Re: The Relevance of Synoptic Order

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Sep 01 1997 - 08:09:09 EDT

At 1:25 AM -0500 9/1/97, Ward Powers wrote:
>Dear Fellow Greekers,
>I have been very interested to note the number of comments, in postings to
>the list over the past couple of months or so in particular, which take as
>their implied starting point an acceptance of Markan Priority in the
>Synoptic Gospels, and go on to draw conclusions which are totally
>consequential upon that hypothesis being valid. Several times I have read
>these posts and said to myself, "Yes, but those conclusions about the Greek
>would not follow unless Mark were the first Gospel, and were used as source
>by Matthew and Luke." But I did not comment on-list.
>Then when I collected my email this morning I found TWO interesting
>postings which derive from this assumption of Markan Priority, and I have
>decided to enter a gentle demurrer.

Ward's demurrer is certainly in order. Whether or not the hypothesis of
Marcan Priority is demonstrable, nobody is obliged to accept (or reject)
the assumption of any list member regarding that hypothesis. This is not,
in fact, the place to argue for or against that hypothesis or any other
involved in the thorny area of Source Criticism. I would only note that,
just as it is not possible in every instance to hide one's theological
convictions in posts to the list (I think most readers can discern such
convictions even where they are not openly expressed), so also it may even
be helpful to state openly, where appropriate, one's stance on the synoptic
question if the suggestion being proffered is predicated on that assumption
(as was Edward's suggested sequence of readings in Beginning NT Greek
yesterday). These things will impinge often enough upon our discussions of
the Greek Biblical text and of teaching Biblical Greek, but they do not
call for opening the list to theological debate or to airing the whole
controversial area of "Higher" Textual Criticism. There really do exist
other arenas for such discussions: I know there is one for Theology, and if
there isn't one for Synoptic Criticism, then perhaps those list-members
(and I know there are several) who feel it is called for would proceed to
establish one (and notify this list about it!).

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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