>Subject: definition of the synoptic problem
>Sent: 2/10/98 11:39 AM
>Received: 2/10/98 11:10 PM
>From: Brian E. Wilson, brian@...
>Stephen Carlson suggested -
>>The synoptic problem is an inquiry into the existence and nature of the
>>literary relationship between the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
>Edgar Krentz commented -
>>Good succinct definition. I would add "and the investigation of
>>reconstructed non-surviving sources."
Brian Wilson contributes -
>I think that the following is a fair and objective definition of the
>synoptic problem -
>"The synoptic problem is to put forward a hypothesis of the links
>between the synoptic gospels which is compatible with all the
>similarities and differences observable in them."
>This leaves room for any type of hypothesis to be put forward, and for
>each one to be assessed.
Bill Pinard responds -
My definition of the synoptic problem: The four gospel accounts of Matthew-Mark-Luke-John are synoptic testimonies which comprise what is commonly called the Gospel of Christ. Synoptic means eye-to-eye. The synoptic problem is the disagreement found between the four gospel accounts, with the crux of the problem being their conflicting chronologies, their disordinate arrangement of dramatic events, and a general confusion surrounding the over-all gospel narrative.
Wm. R. Farmer in THE SYNOPTIC PROBLEM: ³A Critical Analysis² (pp.1-6) states, ³In the eighteenth century the central problem facing the student of the Gospels was that of chronology. True chronology was regarded as essential for true history. The conflicting chronologies of the four canonical Gospels cast doubt in the minds of thinking men concerning the reliability of these documents as trustworthy witnesses....The older type of Gospel `harmonies¹ designed to reconcile the accounts of all four Gospels were replaced by a new type of Gospel `parallel,¹ where no attempt was made to include the Gospel of John, except where in isolated instances there was some evidence of a close connection between John and one or more of the other three. This reflected a consciousness that Matthew, Mark, and Luke were more closely related to one another than they were to John. The most famous and influential of these new Gospel parallels was that of Griesbach, published 1774-1775...In the beginning of [Griesbach¹s parallel], which in its successive editions was to become a handbook for subsequent scientific investigators, Griesbach confessed to `the heresy¹ of doubting the possibility of harmonizing even the closely related but conflicting chronologies of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In other words, Griesbach¹s harmony, if a harmony at all, was a harmony to end harmonization. Henceforth, those [synoptic scholars] who followed in his footsteps would no longer seek to reconcile the conflicting chronologies of the Gospels, but rather would seek to understand the relationships between the Gospels in terms of their direct literary dependence, or in terms of their indirect literary dependence through the mutual use of earlier hypothetical sources.²
From "The Synprob Letter" -
THE LOST GOSPEL
These earlier hypothetical sources were imagined to be lost gospels of the bible. The private invention of a hypothetical gospel by ³scientific² investigators of the synoptic problem has resulted in an uncontrolled plethora of solutions. Synoptic scholars assume that another source, (which they formally refer to as ³Q², from the German word `quelle¹, meaning `source,²) holds the key to understanding the synoptic problem, theorizing that the literary disagreements between the canonical gospels were caused by the authors epitomizing or ³borrowing² from a lost gospel.
A DEVELOPED SOLUTION
Therefore, in order to ³solve² the synoptic problem, the synoptic scholars first separated the gospel of John from Matthew-Mark-Luke. (This had to be done because John¹s gospel had four passovers with Christ crucified before the Passover; while Matthew-Mark-Luke have one passover with Christ crucified after the Passover; and the scholars could find no way to reconcile this major chronological disagreement. So they separated the gospel of John claiming that it was so spiritual that it should always be treated off by itself.) But that still didn¹t make the synoptic problem go away, because they found that the chronologies and dramatic events of Matthew-Mark-Luke didn¹t agree either; that the three gospels had their own little synoptic problem! So the synoptic scholars continued to develop their solution by making a new ³parallel² of the three gospels. They did this by arranging the accounts of Matthew-Mark-Luke in such a manner that their gospels had an over-all agreement on a literary basis. (For example, the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:1-7:29 and the Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6:17-49 were placed in parallel because of the similar beatitudes in both; and likewise, the Temple Discourse in Luke 21:5-36 and the Olivet Discourse in Matt 24:3-25:46/Mark 13:3-37 were placed in parallel because of their similar escatology and prophecy.) They then used the invention of an earlier hypothetical source to explain away the remaining discrepencies, leaving themselves to follow after a three-legged parallel while carrying a lost gospel that spawned an endless patchwork of theories, apologies, and historical myth-making;...leaving themselves ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth!
A SYNFUL IMPASSE
In THE JEROME BIBLICAL COMMENTARY: ³The Synoptic Problem² written by Frederick Gast is a thorough review of the `syn¹ problem which arrives at the following conclusion:-
[40:25] ³All the time and effort put into the consideration of the Syn Problem over the past century and a half have not been in vain. For each attempt at a solutionthough faulty in some areahas contributed some insight. With each new insight we are brought closer to the complete answer. Yet the origins of the Syn, going back as many centuries as they do, are difficult to perceive. We are still a long way from a completely satisfactory answer. Perhaps the problem will never be totally solved. The challenge, however, still remains and will continue to be accepted by dedicated scholars.²
(end of quote)
In conclusion, there are two definitions of the synoptic problem. Mine is the ³old² one whereas synoptic scholars are trying to solve a ³new² one.
The "old" synoptic problem cannot be solved with a hypothesis; the four gospel accounts either agree or they do not;no hypotheses or lost gospels. It's bite the bullet time.
The "new" synoptic problem cannot be solved without first solving the "old" synoptic problem. It's time for synoptic scholars to come out from behind their hypotheses and bite the bullet.
I have solved the ³old² synoptic problem and found the ³Q² document; whereas the ³new² synoptic problem will never be solved and its ³sources² will never be found.
The problem of literary relationships of all four gospel accounts cannot be solved or meaningfully studied until the problem of dramatic order and harmony of M-M-L-J be solved/resolved.
Truthfulness, acedemic integrity, and intellectual honesty will always remain core issues. Too many failed efforts to solve the synoptic peoblem are hiding behind hypotheses.
My ³right² solution to the ³old² synoptic problem deserves everyone¹s serious considerdation.
"a blue collar man"