Disagreement In The Greco-Roman Literary Tradition And The Implications For Gospel Research -- By: Preston T. Massey

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 22:1 (NA 2012)
Article: Disagreement In The Greco-Roman Literary Tradition And The Implications For Gospel Research
Author: Preston T. Massey


Disagreement In The Greco-Roman Literary Tradition And The Implications For Gospel Research

Preston T. Massey

Indiana Wesleyan University

The purpose of this investigation is to compare and contrast the fourfold Gospel with four categories for understanding the motif of disagreement within the Greco-Roman literary tradition. I examine 16 Greco-Roman authors using more than 40 separate texts in order to document the case for the convention of disagreement. Under each rubric discussed, I undertake a comparison with and contrast to the fourfold Gospel. The net result of this investigation concludes that, in contrast to the four examined literary criteria, the authors of the fourfold Gospel should not be charged with intentionally contradicting each other.

Key Words: contradiction, disagreement, complementation, supplementation

Although the specific subject of contradictions is rarely undertaken,1 a frequent claim among NT scholars is that the Gospels are tainted with contradictions and discrepancies.2 Current criticism generally stereotypes and stigmatizes the Evangelists for outright disagreement with the intent

to replace or displace a prior Gospel. This modern scholarly construct usually proceeds along the following lines: Matthew writes to correct Mark; Luke then edits Matthew and Mark; finally, John revises them all. It is commonplace in NT scholarship to read that one or two of the four Evangelists were motivated by the desire to replace Mark. John B. Gabel and Charles B. Wheeler represent well this position by offering this reading of the Synoptics: “As in the case of Luke, we must assume that Matthew found Mark’s Gospel inadequate and intended to replace it with his own, not merely to supplement it.”3 John Barton, likewise, echoes the prevailing view: “It is hard to imagine that any of the redactors of the gospels wrote with the intention that his version should stand alongside others in a multi- gospel canon. Rather, each is an attempt to supersede its predecessors.”4 Regarding the viewpoint of the Evangelist Luke, D. Moody Smith writes “Apparently, Luke wrote his Gospel to supplant earlier and less adequate accounts, which in all probability included Mark.”5 Mark Goodacre parallels a similar view: “Luke is making clear that he is critical of his predecessor’s work and that his radical reordering of Matthew is in Theophilus’s best interest.”You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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