|Alan Garrow Didache|
the problem page
At SBL Denver 2018, Mark Goodacre will set out what he sees as the weakest points in the case for Matthew's use of Luke. If I were present I would like to ask him what he sees as the weakest point in the case for Luke's use of Matthew (the Farrer Hypothesis). This type of question is often worth asking of seasoned specialists - because they are usually experts in where their favoured hypothesis is weakest as well as where it is strong. (I will ask the same question of a couple of supporters of Matthew's use of Luke later in this series).
I suspect most scholars would say that the biggest problem for the Farrer Hypothesis is that it requires Luke to treat Matthew in ways that are uniquely complicated (cf. upcoming posts in this series). Not only is Luke's supposed treatment of Matthew unlike that of any other ancient author, it is also generally unlike Luke's treatment of Mark.
While evaluating Goodacre's objections to Matthew's use of Luke it might be worth asking: How do these objections compare with the biggest problem with the Farrer Hypothesis? Are they in the same league?
Mark was kind enough to respond to my question via Facebook: "Thanks Alan. I don't think the Farrer Theory has any weak points. If it did, I wouldn't have advocated it and would instead have advocated for a different hypothesis that lacked weak points."
This response is, however, problematic for two reasons:
1) There is good evidence to suggest that Goodacre did not give serious attention to the possibility that Matthew might have used Luke until after cementing his reputation as a leading advocate of the Farrer Hypothesis. This much is suggested by the remark in The Synoptic Problem: A Way Through the Maze (2001, p. 108): 'The theory that Matthew has read Luke ... is rarely put forward by sensible scholars and will not be considered here.' Commenting on this statement in more recent debate Goodacre has explained that he was merely reflecting the state of research at the time. It seems reasonable to suspect, therefore, that this statement also reflects the state of his own research at the time.
2) In his first book on the subject, Goulder and the Gospels (1996), Goodacre notes weaknesses, as well as strengths, in the Farrer Hypothesis.
Alan Garrow is Vicar of St Peter's Harrogate and a member of SCIBS at the University of Sheffield.