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Proposing that Matthew, not Mark, was the first Gospel written, John Wenham offers a fresh look at an intractable problem as well as an interesting perspective on the inner workings of the early Christian church.
Good book that discusses an alternate theory about the early dating of the Gospels (that places Matthew ahead of Mark) by comparing the Gospels to one another and to the writings and records of the church fathers.
Once his compositional argument is complete Wenham works backwards from Acts (early-mid 60s prior to death of Paul) to posit a radically revised synoptic chronology of Luke (55), Mark (45) and Matthew (40).
Whether or not his theory is ultimately correct, Wenham does valuable work identifying and challenging many of the assumptions that underlie the current New Testament scholarship and positing a credible counter argument.
The first part, chapters 1-4, discusses "synoptic" relationships and is really quite technical.
Although the average layperson might be able to understand the gist of Wenham's arguments in this part, a good knowledge of Greek is essential to follow it completely.
John Wenham is another scholar who calls this theory into question.
A must read for anyone with an interest in gospel account origins.While the book has much strength the examination of historical testimony pertaining to Gospel authorship is particularly worthwhile and illuminating.It has often struck me that contemporary scholarship has been a bit too quick to dismiss ancient testimony in favour of modern literary techniques (as valuable as they are).And, finally, from a physical standpoint the paperback is a bit stiff - one has the sense it would not hold up well with heavy usage, i.e. Overall, this is a provocative, interesting and well researched work which warrants serious consideration. Wenham sets out to prove that the Synoptic Gospels were written in the early to mid 40's A.I highly recommend it for all students of New Testament history. D., a good 20-25 years before the earliest generally-accepted date for Mark.