The Synoptic Problem -- By: J. F. Springer

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 081:321 (Jan 1924)
Article: The Synoptic Problem
Author: J. F. Springer

The Synoptic Problem


Facts and Conclusions as to the Synoptic Orders of Events

J. F. Springer

New York

THE reader will perhaps be greatly astonished at the state of affairs I am now about to disclose. I refer in particular to the argument for the priority of Mark that has been based on a comparison of the progressions of events in the three Synoptic Gospels. One would naturally expect that an adequate and correct statement of the facts as to agreement and disagreement in respect to order would long ago have come into existence. Interest in this matter of order dates back to the time of Lachmann,1 but so far as I know no sufficient and true statement of the facts has ever been made. One would also expect that a rigid inquiry would have been made into the logical support properly belonging to the inference as to priority that has been based on the matter of order. So far as I know, this has never been done.

The reader may think that this is an incredible state of affairs. It ought to be incredible. Of course, it is very unscientific to go ahead without making sure of the facts. But let us see how things stand. I begin by adducing statements as to the fundamental facts with respect to order, and then proceed to show that even in such an elementary matter they are incorrect. The statements begin in 1882 and extend to 1916. Their import is to the effect that the Markan order is always supported, when one of the other Synoptic Gospels deviates, by the remaining document.

[Commending the Griesbach Hypothesis, Dr. Davidson wrote: ] “The following positions seem safe.

“5. Mark’s arrangement is always the same as that of Matthew or Luke.” Samuel Davidson, An Introduction to the Study of the New Testament, 2d ed. 1882), vol. i, pp. 549, 551.

[Dr. Salmon, in an excerpt given later in connection with the argument for priority based on corroboration, states in effect that in every case where the order of whole incidents is the matter in hand and where two Synoptic orders agree against the third, the Markan order is one of the two.]

“The order of the whole of St. Mark, excepting of course what is peculiar to that Gospel, is confirmed either by St. Matthew or St. Luke, and the greater part of it by both.”

“... no portion of St. Mark of which the order can not be traced either in St. Matthew or St. Luke.” F. H. Woods, Studia Bibliea, vol. ii (1890), The Origin and Mutual Relation of the Synoptic Gospels (1886), pp. 62 and 63.

“It may be taken as...

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