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The significance of the phenomenon of order for resolving the synoptic problem

Neville, David J. (1997) The significance of the phenomenon of order for resolving the synoptic problem. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis evaluates the significance of the phenomenon of order (i.e., the pattern of agreement and disagreement in the order and arrangement of pericopes) for resolving the question of the literary relations between the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, with special reference to the theories of Marcan priority and Marcan posteriority.

After an introduction that reviews recent developments in synoptic source crit­icism, Section I examines various methodological issues relating to the analysis of the phenomenon of order: the delimitation of pericopes, the question of what consti­tutes parallelism between pericopes, and the arrangement of synoptic parallels.

Section II critiques several "formal" arguments based on the phenomenon of order. Accepting that the argument for Marcan priority based on the relative absence of agreement in order between Matthew and Luke against Mark is inconclusive, I demonstrate that the argument for Marcan posteriority to Matthew and Luke based on the pattern of alternating agreement in order between Matthew-Mark and Mark­Luke is also inconclusive. I also discuss the "phenomenon of correlation" between agreement in order and agreement in wording, which some critics regard as evid­ence of Mark's dependence on Matthew and Luke. Having devised a statistical test of the phenomenon of con-elation, I argue that the results are inconclusive. In short, I argue that any formal argument from order is inconclusive.

Section III examines "compositional" arguments from order, that is, argu­ments that aim to provide plausible reasons for disagreements in order by compar­ing the relevant pericopes and parallels in their respective contexts and making source- and redaction-critical judgments about which synoptist is responsible for such disagreements. To avoid anachronistic judgments about how the gospels were written, chapter 5 examines what can be known about compositional conventions in the first century C.E. The final three chapters examine select pericopes from the Gospels of Luke, Matthew, and Mark, respectively, to ascertain whether the theory of Marcan priority or the theory of Marcan posteriority best accounts for the phe­nomenon of order. A concluding chapter sums up the results.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Division of Social Sciences, Humanities and Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Moore, Richard
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