Peter as the Rock

Okay, need to work something out and my brain’s getting confused, so it’s going here to see if I can come to a conclusion regarding the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke).

General consensus is that Mark wrote his gospel from the point of view of Peter, writing for the Roman church.  A full 56% of Mark’s gospel is included in Matthew’s gospel, and 42% of it is in Luke’s gospel, which would imply both that Mark’s gospel was written first, and that both the writers of Luke and Matthew had access to it.

So, some of the confusing things:

  • If Mark is with Peter, Peter was a Jew, knew Jewish law, etc.  Yet Mark got a lot of things wrong with Jewish law that was actually corrected in Matthew.  Another supposition was that Mark was a disciple of Peter, and actually wrote everything down after the death/martyrdom of Peter, focusing on the Christian aspects, and he didn’t have the Jewish background.
  • Why would Matthew’s gospel be the one to say:   “And I tell you, you are Peter,and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)?  Why would Mark not mention that?
  • Did Matthew and Paul get along?
  • Luke’s gospel, and it is estimated that Luke was a friend who traveled with Paul, does *not* mention this.
  • All three gospels have the surrounding conversation that’s found in Matthew.
  • There are scholars who say that Matthew 16:17-19 was added later, in order to support the primacy of the Roman church.  If that’s so, wouldn’t it have been in Mark?

Then, of course, we have the Q source which apparently both Luke and Matthew consulted, given that a full 235 verses (not quite 25% of each book) are shared in Luke and Matthew, but not in Mark.  Here’s a better chart of how it all fits together:

relationship_between_synoptic_gospels-en-svg

Now, to make things just that much more interesting, the professor asked us to read something that also adds in the similarities in the Gospel of Thomas, a non-canonical tract found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Some scholars put it before Mark, the earliest believed Gospel; some put it a couple centuries after all of them.  Because of the language, more believe it was circulated about the same time as Mark.  And then there are scholars who think Mark copied from Matthew and Luke, but they’re in the minority.

Oh, now I’m having fun.  There’s a website that puts everything in parallel!

So, have I figured anything out?  Nope.  Now, the good news is, scholars all still are trying to figure this out.  So I’m in good company if nothing else.

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