Markan vs Matthean Priority


#1

Which of these theses do you find most convincing/adhere to and why?

I’ve done a little research on both, but I feel almost every “scholar” who writes on these topics has an agenda (which is true of us as well, of course), but I’d like to hear any other thoughts and any good Catholic sources you’ve used that have been helpful in your determination.

Thanks!

God bless.

-Paul


#2

[quote="PJD1987, post:1, topic:311102"]
Which of these theses do you find most convincing/adhere to and why?

I've done a little research on both, but I feel almost every "scholar" who writes on these topics has an agenda (which is true of us as well, of course), but I'd like to hear any other thoughts and any good Catholic sources you've used that have been helpful in your determination.

Thanks!

God bless.

-Paul

[/quote]

Tradition (e.g. Early Church Fathers) tells us who wrote the (genuine) Gospels.
Tradition (e.g. Early Church Fathers) tell us Matthew was first.

Those who say Mark was first is derived almost entirely from an atheist perspective that starts with the premise there is no way these texts could be inspired, nor could they have been written by the Apostles, so we must come up with a purely natural explanation. And since Mark is the simplest of the Gospels, then Mark must have been written first because that's the easiest way for later Christians to "add" their own creative stories about Jesus and have a Gospel named after themselves.


#3

I find it interesting that the NAB’s approved by the Church and all their footnotes exclusively tackle the issues from a Markan priority standpoint as if it is a given. It seems that much of the Church Herself has “accepted” Markan priority…

God bless.

-Paul


#4

According to the Clementine Tradition it is:

Matthew, Luke, Mark and John.

Basic evidence for the Clementine Gospel Tradition.


#5

Thanks for the link, I’ll check that out!

God bless.

-Paul


#6

I would not be surprised if the church withdraws the New Jerome Commentary.

DESTROYING THE BIBLE by John Young


#7

[quote="buffalo, post:6, topic:311102"]
I would not be surprised if the church withdraws the New Jerome Commentary.

DESTROYING THE BIBLE by John Young

[/quote]

Is the NJC the commentary used in footnotes for the NAB's?


#8

Yes.

You may want to compare the

[LEFT][/FONT]Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.[/LEFT]
*[FONT=Verdana,Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif]A Catholic Bible commentary compiled by the late Rev. Fr. George Leo Haydock, following the Douay-Rheims Bible.

[size=3]**

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#9

Review of Orthodox Catholic Bible Commentaries (David W. Emery)


#10

Yes this is very annoying. :mad: Even some otherwise very orthodox priests and bishops assume a priori that Mark was first.

Nobody for 1800+ years doubted the fact that Matthew was written first, as all of the early sources testify. Then in the late 19th century the idea that Mark was first was invented out of nothing (initially by atheists, then taken up by certain protestant writers , for no other reason than to try to dismiss the historical authenticity of the gospels as merely folk tales and fables invented several generations after Christ to make Him seem like something which He was not in fact. And then they posit the existence of a “Q” document to try to make their theory possible, but NO evidence of “Q” has ever been found! If “Q” actyually existed, Christians would have treasured and preserved it as tyheir most precious possession and copied it voluminously.

The “Mark first” theory is closely tied to the theory that “the gospels must have been written AFTER 70 AD because Jesus couldn’t possibly have predicted the Fall of Jerusalem” :eek:. Which again is implicitly embraced by many otherwise orthodox clergy when the date the Gospels to 80 AD or later. Even though the contemporary evidence is compelling that the Synoptic gospels at least must have been completed by circa 62 AD at the latest.


#11

Read the NAB - just avoid those toxic notes. That is one of my beefs with the “NA” series.


#12

[quote="Petergee, post:10, topic:311102"]
Yes this is very annoying. :mad: Even some otherwise very orthodox priests and bishops assume a priori that Mark was first.

Nobody for 1800+ years doubted the fact that Matthew was written first, as all of the early sources testify. Then in the late 19th century the idea that Mark was first was invented out of nothing (initially by atheists, then taken up by certain protestant writers , for no other reason than to try to dismiss the historical authenticity of the gospels as merely folk tales and fables invented several generations after Christ to make Him seem like something which He was not in fact. And then they posit the existence of a "Q" document to try to make their theory possible, but NO evidence of "Q" has ever been found! If "Q" actyually existed, Christians would have treasured and preserved it as tyheir most precious possession and copied it voluminously.

The "Mark first" theory is closely tied to the theory that "the gospels must have been written AFTER 70 AD because Jesus couldn't possibly have predicted the Fall of Jerusalem" :eek:. Which again is implicitly embraced by many otherwise orthodox clergy when the date the Gospels to 80 AD or later. Even though the contemporary evidence is compelling that the Synoptic gospels at least must have been completed by circa 62 AD at the latest.

[/quote]

Yes I was under the impression that Markan Priority arose from the German Kulturkampf of the mid-19th century. Its strange that Catholic exegists have embraced a theory created by Protestants and advanced by those seeking to discredit and destroy the Catholic faith. I don't understand how the hierarchy of the Church could allow the NAB notes to embrace such a contradictory and harmful tone and theory for their notes. The link another poster provided shows that Cardinal Martini even wrote the forward for the Jerome Commentary...:shrug:

I really do hope that this is rectified soon.

God bless.

-Paul


#13

They fell for the old “scholars say” stuff…


#14

Right. I don’t see this as a debate amongst Scripture scholars in the Church at all. Matthew was most widespread at the time the Canon was set, I believe, and that’s why it’s first in the list, not because of age. I have read that portions of Mark are thought to have been written contemporaneously with the Incarnation, copied from letters of a disciple following Jesus.


#15

[quote="Petergee, post:10, topic:311102"]
Yes this is very annoying. :mad: Even some otherwise very orthodox priests and bishops assume a priori that Mark was first.

Nobody for 1800+ years doubted the fact that Matthew was written first, as all of the early sources testify. Then in the late 19th century the idea that Mark was first was invented out of nothing (initially by atheists, then taken up by certain protestant writers , for no other reason than to try to dismiss the historical authenticity of the gospels as merely folk tales and fables invented several generations after Christ to make Him seem like something which He was not in fact.

[/quote]

Okay, let's get the facts straight.

The first recorded person to propose that Mark was written first was Gottlob Christian Storr (1746-1805), a conservative German Protestant theologian. In 1786, he propounded the theory that Mark, due to the patristic tradition connecting it with Peter and its literary shortness, is the first of the gospels to have been written. He thought that Mark was written in Jerusalem under the direction of Peter for the Greek-speaking Christians of Antioch. Mark was then used independently by Luke (who was writing in Rome during Paul's imprisonment) and Matthew (writing in Palestine in Aramaic for Jewish Christians). Later, when Aramaic Matthew was translated, the translator(s) made use of Mark and Luke to produce canonical Matthew; this, for Storr, explains the Synoptic problem. Later however (around 1794), Storr tweaked his theory a bit: he now proposed that Luke and Matthew used Mark and a pre-Matthean biography of Jesus in Hebrew.

Storr's proposal went largely unnoticed at the time: most scholars favored either Matthean priority, under the traditional Augustinian hypothesis, or the newly-developed Griesbach hypothesis, or a fragmentary theory (wherein stories about Jesus were originally recorded in several smaller documents and notebooks; these disjointed accounts were then combined by the evangelists to create the synoptic gospels). It should be noted, however, that the Augustinian hypothesis was slowly losing its momentum by then, at least in certain academic sectors. Four years before Storr publicized his thesis, Johann Benjamin Koppe (1750-1791) had challenged the Augustinian idea that Mark was an epitome of Matthew in a thesis entitled Marcus non epitomator Matthaei.

Another person to arrive at the idea of Markan priority was Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803). Seeing in Mark a closeness in style and content to the original oral tradition, he rejected the Matthean priority as represented by Augustinian and Griesbach theories in favor of the priority of Mark.

Fast forward to a few decades. Working within the fragmentary theory, Karl Lachmann (1835) compared the synoptic gospels in pairs and noted that while Matthew frequently agreed with Mark against Luke in the order of passages and Luke agreed frequently with Mark against Matthew, Matthew and Luke rarely agreed with each other against Mark. Lachmann inferred from this that Mark best preserved a relatively fixed order of episodes in Jesus' ministry.

The people who were responsible for digging up and developing Storr's then-obscure hypothesis in 1838 were Christian Gottlob Wilke (1786-1854) and Christian Hermann Weisse (1801-1866). Weisse was the first person to think that Matthew must have used, in addition to Mark, a second source which consisted of a collection of the sayings of Jesus. His (and Wilke's) work was not generally recognized by scholars, however, until Heinrich Julius Holtzmann developed a qualified form of Markan priority in 1863.

Weisse and Holtzmann are really the fathers of the two-source hypothesis, which is a combination of two distinct theories: the idea of Markan priority and the idea of a primitive non-Markan sayings source. Weisse got the idea of a sayings source from Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), who in turn got this idea from his reading of the well-known statement by Papias about Matthew's Hebrew logia ("sayings") of the Lord. Schleiermacher himself was an advocate Matthean priority, but his contention that the synoptic writers had access to two primitive sources - one a narrative and one a sayings collection - paved the way for Weisse to formulate the theory.

Note that Schleiermacher was not the first person to invoke the existence of a second common source. In 1794, Johann Gottfried Eichhorn built upon Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's idea of a now-lost Aramaic proto-gospel being the source for the synoptics by proposing other intermediate gospels besides this proto-gospel - which would explain the differences between the synoptics. In 1801, an English bishop named Herbert Marsh published his rather complicated - and widely-ignored - solution to the synoptic problem: he argued for two Hebrew sources: aleph (א), which was translated into Greek and used with the Hebrew original by Mark and Luke, and which was supplemented to become the Hebrew Matthew, which was itself then translated to Greek; and beth (ב), a collection of sayings used by Matthew and Luke. A Catholic theologian named Alois Peter Gratz (1768-1849) simplified this theory: an Aramaic source was translated into Greke by Mark and Luke, while Matthew used the original Aramaic; and Luke and Matthew also shared a common sayings source.


#16

No. Granted, the Kulturkampf (1870-1878) did make use of Markan priority as a vehicle for anti-Catholicism, but its origins lie well before the Kulturkampf even began. Besides, this is not the reason why the theory was the main or only position in academia: many people have adopted and defended the idea without reference to or influence from the Kulturkampf. This is really a case of throwing the baby with the bathwater.


#17

Hello PJD.

I am one who favours the sequence Matthew, Luke, Mark.

One exercise might be to look at all the parallel passages between Mark and Matthew where Luke is silent.

Also look at the parallel passages between Mark and Luke where Matthew is silent.

On balance it is Mark adding to either Matthew or Luke in a pretty obvious way.

When all three authors have parallel passages, this is when Mark tends to write less.

Especially have a look at Matthew 14:3 and Mark 6:17 (Death of John) Matthew 14:34 and Mark 6:53 (Healings at Gennasaret) and and we can see the structure of the testament is the same but Mark adds more material in both cases.

I went through these parallel passages a month ago excluding where all three authors have passages and listed the main differences as follows :

Departing from Capernaum Mark 1:35 Luke 4:42
Mark mentions Peter was present and said to him that everyone is looking for him.

The Unknown Exorcist Mark 9:38 Luke 9:49

The Widows Gift Mark 12:41 Luke 21:1
Mark expands on Luke’s writings.

Calling First Disciples Matt 4:18 Mark 1:16
Mark tells us Zebedee had hired servants in the boat when he was left.

Jesus’ Use of Parables Matt 13:34 Mark 4:33
The words aren’t exactly the same. Mark tells us that in private Jesus told what the parables mean. Matthew quotes an old prophet regarding Jesus using parables. Matthew also then goes on to record many other parables (and their meanings) whereas Mark speaks about Jesus calming the storm.


#18

The Death of John Matt 14:3 Mark 6:17
The two stories follow exactly but Mark has much more information.

Sending Out of the 12 Matt 9:35 1 Mark 6:6
Matthew has a fuller description. Mark’s comparable information is spread over two different sections (incl. 3:13 calling of the 12). The names and order of the apostles are very similar although Mark gives us the extra information that Jesus named Simon ‘Peter’ and named James and John the ‘sons of Boanerges’.
The language used is very similar, however, Matthew says to only go to the Jews and to find and stay with good people. After the shaking the dust from your feet message about unreceptive towns, Matthew adds that it will be better for Sodom and Gomorrah……
Mark adds that the disciples went out in two’s, used ointment, healed many people and the disciples told the people to repent of their sins whereas Matthew tells them to heal before they go out and tells them to say the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

Walking on Water Matt 14:22 Mark 6:45
Mark tells us that it was to Bethsaida that Jesus sent the boat and that Jesus meant to walk past them on the water. The ending is a bit different with Matthew saying Peter also walked on the water and the disciples worshipped Jesus whereas Mark says that the disciples were astounded and their hearts had been hardened because they hadn’t understood about the loaves.

Healings at Gennasaret Matt 14:34 Mark 6:53
Very similar language but Mark has much more information. He tells us that the disciples moored the boat, that Jesus travelled around the towns, villages and cities that it was on pallets people brought the sick and it was in the market places that they deposited the sick.

Jesus’ Use of Parables Matt 15:1 Mark 7:1
Very similar words but paragraphs are reversed. Mark adds explanation about the Jewish ritual of cleaning hands and the definition of the term Corban. Mark also tells us that Jesus explained the parable after going into the house and added a few more sins to the list that Matthew mentions regarding what defiles a man and comes out of the mouth. Matthew however adds the bit about the plants not being planted by God being uprooted and the blind leading the blind into a ditch and the Pharisees being offended regarding the defiling comments.

Syro-Phonecian Woman Matt 15:21 Mark 7:24
Fairly similar words, Mark tells us that Jesus did not want anyone to know the house he was in. Mark tells us the daughter with a demon was little and the mother was a Greek, a Syrophonrcian by birth whilst Matthew says she was a Canaanite woman and originally it was the disciples who mention the woman to Jesus and Jesus tells them he was sent only to the house of the lost sheep of Israel.

Another Healing Matt 15:29 Mark 7:31
Very different here Matthew has Jesus leaving and then going along the Sea of Galilee up a mountain with a general healing of people with many afflictions. Mark describes Jesus going through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee and through the region of the Decapolis and he speaks of a specific healing of a dumb and deaf man and Jesus not wanting people to mention this.

Feeding the 4 Thousand Matt 15:32 Mark 8:1
Mark mentions some of the followers had come a great distance. Matthew says afterwards they went to the region of Magadan whereas Mark says it was the district of Dalmanutha. Mark mentions the fish after the bread was passed out.

The Coming of Elijah Matt 17:9 Mark 9:9
Mark adds that the disciples discussed what ‘rising from the dead meant. A couple of sentences are reversed and Matthew adds that the disciples understood Jesus was talking about John the Baptist.

Marriage and Divorce Matt 19:1 Mark 10:1
The order is very different here with Mark using this passage more towards the front of his Gospel. The order of the words is also a bit different but they say a similar thing. Matthew adds (or insinuates) that unchastity is a reason for divorce. Mark has Jesus asking the Pharisees what Moses commanded whilst Matthew has the Pharisees volunteering what Moses commanded them regarding marriage and divorce. Matthew also adds information about eunuchs including those that make themselves so for the service of the Lord.

Cursing the Fig Tree Matt 21:18 Mark 11:12
Again, Marks passage is much earlier. This short passage is similar but Mark tells us they came from Bethany whilst Matthew says they were going to the city. Mark tells us it was not the season for figs and he tells us that the disciples heard Jesus curse the tree. Matthew has the tree withering at once after the curse.

Interpretation of Fig Tree Matt 21:20 Mark 11:20
Following on from last passage Mark has Jesus overturning the Temple money tables and going back the next morning and seeing the fig tree withered with Peter bringing this to Jesus’ attention.

Culmination of Troubles Matt 24:23 Mark 13:21
Pretty much exactly the same.

The Mocking by Soldiers Matt 27:27 Mark 15:16
Matthew tells us the soldiers belong to the Governor and that they stripped Jesus, Mark tells us the praetorium was in the palace. Matthew mentions scarlet robe and Mark purple cloak. Matthew tells us the soldiers put a reed in Jesus’ right hand and then whipped him with it whilst Mark just says they whipped Jesus with a reed.

Mark seems to add more when he is copying from just Matthew or Luke but writes less when both have a version of something he is copying.


#19

[quote="patrick457, post:16, topic:311102"]
No. Granted, the Kulturkampf (1870-1878) did make use of Markan priority as a vehicle for anti-Catholicism, but its origins lie well before the Kulturkampf even began. Besides, this is not the reason why the theory was the main or only position in academia: many people have adopted and defended the idea without reference to or influence from the Kulturkampf. This is really a case of throwing the baby with the bathwater.

[/quote]

Patrick, would I be wrong in assuming from your responses that you adhere to Markan Priority?

God bless.

-Paul


#20

In a qualified sense, yes. To be exact I believe that Matthew’s Hebrew/Aramaic Logia is the very first gospel to be written, but Mark is the first Greek gospel. I do not hold to the existence of Q. (Crucial distinction there: Markan priority does not automatically equate to two-source hypothesis.) All in all I think I’m pretty much an adherent of the admittedly obscure Farrer-Goulder hypothesis (Mark first, Matthew and Luke know each other’s gospels thus negating the need for Q), except for the part about Matthew’s Logia. Ultimately however the question of how to effectively solve the Synoptic Problem does not interest or bother me much.


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