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In building a biblical theology of discipleship based on the first and third gospels, one of the first issues to be resolved is to study their compatibility with one another.  In general terms, the “synoptic problem” both recognizes and tries to understand the similarities and differences between Matthew, Mark and Luke.  The past resolution of these apparent difficulties by redaction/source criticism1 are currently being challenged by the literary/narrative school of interpretation.2  This first section deals with some of the hermeneutical issues surrounding the possible linking of Matthew with Luke-Acts.

Can Matthew and Luke-Acts be Connected?

In his book Luke: Interpreter of Paul, Critic of Matthew, Eric Franklin posits that Luke may have been written in response to the publication of Matthew (1994:314,381). According to Franklin "Mark is his primary source: Matthew is a well-used source, but it is a much less influential one; it is, in reality, a much less respected one" (1994:315).  Franklin discusses the distinct possibility that Luke’s introductory remarks to provide a more “orderly account” was directed towards his disagreement with Matthew (1994:170-173).   

According to Franklin, the heart of these disagreements between Matthew and Luke centered on the law and eschatology (1994:166-173).  On these subjects Luke is seen as much more influenced by Paul who was more critical of the Judaizing influences than Matthew was within the early church.

One possible explanation of why Matthew differed from Luke in the handling of the Law and other issues was that they were writing to different audiences.  Franklin himself brings up

1 In source criticism of the synoptic gospels, Mark is seen as the first written and based on the original, common source “Q.”  The other gospel writers then borrowed and  modified from Mark and “Q.”  This school of interpretation is more concerned with the historical part then the literary whole.   

2 In literary criticism, the interpretation is less concerned about the source of the material then with the wholistic text as it is presented to us.  It is more concerned with the literary whole then the sources for the parts.

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