A Refutation of 8 Key Arguments Claimed to Support Markan Priority

The eight key arguments have been extracted from Carl S. Patton's Sources of the Synoptic Gospels (London: The Macmillan Company 1915), pp. 13-16, as presented in a web page of Peter Kirby. They are to be viewed within the framework that can be deduced upon realization of the genuineness of the Talmud of Jmmanuel, along with the external evidence. Prime elements of this framework are:

(a) The author of Mark wrote in Rome or its vicinity, as indicated by external evidence from Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus, and the anti-Marcionite Prologue to Luke..

(b) Besides the Hebraic form of the Gospel of Matthew, this author had a document available to him that had been associated with the disciple Peter and (John) Mark, also as attested by external evidence (Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian). Where we depart from the external evidence is in not saying that Mark (or any of the other gospels) was written by its namesake; instead, that the writing took place only in early 2nd century, probably around A.D. 120-123.

(c) The author of Mark, in Rome, was obvously interested in evangelizing gentiles. Hence he strongly objected to the anti-gentile statements within Matthew, and didn't replicate any of them. Instead, he pushed for discipleship for gentiles. This, and the document in (b) above (which covered incidents found in Mt 8-11), provided the incentive for him to write Mark.

(d) In retaliation for Matthew's anti-gentile statements and denial of discipleship for gentiles, the author of Mark not so subtly altered many Matthean verses so as to portray the Jewish disciples as extra obtuse, fearful and undeserving of respect from their Lord.

(e) Consistent with (d) above, and because the author of Mark was writing for gentiles deemed not to be very interested in Judaic practices and teachings, he omitted much of the latter he found in Matthew, especially if they had contained anti-gentile statements. At the time that he wrote, Hebraic Matthew did not contain the pro-gentile statements of Mt 4:14-16, 12:17-22 and 28:18-20, according to the present hypothesis.

(f) To make his gospel be different from Matthew, from which he had to copy so much material, he omitted much ala (e) above, added dualisms throughout into what he didn't omit, wrote in Greek rather than in Hebrew or Aramaic, utilized some pieces from the document mentioned in (b) above, and rearranged the order of associated pericopes from what they were in Matthew (a lack of order noticed by Papias).

(g) Later, only after Mark and Luke had come out, was Hebraic Matthew translated into Greek. Its translator took the liberty of making some minor changes in Matthew at this time, which included adding Mt 4:14-16, 12:17-22 and 28:18-20.

The eight key points causing Patton to favor Markan priority were worded as a refutation of the Augustinian (Matthew, Mark Luke) order of the Gospels. In order, these were:

1. It is impossible, upon this [Augustinian] theory, to account for the omission by Mark of so much of the material that stood before him in Matthew and Luke. He has omitted most of the parables and sayings. He has added no narrative. He has therefore made an abstract in which much is omitted, nothing is added, and no improvement is introduced. No reason can be assigned for the making of such a Gospel by abstracting from the fuller and better Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The abstract not only adds nothing of its own, but fails to preserve the distinctive character of either of its exemplars.

See (e) above. There can be no reason for this Markan editorial behavior more valid than the great distaste evangelizers of gentiles must have held for Matthew's slant that discipleship was only for the Jews. Regarding the failure of Mark to preserve the distinctive character of Matthew, see (f) above.

2. If Mark had wished to make such an abstract, it is impossible to explain why in practically every instance he follows, as between Matthew and Luke, the longer narrative, while his own narrative is longer than either of those he copied. In the story of the healing of the leper, for example, Matthew (viii, 1-4) has 62 words, Luke (v, 12-16, without his introduction) has 87, and Mark (i, 40-45) has 97. In the healing of the paralytic (Mk ii, 1-12; Mt ix, 1-8; Lk v, 17-26) Matthew has 125 words, Luke 93, and Mark 110 (Mk ii, 13-17; Mt ix, 9-13; Lk v, 27-32). In the parable of the Sower (Mk iv, 1-9; Mt xiii, 1-9; Lk viii, 4-8) Matthew has 134 words, Luke 90, and Mark 151. In the interpretation of that parable (Mk iv, 13-20; Mt xiii, 18-23; Lk viii, 11-15) Matthew has 128 words, Luke 109, and Mark 147. Many more such instances might be given. In every case the additional words of Mark contain no substantial addition to the narrative. They are mere redundancies, which Matthew and Luke, each in his own way, have eliminated.

If Patton's (1) had merit and had indeed shown an impossibility of Mark having ensued subsequent to Hebraic Matthew, it wouldn't have been necessary for him to add (2)-(8).

It has been noted that a copier of pieces of another's work may often add to that which he copies. This was often the case with respect to the writer of Mark, for pieces that he did not simply omit in whole. Regarding Mark's parallel to Mt viii, 1-4 and to Mt ix, 1-8, these he could more rightfully amplify due to (b) above. In the parable of the sower, there are two spots where he added his own sentence or clause, with Mk 4:13b being an instance where the added clause was designed to portray the ignorance of the disciples as perceived by Jesus, as in (d) above. Most of the other instances involve the dualisms mentioned in (f), added frequently throughout so that Mark could not be perceived as simply a "clone" of Matthew. Although changes arising from motivations such as these may seem obvious to those who are not surprised to find that the Gospel writers exhibited all-too-human behavior, they are not obvious to those, past or present, who regard the Gospel writers to have been quasi-divine pipelines from God.

3. Mark contains a large number of otherwise unknown or unliterary words and phrases. For example, scizomenous, i, 10; en pneumati akaqartw, i, 23; krabattoV, ii, 4, and in five other places; epiraptei, ii, 21; qugatrion, v, 23; vii, 25; escatwV ecei, v, 23; spekougatwr, vi, 27; sumposia sumposia, vi, 39; eisin tineV wde twn esthkotwn, ix, 1; eis kata eis, xiv, 19; ekperisswV, xiv, 31. Such expressions might easily have been replaced by Matthew and Luke with the better expressions which they use instead of these; they could hardly have been substituted by Mark for those better expressions.

Here, Patton and others did not allow that, within the Augustinian framework, Mark was formed out of Hebraic Matthew, and Greek Matthew was then only formed later, apparently after both Mark and Luke had come out. Although this is quite consistent with what the early church fathers stated, it did not conform with the newer view that assumed Mark had come first (so that the problems of (c), (d) and (e) above need not be faced up to). The writer of Mark was evidently not skillful in his use of Greek. The writer of Luke and translator of Hebraic Matthew into Greek were more skillful. Within the altered framework used by Patton and later followers of Mark-Q priority, and with disregard of the external evidence, Patton's No. 3 is reasonable. It's that framework which is not reasonable.

4. Mark contains many broken or incomplete constructions; as in iii, 16+; iv, 31+; v, 23; vi, 8+; xi, 32; xii, 38-40; xiii, 11, 14, 16, 19; xiv, 49. Such constructions would be easily corrected by Matthew and Luke; they would not easily be inserted into the narratives of Matthew and Luke by Mark.

This again follows from the writer of Mark not having been skillful in the use of Greek. With his gospel (Mark) being the first one written in Greek, it is no wonder that neither the writer of Luke, nor the translator of Hebraic Matthew into Greek, utilized Mark's verses of broken construction.

5. Mark has many double or redundant expressions, of which Matthew has taken a part, Luke sometimes the same part, sometimes another. Such instances may be found in Mark's Gospel at ii, 20, 25; iv, 39; xi, 2; xii, 14; the corresponding passages in Matthew and Luke will show their treatment of these redundancies.

This has been explained under (f) above. A valid reason for the writer of Mark to have added them is thus apparent. Then the writer of Luke, when utilizing both Mark and Hebraic Matthew, had to choose which of the redundant expressions to utilize, when avoiding a repetition of Mark's redundancy. Sometimes he chose the part added by the writer of Mark, sometimes the other.

6. Mark uses uniformly kai [for "and"], where Matthew and Luke have sometimes kai and sometimes de. Mark's use shows him to be nearer the Hebrew or Aramaic. No explanation can be given for his substitution of this monotonous conjunction in the place of the two conjunctions used by Matthew and Luke. The variation in Matthew and Luke of Mark's one conjunction is entirely natural.

Since the writer of Mark was utilizing both the Hebraic form of Matthew and the Aramaic form of the document mentioned in (b) above, Patton's remark here merely reflects this, along with the writer of Mark having been the least sophisticated writer of Greek.

7. Mark has many Aramaic words, which he translates into the Greek; see especially iii, 17; v, 41; vii, 11; vii, 34. It would be easy for these to be dropped out by writers making use of Mark's material for Hellenistic readers; but very unnatural for Mark to have inserted these Aramaic words into the Greek texts of Matthew and Luke.

On the contrary, the writer of Mark could retain these Aramaic words from the two texts he utilized as evidence of originality of his gospel. He would naturally wish to explain their meanings to the gentile audience his gospel was addressing. With both Luke and Greek Matthew coming out after Mark was written, the writer of Mark was not inserting anything into Greek Matthew and Luke.

8. Mark's narrative thruout is more spirited and vivid than either Matthew's or Luke's. It would be much easier for these graphic touches to be omitted for various reasons by Matthew and Luke, even tho they found these before them in the Gospel of Mark, than for Mark to have added these touches in copying the narratives of Matthew and Luke. One may mention especially the details about the appearance and dress of the Baptist (Mk i, 6); the four men carrying the litter (ii, 3); the statement, "He looked around upon them with wrath, being grieved at the hardness of their hearts" (Mk iii, 5); the names of persons, and their relatives, unknown to the other evangelists, the description of the Gadarene demoniac, the additional details of the conversation between Jesus and the parents of the epileptic boy (ix, 20-24), and many similar items.

This is well explained by (b) above. This explanation would not have been conceived, however, if it hadn't been suggested from the Talmud of Jmmanuel, as discussed here.

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