Summary of the Interpretive Issue of Literary Dependence and Redaction: Most scholars think that early Christian authors both inside and out of the NT canon used each other’s writings as sources, which they then rewrote or redacted. For instance, if Mark, Matthew, and Luke share the same words, sentence after sentence, that cannot be accidental; there must be some literary dependence between them. Yet, for all their verbatim agreement, the synoptics also differ from one another even within the triple tradition they share. If Mark features something, say, that makes Jesus appear relatively limited in knowledge or power, something that is not featured in Matthew, then odds are Mark wrote first, and Matthew has subtracted from Mark, since the general tendency over time would be to make Jesus appear more omniscient and omnipotent, not less. There is hardly any debate in scholarship concerning Markan priority and the dependence of Matthew and Luke on Mark. But the jury is still out when it comes to: Luke’s relationship to Matthew; John’s relationship to the synoptics; and the relationships of the non-canonical Gospels of Thomas and Peter to the canonical gospels. The whole business is complicated by questions of lost sources and orality (see Brown p.38 for his “realistic conclusion” about the complexity of the synoptic problem, which applies elsewhere too).
My Paper Prompts: While you read, please have these prompts in mind and prepare for Critical Engagement Three by taking notes on whatever info will help you formulate an initial response. The prompts are:
• In light of your examination of the evidence in the assigned reading, do you concur that Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source? If so, how did they rewrite Mark, and for what reasons? If you don’t think Matthew and Luke are dependent on Mark, why don’t you think so, and how would you account for the evidence?
Answer & Explanation
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