Some solutions are hybrids. For example, theFragmentary Hypothesis ()proposes that the common wording of the synoptics is dueto indirect dependence on several smaller documents buttheir common order is due to an oral tradition().As another example, the (Zweiquellenhypothese) calls fordirect dependence of Matthew and Luke upon Mark for the"triple tradition" but indirect dependence upona hypothetical written source "Q" for the"double tradition."().
Most introductions to the New Testament have at least a brief discussion of the Synoptic Problem. As critics of the Two-Document Hypothesis (2DH) have observed, the treatment of the Synoptic Problem is often far from even-handed, with various theorists either dismissing other theories as inadequate or not considering them at all. Kümmel’s otherwise masterful introduction to the New Testament () provides a detailed history of scholarship but is lacking in a full consideration of alternatives to the 2DH. gives careful attention to various logically possible theories, while ultimately favoring the 2DH. Both and are intended for the introductory student. Two online resources are available oriented to the novice, one maintained by Stephen Carlson () and the other by Mark Goodacre ().
There appears to be, in other words, a more intimate set ofrelationships between Matthew, Mark, and Luke than betweenJohn and any or all of those. The synoptic problem, then,is simply the question of the exact relationship of Matthew,Mark, and Luke with one other. How did those three gospelscome to so closely resemble each other in ways not shared withJohn (or, for that matter, any of the noncanonical gospels)?
there a synoptic problem? Before one considers themany and varied potential solutions to the synoptic problemone must first demonstrate that there is indeed such aproblem. In that connection it is necessary to understand thatthe synoptic problem proper has to do with the relationships of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. If it turned outthat all three were literarily independent of one another,their many similarities stemming from, say, a controlled oraltradition rather than one author borrowing from the textof another, then there would not actually asynoptic problem. The problem of purely oral transmissionof the Matthean, Marcan, and Lucan materials would form itsown problem, to be sure, for students of those texts, but itwould be a very different sort of problem from what we liketo think of as the problem.
I have dedicated a separate discussion to the question of as pertains to the synoptic gospels. Sufficeit to say at this juncture that I for one am quite convinced thatit will take a set of literary relationships to satisfythe data of the synoptic gospels. I am not at all against invokingoral tradition or other factors in specific cases, but the generalscenario will require that Matthew, Mark, and Luke share literaryconnections beyond those instances, and that, moreover, there issome kind of literary connection between of synopticgospels, whether direct or indirect, mediated through hypotheticaldocuments.
For my purposes, each synoptic hypothesis proposes adistinct literary relationship either (A) between any of the synoptic gospels or (B) between any of the synoptic gospels and any source, whetherextant or nonextant, that serves as a connection betweenat least two of the three.
C. M. , "Synoptic Problem" in D. N. , ed., (New York: Doubleday, 1992): 6:263-70;M. , (London: Continuum, 2001) ;R. H. , (2d ed.; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2001).
Option A requires very little explanation. There are onlysix basic relationships possible amongst any set of threetexts. In the case of the synoptic problem those sixdirect relationships come out as the following list(call it list ):
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An introductory level treatment of the Synoptic Problem that argues for Markan priority and the dependence of Luke on Matthew (hence, the Mark without Q (Farrer) Hypothesis (MwQH)). Critical of the 2DH, especially the arguments in favor of positing Q, Goodacre offers a careful and fair-minded analysis of the Synoptic Problem. Some attention is given to the Two-Gospel (Griesbach) Hypothesis (2GH), but none to complex theories.
Option B, however, is a bit more complicated. I worded itin such a way as to eliminate from central consideration anytext, whether extant or nonextant, which does form a link between our synoptic gospels. Any text, forexample, thought to have served as a source for only one ofour synoptic gospels1 is not going to help usmake any decisions about relationships between each set of twosynoptic gospels. Such a source will simply contribute to thespecial material, or , of the gospel thatcopied from it. Likewise, any text thought to have copied fromone, two, or even all three of the synoptic gospels, but whichdid not serve as source for any of them,2 is goingto be of no help in making the necessary literarydecisions. Both of these kinds of texts will be peripheralto any proposed solution of the synoptic problem.
1 Two examples of such a textwould be the M and L documents proposed by B. H. Streeter in. It does not matter to the synoptic problemproper whether Matthew and Luke (or Mark, for that matter) gottheir respective special materials from a written document orfrom an oral tradition, or even created them .(Of course, Streeter was aiming at more than asolution to the synoptic problem.)
2 The church fathers provide numerous examplesof such texts. They frequently copy from all three synopticgospels, but serve as the source for none of them. It doesnot matter to the synoptic problem proper how many subsequentauthors copied from Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The patristictexts may be invaluable to the reconstruction of therespective texts of the gospels, but their own relationshipsto the gospels do not constitute individual synoptichypotheses.
The kind of source on the table in option B, then, is onewhich was copied by two or more of thesynoptic gospels both copied at least one and wascopied by at least one more. There are, therefore, two distinctlists of relationships under option B (call them lists and, and our source,whether extant or nonextant, will be X):