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The Evangelicals and the Synoptic Problem


Michael Strickland

The Evangelicals and the Synoptic Problem aims to investigate how evangelical Christians and their Protestant forebears, labeled early orthodox Protestants, have dealt with the classic puzzle of New Testament criticism known as the Synoptic Problem. The particular theories considered are the Independence Hypothesis, the Augustinian Hypothesis, the Two-Gospel Hypothesis, the Two-Source Hypothesis, and the Farrer Hypothesis.
Starting with John Calvin and continuing to the modern day, consideration is given to the various hypotheses provided by early orthodox Protestant and evangelical biblical scholars throughout the centuries. Special attention is given to major evangelical contributors to the subject since 1950. In addition, a chapter is devoted to the role ecclesiology has played in evangelical consideration of the synoptic problem. After analyzing the opinions offered over almost half a millennium, it is compelling to note how arguments have changed and how they have remained the same.
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Chapter IV: Two Britons, a German Evangelical, and the Synoptic Problem


Nathaniel Lardner was born the son of an Independent nonconformist (Puritan) minister in Kent. He attended the prestigious Presbyterian academy in Hoxton Square, London, and then studied on the continent in Utrecht in 1699 and Leiden in 1702. Lardner’s sympathy for the Independent and Presbyterian views and exposure to European biblical scholarship were evident in later years. He first served as an Independent minister in London, and then joined a wealthy family as chaplain and tutor until 1721. In the years 1716–1719, he contributed to Occasional Papers, a joint publication between Independents and Presbyterians. It was The Credibility of the Gospel History 12 vols. (London, 1727–55) that earned him a reputation as “front rank of Christian apologists.”166 Alexander Kippis described Lardner’s Credibility as “highly approved not only by the Protestant Dissenters, with whom the author was more immediately connected, but by the clergy in general of the established church.”167 In 1757, he published Supplement to volume two of part one of Credibility, in which he included a lengthy discussion of gospel origins and devoted an entire chapter to the discussion of “The Question Considered, whether any of the first three evangelists had seen the gospels of the others before he wrote.”168 Lardner demonstrated exposure to a wide range of scholarship and opinion on the subject in what was, at that time, the longest discussion of the synoptic problem in print.

Lardner first surveyed the “sentiments of learned moderns” and then provided a lengthy...

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