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Catholic Dictionary




The problem of how the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke are related, since large areas of these cover the same subject matter, often in similar words, and yet sometimes showing remarkable differences. There is no single solution to the Synoptic Problem. In general, Catholic scholarship favors the basic tradition, dating from the second century, that the Gospels bearing the names of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written by Matthew the Apostle, Mark the disciple of Peter, and Luke the disciple of Paul; that Matthew's original Gospel was in Aramaic, later translated into Greek; that the similarities among the Synoptics are due to their dealing with the same historical data, and their differences due to each evangelist's perspective, personality, and distinctive purpose in writing a separate Gospel. Among Protestants the Synoptic Problem is commonly resolved by postulating Mark as the first and fundamental Gospel, on which the others built, along with other sources, notably the unknown Q whose existence is inferred purely from the textual evidence.