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Rethinking the Synoptic Problem

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The problematic literary relationship among the Synoptic Gospels has given rise to numerous theories of authorship and priority. The primary objective of Rethinking the Synoptic Problem is to familiarize students with the main positions held by New Testament scholars in this much-debated area of research.

The contributors to this volume, all leading biblical scholars, highlight current academic trends within New Testament scholarship and update evangelical understandings of the Synoptic Problem.

Save more when you purchase this book as part of the Baker New Testament Studies Collection (14 Vols.)!

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“Second, the major criticism of the Oxford hypothesis has been the observation of so-called minor agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark.” (Page 92)

“First, the Oxford hypothesis has not sufficiently struggled with the early Christian evidence on the origins of the Gospels.” (Page 91)

“Second, the phenomenon of order describes the simple fact that at least two of the Evangelists agree almost all the time on the order of the events in the life of Jesus.” (Page 76)

“The most dominant proposed solution by far is the two-source hypothesis (also known as the Oxford hypothesis), which is so widely accepted today that it is being used for other fields of study, including textual criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, and early church history. This hypothesis argues that Mark was the earliest of our Gospels and that Matthew and Luke drew on another source, usually designated as Q, for the non-Markan material they share.” (Page 12)

“The oral theory states that the similarities among the Gospels are attributable to the fact that all three Gospels draw from oral traditions deriving from the early Christian community.” (Page 12)

An exciting and readable overview of the present state of the Synoptic problem. The entries are balanced, probing, and incisive, making the volume a valuable introduction for all who would learn more about the knotty but inescapable enigma at the heart of the Gospels.

—David Dungan, University of Tennessee

This set of essays by first class conservative New Testament scholars constitutes a fine case study of competing views on the Synoptic debate. This volume is eminently fair and helps the reader sort out complex evidence in the study of Gospel parallels. A commendable attitude of humility attends the discussion, but all participants reject postmodern deconstruction of the Gospels' historicity.

—Royce G. Gruenler, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

  • Title: Rethinking the Synoptic Problem
  • Authors: David Alan Black and David R. Beck
  • Publisher: Baker
  • Publication Date: 2001
  • Pages: 160

David Alan Black (D.Theol., University of Basel) is professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also author of New Testament Textual Criticism: A Concise Guide, available as part of the New Testament Textual Criticism Collection (6 Vols.).

David R. Beck (Ph.D., Duke University) is associate professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.


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  1. Veli Voipio

    Veli Voipio


  2. Jonathan Taube
    This was an enjoyable and enriching read. It really presents both the breadth and depth of what is known as the synoptic problem, looking at the evidence from different perspectives. Gathering some of the world’s leading Evangelical New Testament experts to argue for their respective viewpoints, this book grew out of a symposium held at Southeastern Seminary in 2000. These collected papers really gave me exactly what I was looking for: they brought me up to speed on the historical development of scholarly opinion on Mark’s relationship to Matthew & Luke; they presented the most common and well-reasoned arguments for answering the synoptic problem; they crafted a detailed look at the most critical evidence and also considered ancillary evidence and/or concerns with the various theories. Perhaps the most compelling thing to me about this work is the way the authors interacted with one another’s work and arguments in their own papers. It really was like sitting in on a conversation amongst some of the most knowledgeable scholars in the field. The questions raised by the synoptic problem are not merely an erudite distraction from true biblical criticism and interpretation—they are rightly understood today to be a central issues to faithful gospel hermeneutics.


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