Synoptic Gospel Sources

Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the 'synoptic' gospels (Greek: syn = "together", optic = "seen") because of their many similarities in wording and order. The Synoptic Problem involves explaining these similarities. They are widely believed to result from the use of written sources. This part of the site investigates which of these written sources were used by which gospels. The pages indicated below present the arguments for a common-sense solution to the problem. The proposed solution bridges the gulf between Kloppenborg and Goulder.

  1. Overview of an elegant solution to the Synoptic Problem

  2. A brief history of the Three-Source Theory

  3. Fundamental flaws in the Two-Source Theory

  4. Pericopes (passages) wrongly assigned to Q

  5. Luke used Matthew and a sayings source

  6. The blocks of aphorisms in Mark, Matthew and Luke

  7. The first collection of the sayings of Jesus

  8. Merits of the Three-Source Theory

Log of main changes

date reason for change
9 Jan 2022   New page 'A summary of the evidence for the individual logia sayings', tabulating the evidence from source doublets, sayings blocks, poetry, and hyperbole
9 Jan 2022   New page 'Procedures for identifying the remaining logia sayings', including a more consistent procedure for identifying the logia sayings not attested by the source doublets
29 Nov 2020   New page 'The blocks of aphorisms in Mark, Matthew and Luke'
6 May 2020   New page 'Paul knew about the logia'
21 Apr 2020   New page 'Solving the jigsaw puzzle' - explaining how the arrangement of the 72 sayings was derived
16 Apr 2020   New much more extensive page 'A commentary on the sayings of Jesus' to replace 'Notes on the sayings of Jesus'
5 Jan 2010   New diagram in 'Merits of the Three-Source Theory',
illustrating the explanatory power of the 3ST
12 Feb 2009   New page: Luke used Matthew AND a sayings source
21 Jul 2008   New page in 'The sayings of Jesus': The doublets: a template for the logia
29 May 2008   New page: A brief history of the Three-Source Theory
26 Mar 2008   New page: Overview of an elegant solution to the Synoptic Problem
14 May 2006   English text of sQ now set out in poetic form
5 Sep 2005   New page: sQ = Papias' LOGIA
13 Feb 2003   New page: The 36 links in tabular form
8 Feb 2003   New page: English text of sQ
22 Apr 2002   Fully structured sQ with 72 sayings in 36 pairs
17 Dec 2000   New page: 'A look inside the source sQ'
21 Nov 2000   The Unclean Spirit and Watchfulness parables also now allocated to xQ
2 Oct 2000   The 'Lament for Jerusalem' now allocated to xQ (composed by Au_Matt)
1 Dec 1999   New paragraph on the structure of sQ in 'The source sQ'
23 Nov 1999   First Edition