Discerning Synoptic Gospel Origins: An Inductive Approach (Part Two)

Robert L. Thomas | May 19, 2010

Extending an earlier simultaneous comparison of the three Synoptic Gospels to determine the probability of literary interdependence among them, this study continues the investigation by looking at the Gospels two at a time to evaluate the same probability. The use of OT citations by these Gospels furnishes a standard for ascertaining literary interdependence when it reflects a 79% average of identical-word agreement between two Gospels citing the same OT passage. Application of that standard to two Gospel accounts of the same episodes discloses that their average agreement is only 30%, far short of the 79% standard for literary interdependence. The low percentage of identical agreements is a strong argument against literary interdependence, ruling it out on an inductive basis. Literary interdependence is not only improbable, it is also not worthwhile because it creates a portrait of a Jesus whose historical image is unknowable because of embellishments imagined by recent evangelical NT scholars. The Jesus resulting from an approach of literary independence is not only inductively very probable, but it supports historically reliable accounts of His life in the Synoptic Gospels.

Vol. 16, no. 1 (Spring 2005)

Read article

Read complete issue

Cite This Article

Thomas, Robert L.. "Discerning Synoptic Gospel Origins: An Inductive Approach (Part Two)." The Master's Seminary Journal 16, no. 1 (Spring 2005): 7-47.