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The Synoptic Problem

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Introduction

The Synoptic Problem The synoptic problem is that of considering which of the 3 synoptic gospels. Matthew, Mark and Luke was written first and perhaps which gospel was written aided via the other and/or which writer used the questionable Q source. It is believed that there is a literary connection between the gospels as there is an obvious verbal agreement that suggests some kind of interdependence between them all. It is believed that these similarities have arisen because i. All the gospel writers were inspired by the power of the holy spirit ii. They are all an account of the Jesus. Therefore as they are all about the same person there will be similarities between their writings if they are historically accurate. iii. They all share a common oral tradition Looking at the content of the gospels in turn it is obvious that there are links between the gospels. If you have faith then it is quite easy to believe that these accounts are supposed to be the word or god and through him they would write similar accounts. ...read more.

Middle

It is believed that as Mark is the priority gospel and that Matthew and Luke took Marks account and then expanded on it to write their own. It is also true that using this theory the Matthew and Luke have taken Marks gospel and tidied it up by correcting his poor Greek. It is known that mark used long narratives and in Matthew and Luke it can be seen that these have been abbreviated. Mark is also seen as the priority gospel as it appears to give an all rounded approach to the life of Jesus. Where as, Mark and Luke give a more soften approach where Jesus is seen as truly perfect light whereas in Mark critical observations are given about him. This suggests that just like in life a true account gives the good and the bad. And finally it is also true when looking at the reason for Markan priority that had Mark not been the definitive gospel there would be no point keeping the shorter gospel in the cannon of the bible. ...read more.

Conclusion

I believe that the arguments in favour of the use of the Q source are the most conclusive. This is because I believe that there is the most evidence for this cause. For example there are many points that point towards the combined use of Mark and Q between Luke and Matthew. However, it is hard to understand exactly what the truth is behind the question of the synoptic gospels. Evidence of this can be taken from the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls. The information provided from these and the Jesus papyrus suggest that there were/are many documents that all the gospel writers could take their information from and suggest that much of the information in the gospels was taken from writings not only from common oral traditions. I believe that it would be hard now to ever understand fully what exactly all the gospels information was taken from and as time slips by so does evidence. The reasons for looking at the synoptic problem are that of trying to help aid us in our understanding of the gospels themselves. As by studying which came first we can then understand where the truth lies and where bias can be placed. Jennifer Clutten ...read more.

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