chapter  1
14 Pages

Introduction to the gospel texts and the synoptic problem

Those who are familiar with the Christian bible will know that in the New Testament there are four gospels, the gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each of them is in some sense a biography of Jesus Christ and tells essentially the same story about his life, death and resurrection, but each in its own way and from its own perspective.1 When the texts of the first three gospels, those of Matthew, Mark and Luke, are looked at in parallel, it is especially noticeable how similar they are in the way that they recount particular episodes or sections of teaching, sometimes agreeing in their accounts almost word for word. These three gospels are known as the synoptic gospels.2 The Gospel according to John is rather different in style and content, and the parallels with the synoptic gospels are generally not as close.