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

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 081:324 (Oct 1924)
Article: The Synoptic Problem
Author: J. F. Springer

The Synoptic Problem

J. F. Springer


1. A Summarized Statement of Arguments for Markan Priority that are Based on Order.

2. The “Absorption” of Mark.

The detailed investigation into the possibility of deriving, from the phenomena of order as they are disclosed in the first two Gospels, any substantial arguments favoring the dependence of Matthew upon Mark has been concluded. I claim that the evidence now available requires a negative answer.

As the examination into this matter was necessarily long and more or less involved, the reader may welcome a condensed restatement. I proceed to make a brief presentation of the arguments for Matthaean dependence upon Mark that are based on order and of answers that may be made to them.

The Argument From Corroboration

The argument from corroboration claims that Mark is the most primitive of the Synoptic Gospels, on the ground that its order is the only one of which it may be said that it is seldom or never without the corroboration of one or both of the others.1

Two Answers

1. The argument is not based upon a correct statement of the facts. Mark presents a succession of 83 incidents. There are, accordingly, 82 sequences. Of these, 9 are without any corroboration; so that “seldom or never” does not correctly describe the situation. Eleven per cent (9-^82=0.11) of all sequences are without corroboration.

2. The argument is invalid, anyway. Even if it be allowed that all 82 sequences are corroborated, this would not avail to establish the priority of Mark over the other Synoptic Gospels, for the reason that the very assumption that Matthew and Luke are individually and separately dependent upon Mark operates to make their corroboration of little or no evidential value. If, indeed, the Gospel of Matthew followed the order of its exemplar Mark, then the Matthaean order is no effective witness to the correctness of the Markan succession of events. Similarly, the assumption that the Lukan order was obtained from the Markan affords no real testimony to the correctness of this Markan order. The Lukan order would become a reflection of, or at most an acquiescence in, the Markan progression of incidents.

The Explanatory Argument

In accordance with the explanatory argument, Mark is claimed as the most primitive of the Synoptic Gospels, on the ground that its order may be set up as a standard, upon comparison with which each of the other orders may be explained as a derivative.You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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