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The Synoptic Problem: A Way through the Maze

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  58 ratings  ·  10 reviews
Possibly the greatest literary enigma in history, the Synoptic Problem has fascinated generations of scholars who have puzzled over the agreements, the disagreements, the variations and the peculiarities of the relationship between the first three of our canonical Gospels. Yet the Synoptic Problem remains inaccessible to students, who are often tangled up in its apparent c ...more
Paperback, 188 pages
Published June 15th 2004 by Bloomsbury T&T Clark (first published January 1st 2001)
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Lee Harmon
Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent overview of the Synoptic Problem with a proposed solution which bypasses the need for a Q document. Goodacre is intrigued by this mystery, stating that the “Synoptic Problem is probably the most fascinating literary enigma of all time.” He provides a fair analysis of why scholars tend to favor Q as a solution, but then dismantles the arguments in favor the Farrer Theory.

The Synoptic Problem seeks to explain the similarities between Matthew, Mark and Luke, which are simply to
Jan 09, 2015 rated it liked it
A good argument for why there does not necessarily have to a be a "Q" source for Matthew and Luke. Goodacre does not convince me that Luke used Matthew when writing his gospel, but he does demonstrate pretty well that a lot of Bible scholarship is based on guesses--educated guesses, but guesses nonetheless.
Frans Vermeiren
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Didactically this is a great book. It is written in a clear, accessible style, with lots of well-chosen examples, summaries and conclusions.

After a discussion of the Synoptic problem itself in the first chapters, the book mainly focuses on three subjects: Markan priority (was the gospel of Mark the first gospel to be written?), the Q hypothesis (which states the existence of a hypothetical written source behind the common material in Matthew and Luke), and the Farrer theory (Mark as the first go
George Marshall
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very much enjoyed this well-organized book favoring Markan priority and Lukan dependence on Matthew, throwing of need for Q. Validate is systematic in his approach, yielding some overlap, and a longer text than maybe necessary. But the repeated summaries offer a great opportunity to pause and mentally regroup. There is little chance of getting lost in the argument. One could disagree with the outcome (not I, as I am sympathetic to both arguments), but it would not be a complaint against the argu ...more
Josep Marti
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book offers a succinct overview of the Synoptic problem, convincingly arguing for both the primacy of the Gospel of Mark and the Farrer hypothesis. I'm only a beginner (and a bad one at that) in the field of biblical studies, but his arguments have been much better argued those espoused by the defenders of Deuteromark et al.
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I only give this book 4 stars (as opposed to 5) because it is my personal introduction to the Synoptic Problem. Its arguments, as presented, appear sound and logical. However, for the sake of my own education, I might also like to read a more pro-Q source.
May 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a highly accessible introductory text about the synoptic problem. He makes an airtight case for markan priority, clearly details the major arguments in favor for it and brings up good examples ending with the clincher, editorial fatigue. The only fault I can think of is the book is actually aimed at advancing the minority Farrer theory, which states that there is no Q and rather that Luke utilized Matthew. I think Goodacre's book would be nice if used in conjunction with another book whi ...more
James Chappell
Aug 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This accessible and extremely clear explanation of why the Farrer thesis (that Luke relies on both Mark and Matthew, as opposed to Matthew and Luke writing independently using the hypothetical Q document) is a viable one for modern New Testament scholars to utilize, was a wonderful read and was shared free on Mark Goodacre's blog by the author himself.
Aug 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting (and, from my perspective, pretty persuasive) take on the existence of Q as a hypothetical source/the Synoptic problem in general. You should definitely read this if you are interested in the compositional history of the Gospels, whether you subscribe to the Q hypothesis or not.
Jul 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
An excellent introductory text for anyone interested in learning about the Synoptic Problem (i.e.; the literary relationship between the first three gospels--Matthew, Mark and Luke).
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Mark Goodacre is Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins in the Department of Religious Studies, Duke University, North Carolina, USA. He earned his MA, M.Phil and DPhil at the University of Oxford. His research interests include the Synoptic Gospels, the Historical Jesus and the Gospel of Thomas. Goodacre is the author of four books including The Case Against Q: Studies in Markan Priorit ...more

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