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

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 083:330 (Apr 1926)
Article: The Synoptic Problem
Author: J. F. Springer

The Synoptic Problem


Small Matthaean Additions Or Markan Omissions

J. F. Springer

The broad fact that Matthew is a document of some 18,000 words, and Mark one of 11,000 words signifies, upon the hypothesis of a dependent First Gospel, that the compiler must have added a relatively great mass of material and, upon the assumption of a dependent Second Gospel, that the secondary writer must have omitted a similar amount of matter. Something like 7,000 words were added by the Matthaean writer or else were omitted by the Markan. In fact, 7,000 words is too low an estimate. Matthew does not contain the whole of the Markan material by some 3,500 words. If this work is really a compilation based on Mark, then we are to assume that the compiler added something like 10,500 words of material. And, if Mark is a writing secondary to Matthew, then the writer omitted something like 10,500 words of matter found in his exemplar.

Viewed in a large way, neither this great addition by a Matthaean compiler nor alternatively this great omission by a Markan secondary writer is difficult to understand, when we reflect that in the one case the material added admirably supplements the matter supplied by the exemplar, rounding out a complete document with a well defined purpose, and that in the other case, the omissions consist of text devoted almost entirely to matters outside of a clear purpose discernible in the document as it stands. That is to say, the presence in Matthew of such non-Markan material as the Genealogy and the Infancy Section, the Sermon on the Mount, the discourses of the eleventh chapter, some eight parables,1 and other didactic portions,2 causes no difficulty. Nor, on the other hand,

does the absence of this matter, concerned as it is with a narrative preliminary to the history of the Ministry and with discourse material, constitute any substantial obstacle to the view that in Mark we have a compilation based upon Matthew. The purpose of the Second Gospel has already been considered in much detail. See Bibliotheca Sacra, The Synoptic Problem, April, 1925, pp. 225-236 and July, 1925, pp. 328-329. If Mark is, indeed, a document derived from Matthew, then the purpose of the writer is discernible as one having in contemplation the production (1) of an abridgment, (2) of a work limited pretty closely to an account of the miracles and of the final events of the Savior’s Ministry, (3) of a narrative particularly directed to the requirements of Gentiles, and finally (4) of a document which should include a very considerabl...

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