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

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 082:327 (Jul 1925)
Article: The Synoptic Problem
Author: J. F. Springer

The Synoptic Problem

J. F. Springer


Whole Incidents—When Mark Is Made Secondary

In the foregoing, there has, I think, been developed a thoroughly reasonable purpose for the Markan writer when he is conceived as a compiler working with the Gospel of Matthew before him. This purpose has been considered under two conditions—(1) when no account is taken of external evidence; and (2) when the internal indications are supplemented by the ancient tradition as to the connection between the Apostle Peter and the Gospel of Mark. Let us now go on with our inquiry into the acceptances, omissions and additions of whole incidents and the character of these, the assumption being set up that Mark was derived from Matthew.

Acceptances Of Whole Incidents

The acceptances amount to about 92 per cent, of the total table of contents of Mark. This is so nearly all of the Markan presentation of whole incidents that it suggests that perhaps the writer was dependent for substantially his entire framework upon the First Gospel. We are confirmed in this view by an examination of the seven whole incidents which together make up the remaining 8 per cent. With the possible exception of the Appoint, ment of the Twelve (Mk. 3:13–15), all of the incidents are rather closely linked with parallels of Matthaean events. At all events, we must conclude that the hypothesis of a dependent Mark requires us to conceive the writer either as unable from want of material or literary ability to plan and write a Gospel with a different framework or else as disinclined to do so. If Peter is not brought in, these alternatives appear to create no difficulty. Nor is the situation made difficult, even if we consider the apostle and John Mark as jointly the producers of the Second Gospel from the First. Peter doubtless

had other material, material concerned with tours unreported in Matthew, sufficient in amount to have made possible a narrative with a framework decidedly different from that disclosed in Mark and in the Matthaean parallel. But we do not know that he and John Mark together had the necessary literary ability nor that either of them had the ambition to become an original author. The fewness of the added incidents and the almost complete absence of changes and additions to the framework do not encourage us to believe it necessary to attribute any especial literary capacity or desire. In short, whether we view Mark as a compilation made by some unknown persons or as the product of Peter and his interpreter’s activity in abridging the Matthaean table of contents and in supplying additional details and a few fresh incidents, there appea...

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