Sunday, December 11, 2011

Matthean Priority v Markan Priority

Over at Tough Questions Answered, I was discussing various topics with Walter Tucker, and this subject came up. I have always wanted to a person who held to Matthean priority respond to some questions I had, Walter Tucker is a pleasant person, so I am posting this up for him to respond. When he has an opportunity—no rush.

In brief, Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the Synoptic Gospels (because they present the same “view” or “synoptic” of Jesus’ ministry) and it has long been noted there is literary dependence amongst them. They copied each other in some way, Dr. Wallace has written a good introductory article on the subject.

Of course, the question immediately followed—who copied whom? Various solutions have been presented. Although a few die-hard adherents hold Luke was the first, the others copied from his Gospel, and even fewer hold to John being first (although not copied by the Synoptic Gospels), the real fight is whether Matthew was first—Matthew Priority—copied by Mark, or Mark was first—Markan Priority—copied by Matthew.

Two primary reasons I cannot be convinced by Matthean Priority, are: 1) harder readings and 2) fatigue.

Harder Readings

There is a premise in higher criticism (what this study is generally called) that the Harder reading is the primary reading. The thought behind it being subsequent editors or copiers would modify the reading to make it less difficult. I cannot improve on Dr. Wallace’s statements:
There are several passages in Mark which paint a portrait of Jesus (or the disciples, etc.) that could be misunderstood. These passages have been altered in either Matthew or Luke or both on every occasion. It is the conviction of many NT scholars that this category is a very strong blow to the Griesbach hypothesis—and one which has not been handled adequately by Matthean prioritists.29 Among the several possible passages which scholars have noticed, the following are particularly impressive to me. Still, the cumulative effect is what makes the biggest impression.
(1) Mark 6:5-6/Matt 13:58—“he could not do any mighty work there except . . . ”/“he did not do many works there . . . because of their unbelief.” On this text Farmer comments: “the passage offers no clear indication that . . . Matthew has ‘toned down’ a phrase in Mark which ‘might cause offense or suggest difficulties’.”30 But this ignores the verbs used, for Mark suggests inability on Jesus’ part, while Matthew simply indicates unwillingness (oujk ejduvnato vs. oujk ejpoivhsen). Cf. also Mark 1:32-34/Matt 8:16/Luke 4:40 for a similar text.
(2) Mark 10:18/Matt 19:17/Luke 18:19—“Good teacher . . . Why do you call me good?” (in Mark and Luke) vs. “Teacher . . . Why do you ask me about what is good?” (Matthew). The text, as Mark has it, might imply that Jesus denies his own deity. It is apparent that Luke did not read it that way, but Matthew probably did. Indeed, in the Holtzmann/Streeter view, Matthew and Luke copied Mark independently of one another. Thus what might offend one would not necessarily offend the other.31
(3) Mark 3:5/Luke 6:10—“he looked around at them with anger/he looked around on them all.” Matthew omits the verse entirely, though he includes material both before and after it (12:12-13). That Luke would omit a statement regarding Jesus’ anger is perfectly understandable.
(4) Mark 1:12/Matt 4:1/Luke 4:1—“the Spirit drove him into the desert” (Mark)/ “Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit” (Matthew and Luke). Mark uses the very harsh ejkbavllw, while Matthew and Luke use (ajn)avgw, a much gentler term, to describe the Spirit’s role in bringing Jesus to the desert for temptation.
(5) Mark 8:24-26—the different stages of a particular healing story, omitted in Matthew and Luke. The blind man is partially healed the first time by Jesus, then fully the second time. This is the only healing story in the synoptic gospels which required two stages. Perhaps this was the reason for its omission in Matthew/Luke, or perhaps it was the fact that saliva was used as the means of healing.32
(6) Mark 3:20-21—The statement that Jesus’ mother and brothers tried to seize him because they said that he was insane (ejxevsth). Neither Matthew nor Luke have this verse, apparently because it would cast aspersions on Jesus’ mother and brothers.
My First question to Walter Tucker: Why would Mark make the readings harder?

Here I cannot improve on Mark Goodacre’s article regarding fatigue:

Editorial fatigue is a phenomenon that will inevitably occur when a writer is heavily dependent on another's work. In telling the same story as his predecessor, a writer makes changes in the early stages which he is unable to sustain throughout. Like continuity errors in film and television, examples of fatigue will be unconscious mistakes, small errors of detail which naturally arise in the course of constructing a narrative. They are interesting because they can betray an author's hand, most particularly in revealing to us the identity of his sources.

The clearest way to explain the phenomenon is to illustrate it. Though he did not use the term 'fatigue', G. M. Styler, in his famous article on Marcan priority, draws attention to a strong example, the Death of John the Baptist (Mark 6.14-29 // Matt 14.1-12). (5). For Mark, Herod is always 'king', four times in the passage (vv. 22, 25, 26 and 27). Matthew apparently corrects this to 'tetrarch'. This is a good move: Herod Antipas was not a king but a petty dependent prince and he is called 'tetrarch' by Josephus (Ant. 17. 188; 18. 102, 109, 122) (6). More is the shame, then, that Matthew lapses into calling Herod 'the king' halfway through the story (Matt 14.9), in agreement with Mark (6.26).

Styler points further to a more serious inconsistency in the same verse. The story in Mark is that Herodias wanted to kill John because she had a grudge against him,

'But she could not because Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him.' (Mark 6.19f).

In Matthew's version of the story, this element has dropped out: now it is Herod and not Herodias who wants him killed (Matt [47] 14.5). When Mark, then, speaks of Herod's 'grief' (perilupoV) at the request for John's head, it is coherent and understandable: Herodias demanded something that Herod did not want. But when Matthew in parallel speaks of the king's grief (kai luphqeiV o basileuV, Matt 14.9), it makes no sense at all. Matthew had told us, after all, that 'Herod wanted to put him to death' (14.5).

The obvious explanation for the inconsistencies of Matthew's account is that he is working from a source. He has made changes in the early stages which he fails to sustain throughout, thus betraying his knowledge of Mark. (7) This is particularly plausible when one notes that Matthew's account is considerably shorter than Mark's: Matthew has overlooked important details in the act of abbreviating. (8) It would be difficult, one would imagine, to forge a convincing argument against this from the perspective of Matthean priority. (9)

Of course the evidence of one pericope alone will not do to establish Marcan priority. It will be helpful, therefore, to turn to Michael Goulder who, in two inspired but brief surveys, draws attention to this 'widespread' phenomenon and lists several examples. (10) One of the most striking is the story of The Cleansing of the Leper (Matt 8.1-4 // Mark 1.40-45 // Luke 5.12-16). (11) Here, just after the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7), Matthew is returning to triple tradition material. He resets the scene by introducing, as often, 'many crowds' (8.1). This soon leads Matthew into difficulties since, like Mark, he has Jesus' injunction to the leper, 'Tell no-one, but go, show yourself to the priest . . . ' (Matt [48] 8.4 // Mark 1.44). As it stands in Matthew this is inexplicable: a miracle that has been witnessed by many crowds is to be kept secret. The parallel in Mark makes it clear how Matthew has become involved in the contradiction: Mark does not have crowds; the leper meets Jesus privately and the command to silence is coherent. That Matthew is involved in docile reproduction here is all the more plausible given the little stress in his Gospel on the secrecy theme that is so prominent a feature of Mark.

We might add a third example that equally points to Matthew's use of Mark, the story of Jesus' Mother and Brothers (Matt 12.46-50 // Mark 3.31-35 // Luke 8.19-21). Here Matthew has returned, once more, to triple tradition material after a section of double tradition material (Matt 12.33-45). The transition between the different kinds of material is smooth, with Matthew's characteristic, 'While he was still speaking to the crowds, behold . . . ' (Matt 12.46). However, the apparent ease of progression from one pericope to the next masks an incongruity, a genuine continuity error in Matthew's account. As in Mark, the mother and the brothers of Jesus are 'standing outside' (eisthkeisan exw, Matt 12.46; Mark 3.31: exw sthkonteV). This makes perfect sense in Mark where Jesus and his disciples are in a house (3.20: kai ercetai eiV oikon) (12) but it makes no sense in Matthew in which no house has been entered and the most recent scene change was a departure from the synagogue, with many following Jesus, in 12.15.

So my second question to Walter Tucker: Fatigue makes sense when looking at Mark --> Matthew. But not Matthew --> Mark. Why would Mark incorrectly refer to Herod as King, if copying from Matthew and he saw “tetrarch”? Doesn’t this infer Matthew (and Luke if one reads the entire article) were copying and demonstrating fatigue?

Thanks, look forward to your responses.


  1. Personally, I see the Q document theory a holding a little more clout than a strict Markan priority. It seems like the times when Matthew could be the source for Mark is largely limited to places where Mark carries an extraordinary amount of detail compared to the rest of its text, with the beheading of John the Baptist being a great example. It looks like cut-and-paste from a later author looking to enhance Mark. However, Mr. Goodacre's observations are reasonable considerations as well.

  2. The Wise Fool,

    Always going with the popular theories, eh? *wink* Someday, when Q turns up at an archeological dig, you can lord it over us with a well-deserved, “I told you so.” In the meantime, there are just enough holes in the Q-theory (barely) I find Goodacre’s position ever so slightly more favorable. Albeit with its own problems like any theory on this issue.

  3. Ha! Well then, possible non-extant documents aside, I am totally behind Markan priority. I'm looking forward to Mr. Tucker's reply.

  4. Dagood,

    I can only speculate (and I am far from an expert on this), however I do think there is a sensible explanation as I understand the issues.

    First I don't have much problem with the "harder readings." They say essentially the same thing and in most cases it seems there is either an elaboration by Peter to Mark or there was elaboration of a theological point for Mark's audience. However, my resolution does not rest on that. Mark Goodacre's comments on fatigue are more of the issue that truly makes the case for Markan priority if you only look at what was said about the text and nothing else.

    The following scenario takes the most data into account, keeps Matthew as first in accordance with tradition (and I do know the difficulties with understanding the tradition), and handles the appearance of Mark being the source for Matthew and Luke (which itself does not answer all the textual issues when all three texts are compared across the board along with the critical apparatus of the Greek): Matthew wrote a gospel in Aramaic for the earliest Christians (who were nearly all Jewish); Luke later writes a gospel for the Gentiles to assist Paul's missionary churches and used the Aramaic Matthew as a source (he may have also interviewed Peter for portions); Mark writes a gospel for the church in Rome from Peter's preaching using parts of Luke to give support and validation to Luke's gospel. Matthew subsequently rewrites his gospel in Greek using his own wording, Luke, and Mark.

    At the following link below, I give some background that can support this. The paper does not directly argue this scenario, but provides the background for the possibility of it.

  5. Also, someone other than Matthew could have written the Greek version.

  6. Isaiahc6v8,

    Thanks for your reply. It would seem Matthean priority doesn’t really have reply when looking at the texts; it must really upon elusive (and methodologically inconsistent) “tradition” instead. Interesting.

    A pointless story about your moniker…I recognized the verse right away. “Here am I; send me!” When I was a wee lad of 8 or 10, our church held a contest for the person making the best poster for our annual one-week Missions Conference. I used this verse in a Masterpiece of Magazine Montage of Many Members of Mankind.

    Blazoned with the caption, “Here am I; Send Me!” (and the proper verse citation, of course. We Baptists wanted to make sure you knew we quoted from the Bible, and ONLY the Bible when making Missions Conference Posters.)

    I got 2nd Place; losing to an adult with outstanding graphic skills, beautiful calligraphy and (to be quite honest) a much better poster than any pre-teen could put together. Although unaccustomed to 2nd place, I may have forgiven the judges for their decision, but for one thing….the first place person had used the exact same verse! Arggg! Couldn’t they see it was I who was so clever to find that verse amongst all other possible contenders (no other poster-maker used it—they all punted to the Great Commission. Losers.)

    And here this traitor had not only snatched my own verse, but had beaten me with it! The anger burned that day, my friend!

    Funny, 35 years later, I still remember the verse and recognized it as soon as I saw it on your site. (And I could even tell you the name of the winner, although I don’t remember the prize.)

  7. Dagood,

    Sorry it brings such memories. The one thing I told the Lord when I gave my life to Him was that I would do anything. A flash crossed my mind of being is some far away country. Then I said, anything but go to another country. Don't send me to another country. From the other posts you know I have already been to India a few times and quite my job and am studying specifically for missions. The ironic thing is that I started in a Methodist church (Southern Baptist now), and we would sing a song based on that verse. I would cry every time we sang it. Deep down I must have known I was being called into missions from day one. I just didn't want to believe it.

    As far as tradition goes, I put a lot of stock in it. It isn't the "gospel", but at least for the first 100 years, it is what connects the dots. I don't think it is methodologically inconsistent. I pulled a harmony out this morning to go back through the passage differences between the synoptics. I actually don't care which gospel came first. But the scenario I provided is the only scenario I know of that makes sense of it all. Sorry it disappoints you.

    I did notice in the mention of the Mark 8 passage about the double healing of the blind man. I used that is nearly half of the messages I gave in India this summer. That passage is consistent with Mark's theme about the disciples not getting it. The other two gospels down play that aspect. In the context of where the passage sits in the gospel, it is pretty clear that there are those who come to Jesus and only see partially. The passage points to seeing fully after the resurrection. Given the function of the Spirit, I'd say that the second touch is actually the giving of the Spirit. What I see is church filled with people who flock to the feet of Jesus for some benefit. In the end, they only see Him partially - in the way the disciples saw Him when they were with Him. It wasn't until after the resurrection and the giving of the Spirit that their eyes were fully opened and they saw all things clearly. Many people, including pastors, are "Christians" but have never passed from the first touch to the second touch. In other words, they believe in Jesus in a natural sense, but don't understand Him as He really is. The day I fell to me knees and said I'd do anything, I moved from the first category to the second. I never knew there was a second category before then until I experienced it. I studied some famous preachers of the past (not charismatics) and see they experienced the same thing. I realize saying all this means little to you. But, while you share with me your memory of the missions week contest, and you have bothered to share your lengthy testimony on this website, I just share what I have to share for what it's worth. Anyway, it has been a pleasure dialoging with you. I'm sure we will run across each other again. Until then, peace.

  8. Walter,

    No reason to apologize—they are good memories. I was amused I immediately recalled my childhood petulance upon seeing the reference. Funny what we remember and what we don’t.

    What I mean by inconsistent methodology within tradition (I’ve had this conversation numerous times with Christians) is that Christians embrace what they desire within the traditions, and ignore what impinges their argument. Within the canon, they are stuck providing apologia; with tradition they simply hand-wave it away.

    Christians cherry-pick what they want out of the early Church fathers, cite is as historically correct within the cloak of “tradition,” and then ignore those writings counter to their position.

    They embrace Papias when it comes to authorship of Mark and Matthew; ignore and abandon him when it comes to Judas’ death, Jesus statements, or the Gospel of Hebrews because he becomes inconvenient. Embrace Acts of Peter regarding how Peter died; ignore Acts of Peter why Peter died. Same with Acts of Paul. Discard Gospel of Peter as “too fanciful;” embrace Gospel of Matthew as historical fact. Point out Ignatius’ use of the star phenomenon at Jesus’ birth; ignore it is nothing like the account of Matthew.

    Write off the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, hold as historical the petulant Jesus child of Luke 2. Point out 1 Clement’s use of Jesus’ saying; ignore that pesky phoenix. The list goes on and on and on.

    Perhaps more relevant to our present topic, utilize Clement of Alexandria for the gospel order; disregard Clement’s claim Cephas and Peter were two separate people.

    As these discussions go, the Christians’ method becomes apparent—if it was written within the 1st or 2nd Century AND it helps the Christian’s immediate argument—then consider it “historical.” If it does not, either ignore it, or discard it for being “too late” or “legendary.”

    Why the first 100 years? (“100 years” from what?) Why such an arbitrary number? Why not 80? Or 120? Frankly, your article relies heavily on Eusebius, who is outside the 100 years, so clearly 100 is not a bright-line cut-off.

    Walter, I’ve sat through countless missionary talks. Although anecdotal evidence, I would estimate at least half said something like, “I told God I would do whatever he wanted—as long as he didn’t send me on the foreign Mission field! And look where I am today.” Very common statement. We figured it came right out of the pamphlet: “So you want to be a Missionary…”

    What you say makes perfect sense. Humans do what we want. While we grumble about work, we do it because we want the salary or satisfaction. Our desires outweigh our complaints. Do it all the time. And humans are very good at rationalizing and justifying our actions, even to the point of convincing ourselves what our motivations are.

    Your story does not “mean little” to me. Frankly, I find you a fairly bright person, who appears earnest in thinking through these issues. I wish I could find a way to adequately explain the inconsistent methods being applied, and the special favor given to your own belief as compared to others.

    But such is life.

  9. Eusebius is referencing works we don't have today that were within the 100 years (of Jesus' ministry).
    How ironic that you went from fundamentalist believer to hard skeptic intent on people seeing the truth and I turned from skeptic to pretty solid believer intent on people seeing the truth. We both investigated and ended up in opposite directions.
    I'm sure it isn't likely to change your position, but I will document my position on each thing you mentioned here. I'll see where I can find time between trying to write the paper on the probability the resurrection is true and the other things I need to do during my break. I think it is of value to have that documented since you aren't the only one to point out cherry picking.

  10. Walter,

    I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m not really interested in your position regarding the items I mentioned. What I am interested in is methodology—how do you determine the probability of a claimed historical event. I am looking for three things:

    1. Consistent. Is the method used equally whether the claim is Christian or non-Christian? If you use the method of “logical possibility” to explain conflicting Christian accounts, will you equally grant “logical possibility” to explain conflicting Mormon accounts? Is it the same method one uses whether dealing with a canonical work or non-canonical Christian work or even a non-Christian work?

    Or do you grant Christian works special pleading?

    2. Objective. As humans, we are susceptible to subjectivity—bias, prejudice, pre-existing thoughts on matters. There is no way to remove it all, but can we get it as objective as possible? To simply claim something “makes sense to me” is not objective. Mormons think their claims make sense to them. Geocentric believers think their claims make sense to them.

    Indeed, the very reason we all think claims is that they “make sense” to us. In these discussions, I often come across people claiming, “that is reasonable” or “makes sense.” I often ask, “to whom?”

    If you claim something is “too fanciful,” by what means did you determine something is “fanciful” and therefore this item is too far one way or the other. In conjunction with item 1, if you think Gospel of Peter is “too fanciful” what parameters are you using, and is that consistent with Matthew NOT being “too fanciful.”

    3. Allows for Change. You are wrong. I am wrong. There are things we actively believe that are wrong. Perhaps we don’t have enough information; perhaps we never will. Perhaps prejudice clouds our views. Whatever it is, there are things we are wrong and we don’t know it. Comes from being human.

    Does the method provide us to change our mind in spite of our desires to not do so? To broaden, learn and change when we don’t want to?

    Now… to develop that method and then apply it to ALL the historical writings, not just Christian writings. THAT I would be interested in. But to tell me the Christian position as to what “makes sense” to people who already want to believe it anyway…well…I’ve been there and done that. No interest doing it again.

  11. Dagood. Just curious if you have studied hermeneutics? I'm guessing you have at least some cursory knowledge of it. As you would expect, there is a framework out of which it is done. There are rules that are based on some assumptions. Within that hermeneutic, most Christian scholars ought to be consistent. (And most non-scholars don't do it - they accept the word of those who do do it.) The question that needs to be answered to what you are asking is why some of those assumptions are held. I.e, why do I favor an interpretation in favor of evangelical Christianity and am more likely to reject a Muslim, Hindu, Catholic, or atheist claim? And, in face of a conflict, why do I not change my view, but persist in finding a resolution? I think that is what you are asking. As you imply many times, many Christians believe because it makes sense and build everything on that. That "sense" is based on limited data and a "gut" feel. That goes for believers of just about any religion. I won't deny that is the case in general. But, I will vouch that there are those few who do investigate all of the claims and try to conclude from all of the views what the best, or most likely to be true, view is. Once that view is established, it takes a bit to shift it. But there is also the "Holy Spirit" aspect. The question of the skeptic is why the Holy Spirit influence should be believed over any other spiritual influence. That is a hard one to answer without being circular. However, I personally believe that the lay all the facts o the table approach still wins even with the Holy Spirit out of the epistemic picture. And that makes sense, because what ever religion (and atheism is a religion - it's god is human endeavor) is true, what it states should win when all the facts are compared.

    The paper on the probability of the resurrection came out of a class on epistemology and thus is based a methodology that I borrow from image and target recognition algorithms. They work in the face of uncertainty. I think that methodology, when I get all the details worked out will show what you are asking for because one detail does not make or break - it is the big picture that comes up from the details that will show what is true (and I could be surprised when everything is taken into account properly).

  12. Walter,

    Yes, I took a course in hermeneutics in undergrad. I observe the general use of hermeneutics is developing a cohesive doctrinal determination, rather than necessarily focusing on historical content. Although the methodology may cross-over, there would be some differences due to the broader scope of historicity.

    I am not quite certain the method you utilize to determine probability of a historical claim, so I did not address your specific methodology. What I was (am) looking for is—whatever that method is—it fulfills those three requirements. I’ll explain.

    Consistency Alas, the thread over at has gone unavailable at the moment, so if I misquote you, or inaccurately state your position, please correct me. I believe you indicated you resolved apparent historical conflicts within canonical Christian with the philosophical determinative “any logical possible solution.”

    Now…if you are to stay consistent, if this is your method to resolve apparent conflicts, you must equally state Mormons can resolve their apparent historical conflicts within their belief with “any logical possible solution.” One item you mentioned as being particularly damaging to Mormon belief was the Book of Abraham. Yet Mormon Apologists (just like Christian apologists) have provided a ”logically possible” resolution to the apparent conflict.

    If Christians can use “logically possible resolution” to apparent conflicts, then consistency demands you would equally agree Mormons could likewise. Therefore, why would you have a problem with the Book of Abraham—they have provided a means, under your method, to resolve any “perceived conflict”? (I believe those where the terms you used regarding 1 Cor. 15 tradition vs. the Gospels.)

    Objective As I mentioned, you discarded Second Century works referencing claimed historical events surrounding Jesus as being “fanciful” or “too fanciful.” (I can’t remember which and can no longer access the blog.) This sets up a certain parameter where certain accounts are accepted for conforming to the parameter, others are rejected for not.

    But where does the parameter come from? Who establishes it? What criteria do we use? This term—“fanciful”—is tossed out without any guide to its application.

    Ability to change one’s mind Here I simply don’t know, because I haven’t interacted with you enough. I would note you indicate you went from a skeptic to a Christian, and what I have read of your writing, you have studied the topic, so as first impression, I would think your method does allow one to change their mind.

    I will look forward to your paper on probability. In the meantime, all I was looking for was your response on Matthean priority and you answered my question. Spend some time with your family, have a Merry Christmas, and don’t concern yourself with these trifling issues.

  13. I'd like to see that paper on probability too.

  14. For clarification "any" logical solution is not the answer, but if there is a rational explanation that fits the context relative to the bigger picture then it should be considered as a possibility.

    The probability method is quite complex in its details that takes into account multiple hypotheses and asses the "big picture" and how various interpretations of "facts" meet those hypothesis. It takes into account the probability of the existence of God, textual criticism, etc. The original paper was meant to show the flaws in the methods currently used (where probabilities are pulled out of the air and incorrectly multiplied) and propose a new method. The details weren't developed enough at that time to get a answer worth discussing yet. The method is as objective as possible, is based on algorithms used in target detection and image recognition and the results should lead to a possible change of mind given it gives a more objective picture than merely arguing about individual facts in absence of how they fit in possible "big pictures." Rather than having people argue isolated facts from their own perspectives, this lays them all beside each other in a comparative fashion. The method can incorporate as many religions as one likes as possible hypothesis. That would require a the collaboration of a good number of experts from across those religions. For now, I only assess how well various positions on Christianity stand up to each other. Any other religion could be added as an alternative hypothesis. Pluralism, skepticism and atheism are included in the Christian hypotheses.

    You have a Merry Christmas as well. At least Santa Claus exists, or so the department stores like to think!

  15. is there a response to this article

    this guy tries to argue that the argument from fatigue can work the other way

  16. Thanks, Anon 2:52.

    That was exactly what I was looking for in this blog entry--a reasoned out argument regarding Matthean Priority.

  17. The whole Markan priority hypothesis is based on a very liberal view of the Bible which basically takes God out of the picture and minimizes inspiration. When we keep the reality of inspiration and God in the picture, Markan priority vanishes. Not that it matters a whole lot to begin with in the matter of which Gospel was written first, but it makes best sense that Matthew was written first, as he was an Apostle who actually walked with Christ and Matthew wrote primarily to the Jews, which were the people that Jesus wanted the gospel first given to. If God wanted the gospel to be preached to the Jews first, it makes sense that He would also provide them with the first written Gospel. In any event, true inspiration erases any notion that any writer needed another writer's work to produce any of the Gospels.

  18. Q is just another way of saying, anything in Matthew and Luke that is not in Mark. When Matt and Luke both have a pericope not in Mark they agree on chronology about 10% of the time. Mark's version is longer in many, if not all place. Mark 8 blind man proceeds Peter saying Jesus is the Christ and Jesus telling him not to say anything. Peter only sees partially. Needs another touch. Herod the King, really the tetrarch, is being made fun of in Mark 6. He offered half of a kingdom he did not have. He tried twice to get title. What he had was taken away and given to nephew Agrippa. Herod's dinner party, way out of chronological order, is followed immediately by Jesus lunchtime party on the shore. Context, context, context. Two parties. Two results. Two kingdoms. Life and death. Argue about priority all you want. If the issue is inspiration, take the various texts for what they say and not how they arrived in their final form. God inspired the authors on the day (or days) that each of them wrote. God revealed Himself in the Son is a very different issue than how the inspired text reveals God to the reader. We only have the textual evidence of the life and ministry of Jesus. And finally, three differing synoptic accounts of the ministry of Jesus lend credibility rather than deny it. If the three were the same the only logical conclusion would be conspiracy.