The vexing question called the Synoptic Problem has long interested New Testament scholars. Woods weighs in on this question providing evidence for Mark’s priority based on the use of language in the Gospels.
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Relying primarily on the evidence contained in the language of the Gospels, Woods's work is an example of an early attempt to grapple with the Synoptic Problem. He surveys the question of the priority of a single synoptic gospel with an eye toward linguistic markers. Throughout the essay, the continuity of the order of material in Mark’s Gospel is stressed, and Woods finds Mark’s priority convincing. While not unique in his conclusions, Woods does offer a variety of evidence not found in previous treatments of this subject. He concludes his study with a useful synoptic table.
Francis Henry Woods (1850-1915) was especially noted for his works on the Hebrew prophets. He was a tutor at St. John’s College, Oxford.