From Dave Black Online:
7:22 PM I’ve just finished writing the syllabus for my Greek 4 class that meets next semester. One issue we’ll discuss is the synoptic problem. I’ll admit that there isn’t sufficient evidence to prove Matthean priority beyond the shadow of a doubt. Nor will the scholarly community be willing to dispense with “Q” any time soon, despite the valiant efforts of Dr. Goodacre. Nevertheless, I believe — and am quite ready to try and prove — that the Fourfold-Gospel Hypothesis presented in my book Why Four Gospels? presents a more credible example of the relationships among the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke that do any of the other “solutions” to the synoptic problem.
Many have commended my work in recent days because they feel it is no more complex than absolutely necessary — thus applying Ockham’s razor. I agree with this assessment, to a degree. A simpler explanation is not inherently a better one. I would argue, however, that we should not appeal to unknown sources or hypothecated documents unless we have been unable to understand the relationships between Matthew, Mark, and Luke without them. This does not mean that the Fourfold-Gospel Hypothesis now becomes more probable. Perhaps I have missed something in my analysis of the raw data. It is therefore necessary for students of the synoptic problem to give attention to concrete problems inherent in any view of synoptic relationships.
This we shall do next semester as we exegete the Gospel according to Mark in Greek. I rather suspect that when and if our view of the synoptic problem becomes accepted, it will be because students have examined the evidence for themselves. My proposal is that we analyze the Gospels just as we would any other ancient document. It seems to me to be the eminently intelligent thing to do. We do ourselves a disservice if we take umbrage at the challenges posed to us by history. As a teacher, then, it is my aim to get my students deep into the text itself. Thus, I am basically optimistic about the class, in which I hope to tackle the full range of research problems in contemporary Gospel studies while at the same time seeking to open a new way of understanding the Christian Gospels in the earliest period of church history.
I hope many of you SEBTS students will consider joining us in this quest. Of course, our ultimate goal is to better assess the historical figure who lies behind the four characterizations in the Gospels and His relevance for us today. Thus books like Scot McKnight’s The Jesus Creed and my own The Jesus Paradigm find their place among the works that we will want to read for the class. The time is ripe for a fresh assessment of the data, with a goal of strengthening the Body of Christ for the work of disciple-making worldwide.