Discuss about the Religious Studies for Synoptic Problem?
Religious Studies for Synoptic Problem
The Synoptic problem
When a comparison is made of the three Gospels, Mathew, Mark and Luke, it cannot be mistaken that all of these accounts are alike in expression and content. For this reason, they are called "Synoptic Gospels" (Abakuks, 2012). The meaning of the word ‘synoptic’ is “viewing together with a similar view”. The problem concerned with the explanation of the similarities and differences between the three gospels is referred to as the Synoptic Problem. The similarity of these three Synoptic Gospels has led some people to think that the authors of all of these had got their raw materials from a common source (Keener, 2014). This source is considered to be another written account of Jesus Christ's Birth, life, death and resurrection. This universal source has been named as ‘Q’ and has been derived from the German word quelle, meaning ‘source'. But till now, no evidence has been found for the existence of a ‘Q'. The fathers of the early church have never been found to mention of a source of the gospels. ‘
The Four Source Hypothesis
There are four types of similarities that are possible between the Synoptics. First, all there are many similarities between the three Synoptics. Second, there are some similarities found in Luke and Matthew, which are absent in Mark. Third, there are points of similarity between Luke and Mark which cannot be found in Matthew. Fourth, some similarities are also present Mark and Matthew, which are not to be found in Luke. Some scholars argue that the authors must have used each other's Gospels or a common source for structuring their own Gospel. The similarities between the three synoptic Gospels cannot be simply explained by the description of the same events (MacEwen, 2015). The peculiarities of the language, expression and grammar point towards the idea that the writers of these Gospels used the other Synoptics as the source materials. There is a possibility that no matter which Gospel was composed first, it could be accessed by the other writers.
Throughout early Christian history, it has been claimed that Matthew was the oldest of the Gospels. Mark was thought to be a later and shortened version of the basic idea. However, in the modern era, most of the scholars agree that Mark was composed first among the Gospels. There were many reasons for such assumptions. First, there were many literary, grammatical, geographical and historical errors in Mark, which are not there in Matthew. There appears to be no reason for Mark to introduce these errors. But it is easy to understand why Matthew and Luke corrected those mistakes. Second, there are obscure episodes in Mark’s Gospels which are completely unavailable in Matthew. It is hard to understand the reason for Mark to introduce these episodes if it were composed later than Matthew. But the reason for the omission of these chapters in Matthews is understandable.
Passages in the New Testament quoting Greco-Roman sources
There are many passages in the New Testament which quote Pagan sources. Four of them have been discussed here.
In the letters of Paul and the recorded speeches, there are many references to the Pagan Culture. When Paul tries to impress Festus, the procurator, he quotes a line from one of the plays of Aeschylus-“It is hard for you to kick against the goads” in Acts chapter 26, verse 13 (Geisler, 2014).
To spark a discussion at Areopagus, Paul used two quotes of Pagan origin in Acts chapter 17, verse 28- “In him we live and move and have our being”. The poem Cretica has this phrase, written by Epimenides (Brown, 2015).
Paul also uses some pagan quote in the epistles (Dodd, 2013). In Cornithian Chapter 15, verse 33, Paul quotes from Aiolos, a play written by Euripedes-“Bad Company ruins good morals.”
Paul gives a warning to Titus in Titus chapter 1, verse 12, about the immoralities of the people of Crete with whom Titus is living- “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.”
The synoptic problem isn't a big problem as some scholars think of it. They may have been influenced by one another or inspired by a common ‘Holy Spirit' and may have all been written based on the same set of events.
There are at least four passages in the New Testament which quote Greco-Roman sources.
Abakuks, A. (2012). The synoptic problem: on Matthew's and Luke's use of Mark. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society), 175(4), 959-975.
Brown, R. E. (2015). An introduction to the New Testament. Yale University Press.
Dodd, C. H. (2013). The Present Task in New Testament Studies. Cambridge University Press.
Geisler, N. L. (2014). A popular survey of the New Testament. Baker Books.
Keener, C. S. (2014). The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. InterVarsity Press.
MacEwen, R. K. (2015). Matthean Posteriority: An Exploration of Matthew's Use of Mark and Luke as a Solution to the Synoptic Problem. Bloomsbury Publishing.