…I have done what I can, through books, articles, websites, blogs, to try to generate some awareness of a major alternative to the consensus view. Sometimes, this has met with success. But all too often, I have felt like Kierkegaard’s clown, and no more so than here, apparently having made next to no impact on the way that the debate is framed, let alone the solutions that are offered.
And most importantly he adds:
The difficulty for people like me is that the introductory textbook can do more than anything else in embedding ideas in students’ minds, and it is a shame if they are not even given the framework within which to explore the problem in a balanced way.
What follows here is a brief summary of how a few prominent introductory textbooks on the NT deal with synoptic problem. It so happens that I have recently been perusing NT Survey materials for a bibliography project for one of my seminars. Briefly, I think Goodacre and others sharing a “non-Q Markan priority” (a viewpoint I tend towards) are making a difference. I’ve selected a few prominent textbooks written from different perspectives (and for a variety of audiences) for observation. I’ve arranged them alphabetically by author’s last name, but take note of the dates as well.
- Mentions Goodacre’s work in the main body of text when discussing the synoptic problem, though he says that the option has not “gained large amounts of support worldwide” (90).
Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Doubleday, 1997.
- He entertains the possibility that Luke used Matthew, but dismisses it with a brief argument. Moving on to Markan priority, he again mentions that some in this camp also affirm the possibility of Luke using Matthew, but dismisses this view based on the brief argument just before (114).
Carson, D. A., and Douglas J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005.
- Carson says in the main body of text, “But other scholars are not convinced that we need to posit the existence of any such tradition… but some maintain both Markan priority and the use of Matthew by Luke” (100). A footnote here includes Goodacre’s The Case Against Q and his Synoptic Problem, as well as the response in Paul Foster’s “Is It Possible to Dispense with Q?” NovT 45 (2003).
Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. [4th edition is out, but I do not think there are any revisions to the discussion on the synoptic problem.]
- He seems to assume Q without much qualification, saying, “Once Mark is established as prior to Matthew and Luke, the Q hypothesis naturally suggests itself” (86). But under “further reading,” Ehrman suggests Goodacre’s The Case Against Q.
Guthrie, Donald. New Testament Introduction. 4th ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1990.
- At the end of his discussion of the synoptic problem, he only briefly adds, “In view of the revival of the Griesbach hypothesis, criticism of the Q hypothesis has increased” (167). In a footnote here, he mentions Goulder’s work, but also Fitzmeyer’s defense of Q.
Johnson, Luke Timothy. The Writings of the New Testament. Fortress Press, 1999.
- Implies that Markan priority entails the two-source hypothesis and notes that resistence to Q is by those holding Matthean priority (156). He does insist that Q’s existence is “a scholarly abstraction” (156).
Lea, Thomas and David Alan Black. The New Testament: Its Background and Message. 2nd ed. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2003.
- The second edition is Black’s revision of the late Lea Thomas’ original volume by the same title (1996). Black revised the section dealing with the Synoptic problem (and has published on the subject in support of Matthean priority). He says, “The acceptance of the Q hypothesis has varied widely” and “The very existence of Q is uncertain” (121). In the general bibliography following the section, he lists Goodacre’s The Synoptic Problem.
McDonald, Lee Martin, and Stanley E. Porter. Early Christianity and its Sacred Literature. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2000.
- In discussion of Q itself, the focus becomes whether or not Q was a written document of sorts or some sort of common oral tradition (282). A footnote here directs the reader to a few other sources. There it is noted that Farrer “has perhaps leveled some of the strongest arguments against the existence of Q and claims that Luke used Matthew’s Gospel” (315). Goulder is only mentioned with Farrer. Finally, it is said that “Rosche (“The Words of Jesus and the Future of the ‘Q’ Hypothesis,” JBL 79 :210-21), on the other hand, accepts the priority of Mark but not necessarily the existence of Q.”
Powell, Introducing the New Testament. See Goodacre’s discussion (linked above).
Perhaps what is needed is an analysis of how subsequent revisions of textbooks alter their discussions of the synoptic problem. In other words, have recent revisions started to take into account the view of Goodacre and others? In this small selection of texts, I found Blomberg and Carson/Moo to treat non-Q Markan priority with the greatest fairness [add Kostenberger here; see below], introducing the reader to the appropriate sources in the debate. The Lea/Black treatment is brief, but Q is certainly not assumed. Ehrman virtually assumes Q, though a student might reasonably access opposing arguments such as The Case Against Q via the “suggested reading” section. In the end, I think a ‘survey’ textbook by its nature will tend to treat consensus more thoroughly than dissenting views, but Goodacre makes a strong case in his post.
Update: I just got a hold of the following volume…
Kostenberger, Andreas J., L. Scott Kellum, and Charles Quarles. The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2009.
- Q is certainly not assumed, and the “Farrer-Goulder Hypothesis” receives one and half pages of treatment. Evidence supporting Luke’s use of both Mark and Matt is presented, and footnotes point readers to Farrer, Goulder, and Questioning Q: A Multidimensional Critique. Under “For Further Study,” Goodacre’s The Case Against Q is suggested. This is the best treatment I’ve encountered.