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

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 084:335 (Jul 1927)
Article: The Synoptic Problem
Author: J. F. Springer


The Synoptic Problem

XIV

Probable Origin of the Nine Matthaean Doublets

J. F. Springer

It is proposed, in the present instalment, to show by actual examples that interpolation from the same or other Gospels is quite sufficient to account for the presence in Matthew of the nine troublesome doublets to be found in that document. That is to say, it is planned to exhibit numerous instances of Gospel doublets undoubtedly due to interpolation from the combined text of the Four Gospels. These instances of doublets are cases of duplication that have arisen in the course of the transmission of the four documents from ancient times down through the centuries—doublets that have lived a longer or shorter life, and that, for the most part, are not to be found in modern critical editions. They will be sufficient in number and in extent of distribution to make it clear that they are the natural product of the conditions of manuscript transmission of writings having the character of our Four Gospels.

These doublets owe their disappearance, no doubt, to an origin at a time when a number of lines of more or less independent transmission were already established and when in consequence they would later on die out for want of adequate corroboration. The nine doublets in Matthew are phenomena of a more permanent character. That is to say, they are well supported by the MSS. Consequently, they are to be referred, in respect to their origin, to a very remote period—to a time, say, antecedent to the latest common ancestor of our great documentary authorities for the Gospel text. If it is desired that a limited period be named, I would venture to suggest the century preceding 160 A. D.

Apparently, it is impossible to demonstrate conclusively that they arose through interpolation; but it may be

shown that causes competent to their production were at work as early as the times in which our most ancient Gospel authorities, other than mere fragments of MSS., were produced by their scribes. It seems reasonable to suppose that the same causes were operative still earlier and that they then gave rise to the nine doublets which we find in highly attested texts of Matthew.

It has been noted that the Gospel of Mark—that is, the Gospel of Mark in modern critical editions—contains a lesser number of doublets than either of the other Synoptic documents. And the examples of transient doublets presently to be given are fewer for this Gospel than those listed for Matthew or Luke. Whether, upon an exhaustive examination of all extant MSS., this would still be true, is naturally unknown. However, any comparative fewness of doublets in Mark...

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