Here are a few points to ponder as we think about the Synoptic Problem.
1. The early church was unanimous that our earliest Gospel was not Mark's but Matthew's.
2. Clement of Alexandria stated that the Gospels containing the genealogies (Matthew and Luke) came first.
3. Matthew has always been the church's foundational Gospel and the most important. It was composed to meet the urgent needs of the primitive church of Jerusalem, which needed a manifesto defending its integrity and its right to exist alongside of Judaism.
4. Luke, on the other hand, was written at the request of Paul to meet the no-less urgent need of his Gentile churches to have their own manifesto to prove their full equality with Jewish Christians.
NOTE: In my book Why Four Gospels? I use the term "manifesto" intentionally. A manifesto is "a public declaration of principles, policies, or intentions, especially of a political nature, proclaiming certain opinions and motives in reference to some act or course of conduct done or contemplated." Think, for example, of the Communist Manifesto or the Feminist Manifesto. Matthew and Luke were no less revolutionary.
"Why Mark?" will be the topic of our next post.