March 23, 2012
2:36 PM I continue to be fascinated by the synoptic problem. My book Why Four Gospels? examines different elements that play an essential role in resolving this question.
My position is based on two foundational pillars: the external evidence provided by the earliest fathers that Matthew was the first of the canonical Gospels, and the internal evidence that suggests Mark is a conflation of Matthew and Luke (Orchard called this the “zigzagging effect”). I have yet to see a refutation of the external evidence. Most scholars reject the patristic testimony as being of little or no value for source-critical research. Since the internal evidence can never be probative (it can never prove anything about the sequence or interrelationships of the Gospels), it would seem that Gospel scholars would be all the more willing to take the external evidence into account. Whatever option is ultimately preferred, the internal evidence ought to be supplemented by considerations about the empirical circumstances under which the traditions about Jesus were developed in the earliest church. It may be that future generations of New Testament students will perform this task. If they don’t, I predict very little progress in this great area of research. I would dare to hope that my re-examination of the leading church fathers will offer some helpful suggestions for the next generation of scholars.
(From Dave Black Online. Used by Permission)
March 16, 2012
Robert Stump reviews David Alan Black’s book Why Four Gospels? on his Homo Homini Lupus blog.
Two portions stand out:
The greatness of Black’s little book is its common sense. That it has taken so many years for someone of Black’s prestige to stand up and point out the silliness is too bad; that it has finally happened is a great relief.
Most writers in this field are neither as lucid nor as aesthetically pleasant and quaint as Black; many are hardly readable. So be warned. You will be disappointed if you read Black as an introduction to the field. He set the bar for clarity and the rest of ‘em miss it.
I almost feel led to remind readers (and potential reviewers) that we don’t require positive reviews.
Thanks to Robert for an interesting and positive review!
April 5, 2011
Mark Stevens at the Near Emmaus blog has begun a review series on Why Four Gospels?. Be sure to go check it out.
He’s going to do these in a series of posts called “Black Tuesdays.” Here’s an idea, Mark. What if we send you two other books by Dave Black, also published by Energion, so that you an extend those Black Tuesdays?
Go over there and join the discussion!
April 1, 2011
4:45 PM If you are a Civil War buff (as I am you) have probably seen the movie Gettysburg starring Martin Sheen as Robert E. Lee and Jeff Daniels as Joshua Chamberlain. There’s an unforgettable scene that takes place on the first day of battle. Union cavalry General John Reynolds is in the copula of the Lutheran Theological Seminary when General John Reynolds of the Union I Corps rides up. “Thank God,” says a tearful Buford. “What goes, John?” asks Reynolds. “There’s a devil to pay,” replies Buford. “Can you hold?” inquires Reynolds. “I reckon I can,” says Buford. At this point, Buford descends from the copula and the two generals ride off toward the sound of battle on McPherson’s Ridge.
March 4, 2011
There’s a nice, and exceptionally readable, review of Why Four Gospels? at A Living Sacrifice. I don’t usually comment on our blog reviewers, because bloggers must be free to review as they see fit, but in this case I make an exception. I’m not talking about the review being positive (which it is), but about it being exceptionally readable. It’s just plain good writing.
(Crossposted from Energion Publications)
January 25, 2011
Here’s an extract from the postscript that will answer that question:
In this book we sought to build a picture of the historical origins of the Gospels based on the tradition preserved for us in the patristic writings. In particular, we were concerned with the attempt in the early church to explain the distinctive nature of the Gospel according to Mark. Two significant points have emerged from our study. First, Mark’s Gospel is best seen as the result of the cooperation between Peter and Paul to ensure that the unity of the early church was not impaired as a result of the publication of the Gospel of Luke alongside the Gospel of Matthew. In other words, the Gospel of Mark was never intended to be a rival of Matthew and Like, for its purpose was a very limited one, namely to provide the approbation necessary for Luke to find general acceptance in all the churches, both east and west. Second, the Gospel of Mark is best understood as Peter’s declaration that Luke is faithful to the apostolic tradition. The Gospel of Mark is therefore to be seen as the necessary link between the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. This fact alone explains the supposed contradiction between Clement’s assertion that Matthew and Luke were written before Mark and the canonical order Matthew-Mark-Luke, for it is possible for Mark to be regarded as both second and third – third in order of actual composition, and second in order of authority as the work of Peter.
December 31, 2010
At Energion Publications we like the blogosphere, and we like to see our books on people’s reading lists. Why Four Gospels? is one of Five Books I Liked This Year from The Savannah Project.
December 28, 2010
James Gray, who notes that he is currently reading Why Four Gospels?, gives four major reasons why Matthew is such an important gospel.