Wednesday, 21 September 2011


On this Saint Matthew's Day, consider not only that that erstwhile tax-collector is the Patron Saint of Bankers, but also that that strange and increasingly unfashionable thing, Biblical criticism, purports to read the Bible "as if it were any other ancient text", yet in fact subjects it to a series of methods that would be laughed out in any other literary of historical discipline. Those methods are carefully constructed to "prove" the presuppositions of that strange and increasingly unfashionable thing, liberal theology.

Thus, if two Biblical books are word for word alike, as Matthew, Mark and Luke certainly are in parts, then they must have been copied from each other, since there is no way that God could have inspired them all and, funnily enough, done so in such a way that they confirmed each other's accounts. Hence the theory of Markan Priority, that Saint Mark's Gospel was the first to be written, and that Saint Matthew and Saint Luke copied out great chunks of it word for word. And hence the theory of Q, the compendium of the material found in Matthew and Luke but not in Mark; no copy of Q exists anywhere.

Jesus simply did not claim divinity for Himself, so that rules out John at a stroke. Miracles simply do not happen, a position not even compatible with agnosticism. Style simply does not develop (seriously), so Saint Paul cannot have written several of the Epistles beginning with the words "From Paul". And so on, and on, and on. Academia is at last moving away from this sort of thing. When will the Church in practice, since of course She has never adopted it, and cannot do so, in principle?


  1. You are beyond even Augustine on this one. Could we coax you into a more Augustinian "Matthean Priority if anything"?

  2. Yes, I suppose that I could settle for that Patristic position.

    Markan Priority is entirely a product of Biblical criticism with all that it entails, and was unknown before then.

    Matthean Priority was universally held in the centuries vastly closer to the events, as was the view that the Gospels were in all four cases eye-witness accounts, and unique in being so.

    But the existence of any Synoptic Problem to solve is highly questionable in itself.