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

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 082:325 (Jan 1925)
Article: The Synoptic Problem
Author: J. F. Springer

The Synoptic Problem


An Inquiry Into Parallelism And Non-Parallelism Between Matthew And Mark

J. F. Springer

This is not the place, perhaps, to enter upon an extended exposition of the requirements imposed by logic for the control of efforts directed to the establishment of hypotheses. At the same time, in view of the situation at the stage of our examination at which we have now arrived, it seems not undesirable to make inquiry as to what principles should govern our further investigation of the significance, with respect to sequence of derivation, that is to be attached to the phenomena which may roughly be summed up under the phrase, the “absorption” of Mark. Those writers who have participated in the development and interpretation of the facts pertaining to order of events, a research covering a period of eight or nine decades, do not seem to have conducted their work under the guidance and restriction of adequate rules. Otherwise, they would hardly have concluded that the facts of order require us to believe that our First Gospel is a derivative of the Second. All this we have had before us in very considerable detail. And we have also taken up the matter of the “absorption” of Mark and made a preliminary inquiry into it. It is now proposed that we continue the investigation by a sufficient presentation of the details with the view of ascertaining whether the evidence and arguments presented by advocates of Matthaean dependence may be developed to such a point as to make it possible still to maintain their claim. The old presentation does not warrant its maintenance; but perhaps a full and adequate research will show it to be right and proper. It appears to me that all our inquiries ought to be controlled by this same spirit. We should seek not merely the conclusion proper in view of the facts and arguments as advanced by opponents: we

should prosecute the matter further with the object of ascertaining whether a sufficient, as compared with an inadequate, inquiry will not rehabilitate the claim we oppose. That is to say, our purpose ought to be directed to an uncovering of the truth rather than to a downing of antagonists. Accordingly, the proper question is not merely whether the advocates of the derivation of Matthew from Mark have made a success of their efforts. There should be a broader outlook. We should seek to ascertain whether the fuller development of the phenomena belonging to any given class will not resurrect a claim otherwise found to be dead. The reader who has worked through my pages devoted to the argument from order,1 may perhaps have noted that what I had broadly in view was not merely...

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