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Tuesday
Apr012014

Theological Term of the Week 

synoptic problem
The question of why the synoptic gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—are so similar; the need to find a relationship between the three synoptic gospels that accounts for their similarities and differences.  

  • From the three accounts of the healing of the paralytic (Notice particularly the similar parenthetical statements I’ve italicized.):

    “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” (Matthew 9:6 ESV)

    “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” (Mark 2:10-11 ESV)

    But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” (Luke 5:24 ESV)

  • From The Synoptic Problem: An Introduction by Robert H. Stein:
    One of the most persuasive arguments for the literary interdependence of the synoptic Gospels is the presence of identical parenthetical material, for it is highly unlikely that two or three writers would by coincidence insert into their accounts exactly the same editorial comment at exactly the same place.

Learn more:1

  1. Blue Letter Bible: The Synoptic Problem
  2. GotQuestions.org: What is the Synoptic Problem?
  3. Daniel Wallace: The Synoptic Problem
  4. John MacArthur: Introduction to Mark
  5. Dr. Robert Stein: Synoptic Problem (audio)

Related terms:

Filed under Scripture

1The authors of these articles do not necessarily agree on the most likely solution to the synoptic problem.

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

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