, the healing of the leaper, and the passion story. There are also similarities in their styles of writing. You can see this in the story of the healing of the leper in Matthew 8:1-2, “When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." and in Mark 1:40, “A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean." finally in Luke 5:12, “While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Another good reference to this point in similar writing styles can be seen in the asking of Jesus's body from Pilot in Matthew 27:58, “Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him.” and in Mark 15:43, “Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body.” and finally in Luke 23:52, “Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body.” Sometimes two of the books in the Gospels will have greater similarities, while the other will stand alone. Usually the relationship is between Matthew and Luke. This is usually because most believe that Mark was written first along with an unknown document named Q, and Matthew and Luke were based off of these books. This is part of the documentary theory of the synoptic problem. Matthew and Luke will include a lot of the same events, but they will not appear in Mark. For example the Lord's Prayer is in both Matthew and Luke but does not appear in Mark. You can also notice the similarity in the wording in Matthew and Luke in these passages. “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:9-13. Luke's account is found chapter 11 verses 2-4, “So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.” (3) If everything in the synoptic Gospels where exactly the same there would be no synoptic problem, this however is not the case. There are differences in the details of the same events. For example the healing of Peter's mother-in-law, each give the account that she had a fever and Jesus healed her, but in Matthew he simply touched her and she was healed while in Mark he lifted her up, and in Luke he stood over her and rebuked the fever. There are also events that are only unique to a particular Gospel. For example Luke is the only Gospel to record Jesus's visit to the temple as a young boy, and only Matthew records Peter walking on the water. Now that you can see some of the differences and similarities let's discuss the problem. The synoptic problem is the differences and agreements among the synoptic Gospels. The synoptic problem really isn't a problem at all though. It is more of a way of trying to understand the relationships between the three synoptic Gospels (3). There are many proposed solutions to the problem but there are three basic suggestions: oral tradition, interdependence, and documentary sources (2). The documentary theory proposes that Mark and an unknown document name Q were the basis of Matthew and Luke. The most satisfactory approach though involves four pieces: direct knowledge, oral traditions, use of documentation, and the help of the Holy Spirit. (2) There is no proof that “Q” exists or ever existed. Considering the sheer volume of pseudo-Gospels and documents the early church had, if a collection of Jesus’ sayings would have been discovered and were up to the same standard of all four of the other Gospel accounts, “Q” would not be theory. Instead we would have a book with title of “Sayings of Jesus”. However, without a “Q” there are no easy answers to some of the differences in the Synoptic Gospels. Most of these differences, however, can be attributed to difference in purposes in the Synoptic Gospel narratives themselves. Some of the differences are easily explainable. For instance, the difference between the genealogies of Matthew and Luke can be readily explained by emphasis. Matthew was showing Jesus’ genealogy through Abraham since his audience was primarily Jews. Luke, on the other hand, was writing to mainly Gentiles. Because of this he saw the need to trace Jesus all way to Adam and ultimately, the reminder that Jesus is, in fact, the Son of God. There are many differences which are not so easily explained and there are several prevailing theories to help explain these and other situations further. As these theories are evaluated, it is important to note the Bible is the Word of God as revealed to humanity. The Bible, although written by humans is still, fundamentally, a spiritual document. The Gospels may share the same stories, but there are some real differences in them. If you look closely you can see them in areas a little as the way something is worded, to items in the stories being different. The bottom line is they all tell the same Good News. The fact is they were divinely inspired. They are the living word of God. So even if there is no real solution to the synoptic problem, they are the way that they should be according to a perfect God. Perhaps they are simply different because they are each a painter painting a picture of the same sunset, or maybe because each of them was writing to a different audience, or because we were meant to see Christ in four different ways. Whatever the case may be it is simply being honest with the biblical text and not trying to make it say or be what is not. And it is not a matter of believing or not believing the Bible, but rather to be seeking to understand since we do not have all of the answers. There comes a point in time where we have to admit that we don’t know, and that is the case here. Who are we to try and understand and infinite God? We have such a finite mind that cannot explain his purpose for things, and I for one would be a little worried if we could.

Bibliography 1. Kaiser, Walter C. Hard Sayings of the Bible. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1996. Print. 2.Wilkinson, Bruce, and Kenneth Boa. "Introduction to the Historical Books." Talk Thru the Bible. Nashville: T. Nelson, 1983. 303-06. Print. 3.Bratcher, Dennis. "The Synoptic Problem: The Literary Relationship of Matthew, Mark, and Luke." The Voice. 2011. Web. 18 Nov. 2011. <http://www.crivoice.org/synoptic.html>.

Similar Documents

Free Essay

Synoptic Problem

...LIBERTY UNIVERSITY BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY Synoptic Problem Submitted to Professor Laurie Schweinsberg., in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of the course NBST 510 New Testament Introduction by Jacqueline Goldston June 2, 2014 TABLE OF CONTENT INTRODUCTION……………………………………………………………1 UNDERSTANDIN THE SYNOPTIC PROBLEM…………………………..2 SIMLARITIES BETWEEN THE GOSPELS………………………………..3 HISTORY OF THE SYNOPTIC PROBLEM………………………………..6 A PROPOSED SOLUTION TO THE SYNOPTIC PROBLEM……………..7 THE TWOFAVORED SOLUTIONS………………………………………..8 DEFENDING TWO GOSPELS HYPOTHESIS (GRIESBACH)…………..9 CONCLUSION …………………………………………………………….12 BIBLOGRAPHY……………………………………………………………13 1 INTRODUCTION The Synoptic problem can be a very difficult subject to understand at times. When you take a look around or start asking question of your bible scholars or even your casual readers of the Bible you find out people don’t even realize there is a Synoptic problem. There seems to be many different proposed solutions that will fix the problem. Some accepted and some of which has very little support at all. When you read you see that there are different scriptures in the bible that shows a level of agreement in the content of reading, and seems as if the authors have borrowed each other’s writings’ or used the same materials in research they had in common. However, even though they...

Words: 3633 - Pages: 15

Free Essay

Synoptic Problem

...UNIVERSITY THE SYNOPTIC PROBLEM A RESEARCH PAPER SUBMITTED TO DR. CAROL A. THOMAS IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE COURST NBST 525 LIBERTY BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY BY LYNCHBURG, VIRGINIA , 2013 CONTENTS INTRODUCTION 1 EXPLORATION OF THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS........................................................................1 ORAL THEORY.............................................................................................................................2 THE TWO-SOURCE HYPOTHESIS.............................................................................................3 THE GREISBACH HYPOSTHESIS..............................................................................................4 THE FARRER-GOULDER HYPOTHESIS...................................................................................5 THE AUGUSTINE HYPOSTHESIS..............................................................................................6 DEFENSE OF THE SYNOPTIC PROBLEM................................................................................6 CONCLUSION...............................................................................................................................7 BIBLIOGRAPHY...........................................................................................................................9 INTRODUCTION At first, one reads the words “Synoptic Problem” and assumes the worst. The expression problem......

Words: 2814 - Pages: 12

Free Essay

The Synoptic Problem

...The Synoptic Problem The Gospels according to Matthew, Mark and Luke are so similar to each other that, in a sense, they view Jesus "with the same eye", in contrast to the very different picture of Jesus presented in the Fourth Gospel of John. Yet there are also many significant differences among the three Synoptic Gospels. The Synoptic Problem, in the normal sense is not really a problem, it refer to questions and possible explanation on the relationships between Matthew, Mark and Luke. The similarities between these three writers are so numerous and close, in the order of the materials they presented, the stories told, the sayings of Jesus, even using the exact wording of long stretches of text, that it is not sufficient to explain these similarities on the basis of oral traditions alone. There must be some literary dependence of one or more gospels upon another, meaning that someone copied from another person. Common material presented is not always in the same order, in the three gospels; and thus leaving the question of who wrote first and who copied from whom? There are three theories which have tried to explain the literary relationships between the synoptic gospels. These theories will be briefly looked at. The first theory held that the apostles had written down brief memorabilia which were later collected and arranged according to their particular type of genre. The problem with this view is that it fails to explain the overall arrangement of the synoptic gospels...

Words: 890 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

Synoptic Problem

...The synoptic problem The first three books of the New Testament which are Matthew, Mark and Luke are compared, and it is discovered that they look similar to one another in content and expression. As a result they a referred to as the synoptic gospels. The word “synoptic” basically means “to see together with a common view”. This raises the question of why they are similar to one another in these respects. This is known as the synoptic problem. The many similarities between the synoptic gospels have led some to wonder if the gospel authors had a common source, another written account of Christ’s birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection from which they obtained the material for their gospels. Some argue that Matthew, Mark, and Luke are so similar that they must have used each other’s gospels, or another common source. This supposed “source” has been given the title “Q” from the German word “quell” which means “source.” Another problem is that there is no evidence for the “Q” document or even a portion or fragment which has been discovered. “Q” is just the invention of liberal scholars who deny the inspiration of the Bible and they believe it to be nothing more than a work of literature, subject to some criticism given to other works of literature. This in turn renders the source very much unreliable because there is also no evidence for a “Q” document biblically, theologically or historically. If there is no “Q” document, then why are they similar? It is possible......

Words: 2079 - Pages: 9

Free Essay

The Synoptic Problem

...Solving the Synoptic Problem Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the four narrators for the Gospels. The Gospel “offers distinctive information about Jesus, his public ministry, death, Resurrection, and significance” (Mueller 80). Each of the four Gospels were written at different times, and without collaboration. Due to the differences of chronological order, the order in which events took place, vocabulary, the overall contents, and similarities the Synoptic Problem was created. The Synoptic problem refers to the discussion and the relationship between the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The main question that the Synoptic problem posses is what is the nature of the relationship between the three Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke, which was written first, and what sources were used in each of them? With the exception of John, the Gospels have many different similarities in the text, passages, and the specific arrangements of those passages. The reason for the Gospel written by John not being included in the synoptic problem is that there are very few agreements in the text compared to those of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. “The synoptic gospels are synoptic in that they share a majority of their information. Mark contains 93% shared information, Matthew 58% and Luke contains 41%. The Gospel of John in the only gospel that is not considered part of the synoptic gospels because it is 92% peculiar, or dissimilar in its structure and makeup” (Linderer 2). Although...

Words: 1186 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Synopticproblempaper

...Liberty University THE SYNOPTIC PROBLEM A paper submitted to PROFESSOR MONTE SHANKS In partial fulfillment of the Requirements for the course NBST 510 Liberty Theological seminary By Wilbert L. Bracey Lynchburg, Virginia February 1, 2014 TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1 The Synoptic Problem-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------2 Markan Priority---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------3 Q Hypothesis------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------4 L and M------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------6 Two Gospel Hypothesis-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------7 Conclusion--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------10 Bibliography------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------11 Introduction There are differences in the area of Synoptic Gospel as well as there are large amounts of similarities that can be proved with all the evidence written as well as physical. The synoptic Gospels are ones that include Matthew, Luke and Mark. The reason they are called synoptic, which means, seen together, is......

Words: 3222 - Pages: 13

Free Essay

Healthcare

...The Synoptic Problem: What is it and can it be solved? The first three (3) books of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, are commonly called the Synoptic Gospels. They have gained this title because they are very similar to each other yet commonly different from John's Gospel. In fact, their similarities and relation to each other have created one of the most debated subjects in the realm of New Testament Studies. This area of scholarship has adopted the name The Synoptic Problem. Determining the dependence or interdependence of each Gospel then attempts to conclude, which Gospel was written first, and subsequently, which Gospel then used the other as a primary source, and if not what source was then used to compile the gospel in question. “Mark's Gospel is the shortest of the three, yet large portions of it are also found in Matthew and Luke. Additionally, Matthew and Luke share a significant amount of verses (more than 200) that are not found in Mark. The similarities include subject matter, exact wording, and even order of events. When material is found in all three Synoptic Gospels, it is referred to as triple tradition. The material that is only found in Matthew and Luke is called double tradition, or Q. Also, the material that distinctively belongs to Matthew is called the M tradition, while that which belongs to Luke is called the L tradition” (The) The content of M suggests that the community for which this gospel was written, as stricter than the others in...

Words: 1325 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Matthew, Mark, And Luke's Gospel Essay

...Synoptic Ideals of Matthew, Mark, and Luke This debate of the synoptic issue has arisen numerous times over the past few centuries. The most popular problem that has been brought to attention is who wrote the initial Gospel first, and if so did one of the three simply take ideals from each other. The further time reaches towards the 21st century, many see Matthew as no longer the first author and it moves towards Mark as the initial writer. According to Elwell and Yarbrough (2013) on p. 156, “For over a thousand years this view, or one similar to it, held sway.” According to gotquestions.org (2016), “There is absolutely no problem with the idea that Matthew and/or Luke copied some text from Mark’s Gospel and used it in their Gospels. Perhaps Luke had access to Mark and Matthew and used texts from both of them in his own Gospel.” Luke to the synoptic issue of the written words of the gospels was a more over looked man than Matthew or Mark. Luke also used a more theological approach to his writing and at times, in terms of the Sermon on the Mount, had the least amount of information listed for the same and similar topic at hand. According to Elwell and Yarbrough (2013) on p.157, “Mark abbreviated Matthew, adding modification that Mark also made use of the Gospel of Luke.” This then shows us why the three gospels are so similar in...

Words: 501 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Synoptic Gospel Similarities

...The Synoptic Gospel similarities can’t be explained from looking at each gospel. There is similar grammar, language used that shows that some of the writers used, some parts of others work and claimed it as their own material. Three of the gospels have a lot in common. There are many similarities between Matthew and Luke but are not found in the gospel of Mark. And there are parts found in Mark and Luke but not seen in Matthew. And vice versa with the similarities found in Matthew and Mark but not in Luke. The gospels are one of the greatest sources of knowledge to learn about the life of Christ. The books were written, to have some sort of validation of each writer’s encounters with Jesus. From my findings the Gospels were not mentioned until...

Words: 378 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

Research

...JOURNAL ARTICLE CRITIQUE of Dvorak, James D. “The Relationship Between John and The Synoptic Gospels: The Person of Christ in Synoptic Theology.” Journal of Evangelical Society Jets 41:2 (June 1998): 201-203. Survey of Theology Marvin T. Roberts May 17, 2015 Contents Page Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………….1 Brief Summary…………………………………………………………………………………….1 Critical Interaction………………………… ………………………………..……………...…1-2 Conclusion…………...……………………………………………….…………………………2-3 Bibliography………………………………………………………………………………………4 Introduction The paper of James D. Dvorak deals with the debates of the comparison between John and the synoptic gospels. Its provides information of the relationship of John to the synoptic gospels that has been a recurring problem, not only for two centuries of modern critical scholarship, but for Christian theology and exegesis over a much longer period. Brief Summary In the paper of James Dvorak he uses three (3) theories to discuss the relationship of John to synoptic gospels. Literary Dependence that is discussed to make claims that John was literarily dependent upon one or more of the synoptic. Literary Independence contends that John was not dependent on the Synoptics but that the similarities between the two are due to use of a common tradition. And there is Mediating View in which some scholars believe that there is a possibility ......

Words: 739 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

Nw Testament

...Timothy 17. 2 Timothy 18. Titus 19. Philemon 20. Hebrews 21. James 22. 1 Peter 23. 2 Peter 24. 1 John 25. 2 John 26. 3 John 27. Jude 28. Revelation What are the synoptic Gospels? The word synoptic is defined as “taking a common view: used chiefly in reference to the first three Gospels” (Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, 1991). Merrill C. Tenney wrote the following regarding the synoptic Gospels: “Between the first three Gospels, however, there is a closer interrelation in content and manner of expression. They have consequently been called the Synoptic Gospels, from the Greek, syn, together, and optanomai, to see, since they take a common view of the life of Christ” (New Testament Survey, 1961, p. 133). The three Gospels that “take a common view” of Christ’s life are Matthew, Mark and Luke. Each writer affords us a special look into the life and teachings of Christ in a different way. One may provide one detail, and another may provide a detail that adds to the account so that the Bible student is able to receive additional insights. These insights give a more complete picture of what Christ was teaching or give details of an event that help us have greater understanding of the heart and mind of Christ. The synoptic Gospels do not contradict one another, but all three together provide a more complete account of Jesus’ life. The more information a Bible student is provided about Jesus, the more one has to......

Words: 727 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Rhetorical Analysis Of Rogers 'Caesar And Christ'

...In Rogers’ article “Caesar and Christ” from the journal Aspects of Western Civilization: Problems and Sources in History the New Testament verses of the bible are presented by the synoptic authors and Paul. There is an obvious shift between the synoptic authors and their contemporary Paul: Paul address the matter in his messages for the ones in need; where as the synoptic authors present the message of Christ for those who can give to those in need. In Paul’s words form subtopic Paul’s Answer to the Intellectuals he appeals to the common man minds. Paul's states this about wisdom and the context of God, “Yet I do speak wisdom to those who are spiritually mature.” (Rogers, 153). In Paul’s inter argument he tells his audience that intelligents,...

Words: 577 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

Bibl110

...GUIDE: MODULE/WEEK 1 Derived from the course text book, The Essence of the New Testament: A Survey (2012), and the New Testament documents. Chapter 1: How We Got the New Testament 1. How many documents does the New Testament consist (1)? 27 2. The New Testament was written approximately between AD ¬¬¬_45___ and _100___ (1). 3. What materials were the New Testament documents written upon (1)? Leather and paper scrolls 4. What are the original New Testament document called (1, 2)? autograph 5. What is a codex in reference to the early New Testament writings (2)? Modern day books 6. What is the name of the Latin codex collection (2)? Ta Bibla 7. In the study of the New Testament, to what does the term canon refer (2)? Authoritive books 8. What three languages did God choose as the media for his self-revelation (2)? Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek 9. The Old Testament was primarily written in ____Hebrew__ (2). 10. Parts of the Old Testament were written in __Aramaic____ (2). 11. The New Testament was written in __Greek____ ______(2). 12. New greek______ ______was the language of the common people during the first century AD (2). 13. Why do you think God allowed the autographs to vanish (3)? To avoid biliolatry 14. In spite of the absence of the autographs, approximately 5,000 Greek manuscripts and an additional 13,000 fragments of the New Testament documents exist, providing significant manuscript evidence for New Testament scholars (3). compared to early......

Words: 1404 - Pages: 6

Free Essay

Stilling of the Storm Exegesis

...Dr. Na Religion 207 Dec 11, 2015 Stilling of the Storm The canonical gospels are a result of the spreading of the news of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Therefore, they must be studied when interested in gathering an account of Jesus’ life and death. The synoptic gospels include the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It is assumed that the author of the Gospel According to Mark wrote his gospel first and therefore becomes a blueprint for the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Therefore the synoptic gospels have similar events, structure, and timeframes. One major event in all three synoptic gospels is the story of the stilling of the storm. Assuming markan priority, this paper will discuss the Gospel According to Mark’s command that Jesus uses to rebuke the wind and sea: “Peace! Be still!” The stilling of the storm is a triple tradition event, meaning it is found in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. This event is contained in the passages of Mark 4:35-41, Matt 8:23-27, and Luke 8:22-25. Some similarities throughout this particular event are very evident and can be shown through the main course of events in the pericope. The first similarity is all gospels have Jesus asleep in the boat during a storm. Another similarity is that Jesus rebukes the natural elements and comments on the disciples’ lack of faith. Another important similarity is that the disciples question the authority of Jesus when the wind and water obey him. These three similarities lay out the......

Words: 1882 - Pages: 8

Free Essay

Eschatology

...THE SYNOPTIC APOCALYPSE (MARK 13 PAR): A DOCUMENT FROM THE TIME OF BAR KOCHBA Hermann Detering* he thirteenth chapter of the Gospel of Mark belongs to those texts of the New Testament which have been examined particularly often in recent times. Despite many differences in detail, a certain consensus is apparent between exegeses in so far as they all assume that the text in question, the so-called “Synoptic Apocalypse” (hereafter abbreviated as the SynApoc), arose either in the first or the second half of the first century. This investigation, however, will show that there are a number of factors which exclude such a dating and that numerous of clues indicate rather an origin in the time of the Bar Kochba uprising (132-135 CE). To be sure, the possibility of assigning such a date, which diverges considerably from what is usually taken for granted, does not even occure to most scholars, since the conclusion of their investigation is clearly determined by a prior methodological assumption: since the common assumption is that both Mark and Matthew were written in the second half of the first century, the SynApoc must also belong to this period or even precede it. In my opinion, however, for various reasons, it is highly questionable whether the customary and generally accepted dating of Mark's gospel around 70 CE is correct. Whoever concerns himself with the question of when the Synoptic Gospels arose quickly notices that he has hit upon a genuine weak point in the scholarly......

Words: 20760 - Pages: 84