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1. The Gospels and the Logia. The fundamental question of the relation of the Gospels to each other must precede any exact understanding of their teaching. Until some means of discrimination are gained, it is impossible to decide which of the slightly varying accounts should be accepted as the more correct, or which sayings or episodes may be the more precisely recorded.
It is evident that the means of judging of these matters lie before us, in a triple account, which varies in its detail and its order. But what conclusions are to be drawn from these variations is greatly debated. The only out
line generally agreed upon is that the gospel according to St Matthew and that according to St Luke are both derived from the sources of the gospel according to St Mark, with the addition of much more material.
And our present conclusions here, from a more impersonal research, agree in this.
The dominant point of view hitherto has been mainly literary and subjective, and hence it has been largely influenced by personal judgment. The position in the present day to such questions is rather based on the comparative view of the conditions and life of the age in question. The previous views have been implicitly influenced by the older conception of a writer sitting down to write a whole gospel as an entire work of his own. The gradual accretion of historical records side by side, like the monastic chronicles, is now felt to be more in accord with a wide-spread need of documents in the early churches. The assumption that the pre-existing material was only oral, and was first put in writing by an evangelist, has been widely removed by the appearance of the logia as a living actuality.
Although from the time of the earliest