|Alan Garrow Didache|
the problem page
Back in 1996 Mark Goodacre was prepared to allow that the Farrer Hypothesis, as defended by Michael Goulder, includes weaknesses as well as strengths:
Goulder makes ... numerous criticisms of traditional approaches which his opponents will ignore at their peril and, further, his thesis has many strong points. One virtue is the simplicity of his solution to the Synoptic Problem. Another is the explanatory power of his thesis: frequently Goulder sheds new light on famous difficulties.
Mark Goodacre's observation that Goulder's theory, 'demands a degree of complexity in the application which partly undermines its credibility' has been very frequently echoed in subsequent scholarship - albeit more forcefully and with greater attention to the realities of ancient compositional practices. Luke, under the Farrer Hypothesis is required to perform an extraordinarily complex set of operations on Matthew, while treating Mark in a very much more traditional and straightforward manner. All this might be forgivable if it were clearly the only way to avoid the serious problems encountered by the Two Document Hypothesis - but it is not. The difficulties faced by the Two Document Hypothesis and the difficulties faced by the Farrer Hypothesis are both resolved if we allow ourselves to contemplate a relatively simple alternative: Matthew used Luke.
Alan Garrow is Vicar of St Peter's Harrogate and a member of SIIBS at the University of Sheffield.