GOSPELS, SYNOPTIC, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The similarity of considerable segments of their subject matter and even their phraseology may be explained by one of two theories. The Gospel of Saint Mark is supposed to be the earliest of the three Gospels and could have been utilized by the other two. This interdependence and the pooling of knowledge in that era is a common trait of that age. Saint Mark was the most highly educated of the evangelists. Another possibility advanced by some theological scholars is that the three Gospels drew upon a fourth source, one lost and unknown.
In the meantime, one must bear in mind that Matthew and Luke used some material peculiar to each and without parallel in Mark's Gospel. Whether each evangelist had his own independent source on certain matters, in addition to their common knowledge, is debatable. In this situation of uncertainties and multiple probabilities, the Coptic theologians insist on the seniority and superiority of the Gospel according to Saint Mark the Evangelist, the founder of Egyptian Christianity and the first pope and patriarch of their church.
Taylor, V. The Gospels: A Short Introduction. London, 1938.
Thompson, J. M. The Synoptic Gospels. Oxford, 1910.
AZIZ S. ATIYA
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