Wednesday, October 4, 2023

The Synoptic Problem (3)

We have been arguing that the order Matthew-Luke-Mark is the one that best comports with the earliest traditions of the church fathers. It is, in fact, what one would naturally expect seeing that Christianity spread from Jerusalem into Asia Minor and Greece and thence westward to Rome. Thus, there were two primary phases of the Gospels in the first century. 

But what did the early fathers say about Mark's Gospel? Here's a quick overview from my book:
  • In all cases, Peter is described as the person responsible for creating the text of Mark. Justin even said that Mark is nothing other than Peter's "memoirs."
  • Peter did not himself write down his gospel stories. He spoke them aloud to his Roman audience.
  • Peter's disciple Mark retrieved what Peter had spoken and did so at the request of Peter's enthusiastic audience.
  • The almost invariable use by the fathers of the Greek word hermēneutēs (Latin interpres) to describe Mark's function indicates that he was not the author in the normal sense but rather the "recorder" or "stenographer " of Peter. 
Incidentally, under this view, we can completely dispense with all hypothetical documents, not only "Q" but also "M" and "L." Luke wrote with full cognizance of the content of Matthew, and Mark wrote with the full cognizance of the content of both Matthew and Luke. All of this, of course, utterly fails to support the priority of Mark at any point.

More soon ....