Wednesday 20 December 2006
Putting Mark back where he belongs
You might not know it from the Ambassador College Correspondence Course, but one of the first things students of the New Testament learn about is a little something called "Marcan priority."
The short explanation is that Mark, not Matthew, is the first Gospel, and by looking at the ways Matthew and Luke adapt Mark you can learn an awful lot about their agendas.
What do the 21st century COGs think of that? Who knows. Most COGs are too busy fiddling with their proof texts to pay much attention to issues like this. Fred Coulter has an opinion though, he thinks Matthew was the first Gospel writer, and he wrote it "at the time of Jesus' ministry from 26 to 30 AD." This remarkable statement is pretty much in line with Fred's other "scholarly" opinions. His "Faithful Version" deserves to be a party conversation piece if only because of the bloopers in its copious and repetitive notes.
We also know what James Tabor thinks, because he's addressed this very issue in his latest blog entry. Tabor goes further by drawing out what he sees as some implications of Marcan priority.
Whether or not you agree with Tabor's conclusions, Marcan Priority is pretty much one of the assured results of New Testament scholarship, whether among Catholics, Evangelicals or traditional Protestants. Sorry Fred.