Thursday, March 01, 2018
Darwinian-based objections to Markan Posteriority
Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species (1859) not only influenced re-calibration of the interpretation of the historicity of Genesis, but it had wider influence in other areas of Biblical interpretation as well, such as source criticism and the so-called Synoptic Problem.
In his “response” article in The Synoptic Gospel: Four Views (see this previous post), Two-Gospel Hypothesis advocate David Barrett Peabody addresses the “problem of omissions” objection against Markan Posteriority. This objection—lodged by those who hold to Markan Priority—suggests that Mark could not have been written after Matthew and Luke, because, if this were the case, it would not have omitted so much of their material. Mark, the shortest Gospel, must have been earliest and expanded upon by Matthew and Luke. So goes the theory of Markan Priority.
Among Peabody’s responses to this objection, he calls attention to the possible influence of Darwinian ideology on the assumption of Markan Priority:
The “problem of omissions” may have been raised by those who presuppose that the Gospel tradition always grew by incremental gain (perhaps under the influence of Darwin’s theory of evolution, once it appeared), and placing Mark’s Gospel third in the order of composition of the Synoptic Gospels clearly does not conform with Darwin’s theory, which never should have been applied in the field of literary criticism in any case (149).