Pioneer of the Two
Source hypothesis that
became the prevailing solution to the synoptic problem among later biblical
scholars. Weisse was a native of Leipzig, who had the rare academic
opportunity of never having to leave home. In 1828 he joined the philosophy
faculty at the University of Leipzig & lectured there in theology as well.
His 1838 masterpiece The Gospel History
examined critically & philosophically presented a lucid synthesis of the insights of
K. Lachmann & F. Schleiermacher. His work was not generally
recognized by biblical scholars, however, until H.J. Holtzmann
developed it as the basis
of his own widely used history of the synoptic gospels. While Weisse's
contributions were overshadowed by Holtzmann's, many of his observations on
the priority of Mark merit citation:
The very Hebraisms of our gospel
[of Mark] are...a tell-tale indication of his independence &
originality. On the one hand, it is possible to label this characteristic as
awkwardness and clumsiness.... On the other hand, ...[it] conveys the
impression of a fresh naturalness and an unpretentious spontaneity, which
distinguishes Mark's presentation most markedly from all other gospel
Where [Matthew] stays closer to
his predecessor's account he tries to smooth its roughness, to purge it of
its idiomatic expressions, and especially to substitute more varied and
complicated constructions for Mark's monotonously recurring connection of
independent clauses with "and."
The third evangelist is a model
paraphraser who deliberately tries to transform Mark's brittle account into
a flowing narrative, to round its edges, and to improve the connection in
detail with all kinds of pragmatic asides.
...With respect to both the
arrangement as a whole and to the arrangement of words in individual cases,
the two other gospels agree with each other always & only insofar as the
also agree with Mark. However, whenever they deviate from Mark, they also
deviate...in every instance mutually from each other.
noted that Matthew particularly has a number of doublets in which the same
material is repeated with little variation. One passage of each pair is always
in the same narrative location as in Mark. The other he traced to the Matthean
sayings source. While Luke has fewer doublets, Weisse also noted that
regularly omits the Markan version of such sayings in favor of the
other version found in Matthew. Yet, since Luke did not put these passages in
the same location as Matthew, Weisse concluded:
It is our most certain
conviction that not only Mark but also Matthew's collection of sayings is a
source common to both.
Others had argued
for the priority of the gospel of Mark (G.
C. Storr, J. G. von
Herder, K. Lachman, C. G. Wilke).
Schleiermacher argued that Matthew was based on an earlier sayings source.
Weisse is to be credited with combining the two & noting that Luke also
apparently used the same non-Markan sayings source as Matthew. J. Weiss later
dubbed this sayings source Q.
details & quotations see W. G. Kümmel The New Testament: the History
of the Investigation of its Problems (ET NY/Nashville: Abingdon Press,
1972) pp. 149-151].
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