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

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 081:323 (Jul 1924)
Article: The Synoptic Problem
Author: J. F. Springer

The Synoptic Problem

J. F. Springer


Assumption That Mark Is Not Chronological

That the order of events in Mark is not chronological is, to a greater or less extent, asserted by certain writers on Synoptic matters. The following excerpts will substantiate this statement:

“. . . in the same order and grouping, although this is in Mark by no means always chronological, but is for the most part governed by literary motives.” B. Weiss, Das Matthdusevangelium und seine Lucas-Parallelen (1876), S. 13 f.

“. . . the narratives which in Mark have been arranged in an order due simply to their content.” Ibid., S. 14.

“The most striking peculiarity of the second Gospel is its descriptive character. It is not intended to give a chronological or pragmatic history of the public life of Jesus, but a picture of it.” Ibid., A Manual of Introduction to the New Testament, Vol. ii (title page 1889, from the German), p. 239.

“In Mk. one is very willingly disposed to recognize an appropriate arrangement of the events of the public ministry of Jesus as a whole. It is certainly the fact that his first chapter gives the impression that the public activity of Jesus may actually have begun in the manner here related. But so far as the rest of the Gospel is concerned, little confidence can be placed even in Mk.’s order.” P. W. Schmiedel, Encyclopaedia Biblica, Vol. ii. (1901), article “Gospels” (second part), Col. 1874 (§133).

“Precisely the same remark applies to S. Mark’s chronological order. Strictly speaking, there is none, except for the Last Week. The only fixed landmarks are the Baptism, Temptation, Confession of S. Peter, and Transfiguration. The events of the ever-memorable Last Week are, of course, indelibly stamped on the memory, and repeated in their exact order; so, in all probability, are S. Peter’s recollections of the eventful day on which he left all to follow Christ (S. Mark, chap. 1).” J. R. Cohu, The Gospels in the Light of Modern Research (1909), p. 212.

“The order of even such events as secured perpetuation was already hopelessly lost at a time more remote than the writing of our earliest Gospel. This is true not only for Mark, as ‘the Elder’ frankly confesses, but for Matthew, Luke and everyone else. Un-

chronological as Mark’s order often is (and the tradition as to the ‘casual anecdotes’ agrees with the critical phenomena of the text), it is vastly more historical than Matthew’s reconstruction.” B. W. Bacon, The Making of the New Testament (1912), p. 139f.

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