Jeff Peterson says some very nice things about my discussion of the
theological implications of the Synoptic Problem, for which I am
appreciative, and then asks a key question about the argument from order.
Dr. Peterson writes:
"In addition to the agreements in wording between Mt and Lk
against Mk that Prof. Goulder notes (seven of which Prof.
Kloppenborg has acknowledged as significant), there are
several agreements in _order_ which, as E. P. Sanders noted
in the 1968 NTS, it strains credulity to account for as
independent, identical conflation of Q and Mark by Mt and Lk.
Notable among these are, in Marcan contexts after the
Temptation, the Parable of the Leaven following the Mustard
Seed (Mt 13:33//Lk 13:20f) and the teaching On Forgiveness
appended to the Warning against Offenses (Mt 18:15, 21-
I think that I have suggested in chap. 1 that the argument from order is a
key one in "solving" the synoptic problem, but there is a prior problem
involved in how we actually describe the synoptic data.
E.P. Sanders' article ( "The Argument from Order and the Relationship
between Matthew and Luke," NTS 15  249-61) was directed against a much
earlier argument by F.H. Woods ("Mutual Relations of the Synoptic Gospels."
in S. R. Driver, T. K. Cheyne and W. Sanday, eds., Studia Biblica et
Ecclesiastica: Essays Chiefly in Biblical and Patristic Criticism [Oxford:
Clarendon, 1886] 2:59-104) who argued, inter alia:
a. The order of Mark is confirmed by either Matt or Luke.
b. A passage parallel in all three Synoptics is never immediately followed
in both St. Matthew and St. Luke by a separate incident or discourse common
to these two evangelists alone.
c. Parts common to Matt and Luke, with some doubtful exceptions, do not
occur in the same relative order.
Sanders draws out the implications of points a and b thus:
(1) Both Matt and Luke support Mark's order the greater part of the time.
(2) If Matt or Luke disagrees with Mark, the other supports Mark. This has
(a) Matt and Luke never agree in moving a Markan passage to the same new
(b) No Markan passages (except Mark 3:31-35) occurs in three different
(c) No Markan passage is ever rearranged by either Matt or Luke and omitted
by the other.
(3) After the temptation, Matt & Luke disagree in placement of Q relative to
He concludes, "Minor agreements in wording can be explained in a variety of
ways; "But agreements in order will be very hard to explain away." (252)
Sanders then found 29 instances where one of Wood's principles were
Sigla: (Q) Sanders concedes Q influence
* = no influence of Q;
<Q> Q influence according to Neirynck, Kloppenborg and others
(a) Matthew and Luke agree against Mark's order:
1. Mark 4:24c Matt 7:2b Luke 6:38b (Q)
2. Mark 1:2b Matt 11:10b Luke 7:27b (Q)
3. Mark 1:4 Matt 3:1 Luke 3:3 <Q>
4. Mark 1:7b Matt 3:11b Luke 3:16c (Q)
5. Mark 11:15-19 Matt 21:10-17 Luke 19:45-46 *
6. Mark 13:34 Matt 25:14 Luke 19:12-13 <Q>
7. Mark 4:24c Matt 6:33b Luke 12:31b (Q)
(b) Passages differently placed by each of the evangelists
8. Mark 9:50a Matt 5:13b Luke 14:34 (Q)
9. Mark 3:13-19 Matt 10:2-4 Luke 6:13-16 *
10. Mark 6:1-6a Matt 13:53-58 Luke 4:16-30 *
11. Mark 4:23 Matt 11:15;13:43 Luke 14:35 *
12. Mark 12:34c Matt 22:46 Luke 20:40 *
(c) Either Matt or Luke has a different order; other omits
13. Mark 11:25 Matt 6:14b Luke om *
14. Mark 1:4-6 Matt 3:4-6 Luke om *
15. Mark 11:41 Matt 10:42 Luke om *
16. Mark 6:34b Matt 9:36b Luke om *
(d) Matt and Luke agree in placing common (Q) material at same place
relative to Mark.
17. Mark 1:2-6 Matt 3:1-6.7-10 Luke 3:1-6.7-9 (Q)
18. Mark 4:30-32 Matt 13:31-32.33 Luke 13:18-19.20-21 <Q>
19. Mark 3:23-30 Matt 12:25-37 Luke 11:17-23
38-42.43-45 24-26.29-32 (Q)
20. Mark 9:42-48 Matt 18:6-9, Luke 17:1-2
15-20.21-22 3-4 <Q>
(e) approximately the same
21. Mark 14:21 Matt 26:25 Luke 22:23
22. Mark 14:45 Matt 26:50 Luke 22:48
(f) different material
23. Mark 1:39 Matt 5-7 Luke 5:1-11
24. Mark 4:26-29 Matt 13:24-30 Luke 8:19-21
(g) expansions of Mark
25. Mark 1:7-8 Matt 3:11-12 Luke 3:15-18 (Q)
26. Mark 1:12-13 Matt 4:1-11 Luke 4:1-13 (Q)
27. Mark 3:20-30 Matt 12:22-37 Luke 11:14-23 (Q)
28. Mark 6:7-13 Matt 10:1-16 Luke 10:1-12 (Q)
29. Mark 13:21-23 Matt 24:23-28 Luke 17:21-37 (Q)
"In sum, the assurance with which it is usually said that Matthew and Luke
were independent of each other rests on the assertion that they never agree
together in such a way that it cannot be explained by reference to their
independent use of Mark and Q. When we note the number of instances where
they do, the assurance we have felt in the traditional hypothesis must be
correspondingly weakened." (261)
Some of Sanders list can be eliminated immediately.
(b) pericopae placed differently by all the evangelists are not Matt-Luke
agreements against Mark.
(c) instances where Matthew disagrees with MArkan order and Luke are hardly
instances of a Matt-Luke agreement against Mark.
(e) and (f) hardly count, since it is not the *same* material on which
Matthew and Luke agree against Mark.
Frans Neirynck has challenged Sanders tabulations at a number of points:
23: Sanders argues that Matt and Luke break Mkn order at the same point. But
Luke 5:1-11 occurs at Mark 1:39, while the SM occurs at 1:21 (Matt
4:18-22/7:9 = Mark 1:16-20/22).
24: The parable of the Tares in Matt is parallel to Mark's Seed growing
secretly, both followed by the Mustard seed. Thus there is no disagreement
with Mark. Luke omits Mark 4:26-34 and Mark 3:31-35 is appended to preceding
verses of 4:21-25.
21,22: Should not be in the list at all.
Neirynck also points out that #5 should not be listed at all, since it is a
Lukan omission, not a Matt-Luke agreement against Mark.
I would add the following observations:
3. A careful examination of Mark 1:2-4 and parallels indicates that there is
as much disageement between Matt and Luke as there is agreement of Matt-Luke
against Mark. That is, it is difficult to detect any consistent pattern of
collaboration of MAtt-Luke against Mark here.
Sanders (a) category is also rather easily disposed of:
All but #5 (already eliminated) concern on the 2DH Matthew and Luke adding
Q. But it is important to note that pace Sanders, they do *not* attach this
Q material to the same Markan location:
1. Matthew attaches the SM at 1:21/22 (Neirynck) or 1:39 (Huck; Aland's
placement is highly problematic); Luke places it at 3:19.
2. Same point: Matthew and Luke have the saying in a Q context, but Q is
differently attached to Mark by Matthew and Luke.
3. See above.
4. In the case of #4, 17, 25, 26, it is true that Matthew and Luke agree on
attaching Q material to the same Markan context, but it is very hard to
imagine where else they would attach it; to do otherwise would have Jesus
tempted twice, John predict the coming one twice, etc.
5. See above.
6, 7: Q material that is *not* attached to the same Markan location, not is
there agreement against Mark's location. I.e., Matthew attaches Q 19 to Mark
13; Luke attaches it to Mark 10:52/11:1. Matt attaches 6:33 in his SM (i.e.,
at Mark 1:21); Luke puts it after Mark 9:50.
Since Dr. Peterson notes in particular the temptation story (see above), the
parable of the leaven, and the teaching on forgiveness, let me note that the
parable of the leave is differently attached to Mark (Matt: at MArk 4; Luke
in the travel narrative, after Mark 9:50); the teaching on forgiveness:
Matthew at Mark 9:50; Luke in the travel narrative, between Mark 9:50 and
Mark 10:1). That is, we don't have an agreement of MAtthew and Luke against
Mark in the latter two cases, and the placement in the case of the
tempations is virtually inevitable.
It would be teditious to go through Sanders' entire list, and perhaps
simpler to refer the reader to Frans Neirynck, "The Argument from Order and
St. Luke's Transpositions," ETL 49 (1973) 784-815; repr. with an additional
note as pp. 291-322 of Frans Neirynck, The Minor Agreements of Matthew and
Luke against Mark with a cumulative List, BETL 37 (Leuven: Leuven University
Press, 1974), and Reginald H. Fuller, "Order in the Synoptic Gospels: A
Summary." SecCent 6, no. 2 (1987-88): 107-09.
The latter concludes (quoted on p. 19 of ExQ): "Nearly all of Sanders's
alleged agreements in order of Matthew-Luke against MArk collapse under
examination." My conclusion, following Neirynck, is stronger: none of them
holds up to inspection.
I do agree with Dr. Peterson that the issue of order is a *crucial* one for
determining synoptic relationships. As I see the data, however, we do not
have any agreements that are inexplicable on the 2DH, and many on Sanders'
list are not agreements at all.
This is the _Excavating Q_ Seminar (Oct. 23 -- Nov. 10 2000).
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