Tag Archives: Synoptic Gospels

Paul and Believing the Holy Spirit

Awhile back I had addressed this in a blog entitled Did Paul Disobey the Holy Spirit. I haven’t changed my mind about what I said there, but I do believe I need to address certain implications that were perhaps not addressed in that blog. For example, the text says in Acts 21:4 the disciples in Tyre “said to Paul through the Spirit that he should not go up to Jerusalem.” This certainly seems like a direct command from God. Is it, and if so, why wouldn’t Paul be disobedient to the Holy Spirit by continuing on to Jerusalem? Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on April 28, 2013 in Kingdom of God, Paul's 3rd missionary journey


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Did Everyone Copy Mark?

Mark's Gospel - 6

from Google Images

Many scholars (but not all) claim the New Testament manuscripts (Synoptic Gospels) were copied from one another and were probably written late in the 1st century AD—after the destruction of Jerusalem, or even early in the 2nd century AD. If we assume as reasonably true the tradition of the Christians of the 2nd century, that Mark is actually Peter’s Gospel, written by Mark who traveled with Peter, then we can see how both Matthew and Luke could be very similar to Mark in many places without actually having a copy of Mark before them. How so?

Well, if, as is presumed by many, the Gospel accounts were an oral tradition for a number of years, then both Matthew and Luke could be very similar to Mark without their having a copy before them as they wrote their accounts. After all, would any American Christian really need a copy of the hymn, Silent Night, before him or her if one wished to write it out for a friend? Once something is memorized one doesn’t need to have the text before him to copy. The Gospel of Mark was written when Peter was in Rome just before he died in the Nero persecution. However, Peter’s Gospel (Gospel of Mark), if it was an ‘oral tradition’ would have been memorized by many for decades, if, indeed, it was Peter’s evangelistic narrative. So, both Matthew and Luke could have been written long before Mark actually wrote down Peter’s Gospel.

In other words, if the presumption of oral tradition during the first century AD is true, all of the Gospel narratives could have been written independently of each other, and any one of them could have been written first, although even Christian tradition puts John last. Each writer, if he were not an Apostle, would certainly have had to interview the eyewitnesses and construct his account accordingly. Luke tells us in the first four verses of his account that he was diligent in tracing out his records to their sources. This would have to have included Peter (traditional source of Mark), whom all the Gospel accounts claim was a chief Apostle. Nevertheless, there is no reason to believe any Gospel narrative bearing the name and written by an Apostle wouldn’t have been corroborated by several other Apostles before copied for distribution.

Personally, I don’t hold to the oral tradition assumption, at least not in the manner that is presently assumed by many of its advocates. That is, oral tradition was a fact of the culture during the first century AD, but this does not mean, as is erroneously assumed by many critics, that nothing was written down very early. So, I want to be upfront about that. Nevertheless, even if the oral tradition is assumed to be exactly like many of its advocates perceive (i.e. without Peter’s Gospel being a written record in Aramaic before Mark wrote it down in Greek) why couldn’t things have occurred just as I have argued above? Is there something in the accounts themselves that would contradict my reasoning and prove it wrong? If so, do you care to discuss it?


Posted by on January 20, 2012 in Textual Criticism


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Concerning the Primacy of Mark

Synoptic Problem - Markan Priority
Image via Wikipedia

In a discussion I had with a Jewish gentleman, we got around to which Gospel might have been written first. His position is that Mark was written first and says he had taken courses that convince him of this position. He made the statement:

“The substance of 606 out of the 661 verses of Mark appears in Matthew, and some 350 of Mark’s verses reappear with little material change in Luke.  Or, to put it another way, out of the 1,068 verses of Matthew, about 500 contain material also found in Mark. Of the 1,149 verses of Luke, about 350 are paralleled in Mark. Altogether, there are only 31 verses in Mark which have no parallel either in Matthew or Luke. From this analysis, one might assume that Mark was in front of Luke and Matthew when they were writing.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on September 8, 2010 in Christianity, Religion, Textual Criticism


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Modern ‘Oral Tradition’ v/s the 1st Century CE

Did you know we have a very strong “oral” tradition today? Really, we do! For example, I would expect most Christians would be able to fill in these blanks without any help from others or a written document.

_______ _____ how sweet the _____
That _____ a ______ like me
I once ___ ____ but now __ _____
Was _____, but now _ ___. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on September 7, 2010 in Christianity, Religion, Textual Criticism


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Mark and the “Q” Document

Mark and QI have seen it argued that a mysterious “Q” Gospel had to have been written prior to any of the Gospel accounts. Some scholars are a little uncomfortable with the “Q” document premise since there is absolutely no hard evidence for it, but they prefer it over a “Matthew first” position when Mark doesn’t have the miraculous birth or resurrection accounts. The presumption is that these records would have been added to a later version of the Gospel. Nevertheless, if Mark represents the transcript of a series of Peter’s sermons at Rome as 2nd and 3rd century AD witnesses inform us that it is, there would be no reason for a birth account showing genealogies etc. If one is delivering a speech or sermon, a long list of foreign names makes for very dull reading and or listening. Even the mention of the virgin birth would be out of place, unless one described its occurrence and showed how this fit into Jewish tradition and/or was important to gentile Christians. Matthew and Luke were both written for specific reasons, but Mark is described by 2nd and 3rd century witnesses as a transcript of what Peter preached at Rome. It was not intended to be a written witness to prove anything. Rather, it was simply Peter’s testimony at Rome about Jesus of what he had both seen and heard. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on September 6, 2010 in Christianity, Religion, Textual Criticism


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Oral Culture and Chronology of the NT

The relationships between the three synoptic g...
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When were the books of the New Testament written? Many folks believe much of these books were written after the destruction of Jerusalem, and a lot of pressure has been placed upon the conservative biblical scholars to do the same. The reason has to do with the strong oral culture of the 1st century AD. However, oral culture should not be a consideration of any of the writings except for the Gospel narratives. The epistles were written for specific reasons, namely to correct certain problems that had arisen in the Messianic churches. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on July 10, 2010 in Gospel, Religion, Textual Criticism


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