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  • Matthean Posteriority: An Exploration of Matthew's Use of Mark and Luke as a Solution to the Synoptic Problem by Robert K. MacEwen
  • Llewellyn Howes
MacEwen, Robert K. 2015. Matthean Posteriority: An Exploration of Matthew's Use of Mark and Luke as a Solution to the Synoptic Problem. LNTS 501. London and New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark. Hardback. ISBN 978-0-56736-434-0. Pp. 309. £85.

In this monograph, MacEwen considers evidence for the most neglected scholarly solution to the Synoptic Problem, namely the Matthean Posteriority Hypothesis (MPH). According to this theory, Mark wrote first, Luke made use of Mark, and Matthew made use of both Mark and Luke. The book starts with a very good introduction (chapter 1), in which the need, purpose, content and contribution of the study are clearly stated. The second part of the introduction concisely surveys the history of scholarship on the MPH. The meat of the publication appears in only two chapters. Chapter 2 considers arguments for the MPH that may be added to those already outlined by previous scholars. Chapter 3 attempts to refute some of the challenges brought against the MPH by proponents of competing solutions. The conclusion (chapter 4) summarises the content of the book, evaluates the MPH and offers suggestions for further research. [End Page 379]

Two major arguments in favour of the MPH are tabled in chapter 2. Firstly, it is argued that there exists textual evidence to indicate that Matthew knew Luke. Seven individual texts are discussed to argue that Matthew knew not only the double tradition material in Luke, but also Luke's Sondergut. One may question whether these examples are sufficient to prove the larger case, especially since Matthew seems for the most part to be unaware of Lukan Sondergut. Secondly, it is argued that strings of verbatim agreement between the three Synoptic Gospels support the MPH against rival hypotheses. Strings of verbatim agreement are defined as "a string of words that is identical in two Gospels" (51). To qualify, these strings must "include exactly the same words in the same form (thus no differences in spelling, case, tense, etc.) in the same order (thus no transpositions) with no insertions, omissions, or substitutions of words in either Gospel" (51). Only strings containing four or more words are considered. After considering the strings of verbatim agreement between each possible Gospel combination (Mark-Matthew, Mark-Luke, Matthew-Luke), it is found that all the major source-critical theories are problematic to some extent, but that the MPH is the least problematic theory (73). Despite this finding, MacEwen acknowledges that statistical investigations are themselves notoriously problematic, often producing conflicting results, depending on the data included for analysis (50–51).

In turn, chapter 3 tackles the four most influential and substantial challenges to the MPH. The first challenge is the claim by proponents of the Two Document Hypothesis (2DH) that sometimes Luke's version and sometimes Matthew's version of the double tradition is more primitive. This is commonly known as the argument of alternating primitiveness, and supports the idea that Matthew and Luke were unaware of each other, but that they made independent use of the same source. After considering four of the strongest examples of Matthean primitiveness set forth by other scholars, MacEwen finds that Matthew is more primitive in two of them, but that the primitiveness of Matthew in one of these instances is mitigated by the probability that it represents liturgical material. It is problematic for the author's case that an overwhelming majority of commentators and scholars view all four of these examples as legitimate cases of Matthean primitiveness. The issue of alternating primitiveness is also addressed by appealing to the Critical Edition of Q. Accordingly, the reconstruction of Q by the International Q Project testifies to the primitiveness of Matthew's wording over Luke's wording in the double tradition. As MacEwen admits, this finding is more favourable to the Farrer Hypothesis than the MPH (98). [End Page 380] MacEwen also admits that the finding of alternating primitiveness in the reconstruction of Q is very conducive to the 2DH (99).

The second argument against the MPH considered in chapter 3...


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