New Testament scholars routinely claim that verbal agreement among parallel Synoptic pericopae is a reliable indicator of literary borrowing by the Synoptic Evangelists. In Oral Tradition and Synoptic Verbal Agreement, T.M. Derico presents a critical assessment of that claim through a consideration of the most recent empirical evidence concerning the kinds and amounts of verbal agreement that can be produced among independent performances of oral traditions.
2. Oral Tradition and the Problem of Synoptic Verbal Agreement
3. Category 1 Anecdotal Evidence
4. Category 2 Anecdotal Evidence
5. Evidence from Transcribed Oral Texts
6. Evidence from Experimental Psychology
7. Verbal Agreement in the Synoptic Gospels and the Whitman Narratives
Appendix A: Transcripts
Appendix B: Quantitative Comparison
Index of Modern Authors
Index of Gospel and Other Ancient Texts
Endorsements and Reviews
A remarkable book, the product of years of work, including doctoral study in Oxford and firsthand research among Arabic-speaking Christians of the Middle East. Through incisive and detailed engagement with scholars’ ideas, Derico thinks the unthinkable, and asks if the almost universal assumption that the high levels of agreement between the Gospels require a literary explanation is actually true. A timely, informative, and important contribution that should not be ignored.
Tutor in New Testament, Trinity College, Bristol
Most New Testament scholars still operate under the assumption that verbal agreement among the Synoptic Gospels can be explained exclusively in terms of literary dependence. A growing body of research, however, suggests that oral tradition may also account for verbal agreement. T.M. Derico’s analysis of the processes by which oral tradition is transmitted is a welcome addition that offers new empirical evidence in support of that claim.
Armin D. Baum, Professor, Freie Theologische Hochschule Giessen, Germany
Derico’s assessment of the contributions of such scholars as Bailey and Crossan is insightful and persuasive, underlining, for example, the diffculty of comparing traditional material that stretches over generations with the one-generation Jesus tradition of the Synoptic Gospels, and the differences between illiterates in a predominantly oral society and twentieth-century students. I am happy to warmly commend Derico’s work and do so without reservation.
James Dunn, Author; Emeritus Lightfoot Professor of Divinity at Durham University
Derico’s book leaves plenty of scope for defenders of literary dependence to make their case, but in future they would do well to take his work on board when doing so.
Eric Eve, in Theology, Vol 121, No 5