Perspective on Robert L. Lindsey

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Dr. Robert L. Lindsey was born in Norman, Oklahoma in 1917. He earned a B.A. degree in Classical Greek at the University of Oklahoma, and concentrated in classical languages and biblical studies during his graduate career at Princeton School of Divinity and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Revised: 6-Sep-2012

Dr. Robert L. Lindsey was born in Norman, Oklahoma in 1917. He earned a B.A. degree in Classical Greek at the University of Oklahoma, and concentrated in classical languages and biblical studies during his graduate career at Princeton School of Divinity and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Lindsey first came to Israel in 1939, spending fifteen months acquainting himself with the country and people, and refining his knowledge of Hebrew. He returned to Israel to serve as pastor of the Narkis Street Baptist Congregation in Jerusalem from 1945-1952. After completing his doctorate in the United States in 1954, he resumed his work with the church in Israel, eventually coming back to the Baptist congregation in Jerusalem where he served until 1986.

Robert L. Lindsey

Lindsey’s discoveries became the foundation of a new school of New Testament thought—the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research. In “A New Solution to the Synoptic Problem,” David Bivin presents an overview of various attempts to solve the synoptic problem, focusing on Lindsey’s solution.

As an exegete and a former Wycliffe Bible translator, Randall Buth has a professional interest in synoptic research as it affects Bible translation. In addition to Buth’s review of Lindsey’s Jesus, Rabbi and Lord: A Lifetime’s Search for the Meaning of Jesus’ Words, in Buth’s “Pursuing Righteousness,” he critically examines a particular expression in Matthew 5:10, which Lindsey translated in a non-traditional way.

Joseph Frankovic reviews The Jesus Sources, a collection of lectures Lindsey delivered in Jerusalem about the interrelationship of the synoptic gospels.

Robert L. Lindsey

One outgrowth of Lindsey’s research has been a unique concordance of the synoptic gospels, A Comparative Greek Concordance of the Synoptic Gospels (3 vols., 1989). In his review article, Steven Notley explains the significance of this concordance and provides examples of its usefulness.

Professor David Flusser of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has long espoused Lindsey’s synoptic theory. Flusser’s research on the synoptic gospels is based on Lukan priority, and he teaches his students “Lindseyan” theory.

Here are some of Flusser’s remarks from his published works about Lindsey’s contribution to synoptic studies:

From Yahadut u-Mekorot Hanatsrut [Judaism and the Sources of Christianity] (Tel Aviv, 1979), p. 31:

Lindsey’s approach, therefore, opens a window that allows us to get closer to the original version of the life and sayings of Jesus.

From the foreword to Lindsey’s A Hebrew Translation of the Gospels of Mark (Jerusalem, 1973), p. 1:

…It seems clear that Lindsey’s observations have provided a decisive new clue to the understanding of the Synoptic relationships and an equally important clue to the right approach to the Gospel of Mark.

…The advantage of Lindsey’s theory is that it accepts the view that back of our extant Gospels lie two main sources and that a pattern of interdependence between our actual Synoptic works exists as well. This delineation of sources has, as far as I know, never been proposed.

From “A Literary Approach to the Trial of Jesus” in Judaism and the Origins of Christianity (Jerusalem, 1988), p. 588:

Without a serious literary analysis of the first three Gospels it is impossible to know what was probably written in the ancient Christian sources which are behind them.… I accept the [synoptic] theory of Robert Lindsey…it is important that Lindsey has shown that the Synoptic Gospels are based upon an old account which was known both to Matthew and Luke, and that Mark has completely rewritten his sources. Another point of Lindsey’s theory is that Matthew used both the old account and Mark.

This article originally appeared in issue 32 of the Jerusalem Perspective magazine. Click on the image above to view a PDF of the original magazine article.

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  • David N. Bivin

    David N. Bivin
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    David N. Bivin is founder and editor of Jerusalem Perspective. A native of Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.A., Bivin has lived in Israel since 1963, when he came to Jerusalem on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to do postgraduate work at the Hebrew University. He studied at the Hebrew…
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