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The Two-Source Hypothesis: A Critical Appraisal

     Edited and with an Introduction by Arthur J. Bellinzoni, Jr

 

What is the “gospel truth” about the composition of the Synoptic Gospels? That the New Testament gospels are the earliest surviving attempts to “tell the story” of Jesus of Nazareth is generally agreed, but the question of how they came to be composed remains a field of turbulent debate among New Testament scholars.

 

In the twentieth century two assumptions dominated discussions of “gospel origins”: that Mark is the earliest written “gospel” we posses, and that the authors of both Luke and Matthew used Mark and a collection of sayings of Jesus – no longer extant – in the composition of their own works. That collection of sayings has been assigned the designation “Q.” These assumptions have been and continue to be tested and renewed in a cauldron of controversy. Professor Arthur Bellinzoni has collected for this volume 27 essays that argue the case for and against “the priority of Mark” and the existence of the hypothetical “Q.” Beginning in each case with the paradigmatic proposals of Burnett Hillman Streeter, Bellinzoni has assembled the crucial literature on every side of the controversy, following the thread of discussion all the way to the recent revisionism of William Reuben Farmer, David Laird Dungan, and their allies.

 

Because the Synoptic Problem lies at the heart of so many issues in the study of the gospels, the consequences of this debate are far-reaching indeed. No area of New Testament research will escape the influence of a change in the prevailing model of Synoptic relationships. This volume brings together the classic and iconoclastic statements of leading students of the gospels. Amid the inevitable sparks of disagreement, rays of light delineate the critical issues, and Professor Joseph B. Tyson, in a brilliant concluding essay, synthesizes the arguments and sets the agenda for future study.