|Alan Garrow Didache|
the problem page
These two quotes from important defenders of the Two Document hypothesis strike me as interesting:
"We are aware ... of the strengths - and weaknesses - of all our hypotheses. The 'dominant' solution ... the 2DH, is no exception to this: and even though I have (unashamedly?!) sought in this paper to argue that the weaknesses of the 2DH are possibly less than those of other competing hypotheses today, I hope that I have shown that this theory too is open to questioning. It would be a brave, even foolhardy, person who claimed absolute certainty for the correctness of his/her viewpoint." Christopher Tuckett
"No hypothesis is without its difficulties, and for any of the existing Synoptic hypotheses there are sets of data which the hypothesis does not explain very well" John Kloppenborg
What these positions have in common is a sense that the Synoptic Problem is very difficult - so we shouldn't expect too much of our solutions. Under such trying circumstances, Tuckett and Kloppenborg would argue, it's fair enough to adopt what might be called the 'least worst option'.
This all sounds very sensible - until you stop to think about it. The Synoptic Problem is very complicated if you demand a total solution - because a total solution requires access to every source, and these are never going to be available. The Synoptic Problem is not, however, especially complicated if you restrict yourself to dealing with the relationship between Matthew, Mark and Luke - especially if you accept that Mark was used by Luke and Matthew. From this point there are only three possible solutions. 1) Luke and Matthew had no contact. 2) Luke used Matthew. 3) Matthew used Luke. Given that one of these must be correct all that is required is to check each in turn until you find the one that fits. Not rocket science. And yet Chris Tuckett and John Kloppenborg, having focussed virtually exclusively on options 1 and 2, conclude that the weaknesses of option 1 are less than those of option 2. This is mad. If neither option 1 nor 2 fit (even if one is more ill-fitting than the other), then the solution must be option 3 - Matthew used Luke. It's got to be worth a try at least?
Videos presenting the case for Matthew's use of Luke are available here.
The New Testament Studies version of this article is available via this link
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Alan Garrow is Vicar of St Peter's Harrogate and a member of SCIBS at the University of Sheffield.