Click here to get the answers to the most commonly asked RBL questions.

Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Ancient Rhetoric and the Synoptic Problem: Clarifying Markan Priority
Damm, Alex

Leuven: Peeters, 2013 pp. xxxviii + 396. Ä85

Series Information
Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium, 252

Description: Only recently have studies of the synoptic problem begun to ground their assessments of literary dependence in ancient literary conventions. In an effort to appreciate more fully the evangelists' modus operandi, this study examines their appeal to Greco-Roman rhetoric, the "science of speaking well". Focusing on a rhetorical form called the chreia, the book examines rhetorical techniques and reasons for chreia adaptation, particularly reasons why authors changed this form, both in theory and in the practice of the Hellenistic authors Plutarch and Josephus. With these reasons in mind, the study assesses literary dependence among the synoic gospels, examining in detail a Triple Tradition and Double Tradition _chreia_. In the end, this work illustrates that hypotheses of Markan priority, like the Farrer Hypothesis and Two-Document Hypothesis, are more rhetorically plausible than hypotheses of Matthean priority. While Matthew and Luke's adaptations of Mark tend to reflect the rhetorical reasoning that we should expect, Mark's reasoning is often problematic, for Mark repeatedly works against the fundamental rhetorical principles of clarity and propriety.

Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, Literature, Methods, Literary Approaches, Rhetorical Criticism

Login to Read the Review(s)

You must be a member of SBL to read the review(s). In May 2019, SBL improved security of its main site with a new login procedure that requires an email address and a password, instead of an SBL member number. RBLís login procedure is now synched to SBLís. Please use your email address and SBL password to log in to RBL. Your use of this site indicates your acceptance of RBLís Terms of Use.

Email Address
SBL Password
 Forgot Your Password
 Join SBL or Renew Membership

Review by C. Clifton Black
Published 3/20/2015
Citation: C. Clifton Black, review of Alex Damm, Ancient Rhetoric and the Synoptic Problem: Clarifying Markan Priority, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2015).

Adobe Acrobat Reader
All RBL reviews are published in PDF format. To view these reviews, you must have downloaded and installed the FREE version of Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have the Reader or you have an older version of the Reader, you can download the most recent version now.


Privacy PolicyTerms of UseContact Us