There are a number of points where Matthew and Luke agree against Mark in their reading, but which cannot be explained by their supposed reliance on the Q source.

For instance, in the narrative of Jesus' trial before the Sanhedrin Mark records:

Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, "Prophesy!" And the guards took him and beat him.

Mark 14:65

While Matthew and Luke add another detail to what was said:

Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, "Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?"

Matthew 26:67-68

The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, "Prophesy! Who hit you?"

Luke 22:63-65

In reading a book by Ulrich Luz, he offers two possible solutions: that either there is another lost recension of Mark that was available to both Matthew and Luke or that Luke had access to Matthew but only used it with rarity as a source. He prefers the first option; but frankly, I find neither terribly satisfactory.

Are there other solutions to the so-called "minor agreements" offered by proponents of the two-source theory?

  • Can you provide an example or two of these minor agreements? – user2910 May 12 '15 at 1:18
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    The example you cite is not an agreement 'against' Mark, for that to be the case there would need to be some sort of contradiction, all we have here is extra information in Matthew and Luke that Mark does not include. – Jonathan Chell May 12 '15 at 7:19
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    By 'against' Soldarnal just means 'distinct from', not 'contradictory to'. He's wondering why both Matthew and Luke have the same addition to Mark, if neither Matthew nor Luke borrowed from each other. – user2910 May 12 '15 at 12:05
  • I was reading a text criticism blog, and came across this pair of articles, relevant to the original question: The author suggests (citing 'small but increasing number of scholars') that Matthew may have, in fact, borrowed from an early version of Luke, while the version of Luke we are familiar with was later padded out with additional material. – user2910 May 20 '15 at 16:15
  • Hence, the chronological order would have been: Mark, proto-Luke (using Mark and Q), Matthew (using Mark, Q, and proto-Luke), and lastly canonical-Luke (proto-Luke plus some new material). The second article I linked even provides a graphic illustrating what Soldarnal's original question describes. – user2910 May 20 '15 at 16:18

A third solution is that the two Evangelists simply recalled events differently and the two accounts never were completely identical.

This is the view espoused, for example, by Church Father John Chrysostom (349-407), as he explains in the introduction to his Homilies on the Gospel According to Matthew:

And why can it have been, that when there were so many disciples, two write only from among the apostles, and two from among their followers? (For one that was a disciple of Paul, and another of Peter, together with Matthew and John, wrote the Gospels.) It was because they did nothing for vainglory, but all things for use.

“What then? Was not one evangelist sufficient to tell all?” One indeed was sufficient; but if there be four that write, not at the same times, nor in the same places, neither after having met together, and conversed one with another, and then they speak all things as it were out of one mouth, this becomes a very great demonstration of the truth.

“But the contrary,” it may be said, “hath come to pass, for in many places they are convicted of discordance.” Nay, this very thing is a very great evidence of their truth. For if they had agreed in all things exactly even to time, and place, and to the very words, none of our enemies would have believed but that they had met together, and had written what they wrote by some human compact; because such entire agreement as this cometh not of simplicity. But now even that discordance which seems to exist in little matters delivers them from all suspicion, and speaks clearly in behalf of the character of the writers.

To my knowledge, not a single Church Father in the first millennium of Christianity ever maintained that the Gospel accounts were without any factual discrepancy whatsoever.

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