Scholars and believers from the first century to the present have been troubled by the fact that differing, often sharply divergent, accounts of Jesus’ life can be found in the Gospels. John Dominic Crossan and the Jesus Seminar have stirred interest in Jesus and the Gospels by sifting through the New Testament for the authentic words of Jesus. The outcome of the Seminar’s whole enterprise hinges on how they resolve the relationship between the three Synoptic Gospels — Matthew, Mark, and Luke. According to the Jesus Seminar, these Gospels are all based on the hypothetical Gospel of Q, supposedly a lost collection of Jesus’ teachings. But what if the Jesus Seminar is wrong? What if the Gospel of Q simply never existed and was just invented, out of necessity, to resolve the tensions between Matthew, Mark, and Luke?
In A History of the Synoptic Problem, David Laird Dungan provides a comprehensive history of this contentious debate from its beginning. He shows how scholars throughout the ages have defined and redefined the Synoptic Problem and resolved the contradictions using the intellectual tools of their day. Structuring his book around crucial historical figures such as Origen, Augustine, Erasmus, Spinoza, and Locke, Dungan discloses, for the first time, the theological, political, and economic agendas that guided their biblical interpretations. The result is a book that challenges the status quo and its insistence on the priority of Mark and the existence of Q.
Sure to make readers rethink their assumptions about the New Testament, Dungan’s latest book is a controversial, bold contribution to what is already a heated debate.