- Bernard Dainton wrote (SNIP) -
>In a scientific investigation you define your hypothesis, do theHi Bernard!
>experiment, and your data either does or does not support the
>hypothesis - it is entirely objective.
Relativity and mathematical logic were my first loves in my
degree in science and maths; the synoptic problem my passion in my
degrees in NT studies. I think we might be on the same wave lengths.
>In the synoptic problem, however, the interpretation of the evidence isI am not sure that we should "interpret the evidence" since this is not
>much more subjective, so that the same data that I think supports an
>oral solution others think supports a literary solution.
the same as positing a hypothesis and testing it against the data.
It is very easy, for instance, to interpret the evidence of the minor
agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark in the triple tradition.
Indeed, there is an infinite number of interpretations of that pattern.
I would suggest, however, that the synoptic problem arises from **all**
the patterns observable in the synoptic gospels. It seems to me that the
synoptic problem is to put forward one hypothesis and test that against
**all** the observable patterns taken together, including the minor
agreements, the doublets, the triple tradition, the agreements in order
of pericopes of Matthew and Luke against Mark in the triple tradition,
the existence of material special to each synoptic gospel, and so on,
and so on. If a hypothesis is shown not to be compatible with only one
observed pattern, the hypothesis is not a solution. If a hypothesis is
shown to be compatible with all such patterns, then the data "supports
the hypothesis", and the hypothesis is a solution to the synoptic
The difference from some branches of science, of course, is that the
data is already fixed. The data is not derivable from experiments, like
measuring the time to bounce a radar beam onto the surface of an
aircraft and back. Our data is "set in concrete" in documents already
written. Really, the synoptic problem is a historical problem in which
we use a scientific approach to get as close as we can to what happened,
like biologists looking at fossils in different geological strata, or
even like astro-physicists using radio-telescopes to look back hundreds
of millions of years in time by observing radiation in the five
centimeter red-shift wave band coming from very distant space.