Discussseveral distinct responses to the diversity of the synoptic gospels’presentations of Jesus’ ministry that range from bruteharmonization to radical skepticism regarding their synoptic nature.
Diversityof the synoptic gospels
TheSynoptic gospels refer to the first three books in the New Testament,which include Mark, Luke, and Mathew. The content in the in the booksis based on Jesus, but it has a slight difference that indicates thatthe authors covered the topic independently. However, the three booksare significantly dissimilar from John’s Gospel in various thingssuch as a timeline, material covered, John’s distinctive coverageof the Jesus’ life and ministry, as well as the language used. Thehigh similarity observed in the first three books of the NewTestament led to the development of a heated debated the BibleScholars dubbed the “the synoptic problem”. The term Synopticmeans “viewing together” or “comparing”. Many theologyscholars have coined theories attempting to create a reason the threebooks addresses the life of Jesus, his miracles, and teachings in aslightly different way.
Themost common theory that explains the difference observed in thesynoptic gospels is the Marcan priority, which claims that Mark’sgospel is the oldest. The content in the literature, in collaborationwith additional sources, was then used in writing the subsequentGospels. Bible scholars have advanced the theory using diverseexplanations (McKnight et al. 8).
The“Two-Source hypothesis” (2SH) is one of the advanced hypothesesthat attempt to explain the variation of the gospels. The hypothesisclaims that the similarities and differences observed Matthew andLuke’s gospel were derived from the Mark’s older gospel, as wellas an imaginary collection of Christian Oral tradition sayings knownas Q (McKnight et al. 10). The theory surfaced in the nineteenthcentury. In 1924, B.H. Streeter added that the similarities anddifferences observed in the Gospels of Mathew and Luke was becauseboth literatures derived information from two additional sources hecalled M and L respectively. A key strength of the hypothesis isbased on the common and non-common shared by the three gospels.Several scholars have advanced the basic of this theory throughdiverse observation of the information found in the literature(McKnight et al. 12).
Conversely,the Farrer-Goulder hypothesis asserts that Mark’s Gospel is theoldest, and then followed by the Matthew and Luke’s gospelsrespectively. Austin Farrer advanced the hypothesis in 1955 (McKnightet al. 13).
In1964, William Farmer introduced the two-gospel hypothesis, whichasserts that the Gospel of Matthew was written first. The Gospel ofLuke, and then the Gospel of Mark seconded it. The theory wasformerly called “Griesbach hypothesis” because he expanded agreat deal of it. The philosophy is the strongest alternative fromthe 2SH (McKnight et al. 27).
Inanother theory, Johann Jakob Griesbach advanced the 2-Gospel theoryproposed by Augustine to show that Matthew’s Gospel came waswritten first. The Gospel of Luke and Mark then followed itrespectively. On the contrary, the Jewish and Hebrews-Christiansbelieved that Evangelist Mathew wrote the Gospel of Matthew first.Evangelist Mark and Luke wrote the Mark and Luke’s gospel at secondand third positions respectively (McKnight et al. 16).
RobertLindsey invented the Jerusalem School Hypothesis as one of thesynoptic problem solutions. The Bible scholar claimed that both theMatthew and Mark gospels were based on preexisting texts that arepresently lost. The theorist claims that Luke was derived from anearly Gospel renowned as “the Reconstruction (R) of the Life ofJesus”. In addition, Luke integrated the anthology with additionalinformation he acquired from another anthology. However, the Book ofMathew and Mark slightly differ from Luke because they did not usethe information in the literature one on one.
ManyBible scholars have identified evidence that harmonizes the synopticproblem. One of the supporting information includes the fact thatthere are many parables found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but theyare missing in the Gospel of John. Conversely, John’s gospelcontains some parables that are conspicuously missing in the otherthree gospels. The similarity of content in the first three gospelsis then in harmony. The Bible scholars claim that the content in thebooks tend to appear in distinct flow and chronological recordsbecause ancient people were not keen on maintaining such information.For example, Mark 5:1 and Matthew 8:28 refer to the city in the sameplace under different names. Mark calls the city Gerasenes whileMatthew calls it Gadarenes (McKnight et al. 44).
Researchersalso claim that the synoptic gospel’s synoptic content isharmonized because it is based on preexisting books that are eitherunknown to the humans or that are already lost. In addition, thegospel authors arranged the content depending on the topic instead offollowing the chronology of event occurrence. For example, bothMatthew chapters 8 and 9 contain all the miracles Jesus throughouthis life in the ministry. Jesus had conducted the miracles over athree-year-term. Thus, Mathew’s compilation is necessitated byclassification of related information based on topic relevance(McKnight et al. 49).
Theother common reason synoptic gospels are harmonized is the fact theauthors interpreted, condensed, and translated the teachings andactions of Jesus Christ. The Gospels were initially written in Greekwhile Jesus probably preached in Aramaic. This probably caused theslight language difference. Several scholars have used this reasoningin explaining the reason similar sayings are worded differently. Inaddition, determining the source and the end of a quote in the Biblecan be challenging because the authors had to compress long teachings(McKnight et al. 51).
Lastly,the authors were selective when determining the information toinclude in the gospels. This explains the reason some informationthat can be found in the Gospel of Luke could be missing in theGospel of Mark. Individual authors had the absolute independence ofskipping out some content they believe was not crucial orcomplementary to their topics. For instance, the Gospels of Matthewand Luke give account of a couple of Garasene demonics. However, theGospel of Mark concentrates one demonic event. In addition, chapterstwenty and eighteen of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke respectivelyaddresses two different encounters of Jesus with blind persons(McKnight et al. 53). However, the Gospel of Mark recounts of onlyone of the occasions.
Whatpresuppositions about truth (world v
Presuppositionsabout the truth
ThroughoutJesus’ ministry, many presuppositions happened. For example, inMatthew Chapter three and verse fourteen, John the Baptist askedJesus, “Ihave need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" Somepeople thought that John the Baptist could have been the Messiah thatProphet Isaiah had foretold his coming. However, John’s statementand reverence of Jesus’ decision to be baptized indicates that Johnalready knew that he was the eagerly awaited expected Messiah.Besides, the statement indicates that Jesus had more power than Johndid. In addition, he would deliver the Israelites in a better anddifferent way from the baptism that John emphasized.
Immediatelyafter John baptized Jesus, the Heaves opened, and the Holy Spiritdescended on Jesus in the form of a dove. Besides, a voice from theHeavens declared, “"This is My beloved Son, in whom I amwell-pleased." The fact that John had informed Jesus that he wasthe who was supposed to seek cleansing from him, and he was notworthy baptizing him, presupposes that he already knew that Jesus wasthe Messiah even before he began preaching, and the voice from Heavenconfirmed it.
Onthe same note, John, the Baptist probably knew that the Heavens wouldendorse Jesus as the chosen Messiah for delivering the world. Thiscan be proven by the fact that he even proposed swapping positionswith Jesus such that he would instead seek his deliverance other thanbaptizing him. However, Jesus answered, "Permitit at this time for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill allrighteousness (Matt3: 15)." His response indicates that the suffering, themiracles, and other accomplishments Jesus attained on earth were allpre-planned by God. Besides, John knew that Jesus would deliver theworld using the Holy Spirit instead of taking a political approach asmany persons expected.
Lastly,John’s statement, `Heupon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, thisis the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit (John1:33)` indicates that God had chosen him to Baptize and declareJesus, the Son of God who would start delivering persons with theHoly Spirit instead of water. Similarly, the statement presupposesthat Jesus was not a human being since he pre-existed. Godreincarnated him as a human being so that he could deliver theIsraeli’s from the suffering, oppression, and bad leadership theywere undergoing under the Roman regime.
McKnight,Scot, John Riches, William R. Telford, and Christopher M. Tuckett.TheSynoptic Gospels.Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001. Print.