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apostles, make it probable that early notes and documents of Christian teaching were in use. The need of a written record for the churches which were springing up in distant regions before 50 A.D., would make some formal collection of documents requisite by then. Some form of gospels was thus both probable and necessary at an early date.
The personal judgment of style and probabilities is so variable, that some form of impersonal criticism is required. Such is to be found in structural criticism, the results of which are matters of fact rather than of opinion. On applying this, we find that the main classes of material in the gospels are : the Nucleus of episodes in the same order in all three gospels; the additions in the same order common to two gospels; the additions irregularly inserted in two; the additions only in one gospel. The irregular additions are of whole documents, or of scattered sayings inserted in the same order, shewing how documents were read through to extract material,
The Nucleus was compiled, probably in Jerusalem, before any Galilean documents were publicly recognised there. All the classes of later additions have Galilean detail. In the two-gospel passages Mark and Luke are in common for more than a third ; after that, Matthew and Mark are in common. This shews a change in the sources of Mark's additions to the Nucleus. Further, Mark ceased to add to his gospel after obtaining Matthew's help. The Sermon on the Mount is the longest, and apparently the earliest, document that was separately used by each writer. Other documents can be traced which were only used for extracts by each writer.
Taking historical facts into account, we see the changes of standpoint and of interests in each decade of the early Church. The subjects dealt with in the gospels are mostly those of importance before 40 A.D., while but little refers to the Diaspora and the Gentile stages of 50 and 60 A.D.
The Nucleus, when restored to shape by removing the accretions, shews continuity in (1) the call of Simon, followed by entering his house; (2) the parable of the old bottles, followed by the plucking corn on the Sabbath; (3) the setting a child in the midst, followed
by children being brought to be blessed. All of these connections have been broken by many chapters of insertions.
Such connections, and the absence of Galilean detail in the Nucleus, are entirely shewn by the structure without any effect of opinion or selection.
The relation of the gospels which is seen to be most likely is that Mark and Luke collaborated on additions to the Nucleus, when in Jerusalem, 54-56. After the first third was written, Luke left with his material which he had personally collected in Galilee, and finished his gospel elsewhere. Mark then obtained Matthew's gospel, so far as then accreted, and finished his gospel, which remained in Egypt isolated from further accretion.
No apology is needed for treating the personalities of the evangelists as historical. The age of the writings named from them is guaranteed by the early period of the dominant interests which are shewn. No other persons in that age could have usurped their places.
A great deal of research yet remains to be done in detail, as to the limits of the original documents, the periods at which they were inserted by each evangelist, and the discrimination of cases where an episode has been omitted by one, or brought in from a different source by another. This involves all the questions of various readings, and of varying original editions, which are the subjects of textual criticism. Here we have only dealt with structural criticism, and some of its historical applications.
THE NUCLEUS AND OTHER
In order to shew more clearly the results of this study, the Nucleus is here placed together. The extent of the text here is solely settled by the three synoptic gospels agreeing upon it in its present order. Where one gospel differs materially in order from others, then the probability is that the passage was inserted Iater, and was not in the general Nucleus which underlies all the gospels. There may have been other passages in the Nucleus originally, but this is the minimum, and it is very unlikely that any verse here included did not belong to the narrative before the growth of the separate gospels.
The episodes here are therefore placed together solely on structural grounds, apart from any question of opinion. But the selection, from among the three versions, of the one which seems the earliest form of each