The Synoptic Problem: The New Testament Essay

The Synoptic Problem: The New Testament Essay

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To understand the synoptic gospels of the New Testament, one must have a clear understanding of what synoptic means. Synoptic is defined as viewing or defining something in a similar manner using various vantage points or sources. The synoptic gospels are the first three gospels within the New Testament: Mark, Matthew, and Luke. These gospels are considered to be synoptic for the vast amount of material that is shared between the three books that is very similar and in some instances almost identical. If one were to place verses from each book side by side regarding certain events they would notice that much of the phrasing and explanation in one book mirrors the phrasing and explanation in the other two books. Although this can enhance the validity of the story told through these gospels, it also brings up questions as to whether or not these gospels are authentic points of view or just mere copies of each other or another separate work. Further complicating the matter is the fact that although much information is identical in nature, there are several striking differences in information between the three gospels which leads one to question which account has the correct historical interpretation of what happened, emphasizes the true nature and content of Jesus’ teachings, and provides accurate discernment of what is yet to come. The study of these similarities and differences within these gospels is an attempt to find a solution to what is termed as the synoptic problem.
SOURCE CRITICISM AND THE SYNOPTIC PROBLEM
In evaluating the gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke many scholars employ a number of methods of analysis and criticism to help explain the synoptic problem. Among these methods one of the most helpful is source criticism....


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...e synoptic gospels. By allowing for these differences in small details it made the story of Jesus relatable to a wider range of people. The similarities between the gospels allow for the preservation of the bigger concepts the story of Jesus presented, fostering a general understanding that would be the same no matter what perspective it was viewed from.
OTHER FORMS OF CRITICISM AND THE SYNOPTIC PROBLEM
Analysis of the synoptic problem can be viewed by several other means. One method would be to view the gospels through the tools of literary criticism. This type of detailed study relies on reviewing an entire work and to garner an understanding of what the primary themes of the text are. It also involves looking for clues or phrases that would indicate what an author’s intention is regarding inciting a particular reaction to the reading of their work (Harris 119).

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