Tag Archives: Synoptic Problem

How Matthew Invented the Lord’s Prayer (A Goulder View)

The two earlier posts on The Lord’s Prayer:

  1. “Jesus Did Not Compose the Lord’s Prayer”
  2. On What Grounds Would Anyone Argue That Luke’s Lord’s Prayer Post-Dates Matthew’s?

Let this be my third and final post on the Lord’s Prayer. I return to the article by Michael Goulder with which I began these posts.

Our Father

I suppose by now it seems the most natural thing in the world to start the prayer with this address but it need not have been so. I suppose it could have begun, “Dear God”, “Great Lord”, “Creator of Heaven and Earth”, “Oh Ineffable One”, etc. But we have “Our Father”.

An explanation can be found in the writings that pre-dated the gospels. We learn there that addressing God as Father appears to have been widespread in Paul’s day:

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6)

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”(Romans 8:15)

The Gospel of Mark, the first gospel to be written (according to most studies today), carries over this custom when we find there Jesus himself praying, Abba, Father:

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father . . . “ (Mark 14:36)

From Picryl

Abba is the Aramaic for father, as we know. The word fell out of use, however, over time, so we see both the Gospels of Matthew and Luke dropping it and relying solely on the Greek word for father. So in Matthew’s and Luke’s copying of Mark’s scene above they drop Abba:

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father . . . “

He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father . . . “ (Matthew 26:39, 42)

Luke is even more truncated and omits the possessive pronoun:

He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, . . . “ (Luke 22:41 f)

So it is no great surprise to see Matthew’s Lord’s Prayer beginning with Our Father and Luke’s with Father.

Our Father in Heaven

Once again we begin with the earliest of the gospels, that of Mark, and a major source for both the gospels of Matthew and Luke. There we find only one time in which Jesus explicitly taught his disciples how to pray. It comes just after the disciples express amazement that Jesus’ curse on the fig tree really worked:

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:22-25)

That lesson on prayer in Mark (the only lesson on prayer in Matthew’s and Luke’s source) “coincidentally” introduces a major thought in the later Lord’s Prayer, the need to forgive sins of others so God will forgive us. It’s the main point of Jesus’ lesson on prayer in the Gospel of Mark and it is stressed in the Gospel of Matthew by added commentary at the end of the prayer as we shall see.

The point here, though, is that it is surely evident that the above Marcan passage was in the mind of the author of Matthew’s gospel, and there in Matthew’s source we find the same phrase, Father in heaven, as is used to introduce Matthew’s Prayer.

As we have seen in the previous post that Luke had already identified the Father he was talking about as being in heaven only 22 verses earlier so, in accord with his tendency to avoid repetition, he omits “in heaven” in his own version of the Prayer.

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors

read more »

On What Grounds Would Anyone Argue That Luke’s Lord’s Prayer Post-Dates Matthew’s?

Statue of Jesus praying, from Pixabay

The following question arose in a Facebook forum a couple of weeks ago:

In comparing Matthew and Luke, we find that Matthew has a wider array of moral sayings (essentially a superset of the material in Luke). Also, Matthew has a more advanced rendering of the Lord’s Prayer, the Beattitudes, the Great Sermon and the Great Commission. It has a wider array of kingdom of God sayings, and a more evolved and expansive treatment of eschatalogical issues. From just about every perspective Matthew looks more ideologically evolved than Luke. On what grounds would anyone argue that Luke post-dates Matthew?

So why do many biblical scholars (most, I believe) say that Luke post-dates Matthew? Take the Lord’s Prayer. It certainly does appear to be “more advanced”, so why would Luke write a “cruder” form of it he was writing after the Matthean version was surely known?

From my earlier post “Jesus Did Not Compose the Lord’s Prayer”:

Matthew 6:9-13 Luke 11:2-4
9 “‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
2 “‘Father,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come, your kingdom come.
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread. 3 Give us each day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
13 And lead us not into temptation, And lead us not into temptation.’”
but deliver us from the evil one.’

I won’t repeat points from Michael Goulder’s article. Here I’ll set out how three other scholars subsequent to Goulder have made a case for Luke’s Lord’s Prayer being a revision of Matthew’s.

Luke’s Different View of Eschatology and the Church

Franklin earlier gave reasons for viewing Luke’s apparently “more primitive/less spiritual” beatitudes being a response to Matthew’s “more elegant and spiritual” list:

We have seen that even the beatitudes make good sense as vehicles of Lukan theology adapted from Matthew as their source and that they fit into a sermon which is itself an adequate expression of the Lukan purpose at this point. Again, the Lukan form of the Lord’s Prayer expresses Luke’s own beliefs and fits comfortably into its context of eschatologically motivated prayer (11.2-4). (Franklin, 350)

I posted my own take (probably inspired by Franklin or others with a similar view) on Luke’s beatitudes in The poor and Q — literary vs historical paradigms (2007).

Eric Franklin in a study comparing the Gospels of Matthew and Luke discerned the following thematic difference between them:

  • Matthew wrote of and for the Church, the assembly governed by rules and ordinances under Peter,  and that Church was a form of the Kingdom of God already here on earth even though at the same time it was waiting for the time when the Kingdom would come with the return of Jesus to extend it world-wide as foretold by the prophets. For Matthew, the Kingdom of God was already here in the church, and that meant the church was being judged now according to its adherence to the rule of Jesus. The final coming of the Judge would bring judgement on how those in “the kingdom” now treated one another.
    .
  • Luke did not think of the church in that way. For Luke (of course I am using shorthand when I speak of Luke and Matthew as the authors since we don’t know who those authors were, and other times I use the names to refer to the gospels themselves) the kingdom was not here on earth now in any form, not even partly, as in the church. No, for Luke the church consisted of people who were called upon to wait patiently and endure trials until the kingdom arrived with the coming of Jesus. What those Christians had until then was the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit from Jesus and that spirit gave them power and strength to endure and hold fast, but it did not make the church a small advance part of the kingdom of God here and now. That was entirely future.

Again, all this means that Luke sees eschatology as being less realized in the present than does Matthew and he therefore accepts the parousia as having a positive role. It retains the aspect of hope in a way that Matthew’s emphasis upon its judgmental role does not. Luke is more ambivalent and thus more realistic about the realities of discipleship in the present. It is ‘through many tribulations’ that we enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14.22). His Jesus does not therefore indwell the church as he does in Matthew and the church is less directly related to the kingdom. (Franklin, p. 312)

See how that difference is reflected in the two prayers. read more »

Multiple Sources or a Single Source? Two Views

Multiple sources

Matthew and Luke did indeed use Mark, but significant portions of both Gospels are not related in any way to Mark’s accounts. And in these sections of their Gospels Matthew and Luke record extensive, independent traditions about Jesus’s life, teachings, and death. . . .

But that is not all. There are still other independent Gospels. The Gospel of John is sometimes described as the “maverick Gospel” because it is so unlike the synoptic accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

Gospels continued to be written after John, however, and some of these later accounts are also independent. Since the discovery in 1945 of the famous Gospel of Thomas, a collection of 114 sayings of Jesus, scholars have debated its date. . . . [A] good portion of Thomas, if not all of it, does not derive from the canonical texts. To that extent it is a fifth independent witness to the life and teachings of Jesus.

The same can be said of the Gospel of Peter, discovered in 1886. . . .

Another independent account occurs in the highly fragmentary text called Papyrus Egerton 2. . . . Here then, at least in the nonparalleled story, but probably in all four, is a seventh independent account. (Ehrman, 75-77)

Within a couple of decades of the traditional date of his death, we have numerous accounts of his life found in a broad geographical span. In addition to Mark, we have Q, M (which is possibly made of multiple sources), L (also possibly multiple sources), two or more passion narratives, a signs source, two discourse sources, the kernel (or original) Gospel behind the Gospel of Thomas, and possibly others. And these are just the ones we know about, that we can reasonably infer from the scant literary remains that survive from the early years of the Christian church. No one knows how many there actually were. Luke says there were “many” of them, and he may well have been right. (Ehrman, 83)

We have a number of surviving Gospels—I named seven—that are either completely independent of one another or independent in a large number of their traditions. (Ehrman, 92)

Indirectly, then, Tacitus and (possibly) Josephus provide independent attestation to Jesus’s existence from outside the Gospels although, as I stated earlier, in doing so they do not give us information that is unavailable in our other sources. . . . As a result of our investigations so far, it should be clear that historians do not need to rely on only one source (say, the Gospel of Mark) for knowing whether or not the historical Jesus existed. He is attested clearly by Paul, independently of the Gospels, and in many other sources as well: in the speeches in Acts, which contain material that predate Paul’s letters, and later in Hebrews, 1 and 2 Peter, Jude, Revelation, Papias, Ignatius, and 1 Clement. These are ten witnesses that can be added to our seven independent Gospels (either entirely or partially independent), giving us a great variety of sources that broadly corroborate many of the reports about Jesus without evidence of collaboration. (Ehrman, 97, 140f)

. . .

A Single Source

Significantly almost every scholar who pushes for the authenticity, and the early dating, of various extra-canonical items, does so with the argument that these texts were part of the core tradition of early Christianity: in other words, that they are not independent witnesses to the historical Yeshua. (Akenson, 552)

The Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John not alternative independent witnesses, but slightly variant editions of a single source: both are found within the Christian interpretative tradition and, as we have seen (Chapter Nine), this tradition required that for Yeshua of Nazareth to be come Jesus-the-Christ, he had to be identified as a Passover sacrifice. Thus, we have here a single tradition, not a multiply-attested set of historical observations. Emphatically, this does not mean that the single-source tradition is wrong, merely that it is not confirmed by the self-repetition of certain points within the Christian scriptures. (Akenson, 553)

Some scholars have suggested that cella in of the para-biblical books – such as the Gospel of Thomas or the Gospel of Peter – intermixed with ”Q” and Mark and the unique portions of Matthew and of Luke in the biblical equivalent of the primal soup from which all life is said to stem. Some few others throw into the stew a “Cross Gospel” which is an hypothetical document, said to underlie the Gospel of Peter. Just how far out of control this is, and unrelated to anything a professional historian would recognize as a testable hypothesis or as having probative value, is illustrated by the following summary of his own theory of the formation of the Gospels, put forward by John Dominic Crossan, one of the best-known of Roman Catholic biblical historian

The process developed. in other words, over these primary steps. First, the historical passion, composed of minimal knowledge, was known only in the general terms recorded by. say, Josephus or Tacitus. Next, the prophetic passion, composed of multiple and discrete biblical allusions and seen most clearly in a work like the Epistle of Barnabas, developed biblical applications over, under, around, and through that open framework. Finally, those multiple and discrete exercises were combined into the narrative passion as a single sequential story. I proposed. furthermore, that the narrative passion is but a single stream of tradition flowing from the Cross Gospel, now embedded within the Gospel of Peter. into Mark, thence together into Matthew and Luke, and thence, all together, into John. Other reconstructions are certainly possible. but that seems to me the most economical one to explain all the data.

– a strange brew indeed. (Akenson, 573)

[E]ven if one finds the heuristic-Gospel “Q” useful in understanding the evolution of the biblical text, it docs not constitute multiple attestation by independent witnesses of the sayings or deeds of the historical Yeshua. All the sayings are derived from a unitary source, the extant canonical scriptures, and just as the canonical scriptures are a single witness, so any hypothetical derivative from the canon is pan of the same single unitary source. To be blunt: one cannot obtain multiple independent attestation of the historical Yeshua simply by chopping up the “New Testament.” (Akenson, 574-5)

Compare Akenson’s point with Schweitzer’s:

Moreover, in the case of Jesus, the theoretical reservations are even greater because all the reports about him go back to the one source of tradition, early Christianity itself, and there are no data available in Jewish or Gentile secular history which could be used as controls. (See Schweitzer in context for full quote and variant translations.)


Akenson, Donald Harman. 2001. Surpassing Wonder: The Invention of the Bible and the Talmuds. New edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Ehrman, Bart D. 2013. Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. New York: HarperOne.


“The Marcionite Gospel and the Synoptic Problem: A New Suggestion”

Matthias Klinghardt

Matthias Klinghardt responded to Mark Goodacre’s 2002 book, The Case Against Q, with an article proposing a Marcionite solution to the Synoptic Problem: “The Marcionite Gospel and the Synoptic Problem: A New Suggestion” published in Novum Testamentum, 2008.

For those of us who like to be reminded, here are the traditional theories on the Synoptic Problem:

The Griesbach or Two-Gospel theory — that Mark was the last gospel to be composed — is a minority view. Recently published proponents are William R. Farmer, Allan McNicol and David Peabody (Klinghardt, p.2).

Arguments for Markan priority — summed up in Goodacre’s book as the case against the Griesbach hypothesis — have persuaded most scholars so for the purposes of this discussion Klinghardt [MK] does not call this into question. It is the major part of The Case Against Q that has proved controversial and that MK addresses. Criticism against Goodacre’s thesis has also come from

MK begins by noting two positive arguments supporting Goodacre’s argument for the Farrer hypothesis (also known as the Farrer-Goulder hypothesis) that Mark alone (without Q) was the primary source for both Matthew and Luke, and that Luke also knew and revised Matthew:

  1. the minor agreements (e.g. both Luke (22:64) and Matthew (26:68) have the mockers of Jesus taunt with “Who is it who struck you?”, but this is not found in Mark)
  2. the hypothetical nature of Q

On the question of the minor agreements MK sides with Goodacre:

As for the minor agreements, Goodacre has a strong point insisting on the principal independence of Matthew and Luke according to the 2DH. This excludes the evasive solution that, although basically independent from one another, Luke knew and used Matthew in certain instances.

Methodologically, it is not permissible to develop a theory on a certain assumption and then abandon this very assumption in order to get rid of some left over problems the theory could not sufficiently explain. The methodological inconsistency of this solution would be less severe, if “Q” existed. But since “Q” owes its existence completely to the conclusions drawn from a hypothetical model, such an argument flies in the face of logic: it annuls its own basis.

This is the reason why Goodacre’s reference to the hypothetical character of “Q” carries a lot of weight. More weight, certainly, than Kloppenborg would concede: he tries to insinuate that Mark is as hypothetical as “Q”, since Mark “is not an extant document, but a text that is reconstructed from much later manuscripts.” This exaggeration disguises the critical point: the hypothetical character of the “document Q” would certainly not pose a problem, if “Q” was based on existing manuscript evidence the way Mark is.

It is, therefore, important to see that these two objections are closely related to each other: They prove that the minor agreements are, in fact, “fatal to the Q hypothesis”.  (my formatting)

But there are problems with thinking that Luke knew Matthew, as MK notes: read more »

Do Mark’s Primitive Language, Aramaicisms and Theology Really Argue for Markan Priority?

The relationships between the three synoptic g...
Image via Wikipedia

This series of posts (previous one here) on Dungan’s summary of arguments for the Gospel of Mark being the last of the canonical Gospels to have been composed is contrarily working backwards. My first post (the one previous to this) outlined Dungan’s final points in his chapter. I am saving his “first points” for last. They address an interesting phenomenon in biblical studies that mythicists certainly know exists among these scholarly ranks: winning arguments by means of ad hominem attacks and declaring the opposition “long since defeated” when it has merely been ignored. (Well what do you expect from a vestigial religion study from medieval days?) And don’t forget the circular reasoning that becomes so embedded in the conventional wisdom that most who read it tend to be hypnotized by the spiral and come to believe they are travelling through the straightest of tunnels.

But to continue here with one of Dungan’s argument for Markan posteriority from somewhere in the middle of his discussion . . . .

Dungan structures his discussion on Mark being the last written of the canonical Gospels around B. H. Streeter’s formulations. In chapter 7, The Fundamental Solution, of The Four Gospels (1924),

The primitive character of Mark is further shown by

(a) the use of phrases likely to cause offence, which are omitted or toned down in the other Gospels,
(b) roughness of style and grammar, and the preservation of Aramaic words.

Since these are generalized headings Dungan zeroes in on some of Streeter’s specifics that fall under them. One is Streeter’s explanation for Matthew’s and Luke’s “improvements on Mark” is that they “have a reverential motive”. Again from the same link to chapter 7 above, Streeter wrote: read more »

Another reason for Luke to have broken up Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount

If the author of the Gospel of Luke knew Matthew’s gospel then how can one explain his decision to break up the aesthetic and noble unity of Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount? There are responses to this question that do not persuade everyone. (The idea that Luke did not like long sermons runs into a problem when one reads long sermons and speeches in Acts.) If, however, we think of canonical Luke as an anti-Marcionite work (as discussed in recent posts on Tyson’s Marcion and Luke-Acts), then something about the Sermon on the Mount immediately stands out as a problem for an author writing a tract to trounce Marcionism.

Matthew 5:

20. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

21. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22. But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment:

27. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28. But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

31. It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32. But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife,

33. Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 34. But I say unto you, Swear not at all;

38. Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39. But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil:

43. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Even though many today read the whole tenor of Matthew’s gospel and the Sermon on the Mount as pro-Torah, the above pattern of sayings cannot help but at the very least suggest a pro-Marcionite teaching about Jesus and the Law. Marcionism taught that Jesus came from a higher god than the Creator god of the Jews, and that the law of that Creator god of Israel was deficient compared with the true teachings of the hitherto unknown god. read more »

Marcion – Synoptic Problem (4): birth narratives

Continuing from Marcion and the Synoptic Problem (3)

The argument for Q rests on the understanding that Luke did not know the gospel of Matthew. One of the reasons for this view is Luke’s “otherwise inexplicable” failure to draw on some of the most memorable of material unique to Matthew, such as Joseph planning to divorce Mary until the angel came to him in a dream, the story of the Magi following the star to visit Jesus at his birth, Herod’s massacre of the innocents and Jesus’ and his parents’ flight to Egypt.

Kloppenborg argues that much of the material special to Matthew, such as the focus on the gentile theme (e.g. the Magi) was begging for Luke to pick up had he known it. Others have responded that Luke was reserving the gentile mission of the time after Jesus (e.g. Luke edited Matthew’s story of the healing of the Roman centurion’s servant so that Jesus never made direct contact with the gentile (cf. Matt 8 and Luke 7). Goodacre adds that Luke had a dim view of the Magi class (cf. Acts 8).

I would add that we know from the book of Acts that for “Luke” the Jerusalem Temple was a central pillar in his narrative (see my earlier post looking at Tyson’s methodical analysis of Luke’s themes in Acts), and other posts I have put out recently look at reasons for seeing this as an anti-Marcionite motif (see my Tyson and Marcion archives). But I’m following Tyson here, in assuming our canonical Luke is a redaction of the earlier “Luke” that Marcion knew. If so, then we can understand Luke intended from the start to link Jesus with the Temple — right from his very birth and entrance into the world. Hence his dedication at the Temple at the time of his circumcision, and his follow-up as a boy a few years later.

Embedding Jesus in the Temple motif from the first made Matthew’s nativity story impossible. Matthew’s required Jerusalem to be the centre of the evil Herod who caused the exile of Jesus into Egypt. There was no room in the logic of Matthew’s narrative for Herod, the massacre of the infants, nor even the Magi. The Magi were in fact the narrative means by which Herod caused the exile of Jesus from the Temple area altogether. If Luke brought them into his narrative at all it would have been clear that his audience would be unable to free themselves of their Matthean role and make a mockery of any alternative theological spin Luke was trying to introduce. Best he replace these wealthy eastern aristocrats with a completely new vision of lowly local shepherds being visited not by an astrological sign but by an angelic choir. It was important for Luke to keep Jesus in the area so the Jewish Temple tradition could be shown to be integral to the coming of Jesus. To have him exiled from the area altogether by the king of Jerusalem would surely only play into the hands of those (such as Marcionites) who argued Jesus came quite apart from any special Jewish heritage of promise.

But it has also been pointed out (Farrer, Goulder, Goodacre) that points of contact between Luke’s and Matthew’s nativities do suggest some form of dependence despite the differences.

  • The idea of a nativity introduction to the gospel was not something an author took for granted as a natural enough place to start. Neither Mark nor John, nor Marcion, saw this as a fit beginning. So the question whether Luke picked up the idea from Matthew presents itself. And if so, one would presume some inkling of the nature of Matthew’s account.
  • Both speak of a virginal conception by the holy spirit
  • Both have the birth take place at Bethlehem
  • Both hit on the name of Joseph for Jesus’ father
  • Both share the same Greek words for “will give birth to a son and you (singular) shall call him Jesus.” (Matt. 1:21 and Luke 1:31). Matthew’s use of this sentence is addressed to Joseph, who as father does name his son Jesus. Luke uses it — inappropriately in the same singular form — as an address to Mary who will not be solely responsible for naming her son (compare Luke 1:13).

Klinghardt suggests that Luke did know Matthew, but chose to follow and modify Marcion’s gospel rather than Matthew’s at this point. I doubt that argument will satisfy those who argue for Q since clearly, given Marcion’s lack of a nativity scene, it is hard to imagine Luke’s mind not turning to Matthew’s. But I have given my reasons above for believing an anti-Marcionite redactor (Luke) would see Matthew’s story playing right into the hands of Marcionites.

But Klinghardt strengthens his case that Luke knew Matthew by elaborating on the logic of the Bethlehem setting in the two gospels. The Bethlehem setting makes perfect sense in Matthew’s gospel, especially since to Matthew it was the inevitable sign and proof of Jesus’ Davidic kingship. Although Matthew knows from Mark of Jesus’ association with Nazareth, he begins the gospel with Jesus’ parents living in Bethlehem. They are forced to flee and when it comes time to return the political situation is such that it is safest for them to settle in Nazareth. This all has a cogent narrative flow. Klinghardt sees Luke as being more “universalist” in his concept of Jesus (cf Luke 2:1-2; 3:1a), hence his downplaying of Matthew’s significance for Bethlehem.

K does not elaborate, but Luke’s forced and unnatural embrace of the Bethlehem scene might also be seen as evidence of Luke’s dependence on Matthew. Luke, attempting to adapt Matthew’s Bethlehem as the place of birth of Jesus to his more universalist theme, feels obliged to concoct a silly story of everyone being required by imperial edict to return to their places of birth for a special tax registration. Not to mention the necessary anachronism of his Quirinius timing, too. It is not hard to see that Luke is struggling to incorporate Matthew’s Bethlehem setting into his own tendentious narrative.

But back to Klinghardt’s point:

But, again, Goodacre’s explanation why Luke did not take over this material, is as hypothetical as Kloppenborg’s reply why Luke would have liked it, provided he had read Matthew. Both argue e silentio from Luke’s omissions and try to explain something which is not there.

For most of this material the answer might be much simpler: if Luke followed [Marcion], he did not find any of the [special Matthew] material . . . Since Luke did not “omit” it from his source, there is no need for a hypothetical explanation of his reasons for doing it this way: he simply followed the narrative frame of [Marcion]. (p.14)

But Klinghardt himself appears to be aware of the weakness of this argument — there was no Marcionite nativity “narrative frame” for Luke to “simply follow” in the first place. Hence he, too, must side with Goodacre and add his own arguments why Luke did indeed use and change Matthew at this point — to which I have added my own here.

Marcion and the Synoptic Problem (3)

Continuing from Marcion enters the synoptic problem and Marcion and the synoptic problem 2. — notes from Klinghardt’s recent article. K often refers to Mark Goodacre’s The Case Against Q.

A question that keeps hanging over my mind as I read and think about Klinghardt’s article is: Just how reliable is Tertullian’s witness of Marcion’s gospel anyway? How can we be sure Tertullian is not really relying more on Luke and recalling what differences he thinks there were from an earlier reading of Marcion’s gospel? Tertullian does concede that his earlier notes went missing, and one is left wondering how much that survives was from his memory and without immediate reference to Marcion’s gospel.

If that was the case, then is not there a risk of Klinghardt’s argument lacking a stable support — in effect being circular?

But the fact that Epiphanius can be called on to support Tertullian’s testimony from time to time does appear to lessen the risk that this is the case.

Some years ago when first studying what we know about Marcion I had an ambition of sifting through Tertullian et al to see if the Marcionite gospel might indeed cross reference to the synoptic gospels and suggest an alternative to Q. I’m thrilled to see that Klinghardt appears to have done something like that here.

I know the whole notion of this discussion will be nonsense to anyone who cannot admit even the possibility of a second century, let alone post Marcion, date for the synoptics. But the more I read around the issues the more I can’t help thinking that such a late date resolves so many other questions, too, which I discuss here from time to time.

Notes from Klinghardt’s article:

Alternating primitivity in the Double Tradition (Mt & Lk) material

Matthew and Luke alone include “the beatitude” sayings of Jesus. Luke writes: Blessed are the poor; Matthew writes: Blessed are the poor in spirit. Luke’s version here is regarded as the original or more primitive version of the two. Matthew’s defining the poor in spiritual terms is regarded as a subsequent evolution of the saying as it appears in Luke. Sometimes, however, it is Luke who will use what is considered the more mature form of a saying and Matthew the more primitive. The most widely accepted explanation for this alternating primitivity in the double tradition material (that shared exclusively by Matthew and Luke) has been the hypothesis that both Matthew and Luke were using another common source, Q.

Klinghardt however writes: “On the assumption of [Marcion] being prior to Luke the observation of alternating primitivity finds a completely different and rather simple solution.” (p.15)

Tertullian informs us that Marcion’s text matches Luke’s (contra Matthew’s) in the following instances:

  1. Blessed are the poor (Luke 6:20b) — Tert. 4.1.41
  2. Blessed are the persecuted on behalf of the Son of Man (Luke 6:22) — Tert. 41.14.14
  3. The Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:2-4, contra Matt. 6:9-13) — Tert. 4.26.3-4 (Tert does not quote the Marcionite Lord’s Prayer but K comments that it is clear he does not know of Matthew’s second and seventh prayer requests in Marcion’s version. Some manuscript evidence also points to the possibility that Luke’s original Lord’s prayer called on the spirit in place of the kingdom and was later changed to “kingdom” — which would also be more consistent with a Marcionite theology.)
  4. Exorcism is performed by the finger of God (Luke 11:20, contra Matt. 12:28 ) — Tert. 4.26.11

Luke’s “re-ordering” of Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount

Matthew’s multi-page Sermon on the Mount is not repeated as a solitary block in Luke. Rather, Luke does use a number of the sayings from that sermon but in small snatches scattered throughout the narrative. To those who support Luke’s knowledge of and borrowing from Matthew, this is evidence of Luke’s greater narrative skill; to most, however, it is inconceivable that any author would have broken up a such a “masterpiece” had he known it.

Tertullian in particular informs us that Marcion’s gospel contained the bulk of the broken up “sermon” sayings of Matthew in the same narrative order as found in Luke. In other words, given Macionite priority it appears most likely that Luke followed Marcion’s text rather than another otherwise unattested document, Q.

Klinghardt provides the following table:

  1. Matt. 5:13 // Luke 14:34-35 (parable of salt): —
  2. Matt. 5:15 // Luke 11:33 (parable of light): Tert. 4.27.1
  3. Matt. 5:18 // Luke 16:17 (imperishability of the law): Tert. 4.33.9
  4. Matt. 5:25 // Luke 12:57-59 (reconciling with enemy): Tert. 4.29.15
  5. Matt. 5:32 // Luke 16:18 (divorce and remarriage): Tert. 4.34.1, 4
  6. Matt. 6:9-13 // Luke 11:2-4 (Lord’s Prayer): Tert. 4.26.3-5
  7. Matt. 6:19-21 // Luke 12: 33-34 (on collecting treasures): —
  8. Matt. 6:22-23 // Luke 11:34-36 (parable of the eye): —
  9. Matt. 6:24 // Luke 16:13 (serving 2 masters): Tert. 4.33.1-2; Adam., Dial. 1.26
  10. Matt. 6:25-34 // Luke 12:22-31 (on anxiety): Tert. 4.29.1-5
  11. Matt. 7:7-11 // Luke 11:9-13 (answered prayer): Tert. 4.26.5-10; Epiph. 42.11.6
  12. Matt. 7:13-14 // Luke 13:23-24 (narrow gate): —
  13. Matt. 7:22-23 // Luke 13:26-27 (warning against self-deception): Tert. 4.30.4

On the Minor Agreements in the Triple Tradition (Mt, Mk, Lk) material

These are so, well, “minor” that there is no way to test many of them against Marcion’s gospel without that gospel’s actual text. In some of the minor agreements between Luke and Matthew against Mark there is no Marcionite attestation and it seems logical to think Luke has copied Matthew in such cases.

But a few points are worth noting in relation to the possibility of Marcionite influence:

– the sabbath was not made for man . . .
Both Luke 9:5 and Matthew 12:7-8 omit Mark 2:27 (the sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath). There is no attestation that this and other “omission agreements” were in Marcion’s text.

Who hit you?
A more significant and testable agreement is in the depiction of Christ’s beating. Matthew and Luke both add the “Tell us who hit you” taunt to Mark’s account. (cf. Mark 14:65; Luke 22:64; Matt. 26:68 )

This agreement is prima facie evidence that Luke did know and use Matthew. Arguments against this have centred on postulating faulty manuscript transmission or that Luke sometimes occasionally used Matthew as well as Q. The former sounds ad hoc and the latter contradicts the very premise for the Q hypothesis (that Matthean material is not found in Luke.)

But Epiphanius (Panar. 42.11.6) informs us that these words were in Marcion’s gospel. The simplest explanation therefore, given Marcion priority, would be that both Luke and Matthew copied Marcion’s text here.

standing outside (minus the sisters)
Mark 3:31-5 narrates Jesus’ family, including his sisters, are waiting for him outside a house. Luke 8:20 and Matthew 12:47 narrate the same incident from Mark, but without mentioning the sisters and with both describing the family as “standing” outside.

Tertullian read the same (Lukan and Matthean) words in Marcion’s text. 4.19.7

the mustard seed
Mark’s parable of the mustard seed (4:30-32) is told in the passive voice and without naming the subject (sower). Both Matthew and Luke use the active voice and do name the subject (sower). Matthew, however, speaks of a garden, Luke of a field.
Tertullian tells us, 4.30.1, that Marcion had the same version we find in Matthew and Luke. Tertullian also read Luke’s “field” in the Macionite text.

after three days
In Mark 8:31 we read the resurrection was to be “after three days”. In Matthew 16:21 and Luke 9:22 we read it was to be “on the third day”.

Marcion also used “on the third day” — Tertullian 4.21.7

The nativity stories

Klinghardt discusses these as well. But my note-taking time is up for now so that’s another post.

Marcion and the Synoptic Problem (2)

Continuing from previous post on Klinghardt’s recent article:

(this post will read like nonsense if we assume Marcion’s gospel was mutilation of Luke’s as asserted by Tertullian, but that assumption is addressed in other posts in my Marcion archive, including in part the previous post on Klinghardt’s article)

Marcion and the Matthean additions to the Triple Tradition not found in Luke

If Luke is dependent on Matthew (without Q) one must explain why Luke omitted

Kloppenborg rightly says that some of these would have fit well Luke’s editorial purposes.

Klinghardt notes the negative framing of this objection, resting at it does on the assumption of Q, which is also a constructed from another negative set of arguments – and argues that the inclusion of Marcion’s gospel into the equation “allows for a positive and convincing argument”.

Is there support for the hypothesis that Luke followed Marcion’s gospel in the places where we find the above Matthean additions to Mark missing? Klinghardt writes: “All but one of these examples are reported to be part of Mcn [Marcion’s gospel], which allows for a positive check:”

Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees (Matt. 12.5-7)

Matthew’s material is missing from Luke, but Luke’s version is said to be found in Marcion’s text.

Tertullian (AM 4.12.5, 4.12.9-10) tells us that parts of our Luke 6:4 and Luke 6:6-7 are in Marcion’s text.

Epiphanius (Panar. 42.11.6) also read our Luke 6:3-4 in Marcion.

The full quotation of Isaiah 6:9-10 (Matt. 13.14-17)

Tertullian’s quotes from Marcion’s equivalent of Luke 8:2-4, 8 (4.19.1-2) and 8:16-17, 18 (4.19.3-4, 5) are enough for us to reasonably infer that Marcion also quoted Isaiah as it appears in our Luke.

Peter walking on water (Matt. 14.28-31)

This scene of Matthew’s belongs to that non-section of Luke known as the Great Omission — where Luke omits all material from Mark 6:45-8:26. This same section was also “omitted” from Marcion’s gospel. But more pertinently for Klinghardt’s case, the Lukan verses “bracketing” this Great Omission, Luke 9:17 and 9:18, also appear in succession in Marcion’s gospel:

Tertullian, 4.21.4, 6

Thus K concludes that Luke followed Marcion’s text here.

Peter’s confession and beatitude (Matt. 16.16-19)

Luke skips Matthew’s narrative with his briefer outline in Luke 9:20 and 9:21.

Again Tertullian tells us that Marcion also contained these two verses together. (4.21.6)

Tertullian says that in Marcion’s gospel Peter merely said, “You are Christ” (also Adamantius, Dial. 2.13: the Christ). Luke 9:20 says “Christ of God”, which is much closer to Marcion’s form than Matthew’s “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.”

The exception clause for divorce (Matt. 19:9b)

Tertullian needs this exception clause to make his argument but cannot find it in neither Marcion nor Luke (16:18), and must resort to Matthew for it. Tertullian gives special attention to this section of Marcion (4.33.7, 9; 4.34.1-2) and complains that Marcion did not hand down the truth of this doctrine.

Love command in reply to rich young man (Matt. 19. 19b)

The episode of Jesus’ exchange is one of the best attested texts in Marcion’s gospel since it contains Jesus’ explicit statement about God the father. Adamantius (Dial. 2:17) quotes Jesus’ answer in Marcion extensively. Marcion, like Luke, has only the list of commandments that must be obeyed. Only Matthew adds the love command.

Pilate’s wife’s dream and washing hands (Matt. 27.19, 24)

There is no information that Marcion included these scenes.

John’s objection to Jesus (Matt 3.15)

Marcion’s gospel began at our Luke 3:1a and continued with our Luke 4:31-37, 16-30.

Marcion therefore did not include a baptism scene at all. Luke therefore copied Matthew here. But Matthew’s interpretation of fulfilling all righteousness in the act was far from Luke’s theological bent, so this passage would have been omitted. (Klinghardt, p.13)

K’s conclusion:

No need for Q to explain these Lukan omissions. They create no problem if Luke was following Marcion.

Hope to cover K’s treatment of the special Matthew material etc in future post . . . .

Marcion enters the Synoptic Problem

Matthias Klinghardt in a recent article, The Marcionite Gospel and the Synoptic Problem: A New Suggestion, attempts to break through the deadlock between the Two-Source-Hypothesis and the Farrer-Goodacre-Theory by introducing into the debate a Gospel of Marcion that predates the gospels of Matthew and Luke. “The resulting model avoids the weaknesses of the previous theories and provides compelling and obvious solutions to the notoriously difficult problems.” (Klinghardt, p.1)

Here I share Klinghardt’s opening general arguments justifying the plausibility that Marcion’s gospel preceded canonical Luke.

1. “If Marcion altered Luke for theological reasons, he must have done so very poorly.” (p.7)

Tertullian scoffed at what he claimed was Marcion’s ineptitude for retaining in his “edited” gospel passages that refuted Marcion’s own teachings.

Now Marcion was unwilling to expunge from his Gospel some statements which even made against him–I suspect, on purpose, to have it in his power from the passages which he did not suppress, when he could have done so, either to deny that he had expunged anything, or else to justify his suppressions, if he made any. (Tert. AM 4.43.9)

Tertullian is not alone in quoting from Marcion’s text in order to refute him (also Epiphanius and Irenaeus). As a consequence we can to some extent make a reasonable attempt to construct the gist of Marcion’s gospel. (See )

Tertullian concluded that Marcion had failed to edit out so much material from his gospel that his gospel indeed supported his own anti-Marcionite teachings:

Marcion, I pity you; your labour has been in vain. For the Jesus Christ who appears in your Gospel is mine. (Tert. AM 4.43.9)

2. Tertullian accused Marcion edited canonical Luke, not pre-canonical Luke

Marcion claimed to have arrived at “his gospel” by studiously editing a corrupted original Pauline gospel. Tertullian, however, went on to claim that Marcion accused the catholics of corrupting “his gospel” in order to fit it in to the context of the Jewish Bible:

For if the Gospel, said to be Luke’s which is current amongst us (we shall see whether it be also current with Marcion), is the very one which, as Marcion argues in his Antitheses, was interpolated by the defenders of Judaism, for the purpose of such a conglomeration with it of the law and the prophets . . . . (Tert. AM 4.4.4)

Marcion is not here addressing Marcion’s assumed restoration of the original gospel but the editorial corruption of “his gospel” into the canon of the Old and New Testaments.

For it is certain that the whole aim at which he has strenuously laboured even in the drawing up of his Antitheses, centres in this, that he may establish a diversity between the Old and the New Testaments . . . . (Tert. AM 4.6.1)

Marcionites had claimed to be originally working from a Pauline gospel that needed editing, but that their gospel had then been taken over by their opponents and, with editorial additions, incorporated into the catholic canon.

In other words, Tertullian appears to be tacitly accepting (without wanting to agree with) Marcion’s charge that the catholics were indeed editing the “purified” Marcion gospel.

3. Was Marcion the unique exception in the way he edited texts?

“There is not a single example of a contemporary re-edition of an older text that did not support its editorial concept by including additional material. The supporters of the traditional view [that Marcion’s editing consisted only of deleting passages] have duly with great surprise noted the uniqueness of Marcion’s assumed redactoin but did not take this hint seriously enough to rethink their presuppositions.” (Klinghardt, p.9)

There is no evidence that Marcion at any time extended any passage or inserted any substantial additions to his gospel.

“With respect to what we know about editing older texts within the New Testament and its literary environment this procedure would be unique.” (Klinghardt, pp.8-9)

4. Significance of the anonymous prologue

If Marcion knew and edited canonical Luke, then it is reasonable to expect he knew other canonical gospels as well, and especially the Book of Acts.

So either

Marcion knew Luke-Acts but deleted the prologues and separated Acts from Luke, and rejected Acts completely. — This assumes that Luke-Acts was part of some early form of canon that preceded the Marcionite canon (unlikely in light of Harnack and Campenhausen),

Or

Marcion knew Luke-Acts as a 2 volume work but not as part of the New Testament, and chose only the gospel. — But this is unlikely since Luke and Acts are never found together in any of the manuscripts

The unity of Luke and Acts is thus indicated solely by the prologues which do not contain the author’s name,

“although this would be a nearly necessary genre requirement, at least for the first volume, in particular with respect to the pronounced historiographical “I” of Luke 1:1-4.” (Footnote to L. Alexander, SNTS.MS 78; 1993)

Thus for readers of an isolated 2 volume work Luke-Acts the identity of the author would remain a mystery.

Readers of the canonical edition would recognize Luke as the author of both because of the superscription of Luke (“Gospel According to Luke”) and — only if the prologue provided the link — Acts.

The assumption of Marcion priority offers an easy solution to the question: Marcionites were correct in their claim that their gospel had been incorporated into the catholic canon of Old and New Testaments by the interpolation of the superscription, with other editorial additions, and a feigned Luke-Acts unity.

5. The demonstrated editorial process

The differences between the texts of Marcion’s and Luke’s gospels are in many instances best explained as editorial additions by Luke rather than as abridgments by Marcion.

The most obvious cases are Luke’s re-editing and adding to the beginning of Marcion’s gospel (at Luke 3:1a), and the change of sequence of 4:31-37 and 4:16-30.

Most of Luke’s changes “add up to an integral and consistent concept”.

“The editorial concept that could not be detected in Marcion’s assumed editorial changes is apparent in Luke, thus confirming the view of Marcion being prior to Luke.” (p.10)

The bulk of Klinghardt’s article follows. This consists of a lengthy testing of the above leads with examinations of the Matthearn additions to the Triple Tradition not found in Luke; the special Matthew material not found in Luke; the alternating primitivity in double tradition material; Luke’s presumed reordering of Matthean material; the Minor agreements between Matthew and Luke within the triple tradition material. Kinghardt’s article concludes with a discussion of a new model to address the Synoptic Problem.