An Introduction to Synoptic Studies

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The late Dr. Robert Lindsey, pioneer translator of the Gospels into modern Hebrew, synoptic researcher and pastor of Jerusalem's Narkis Street Congregation, resided in Israel for over forty years. His discoveries challenge many conclusions of New Testament scholarship from the past two hundred years. Lindsey created a new approach to the study of the Synoptic Gospels. Here, Lindsey provides an introduction to the field of synoptic studies and the “Synoptic Problem.”

Revised: 27 March 2014

Sources for the Gospels[1]

Without the Gospels, little would be known of the way Jesus lived and taught. Although there are a few references to Jesus in the writings of ancient Greek and Latin historians such as Tacitus, Pliny and Josephus, the only sources of consequence for his life and teachings are the letters and tractates of the New Testament.

A Jewish Book

Our information about Jesus thus depends upon the writings of members of a first-century Jewish sect. All the original members of this sect were Jews, as were almost all the writers of the New Testament. Although its earliest known form is in the Greek language, the New Testament is a thoroughly Jewish book. It is full of ideas, idioms, and thought and language forms that are so completely Semitic that Christians reading from the Old Testament to the New Testament have invariably felt that they were continuing a single story.

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Editor’s note: For further discussion of whether it is possible to identify the first and third Gospel writers, see Robert L. Lindsey, “Unlocking the Synoptic Problem: Four Keys for Better Understanding Jesus”; Lindsey, A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark (2d; Jerusalem: Dugith Publishers, 1973), 9-65 (in the same volume, see the Foreword written by David Flusser, pp. 1-8); Lindsey, ed., A Comparative Greek Concordance of the Synoptic Gospels (3 vols.; Jerusalem: Dugith Publishers, 1985-1989), 1:V-XV; and “Book Review: Robert Lindsey’s A Comparative Greek Concordance of the Synoptic Gospels,” R. Steven Notley’s review of Lindsey’s synoptic concordance. — DNB

  • [1] Lindsey’s series of articles on the Synoptic Problem originally appeared in issues 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 22 of Jerusalem Perspective magazine. They have been combined here (and slightly rearranged) for the reader’s convenience.
  • Robert L. Lindsey [1917-1995]

    Robert L. Lindsey [1917-1995]

    Robert L. Lindsey (1917-1995; B.A., University of Oklahoma, Th.M., Princeton Theological Seminary, Th.M. and Ph.D., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) was the long-time pastor of Jerusalem's Narkis Street Congregation. His research on the Synoptic Gospels led to the creation of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research.…
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