Tag Archives: Mark

The Two Source Hypothesis: Quelle (Q Source) Part I

As any educator can testify to, when the work of two students is so similar (often verbatim), we naturally suspect copying is going on. More often than not, one student copies the work of another and so it then becomes our task to investigate and pinpoint the origins. Less often the case is that both students shared the same source and copied the same section out verbatim. It’s less likely for obvious reasons, what are the chances two students working independently from one another managed to stumble across the same source and then copied the same sections of that source? But it is precisely this, that many scholars think, has happened with Matthew and Luke. The material shared between Matthew and Luke (DT material) that is not found in Mark share the same phenomenon that the TT material has. This double tradition material is almost word-for-word agreement. Here we will investigate the evidence for the solution scholars propose to explain why many of the stories Matthew and Luke share (that are not found in Mark) are so close in wording. Continue reading

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The Synoptic Problem: Part II

Part II

Redactional Fatigue 

In Part I we covered what scholars mean by “The Synoptic Problem” and laid out the data we’re dealing with, namely the Triple Tradition (TT) material, where Markan priority was explained in a little detail. From here on we will be detailing the more intricate and important evidence for Markan priority, i.e. Mark was the first gospel and both Matthew and Luke coped, often verbatim, from Mark. Continue reading

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“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

A common theme among the gospels is to cloak their narrative in Hebrew bible narrative. There is good reason for this as we shall see. But first let us look at one of the greatest examples this, and it comes from Mark and Matthew:

After Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified, Jesus is treated reprehensibly. He’s spat on, and he’s naked since people were casting lots for his clothing, his disciples flee and he’s dying in loneliness. Mark especially, is not shy about showing these details. And as the story progresses, climaxing at Jesus’ death, his isolation grows. By the time he reaches the cross, he has been abandoned by all his friends, condemned by all human agencies, and now he feels himself abandoned even by God himself and then he utters his only words from the cross in Mark and Matthew; the opening phrase from Psalms 22:1 “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani” and the author translates that for us as, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” As it turns out, this is not the only phrase borrowed from the Hebrew bible… Note how many times Jesus’ Passion narrative overlaps with what we find in the Psalms, Isaiah etc.:

34, wine mingled with gall: allusion to Ps 69:21
35, division of garments: borrowing from Ps 22:18
38, death between robbers: possible allusion to Isa 53:12
39, passers-by wag their heads: cf. Ps 22:7; Lam 2:15
39-40, mockery: borrowing from Ps 22:7 (cf. 109:25)
43, mockery: borrowing from Ps 22:9
44, mockery: possible borrowing from Ps 22:7 or 69:9
45, darkness at noon: allusion to Am 8:9
46, cry from the cross: borrowing from Ps 22:1
48, vinegar to drink: allusion to Ps 69:21
51—3, earthquake and resurrection: use of Ezek 37; Zech 14:4-5

Go ahead, read it for yourself (Mark 15; Matthew 27) and you will see just how cleverly they have woven Hebrew bible narrative into their telling of the Passion of Jesus. This almost certainly casts doubt on the historicity of the account; the authors are just retelling the stories in Psalms only about Jesus as the protagonist! But why would they do such a thing?

The solution is simple—and like the truncated result of derivative mathematics—simply beautiful. Mark also has to deal with the fact that Jews were never expecting, or going to accept, a suffering messiah (especially one who was mocked, spat on etc.). Paul tells us that a suffering messiah was a σκανδαλον (skandalon) or stumbling block for the Jews (1 Corinthians 1:23). And so, by weaving in Hebrew bible narrative, Mark seems to be trying to show that God intended these things to befall Jesus after all. A Christ crucified was the plan all along!


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The Synoptic Problem: Part I

Part I

Markan Priority

The Synoptic Problem, in short, is the attempt to explain the similarities and differences between the gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In many places these three gospels are so close in wording, often verbatim stretches of large portions, that common oral tradition cannot account for three separate authors writing independently from one another. So scholars assume some type of literary dependence between the three. The problem we are trying to solve? Who copied from whom? The term “synoptic” comes from the Greek, σύν (syn ”together”) and ὄψις (opsis ”view”) since they can be viewed side-by-side and compared as they contain many of the same stories in a similar chronology. Continue reading


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The Gospel According to Mark: A Passion Narrative with an Extended Introduction?


Gospels, Opening of Mark's Gospel, Walters Man...

Opening of Mark’s Gospel, Walters Manuscript

The Gospel According to Mark has long been described as a passion narrative with an extended introduction.[1] This view has been repeated by an innumerable amount of scholars and no doubt is derived from the significant part the Passion narrative plays in Mark. Continue reading

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