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Matthew or Mark earliest gospel
Question from Monica on 10/9/2007:

Dear Father:

I am enjoying the Gospel of Matthew bible study that you are teaching at St. Augustine (Since we don't get a chance for questions, I thought I would try to ask my question here.) I have been posting my class notes on my blog and this has brought about a discussion on a comment you made about Matthew being the earliest gospel. As you can probably guess, another blogger has taken exception to this.

I am very interested to hear what you have to say on the topic. I have looked into this a bit, read the New Jerome Biblical Commentary on the Synoptic Problem and the Q source. I also looked at One Gospel from Two: Mark's Use of Matthew and Luke. My fellow blogger is very well versed in scripture, history and the early church. I am not very knowledgeable in these areas and am trying to get up to speed.

I have problems believing in the existence of Q. Could you please provide your opinion on the topic of Matthew or Markan priority and give your opinion on Q?

If you have any good references, that would be very helpful.

Thank you very much Father!

Monica

Answer by Fr. John Echert on 12/11/2007:

I have several reasons for dismissing the so-called "Q" view:

1. It contradicts solid ancient testimony of the early Church

2. There is no such document as "Q" nor anything resembling "Q" (a collection of sayings of Jesus)

3. "Q" is the construct of modern Protestant interpretors who are biased against ancient tradition in general

4. One of the arguments for Markan priority (being earliest) is that it is shorter--based upon a modern principal that shorter is earlier. Yet a careful examination of the Gospels reveals that often Matthew has a shorter version of a particular pericope (event) than Mark, which would suggest that his is the earlier Gospel

Modern thinking scholars tend to reject most or all of ancient tradition regarding the identity of the Evangelists, in part because they favor late dating, beyond the period in which the traditional Evangelists would have written. Why would the Church wait until the death of most of the Apostles to insure a written Gospel, and why would the Church allow pseudonyms to be tagged to them? In fact, the early Church was very insistent that these were apostolic writings, either by Apostles themselves or those who had direct apostolic testimony, such as Luke and Mark.

God bless, Monica

Father Echert

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