In the previous article of this series Halvor Ronning examined the statistics of verbal identities involved in comparisons between materials shared by all three Synoptic Gospels (Triple Tradition). Now in Part Two Ronning will bring into consideration the statistics pertaining to materials shared in only two Synoptic Gospels (Double Tradition). Ronning wiargues that the consistency with which an author treats his sources is a major clue for determining the order of Synoptic dependence.
“A Statistical Approach to the Synoptic Problem,” a new series on Jerusalem Perspective by Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research member Halvor Ronning, aims to contribute to the body of empirical data that must be accounted for by any viable theory that attempts to describe the interrelationships between the Synoptic Gospels. To that end, Halvor Ronning has developed and adapted several new methods of quantifying and testing synoptic hypotheses which will be described and applied in “A Statistical Approach to to the Synoptic Problem.”
The July issue of The Church Quarterly Review in 1922 contained an article by William Lockton in which the author challenged the scholarly consensus concerning the solution to the Synoptic Problem. This important study, which is now in the public domain, was later to be of great importance to Rev. Dr. Robert L. Lindsey as further confirmation of Lindsey’s growing conviction that the Gospel of Mark is a highly edited epitome of the Gospel of Luke.
In this article, Dr. Robert Lindsey discusses the importance of the so-called “minor agreements” of Luke and Matthew against Mark for properly understanding the interrelationship of the Synoptic Gospels. David N. Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton collaborated with Lauren Asperschlager to bring this article, which previously existed only as an unfinished draft, to Jerusalem Perspective subscribers.
This excursus, which is a work in progress, is an attempt to identify and collect certain redactional words and phrases characteristic of the editorial style of the author of Mark’s Gospel, specifically the “Markan stereotypes” (words that appear with unusually high frequency in Mark) and “Markan pick-ups” (words that the author of Mark borrowed from other sources). We will continue to add to the catalog as further Markan pick-ups and Markan stereotypes are identified in the course of our research for “The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction.”
Despite the popularity of the modern suggestion that the Synoptic Gospels are the end result of several decades of oral transmission, the internal evidence indicates that this is not the case. Dozens of pericopae in Matthew and Luke translate to Hebrew so easily and so idiomatically that we must conclude that the Synoptic Gospels are the result of literary transmission.
The Gospel of Mark was never popular in the Greek-speaking Hellenistic church. Papias, the mid-second-century bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, was the first church father to mention the Gospel and his statement was probably dictated by the general criticism voiced against Mark by the early Greek readers of the Gospel: “Mark,” Papias says, “did no wrong in writing down the things [he had only heard Peter say].”
In 1959 I found myself attempting to study the Greek text of the Gospel of Mark with a view to translating it to modern Hebrew. The rather strange Greek of Mark, the Hebraic word-order, and the impossibility of rendering to Hebrew some of the special Markan Grecisms (like καὶ εὐθύς and πάλιν, which have no ancient Hebrew equivalents) left me wondering what kind of literary creation we have in this fascinating book.
Careful analysis shows that a Hebraic source ultimately stands behind the Synoptic Gospels and that this source is best preserved in Luke. Luke’s version of the Preparations for Eating Passover Lamb preserves details—such as Jesus taking the initiative to send the two disciples, commanding the disciples to prepare the lamb, and using Hebraic idiom—that fit the cultural context of first-century Judaism.
It has been noted that in instances where Mark’s editorial hand restructured his story, Luke has preserved a more primitive form of the account, a form that is independent of Mark’s influence. Gospel scholars need to properly evaluate Mark’s editorial style and acknowledge that frequently a theological agenda influenced his rewriting.
Mark’s placement of Jesus’ “no longer dared” comment is very awkward: first, because the comment comes in the middle of a lovefest between Jesus and a scribe; and second, because the comment immediately follows Jesus’ appreciation of the scribe’s wisdom: “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
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