Perhaps the greatest literary enigma in history, the Synoptic Problem has fascinated generations of scholars who have puzzled over the agreements, the disagreements, the variations, and the peculiarities of the relationship between the first three of our canonical Gospels. Yet the Synoptic Problem remains inaccessible to students, who often become quickly entangled in its apparent complexities. Now Mark Goodacre offers a way through the maze, explaining in a lively and refreshing style exactly what study of the Synoptic Problem involves, why it is important and how it might be solved in this readable, balanced, and up-to-date guide.
“But the order of accounts, or pericopae, always converges again after a while. It is usually held that this state of affairs is simply too great either for coincidence or for an orally remembered record. The explanation has to be, on some level, a literary one.” (Page 18)
“The striking thing about Triple Tradition is, however, that it is rare for both Matthew and Luke to place the same incident differently.” (Page 38)
“The theory that Matthew has read Luke (option 1) is rarely put forward by sensible scholars and will not be considered here.” (Page 109)
“And one will notice, on each occasion, that the Triple Tradition material seems to revolve largely around Mark, its ‘middle term’; Double Tradition seems to be largely sayings material, often with near-verbatim agreement, and not so similar in its order as Triple Tradition; Special Matthew contains some (so-called) legendary elements and Special Luke is full of great stories, especially parables.” (Page 47)
“Farrer claims that if it can be shown to be plausible that Luke knew Matthew as well as Mark, then the Q theory becomes superfluous to requirements—one can ‘dispense’ with Q.” (Page 22)
This introduction is fair and helpful, especially to a beginning student. It has the special advantage of making the whole subject matter relevant, which is no small task… It is well written…
—Mark A. Matson, Michigan College
Mark Goodacre is Associate Professor in New Testament, Department of Religion, Duke University.