Sunday, September 3, 2017

Interaction With The Synoptic Problem

  • Why Do The Four Gospels Contain Differences?:
          -The reasons for the differences between the gospel accounts is not that they disapproved of each other's content. Rather, they were writing with a slightly different theological emphasis or intended audience. Matthew, for example, wrote mostly to Jews. Luke is more accessible to Gentiles. There were differences in reporting, which is only natural for reporters as they have biases and different perspectives. There were different points of emphasis. There is nothing wrong with choosing not to include certain content. John himself wrote, "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25). That is a hyperbolic way of saying Jesus Christ said and did many things, certain details were included while others were not. If the material of the four gospels was a fabrication, then we should expect very few dissimilarities in reporting. If the four gospels were exactly the same in terms of content, then there would be no need to have more than one narrative of the life of Christ.
  • On The Q Source Hypothesis:
          -This is a hypothetical source of the original teachings of Jesus Christ and proposed by scholars in an attempt to account for similarities in Matthew and Luke's written material. This Q document has not been discovered, but that does not necessarily mean it did not exist. It is a hypothetical idea, and, if it did exist, remains separate from the four gospels themselves. They, not some speculative reconstruction, are to remain our primary source for the life and teachings of Christ. Interestingly, early writers such as Jerome never spoke of a source that is today called a Q document. The general theological message of the Bible is not to be sacrificed in the name of some historical critical method. There may have been sources akin to Q, but that does not prove such a hypothesis to be correct. Nor does it follow that we can reliably reconstruct what they would have looked like. 
  • The Gospel According To Matthew: 
          -The Gospel of Matthew was written for the purpose of convincing Jews that Jesus Christ is their promised Messiah and legitimate King. Matthew's narrative contains more quotations from the Old Testament, demonstrating in greater detail how Jesus fulfilled prophecies than any of the other three gospel accounts. It also traces His ancestral lineage from King David. In addition, Matthew utilizes language from the Old Testament that the Jewish people would have been more comfortable with hearing. For example, Peter is said to have called Christ the Son of the living God in Matthew 16:16. That is distinctly Jewish terminology. This gospel has a decidedly Jewish flavor to it and places a special emphasis on the kingdom of God. Matthew likely gleaned material from Mark's gospel without source attribution as well as circulated oral traditions concerning the life of Christ. This way of borrowing ideas from other authors in writing a text is consistent with what we know about authorship at this time.
  • The Gospel According To Mark:
          -The Gospel of Mark was originally directed to Gentile Christians, most particularly those who were thriving in the midst of persecution under the Roman Empire. Terms such as "census" (Mark 12:14) and "denarius" (Mark 12:15) are consistent with such an audience. This short biographical narrative of our Lord Jesus Christ was written for the purposes of building up the faith of fellow brethren and teaching what it really means to be a disciple. In this narrative, Christ seemingly keeps His true identity hidden and reveals Himself as the Son of Man. That title emphasizes His humility. His character is a point of consideration in this narrative. As does Matthew's gospel, this one emphases Peter's confession of faith in Christ as the Messiah (Mark 8:27-9:1). Tradition has it that Mark was a companion of the Apostle Peter and wrote a narrative based on his eyewitness testimony. He was reputed by Paul to be of benefit in ministry (Colossians 4:10). This gospel has no birth narrative of Christ or list of descendants. It records several miracles that He did. Roughly ninety percent of this gospel is found in Matthew. Roughly fifty percent is found in Luke's gospel. Matthew and Luke may have taken Mark's narrative and expounded further on it.
  • The Gospel According To Luke:
          -The Gospel of Luke strives to bring into light "all that Jesus began to do and teach" (Acts 1:1-2). It was intended to be an accurate, organized narrative that gives readers certainty regarding the teachings and events surrounding Jesus Christ (Luke 1:1-4). The composition is concise. The Greek style is of a superior quality. Luke undoubtedly had access to Mark's gospel as well as other written and oral sources. Moreover, this book oftentimes records details that were omitted in the other canonical gospel narratives. Consider, for instance, the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and the Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14). This chronicle which was authored by a Gentile physician and historian named Luke presents Christ as showing compassion to all people of different societal classes. The point being made is that Jesus did not come just to save the Jews, but also Gentiles who turn to Him in faith and repentance. This gospel places a special emphasis on woman that is unique for its time. French critic Joseph Ernest Renan said that this book was the most beautiful one ever written. "The ancient opinion, that Luke wrote his Gospel under the influence of Paul, rests on the authority of Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, and Eusebius. The two first assert that we have in Luke the Gospel preached by Paul ; Origen calls it " the Gospel quoted by Paul," alluding to Rom. ii.16; and Eusebius refers Paul's words, "according to my Gospel" (2 Tim. ii. 8), to that of Luke, in which Jerome concurs. The language of the preface is against the notion of any exclusive influence of St. Paul. The four verses could not have been put at the head of a history composed under the exclusive guidance of Paul or of any one apostle, and as little could they have introduced a gospel simply communicated by another." (William Smith, A Dictionary Of the Bible Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History, p. 492)
  • The Gospel According To John:
          -Rather than providing us with a chronological listing of the major events that took place during the earthly life of Jesus Christ, the purpose of the Gospel of John is to reinforce His divinity. It speaks of Christ as the eternal Logos who took on flesh and dwelt among us (John 1). Therefore, it would not have been suitable for John to provide an account of His earthly birth or a genealogy. This gospel has a unique purpose and scope when compared to the other three gospels. It was written to bring about the conversion of souls to Christianity through the recording of Christ's miracles (John 20:30-31). This book has been reputed by many to be the evangelistic gospel. The Gospel of John occupies metaphors such as "bread of life," "born again," and "living water," none of which can be found in the other three gospels. It is very much distinct from the synoptic gospels (i.e. Matthew, Mark, and Luke). The Gospel of John places a unique emphasis on the miracles of Christ and the nature of truth.

1 comment:

Justin Horn said...

Love the article Jesse. At first glance i thought you would be addressing supposed contradictions like how many women were at the tomb. I think i covered that supposed contradiction on my blog.