Parallel Texts in Matthew, Mark & Luke

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  index     color key  
Synoptic Gospel Outlines
Outline Narrative Segment Matthew  Mark Luke
1 Jesus' background 1:1 - 4:11 1:1-13 1:1 - 4:13
2 Jesus teaches in Galilee 4:12 - 9:17 1:14 - 3:19 4:14 - 7:10
2a Jesus' Sermon 5:1 - 7:27   6:20-49
3 Jesus' Prophetic Mission   9:18 - 12:50 3:19-35 7:11-50
4 Jesus Uses Parables 12:46 - 13:52    3:31 - 4:34 8:1-21
5 Who is Jesus? 13:53 - 18:25 4:35 - 9:50 8:22 - 9:50
6 Jesus Journeys to Judea 19:1 - 20:34 10:1-52 9:51 - 19:27
7 Jesus at Jerusalem 21:1 - 25:46 11:1 - 13:37 19:28 - 21:38  
8 Jesus' last days 26:1 - 27:66 14:1 - 15:47 22:1 - 23:56
9 Resurrection reports 28:1-20 16:1-8 (9-20)    24:1-53

By definition the " Synoptics" are those gospels that report the same general outline for the story of Jesus. There is enough sustained agreement between the sequence of sayings & deeds that Matthew, Mark & Luke ascribe to Jesus to convince most scholars that the story-line of these gospels comes from the same text. Determining which text is probably the basis of the others is the work of source criticism

Within this common synoptic narrative framework, however, there is considerable variation in the sequence of items reported by Matthew, Mark & Luke. Some pericopes included by two are missing in the third. Others are unique to one gospel.  Even pericopes shared by two or more gospels are not always reported in the same sequence. 

Since self-contained sayings may be recalled in virtually any sequence & be repeated almost anywhere, it is not surprising to find that one of the major differences between the synoptic gospels is in the logical syntax of the aphorisms & parables they ascribe to Jesus. The fact that 2 or 3 gospels repeat several blocks of stories or sayings in the same order is evidence of the dependence of the author of one text on another.  So when one or two gospels diverge from the sequence of material in the third, it is evident that some author(s) deliberately edited the original source by inserting, omitting or transposing certain items.  Such changes account for the fact that the segments of the synoptic outlines indicated in the table above vary in length according to gospel.

Even if these differences in sequence do not alter the interpretation of the passages themselves, they are important indications of the viewpoint & logic of a particular author (Matthew, Mark or Luke).  For an editor would only bother to alter a text he was copying to improve it for some purpose -- adding things he thought important, omitting distractions & rearranging items to make a more persuasive presentation. Analysis of the patterns of changes that one author made in a text composed by another is the work of redaction criticism.

These Synoptic Gospels Outlines are prepared as a tool to further study of the Synoptic Problem. The string of items peculiar to each gospel is presented intact. Units unique to a particular gospel are highlighted by a distinctive pastel color

 Matthew   Mark   Luke 

Units common to all three gospels are on a teal background [see key below].  Those common to only two are distinguished according to patterns.  An agreement of either Matthew or Luke with Mark is presented in turquoise. A unit common to Matthew & Luke but omitted by Mark is represented by deep beige.   While those who presuppose that Luke used Matthew might prefer another color scheme, this has been chosen to illustrate the textual basis for the Two Source Hypothesis

Where the same item appears in parallel sequence in another gospel that parallel appears on the same line. Lines are numbered simply according to the cumulative sequence of material determined by the gospels themselves.  Where the same unit appears at a different point in the narrative sequence of Matthew, Mark or Luke it will appear on more than one line, with a hyper-link  -- indicated by square brackets [  ] - to the point(s) in the cumulative synoptic sequence where it is found in the other gospel(s).

To access an English synopsis of a particular segment click the brown title on any numbered line. Lines numbered in red also access a synopsis of the Greek text.

Code Key Source*
  Triple tradition: passage in Matt, Mark & Luke Mark*
  Double tradition (1): passage in Matt + Mark or Mark + Luke   Mark*
  Double tradition (2): passage in Matt + Luke but not Mark Q*
  Single tradition (1): passage only in Mark Mark
  Single tradition (2): passage only in Matt Matt
  Single tradition (3): passage only in Luke Luke
  No parallel material in this gospel  
Matt 5:3 Key words to aid comparison of variant versions.
Pointer displays chapter & verse location of passage.


Key element(s) in other versions missing in this gospel  
[see line 5] Related passage in different sequence. Click to navigate.  

* Sources according to Two Source Hypothesis


last revised 01 March 2023

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