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The Synoptic Problem: A Way through the Maze

, 2005
ISBN: 9780567080561
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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.

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“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

  • Title: The Synoptic Problem: A Way through the Maze
  • Author: Mark Goodacre
  • Publisher: T & T Clark
  • Publication Date: 2005
  • Pages: 181
Mark S. Goodacre

Mark Goodacre is professor in the Department of Religion and director of Undergraduate Studies at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He is the author of Thomas and the Gospels: The Case for Thomas’s Familiarity with the Synoptics, The Case Against Q: Studies in Markan Priority, and The Synoptic Problem: A Way through the Maze.


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  1. Josh



    At the end of every section, Goodacre succinctly summarizes what was just discussed. I appreciate when authors do this. It helps with my retention of the content. Overall, this was a good - but breif - introduction into the Synoptic Problem. Throughout Goodacre strongly argues for the Farrer Theory or the "Markan Priority without Q" hypothesis. I believe he does an admirable job in doing this. Don't read this book unless you want to be convinced to "dispense with Q". I know I did!

Save 25% off during the Memorial Day Sale!


Digital list price: $34.99
Regular price: $23.99
Save $6.00 (25%)