The Synoptic Problems concerns the similarities and differences in content, order, and wording between the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Their gospels display a high degree of similarity, generally covering the same events in different words -- much the same way three witnesses may relate what they heard and/or saw in different terms.
The fourth gospel, that of John, differs significantly from the first three gospels.
The relationship between the texts is the subject of the synoptic problem, which essentially seeks answers to the question of why the texts are so similar. At times the texts use exactly the same wording and mention the same sequence of events, despite the fact that other intervening events must have happened, even if they were mundane events such as Jesus sleeping or people gossiping about him.
The synoptic gospels all tell the story of Jesus, proclaiming him the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Messiah (Christ), the judge of the future apocalypse. The synoptic gospels start either with Jesus' birth or his baptism and conclude with the empty tomb and resurrection appearances, though some texts of Mark end at the empty tomb (see Mark 16). In these gospels, Jesus cures diseases, exorcises demons, forgives sins, and displays dominion over nature.
- Source: Synoptic Gospels, Wikipedia. Accessed Aug. 3, 2009
- Articles -
An Introduction to the Book of Matthew This outline includes a look at the Synoptic Problem
The Synoptic Problem by Daniel Wallace, Associate Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary
The Synoptic Problem Four-part article by Linda DeLaine.
Synoptic Problem FAQ Part of the Synoptic Problem site. An excellent overview.
A History of the Synoptic Problem: The Canon, the Text, the Composition, and the Interpretation of the Gospels by David Laird Duncan
Other books about the Synoptic Problem
Parallel Gospels in Harmony -- with Study Guide, by David A. Reed
- Mailing List -
Synoptic-L an academic list devoted to scholarly discussion of the Synoptic Gospels. Open to "professional scholars or graduate students who are familiar with the sources, tools and methods used in the critical study and exegesis of the Synoptic Gospels."
- See Also -
Research resources on the Bible
- Sites -
The Synoptic Problem Excellent presentation, including valuable study resources and a good selection of helpful external links.
Page last updated, Aug. 3, 2009