An alternative to Markan priority

Dennis Barton

In which order were the gospels written? To answer that question we need to go back to the history of early Christianity writes Dennis Barton, a lay Catholic from Merseyside.

In the March/April 2014 issue of the Pastoral Review, Rodney Schofield set out the present state regarding the earliest Christian witnesses. The article provided a view as seen through the eyes of an author influenced by the Markan priority theory (that Mark was the first-written of the synoptic gospels). In this article I will look at the same period through the eyes of one who does not accept the theory.

There has been a long debate regarding the order in which the Gospels were written and, while the Markan priority theory is popular, it is not proven. Bernard Orchard OSB was firmly opposed to it. He was the general editor of A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture (1953), a founder member of the World Catholic Biblical Federation and editor of the Catholic edition of the RSV bible. But his greatest achievement was to discover why Mark?s Gospel was written in poor grammatical Greek and thereby offered an alternative to the Markan theory.

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