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The Two-Source Theory at an Impasse1

  • M.-E. Boismard (a1)

Twenty years ago we could assume that the Two-Source theory, as the decisive solution to the synoptic problem, had won the day. An unassailable dogma in Germany, on the front lines in Louvain, well positioned in England and the United States, it had little to fear from the last spasms of its opponents, and could view them as the final stand of the rearguard. But times have changed. Aged Griesbach turns in his grave, refusing to stay defeated. After two centuries he has returned to the field in the persons of Dom Butler of England and, especially, of W. R. Farmer of the United States, who has succeeded in mustering a force of young and dynamic researchers. Even in Germany the enemy has gained a foothold. Already in 1971 A. Fuchs saw that a large number of the Matthew/Luke agreements against Mark could not be explained in terms of the Two-Source theory. More recently, H. H. Stoldt has affirmed his preference for the Griesbach theory.

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2 Butler, B. C., The Originality of St Matthew: A Critique of the Two-Document Hypothesis (Cambridge, 1951).

3 Farmer, W. R., The Synoptic Problem: A Critical Analysis (New York, London, 1964); Modern Developments of Griesbach's Hypothesis’, N.T.S. 23 (1976/1977), 275295.

4 Fuchs, A., Sprachliche Untersuchung zu Matthäus und Lukas: Ein Beitrag zur Quellenkritik (Rome, 1971).

5 Stoldt, H. H., Geschichte und Kritik der Markushypothese (Göttingen, 1977). The first part of this work contains an excellent history of the Two-Source theory and the opposition it encountered.

6 On the various attempts made to justify the agreements of Matthew/Luke against Mark, see the excellent presentation of Neirynck, F., The Minor Agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark, with a Cumulative List (Louvain, 1974), 1148.

7 Streeter, B. H., The Four Gospels: A Study of Origins (London, 1924), 313.

8 Even supposing that Matthew and Luke both were influenced by the πολùν õχλον of Mark 6. 34 and the õχλος πολúς of Mark 5. 24, why would they have come to agree in using the expression οί õχλοι, and not õχλος πολυςς or õχλοι πολοί? Streeter refrains from offering an explanation.

9 Streeter, op. cit. 314.

10 Schmid, J., Matthäus und Lukas: Eine Untersuchung der Verhältnisse ihrer Evangelien (Fribourg, 1930). 117.

11 McLoughlin, S., ‘Les accords mineurs Mt–Lc contre Mc et le problème synoptique: Vers la théorie des Deux Sources’, E.T.L. 63 (1967), 1740.

12 See the conclusion given on page 38: ‘Nearly all of the minor agreements against Mark are explained by the redactions of Matthew and of Luke who react independently to the text of our Mark.’

13 Art. cit. 23.

14 Hawkins, J. C., Horae Synopticae: Contributions to the Study of the Synoptic Problem (Oxford, 1909 2), 212.

15 A. Fuchs, op. cit. 55–58 and 69.

16 The numbers indicate the respective frequencies in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, rest of the NT.

17 Matt. 16. 15–16; 19. 22; 26. 42; and particularly 16. 4, where, as here, there is question of Jesus changing place.

18 Luke 5. 13; 8. 37, 39; 19. 32; 22. 4.

19 Luke 4. 42; 9. 12.

20 Mark 6. 2, 33; 9. 26; 10. 48; 11. 8; 14. 56, to restrict ourselves to the narratives.

21 Luke 1. 1; 7. 21; 14. 16.

22 Matt. 7. 28; 9. 8, 33; 12. 23; cf. 22. 9, 11.

23 With κολυθεīν, as here: 4. 25; 8. 1; 12. 15; 19. 2; cf. also 13. 2; 15. 30, but with another verb. In 12. 15 the reading πολλοί of B S and the latins, which represents a unique case in Matthew, is explained by haplography.

24 Matt. 20. 29, with κολουθεīν. Note also that in Matt. 21.8 the expression λεīστος õχλος replaces πολλοί used as a substantive in Mark 11. 8.

25 Cf. also 4. 25 and 8. 1.

26 ‘The agreements which are thus explained in a perfectly normal fashion as the simultaneous corrections of Mark, we will call non-significant agreements (“accords non-significatifs”), because they signify nothing against Mark as the sole source. The so-called negative agreements, where Matthew and Luke omit the same passages, the same details of Mark, belong to this category’ (McLoughlin, art. cit. 19).

27 The Matthean theme of the healings (υ. 34b) is parallel to the Markan theme of the teaching (υ. 14b), as indicated by the analogous summary of Matt. 19. 1–2 and Mark 10. 1. We agree as well that the words ‘toward a city called Bethsaida’ are the Lukan parallel to the words ‘toward a desert place’ in Matthew/Mark.

28 The mention of the boat, ignored in Luke, is linked to the text where Matthew is close to Mark. It is indeed on ‘leaving’ the boat that Jesus ‘saw a large crowd’.

29 One of the principal arguments invoked by those who deny any dependence of Luke upon Matthew is the divergence between the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke. When the latter was writing his infancy gospel, he certainly did not know that of Matthew. In order to avoid this difficulty it would be sufficient to hold that the infancy accounts in Matthew belong to the last redaction, precisely the one unknown to Luke.

30 See the parallels of Matthew/Luke to Mark 3.33; 4. 11; 11.31; 14.13. After Neirynck, op. cit. 261.

31 J. Schmid, op. cit. 118.

32 All the conclusions in this second paragraph can be found in Michel Hubaut's study, La Parabole des vignerons homicides (Cahiers de la Revue Biblique, 16; Paris, 1976); see the outline on page 128.

33 Boismard, M.-E. and Lamouille, A., L'Évangile de Jean (Synopse des quatre évangiles en français, tome iii; Paris, 1977), 179.

34 Benoit, P. and Boismard, M.-E., Synopse des quatre évangiles en français, tome ii, Commentaire, par M.-E. Boismard avec la collaboration de A. Lamouille et P. Sandevoir (Paris, 1972).

1 We are grateful to Lorraine Caza, Robert Beck and Francis Martin for the English translation of this article.

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New Testament Studies
  • ISSN: 0028-6885
  • EISSN: 1469-8145
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