Talk:Synoptic Gospels

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Copyediting[edit]

I assure those who have contributed to this article that my edits were in good faith. I removed some material, but that was material I could not fit into the prior article or flow, nor my newly reorganized flow. I am a high critic of my own organization, but without engaging in OR, there is little I can do on this topic. Wish I had brought my stash of Bible Review articles with me across the Atlantic.--Otheus 17:23, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

Made just a few changes for the final proofread. The article is probably in need of sources, though, especially towards the end. —beverson 03:34, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

Proposal for Merger with synoptic problem[edit]

Please see Talk:synoptic problem#merge with synoptic gospels. --Otheus 14:05, 8 July 2007 (UTC)

More radically, and apologies to those who have worked hard on this, I'd propose the complete deletion of this article, leaving the Synoptic Problem as the only one on the subject. You can just about justify Thomas being included here on Jesus Seminar principles (though I would suggest it is better dealt with solely on its own page), but to add the Gospel of the Hebrews means the page bears no relation to what most scholars would consider a proper article on the synoptics.Matruman (talk) 23:03, 23 March 2010 (UTC)

"Authorship according to conservative and liberal Christians"[edit]

What exactly do "conservative" and "liberal" mean in this context? Liberal and conservative are only opposites for certain meanings of the words, and I'm not sure if those meanings are appropriate here.

Do they mean politically conservative/liberal? (And if so, is this the US or European meaning of "liberal"?)
Does it mean "traditional" vs "non-traditional / modern" (in which case, I'm not sure "liberal" is a clear enough or appropriate word to use).
Or are these terms that have a specific meaning in Christian theology (in which case an explanation should be given or linked to).

Wardog (talk) 09:47, 22 May 2009 (UTC)

Unclear grammar[edit]

"since the discovery of the Gospel of Thomas which attests to the sayings gospel genre" -

Something is unusual with the grammar of the italicized part. Please clarify/fix. E.g., according to the dictionary, I would write "attests gospel genre of the sayings" or "attests to the gospel genre of the sayings". —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.146.69.71 (talk) 15:02, 5 May 2010 (UTC)

"Our Mark"[edit]

The use of the possessive in the "Two-source hypothesis" section could be read as indicating a specific point of view. In any case, it is not clear what is meant by "our Mark", though presumably the intent is the gospel as presented in accepted versions of the the Bible. KeithC (talk) 22:58, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

On dating[edit]

I've removed the dating section entirely, as it is mostly a content fork of the section in Gospel with an eye toward pushing later dates. Maybe there's room for discussion of how the synoptic solutions influence the dating of the various writings, but that's not what we have now. Mangoe (talk) 14:31, 11 October 2010 (UTC)

composition hypotheses[edit]

Per WP:EIGHT, we are supposed to cover material to the extent that our commonly accepted reference texts and disinterested secondary and tertiary sources cover it. There's no historical-critical support for the two-gospel hypothesis or for the other also-ran hypotheses listed. They should be given coverage due them, which means much less. The two-gospel hypothesis, in particular, is backed up only by two sectarian Christian references and doesn't deserve to be treated as a serious contender in the historical-critical arena. Leadwind (talk) 15:21, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

"Primary Source"[edit]

Can the official gospels really be called "primary sources"? Wikipedia's own definition is "a document, a recording, or other source of information that was created at the time under study. It serves as an original source of information about the topic". Mark was written at least a century after Christ's death, based on what we can only assume is oral testimony and the putative Q. The other gospels are mostly derivative of Mark.Gymnophoria (talk) 13:42, 25 April 2011 (UTC)

You are offering a liberal view of Markan authorship. It could have been written shortly after the fall of Jerusalem. --Walter Görlitz (talk) 13:46, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
The above debate is only somewhat relevant to the article text that says that the gospel is our "primary source for historical information about Jesus". In this context, "primary" doesn't just mean "first" as opposed to "secondary", it also means "main" as contrasted to other sources such as Josephus. Moreover, the argument that the "primary sources" are "oral testimony" is to suggest that newspaper accounts are "secondary" because the actual interviews conducted by the journalist are the "primary sources" or that books which are commonly considered "primary" by Wikipedia are actually "secondary" because the data or research notes on which they are based are the "primary" source. If Gymnophoria wishes to propose text that emphasizes the meaning of "primary" in the sense of "main" as opposed to the quasi-technical definition used by Wikipedia's reliable source guideline, we can consider that. However, I would suggest that the average reader will understand the current text to mean "main" and that most readers will not read in the sense of "primary" vs. "secondary" in the Wikipedia definition of the terms. --Pseudo-Richard (talk) 15:00, 25 April 2011 (UTC)

"Gospels are the primary historical sources . . ."[edit]

Walter, something not discussed in the one line we get when we do edits/reverts is that nothing in the article talks about history vis-a-vis the gospels. I think it would be good to have a section on that if you want to go to the effort to create it. But until that's done, not only is the assertion unsupported, it doesn't even really fit with the tenor/themes of the article.

Thoughts? Justin Z (talk) 19:57, 12 September 2011 (UTC)

I have no problems removing that phrase as it's not key to how the three synoptic gospels agree with each other. However, they are not literature. They may be treated as such, but they were written as historical narrative. As for Luke's standing as historically accurate, there are many references at Luke the Evangelist#Luke as a historian. It falls into the category of common knowledge. --Walter Görlitz (talk) 20:35, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
There is no conflict between something being historical writing and something being literature - Winston Churchill got the Nobel Prize in Literature, primarily for his history The Second World War. The gospels are certainly literature. There may be a discussion about wether they are fiction or non-fiction, or something in between, but not about their status as literature. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 23:29, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
I stand corrected. What I should have said is that they are not primarily literature. They are an historical narrative first and foremost. They are also religious texts. They may also be viewed as literature.
The question that Justin is posing, however, isn't whether they're literature or religious texts, the question is whether they accurately represent Jesus as an historical figure or simply as a biblical character as Justin keeps insisting as can be seen from the section heading. --Walter Görlitz (talk) 23:42, 12 September 2011 (UTC)

Eltopiafrank/s two-bits: I don't think the "primary sources" are available by the objector's standards. Few would argue that the scriptures are not the closest thing to primary sources widely available today. In other words, I think the source is good enough for most people, probably including most scholars, provided the specific version is mentioned. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Eltopiafrank (talkcontribs) 03:36, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

To claim that the Synoptic Gospels are the primary source for historical information about Jesus is like saying the directors of the Alien movies are the primary source for historical information about Ripley. The Gospels may not contain any accurate historical information about Jesus. They do not even establish Jesus' existence in the first place. The Gospels are stories all written 40 years after the protagonist's death and even after 1900 years of study the existence of Jesus or the accurate portrayal of Jesus by the Gospels has not been ascertained. And given Mark's re-use of classical Greek story-telling the whole thing may be fully fictional. The New Testament is no reliable source for historical information about anything whatsoever, unless confirmed by other, independent sources. Even if the Gospels and Acts get the circumstances of time and place right, the Jesus story may still be fictional. As the supernatural stuff is. ♆ CUSH ♆ 04:27, 8 April 2012 (UTC)

I think you're missing WP:RS again. --Walter Görlitz (talk) 04:35, 8 April 2012 (UTC)
Oh and Jesus was written about by several other extra-cannonical sources see historicity of Jesus, so your analogy is flawed, and clearly displays your WP:AXE. --Walter Görlitz (talk) 05:10, 8 April 2012 (UTC)

To make the article more objective ...[edit]

Eltopiafrank: I did not find the article objective enough. For example, it says that "many scholars" believe in ... (basically, the traditional view. That of course, is by definition true, as there are more traditional scholars, especially as they have accrued over the centuries.) Eltopiafrank (talk)

A more fair approach would have been to acknowledge that among modern scholars this view is changing rapidly. Eltopiafrank (talk) 04:07, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

No, the article is not objective. It asserts that Matthew and Luke give genealogies of Jesus. They do no such thing. They give (different) genealogies of JOSEPH, and tell you that Joseph was not Jesus' father. A genealogy of Jesus would have to include the descent of Mary, who was his only human parent. (Actually, we can get even more fussy. The gospels SUGGEST that Jesus had no human father. They do not actually spell it out.) Unauthorized Persons Inc. (talk) 01:29, 27 October 2013 (UTC) Unauthorized Persons Inc.

That's patently false. I removed your addition made just now. The genealogy is of Jesus, which is why it ends with Jesus. If it were a genealogy of Joseph, it would end with him. Walter Görlitz (talk) 23:44, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
The relevant passages in the synoptics are Matthew 1:1–17 and Luke 3:23-38.
"Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah." Matthew 1:16 (NASB)
"When He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph." Luke 3:23 (NASB)
So clearly genealogies is of Jesus. We can speculate on why Mary isn't mentioned here, but that's not an issue that should be discussed in an article about the Synoptic Gospels. Walter Görlitz (talk) 00:13, 29 October 2013 (UTC)


Hi Walter,

I concede my edit of 'Synoptic Gospels' may have been hasty. I'm not yet prepared to concede it was pointless. Nor was the opinion embodied at all idiosyncratic. It has been standard doctrine of major Christian sects, since at least the Nicene Creed, that the mother of Jesus was a virgin when she conceived the foetus that was to become Jesus of Nazareth.

What do the gospels say ? Mark makes no mention of Jesus' father. John mentions him precisely twice, calling him Joseph. Luke's Gospel *suggests* that the Holy Ghost had more to do with it than Joseph, (Luke chapter 1 vv 26-38). Nevertheless, Luke does not positively state that Mary conceived as a virgin. Matthew however does just that, unless you can convict me of misreading. Chapter I, verse 18 ff:(emphasis mine - KJ version) When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, *before they came together,* she was found with child of the Holy Ghost

19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. .....
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son.

Unless I misread entirely this means that Joseph was *not* Jesus' father and he knew that. He was even minded to break the engagement off. If you take this as literal truth, then a genealogy of Joseph has *nothing* to do with that of Jesus, whose only human parent was Mary. I suppose you could believe that the Holy Ghost managed to transferm a sperm from Joseph to Mary - but that would be a radically idiosyncratic notion that ought not be introduced by the back door.

Unauthorized Persons Inc. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Unauthorized Persons Inc. (talkcontribs) 04:37, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

First, John isn't a synoptic gospel. You may argue your point at a different article.
Second, I'm not saying Joseph was Jesus' earthly father. What I'm saying is that the authors of Matthew and Luke take Jesus' genealogy through Joseph. I won't argue their decision. I am only stating what exists. Walter Görlitz (talk) 05:11, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

Hi Walter, Even if I accept what you say, you still fail to expose the fact that these genealogies are extremely odd in two respects. I) They do *not* end with the name of the subject: e.g. a genealogy of (the) David would end 'and X begat Jesse and Jesse begat David'. If this happened here you would have to have 'Mary' in the same place as Jesse. (And, Jews inform me, a Jew who confesses a tribe takes his/her tribe from mother, not father.) II) These genealogies include a foster-father, which must make them close to unique. Perhaps you can come up with other genealogies that do this ? Exposing ambiguities is the business of an Encyclopedia, merely expressing them is the job of a rock concert. You will find similar points made by Geza Vermes in his book "Jesus the Jew"; and, I haven't checked, but I'll bet David Strauss had something to say about it. (Unauthorized Persons Inc. (talk) 03:42, 18 November 2013 (UTC))

Thus in 'stating what exists' you fail to point out its manifest ambiguities, you merely express them.

Move to pluralized title[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

No consensus to move. Vegaswikian (talk) 22:49, 21 January 2012 (UTC)

Synoptic Gospels → ? –

  • Support "A synoptic gospel" is a very vague concept. "One of the Synoptic Gospels" is precise. "The Synoptic Gospels" is a term that refers to three unique works. "The synoptic gospels" could conceivably apply to an indeterminate number. Esoglou (talk) 14:05, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
That looks like an oppose to me, given our strong policy on avoiding "the" in titles, wher it is not absolutely necessary? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Johnbod (talkcontribs)
It was an expression of support for the original proposal: "Synoptic gospel → t.b.d.", which has now been changed to "Synoptic Gospels → ? ". What confusion, especially when the rationale still given for the proposed change is "in any case this should have a plural title"! Thë proposal as rephrased to mean the opposite of what it originally said, I do of course oppose. Esoglou (talk) 08:39, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment: I've reversed the bold move (singular seems definitely wrong, and I can't move it to Synoptic gospels). I don't have much opinion about the capitalization; see what sources say (though personally I'd have expected to see it capitalized). Opinion updated - see below. --Kotniski (talk) 14:33, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment. The article Gospel has a singular title, and uses lower case: "gospel", "gospels". Perhaps we do not find the singular so strange there, because it is common to refer to just one of the four or to some subset: "this gospel is the shortest"; "comparing these two gospels". It is a peculiarity of synoptic that renders these parallels odd: "this synoptic gospel is the shortest"; "comparing these two synoptic gospels". Current OED reports the "coordinated" sense of synoptic as used exclusively with gospels:

"synoptic, adj. (and n.)" [adj.] 2a. Applied distinctively to the first three Gospels (viz. of Matthew, Mark, and Luke) as giving an account of the events from the same point of view or under the same general aspect. Also transf. pertaining or relating to these Gospels.

The three citations (all from 19C) use only plural and vary the capitalisation; "the Synoptic Three"; "the three synoptic Gospels"; "the three Synoptic Gospels". OED has just recently added a noun use to the entry:

[2]b. as n. Any one of the Synoptic Gospels (or of their writers = synoptist n. 1). Usually in pl.

Three citations, all 19C; one uses upper case ("the Synoptics"); two use lower case ("the synoptics").
OED's very long entry "gospel, n." defaults to lower case throughout, but has some upper case when it deals with the standard four gospels and similar in the singular as names:

[2]b. One of the books written by the four Evangelists; †sometimes pl. in sing. sense. Also applied to certain ancient lives of Christ of a legendary character (apocryphal gospels), as the Gospel of Nicodemus, the Gospel of the Infancy, etc.

The citations favour lower case, but all are old.
It seems to me that the "synoptic" nature of the three (Matthew, Mark, Luke) invites a presumption that they will be mentioned together, like the Erinyes (two or three, or more) or the three Fates. (It sounds odd to mention just one of the three Fates; Latin Parcae is mostly plural; but cf. Paul Valéry's "La jeune Parque", whose title has been so difficult for translators to render naturally: "The Young Fate"; "Youngest of the Fates"; etc.) But any one of the three synoptic gospels (or any candidate for addition to that set) can reasonably be mentioned alone, as published sources show.
See highly relevant ngram evidence showing all four possible combinations of case (s+c, s+G, S+g, S+G) in a context that reduces contamination by uses in titles and headings. But then, this is a question of Wikipedia style, not of automatic reference to "reliable sources"; in any case, the first principle at WP:MOSCAPS is "Wikipedia avoids unnecessary capitalization". If sources (and OED) vary so much, capitalisation cannot reasonably be thought necessary for either synoptic or gospel.
I make no vote at this stage.
NoeticaTea? 22:24, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
It seems, also from what you say, that the overwhelming usage when speaking of the three particular gospels that are known as the synoptic ones is to call them "the Synoptic Gospels". This is not a mere description. It is a reference, not to some open set to which other candidates can be admitted, but precisely and exclusively to the three known as the Gospel of Matthew, that of Mark, and that of Luke. Similarly, people can understand "the gospels" (common noun) as many, but when they refer to "the Gospels" they generally mean a particular four only. Similarly, the Fates are particular figures, although there can be an indeterminate number of fates, if the word is instead taken as a common noun. To signify that difference of meaning, capitalization can be said to be "necessary". If the MOS is interpreted as requiring or even suggesting greater necessity than that, it should be changed. Esoglou (talk) 09:35, 15 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment I can see how a singular title might create confusion. There are publications that summarize the synoptic gospels into a single work (some entitled "The Synoptic Gospel") and the singular title could confuse the article's subject as being such works rather than the topic's set of works. It might be helpful to include a section on these summary publications whether the title is singular or plural. Jojalozzo 18:25, 15 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Keep as proper name (or whatever the correct term is), per above. Johnbod (talk) 03:42, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Keep as Synoptic Gospels. Based on Noetica's very insightful analysis (though not agreeing with his conclusion). All the evidence presented is that the capitalized form dominates, in both the OED and other sources. I don't believe the slogan "Wikipedia avoids unnecessary capitalization" is intended to mean that we downcase whenever there's the slightest doubt (or if it is intended to mean that, then I don't believe it represents actual practice or true consensus). --Kotniski (talk) 11:56, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
Well Kotniski, I am not sure that I have a conclusion regarding this case. The principle I cite from WP:MOSCAPS ("Wikipedia avoids unnecessary capitalization") is meaningful and very valuable in deliberations like this. It helps when status as a "proper name" cannot be easily agreed upon. That notion is bandied about at RM discussions as if people knew how to diagnose a proper name reliably, when typically they cannot – except in elementary cases. Conferring of capitals does not confer (or recognise) status as a proper name. As we have discussed at WT:MOSCAPS, this needs to be sorted out urgently – but not in haste, I say. NoeticaTea? 12:45, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Keep in plural. I don't see what is the problem here. There are exactly three gospels, they are always the same gospels, and this plural name is consistently capitalized in sources. "Wikipedia avoids unnecessary capitalization" is being used as a slogan to lowercase all titles regardless of whether it's correct to downcase, and in Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style/Capital_letters there are discussions to remove it or change it to something else. --Enric Naval (talk) 15:12, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Proper name or common noun phrase[edit]

Is "Synoptic Gospels" (or "synoptic gospels") a proper name or a common noun phrase? Jojalozzo 03:30, 16 January 2012 (UTC)

See the RFC Jojalozzo started at Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Christianity#Subissue:_WP:SINGULAR, where at least two editors have told him it's a proper name. And the Rename debate just above. Johnbod (talk) 03:37, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
The matter is not as simple as people think, Johnbod. See discussions for WP:MOSCAPS (at WT:MOSCAPS). In my opinion it is often better to avoid the theoretically treacherous matter of "proper nouns" and "proper names" in RM discussions, and anywhere else capitalising is dealt with. NoeticaTea? 12:52, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
Maybe so, but using your new start there "Where is it not clear if a term is a proper noun, Wikipedia relies on sources to determine; words and phrases that are consistently capitalized in sources are treated as proper nouns and capitalized in Wikipedia." It comes to the same thing. I note that this contradicts WP:DOCTCAPS, which appears to deprecate following RS, and which Jojalozzo stretches to an extreme. How do you feel about "last supper"? In your text "determine" needs an object btw. Johnbod (talk) 14:17, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
You seem to have misread the discussion, Johnbod. What you cite is clearly labelled "the old lead". The new version ("the lead I propose") is quite different, and also grammatically impeccable:

Wikipedia avoids unnecessary capitalization. Most capitalization is for proper names, words or phrases derived from proper names, acronyms, initialisms, and titles of persons. Where is it not clear from the provisions on this page whether a word or phrase ought to be capitalized, Wikipedia consults reliable sources.

It needs a little adjusting. For example, the link for proper name needs replacing; it redirects to proper noun, which is a woefully misleading resource. But the proposed version states accurately how that MOS page, and any MOS page, might be expected to work.
I don't want to discuss particular cases like "last supper" here, or now.
NoeticaTea? 20:47, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
Indeed I had, and I have now commented there. But however one categorizes the term, we should follow RS in capitalizing it. Johnbod (talk) 21:12, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
Your comment has been incorporated into the continuing analysis of opinion. Note my remarks on your comment.
Others are welcome to join in as well, of course. (Let there be no canvassing for one view or another, please.) See this section at WT:MOSCAPS. NoeticaTea? 21:58, 16 January 2012 (UTC)
I suppose for our purposes, it's enough to define a category of "capitalized names". The academic distinction between proper names on one hand, and non-proper names that are capitalized anyway, is one that we don't really need to make.--Kotniski (talk) 12:59, 16 January 2012 (UTC)

Double Tradition[edit]

There needs to be some clarification in the double tradition section. The current section implies that the "sermon on the mount is "intact" as a complete unit in bout Mark and Luke. When in fact the "Sermon on the Mount" is only found "intact" in Mark and though, almost all the material is found in Luke it is broken up throughout most of the gospel. I would propose the sentence to be reworked like this. "It consists almost entirely of Jesus' sayings and teachings, most parables, and includes most of the text found in the Sermon on the Mount." — Preceding unsigned comment added by Spicer5 (talkcontribs) 20:49, 11 October 2012 (UTC) --Spicer5 (talk) 21:06, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

Essays needing merging somewhere[edit]

These two articles are looking badly sourced stand alone and outside the structure of better articles. Where should they be merged to? In ictu oculi (talk) 06:05, 13 May 2013 (UTC)

Both have merge tags now. History2007 (talk) 08:38, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
You can't be serious when you equate the scholarship of James Dunn with being "badly sourced". I suggest you study harder and come back when you know something about the subject. Ignocrates (talk) 15:29, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
Heavens, No. I am not going to get involved in this topic. Have many other things to do, e.g. life.... Unwatching the page... History2007 (talk) 16:04, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
Ignocrates, yes I'm serious. any 1-man 1-source article by a 1-time contributor http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/Apocryphos is a problem is badly sourced, even when using a good source. In ictu oculi (talk) 10:56, 14 May 2013 (UTC)
I understand your point, and I apologize for suggesting you are unlearned on the subject. However, it is not at all unusual for stubs and starter-articles to be under-sourced. We don't usually see attempts to merge them for that reason alone. Ignocrates (talk) 13:36, 14 May 2013 (UTC)

Merge of Oral transmission (synoptic problem)[edit]

The page Oral transmission (synoptic problem) is in effect a discussion of part of the development of the Synoptic Gospels. Not a well sourced or great discussion, but in principle that is what it is. It makes sense to trim it and merge in here. History2007 (talk) 08:38, 13 May 2013 (UTC)

It should be summarized here for sure, but I don't know about a merge now. Might it be better to merge with the other "oral" article mentioned above? There's a bit of a suspicion it might be copyvio (perhaps from the last source used). The whole thing popped up from a "draft" by an editor who has not edited again. Especially near the end it reads like a lecture. Johnbod (talk) 16:36, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment: Agree per Jonbod. Dunn material especially, appropriately checked for copyvio, should be merged into Oral gospel traditions. That will help to develop the stub there into a stronger standalone article. Ignocrates (talk) 16:45, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment: I agree with Jonbod and Ignocrates. Dunn material especially, appropriately checked for copyvio, should be merged into Oral gospel traditions. - Ret.Prof (talk) 00:06, 14 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Same concerns about WP:OR and POV - first would like someone to say where this material is already covered? If it's notable then these two essay articles will be duplicating existing paragraphs somewhere. Where? In ictu oculi (talk) 10:53, 14 May 2013 (UTC)

Based on this discussion the merge flag was removed, and some material from the Oral transmission (synoptic problem) page was moved to the Oral gospel tradition page, and more can be cleaned up and added there. History2007 (talk) 23:40, 19 May 2013 (UTC)

Rewrite[edit]

(User:SlothMcCarty, Nov. 2003)

So, I found this start-class article in rather poor shape, saying relatively little about the synoptic gospels themselves and serving as a dumping ground for material on synoptic theories, often with borderline POV issues. I appreciate the work of the many editors who have contributed to it, and would like to largely preserve that work either here or in the articles on the respective theories. However, I think the time has come for a rewrite.

Let me propose some principles that I have tried to follow, and which I hope future editors will also follow:

  1. Focus first on the synoptic gospels, not on the synoptic problem (though, yes, Synoptic problem redirects here, and I agree the two are so intertwined as to belong in a single article). Assume that many readers are just interested in what is known and how scholars approach the synoptics, and not in unsettled arguments and speculation about the synoptic problem.
  2. However, neither is this the place for in-depth descriptions of the four canonical gospels together or individually, except as they pertain to the group of synoptics and their relationship.
  3. Prefer sources that deal principally with the synoptic gospels and the synoptic problem itself, and do so in a relatively balanced way. (Most would agree that Goodacre, himself a Q-skeptic, does a fine job of exactly this, so I have used his work extensively.)
  4. Nomenclature
    • Marcan/Lucan, rather than Markan/Lukan. I know many English-language scholars use the latter, but IMHO it's just wrong. You never see Matthewan or Matthaian, do you? (Oh, but there's Matthaean vs. Matthean....)
    • Try to be consistent and rational about capitalization, even though we're in a gray area. (Not that I care enough about it to argue for one way or another.)
    • Ben C. Smith, following Stephen C. Carlson, suggests some standardization of the nomenclature, which I am eager to embrace, despite its relative novelty:
      • Use theory to describe a complete solution (e.g., two-source theory) and hypothesis for an individual fact under consideration (e.g., Marcan priority hypothesis).
      • Systematically name theories after the (usually) two sources used by the posterior gospel(s), starting with the one responsible for the triple tradition. This is in contrast to the literature's tendency toward eponymous nomenclature (Farrer, Griesbach, etc.) or haphazard structural nomenclature (four-document ≈ two-source ≠ two-gospel, wtf?).
      • Nevertheless, names more common in the literature must be at least mentioned.
  5. Acknowledge that the two-source theory is the prevalent one among scholars—even its opponents admit that—but avoid language that presumes it—or, for that matter, Marcan priority—as a fact. Even documentary interdependence is not unquestionable.
  6. Individual theories, if worth more than the barest mention, have their own pages. That is the proper place for "arguments", "criticisms", etc., since they are after all theories. Such material attracts a lot of churn as editors play POV tug-of-war in their struggle to be both neutral and thorough. Try to keep such destructive "churn-magnets" separate from this main article.
  7. Nevertheless, the undisputed facts and observations underlying such arguments are fair game, as are the fundamental foci of controversy. For example, Q arises from the attempt to explain the double tradition in light of Marcan priority, so we should at least explain what the double tradition is and why we single out Matthew-Luke overlap rather than Mark-whatever overlap. Further, we explain that the existence of Q and Marcan priority are each points of controversy that separate one theory from another.
  8. We do need a "Theories" section to list, link to, and briefly describe at least the "notable" theories—meaning those with numerous modern adherents, those still being actively discussed in the literature, and perhaps any of major historical significance (Augustinian, maybe Ur-Mark etc.).
    • A label (linking to the respective main article) and a diagram pretty much cover what we want to say here. We don't even need references, since the linked article will have plenty.
    • Theories tend to have a lot of variants. "Mine is just like yours except I posit a proto-Luke...." These belong in the theory's main article, not here. (In particular, the 4SH is not worth tabulating, though it is worth mentioning in History). Basically everything with the same core structure among the synoptics (even if arrived at by two contradictory theories) should get lumped together under one theory (or perhaps I should say, model). For example, the recent "Progressive publication of Matthew" is structurally a revival of the de Wette hypothesis, which is roughly a variant of Griesbach, so it need not be tabulated here.
    • Such a list is a magnet for minority theories. Accept that future editors will want to add them, and provide a template (I mean a pattern, not a Template) to follow that will keep such addenda concise and unintrusive. Still, unless the Büsching hypothesis makes a surprise comeback (fingers crossed!), I expect most new minority theories to actually be variants of the big ten or so already listed.

--SlothMcCarty (talk) 10:31, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for all your great work. The illustrations alone a great effort, on top of all the other numerous improvements to the page. --HectorMoffet (talk) 09:08, 4 January 2014 (UTC)