Thursday, May 14, 2009

Conjectural Date of Gospels
Recent discussion over at the Synoptic List has again got me wondering at how Matthew, Mark and Luke are presumed to have been written decades apart. That any of them were written even a decade apart is really only a conjecture, based on a hypothesis of literary dependence which does not really require such a conjecture. Actually the two notions are a bit circular since literary dependence is also based on the notion that the Gospels are written decades apart!

The three synoptics may all have been composed within one year of the other two. It is strange that scholars often give dates for Matthew and/or Luke that are a decade or two after Mark, when what they really want to say is merely that, say, Matthew evidences some knowledge of Mark. Perhaps I should add it as another myth to the eight myths/misassumptions previously mentioned (later converted to eight positive assertions here). To convert this ninth myth into a positive assertion would be to say that Matthew, Mark and Luke likely derive from roughly the same time period. It is difficult to determine whether noticeable editorial changes or detectable differences can be put down to different dates of composition (rather than to editing/retelling styles and/or different paths of 'traditioning' and/or different locales).

No comments: