The Synoptic Problem

Part 12 of 14

By J. F. Springer, New York


Chronology And Circumstance

Both the First Gospel and the Second are documents in which the progress from incident to incident and detail to detail is often marked by a definition of the chronology or the circumstances. A perhaps incomplete enumeration of chronological indications, covering both Gospels, is to be found in the first portion of an article by the present writer, the article being entitled The Order of Events in Matthew and Mark and the installment having been published in Bibliotheca Sacra, April, 1922. See p. 137. There are many parallels. But, whether we look at the case of Matthew or Mark, or whether we view the one or the other as the dependent document, we cannot very well escape the conclusion that the writer wished to produce a chronological narrative. This desire, attributable to both authors, would, accordingly, seem to suggest difficulty when we find, upon assuming either one of these Gospels as secondary to the other, that omissions have been made of chronological data supplied by the primary document. There are, in fact, numerous instances of chronological indications present in Matthew but absent from Mark at the parallel points.

But, there are also chronological notices in Mark which the Matthaean narrative fails to parallel at the corresponding places. Indeed, we have something of a deadlock, when we wish to use absence and presence of time data as a criterion determining the matter of dependence. By this line of argument we can prove both Matthew and Mark secondary. And this, naturally, is too large a result.

As to the matter of circumstantial details, both Gospels present them. Sometimes, they occur in connection with the opening statements of an incident, and may in fact be associated with the chronology.

At Mt. 9:19, we learn, in close connection with the chronological statement to the effect that the discourse as to new and old wine was interrupted by the coming of the ruler whose daughter was ill, that Jesus rose to go with him. We would not know from Mark this fact, which is indeed agreeable with the immediately preceding context in which the Savior is described as engaged in teaching.

This and other points at which we have notices of a circumstantial, or perhaps chronological, character, which are present in Matthew and absent from Mark, are listed in the accompanying table.

Small Notices Indicative of the Circumstance a or Time

(Present in Matthew, Absent from Mark)

Mt. 8:34 when they saw
Mt. 9:19 arose
Mt. 9:23 when Jesus came and saw
Mt. 12:2 when they saw it
Mt. 12:9 And he departed thence
Mt. 12:15 perceiving it
Mt. 12:24 when the Pharisees heard it
Mt. 12:25 knowing their thoughts
Mt. 14:13 when Jesus heard it
Mt. 19:25 when the disciples heard it
Mt. 21:38 when they saw
Mt. 26:8 when the disciples saw it
Mt. 26:10 perceiving it
Mt. 27:28 having stripped him
Mt. 27:33 when they were come


If we think to use these notices as evidence for the dependence of Matthew, claiming that they are understandable as Matthaean additions but not as Markan omissions, we are at once confronted with the question, Are there, then, no small passages of a circumstantial character that are present in Mark but absent from Matthew at the corresponding points? To this question, the response must be given that there are such passages, and that they occur in goodly number. So that we still have an argument capable of proving not only Matthew secondary but also Mark.

However, let us examine these matters a little more in detail. It is necessary to assume that both these Gospels are pursuing a chronological purpose; but we need not make them equal in this respect. Perhaps, the Gospel of Mark is somewhat less intent upon an explicit marking of the chronological progression. Thus, in numerous cases, the Second Gospel has καί or δέ or even nothing at all where the First has τότε or ἀπὸ τότε.1 We may here sup pose, under the assumption that a Markan compiler was at work with Matthew before him, that he rejected τότε, perhaps because he was not in the habit of using this word, and thought it unnecessary to define the time explicitly, the progress of the text itself accomplishing implicitly what seemed to him in these particular instances to be a sufficient indication of the chronological movement.

Other instances similar to those just described may be found at the following points: Mt. 26:55=Mk. 14:48; Mt. 26:60= Mk. 14:67; Mt. 27:17= Mk. 15:9.

The addition of Ἀπὸ τότε at Mt. 4:17 and 16:21, or the omission of these expressions at Mk. 1:15 and 8:31 and the substitution of nothing of a marked character, may readily be explained as due to a wish on the part of the Matthaean writer to signalize the beginning of Jesus" actual presentation of Himself to the people at large and the beginning of His teaching that He must go on to the Cross; or to the absence of a desire on the part of the Markan compiler to divide his narrative in this manner, his purpose, as we may well imagine, being directed rather towards giving an account in which Jesus is seen as the One who brings salvation to Gentiles as well as Jews and not so much towards a setting forth of the Messiah as One who is first shown to the people and later, as the failure to accept Him becomes emphasized, is seen teaching His disciples the necessity of His Death and Resurrection.

Just as the two notable points of beginning in the narrative of Matthew are indicated by Ἀπὸ τότε, so are five points of division marked by a formal statement. These Matthaean passages occur as follows: Mt. 7:28-29; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1-2. Two of these are entirely unparalleled in Mark; three have partial parallels. The Matthaean additions, or Markan omissions, found at these points are embarrassing neither to the hypothesis of a dependent First Gospel nor to that of a derivative Second Gospel. All of them expressly refer to extended discourses which immediately precede. That is to say, they come at the close of the Sermon on the Mount, the Discourse to the Twelve, the Seven Parables, the Final Galilean Instruction and the Prophecy of the Second Advent. These discourses are only partially represented in Mark, or not at all. On the one hand, the statements may be regarded as literary devices; on the other, as omissions of notices not especially suited to the character of the Markan narrative.

The definitions of time at Mt. 12:1 and 12:46 are scarcely parallel with Kai at Mk. 2:23 and 3:31, because, in Matthew, the preceding contexts differ from the pre ceding contexts found in Mark, whether this latter Gospel be arranged in the Matthaean order or left as it is.

There are a number of cases where the Matthaean definition of the chronology seems more or less superior in explicitness. I cite the following:

Mt. 9:18   Mk. 5:22
While he spake these things unto them, behold   [And when Jesus had crossed over again in the boat unto the other side, a great multitude was gathered unto him; and he was by the sea. [5:21]] And [5:22]


[And no man putteth new wine into old wine-skins; else the wine will burst the skins, and the wine perisheth, and the skins: [but they put new wine into fresh wine-skins. [2:22]] And [5:22]


Mt 13:1   Mk. 4:1
On that day   And again
Mt. 14:1   Mk. 6:14
At that season   And
Mt. 17:5   Mk. 9:7
While he was yet speaking, behold   And
Mt. 22:23   Mk. 12:18
On that day   And
Mt. 22:41   Mk. 12:35
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together   And


In view of the many cases of explicitness in Matthew and relative lack of explicitness in Mark, the reader will, perhaps, be prepared to grant that, while both Gospels must be considered as having a chronological purpose in view, nevertheless the First Gospel must be deemed as having carried out that purpose with an explicitness wanting in the Second.

It is readily conceivable, therefore, that, if Matthew was produced by a process of compilation, the compiler may well have had chronology so much in view that he would often have substituted something more definite and explicit for what he found in his exemplar. This, viewed as a purpose, is excellent enough. Only, when we make the author of Matthew a compiler from Mark, we embarrass ourselves with the necessity of explaining where this later, non-apostolic writer got his information. The substitution of τότε for καί or δέ or nothing at all might be explained, perhaps, as nothing more than making explicit what was already implicit in the Markan narrative, as nothing more than inferring progress in time from the advance in the narrative.

But an explanation, necessary as one is to the hypothesis of a derivative Matthew, is not so easily found when we turn to such instances as the six which I have just given. Whence did the non-apostolic compiler learn that the coming of the ruler of the synagogue to beg the Savior’s intervention on account of his little daughter occurred while the discourse as to new and old wine was going on? Whence did he ascertain that the parable of the sower was spoken on the same day as that upon which the Savior’s mother and brethren came to visit Him? And similarly with respect to the remaining instances.

On the other hand, when Mark is made a compilation from Matthew, the reduction of explicit notices such as these six and those consisting of τότε and perhaps others, to καί or δέ or nothing, embarrass us not at all. Some writers, while they desire to set forth their material in chronological order, nevertheless do not care to do a great deal more than let the order of the history be read from the order of the narrative. To attribute such a purpose and disposition to the Markan compiler occasions no difficulty.

It may be gathered from the foregoing that Matthew contains and Mark omits many notices that are to be classed as chronological or circumstantial, or perhaps as a mixture of the two. If we assume that these are Matthaean additions, we are thereby required to understand that they were added by some presumably non-apostolic writer, and this results in an embarrassment of the hypothesis that these passages are the work of a compiler. On the other hand, if we take the view that these notices are Markan omissions, we need to explain why the author of Mark, engaged in making a compilation from Matthew, should omit them. Attention has already been directed to the fact that, while it is indeed necessary to regard both writers as having a chronological intention, it is not also required that we should view both intentions as of the same precise character. It is, in fact, quite permissible to consider the Matthaean writer as desirous of marking the chronological advance with time notices of a good deal of explicitness and also to conceive of the Markan author as one intent indeed upon chronology but at times satisfied with a lesser degree of explicitness or even with the implicit marking of the advance in time that is achieved by the simple onward progress of the text.

In so far, then, as purely chronological notices go, we are to see no difficulty in the way of the hypothesis of a Mark compiled from Matthew in the omission of some and in the reduction of others to a lower degree of explicitness or to nothing at all. Moreover, when the matter of accompanying circumstance is also taken into account, we find that Mark contains and Matthew omits numerous chronological and circumstantial notices. If it is hard to grant that a dependent Second Gospel would omit such notices, it is also difficult to concede that a secondary First Gospel would do the same. In the July (1925) issue of Bibliotheca Sacra, in the eighth instalment of this present investigation, p. 347, will be found a tabulation of some twenty-eight small passages that mark the chronology and circumstances and that are present in Mark but absent from Matthew. The absence of these from the First Gospel is an embarrassment of the doc trine of Matthaean dependence and their presence in the Second Gospel is unembarrassed by difficulty in accounting for the contained information, since back of John Mark stands Peter the Apostle.

Miscellaneous Passages.

As to the passages of a miscellaneous character, there are many of these that are to be classed either as Matthaean additions or Markan omissions. On the other hand, there are many similar passages that are to be viewed as omissions made by the writer of the First Gospel or else as additions inserted by the author of the Second. Looking at the situation broadly, one may say that we have here a deadlock. But, we can hardly dismiss this matter without taking note of some special cases.

Mt. 14:12-13.

There is a continuity of narrative in the passage from Mt. 14:12 to 14:13 which has seemed to some to constitute evidence tending to prove the dependence of Matthew upon Mark. The words rendered “and they went and told Jesus. Now when Jesus heard it” occur in the Matthaean text but not in the Markan. Certain advocates of the priority of the Second Gospel think there is a departure from the true chronology involved in the fact that we have here to do with a continuous account and that they are able to explain it by the assumption of a prior Mark. I give, in English, a sufficient amount of the text to exhibit the continuity. “And his [John’s] disciples came, and took up the corpse, and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.”

“Now when Jesus heard it, he withdrew from thence in a boat, to a desert place apart . . .”

We have, in fact, in Mt. 14:3-11, the narrative of the death of John, an event which must have occurred prior to the matters related in 14:1-2. Despite this priority of occurrence, the Matthaean account connects the death of John closely with the withdrawal of Jesus by boat to the scene of the feeding of the five thousand. Is the history related in verse 13 prior to that recounted in verses 1 and 2? If it is, then the Matthaean writer failed to set down the occurrences in their proper order. This would be no great matter to the advocates of Markan priority, since they rather generally view the First Gospel as departing, upon occasion, from the chronology. How ever, they think they see, once this document is assumed to be dependent upon Mark, how it came about that the secondary author departed from the historical order. That is to say, they believe themselves able to point out how the Matthaean text might have been derived from the Markan. This would, naturally, be defective if regarded as a proof that Matthew was actually compiled from Mark. It is really necessary to take a further step, and, for example, to demonstrate that the Second Gospel cannot, at this point of the history, be viewed as derived from the First. But, let us pass over this matter, and consider whether there is really anything to explain in connection with the Matthaean chronology.

The fact that the occurrences of Mt. 14:3-11 antedate those of 14:1-2 is neither here nor there. What really counts is whether the narrative of 14:13 may properly be set down in a chronological document in a position sub sequent to 14:1-2. Herod heard the report concerning Jesus and spoke to his servants of it after the death of John. So also Jesus heard of this same event and made His withdrawal to a desert place after the death of the Baptist. The question to be resolved is whether the two intervals of time subsequent to the death of John—^that which reaches to 14:1-2 and that which reaches to 14:13 —are such that the second cannot be viewed as longer than the first. That is to say, if it is historically permissible to understand that 14:13 refers primarily to a point of time further distant from John’s death than the point of time involved in 14:1-2, then no objection can be raised as to the chronological character of the Matthaean narrative.

We have, then, two time intervals to compare. How long must the interval have been that lay between the beheading of John and Herod’s reception of the report as to Jesus, when he confused the two persons? It would seem as if the one event might very well have occurred one day and the other event a few days later. It is only necessary to allow enough time for Herod to imagine that what he heard about Jesus took place after John’s death. We do not know the content of the report—“these powers” (14:2) is to us a vague term. We are not told that Herod’s information concerning the events related to him indicated either the time when or the time how long. He may simply have heard that a person had just appeared who was engaged in doing mighty works. If we concede three or four days, we have conceded enough. As to the second time interval, let it be noted first that the termimis ad quem (14:13) is not necessarily the point of time at which Jesus heard of the occurrences about John. It may very well be put at he moment when He withdrew to the desert place. That is, in the Greek, we have the aorist participle of the verb meaning hear and the aorist indicative of the verb having the sense withdraw, It is permissible to view matters in such way as to put an interval of time between the hearing and the withdrawing. We may render, if we like, as follows: And after Jesus heard it, he withdrew. We may, accordingly, if we choose, imagine that the Saviour heard as to John before the events of 14:1-2. It is really only necessary that the withdrawal be made subsequent. The requirements of a chronological document are sufficiently met if the principal occurrence of 14:13 took place subsequently to the events of 14 :l-2. A week or even longer man be interposed between the moment when the disciples of John cam to Jesus and made their report and the later moment when the Saviour withdrew to the desert place. However, I do not think it is necessary to insist upon an interval between the two points of time. The terminus ad quem may be put at the moment when John’s disciples have concluded their account. What length of time may, accordingly, be interposed between the death of John and the report made by his disciples? The interval must allow (1) for the report of John’s death to reach his disciples, (2) for some of them to go to the prison or other place where the body was, (3) for these or others to carry out the burial, and (4) for some to find and tell Jesus. These things might very well have required a total of a week.

It is quite possible, then, if we take into account what has been set forth, to understand that the occurrences of 14:1-2 took place after the lapse of a shorter interval subsequent to the death of the Baptist than it is permissible to allow between the same terminus a quo and either the hearing or the withdrawing of 14:13. The Matthaean narrative may, accordingly, be viewed as strictly chronological. Under these circumstances, there is no inadvertence that can be asserted of the author of Matthew.

Mt. 14:33 and 16:16.

Two passages each of which is to be classed as a Matthaean addition or a Markan omission have been cited by V. H. Stanton (The Gospels as Historical Documents, Part II, The Synoptic Gospels (1909), p. 53) with a comment having, presumably, particular reference to them. The passages are found at Mt. 14:33 and 16:16 and consist of the words rendered as follows:

1. Mt. 14:33—And they that were in the boat worshipped Him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God

2. Mt. 16:16—The Son of the living God

And the comment runs: “Expressions of reverence and faith occurring in St. Matthew but absent from St. Mark, though a devout Christian would not have been likely to have omitted them if they were found in a document lying before him.”

The former passage occurs at the close of the Matthaean account of the incident of Walking on the sea and expresses the faith of persons in the boat. We need not, I think, understand that this attitude of belief characterized all. Or, if we take the view that all believed, we are not compelled to conceive them as continuously in this state. In Mark, we have what appears to be a description of a condition of doubt: “and they were sore amazed in themselves; for they understood not concerning the loaves [used in feeding the five thousand], but their heart was hardened” (Mk. 6:51-52). That is to say, in Matthew we have faith, in Mark doubt. Both things are understandable as co-existent, though in different persons, and as successive states in the same individuals. That one Evangelist should give expression to the faith experienced, and the other Evangelist to the doubt, is not at all in comprehensible. Nor is it, in consequence, difficult to grant that the Markan writer, in his desire to emphasize the state of doubt, would be unwilling to make any mention of the faith. If this is reasonable, then the omission by a Markan compiler of the words found in Matthew does not require us to accept a situation hard to under stand.

The second passage is the latter half of the Matthaean statement of Peter’s confession. Both Gospels have in Greek certain identical words, words which may be rendered “Thou art the Christ”; but Matthew adds the Greek for “the Son of the living God,” while Mark omits. We may take two views. Either this addition, or omission, is genuine or spurious. If we choose to assume it genuine, there is real difficulty in accounting, on the assumption of Markan dependence, for the omission, whether we think of the strengthening value of the words when considered with those found in both documents or whether we take into account that the actual maker of the confession probably stood back of the compiler of Mark. On the other hand, when we set up Mark as a parent writing to Matthew, it is just about as hard to understand why the author of Mark, closely associated, as presumably he was, with Peter, should omit the expression. Nor is the difficulty eased when we consider that we are also to grant that the non-apostolic compiler of Matthew was successful in completing the confession when the writer who was probably close to the author of this confession failed to do so. However, we may elect to assume the alternative —namely, that the second part of the confession in Matthew is spurious. If, under this hypothesis, we make Mark the dependent document, we have no difficulty what ever in understanding that John Mark, the probable compiler, a man known to have been an associate of Peter and reputed to have been his interpreter, omitted words which the apostle did not utter. Accordingly, we reach the following result: If the words are genuine, we have difficulty, whether we make Matthew or Mark the derivative writing; but, if the words are spurious, we have no difficulty under either assumption as to derivation. No substantial argument as to priority between the two Gospels emerges whether Peter did or did not utter the words.

If the reader still feels that some substantial argument as to priority is to be derived from the presence and absence of the passages cited, then let him consider that similar instances of unparalleled language occur also in Mark. We might argue from these that Matthew was prior to this Gospel. Examples of such passages present in Mark and absent from Matthew are the following:

Mk. 12-13—And they went out, and preached that men should repent.' And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.

Mk. 6:30—And the apostles gather themselves together unto Jesus; and they told him all things, whatsoever they had done, and whatsoever they had taught.

Mk. 9:35—And he sat down, and called the twelve; and he saith unto them. If any man would be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all.

Mk. 9:36—taking him in his arms,

Mk. 9:37—and whosoever receiveth me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me:

Mk. 10:12—and if she herself shall put away her husband, and marry another, she committeth adultery.

Mk. 10:16—he took them in his arms, and blessed them,

Mk. 10:17—kneeled to him,

Mk. 10:21—And Jesus looking upon him loved him,

Mk. 10:50—And he, casting away his garment, sprang up, and came to Jesus.

Mk. 11:10—Blessed is the kingdom that cometh, the kingdom of our father David:

Mk. 12:6—He had yet one, a beloved son:

Mk. 12:40—they that devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers; these shall receive greater condemnation.

Mk. 13:35-37—whether at even, or at midnight, or at cockcrowing, or in the morning; lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you, I say unto all. Watch.

Mk. 15:25—And it was the third hour, and [=when] they crucified him.

A Summary.

The reader is perhaps well aware that I am at present engaged in no constructive work—that my purpose centers rather upon the simple destruction of the hypothesis that Matthew is a document derived in large part from Mark. As between the alternatives of a derivative Matthew and a derivative Mark, I favor the latter; but I am not now concerned in an attempt to establish it. It is sufficient for the moment to show that the hypothesis of a Matthew derived from Mark has no scientific support and never has had.

We are now concluding a section of our investigation which began in Bibliotheca Sacra, January, 1925, p. 89, and which is occupied with the possible evidence that may be obtained by attending to the phenomena of acceptance, omission and addition which are disclosed when Matthew is assumed to be the derivative Gospel and also when Mark is conceived to be the secondary document.2

Three Notable Considerations Against Matthaean Derivation.

It is very necessary that the advocates of the derivation of Matthew from Mark maintain the possibility of such derivation. And yet, our investigation has developed three important considerations militating against this possibility. These considerations are apparently new as well as weighty.

1. There is in Matthew no section independent of the Markan framework which gives the history of a tour of the Saviour involving the details of miraculous events. This is a very considerable difficulty in the way of the hypothesis that a Matthaean compiler had Mark before him, for the following reasons:

a. He had abundant independent information as to the works of the Saviour. This is indicated by the consideration that when the First Gospel is assumed to be a derivative of the Second, we have as many as six unparalleled comprehensive statements of miracles associated with the history selected by another writer. We must conclude that his own information extended to other and independent events of a miraculous nature, since he was so well informed upon an outline presented by another.

b. He had the literary qualifications for narrating events whose history was known to him.

In view of his probable possession of the necessary information and of his undeniable literary ability to put it into narrative form, the absence from his compilation of a miracle section independent of the Markan frame work is a strong indication of the falsity of the assumption that the Matthaean writer was indeed a compiler using Mark. See Bibliotheca Sacra, April, 1925, pp. 210-225 and April, 1926, p. 228.

2. When the First Gospel is assumed to have been de rived from the Second, it is necessary to conceive the compiler as rejecting about 42 per cent, of the historical details of the fifteen typical miracles whose occurrence and surrounding circumstances he follows his exemplar in narrating. We have here a weighty consideration against the hypothesis of a Matthew derived from Mark. See Bibliotheca Sacra, October, 1925, pp. 474-479.3

3. When Matthew is made secondary to Mark, it is necessary to concede that the compiler omitted direct discourse of the Saviour amounting to 876 words. Again we have a serious objection against Matthaean dependence upon Mark. See Bibliotheca Sacra, July, 1925, pp. 350-352.

Secondary Character of Mark Very Possible.

No substantial evidence has emerged from our study of parallelism and non-parallelism as disclosed in the first two Gospels that tends to show any impossibility in conceiving Mark as a derivative of Matthew. On the contrary, the development of the facts has brought into clearer and clearer light the possibility that Mark is the result of a compilation from Matthew.

The Purpose Behind the Second Gospel.

It has been asserted that a proper purpose cannot be assigned for a Mark assumed as secondary to Matthew. But this is a mistake founded upon a superficial acquaintance with the facts.

1. When Matthew is assumed prior to Mark, it is not true to say that this assumption makes the Second Gospel unnecessary as containing little or nothing not already published in the First. As a matter of well ascertained fact, not much less than one-third of the Markan contents is new information. Thus, of the details of the fifteen typical miracles recounted in both Gospels, about 42 per cent of the Markan account is peculiar to Mark. This percentage relates to the details remaining after the exclusion of unparalleled words of the Saviour. The Second Gospel contains 876 words of the Saviour’s direct discourse not present in the First. And there are a number of incidents found in Mark but not in Matthew. In short, the Markan compiler composed a book, a very considerable part of which consists of new and significant matter. See Bibliotheca Sacra, July, 1925, pp. 326-329, 341-342; and October, 1925, pp. 476, 478-479.

2. The hypothesis of a Mark derived from Matthew is not at all embarrassed by the omissions required of the Markan compiler. We have only to adopt the view that the Gospel of Mark originated from a thoroughly understandable purpose which required the limitation of the text pretty closely to a narrative of the works of the Saviour and to an account of His death and resurrection to perceive the suitability of omitting the Genealogy, the Infancy section and large and small blocks of discourse, together with passages featuring Peter in a favor able light. The omission of narratives of the four typical miracles found in Matthew but not in Mark is explicable because in the case of three of them we have a tenable hypothesis that at the outset they were really not omitted but were accidentally lost from the Second Gospel and because in the case of the fourth Peter is prominent. In fact, the omission of a fifth, though subordinate, miracle account may similarly be explained. See Bibliotheca Sacra, April, 1925, pp. 227 and 228; July, 1925, pp. 323- 326; and April, 1926, pp. 215 and 222.

3. It is also agreeable to a sane purpose for the com position of the Second Gospel that it should be directed to Gentiles and that consequently it should omit a good deal of Matthaean material of a Jewish or Hebraic character. See Bibliotheca Sacra, April, 1925, pp. 226-227; April, 1926, pp. 218-222.

In short, a very good and reasonable purpose may be assigned for the composition of Mark despite the prior existence of Matthew—a purpose formed (1) by the desire to publish a considerable amount of fresh material consisting largely of additional details belonging to typical miracles and of direct discourse of the Saviour; (2) by the wish to confine the account rather closely to the works, death and resurrection; and (3) by the hope of making a Gospel peculiarly suited to Gentiles. See Bibliotheca Sacra, October, 1924, pp. 509-510; April, 1925, pp. 225-237; July, 1925, p. 329; and April, 1926, p. 215 and pp. 218-222.

Other Additions and Omissions of a Markan Compiler.

There are additions and omissions other than those already considered in this Summary which have but little to do with the main purpose of the compiler of Mark. They are, nevertheless, consonant with the assumption that the Second Gospel is a compilation based on the First.

1. The whole incidents that must be assumed to be additions are few in number. Their fewness does not mean that the compiler had but little material to add. It signifies only that his extension of the table of contents is slight and does not indicate that his total of contributions to Matthaean topics is small. Ignorance of this distinction seems to have been the reason why prominent German and British writers have failed to perceive that John Mark may very well have been impelled to compile the Second Gospel largely because he had a great deal of fresh matter in the form of details though but little in the shape of accounts of whole incidents. This present investigation has disclosed, apparently for the first time, that the amount and the character of non-Matthaean material in Mark are such as to make the fact of no importance that the Second Gospel contains only a few incidents not to be found again in the First. See Bibliotheca Sacra, July, 1925, pp. 326-329.

2. The Markan omissions of whole incidents are not especially numerous and may partly be explained as due to a purpose to deal principally with the works of the Saviour and to cut down sharply the discourse. One or perhaps two other incidents have to do so considerably with Peter that this Apostle’s own modesty may reason ably be assigned as the influence controlling his interpreter in making the omissions. Then there are a couple of Matthaean passages whose absence from Mark causes no embarrassment to the hypothesis of a dependent Second Gospel. The remaining omissions of whole incidents relate to miracles. The fact that they are not recounted in the Mark which we now possess, though some of the principal ones may originally have been described in this Gospel, is offset by the fact that when Matthew is made dependent upon Mark we still have a similar group of omitted narratives of miracle. There are two compendious statements of miracles in Matthew which are absent from the text of Mark. These occasion no difficulty, as it is not at all certain that the Markan writer cared much for compendious accounts. See Bibliotheca Sacra, April, 1925, pp. 210-211; and July, 1925, pp. 323-326.

3. There are many short passages in Mark and not in Matthew, which, upon the hypothesis that the Second Gospel was compiled from the First, it is necessary to regard as additions. Many of these involve more or less difficulty, one portion consisting of words of and statements about the Saviour of such character as to make them, in the minds of some modems, hard to explain when they are viewed as textual matter added by a writer com posing his account at a point of time later than the date of the earliest narrative. Our investigation has shown that such passages have been independently added, not by one, but by all four of the Gospel writers; so that it cannot be conceded that once there was a period when such pas sages could have been introduced into a Gospel account and that later there was a period when they could not have been so introduced. It has also been made clear that there are numerous cases where a later and secondary Gospel writer was quite content to repeat such textual fragments despite the supposed difficulties contained in them.

As to alleged disparagements of the Apostles, contained in Mark but not in Matthew, similar remarks may be made. Such statements are by no means peculiar to the Second Gospel. They occur in all four evangelic writings where they are present because of the initiative of the several authors; and they occur also as repetitions made by secondary writers, whatever order of succession be assumed for the Synoptic documents. See Bibliotheca Sacra, October, 925, pp. 479-500; and January, 1926, pp. 85-103.

4. On the assumption that Mark was compiled from Matthew, we are required to grant the existence of many small omissions by the compiler. Some of these may very well be accounted for as required by a purpose to produce a Gospel containing a limited amount of discourse and a minimum of reference to Jewish and Hebraic matters and to avoid in the composition of the document pretty much all exploitations of the fame of Peter where this could be done without obscuring that of other Apostles as well. But there are many other small omissions. Some may be explained as due to homoioteleuton, either in the Matthaean exemplar or in some Markan ancestor of our present text; some to an unwillingness to repeat compendious statements as to miracles, because of the lack of detail; and some to the moderation with which the compiler thought it sufficient to repeat chronological and circumstantial connections between events. See Bibliotheca Sacra, April, 1926, pp. 215-218; p. 228; and earlier pages of present installment.

There are in Mark a number of gaps where omissions of Matthaean matter seem to leave the Markan story lacking in some necessary detail. Such omissions might constitute a good argument against the dependence of the Second Gospel upon the First, were it not for Matthaean gaps similarly capable of being filled by Markan information. A deadlock thus exists. We are absurdly per mitted to argue, not only against the dependence of Mark upon Matthew, but also against the dependence of Matthew upon Mark. See earlier pages of present installment.

Another deadlock is perceived when we come to consider a lot of unclassified omissions of Matthaean matter made by the Markan compiler. These are offset by a miscellaneous group of omissions that it is necessary to allow when Matthew is made a compilation dependent upon Mark. See earlier pages of present installment.

(To be continued)



1) See Mt. 15:l=Mk. 7:1; Mt. 19:27=Mk. 10:28; Mt 20:20=Mk. 10:36; Mt 22:21=Mk. 12:17; Mt 23:l=Mk. 12:38; Mt 26:3=Mk. 14:1; Mt 26:14=Mk. 14:10; Mt 26:16=Mk. 14:11; Mt 26:31= Mk. 14:27; Mt 26:36=Mk. 14:32; Mt 26:60=Mk. 14:46; Mt 26:66 =Mk. 14:60; Mt 26:67=14:66; Mt 26:74=Mk. 14:71; Mt 27:13= Mk. 16:4; Mt 27:27=Mk. 16:16; Mt 27:38=Mk. 16:27.

2) In Bibliotheca Sacra, October, 1924, pp. 499-514, occurs a preliminary discussion to the beginning of our investigation of the matter of parallelism and non-parallelism in January, 1925, p. 89. The views of a number of writers—B. Weiss, W. C. Allen, Rudolf Knopf—are considered in respect to what may be called the ‘absorption of Mark,’ The reader who has intelligently followed the investigation begun in the issue for January, 1925, knows that there is no such thing as the reputed absorption of Mark by Matthew, some 30 or more per cent of the information contained in Mark being absent from Matthew. Those of the three modern writers mentioned who have meant to claim that nearly all of the informative material in Mark is to be found again in Matthew are absurdly mistaken—absurdly mistaken in a mere matter of fact. Those of them who have meant that the First Gospel absorbed practically the whole of the Markan table of contents may well be asked. Well, what of it? The fact may be used as the basis of an argument for the dependence of one or the other of the two Gospels upon the remaining one. But, it has no significance as a criterion of priority.

Reference is also made in the preliminary discussion to the absurd idea that, if nearly the whole of the contents of Mark are to be found in a combination of Matthew and Luke, then we are face to face with a logical situation involving only two alternatives— either Mark was a source for both Matthew and Luke or both Matthew and Luke were a source for Mark. That H. J. Holtzmann is grossly in error here is made clear by the consideration that there are at least two other alternatives—Mt.—Mk.—Lk. and Lk.—Mk.— Mt. Rudolf Knopf is referred to as entertaining an erroneous logical conception of a similar character.

The question raised by Knopf, “Why did the Markan author write at all, if he was able to present absolutely nothing that was new, but only an abridged excerpt?” is overwhelmingly answered in later installments of our investigation by showing the extensive amount of informative material absent from Matthew and present in Mark. See Bibliotheca Sacra, October, 1925, pp. 478-479.

Prof. Peake argues from the fact that Matthew and Luke agree from the historical point where Mark begins to the historical point where Mark ends and only between these points that Mark must be considered the primitive document. If his conclusion were one asserting merely that the Synoptic Gospels can not very well be regarded as independent writings, then his argument might per haps be viewed as sound. But, when the inference is drawn as to Markan priority, then the argument is pretty well shot to pieces by the following considerations.

1. If it be allowed that the facts are explained by assuming Mark a source for Matthew and Luke, then they are also explained by making Matthew a source for Mark and Mark in turn a source for Luke. In fact, we may also set up the order Lk.—Mk.—Mt. as an explanation.

2. Mark now ends at 16:8. This is rather improbably the point at which the Gospel closed its record. It is, in fact, uncertain whether Matthew and Luke did really diverge at the historical point marked by the original terminus of Mark.

3) The third notable objection to the assumption that Matthew was derived from Mark will be founded upon the omission of 876 words of the Savior that is required of the compiler. These 876 words are not entirely independent of the 1,168 words of the Markan text that a Matthaean compiler must be conceived as having omitted when he took over fifteen typical miracles. The overlap is really a matter of 174 words. These I have subtracted from the 1,168 words. The remaining 994 words are then taken as the total of the Matthaean omissions from the Markan account of the fifteen miracles. As these miracles are, in Mark, narrated in 2,357 words, the percentage of the total amount of historical detail rejected by the Matthaean compiler is 42 per cent. See Bibliotheca Sacra, July, 1925, p. 351, and October, 1925, p. 476. The overlap may be calculated by comparing the tabulations upon these two pages.