Monday, 2 August 2010

Why Mark was written before Matthew and Luke

After reading chapter 4 of Dean Overman's A Case for the Divinity of Jesus: Examining the Earliest Evidence. I changed my mind on the dating of the Gospels. This series will pretty much be based off that chapter from his book title: "Reliability of the Canonical Gospel Accounts is Supported by the Historical Evidence".

It seems most likely that the Gospel of Mark was the first of the Gospels written. This is mainly due to Mark having the lease original content with about 95 percent of it found in Matthew or Luke or both. Other theories that have Matthew or Luke written first do not successfully explain why Mark would cull down a version of Matthew or Luke and leave out the birth and infancy narrative, most of Jesus’ teaching and Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance.

Mark also uses the most words to tell the least amount of things. This means that the stories Mark tells contain lots of little details, that Matthew and Luke didn't put in, which might mean they culled down these details, but overall they added more stories to the framework of Mark. For example when Jesus calms the storm in Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25 and Matthew 8:23-27; Mark decided to mention a cushion, and the weather in more detail. In the ESV Mark uses 152 words to describe what happened whereas Luke and Matthew use 120 and 96.

Mark seems to mentions random people like Simon of Cyrene who was the father of Alexander and Rufus and names Bartimaeus where the others don't. Some people suggest that Mark was writing when these people were still alive and was name dropping them, so you could go out and ask them for yourself.

Anyway the main logic is that Matthew and Luke added to Mark, therefor Mark was written fist. I don't think this is a very controversial point at all. At the moment I am not debating when Mark was written (or how Luke and Matthew overlap or even the existence of Q), I just want to make the case (or assert it enough to be convincing) that Mark was written before Luke, whenever that was...


  1. Great chart man! Hope you don't mind if I use it in a class at church

  2. I took the image from wikipedia, which I *think* means it is in the public domain. Direct link to the image: