Document Type

Religion and Philosophy


In Robert H. Stein’s work, Studying the Synoptic Gospels Origin and Interpretation, he discusses his theory regarding the solution to the synoptic problem as Markan priority. A brief summary begins the paper by explaining the three lenses that Stein uses to defend the synoptic gospels literary, form, and redactional criticisms. Stein uses six main points to build his argument that Mark was the first gospel written which both Matthew and Luke used to build their gospels. These six are that Mark has the shortest gospel, so Matthew and Luke must have used his to develop and expand on their own. Second, Matthew and Luke edited the poor writing style of Mark. Third, the more challenging teachings of Mark were softened to appease the audience of Matthew and Luke. Fourth, the lack of Matthew-Luke agreements against Mark shows that they were more likely to copy him rather than disagree. Fifth, there is a Matthean redactional emphases compared to Mark and Luke. Sixth, Mark has a more primitive theology compared to Matthew and Luke. To round off the theory of Markan priority, the introduction of the Q material is explained as a source that could be written, oral, or both, presenting the argument for the material found in Matthew and Luke, not Mark. By analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of his argument, we can reason whether the claims that Stein uses to justify Markan priority are correct. Through this reason, it can be concluded that Stein provides a sound argument to justify Markan priority over Matthean or Lukan priority.