Exploring Our Matrix
The Blog of Dr. James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis
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Here’s a recording of a class I taught, recapping the Synoptic problem and then looking at the distinctive features of the Gospel of John:
Tut tut, James! From literary relationships to the Two-Source Theory with no mention of any preferable theories!
Sorry, tried to edit previous comment without any luck. Realize that this is a summary, but even so I like to keep the Synoptic Problem open in my teaching so that students are encouraged to think about different theories, and not to have the data all refracted through the one theory.
Mark, that’s a fair comment. This was a quick recap about the consensus view, largely for the benefit of the large number of football players in my class who had been away the previous class period when we spent most of the class period on the topic and had a broader discussion. I even mentioned you that time, I think (I always try to, not least because students who do research on the Synoptic problem consistently find your online material – and find them helpful). Alas, I don’t have a recording to prove it – I didn’t record that version, precisely because I had the students breaking up into small groups to focus on and discuss some of the primary evidence.
As I think about the two classes, I wonder whether the time will come when we’ll have to explain to students that Mark cannot just be a recap of Matthew’s earlier lecture, with parallels because they both used the same Powerpoint presentation…
Would one be right then to conclude that “the Gospel” meant something different to John than it did to Matthew? Something like: Gospel = Kingdom of God to Matthew; Gospel = Jesus Christ to John?
That’s an interesting way of putting it! Certainly the Gospel of Jesus seems not to be exactly the Gospel about Jesus that the later church proclaimed. Indeed, one reason that historians consistently conclude that the Synoptic Gospels include historical tradition is that, even though they are the work of Christians post-crucifixion, they don’t completely rewrite his public activity to make him talk about what concerned them (which is what many understand John to be doing).
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