THE FOUR GOSPELS - A Study of Origins, The Manuscript Tradition, Sources, Authorship, & Dates. By B.H. Streeter, Hon.D.D.Edin. Fellow of Queen's College, Oxford; Canon of Hereford. First published by MacMillan & Co Limited 1924. - Prepared for katapi by Paul Ingram 2004.

Chapter XI


Home | Diagram – synoptic sources | synopsis |irrelevant agreements | deceptive agreements | influence of Q | textual corruption | the MS evidence | some residual cases | conclusion | list of MSS | (pages 293-332)


irrelevant agreements

Since both Matthew and Luke consistently compress Mark, the occurrence not infrequently of coincident omissions is only to be expected. Mark's Greek is colloquial, Matthew and Luke revise throughout in the direction of the literary idiom. The results of independent correction of style and grammar must, in a long document, occasionally coincide if the revision is sufficiently thorough.

deceptive agreements

Certain agreements, which, at first sight, are too striking to be attributed to coincidence, are shown, on closer inspection, to be alterations that would naturally occur to independent editors. But, on any view, none of the agreements so far studied, being of the nature of editorial improvements, can be explained by the hypothesis of an Ur-Marcus, though they might be explained by Sanday's hypothesis that the text of Mark used by Matthew and Luke had undergone a slight stylistic revision.

influence of Q

In passages where, on other grounds, we have reason to believe that Mark and Q overlapped, agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark may be explained by the influence of Q; but it is unscientific to invoke this explanation in other contexts.

textual corruption

The most probable explanation of the remaining agreements is to be sought in the domain of Textual Criticism.
(1) Any corruption of the original text of Mark would leave Matthew and Luke in agreement against Mark in any passage where they had happened both to copy the text of Mark in its original form. (2) Assimilation of parallel passages, wherever it occurred between Matthew and Luke, would be likely to create an Agreement against Mark. (3) Since assimilation is the one form of corruption that is likely to occur independently in more than one line of manuscript tradition, the grouping of MSS. evidence in accordance with local texts is especially important. It is not the number of MSS. that support a given reading, but the local text or texts they represented, that matters.

the MS. evidence

A survey of all the significant Minor Agreements not previously discussed, reveals the fact that there is usually MS. evidence in favour of the view that the agreement of Matthew and Luke against Mark did not occur in the original text of the Gospels, but is the result of scribal alteration, from which a few MSS. here and there have escaped.

some residual cases

Special discussion of the reading "Who is he that struck thee?" Mt.xxvi.68 = Lk.x.64.

The significance of agreements more minute than those examined above cannot be considered apart from the general fact of the abundance of such minutise of variation in all MSS., even between B and א.


The bearing of the above examples on the theory and practice of textual criticism. The dependence of Matthew and Luke on Mark may be taken as an assured result, which in doubtful cases may enable us to decide between rival variants in different MSS.; and is thus of material assistance in the determination of the true text of the Gospels.



MANY years ago Dr. Sanday expressed the opinion that the solution of this problem would be found in the sphere of Textual Criticism; and from time to time Professors Burkitt and Turner have called attention to facts pointing in this direction. But, so far as I am aware, no consistent attempt has been made to explore the question thoroughly in the light of the latest researches into the grouping of MSS. and the history of the text.

irrelevant agreements

Before, however, attempting to do this, I must elaborate the point made in Chap. VII., that the majority of these agreements do not require any explanation at all. Matthew and Luke, it must be realised, were not mere scribes commissioned to produce an accurate copy of a particular MS.; they were historians combining and freely rewriting their authorities, and, what for our immediate quest is even more important, consistently condensing them. From this certain consequences follow.

(1) Compression can only be effected by the omission of details regarded as unimportant or of words and phrases deemed to be superfluous. Hence it would have been quite impossible for two persons to abbreviate practically every paragraph in the whole of Mark without concurring in a very large number of their omissions. In a diffuse style like that of Mark certain passages are so obviously redundant that they would be dispensed with by any one desiring to be concise. Coincidence in omission proves nothing as to the source used.

(2) Mark's native tongue was Aramaic and his Greek is quite the most colloquial in the New Testament.
[The Greek of the Apocalypse is not so much colloquial as Semitic.]
  The style and vocabulary of Matthew and Luke, by reason of the subject treated and the sources used, is naturally coloured to some extent by Semitic idiom; but in the main they write the κοινή, i.e. the ordinary Greek of the educated man of the period who was not of set purpose trying to revive the Greek of the classical age. What would happen if two such writers were working over the narrative of Mark? I may illustrate from a personal experience. The late Professor Troeltsch sent me a literal translation, made in Berlin, of an article of his in order that I might correct it for publication in an English magazine. Wherever I noticed a grammatical construction possible, but unusual; a phrase, passable but not idiomatic; a word understandable, but not the most appropriate I substituted what seemed the natural English expression. Now in any language there are certain constructions and turns of expression that come naturally to all educated men; there are certain words which are the only appropriate ones in certain contexts. Suppose that the article in question had been corrected, not by me, but by the editor of the magazine, the passages that would have struck him as needing correction would not have been exactly the same as those which struck my notice, but they must have coincided to a considerable extent; for it would be precisely the words or sentences which were most glaringly unidiomatic which would be likely to attract the attention of us both. The way in which he would have corrected them would in most cases have differed slightly from mine, but in a minority of cases it would have been identical, for the simple reason that there are certain standard differences between the turns of expression naturally used in German and English sentences which would cause any two Englishmen, aiming at making a translation more idiomatic, to make precisely the same alteration. 

Now Mark's Greek is that of a person who had been brought up to think in Aramaic; and I conceive that Matthew and Luke would have been on the look out to correct his unidiomatic style much in the way I have described. Hence, where the process of correction is carried on with a document of the length of Mark's Gospel, it is impossible that two correctors should not frequently concur in making the same or substantially the same alteration. In Aramaic the verb is conjugated on a radically different principle from the Greek; it is peculiarly poor in the variety of particles, conjunctions, prepositions, for the number and variety of which Greek is so conspicuous, and the construction of sentences is far looser. Hence changes intended to make the Semitic style of Mark more idiomatically Greek would all be in the same general direction. The HISTORIC PRESENT, for example, a fairly common idiom in Latin, is comparatively rare in Greek, as it is in English; but Mark uses it, apparently as the equivalent of the Aramaic PARTICIPLE, 151 times [Hawkins, Hor. Syn.3 p. 143 ff.]. Matthew cuts these down to 78, Luke to 4. Obviously, then, Matthew and Luke cannot but concur in the alteration of tense upwards of 60 times, though as they often change the word as well as the tense the resultant agreements do not always strike the eye. But the historic present most often used by Mark is λέγει; the natural change of tense to the AORIST results in εἶπεν appearing some 20 times in both Matthew and Luke thus creating to the eye of the English reader an appearance of agreement against Mark which is quite illusory. Another stylistic improvement made innumerable times by Matthew and Luke is the substitution of δέ for καὶ; what wonder if about 20 times they both do so in the same place?
The Principles of Literary Criticism and the Synoptic Problem, p. 17, E. de Witt Burton, Chicago, 1904.] Yet another of their most frequently recurring alterations is the substitution of the favourite Greek construction of a participle with a finite verb for the Semitic usage of two finite verbs connected with the conjunction καὶ.  Is it surprising that 5 times they happen to do so in the same context?

Mark, like the Old Testament writers, leaves the subject of the sentence to be inferred from the context more frequently than would be quite natural in Greek or in English. Thus Matthew and Luke often make "he" or "they" clearer by introducing a name or title. And, as they do this often, it is inevitable that sometimes they should do it in the same place; for the places where they would wish to make the insertion would naturally be those where the sense seemed specially to require the addition, and these places would be fixed, not by their arbitrary selection, but by the degree of obscurity in a particular context. We need not, then, suspect collusion, if we occasionally find that Matthew and Luke agree in inserting ὁ Ἰησοῦς οἱ μαθηταί οἱ ὄχλοι, οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς, in passages where these subjects can all be inferred from the context.

Yet another example of what I may call an "irrelevant agreement" of Matthew and Luke against Mark arises from the use of the word ἰδοῦ.  
Mark, for some reason or other, never uses this word in narrative; Matthew uses it 33 times, Luke 16. No explanation, then, is required for the fact that 5 times they concur in introducing it in the same context for obviously the number of contexts is limited where its use would be at all appropriate.

deceptive agreements

The above constitute considerably more than half the total number of the Minor Agreements we are discussing, and it goes without saying that they have no significance whatever. But there remain quite a number of cases where the coincidence of Matthew and Luke does at first sight appear significant, but where further scrutiny shows this to be a mistake. Thus frequently, when Mark uses a word which is linguistically inadmissible, the right word is so obvious that, if half-a-dozen independent correctors were at work, they would all be likely to light upon it.  For example, Mark 4 times uses the verb φέρειν of animals or persons, and every time Matthew and Luke concur in altering this to ἄγειν or some compound of ἄγειν.  φέρειν, like its English equivalent "carry," is properly used of inanimate objects which one has to lift; when speaking of a person or an animal that walks on its own legs the natural word to use is ἄγειν, the equivalent of the English verb "to lead." Equally inevitable are corrections like κλίνη, θυγάτηρ, and ἑκατοντάρχης for the apparent vulgarisms κράββατον, θυγάτριον, and κεντυρίων; or the substitution of τετράρχης, the correct title of the petty princelet Herod, for βασιλεύς, which in educated circles was only used of historical characters or of the reigning emperor. Hardly less inevitable is the explanatory substitution by Matthew and Luke of "Son of God" for "Son of the Blessed" in the high priest's question to our Lord (Mk.xiv.61). 

Even more necessary is the alteration twice made of μετὰ τρεῖς ἡμέρας to τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ in speaking of the Resurrection, since in strict Greek the former phrase might seem to imply an extra day. Lastly, seeing that the first four disciples were constituted of two pairs of brothers, it is far more natural to mention Andrew next to Simon, as do Matthew and Luke, than to name the sons of Zebedee, as Mark does, in between those two. But granted that this obvious improvement in the order occurred to Matthew and Luke independently, then the addition by both of the words "his brother" is almost inevitable. 

I proceed to consider some further Agreements of a more striking character, which nevertheless I believe are really deceptive.

Mark.ii.12. Matthew.ix.7. Luke.v.25.
ἐξῆλθεν ἐμπροσθεν πάντων ἀπῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ ἀπῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ

A coincidence like this in five consecutive words seems at first sight to belong to a different category from the single word agreements so far discussed. But it is instructive as illustrating the fallacy of merely counting words or considering extracts without a study of the context. The only real coincidence between Matthew and Luke is that both of them are at pains to bring out more clearly than Mark that the man did exactly what our Lord commanded him. In Mark this command runs, "Arise, take up thy bed and go to thy house." Matthew proceeds, "And having arisen, he went away to his house."
Luke even more precisely: "Having stood up before them, and having taken up what he lay on, he went away to his house." εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ is simply the echo of Mark's εἰς τὸν οἶκον σοῦ. The change from Mark's ἐξῆλθεν to ἀπῆλθεν is even more inevitable. Mark describes the scene from the spectator's point of view, the man went out, and that was the last they saw of him, ἐξῆλθεν . But if, with Matthew and Luke, you wish to say in Greek that a person left one place for another with the emphasis on the destination, ἀπῆλθε is the appropriate word. Very similar is the way they deal with the concluding words of Mark's Gospel.

Mark.xvi.8. Matthew xxviii.8. Luke xxiv.9.
οὐδενὶ οὐδὲν εἶπαν, ἐφοβοῦντο γάρ. μετὰ φόβου καὶ χαρᾶς μεγάλης ἐδραμον ἀπαγγεῖλαι τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ. ἀπήγγειλαν ταῦτα πάντα τοῖς ἑνδεκα καὶ πᾶσιν τοῖς λοιποῖς.

If, as I believe, the text of Mark known to Matthew and Luke ended at this point, as it does in א B Syr. S., they would be obliged to guess at the further proceedings of the women. The women had just been expressly commanded by an angel to give an important message to the disciples; it would never have occurred to Matthew or Luke that the women could have failed to carry out the instructions.

Mark's words "they told no man " would certainly have been interpreted to mean "they did not spread the news abroad," not "they did not deliver the message of the angel." But if Matthew and Luke took it for granted that the lost ending of Mark told how the women carried out their orders, it was natural, by way of concluding their account of the incident, to say as briefly as possible that they gave the message.    But the words in which they do this coincide only in the verb ἀπαγγεῖλαι —the natural word for any one to use. 

Another still more illusory Agreement is the insertion (Mt.xxvi.50, Lk.x.48) of a word of Christ to Judas on receipt of the kiss of treachery. In Matthew He says, "Friend, do that for which thou art come;" in Luke, "Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss." [Hor. Syn.2 p. 210 ff.] Surely the insertion at a moment like this of words of a tenor so totally different is a disagreement striking enough to outweigh many small agreements.

Among the twenty Agreements picked out by Sir J. Hawkins [Hor. Syn 2 p. 210. ff] as most remarkable is the verb αὐλίζεσθαι, (to lodge) (Mt.xxi.17, Lk.xxi.37). The word is found nowhere else in the Gospels; but this also seems to me to constitute a Deceptive Agreement for two reasons,
(a) The word occurs in passages inserted by Matthew and Luke into the Marcan outline, but the insertions are made in quite different contexts Matthew's after the Cleansing of the Temple ( = Mk.xi.15-19), Luke's after the Apocalyptic discourse which corresponds to Mk.i.
(b) Matthew says our Lord lodged at Bethany, Luke that he lodged on the Mount of Olives. The disagreement in substance is so much more obvious than the concurrence in a single by no means out-of-the-way word that it clearly points to independent editing. 

Mark.iii.1. Matthew .9-10. Luke vi.6

καὶ εἰσῆλθεν πάλιν εἰς τὴν συναγωγήν. καὶ ἦν ἐκεῖ ἀνθρωπος ἐξηραμμένην ἐχων τὴν χεῖρα

ἦλθεν εἰς τὴν συναγωγὴν αὐτῶν, καὶ ἰδοὺ ἀνθρωπος χεῖρα ἐχων ξηράν.

ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν ἑτέρῳ σαββάτῳ εἰσελθεῖν αὐτὸν εἰς τὴν συναγωγὴν καὶ διδάσκειν: καὶ ἦν ἀνθρωπος ἐκεῖ καὶ ἡ χεὶρ αὐτοῦ ἡ δεξιὰ ἦν ξηρά.

I should hardly have thought this instance worth quoting but for the fact that Prof. Burton [Op cit. p. 17.] includes it as one of the 15 Minor Agreements, which appreciably affect the sense. 

The text is not beyond dispute.
All Greek MSS. except B א and one cursive insert τὴν in Mark as well; also ξηράν is read in place of ἐξηραμμένην in Mark by D W. But as the readings of the other MSS. are of the nature of assimilations, the text of B א is to be preferred. On the assumption, however, that the B text is correct the insertion of τὴν by both Matthew and Luke requires no special explanation. The natural—though possibly not the correct—interpretation of τάλιν in Mark is that He returned to a place previously mentioned, in which case the article is grammatically indispensable. The difference between ξηράν and ἐξηραμμένην corresponds to the difference in English between the words "dry" and "dried"; and the question, which would be the more natural word to use in this particular context is one that depends on those subtleties of linguistic usage, which only contemporaries can appreciate.

Mark iv.10. Matthew i.10. Luke viii.9

οἱ περὶ αὐτὸν σὺν τοῖς δώδεκα

οἱ μαθηταὶ

οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ

Mark's phrase is quite strikingly cumbrous, and "disciples" is the obvious simplification. 

Mark iv.36. Matthew viii.23. Luke viii.22.

καὶ ἀφέντες τὸν ὀχλον παραλαμβάνουσιν αὐτὸν ὡς ἦν ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ.

καὶ ἐμβάντι αὐτῷ εἰς τὸ πλοῖον ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ.

καὶ αὐτὸς ἐνέβη εἰς πλοῖον καὶ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ.

The prima facie implication of the language of Mark would be that the disciples took charge of the situation, so to speak, and almost hustled our Lord into the boat. I do not suppose Mark intended to convey that impression; but Matthew and Luke obviously go out of their way to emphasise the contrary. Intentional correction to avoid possible misapprehension is plain, but they correct in such different ways that they are clearly acting independently. The example is important as illustrating the futility of counting verbal coincidences without scrutinising the actual words, οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ is the inevitable subject, and ἐμβαίνω is as obvious as "go on board" would be in English. 

Mark i.19. Matthew xxiv.19. Luke xxi.23.

ἐσονται γὰρ αἱ ἡμέραι ἐκεῖναι θλῖψις

ἐσται γὰρ τότε θλῖψις

ἐσται γὰρ ἀνάγκη

This is another of Professor Burton's 15 instances. But Mark's phrase is stylistically intolerable in Greek. Note, however, that though they agree in changing the verb to the singular, Matthew and Luke differ in the substantive, which they make its subject, i.e. in the actual alteration made, they differ more conspicuously than they agree. 

Mark Matthew Luke

viii.29. ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Πέτρος λέγει αὐτῷ, σὺ εἶ ὁ Χριστός.

xvi.16. ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ σίμων πέτρος εἶπεν, Σὺ εἶ ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ζῶντος.

ix.20. Πέτρος δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν, Τὸν Χριστὸν τοῦ θεοῦ.

xv.30-32. σῶσον σεαυτὸν καταβὰς ἀπὸ τοῦ σταυροῦ...
ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἰσραὴλ.

xxvii.40. σῶσον σεαυτόν, εἰ υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ, [καὶ] κατάβηθι ἀπὸ τοῦ σταυροῦ.

xi.35-37. σωσάτω ἑαυτόν, εἰ οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ χριστὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ ἐκλεκτός...
εἰ σὺ εἶ ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων, σῶσον σεαυτόν.

Note that in two different contexts Matthew and Luke each alter Mark's simple title "the Christ." In both cases Matthew alters to "the Son of God," Luke to "the Christ of God," i.e. each prefers a different title. This example is most instructive; for, if either of these parallels had stood alone, we might have supposed the addition of τοῦ θεοῦ to be the result of a coincident agreement of Matthew and Luke in an alteration of Mark. Whereas, having both sets of parallels, we see that, while Matthew and Luke agree in altering Mark, each alters in a way characteristic of himself. That is to say, the passages are, so far as they go, evidence of independent alteration. 

Mark xiv.47. Matthew xxvi.51. Luke x.49-50.

εἷς δέ [τισ] τῶν παρεστηκότων σπασάμενος τὴν μάχαιραν ἐπαισεν.

καὶ ἰδοὺ εἷς ... μάχαιραν αὐτοῦ καὶ πατάξας.

εἰ πατάξομεν ἐν μαχαίρῃ; καὶ ἐπάταξεν εἷς τις ἐξ αὐτῶν...

There is a tendency in Greek authors to use παίω of striking with the hand or stick, πατάσσω of striking with a cutting instrument. The usage is not at all rigid, but is sufficiently pronounced to make it likely that both Matthew and Luke would independ­ently make these substitutions.

Mark xv.43. Matthew xxvii.57. Luke xi.50.

ἐλθὼν Ἰωσὴφ [ὁ] ἀπὸ Ἀ., ριμαθαίας εὐσχήμων βουλευτής

ἦλθεν ἀνθρωπος πλούσιος ἀπὸ Ἀ., τοὐνομα Ἰωσήφ ...

ἀνὴρ ὀνόματι Ἰωσὴφ, βουλευτὴς ὑπάρχων

From a literary point of view Mark's construction could only be justified if Joseph had been previously mentioned. A new character requires a phrase like "by name" or "named" to introduce him. N.B. also Matthew and Luke use different phrases for the purpose.

If all the agreements so far discussed occurred in the course of two or three chapters, the suggestion that they are "deceptive," i.e. that they are explicable as the result of independent editing, would be precarious. But they are spread over the whole of a lengthy document. Moreover, we must remember that every verse of Mark incorporated by Matthew and Luke has been so drastically rewritten that upwards of 45% of the words he uses have been changed by each of them. That is to say, the alterations are many times as numerous as any modern editor would make in a translated article, which he wished to turn into idiomatic English. Thus, although the number of coincident alterations may seem large, the proportion of them to the total number of alterations is extraordinarily small. On a rough estimate the number of words in Mark is about 12,000—I do not profess to have counted—the words altered by each will be over 5000, while the coincidences so far discussed would not amount to 100. Hence the coincident alterations would be less than 2% of the whole number of alterations. And considering the natural and obvious character of every one of these, this does not seem a large proportion.

If, however, anyone thinks the proportion too large to be accidental, it is open to him to accept Dr. Sanday's hypothesis that the text of Mark used by Matthew and Luke had undergone a slight stylistic revision. But, I would submit, it is not open to him to account for the phenomena reviewed above by the hypothesis of an "Ur-Marcus," that is, a more primitive edition of Mark. For in every case, the coincident language used by Matthew and Luke has been shown to be more polished, and in every way less primitive than the existing text of Mark. If, therefore, the coincident agreements of Matthew and Luke can only be explained on the theory that they used a different edition of Mark to the one we have, then it is the earlier of the two editions, the Ur-Marcus in fact, that has survived.

influence of Q

In the "Complete Table" of Agreements, very conveniently printed in parallel columns in the Appendix of E. A. Abbott's Corrections of Mark [The Corrections of Mark adopted by Matthew and Luke (A. & C. Black), 1901.], the eye lights at once on a number of passages that cannot reasonably be explained on the hypothesis of coincident alteration by independent editors. But, of these, most of the more striking disappear if we reflect that, when Abbott wrote, the overlapping of Q and Mark had not yet been clearly grasped by students of the Synoptic Problem.

It is now realised that Q, as well as Mark, contained versions of John's Preaching, the Baptism, Temptation, Beelzebub Controversy, Mission Charge, parable of Mustard Seed, and that Matthew regularly, Luke occasionally, conflates Mark and Q. Hence agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark in these contexts can be explained by the influence of Q. This covers phrases like περίχωρος τοῦ Ἰορδάωου (Mt.iii.5 = Lk.iii.3), ἀωεῴχθησαν (-ηναι) (Mt.iii.16 = Lk.iii.21), ἀνήχθη (ἤγετο) (Mt.iv.1 = Lk.iv.1), which occur in introductions to Q sayings, since the Q sayings must have had some word or two of introduction.

Some scholars, however, have laid far too much stress on the bearing of the overlapping of Mark and Q on the problem of the minor agreements. We have no right to call in the hypothesis of the influence of Q for this ulterior purpose except in places where the existence of obviously different versions, or of doublets very distinctly defined, provides us with objective evidence of the presence of Q. Apart from the list of passages just enumerated, there are only three in Abbott's list where it seems to me that an agreement of Matthew and Luke against Mark ought to be explained by conflation from Q. In Mk.iv.21 = Mt.v.15 = Lk.viii.16 = Lk.xi.33; Mk.iv.22 = Mt.x.26 = Lk.viii.17 = Lk..2. In both of these the doublet in Luke is evidence that the saying stood in Q. Again, in Mt.xvi.4 the addition of the word πονηρά, and the mention of the Sign of Jonah—which are absent from the parallel in Mk.viii.12—are due to the influence of the long Q passage Mt..39 ff. = Lk.xi.29 ff. Abbott here prints Lk.xi.29 side by side with Mk.viii.12, but it comes from an entirely different context. I mention this fact in order to emphasise the point that looking at selected lists of parallels may be mis­leading unless one also turns up the context in a good Synopsis of the Gospels.

textual corruption

I proceed to explore the hypothesis that a large number of the Agreements are due, not to the original authors, but to later scribes, being, in fact, examples of the phenomena of accidental omission, or of assimilation between the texts of parallel passages, which we have seen to be the main source of textual corruption.

Our examination, however, of passages in detail will be far more illuminating if we give due weight to three preliminary considerations.

(1) The Gospel of Mark could not compete in popularity with the fuller and richer Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and although I cannot agree with Burkitt's theory (cf. p. 339) that it went completely out of use for some time in the second century, it is probable that it was very much less frequently copied than the other Gospels. At a later date, when the practice of having each Gospel on a separate roll was discontinued, and the Codex containing all Four Gospels came into fashion, Mark, though much less read, was necessarily copied as often as the others.

Now, most ancient MSS. teem with accidental omissions of single words, of lines, and occasionally of paragraphs. There are MSS. of Homer where as many as 60 lines at a time are omitted. Where many copies of a work were in circulation, omissions would be soon repaired; but where there were only a few copies, omissions that did not attract attention, either from spoiling the sense or leaving out some familiar saying or incident, would easily escape notice. It is, therefore, antecedently probable that some lines or words which stood in the copies of Mark known to Matthew and Luke have dropped out of the text of all our oldest MSS. It may, then, not infrequently be the case that a verbal agreement of Matthew and Luke preserves a word or a line which once stood in Mark. I do not think this has happened very often, but it would be rather surprising if it had never happened at all.

(2) ASSIMILATION of parallel passages in the Gospels is the commonest form of textual corruption. Accordingly, a reading, which makes the wording of parallels differ, is in general to be preferred to one that makes them agree, even if the MS. evidence is comparatively slight. But this principle is sometimes pushed too far. In any average Synoptic parallel, perhaps 35% of the words used by Matthew and Luke are identical, being taken over from Mark. It follows that an accidental corruption of the text of Mark which affected an alteration in any of the words which both of them had happened to take over would leave an agreement of Matthew and Luke against Mark. But the number of variants in the text of Mark in existing MSS. is very large, so that the chance that some of the readings found in the printed texts are the result of textual corruption is quite high.

(3) The CLASSIFICATION of the MSS. along the line of local texts attempted in Chaps. III and IV is of such fundamental importance for our present investigation that, at the risk of repetition, I venture to recall certain considerations there laid down.
(a) If the Byzantine text goes back in essentials to the revision of Lucian about AD 300, the evidence of all MSS. which present this text (and of all mixed MSS., in so far as they present it) maybe treated as a single witness, and that not one of the most important. Hence, in citing MS. evidence for a particular reading it will considerably clarify the issue to use for all these authorities the single symbol Byz.
(b) Again, the whole importance of the identification of local texts lies in the fact that these represent relatively independent lines of transmission of the text. Hence, instead of quoting MSS. in alphabetical order, as in the ordinary Apparatus Criticus, I shall cite them, so far as possible, BY THEIR GROUPING,
(c) If the MS. evidence for a reading belongs to the oldest recoverable form of a local text, nothing is gained by citing subordinate authorities. Thus where B א agree in a particular reading, the evidence for it is not much increased by the fact that C L 33 may be cited in support.
The important question to ask is, Is the reading supported by B א, by D, by a b, by k e, or by fam. Θ or by Syr. S., since these represent independent traditions?
Hence the common practice of citing all the MS. evidence is actually misleading. I propose, therefore, only to quote the evidence of subordinate MSS. where the evidence of the leading authorities is DIVIDED or OBSCURE,
(d) What carries most weight—apart from considerations of the intrinsic probability of a given reading—is not the number of MSS. which support it, but the number of local texts which the MSS. supporting it represent, or the age to which by patristic quotations it can be pushed back. A reading, for instance, supported by k, Syr. S. and 69, or one supported by only one of these MSS. and a quotation of MARCION or JUSTIN, deserves most serious consideration, even if every other MS. is against it.

the MS. evidence

The passages that follow include all the minor agreements not already discussed in this chapter that seem to me at all significant. They include those mentioned by Hawkins and by Burton; also all those in Abbott's exhaustive list that are in the slightest degree remarkable, along with certain others I have myself noticed.

Mark i.40-42. Matthew viii.2-3. Luke v.12-13.

καὶ ἐρχεται πρὸς αὐτὸν λεπρὸς … λέγων αὐτῷ ὁτι Ἐὰν θέλῃς δύνασαί με καθαρίσαι, καὶ σπλαγχνισθεὶς ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ ἡψατο καὶ [αὐτοῦ] λέγει … καὶ εὐθὺς

καὶ ἰδοὺ λεπρὸς προσελθὼν προσεκύνει αὐτῷ λέγων, Κύριε, ἐὰν θέλῃς δύνασαί με καθαρίσαι. καὶ ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα ἡψατο αὐτοῦ λέγων, θέλω … καὶ εὐθέως

καὶ ἰδοὺ ἀνὴρ πλήρης λέπρας …  ἐδεήθη αὐτοῦ λέγων, Κύριε, ἐὰν θέλῃς δύνασαί με καθαρίσαι. καὶ ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα ἡψατο αὐτοῦ εἰπών ... καὶ εὐθέως

(a) ἰδού is never used by Mark in narration,
but is found 33 times in Matthew and 16 in Luke;
it is not, therefore, surprising that they concur occasionally in a stylistic alteration of Mark which they are always making independently.

(b) Κύριε.
But the word occurs in Mark also in B C L 579 Sah., W c e ff 2, Θ 700. It is omitted by א D b, Syr. S. Boh. Byz. Hort for once deserts B, thinking B here assimilates (κύριε only once in Mk.). But the combination of the three distinct traditions, Egyptian B C L Sah., "African" W c e, and Caesarean Θ 700, is a very strong one. Either, then, B is right and there is no agreement of Matthew and Luke against Mark; or we have, not only a clear case of B L convicted of assimilation, but evidence of such an orgy of assimilation in these small details that no text can be relied on, and it is just as likely that the presence of κύριε in either Matthew or Luke may be due to the same cause.

(c) The order of Matthew and Luke is ἥψατο αὐτοῦ against Mark's αὐτοῦ ἥψατο; but in Θ 565 Mark also has ἥψατο αὐτοῦ. But D e a ff 2 have αὐτοῦ ἥψατο αὐτοῦ in Mark, and in Matthew א 124 (D hiat.) Syr. Sah. Boh, attest the double αὐτοῦ, a reading hard to explain unless this was the original reading in Mark and was adopted by Matthew from him. If we accept the reading of D as original all is explained. Mark's Aramaic idiom is full of pronouns unidiomatic in Greek; the MS. tradition represented by Θ 565 drops the first αὐτοῦ; that represented by B, which is here followed by Byz., drops the second instead. Luke preferred the former course, which is really the more obvious, since it is the first αὐτοῦ that is redundant with χεῖρα, and, only if the second is dropped, can it be construed as object of ἥψατο.

(d) ἥψατο λέγων (or εἰπών) for ἥψατο καὶ λέγων. 
Both Matthew and Luke regularly alter Mark's historic present, unidiomatic in this use, and in this instance the only natural thing was to put a participle; but though an identical construc­tion was practically forced on them, they differ in the choice of the verb meaning "to say."

(e) εὐθέως against εὐθύς.
The fact is that εὐθέως is the form preferred in all the Gospels in the majority of MSS. and is found here in Mark also in all MSS. except in א B L 33 and Θ 164. But throughout Mark, B (usually supported by א L and some­times by C) prefers εὐθύς; the same MSS. often read εὐθύς in other Gospels against εὐθέως in the other MSS. It looks as if Mark preferred the form εὐθύς, while the other evangelists (and scribes as a rule, except in Alexandria) preferred εὐθέως. But if by both authors and scribes εὐθέως was the form preferred, an agreement of Matthew and Luke against Mark is inevitable wherever all three use the word.

Mark ii.21-22. Matthew ix.16-17. Luke v.36-37.

ἐπίβλημα ... ἐπιράπτει ... εἰ δὲ μή

ἐπιβάλλει ἐπίβλημα ... εἰ δὲ μήγε

ἐπίβλημα ἐπιβάλλει ... εἰ δὲ μήγε

(a) B 301 read μύ; in Matthew. 
Was Hort right in deserting B?
(b) The noun ἐπίβλημα almost shouts out to an editor to alter the verb to ἐπιράπτει.

Mark ii.22. Matthew ix.7. Luke v.37-38.

καὶ ὁ οἶνος ἀπόλλυται καὶ οἱ ἀσκοί [ἀλλὰ οἶνον νέον εἰς ἀσκοὺς καινούς.]

ὁ οἶνος [ἐκχεῖται] καὶ οἱ ἀσκοὶ ἀπόλλυνται: ἀλλὰ βάλλουσιν οἶνον νέον εἰς ἀσκοὺς καινούς.

καὶ αὐτὸς ἐκχυθήσεται καὶ οἱ ἀσκοὶ ἀπολοῦνται‧ἀλλὰ οἶνον νέον εἰς ἀσκοὺς καινοὺς βλητέον.

In Matthew D a k omit ἐκχεῖται (and otherwise alter), "Western non-interpolation."

Curiously enough, however, while the acceptance of this as an interpolation gets rid of this, the first of the twenty agreements picked out by Hawkins as being specially conspicuous, acceptance of the Western reading produces an agreement later in the same verse, for D Old Lat. omit ἀλλὰ οἶνον νέον εἰς ἀσκοὺς καινούς. Synopses based on Hort's text ignore this omission; Huck accepts it. But both ignore the former instance. The line divisions in D (which Rendel Harris [Texts and Studies, II. i. p. 241 ff. (Cambridge, 1891).] has shown to be much older than the actual MS.) are such that, if the omitted line had stood in D, the words οἶνος ἀσκός, separated by only a few letters, would have occurred in each of three successive lines. This is a formation which invites accidental omission: the scribe copies the second line, and then glancing back to the model mistakes the third line for the one he has written and goes on with the line that follows. I hold, therefore, that א B Byz. are right in retain­ing the bracketed words in Mark, but that ἐκχεῖται in Matthew is due to assimilation from Luke.

Mark ii.23. Matthew .1. Luke vi.1.

ἠρξαντο ὁδὸν ποιεῖν τίλλοντες

ἠρξαντο τίλλειν ... καὶ ἐσθίειν

ἐτιλλον οἱ ... καὶ ἠσθιον

Scribes could make no satisfactory sense of ὁδὸν ποιεῖν, as the following variants show.

ὁδὸν ποιεῖν

א C L Byz.


B G H.


13 etc. a q f Arm. Goth.


D W c e, b ff 2, Syr. S.

If the phrase were an easy one, we should accept the combination D Afr. and Eur. Lat. Syr. S. as final for an omission. But the meaning of ποιεῖν—in place of τροιεῖσθαι, —in literary Greek is "make a road through the corn"  (a proceeding which, even if morally justifiable, is a curious way of satisfying hunger); hence the omission of the difficult words is probably intentional.
[But F. Field quotes a parallel from LXX (Judg.xvii.8) for the use of
τοῦ ποιῆσαι τὴν ὁδὸν αὐτοῦ = "as he journeyed,"
Notes on the Translation of the New Testament, p. 25 (Cambridge, 1899).]

Now Matthew and Luke must have felt the same difficulty as later scribes, and would, therefore, be compelled to rewrite the sentence. But anyone who began to rewrite a sentence about rubbing ears of corn for a meal would find the verb "to eat" come into his mind.

Mark ii.24. Matthew .2. Luke vi.2.


ἐξεστιν ποιεῖν

ἐξεστιν [ποιεῖν]

In Luke ποιεῖν occurs in the Synopses of Huck and Rushbrooke, but it is omitted by Westcott and Hort, with B R, D Old Lat., 69, 700, Arm. (hiat. Syr. S.).

Mark ii.26. Matthew .4. Luke vi.4.

εἰ μὴ τοὺς ἱερεῖς

εἰ μὴ τοῖς ἱερεῦσιν [μόνοις]

Εἰ μὴ μόνους τοὺς ἱερεῖς

It is worth noting that in Mark, μόνοις ἱερεῦσι is read by 33 (579) Sah. Boh., or ἱερεῦσι μόνοις by D, most Old Lat., 13 &c., Φ Arm. The variation in position suggests interpolation; but the reading is instructive as illustrating the possibility of assimilating along three independent lines of MS. tradition— Egyptian, Western, and Eastern.

μόνοις  in Matthew is omitted by 1 &c, and a, while L Δ and k read μόνον. Variants of this sort are most easily accounted for if the word was absent from an ancestor of the MS. in which they occur, and have been supplied later by conjecture from recollection of the parallel gospel; so that L Δ k really support the omission.

Mark iv.11. Matthew i.11. Luke viii.10.

καὶ ἐλεγεν αὐτοῖς, Ὑμῖν τὸ μυστήριον δέδοται τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ θεοῦ.

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁτι Ὑμῖν δέδοται γνῶναι τὰ μυστήρια τῆς βασιλείας τῶν οὐρανῶν.

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν, Ὑμῖν δέδοται γνῶναι τὰ μυστήρια τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ θεοῦ

The phrase "the mystery is given to you" is obscure; the verb γνῶναι, (to understand) is the most natural one for two independent interpreters to supply. But note the singular μυστήριον is read in Matthew by k c, a ff 2, Syr. S. and C., Clem. Iren.

Mark v.27. Matthew ix.20. Luke viii.44.

ἐλθοῦσα ἐν τῷ ὀχλῳ … ἡψατο τοῦ ἱματίου αὐτοῦ.

προσελθοῦσα …  ἡψατο τοῦ κρασπέδου τοῦ ἱματίου αὐτοῦ

προσελθοῦσα …  ἡψατο [τοῦ κρασπέδου] τοῦ ἱματίου αὐτοῦ

τοῦ κρασπέδου in Luke, om. D a ff 2 rl, a "Western non-interpolation."

Mark vi.32-34. Matthew xiv.13-14. Luke ix.10.11.

καὶ ἀπῆλθον ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ εἰς ἐρημον τόπον κατ' ἰδίαν. καὶ εἶδον αὐτοὺς ὑπάγοντας καὶ ἐπέγνωσαν πολλοί, καὶ πεζῇ ἀπὸ πασῶν τῶν πόλεων συνέδραμον ἐκεῖ καὶ προῆλθον αὐτούς... εἶδεν πολὺν ὀχλον, καὶ ἐσπλαγχνίσθη ἐπ' αὐτοὺς ὁτι ἦσαν ὡς πρόβατα μὴ ἐχοντα ποιμένα, καὶ ἠρξατο διδάσκειν αὐτοὺς πολλά.

ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἀνεχώρησεν ἐκεῖθεν ἐν πλοίῳ εἰς ἐρημον τόπον κατ' ἰδίαν: καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ ὀχλοι ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ πεζῇ ἀπὸ τῶν πόλεων... καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν τοὺς ἀρρώστους αὐτῶν.

καὶ παραλαβὼν αὐτοὺς ὑπεχώρησεν κατ' ἰδίαν εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην βηθσαϊδά. οἱ δὲ ὀχλοι γνόντες ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ ... καὶ τοὺς χρείαν ἐχοντας θεραπείας ἰᾶ.

The Feeding of the Five Thousand is a section in which there are more minor agreements than in any other of the same length. They include, besides the parallels printed above, those to and the words βρώματα (Mt.xiv.15, Lk.ix.13) and ὡσεί (Mt.xiv.21, Lk.ix.14) discussed below. Hence it is of particular importance to notice that the majority of them are distinctly of the nature of stylistic improvements on Mark, and therefore point away from an Ur-Marcus hypothesis.

The T.R. with 13 &c., and some late MSS., adds εἶδον in
This, however, is probably due to assimilation; but since the subject of εἶδον  ( is different from that of the previous verb ἀπῆλθον, grammar and sense in Greek, as in English, demand that the subject of εἶδον be expressed. As the unex­pressed subject is the people, described in the next sentence of Mark as πολὺν ὄχλον, Matthew and Luke naturally supply οἱ ὄχλον.  Again, the word ἀπῆλθον in Greek, like "follow" in English, is the only natural one to employ, if Matthew and Luke both wished to cut short Mark's more elaborate, but obviously more primitive, "ran together there and arrived before them." It may be added that the phrase ἠκολούθει αὐτῷ ὀχλος πολύς occurs in Mk.v.24, where curiously enough it is not reproduced exactly by either Matthew or Luke; the trick of memory which leads Matthew or Luke to introduce a collocation of words from one context in Mark into quite another in their own Gospels is very frequent. Hawkins [Hor. Syn. 2 p. 168 ff.] collects the instances under the heading "Transference of Formulae."

A more striking coincidence between Matthew and Luke is their addition of the statement that our Lord healed the sick. But the words in which they express this are as different as they well could be. Probably, therefore, this statement is an interpretative inference, made by both independently, of Mark's phrase ἐσπλαγχνίσθη ἐπ' αὐτοὺς —it being taken for granted that the pity expressed itself in action of this kind. There are other passages where one or other of the later evangelists adds to Mark a generalised statement of our Lord's healing, e.g. Mt.xv.30, Lk.vii.21. The actual words ἀρρώστους ἐθεράπευον occur, and it is quite in Matthew's habit to transfer such a formula. An alternative possibility is that καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν ἀρρώστους πολλούς, or something like it, originally stood in the text of Mark after διδάσκειν αὐτούς, if καὶ ... ἀρρώστους was omitted through homoioteleuton with αὐτούς, the surviving πολλούς would inevitably be altered to πολλά to make sense.

Mark vi.43. Matthew xiv.20. Luke ix.17.

καὶ ἦραν κλάσματα δώδεκα κοφίνων πληρώματα.
Huck and T.R. read κλάσματων.

καὶ ἦραν τὸ περισσεῦον τῶν κλασμάτων δώδεκα κοφίνους πλήρεις.

καὶ ἠρθη τὸ περισσεῦσαν αὐτοῖς κλασμάτων κόφινοι δώδεκα.

Mark's use of πληρώματα is not really Greek;
and if one is to express the idea of surplus or residue in Greek neatly it can only be done by some derivative of the word περισσόν, and this word is used in Mark in the parallel sentence of the account of the Feeding of the Four Thousand, which, of course, Matthew (and, perhaps, Luke) had read. W D e 13 &c. have the noun form περίσσευμα in Luke, while א D 13 &c. om. αὐτοῖς (W. αὐτῶν), which is perhaps right.

There are two other agreements in this same section. βρώματα = "food," Mt.xiv.15, Lk.ix.13, is such an obvious word to use in this context that, seeing that it does not occur in verses in other respects verbally parallel, it is of no real significance, ὡσεί (Mt.xiv.21, Lk.ix.14); but this is omitted in Matthew by W, the uncial fragment 0106, Old Lat. Syr. C. (hiat. S.) Orig.Mt.; and ὡς is substituted in Δ 33, D, Θ 1.

Mark ix.2-3. Matthew xvii.2. Luke ix.29.

καὶ μετεμορφώθη ἐμπροσθεν  αὐτῶν, καὶ τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο στίλβοντα λευκὰ λίαν …
Huck and T.R. ἐγένετο after αὐτοῦ.

καὶ μετεμορφώθη ἐμπροσθεν αὐτῶν, καὶ ἐλαμψεν τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ὡς ὁ ἡλιος, τὰ δὲ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο λευκὰ ὡς τὸ φῶς.

καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ προσεύχεσθαι αὐτὸν τὸ εἶδος τοῦ προσώπου αὐτοῦ ἑτερον καὶ ὁ ἱματισμὸς αὐτοῦ λευκὸς ἐξαστράπτων.

In a Greek Synopsis the underlined πρόσωπον strikes the eye of an English reader; but in real life, if we speak of a change in a person's appearance, the first thing we think of and mention is the face. If, then, there is anything that requires to be explained in this agreement—which I am inclined to doubt—it is not why both Matthew and Luke use the word πρόσωπον, but how Mark managed to avoid doing so. It reads a little strangely to say a person was transfigured, and then to go on to speak of the difference in his clothes without mentioning the face. Of course, the point in itself would be too small to be significant; but it is never safe to ignore the readings of fam. Θ, Syr. S. and k, when they agree in departing from the ordinary text. 1 &c. 346, Syr. S. k  [k reads Candida aba. The aba is erased, and is probably an incorrect anticipation of the alba which occurs two lines later. It cannot have been meant as a translation of στίλβοντα.] concur in omitting στίλβοντα (Θ 565 transpose λευκὰ and στίλβοντα, a sign that one of these words was absent from their ancestor); but Syr. S., after "transfigured before them," adds the words "and he became gleaming," which may imply a Greek reading καὶ ἐγένετο στίλβων. Is it possible that the original text of Mark was καὶ ἐγένετο στίλβον τὸ πρόσωπον, καὶ τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ λευκὰ λίαν? If πρόσωπον was accidentally omitted, στιλβοντο—written of course as one word and without accents— would be left "in the air." Sense had to be made somehow. The ancestor of fam. Θ k solved the difficulty by leaving out the words altogether; that of Syr. S. by changing them to στίλβων, which could then refer to Jesus; that of B by emending to στίλβοντα and transferring the words eyevero ἐγένετο στίλβον τα to another place in the sentence so as to construe with ἱμάτια.

Mark ix.6-7. Matthew xvii.5 Luke ix.34.

(No corresponding words.)

ἐτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος

ταῦτα δὲ αὐτοῦ λέγοντος

Matthew and Luke have no word in common except αὐτοῦ, which of course proves nothing, and the insertion of some such words to mark the transition is a literary improvement. Still it is perhaps a little odd—though by no means impossible—that two independent writers should hit so nearly upon the same phrase by way of addition. An obvious hypothesis would be that ἐτι λέγοῦντος αὐτοῦ represents a line in the original text of Mark, which has dropped out.

Mark ix.19. Matthew xvii.17. Luke ix.41.

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς αὐτοῖς λέγει, ὦ γενεὰ ἀπιστος, …  φέρετε αὐτὸν πρός με.

ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν, ὦ γενεὰ ἀπιστος καὶ διεστραμμένη  … φέρετέ μοι αὐτὸν ὧδε.

ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν, Ὦ γενεὰ ἀπιστος [καὶ διεστραμμένη], προσάγαγε ὧδε τὸν υἱόν σου.

In Luke καὶ διεστραμμένη  om. e Marcion (as quoted by both Tert. and Epiph.), i.e. by African [Tischendorf in his Apparatus overlooks the omission by e, but it is in his edition of that MS., Evangelium Palatinum ineditum (Leipzig, 1847).] and old Roman text. Syr. S. and C. (also in Mt.) transpose with ἄπιστος, perhaps for the sake of rhythm; but transposition always suggests an insertion.

In Luke ὧδε om. D r ; T.R. transposes.

The aorist εἶπεν is the usual substitution by Matthew and Luke for the unidiomatic historic present in Mark.

Mark x.25. Matthew xix.24. Luke xviii.25.

διὰ [τῆς] τρυμαλιᾶς [τῆς] ῥαφίδος διελθεῖν ἢ πλούσιον …  εἰσελθεῖν.
Huck and T.R. read
διὰ τῆς ... τῆς.

διὰ τρυπήματος ῥαφίδος διελθεῖν ἢ πλούσιον εἰσελθεῖν

διὰ τρήματος βελόνης εἰσελθεῖν ἢ πλούσιον …  εἰσελθεῖν.

(a) But D L and the majority of MSS. read τρυπήματος in Matthew, and Clem Orig.Cels. quotes the reading (without specifying from which Gospel).  But C, Θ 124 565 700, etc., with Orig.Mt., read τρυμαλιᾶς; in Matthew as in Mark; and there is respectable MS. authority for both τρυμαλιᾶς  and τρυπύματος in Luke. In other words assimilation has run riot. But the reading of D τρυμαλιᾶς Mark, τρυπύματος Matthew, τρήματος Luke, which is supported by א B in Matthew and Luke, and by the majority of other MSS. (but not א B) in Mark, makes all three Gospels different. As therefore it cannot be suspected of harmonisation, and also accounts for all the other variants, it is almost certainly correct — in which case the agreement disappears.

(b) In Matthew B Sah.codd., D Lat., Θ, Syr. S. and C. Orig.Mt. read διελθεῖν. Why Hort should have deserted B, when so well supported, I cannot imagine.

Mark x.30. Matthew xix.29. Luke xviii.30.




D Old Lat. read ἑπταπλασίονα in Luke.    This reading, which makes all three Gospels differ, is surely right.

Mark xi.1. Matthew xxi.1. Luke xix.28, 29.

καὶ ὁτε ἐγγίζουσιν εἰς Ἰεροσόλυμα εἰς βηθφαγὴ καὶ βηθανίαν

καὶ ὁτε ἠγγισαν εἰς Ἰεροσόλυμα καὶ ἦλθον εἰς βηθφαγὴ

... ἀναβαίνων εἰς Ἰεροσόλυμα ... ὡς ἠγγισεν εἰς βηθφαγὴ καὶ βηθανία[ν]

In the text of W.H. and in the T.R. (which is supported by א B L and the mass of MSS. there is no agreement of Matthew and Luke against Mark. But D, Old Lat. 700, omit Bethphage in Mark [The readings of Origen (iii. 743, iv. 182) are especially interesting. In his Commentary on John (tom, x.) he quotes Mk.xi.1-12 in close accord with the B א text including Bethphage; but in the Commentary on Matthew he expressly contrasts the reading of Mark (Bethany only) with that of Matthew and Luke. Our previous observation that he had by that time changed his text from B א to that of fam. Θ, is confirmed by the absence of Βεθφαγὴ καὶ from 700.] —and Tischendorf accepts this 'Western non-interpolation'. Thus in Huck's Synopsis an agreement is shown. But, if the original text of Mark omitted the name Bethphage, where did Luke get it from? It is not mentioned elsewhere in the Gospels. Moreover, as Burkitt points out [J.T.S. Jan. 1916, p. 148.], the way in which Mark mentions the three names is confusing. Both Matthew and Luke simplify in different ways by rearranging the sentences. The Western text does it by the easier method of omitting Bethphage. This is the second case, which has already come under our notice of omission by D, Old Lat. to meet a difficulty. The lesson is a valuable one. Western omissions are not always "non-interpolations."

Mark xi.27. Matthew xxi.23. Luke xx.1.

καὶ ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ περιπατοῦντος αὐτοῦ ἐρχονται ... οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς ...

καὶ ἐλθόντος αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν προσῆλθον αὐτῷ [διδάσκοντι] οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς ...

καὶ ἐγένετο ...  διδάσκοντος αὐτοῦ τὸν λαὸν ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ ...  ἐπέστησαν οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς

In Matthew διδίασκοντι omitted by Old Latin (a b c e ff 1 g 2 h I), Old Syr. (S. and C.).

Mark xi.29. Matthew xxi.24. Luke xx.3.

ὁ δὲ ... εἶπεν ... ἐπερωτήσω ὑμᾶς ἑνα λόγον, καὶ ἀποκρίθητέ μοι.

ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ...  εἶπεν ... ἐρωτήσω ὑμᾶς κἀγὼ λόγον ἑνα, ὃν ἐὰν εἰπητέ μοι

ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ εἶπεν ... ἐρωτήσω ὑμᾶς κἀγὼ λόγον, καὶ εἰπατέ μοι.

ἀποκριθείς is found in Mark also, in D, Old Lat., Syr. S., and Byz. This may be the right reading; but, other things being equal, a text that makes the Gospels differ is to be preferred. But no one who has glanced at the verb ἀποκρίνομαι, in a concordance to the New Testament will attach any significance to a concurrent use of the constantly recurring phrase ἀποκριθείς εἶπεν. But it is obvious that, having chosen this conventional opening for the sentence, Matthew and Luke were bound to substitute another verb of saying for the ἀποκρίθητε of Mark a few words later.

καγὼ occurs in Mark in א, D, Old Lat., Old Syr., Byz.—a strong combination; but, as the word is not elsewhere used by Mark, it is probably rightly rejected. But the sense requires the emphasis; perhaps the ἐπερωτήσω was Mark's way of getting this; the others substitute the natural Greek expression, which is one they frequently use elsewhere.

Mark .11, 12. Matthew xxi.44. Luke xx.18.


[καὶ ὁ πεσὼν ἐπὶ τὸν λίθον …] W.H. bracket.

πᾶς ὁ πεσὼν etc.

The verse is omitted in Matthew by 33, D, Old Lat., Syr. S.; Orig.Mt. Euseb.

Mark .12. Matthew xxi.45. Luke xx.19.

(Simply 3rd pers. Pl. 'they'.)

οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ φαρισαῖοι

οἱ γραμματεῖς καὶ οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς

Marcion omitted the words in Luke, and this may represent the earliest Roman text. But Mark had last named the opponents of Jesus in xi.27 = Mt.xxi.23 = Lk.xx.1; stylistically speaking, it was time to repeat the subject of the verb; and this was more necessary for Matthew than Luke since he had interpolated a series of parables since the last mention of the chief priests. The subject in Mark xi.27 is οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι , Luke repeats the first two; Matthew, whose Gospel often elsewhere reflects anti-Pharisaic polemic, substitutes Pharisees. So far, therefore, from agreeing against Mark, they differ as far as was possible (granted each wished to name a subject to the verb), since the high priests were so obviously the leading characters that they could not be omitted.

Mark .22. Matthew x.27. Luke xx.32.

ἐσχατον πάντων

ὑστερον δὲ πάντων

[ὑστερον] καὶ …

Luke ὑστερον om. Syr. S. and C. Old Lat. a c I ; e om. whole verse from "hour."

Mark .28. Matthew x.35, 36. Luke x.25, 26.

εἷς τῶν γραμματέων ...  ἐπηρώτησεν αὐτόν, ποία ἐστὶν ἐντολὴ πρώτη πάντων;

καὶ ἐπηρώτησεν εἷς ἐξ αὐτῶν [νομικὸς] πειράζων αὐτόν, Διδάσκαλε, ποία ἐντολὴ μεγάλη ἐν τῷ νόμῳ;

καὶ ἰδοὺ νομικός τις ἀνέστη ἐκπειράζων αὐτὸν λέγων, [Διδάσκαλε,] τί ποιήσας ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσὼ; ὁ δὲ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτόν, ἐν τῷ νόμῳ τί γέγραπταὶ;

(a) Apart from this passage the word νομικός is found in the Gospels only in Luke. This fact practically compels us to accept as original its omission in Matthew by 1 &c., e, Syr. S., Arm., Orig.Mt.
(b) Marcion as quoted by Tertullian, and D omit διδάσκαλε in Luke. It may further be remarked that, in this passage, while Matthew is mainly following Mark, Luke seems to derive the incident from another source. Hawkins [Oxford Studies, p. 41 ff.] suggests the incident might have stood in Q.

Mark xiv.62. Matthew xxvi.64. Luke x.69-70.

ἐγώ εἰμι, καὶ ὀψεσθε τὸν υἱὸν … καθήμενον

σὺ εἶπας‧ πλὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀπ' ἀρτι ὀψεσθε τὸν υἱὸν … καθήμενον

ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν δὲ ἐσται ὁ υἱὸς …  καθήμενος … ὑμεῖς λέγετε ὁτι ἐγώ εἰμι.

This is our Lord's reply to the question of the high priest, "Art thou the Christ?" In the actual words used there are no verbal agreements against Mark; but it is remarkable that Matthew and Luke should agree in adding two points so alike in sense as ἀπ' ἀρτι = ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν and σὺ εἶπας = ὑμεῖς λέγετε. The latter especially is an obscure phrase which apparently means "it is your statement, not mine." What is still more remarkable is that both these additions introduce difficulties which are not in the text of Mark—an apparent disclaimer of the title Christ and (in Matthew's form) a statement which history falsified that the high priests would immediately see our Lord's Parousia.

(a) In Syr. S. the equivalent of ἀπ' ἀρτι stands in Mark; and this reading cannot be dismissed forthwith as an assimilation, for in both Matthew and Luke the Syriac reading is the equivalent of ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν, i.e. in Syriac assimilation has worked in the reverse direction. If the words had accidentally dropped out of some MSS. at a very early date, the fact that they seemed to imply a prophecy which history had falsified would tend to prevent their reinsertion. Nevertheless I am inclined to think the words are independent editorial insertions by Matthew and Luke for four reasons: (α) Precisely the same addition (ἀπ' ἀρτι Mt. = ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν Lk.) is made in the parallel Mk.xiv.25 = Mt.xxvi.29 = Lk.x.18. (β) The word ἄρτι is used 7 times by Matthew (ἀπ' ἄρτι 3 times), never by Mark or Luke. (γ) The phrase ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν  is used 5 times in Luke and once in Acts, never by Mark or Matthew. (δ) Orig.Mt. (iii. 911) explicitly contrasts the absence of the words from Mark with their presence in Matthew. This shows that the words were absent from the old Caesarean text as well as from the Alexandrian and Western texts.

(b) Θ, 13 &c., 565, 700,1071, Arm., Orig. read σὺ εἶπας ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι in Mark. Now ordinarily one would suspect this reading as due to assimilation from Matthew. But here again the obscurity of the expression, or the apparent hesitancy it might seem to imply in our Lord's acceptance of the title Christ, would favour its omission. Moreover, the view that the words originally stood in Mark explains the language of Matthew and Luke. Mark wrote σὺ εἶπας ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι, an answer intended to preclude the acceptance of the title Messiah in the sense that the High Priest might mean, which looks like a genuine utterance of our Lord. Matthew leaves out the last three words and inserts πλὺν κτλ., i.e. he interprets the words "You have said it in scorn, but very soon, I tell you, you shall see with your eyes." Luke preserves Mark's sense and phrase, but he makes it plural, perhaps influenced by his other source. Hence it is probable that fam. Θ here preserves the true reading. If, however, the ordinary text be preferred, I would suggest that the ὑμεῖς λέγετε of Matthew and the ὑμεῖς λέγεις of Luke are independent adaptations of the σὺ λέγεις of Mk.xv.2, intended to assimilate our Lord's reply to the High Priest to His reply to Pilate.

Mark xiv.70. Matthew xxvi.73. Luke x.58.

... Ἀληθῶς ἐξ αὐτῶν εἶ

... Ἀληθῶς [καὶ σὺ] ἐξ αὐτῶν εἶ

... καὶ σὺ ἐξ αὐτῶν εἶ

In Matthew καὶ σύ om. D, Θ 1 &c., Syr. S. b c h l Orig.

Mark xiv.72. Matthew xxvi.75. Luke x.61.

καὶ ἀνεμνήσθη ... τὸ ῥῆμα

ἐμνήσθη ... τοῦ ῥήματος

ὑπεμνήσθη ὁ πέτρος τοῦ ῥήματος (Huck, λόγου)

Verbs of remembering in Greek normally take the genitive; the case alteration is then one that would inevitably occur to two editors independently. But λόγου, the reading of D and T.R. in Luke (since it makes Matthew and Luke differ), is probably correct.

Mark xiv.72. Matthew xxvi.75. Luke x.62.

ἐπιβαλὼν ἐκλαιεν.

[ἐξελθὼν ἐξω ἐκλαυσεν πικρῶς]

ξελθὼν ἐξω ἐκλαυσεν πικρῶς

In Luke the verse is omitted by a b e ff 2 i I, i.e. by both African and European Latin.

Mark xv.39. Matthew xxvii.54. Luke xi.47.

(Nothing corresponding.)

τὰ γενόμενα

τὸ γενόμενον

This is one of Hawkins's twenty selected cases. I should not myself regard this coincidence as a real one, as the "what had happened" referred to by Matthew and Luke respectively are, in the one case an event, in the other a saying, neither of which are found in Mark. It is, however, curious that D omits the words in Luke and substitutes φωνήσας.

Mark xv.43. Matthew xxvii.58. Luke xi.52.

εἰσῆλθεν πρὸς τὸν πιλᾶτον καὶ ᾐτήσατο

οὗτος προσελθὼν τῷ πιλάτῳ ᾐτήσατο

[οὗτος] προσελθὼν τῷ πιλάτῳ ᾐτήσατο

In Matthew προσῆλθε is read by D, Old Lat., (Syr. S.), (Sah.). In Luke οὗτος om. D, Sah.
Since οὗτος has been already used once by Luke in this sentence, its insertion here is awkward, so D is probably correct. 69 reads αὐτος.

Mark xv.46. Matthew xxvii.59-60. Luke xi.53.

... καθελὼν αὐτὸν ἐνείλησεν τῇ σινδόνι καὶ κατἐθηκεν αὐτὸν

καὶ λαβὼν τὸ σῶμα ... ἐνετύλιξεν αὐτ [ἐν] σινδόνι καθαρᾷ καὶ ἐθηκεν αὐτὸ

καὶ καθελὼν ἐνετύλιξεν αὐτ σινδόνι, καὶ ἐθηκεν αὐτὸν

The agreement against Mark in three consecutive words ἐνετύλιξεν αὐτὺ σινδόνι followed by agreement in the uncompounded ἔθηκεν against κατέθηκεν is striking.  But observe the MS. evidence.
(a) Mark, ἔθηκεν א B L, D W, Θ 1 &c. 13 &c. 565.
Mark is fond of compounds, so κατέθηκεν may be original; but if original, the fact of scribal correction along several independent lines of transmission shows that independent correction by Matthew and Luke would be inevitable.
(b) Matthew ἐν σινδόνι, B D, Latt. Θ, Sah., Boh., Orig.
With this reading another small agreement vanishes, αὐτο for αὐτον is a "deceptive" agreement. Matthew and Luke have rewritten Mark's sentence in different ways, but in both αὐτο refers back to σῶμα.
(c) There remains the striking agreement ἐνετύλιξεν against ἐνείλησεν.
But 13 &c. read ἐνείλησεν  in Matthew, as in Mark. This is almost certainly right; for it is very unlikely that the text of Matthew would be assimilated to that of Mark, the least read Gospel, whereas assimilation to Luke, as we have seen, is not infrequent. I suspect that ἐνετυλίσω was the more dignified word and was the one conventionally appropriate to this funeral operation; as in English, when speaking of a shroud, three writers out of four would instinctively prefer the word "wind" to "wrap."

Mark xvi.1. Matthew xxviii.1. Luke

καὶ διαγενομένου τοῦ σαββάτου

ὀψὲ δὲ σαββάτων, τῇ ἐπιφωσκούσῃ εἰς μίαν σαββάτων

τῇ δὲ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων ὀρθρου βαθέως
καὶ ἡμέρα ἦν παρασκευῆς, καὶ σάββατον ἐπέφωσκεν

For the whole verse in Luke D substitutes ἧν δὲ ἡ ἡμέρα πρὸ σαββατου; and for καὶ σαβ. ἐπέφ. c has cenae purae ante sabbatum. The πρὸ σαββατου of D could be accounted for as a paraphrase of παρασκευῆς in an original text which omitted the words καὶ σαβ. ἐπέφ .  
The reading of c might be a con­flation of this text with another in which παρασκευῆς  was rendered cenae purae. If the omission was original, καὶ σαβ. ἐπέφ. is an assimilation from Matthew.

In any case we note
(a) that ἐπέφωσκε in Luke can only be translated "begin," not "dawn"; for he goes on to say that they rested during the Sabbath; while in Matthew it can only have its natural meaning "dawn."
(b) The passage in Luke is not strictly parallel to those in Mark and Matthew printed above.

Mark xvi.5. Matthew xxviii.3. Luke xxiv.4.

νεανίσκον …  περιβεβλημένον στολὴν λευκήν

ἦν δὲ ἡ εἰδέα αὐτοῦ ὡς ἀστραπὴ καὶ τὸ ἐνδυμα αὐτοῦ λευκὸν ὡς χιών.

ἀνδρες δύο … ἐν ἐσθῆτι ἀστραπτούσῃ.

Luke has used the participle ἐξαστράπτων of garments in his account of the Transfiguration (ix.29), and what Matthew compares to lightning is not the garments but the face; so coincidence may be the explanation. But Marcion read λαμπρᾷ in Luke, and the author of the Gospel of Peter, who was familiar with all three Synoptics, reads βεβλημένον στολὴν λαμπροτάτην, which looks like a conflation of Mark with Marcion's (based on the Old Roman) text of Luke.
reads ἐν ἐσθήσεσιν ἀστραπτούσαις, but L Syr. Hier. have λευκαῖς; so that the B א reading has not universal support.

some residual cases

I have purposely kept to the last the most remarkable of all the minor agreements, as it illustrates in a peculiarly interesting way the extent to which the problem we are considering belongs to the sphere, not of documentary, but of textual criticism.

Mark xiv.65. Matthew xxvi.67-68. Luke x.64.

... καὶ ἠρξαντό τινες ἐμπτύειν αὐτῷ [καὶ περικαλύπτειν αὐτοῦ τὸ πρόσωπον] καὶ κολαφίζειν αὐτὸν ... καὶ λέγειν αὐτῷ Προφήτευσον.

τότε ἐνέπτυσαν εἰς τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐκολάφισαν αὐτόν, οἱ δὲ ἐράπισαν λέγοντες, Προφήτευσον ἡμῖν, χριστέ, τίς ἐστιν ὁ παίσας σὲ;

καὶ περικαλύψαντες αὐτὸν ἐπηρώτων λέγοντες, προφήτευσον, τίς ἐστιν ὁ παίσας σὲ;

The words χριστέ, τίς ἐστιν ὁ παίσας σε; occur in Mark also in some MSS.; but, if one merely looks up the authorities in Tischendorf, the list is not imposing. But it takes on quite a different complexion when one discovers that the addition is found also in W, Θ,13 &c., 579, 700. It then becomes apparent that the addition in Mark is influentially supported in each of three main streams of textual tradition: by the later Egyptian Δ, X, 33, 579, Sah.cod., Boh.; by the African W (hiat. e) and Augustine (expressly in a discussion of "The Agreements of the Evangelists"); the Caesarean 13 &c., Θ 565, 700, N, U, also by Arm., Syr. Hcl.. In the face of this evidence only two conclusions are open to us. Either the reading is correct and the words have accidentally dropped out of the text of Mark both in א B L and in D k, or the passage is one which has specially invited assimilation, and this to such an extent that it has taken place independently along three different lines of transmission. The second alternative I believe to be correct. But the MS. evidence suggests that at any rate a certain measure of assimilation has infected the א B L text also in this particular context. For the words describing the veiling, which I have bracketed in Mark, are omitted by D a f, with the substitution of τῷ προςώπῳ for αὐτῷ. Further, Θ, 565, Arm. have this substitution in addition to the ordinary reading—a conflation of two types of text which shows clearly that originally they agreed with D a f and the addition is due to a reviser. Syr. S. agrees with D in the omissions, but makes the guards slap "his cheeks" instead of "him." This looks as if in the text from which the Syriac was translated the words τῷ προςώπῳ  had been slightly displaced—a hypothesis confirmed by the reading "slapped his face" in some MSS. of the Sahidic. Further, it is to be noticed that the omitted clause does not occur in Matthew; but he would have been unlikely to omit such a striking point, if it had occurred in his source, more especially as the whole point of the taunt "Prophesy who it is that struck thee" depends upon the fact that He was prevented by the veil from seeing who did it. Indeed this last consideration leads up to what I believe is the true solution—that the original text of Matthew and of Mark omitted both the veiling and the words "Who is it, etc." These two stand or fall together. In Luke they are both original; and from Luke the first has got into the Alexandrian (but not into the earliest Antiochene and Western) text of Mark; the second has got into all the texts of Matthew.

The view that τίς ἐστιν κτλ. is an interpolation into Matthew from Luke was originally suggested to me by Prof. C. H. Turner, and at first I demurred to the view.  But a consideration of the evidence that in Mark assimilation has been at work both in B א and fam. Θ has removed my previous hesitation to believe that these MSS. have suffered interpolation in Matthew also.  Further, the view argued in Chapter VIII., that Luke had an account of the Passion which was quite independent of, and in certain ways very different from, that of Mark, affects our judgement on this issue. Luke inserts the incident of the Mocking before the Trial by the high priest, instead of after the Trial, as in Mark and Matthew. This alteration of order in itself suggests he was following a different source.  If, then, we accept the shorter text in Mark and reject τίς ἐστιν κτλ. in  Matthew, we  shall  find  that Matthew as usual is substantially reproducing Mark, but that Luke  has an entirely different representation.  In Mark the mockers spit on His face and slap Him and cry, "Play the prophet now!"  In Luke they veil His eyes and then, striking Him, say, "Use your prophetic gift of second sight to tell the striker's name."  Each version paints a consistent picture; but, if one half of Luke's picture is pieced on to Mark and the other half to Matthew (as in the א B text), both are blurred, with the result that in the accepted text Matthew's version dulls the edge of the taunt in Mark, but does not succeed in substituting the quite differently pointed taunt in Luke.

Assimilation of parallels is a form of corruption which can result, and, as I have shown, has often actually resulted, in producing an identical corruption along more than one independent line of transmission. I suggest that for once this has happened along all lines. I should say, rather, all lines for which evidence is extant, for k, e, and Syr. C. are not here extant for Matthew. I will conclude with a quotation from Hort (vol. i. p. 150)—the italics are mine. "It must not of course be assumed to follow that B has remained unaffected by sporadic corruption ... in the Gospel of Matthew, for instance, it has occasionally admitted widely spread readings of very doubtful genuineness." I suggest that the insertion of τίς ἐστιν ὁ παίσας σε is one of these.

The minor agreements, which I have examined above, include all that are sufficiently striking to be worth discussing in detail. The residue are agreements still more minute.  Of these textual assimilation is the probable explanation.  Indeed, it would perhaps be a better explanation of some of those that in the earlier part of this chapter I have attributed to the coincident editorial activity of Matthew and Luke.    Very few of the scholars who have treated of this aspect of the Synoptic Problem appear to me to have an adequate appreciation of the immense amount of variation that exists, even between MSS. of the same family, in regard to just the kind of small points that are here involved, such as the order of words, interchange of prepositions especially in composition, substitution of one conjunction for another, the use of the article with proper names, and the like.  Burton, using the printed text of Huck's Synopsis, has counted the agreements—apart from mere variation in order—and finds 275 words distributed over 175 separate phrases, of which all that are in any degree significant have been discussed above. [Principles of Literary Criticism of the Synoptic Problem, p. 17.]  Other scholars have produced similar calculations. [Hawkins (Hor. Syn 2 p. 208 ff.), using the text of W.H., gives 20+118 + "about 100" = 238, excluding cases which are obviously due to the influence of Q.]  But when the question at issue depends on minutiae of this kind, any figures whatsoever based on the printed text are wholly fallacious.  The Byzantine MSS. present a fairly uniform text; not so the earliest copies.  We have 6 MSS. earlier than the year AD 500; of these B א are very much closer to one another than any other two.  So far as those readings are concerned which make any appreciable difference to the sense, the differences between these MSS. are not numerous.  In the Appendices ad Novum Testamentum (Oxford, 1889) Dr. Sanday gave a comprehensive selection of the important variants in the Gospels; and so far as B א are concerned, recent discovery has nothing to add to this list. In the 166 variants, he adduces, B א differ 44 times, i.e. there are in all four Gospels only 44 differences between these MSS. sufficient to affect the sense to any appreciable extent.  Nevertheless, Mr. Hoskier א has found it possible to collect 3036 instances of divergence between B and א. [Codex B and its Allies, vol. ii., Quaritch, 1914. I have to thank the learned author for a presentation copy of this work, which I have found useful, especially in drawing up Appendix I. I am, however, unable to assent to the main conclusions that he draws from the phenomena.] The majority of these, I take it, are slips of the pen by the individual scribes; but the rest are made up of exactly the sort of minute points in regard to which Matthew and Luke agree against Mark. But, if there are as many as 1000 differences of this order between those two of our oldest MSS. which in general are the most closely agreed with one another, what is the use of calculations based on a printed text?


In conclusion, I would offer certain general reflections suggested by the detailed evidence discussed above. I apprehend that a reader who has read this chapter hastily, without having previously perused the chapter on the Manuscript Tradition, might possibly be inclined to say that I have taken the liberty of deserting the accepted text to pick and choose from any out-of-the-way MS. any reading that happens to fit in with my argument. Quite the contrary; I have purposely limited my citations to a very few MSS., selected because on other grounds they can be proved to represent local texts current at the beginning of the third century. And the principles on which I have used their evidence are, in the main, those formulated by Hort, modified in their application by the discovery of fresh evidence since his time. It may be worthwhile to elaborate this point.

(a) The great step forward made by Hort in restoring the original text of the Gospels was his inflexible resolution, first, to go behind the printed text to the original MSS.; secondly, to go behind the evidence of the mass of MSS. to the small minority which could be proved to represent texts current in the earliest period. When Hort wrote, several of our most important authorities were unknown. This new knowledge has not altered Hort's principles, but it has considerably extended the field of early texts, which the critic must consider.

(b) Hort recognised assimilation as a principal cause of corruption, and made freedom from assimilation one of his principal criteria of a pure text. He found the text of B the one that best satisfied this criterion, as well as certain others; but in a few cases he judged that B also had suffered from assimilation in the form of interpolations of a harmonistic character from which D and the Old Latin had escaped. These he designated "Western non-interpolations." He also noticed and put in brackets as doubtful a number of minor "non-interpolations" of the same kind—though he hesitated definitely to reject them. I suggest that, in view of the evidence submitted above, this hesitation is shown in many cases to be unnecessary. Again, the determination of "Eastern" texts as well as "Western" has been made possible by recent discoveries; surely Hort would have attached equal weight to the "non-interpolations" of this group of "Eastern" authorities.

(c) The reader may have noticed that, in the list of passages discussed above, there are four instances in which Hort deserted B—and the result was to create a minor agreement. Elsewhere, if he had deserted B, a minor agreement would have vanished. If the instances are examined, it will be seen that in each of these cases Hort was faced by a conflict between two of the principles of criticism on which he worked. On the one hand, there was the principle that a reading which makes the Gospels differ is more likely to be original than one that makes them agree; on the other was the principle that a MS. which approves itself as correct in five cases out of six is, other things being equal, entitled to be very seriously considered in the sixth. Now when, in their practical application, two critical principles conflict, the choice of reading necessarily becomes a matter of entirely subjective preference—unless we can find some objective criterion.

The moral I would draw is, that, if we will only use it, the objective criterion we desiderate is in our hands.  The investigation summarised in this chapter has shown, I claim, that the only valid objection to the theory that the document used by Matthew and Luke was our Mark that, namely, based on the existence of the minor agreements of these Gospels against Mark is completely baseless.  But if so, it follows that we are entitled I would rather say we are bound whenever the balance of MS. evidence is at all even, to make the determining factor in our decision the compatibility of a particular reading with the demonstrated fact of the dependence of Matthew and Luke on Mark.  Renounce once and for all the chase of the phantom Ur-Marcus, and the study of the minor agreements becomes the highway to the recovery of the purest text of the Gospels.