Thursday, June 8, 2017

Addressing the Synoptic Problem

Decrees of the Pontifical Biblical Commission

June 26, 1912 (AAS 4 [1912] 465; EB 117f; Dz 2164ff)

I: Provided all is safeguarded that according to previous decisions must be safeguarded, especially concerning the authenticity and integrity of the three Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the substantial identity of the Greek Gospel of Matthew with its original text, and the chronological order in which they were written, in order to explain their mutual similarities and dissimilarities, is it lawful for exegetes, given the many different and contradictory opinions proposed by writers, to discuss the question freely and to have recourse to the hypotheses of tradition, whether written or oral, or also of the dependence of one Gospel on another or on others that preceded it?

Answer: In the affirmative.

II: Ought those to be considered faithful to the above prescriptions, who without the support of any traditional evidence or historical argument readily embrace what is commonly called the two-document hypothesis', the purpose of which is to explain the composition of the Greek Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke chiefly by their dependence on the Gospel of Mark and a so-called collection of the discourses of our Lord; and are they consequently free to advocate it?

Answer: In the negative to both parts.

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