The Synoptic Problem and its Solution

HOME
1. Hidden Patterns in the Synoptic Gospels
2. Matthew, the Revisionist
3. The Man who Buried Jesus
4. Matthew's Knowledge of Luke
5. Luke, the Eccentric Evangelist
6. The Weak Case for the Existence of Q
7. Further Statistical Analysis
About / Contact

~ Chapter 4 ~

Did Matthew Know Luke?

 

The data presented thus far fit comfortably with the publication of Luke c.75-80 and Matthew c.90-100. This dating allows sufficient time between Luke and Matthew for the Church to have coalesced under a more institutionalized structure. During this elapsed time, the Church’s liturgical expression evolved, and its doctrinal horizon expanded with incremental reflection upon the meaning of Jesus and the content of his message. If we accept this chronology as accurate, it brings to center stage the possibility that Matthew used Luke as a literary source, and reduces the field of potential solutions to the Synoptic Problem to two: either Matthew used both Mark and Luke directly, or both independently used Mark and the hypothetical Q.

Accordingly, in order to remain standing, the Q hypothesis requires a compelling argument that Matthew could not have known and copied from Luke. Yet it is precisely on this point that the debate goes silent. For in a world in which Q theorists defend the 2DH against challengers arguing for Luke’s use of Matthew, there is no perceived need to address the reverse. It is here that the 2DH will ultimately meet its demise, for there is no substantive evidence that Matthew could not have known and used Luke. It is only a matter of time before it becomes recognized that Q theorists have failed to lay this foundational cornerstone.

Nevertheless, on those occasions when the possibility of Matthean posteriority is raised, two observations are made to call Matthew’s awareness of Luke into doubt. The first is that Matthew and Luke contain conflicting genealogies and infancy narratives; the second is that they present incompatible resurrection narratives. It is sometimes suggested that the later author would not have intentionally introduced conflicting traditions into the gospel record, and thus the later author must not have been aware of the earlier work. These two arguments warrant brief discussion.

It is certainly true that Matthew and Luke contain genealogies and infancy narratives that cannot be reconciled with one another. For example, Matthew indicates that Jesus was descended from David through his son Solomon, while Luke claims Jesus was descended from David through Solomon’s brother Nathan. And in the infancy stories, Matthew depicts Joseph and Mary as residing in Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth—there was no inn and no manger, and the family eventually relocated to Nazareth when Jesus was a toddler. Luke reports Joseph and Mary as living in Nazareth all along. Clearly, from a historical perspective, the genealogies and infancy stories in Matthew and Luke cannot both be factually accurate. Now, these materials each have distinct theological ramifications, and their creators never intended for them to be interpreted literally. The Church in the fourth century had no difficulty in accepting both Matthew and Luke as inspired scriptures despite their historical incompatibilities, which were as obvious to them as they are to us. Nevertheless, in contemporary thought it is sometimes alleged that Matthew would not have published stories in conflict with those in Luke had he been aware of them.

This argument is without merit. Matthew’s genealogy and infancy materials have an ideological affinity with his Gospel at large, while Luke’s traditions are not at all in harmony with Matthew’s theological orientation. Moreover, we have already examined numerous instances in which Matthew alters Mark and Luke for ideological reasons, so it would not be surprising to discover that Matthew had done so once again with the opening materials.

The epistle of 1 Timothy indicates that some believers were occupying themselves with “myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations” (1 Tim 1:4). It is reasonable to suppose that the two conflicting sets of genealogies and miraculous birth narratives in Matthew and Luke are the results of the creative debates to which the author of 1 Timothy was objecting.[1] If this is the case, then the fact that there was disharmony between the communities of Matthew and Luke in these traditions is not surprising. In this event, each Gospel writer would have been expected to document the traditions favored within his own community. The fact that they are in conflict as they stand between the two Gospels is no indication that the later author did not know the earlier work.

In addition to the incompatible opening materials, Matthew and Luke contain different resurrection narratives. Their storylines diverge significantly beyond the point where their Markan source was truncated at 16:8. The argument here is similar to that of the infancy narratives and genealogies—since Matthew shows no awareness of the resurrection appearances in Luke, he must not have been using Luke as a source.

At issue here is the relative authority of Mark over Luke as perceived by the author of Matthew. Mark clearly predicts that after the resurrection, Jesus will first appear to his disciples in Galilee. This prediction appears twice, in Mark 14:28 and 16:7. Matthew, using Mark as a source, affirms and reproduces this Markan tradition and also twice records the prediction (Matt 26:32, 28:7). In order to show these predictions fulfilled, Matthew is committed to reporting a primary resurrection appearance in Galilee. On the other hand, Luke does not commit himself to Mark’s foreshadowing. Mark’s predictions of a resurrection appearance in Galilee are simply omitted by Luke. Without this constraint, Luke is free to offer his reports of Jesus appearing to two persons on the road to Emmaus, and subsequently to others in the vicinity of Jerusalem. Thus, Luke’s account is in fundamental disharmony with Mark.

There is no reason to assume Matthew did not know Luke simply because he opted to follow Mark instead of Luke in the resurrection account. From the fact that Luke does not record Mark’s dual prediction of a primary resurrection appearance in Galilee, few would claim that Luke was not aware of Mark’s predictions. Just as Luke’s diver-sion from Mark has no bearing on his awareness of Mark, Matthew’s choice to follow Mark over Luke in the resurrection tradition has no probative value in determining his awareness of Luke.

Q theorists have always been able to assemble numerous compelling arguments to illustrate that Luke could not have used Matthew. Overwhelmingly, these arguments focus on the peculiar editorial behavior implied by Luke’s alleged use of Matthew. For most scholars the case against Luke’s awareness of Matthew is decisive. Accordingly, Q advocates have never needed to resort to the tenuous line of reasoning that conflicting genealogies and resurrection narratives indicate mutual unawareness by the authors. That this argument is drafted into service only when debating Matthean posteriority is itself an indication of how feeble the case against it is.

The incompatible genealogies, infancy narratives, and resurrection stories are not the only arguments that have been raised against Matthew’s proposed use of Luke. It has also been observed that Matthew occasionally records earlier literary forms of certain double tradition sayings than those found in Luke. Based upon this it is alleged that Matthew could not have been using Luke as a source. Yet, while the observation is correct, it does not warrant the inference. Matthew would likely have had a variety of oral and written sources available to him in addition to Luke. Some of them may have contained earlier forms of sayings than those appearing in Luke. That Matthew might have opted on occasion to use a non-Lukan variation from another source is not difficult to imagine. The fact that Matthew contains a few earlier versions of some sayings is not sufficient grounds to preclude Matthew’s awareness of Luke.

Q advocates have never compiled a collection of arguments against Matthew’s awareness of Luke that rivals the power of the arguments against Luke’s use of Matthew, largely because they have never had to. However, the fact is that it is not possible; the data simply do not exist to make a case against Matthew’s awareness of Luke. When we examine the Gospels side-by-side while trying to imagine that Luke used and edited Matthew, Luke’s editorial decisions routinely look suspicious, logically tenuous, and on occasion nonsensical. Conversely, when we compare these texts and imagine that Matthew used Luke, Matthew’s editorial decisions most frequently appear to be rational—it is easy to infer why Matthew made the modifications that he did to Luke’s text. Furthermore, and perhaps just as importantly, Matthew’s editorial use of Luke is consistent with his use of Mark; we see similar changes being applied to both sources, which is what we would expect to find if Matthew had used both Mark and Luke.

Evidence indicating Matthew’s awareness of Luke

John Kloppenborg is one of the renowned scholars in the field of Synoptic studies and a leading advocate of the 2DH. In making his case for the 2DH, Kloppenborg claims that the independent use of Mark by both Luke and Matthew can explain the array of data:

The 2DH accounts for the data … in a satisfactory manner. The hypothesis accounts for the fact that Matthew and Luke tend not to agree against Mark because both have used Mark independently. Hence, they sometimes take over from Mark the same wording and sequence (resulting in triple agreements); sometimes Matthew reproduces Mark and Luke chooses another order or wording; sometimes the reverse. But when Matthew and Luke both alter Mark, they rarely alter Mark’s wording in the same way and never agree in sequence against Mark. Even though both Matthew and Luke rearranged Mark, they transpose different Markan pericopae and the only pericope which both transpose (Mark 3:13-19) is not transposed in the same way. This is precisely what one ought to expect if Matthew and Luke used Mark independently. [2]

Despite Kloppenborg’s conclusion that this is “precisely what one ought to expect” from an independent use of Mark by the two later evangelists, we may wish to consider the issue further, for two theories can resolve the data. Consider that if Matthew did indeed conflate Mark and Luke, it becomes apparent from an evaluation of his text in this light that one of Matthew’s objectives was to rewrite the Gospel of Luke from both a theological and historical perspective. Matthew produced a more comprehensive version of the Gospel story, embracing much more of Mark than did Luke; he expanded upon many of Luke’s key traditions, but at the same time refocused the Jesus story within Jewish tradition and heritage while eliminating Luke’s universalism. Though Matthew is guided by the same ideological and literary objectives in his use of Mark and Luke, Mark is the primary source of Matthew’s narrative structure, while Luke is a secondary source from which additional materials are drawn and integrated with Mark. Within this apparent editorial context, it is not surprising that Matthew would not often display substantive agreements with Luke against Mark. Thus the pattern described by Kloppenborg does not suggest an independent use of Mark by Matthew and Luke to the exclusion of this alternate possibility.

The fact that Matthew often reproduces Mark closely when Luke does not, and departs from Mark when Luke follows Mark, is somewhat glossed over. This is not an insignificant problem for the 2DH since the theory is predicated upon Matthew and Luke’s unawareness of each other and of their mutual use of Mark. William Farmer draws attention to this textual pattern, highlighting it as evidence against the notion that Matthew and Luke could have used Mark independently:

When Matthew, Mark, and Luke do not all three agree in order…..either Matthew and Mark will agree, or Luke and Mark will agree. The point is that when Matthew and Mark are following the same order, but Luke exhibits a different order, the texts of Matthew and Mark tend to be very close to one another. And when Luke and Mark are following the same order, but Matthew exhibits a different order, the texts of Luke and Mark tend to be very close to one another. This is quite noticeable in the first half of Mark, and requires an explanation.

 

This phenomenon is especially difficult to explain on any hypothesis which presupposes Matthew and Luke independently copied Mark…. For since Matthew had no knowledge of Luke’s redactional use of Mark, there is no way he could have known to begin copying the text of Mark more closely where Luke’s order was different from that of Mark. Conversely, there is no way in which Luke could have known to begin copying the text of Mark more closely at the point where Mark’s order and that of Matthew departed from one another.[3]

 

It is as if Matthew and Luke each knew what the other was doing, and that each had agreed to support Mark whenever the other departed from Mark.  [4]

 Kloppenborg acknowledges in a footnote the difficulty posed by this phenomenon as it relates to Markan priority and the 2DH:

Farmer (1964:213) first formulated this argument as a corrective to Streeter’s assertion that “[t]he relative order of incidents and sections in Mark is in general supported by both Matthew and Luke; where either of them deserts Mark, the other is usually found supporting him” (1924:151). Focusing only on the second half of Streeter’s statement, Farmer correctly argues that alternating agreement with Mark constitutes a problem, not a support for Markan priority, since one would have to explain how Matthew could (nearly) always agree with Mark when Luke disagreed and vice versa.”[5]

To suggest that alternating agreement with Mark “constitutes a problem” for the 2DH is an understatement. Farmer holds the logical high ground when he states that this pattern is difficult to explain on any hypothesis which presupposes the independent use of Mark by the other two evangelists.

However, this is an awkward problem for all proposed solutions to the Synoptic Problem. On one hand, assuming Markan priority, the textual pattern itself indicates that the later of Matthew or Luke must have been aware of the earlier author’s use of Mark. If Matthew and Luke did not know each other’s work as the 2DH holds, there is a mystery as to how each could have departed from Mark only when the other did not. Though such a pattern could have occurred by random chance, the odds are heavily against it. Given enough time, a monkey on a keyboard will type Hamlet’s soliloquy, but it is not wise to base a theory on extreme improbabilities.

On the other hand, any solution proposing direct literary dependence among the three evangelists requires us to imagine a seemingly eccentric editorial procedure on the part of the third author. In the case of Markan posteriority, we must visualize Mark following Matthew and Luke when they were in agreement, and randomly alternating between the two when they diverged to no apparent purpose. In the case of Markan priority, we must envision the third evangelist examining the second’s use of Mark, and using it as an excuse either to follow or to stray from Mark.

At first glance, none of these scenarios appear to have much intuitive appeal. Thus, Q theorists tend to acknowledge the problem and move on without comment, while Griesbach theorists such as Farmer highlight it as evidence more easily resolved by Markan posteriority. As always, the central issue is that of plausible editorial procedure as Kloppenborg has indicated. Within the context of Matthean posteriority, the fact that Matthew does whatever Luke does not suggests that Matthew was motivated to compose a Gospel that was as original and unlike Luke as possible. This scenario is indeed plausible. Considered in this light, it becomes apparent that Matthew was composed in part as a corrective response to Luke. He disagreed with Luke’s omission of 50% of the Gospel of Mark, and wrote his own Gospel incorporating almost all of Mark. Matthew scanned Luke and incorporated many Lukan pericopae, but methodically recast them into Markan contexts, obliterating Luke’s in the process.

Moreover, Matthew deemphasized Luke’s universalist orientation, and instead rewrote the Jesus story to portray it as the inevitable and preordained historical fulfillment of Judaism. Yet in so doing, he also colored the story with broad political strokes. In Matthew’s dark vision, not only did Christianity constitute a fulfillment of Judaism, it was at the same time a repudiation of Judaism. Matthew casts the Jews as an immoral and corrupt people, while embracing and affirming the legitimacy of Rome. In Matthew, the transformation of the Jesus tradition from its original pro-Jewish roots to its ultimate pro-Roman manifestation reaches its climax.

Though Matthew has a similar scope in storyline as does Luke, the author was motivated to produce a thoroughly original Gospel, and one that looked as much unlike Luke as the material would allow. Matthew is often guided by a simple “not-Luke” approach—on occasions when Luke followed Mark, Matthew was motivated to diverge; whenever Luke diverged from Mark, Matthew felt free to follow Mark more closely. In the triple tradition, Matthew never takes over significant Lukan texts against Mark. In the double tradition, when Matthew is aware of earlier forms of Lukan sayings, he substitutes the earlier forms. When he is not, he edits them, or recontextualizes them, or both. When Matthew replicates Luke’s material with high verbal agreement, he always chooses to situate it differently relative to Mark. In most cases he scans, selects and reassembles Lukan sayings into radically different narrative contexts. Matthew rejects Luke’s infancy and genealogy texts, and replaces them with mythologies that are consistent with his own theological agenda. He discards Luke’s resurrection narrative and replaces it with a fulfillment of the Markan foreshadowing that Jesus would rejoin his disciples in Galilee.

On the other hand, Matthew does not ritualistically avoid every change Luke made to Mark. On many occasions, Matthew sees redactional improvements made by Luke and reproduces them, resulting in dozens of minor agreements with Luke against Mark (to be discussed further below). Of particular note Matthew agrees with Luke’s assessment that Mark 11:11 is superfluous; like Luke he omits it and compresses the Triumphal Entry and the Cleansing of the Temple into the same day. However, these changes notwithstanding, in every important respect Matthew’s Gospel was written with the intent to supersede both Mark and Luke in the depth and diversity of their Jesus traditions, and in their candid political embrace of Roman authority.  

Matthew’s conflation of Mark and Luke

Clearly, Matthew contains a great deal of material that exists in either Mark or Luke or both, and in using these two primary sources it is evident that his objective was to conflate them along with other materials into a more comprehensive Gospel. In the process, Matthew often combined fragments from both Mark and Luke in order to create his own narratives. One example of this is found in The Calling of the Twelve (Fig. 4.1). This sequence of eight verses in Matthew 9:35-10:4 is compiled from material found in chapters 3 and 6 of Mark, and chapters 6, 8, 9, and 10 of Luke.

Note that in Mark and Luke the identification of the twelve and the commissioning of the twelve are two separate pericopes. Matthew integrates them into a single literary unit that includes a preamble which begins at Matt 9:35. Though Q proponents allege that Luke 10:2 and its Matthean parallel were drawn from Q, the larger Matthean text cannot be interpreted as a conflation of Mark and Q. For Luke 8:1 and 9:1 have no parallels in Q, nor do the common changes that Matthew and Luke make to Mark’s list of the twelve. A simpler solution is that Matthew created his text by conflating elements from Mark and Luke.

The Calling of the Twelve is a dramatic but by no means isolated example of Matthew’s tendency to compose his text using fragments from Mark and Luke. The same creative process is apparent in The Beelzebul Controversy (Fig. 4.2), wherein Matthew’s version is constructed from a combination of elements found in Mark and Luke. Meanwhile Luke’s text is a blend of edited Markan elements with several complementary expansions woven into it.

Note that in the Beelzebul Controversy there is very little verbatim duplication between Mark and Luke. Matthew’s text, on the other hand, has been assembled from elements that are virtual verbatim duplications from both Mark and Luke. This is not unusual. As we shall see, the fact that Luke tends to paraphrase Mark while Matthew tends to replicate Mark and Luke is a recurring pattern. It will become relevant to the inquiry at hand.

4.1:  The Calling of the Twelve

 

Mark 6:6b

And he went about the villages teaching.

Mark 6:34

As he went ashore he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were

like sheep without a shepherd.

 


 

 

Mark 3:14-19

       14 And he appointed twelve to be with him, and to be sent out to preach and have authority to cast out demons: Simon, who he surnamed Peter James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he surnamed Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder, Andrew, and Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; and  4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Luke 8:1

Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God

 

Luke 10:2

And he said to them,  “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Luke 9:1b

And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases.

Luke 6:13-16

And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles; Simon, who he named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John and Philip and Bartholomew; and Matthew and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Matt 9:35-10:4

35And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity.

36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples,

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

10:1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over  unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity.

2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

 

Fig. 4.2:  The Beelzebul Controversy

 

Mark 3:22-27

 22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said,

“He is possessed by Beelzebul, and by the prince of demons he

casts out demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables,

 “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end.

 

 

 

 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man; then indeed he may plunder his house.

Luke 11:14-23

14 Now he was casting out a demon that was dumb; when the demon had gone out, the dumb man spoke, and the people marveled. 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons”; 16 while others, to test him, sought from him a sign from heaven.

17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. 18 And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 

 

 

23 He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.

Matt 12:22-30

22 Then a blind and dumb demoniac was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the dumb man spoke and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.”

25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand; 26 and if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man?  Then indeed he may plunder his house. 30 He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.

Matthew’s version of the Beelzebul Controversy is a straightforward integration of elements existing in Mark and Luke. How is this phenomenon to be explained if we are to assume Matthew was not aware of Luke? Advocates of the Q theory propose that two parallel traditions of the Beelzebul Controversy existed in Mark and Q respectively. Faced with these variant traditions in his two sources, Luke then did a remarkable thing: He freely paraphrased the material that appeared in Mark, while he copied verbatim just those elements in Q that had no Markan parallels. Meanwhile, the Q theory continues, though it appears that Matthew drew portions of his text from Luke, he actually took them from Q. Thus, we see verbatim replications between Matthew and Luke because both authors independently chose to reproduce this material from Q verbatim.

Though this explanation is not impossible, it does highlight an unspoken presupposition upon which the Q theory rests: Luke routinely paraphrases his Markan source; however, when he turns to his Q source he transforms himself into a copyist, duplicating Q for the most part without change. This “Jekyll and Hyde” editorial behavior of Luke is woven into the fabric of the Q hypothesis, for there is no other way to explain the high verbal agreements in the double tradition. The Beelzebul Controversy is but a snapshot of this editorial dichotomy.

The Calling of the Twelve and the Beelzebul Controversy are not the only Matthean texts that were assembled from elements in Mark and Luke. Other examples include False Christs and False Prophets (Fig. 4.3), the Sin against the Holy Spirit (Fig. 4.4), On Riches and Rewards of Discipleship (Fig. 4.5), and the Question about Fasting (Fig 4.6).

4.3:  False Christs and False Prophets

Mark 13:21-23

21 “And then if any one says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.         24 False Christs and false prophets will arise and show signs and wonders,           to lead astray, if possible,          the elect. 23 But take heed; I have told you all things beforehand.”

 

 

Luke 17:23-24

 

23 “And they will say to you, ‘Lo, there!’ or ‘Lo, here!’ Do not go, do not follow them.

24 For as the lightening flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of man be in his day.  Luke 17:37b:   “Where the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”

Matthew 24:23-28

23 “And then if any one says to you, ‘Lo, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 Lo, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Lo, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; if they say, ‘Lo, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightening comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man. 28 Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.

 

4.4:  The Sin against the Holy Spirit

 

Mark 3:28-29

“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter;

but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.

 

Luke 12:10

 

 “And every one who speaks a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”

 

Matthew 12:31-32

 “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or the age to come.

 
 

4.5   On Riches and the Rewards of Discipleship

Mark 10:23-31

23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to him, “Lo, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said,

 

“Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.  31 But many that are first will be last, and the last first.”

Luke 18:24-29a:

24 Jesus looking at him said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!

25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But he said,

 

28 And Peter said, “Lo, we have left our homes and followed you.” 29 And he said to them, “Truly I say to you

Luke 22:29-30

And I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Luke 18:29b-30

“…there is no man who has left his house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not receive manifold more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”

Matthew 19:23-30

23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When his disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

27 Then Peter said in reply, “Lo, we have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

 

29 And every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. 30 But many that are first will be last, and the last first.”

 

 

Fig 4.6:  The Question about Fasting

Mark 2:18-22

18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.

21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; if he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but new wine is for fresh skins.”

Luke 5:33-38

 33 And they said to him,

The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” 34 And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35 The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” 36 He told them a parable also: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it upon an old garment; if he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old 37 and no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed.38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.”

Matthew 9:14-17

14 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.

 

 16 And no one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. 17 Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; if it is, the skins will burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are        destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”

 

The key point to be made concerning the previous charts is this: The fact that Matthean texts exist that are conflations of material found in Mark and Luke is a phenomenon unique to Matthew. There is no similar array of texts in Luke that appear to have been composed from elements in Mark and Matthew. Yet if Luke had used Mark and Matthew, as Griesbach and Farrer-Goulder advocates maintain, we should be able to detect a similar pattern in Luke, at least to the degree that it is present in Matthew. Furthermore, if Matthew and Luke had independently drawn upon Mark and Q, it is a mystery how Matthew could routinely generate texts that appear to be conflations of Mark and Luke, while Luke could routinely avoid any indication of having conflated Mark and Matthew. The presence of this textual pattern in Matthew, and its corollary absence from Luke, lends additional weight to the theory of Matthean posteriority, and poses difficulties for all competing solutions to the Synoptic Problem.

The Minor Agreements

A third phenomenon in the Synoptic texts that indicates direct awareness between Matthew and Luke are the many editorial agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark, collectively referred to as the minor agreements. The question they raise is this: If Matthew and Luke used Mark independently, how did they come to make so many identical changes to Mark’s text? Some of the minor agreements are the result of common deletions by Matthew and Luke from Mark’s text; others occur when Matthew and Luke make the same additions or changes. There are dozens of examples of this phenomenon as the following samples illustrate:

4.7:  Salt of the Earth

 

Mark 9:50

Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its saltness,how will you season it?

Luke 14:34-35

Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? 

Matthew 5:13

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? 

 

4.8: The Cleansing of the Leper

 

Mark 1:40-41

If you will, you can make me clean.”  Moved with pity,  he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I will, be clean”

Luke 5:12-13

Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.”  ---------  And he stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, -----------------   “I will, be clean.”

Matthew 8:2-3

 Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” -----  And he stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, -----------------  “I will, be clean.”

 

 

4.9: Plucking Grain on the Sabbath


Mark 2:25

he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him; how he entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence . . .

Luke 6:3

Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him; how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence . . .

Matthew 12:3

He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him; how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence . . .

 

 

4.10:  Stilling the Storm


Mark 4:38

and they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?”

Luke 8:24

And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!

Matthew 8:25

And they went and woke him, saying, “Save, Lord, we are perishing!

 

 

 

4.11: New Wine in Old Wineskins

 

Mark 2:22

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but new wine is for fresh skins.

Luke 5:37-38

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed.  But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.

Matthew 9:17

Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; if it is the skins burst  and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed;  but new wine is put into fresh wineskins.


Everyone would agree that the minor agreements can be most easily explained by any theory that assumes a direct dependence between Matthew and Luke. Indeed the agreements sometimes appear in such high concentration that it is difficult to explain them any other way. For example, let us revisit The Calling of the Twelve (Fig. 4.1, p.96). As noted previously, this text is a conflation of elements from Mark and Luke by Matthew. Just in this short text there are seven agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark:  Mark says Jesus went about the villages, Matthew and Luke both say “cities and villages.” Mark says Jesus was teaching, Luke says he was preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and Matthew says he was teaching and preaching the gospel of the kingdom. Matthew and Luke both indicate that the disciples were given authority to heal disease, a concept not found in Mark; Matthew and Luke refer to the twelve as apostles, Mark does not; Mark lists Andrew fourth in the list while Matthew and Luke both move Andrew to second position; Matthew and Luke add the words his brother, in reference to Peter; both Matthew and Luke delete the phrase “whom he surnamed Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder.” Certainly any one or more of these changes could have been made independently by both authors seeking to improve Mark’s text. However, seven common alterations of Mark within seven verses is a sufficient concentration of agreements against Mark to justify an inference that the later of either Matthew or Luke was aware of the earlier author’s changes to Mark.

Though the minor agreements are a strong indication that either Matthew or Luke was aware of the other’s use of Mark, advocates of the Q theory argue that this evidence is not conclusive. They are well aware of the minor agreements, and have developed ideas about how they could have occurred without Luke and Matthew being aware of each other's work. Helmut Koester identifies the possibilities:

I shall argue . . . that many of the minor agreements between Matthew and Luke result from the fact that both Matthew and Luke used a text of Mark that was different from the text which is preserved in the manuscript tradition of the canonical Gospel of Mark.[6]

 

It is hardly possible to argue that all these minor agreements can be explained by the assumption that Matthew and Luke used a Markan text that differed from the one preserved in the canonical manuscript tradition. A large number of the minor agreements are due to common stylistic or grammatical corrections of the sometimes awkward Markan text or are caused by accidental common omissions. There is also the possibility that later scribes altered the text of Luke under the influence of the better-known text of Matthew, thus creating secondary agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark.[7]

Thus, in Koester’s view, the minor agreements exist due to a variety of factors including the use by Matthew and Luke of a different edition of the Gospel of Mark than the one we find in the NT. These rationalizations are not impossible. In essence, the agreements are dismissed as an odd array of coincidences and/or the result of the use of another hypothetical source. However, Koester’s appeal to a lost edition of Mark is driven by the need to resolve data that cannot be resolved by the 2DH in its simpler form. A note of caution is warranted here, for any problem can be solved by assuming the existence of a hypothetical solution. To posit that Matthew and Luke each used a lost Q source and an unknown edition of Mark amounts to quite a bit of conjectural theory. It grows cumbersome in light of the fact that a simpler solution is at hand.


[1] In its canonical form, 1 Timothy is not an authentic letter of Paul, although it may be an expansion on text that had, in part, originated with Paul. It appears to have been composed and attributed to Paul pseudonymously later in the first century, during the same time frame as the composition of Matthew and Luke.

[2] Kloppenborg, Excavating Q, p. 31, emphasis original

[3] Farmer, The Synoptic Problem, p. 218

[4] Ibid, p. 213

[5] Kloppenborg, Excavating Q, 27-8n

[6]  Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels., p. 129

[7]  Ibid., p. 275

From The Myth of the Lost Gospel, Evan Powell
Copyright (c) 2006, 2011