Three-source hypothesis

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Three-source hypothesis
Three-source (Mark-Q Matthew) theory.svg
Theory Information
Marcan Priority
Additional Sources Q source
Gospels' Sources
MatthewQ, Mark
LukeQ, Mark, Matt, Luke
Theory History
Proponents Heinrich Julius Holtzmann, Eduard Simons, Hans Hinrich Wendt, Edward Y. Hincks, Robert Morgenthaler, Robert H. Gundry

The three-source hypothesis is a candidate solution to the synoptic problem. It combines aspects of the two-source hypothesis and the Farrer hypothesis. It states that the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke used the Gospel of Mark and a sayings collection as primary sources, but that the Gospel of Luke also used the Gospel of Matthew as a subsidiary source. The hypothesis is named after the three documents it posits as sources, namely the sayings collection, the Gospel of Mark, and the Gospel of Matthew.


The sayings collection may be identified with Q, or with a subset of Q [1] if some (typically narrative-related) material normally assigned to Q is instead attributed to Matthew's creativity in conjunction with Luke's use of Matthew.

This theory has been advocated by Heinrich Julius Holtzmann, [2] Eduard Simons, [3] Hans Hinrich Wendt, [4] Edward Y. Hincks, [5] Robert Morgenthaler [6] and Robert H. Gundry. [7]

Alternatively, M.A.T. Linssen [8] proposes it as a variant by equating the sayings collection to the Gospel of Thomas, suggesting that Matthew and Luke worked together to write different gospels, each targeted at their own audience.

See also

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Heinrich Julius Holtzmann, German Protestant theologian, son of theologian Karl Julius Holtzmann (1804–1877), was born at Karlsruhe, where his father ultimately became prelate and counsellor to the supreme consistory of the Evangelical State Church in Baden.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Two-gospel hypothesis</span> Hypothesis that the synoptic gospels were authored in the order of Matthew, Luke, then Mark

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The Hebrew Gospel hypothesis is that a lost gospel, written in Hebrew or Aramaic, predated the four canonical gospels. In the 18th and early 19th century several scholars suggested that a Hebrew proto-gospel was the main source or one of several sources for the canonical gospels. This theorizing would later give birth to the two source-hypothesis that views Q as a proto-gospel but believes this proto-gospel to have been written in Koine Greek. After the wide-spread scholarly acceptance of the two-source hypothesis scholarly interest in the Hebrew gospel hypothesis dwindled. Modern variants of the Hebrew gospel hypothesis survive, but have not found favor with scholars as a whole.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Matthean Posteriority hypothesis</span> Proposed solution to the synoptic problem

The Matthean Posteriority hypothesis, also known as the Wilke hypothesis after Christian Gottlob Wilke, is a proposed solution to the synoptic problem, holding that the Gospel of Mark was used as a source by the Gospel of Luke, then both of these were used as sources by the Gospel of Matthew. Thus, it posits Marcan priority and Matthaean posteriority.


  1. W. Wilkens "Die Versuchung Jesu nach Matthäus" NTS 28 (1982) 479-489
  2. H. J. Holtzmann, "Zur synoptischen Frage", pp. 553–54 in Jahrbücher für protestantische Theologie 4 (1878)
  3. E. Simons, Hat der dritte Evangelist den kanonischen Matthäus benutzt? (Bonn: Carl Georgi 1880)
  4. H. H. Wendt, Die Lehre Jesu (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1886)
  5. E. Y. Hincks, "The Probable Use of the First Gospel by Luke", JBL Vol. 10 No. 2 (1891), pp. 92–106
  6. R. Morgenthaler, Statistische Synopse (Zürich: Gotthelf 1971)
  7. R.H.Gundry, Matthew, A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art (Michigan: Eerdmans 1982)
  8. Linssen, Martijn (2020-08-12). "Absolute Thomasine priority - the Synoptic Problem solved in the most unsatisfactory manner". Absolute Thomasine Priority. Part I: 83 via