from: ChristianForums.com thread (2007)
Last Updated: Oct. 11, 2007
A "Synoptic" Outline
For the most part it is fairly easy to divide up any of the Gospels, because they relate the story of Jesus in short segments, which are often only loosely related and can be read independantly.
For this basic task of constructing a Synoptic chart, we don't want to get too detailed. This will only obscure the basic relations between and methods used by the Evangelists.
It is true that sometimes one or another evangelist will copy a short phrase or clause from somewhere else, inserting it into a new context. But these cases seem to be small variations made "on the fly". This kind of extra detail can be better dealt with when examining the sections on a case-by-case (and word for word) basis.
Limiting the detail somewhat oversimplifies the relations and activities of the various evangelists in using their materials. But this will not severely distort the basic "map" or layout of the relations between the Gospels. It so happens that the various evangelists also seem to have handled the text in similar sized sections, and rearranged them accordingly for their own purposes.
Cross-referencing the Synoptic Gospels
Once these sections have been identified and catalogued, we then match them to the same or similar stories and parables in the other Gospels. From this basic method of organizing the data, many simple and easy observations can be made.
For one thing, it is apparent that if Luke and Matthew used Mark as a base, they tried to use almost all of it. Luke only leaves out one large section (The Lukan Omission, see below), and a few not so useful segments, for his own purpose of writing a Gospel for the Gentiles. As a result, Luke reproduces 85-90% of Mark, and then nearly doubles it in size, adding other teachings and narrative material. Matthew is even more careful in this regard, reproducing almost 95% of Mark.
Clearly both Evangelists had great respect for their predecessor and probable mentor.
A second obvious fact is that both Luke and Matthew used very similar layouts and methods of incorporating their new material into Mark. Probably at least one of them knew of the work and plan of the other evangelist.
Their differences too, reveal insights into the their purpose and also the early history of the church. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Here we have only the more modest goal of providing the details of how we created our Synoptic charts, so that others can also follow in our footsteps and understand our own methods and insights.
Luke: Quick Overview
Luke essentially block-copies Mark, breaking it up into three long sections. Additionally, Luke skips a sizeable chunk of Mark, the famous Greater Lukan Omission (Mark 6:45-8:25). Even so, Luke reproduces 85-90% of Mark's material.
Also, Luke shuffles around about a dozen small sections for organizational purposes, and omits a few difficult but relatively unimportant sections for his non-Jewish audience, sometimes substituting some fresh material.
Next, Luke incorporates a large body of new material, mostly teachings and parables with a liberal sprinkling of action stories and exchanges with opponents. This material is also for the most part introduced in three large blocks. Another half-dozen insertions of independant stories and teachings is also added in the final sections, finishing Luke's task.
Luke does more than simply move sections around however. He also works hard to improve the literary diction and quality of Mark's gospel, to give it a broader appeal to Greek speakers across the Roman Empire. And Luke is no crude editor, but a careful historian and apologist, with impressive literary skills and creative ability.
Sectional Outline Format
We present the sections of Luke in the exact order they are found in his gospel. Each section is numbered, and this master-number will be used when relating the sections to other gospels.
The Section Number will by default be the number given from its order in Mark. When a section has been added by Luke, it will have a special "Lukan Number", prefixed by an "L" (e.g. L05 = Lukan Section 5), otherwise, the number will be the "Markan Number" (e.g. 01 = Markan Section 1).
The actual chapter and verse numbers are given next, and then a "Title" or short Description of the contents of the section (some details will naturally be left out). Finally, the parallel or similar sections in the other Synoptic Gospels follow in the last two columns.
Color codes have also been added, to indicate places where large blocks of material have been inserted by Luke and other gospels. These blocks usually contain material not found in Mark, and come from independant historical sources or eyewitness accounts, possibly written records.
We have used a simple color-code to indicate Mark (Yellow/Orange), Luke (Green), and Matthew (Blue).
Finally, we have used orange or yellow in the last two columns to indicate unusual differences or omissions. These are places where one or the other gospel has apparently omitted a section, or substituted something else, or modified the section so much that it can no longer be identified as "the same" with certainty.
We will discuss a few of these interesting differences below.
|Sectional Outline: Luke|
|Sect.||Ch./vs.||Descriptive Name||Mark llel.||Matt. llel.|
|- Luke & Matthew have added their Nativity Stories here: (Lk. 1:1-2:52, Matt. 1:1-2:23)|
|Lukan Block I: Nativity|
Birth/Childhood of Jesus & John Baptist
|...End of Block I|
|01||3:1-18||John the Baptist preaches||1:1-8||3:1-12|
|29b||3:19-20||John Baptist's later imprisonment||6:17-20||14:3f|
|02||3:20-21||John Baptizes Jesus||1:9-11||3:13-17|
|03||4:1-13||Satan tests Jesus in Wilderness||1:12-13||4:1-11|
|04||4:14-15||Jesus' begins his ministry||1:14-15||4:12-17|
|27||4:16-30||Jesus rejected at His hometown Nazareth||6:1-6a||13:53-58|
|06||4:31-37||Capernaum: Jesus casts out demon on Sabbath||1:21-28||4:23-25|
... Matthew inserts his Sermon on Mount here: (Matt. 5:2-7:29)
|07||4:38-39|| Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law.
Many sick/demon-possessed healed
|08||4:40-44||Jesus travels Galilee, preaching, healing||1:35-39||8:16-17|
|05||5:1-11||Jesus calls Simon, Andrew, James & John||1:16-20||4:18-22|
|09||5:12-16||Jesus heals a leper||1:40-45||8:1-4|
|10||5:17-26||Capernaum: Jesus forgives and heals cripple on Sabbath||2:1-12||9:1-8|
|11||5:27-32|| Jesus calls Levi and defends
His ministry to sinners, by Sea of Galilee
|12||5:33-39||Fasting Dispute, Bridegroom metaphor||2:18-22||9:14-17|
|13||6:1-5||Grain Plucking Dispute: David and Shewbread||2:23-28||12:1-8|
|14||6:6-11|| Jesus heals withered hand on Sabbath.
Pharisees plot to kill Jesus
|16||6:12-16||Jesus calls The Twelve (Apostles)||3:13-19||10:1-5a|
|15||6:17-19|| Jesus heals and exorcises many
near the Sea of Galilee.
- Luke inserts Sermon on Plain etc. here: (Luke 6:20-8:3)
- Matt. inserts Great Commission etc. here: (Matt.10:5b-12:21)
|Block II: Sermon on the Plain & Stories|
|L03||6:20-23||Three Beautitudes (Blessings to Poor)||5:2-12|
|L04||6:24-26||Four Woes (Curses to Rich)||(13:21*)|
|L05||6:27-36||Love Your Enemies...||5:38-42|
|L07||6:39||Can the Blind lead the Blind?||15:14|
|L08||6:40||A Disciple is not above the Teacher||10:24-25|
|L09||6:41-42||Speck vs. Log in Eye||7:3-5|
|L10||6:43-44||A Tree is Known by its Fruits||(13:28*)||7:15-20|
|L11||6:46-49||Build on a Rock||7:24-29|
|L12||7:1-10||Centurion's Servant is healed (by messenger)||8:5-13|
|L13||7:11-17||Son of Nain Widow raised from dead|
|L14||7:18-28||John Baptist sends from prison, Jesus preaches||11:2-11|
|L15||7:29-35||Jesus, Friend of Sinners||11:12-19|
|L16||7:36-50||Jesus eats with Simon, woman annoints His feet||(14:3f*)||(26:14f)|
|L17||8:1-3||Women serve and support Jesus' ministry|
|...end of Lukan Block II|
|19||8:4-8||Parable of the Sower||4:1-9||13:1-9|
|21||8:9-15||Jesus explains the parable of the Sower||4:13-20||13:18-23|
|22||8:16-18||Hidden Lamp, Measure, Lack and loss||4:21-25||6:22-23|
|18||8:19-21||Jesus' true mother & brothers obey God||3:31-34||12:46-50|
|24||8:22-25||Wind and Waves Obey Jesus||4:35-41||8:23-27|
|25||8:26-39||Jesus exorcises a demon called 'Legion'||5:1-20||8:27-31|
|26||8:40-56|| Woman healed of bleeding,
Jairus' daughter raised from dead
- Luke moves Rejection at Nazareth backward: (Luke 4:16-30) |
- Matt. inserts Four Parables etc. here: (Matt.13:34-52)
|28||9:1-6||Jesus sends out disciples two by two||6:6b-13||10:5b-15|
|29||9:7-9||John Baptist beheaded by Herod, Herodias||6:14-29||14:1-12|
|30||9:10-17||Feeding the 5000: two baskets left over...||6:30-44||14:13-21|
The "Greater Lukan Omission" (Luke omits Mark 6:45-8:25)
|40||9:18-20||Peter Confesses Jesus is the Christ||8:27-30||16:13-20|
|41||9:9:21-22|| Jesus predicts death & resurrection 1st time,
|42||9:23-27||Cost of Discipleship||8:34-9:1||16:24-28|
|44||9:37-42|| Jesus exorcises a boy with an unclean spirit:
Fasting & Prayer
|45||9:43-45||Jesus predicts Death and Resurrection 2nd time||9:30-32||17:22-23|
|46||9:46-48||Who is Greatest? As a child...||9:33-37||18:1-5|
|47||9:49-50||Another Exorcist permitted to work...||9:38-41||- - -|
|48||9:57-62||Assorted Sayings on Discipleship, fire etc.||9:42-50||18:6-7...|
- Luke inserts block of Stories & Parables here (Luke 10:1-18:14) |
- Matt. inserts block of Church Instructions / Conduct here (Matt.17:24-19:2)
|Block III: Stories & Parables (8 chapters!, 50 sections)|
|L18||10:1-12||The Seventy are Sent|
|L19||10:13-16||Woe to those who reject the 70|
|L20||10:17-24||The Seventy Return: Jesus Rejoices|
|64||10:25-28||The Greatest Commandments...||12:28-34||22:34-40|
|L22||10:29-36||Parable of the Good Samaritan|
|L23||10:38-42||Martha and Mary Worship & Serve|
|L24||11:1-4||The Lord's Prayer||6:9-13|
|L25||11:5-8||Parable of the Persistent Neighbour|
|L26||11:9-13||Keep Asking, Knocking, Seeking||7:7-11|
|17||11:14-23||Baalzebub: A Divided House Cannot Stand||3:20-30||12:22-32|
|L28||11:24-26||Parable of the Unclean spirit Returning|
|L29||11:27-28||Blessed Womb: Blessed are Keepers of the Word|
|37||11:29-32||The Sign of Jonah||8:11-12||12:38-42|
|L31||11:33-36||Parable of the Lamp: Light and Darkness||6:22-23|
|L32||11:37-54||Woe to the Pharisees and Lawyers (scribes)|
|38||12:1-3||Beware the Leaven of Hypocrisy, All will be Revealed||8:14-21||10:26-27|
|L34||12:4-7||Fear God not Man: Do Not Fear (Many Sparrows)||10:28-31|
|42||12:8-12||Confess Christ or Be Denied||8:34-38||10:32-33|
|L35b||12:10||The Unpardonable Sin|
|L35c||12:11-12||Holy Spirit will be your Teacher|
|L36||12:13-21||Parable of the Rich Fool|
|L37||12:22-34||Do not worry about Food or Drink|
|L38||12:35-48||Parable of the Faithful Servant & Explanation|
|L39||12:49-53||"I Bring Division"|
|L40||12:54-56||Discern the Time|
|L41||12:57-59||Make Peace with Your Adversary|
|L42||13:1-5||Repent or Perish|
|L43||13:6-9||Parable of the Fig Tree||11:12-19||21:18-22|
|L44||13:10-17||Woman healed on Sabbath|
|L45||13:18-19||Parable of the Mustard Seed|
|L46||13:20-21||Parable of the Leavened Bread|
|L47||13:22-30||The Narrow Way: Parable of the Locked Door|
|L48||13:31-33||Jesus Predicts Death (3rd time) & Herod|
|L49||13:34-35||1st Lamentation over Jerusalem||23:37-39|
|L50||14:1-6||Man with dropsy healed on Sabbath|
|L51||14:7-11||Parable of the Supper (Take a lowly place)|
|L52||14:12-14||Invite the Poor, Injured, Lame, Blind|
|L53||14:15-24||Parable of the Great Supper||22:1-14|
|L54||14:25-33||Full Implications of Discipleship|
|48||14:34-35||Parable of the Salt||9:49-50||5:13|
|L56||15:1-7||Parable of the Lost Sheep|
|L57||15:8-10||Parable of the Lost Coin|
|L58||15:11-32||Parable of the Lost (Prodigal) Son|
|L59||16:1-13||Parable of the Unjust Steward|
|L60||16:14-18||Law, Prophets, John, & Adultery*||10:11-12*|
|L61||16:19-31||Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus|
|L62||17:1-4||Offences, Forgiveness (7 times)|
|L63||17:5-10||Power of Faithfulness, Parable of Unprofitable Servant|
|L64||17:11-19||Ten Lepers Cleansed: One Returns|
|L65||17:20-37||The Coming of the Son of Man: as Noah, Lot|
|L66||18:1-8||Parable of Persistant Widow/Unjust Judge|
|L67||18:9-14||Parable of the Pharisee & the Tax-collector|
|...end of Lukan Block III (Luke 10:1-18:14)|
|- Luke omits (49) On Divorce (Mark 10:1-12) but inserts 10-12 (on adultery) above|
|50||18:15-17||Enter Kingdom of God as a Child||10:13-16||19:13-15|
|51||18:18-23||The Rich Young Ruler||10:17-22||19:16-22|
|52||18:24-30||Eye of Needle, Blessings for those who leave all||10:23-31||19:23-30|
|53||18:31-34||Jesus predicts Death and Resurrection 3rd time.||10:32-34||20:17-19|
|55||18:35-43||Blind man healed in Jericho||10:46-52||20:29-34|
|56||19:28-40||The Triumphal Entry||11:1-11||21:1-11|
|- Luke omits (57) Fig Tree Curse (Mark 11:12-14) & substitutes A Lamentation|
|L00||19:41-44||2nd Lamentation over Jerusalem||subst. 57|
|58||19:45-48||The Cleansing of the Temple||11:15-19||21:12-17|
|- Luke omits (59) Fig Tree Withered / Teaching on Faith (Mark 11:20-26)|
|60||20:1-8|| By What Authority? Jesus Responds
with Question about John
|61||20:9-19||Parable of vineyard & the Wicked Tenants||12:1-12||21:33-46|
|62||20:20-26||Taxes to Caesar?||12:13-17||22:15-22|
|63||20:27-40||Ressurrection? Jesus expounds the Scriptures||12:18-27||22:23-33|
|- Luke moves (64) The Greatest Commandment(s) back to Luke 10:26-28|
|65||20:41-44||The Messiah is David's Son?||12:35-37||22:41-46|
|66||20:45-47||Warnings of Scribes who devour Widow's Houses||12:38-40||23:1-36!|
|67||21:1-4||The Widow's Mite (Penny)||12:41-44||(13:44?)|
|Markan "Little Apocalypse"|
|68||21:5-6||Destruction of the Temple||13:1-2||24:1-2|
|69||21:7-11||Signs of the Times, Rumours of Wars||13:3-8||24:3-14|
|70||21:12-19||Coming Persecution, Gospel to the Nations||13:9-13||24:3-14|
|71||21:20-24||The Abomination of Desolation (Daniel)||13:14-20||24:15-22|
|- Luke omits (72) False Prophets Foretold but gives brief notice in Luke 6:26|
|73||21:25-28||Son of Man Coming on the Clouds||13:24-27||24:29-31|
|74||21:29-33||That Generation shall not pass away||13:28-31||24:32-35|
|75||21:34-38||Be Watchful: No one knows the Day or Hour||13:32-37||24:36-44|
|- Matt. inserts Four Parables here: (Matt.24:45-25:46)|
|76||22:1-6||Plot to kill Jesus||14:1-2||26:1-5|
|- Luke omits (77) Annointing at Bethany but gives a similar story in Luke 7:36-50|
|79||22:7-13||The Passover: Last Supper Instituted||14:12-26||26:26-30|
|78||22:14-23||Judas agrees to betray Jesus||14:10-11||26:14-16|
|80||22:31-34||Desertion and Denial Predicted||14:27-31||26:20-35|
|L00||22:35-38||"Buy a Sword!"|
|81||22:39-46||Prayer in the Garden||14:32-42||26:36-46|
|82||22:47-53||Betrayal and Arrest||14:43-50||26:47-56|
|- Luke omits (83) Young Man flees Naked (Mark 14:51-52)|
|85||22:54-62||Peter denies three times before cock crows twice||14:66-72||26:69-75|
|84||22:63-71||Jesus Questioned before High Priest||14:53-65||26:57-68|
|86||23:1-5||Jesus Questioned by Pilate||15:1-5||27:1-10|
|L00||23:6-12||Jesus Faces Herod, mocked & beaten|
|87||23:13-26||Pilate releases Barabbas, Simon Cyrene||15:6-21||27:11-32|
|L00||23:27-31||Jesus' Last Sermon before Crucifixion|
|88||23:32-38||Jesus Crucified and Mocked||15:16-32||27:27-44|
|L00||23:39-43||Jesus forgives a Crucified Robber|
|88b||23:44-49||Jesus Dies, Temple Veil Torn||15:33-41||27:45-56|
|89||23:50-56||Joseph of Aramethea Buries Jesus||15:42-47||27:57-61|
|90||24:1-12||Mary and women discover empty tomb||16:1-8||28:1-8|
|91||24:1-12||Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene||16:9-11||28:9-10|
|92||24:13-35||Jesus appears to two disciples||16:12-13||- - -|
|93||24:36-53||Jesus Ascends to Heaven||16:14-end||28:16-20|
|End of Luke's Gospel|
Both Luke and Matthew have a large block preceding the first section of Mark. In each case, the block contains Nativity stories about the birth and early childhood of Jesus.
These are not competing histories, but rather supplimental, and serving the interests of each author. Matthew's Nativity tradition is significantly smaller, and appears supplimental to Luke, again consistent with Matthew coming last in line.
Both Luke and Matthew provide genealogies for Jesus. These present problems for interpreters, but have no impact upon the Markan material. They are again supplimental.
The Temptation of Jesus
Perhaps the most significant part of the first group of sections is (03) the Testing of Jesus by "Satan" in the wilderness. This appears to have been originally a literal (and much shorter) anecdote by Mark. One of the others (probably Luke) seems to have turned it into a near-mythical parable, or perhaps an allegory. The other (probably Matthew) merely rearranges the new version of the story. We will look again at this when we examine the internal structures of the gospels.
There is a large amount of creativity involved in any major re-write of the gospel, using Mark as a base. It is important to properly locate the true source of this creativity, step by step.
While Matthew also often improves the grammar and diction of Mark as he copies, he does this with much less literary flair than Luke, and edits Mark with less creativity and more moderation.
Luke on the other hand, shows great creativity in his rearrangement, rewriting, and incorporation of new material into his Gospel, while at the same time handling Mark with great respect and recognition of its authority.
This is another piece of the evidence leading to the conclusion that Matthew is more of an editor/organizer, and Luke is at least the conduit if not the source of much of the creativity found in the Lukan Blocks (and their counterparts in Matthew).
The Lukan Blocks
One key observation concerning Luke's added blocks is that only a small amount of the material has any match or correspondence with Mark.
On the other hand, the large majority of Luke's material is reproduced in one form or another by Matthew. Even more remarkable is that almost all of the "Special Matthew" material (found only in Matthew) also has some supplimental or substitutionary function, and an interesting correspondence with Luke.
Mark then, knows nothing about Luke, while Matthew is apparently intimately familiar with both the content and form of Luke's Gospel, and uses it extensively.
The Lukan Parables
One of the most stunning aspects of the Lukan Blocks is the large number of high quality parables with similar themes:
Parable of the Good Samaritan
Parable of the Persistent Neighbour
Parable of the Rich Fool
Parable of the Fig Tree
Parable of the Locked Door
Parable of the Great Supper
Parable of the Lost Sheep
Parable of the Prodigal Son
Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus
Parable of the Persistent Widow & Unjust Judge
Compassion, Charity, Hope
Many of these deal strongly with wealth and greed, charity and compassion, persistence and hope. These are the great enobling themes which raise religion far above the world, and have made grassroots Christianity perhaps the greatest Spiritual gift to humanity. Its no coincidence that these parables form the all-time most popular core of Jesus' teachings.
Yet most are found only in Luke. It is Luke and Luke alone who casts for us this great and vivid vision of the Loving Son of God in His gentleness and power, His meekness and authority. This quiet source of life and joy. John tells us about it, but Luke brings the Son of God into our lives in a practical and energizing way.
The Source behind Luke
Yet in spite of his great talents, it seems implausible that Luke himself could be the author of this large and awe inspiring body of material. Luke appears quite creative in adapting and presenting his materials, as both the Infancy Block and the Sermon on the Plain seem to show.
But Luke himself cannot be responsible for this Spiritual Fire which enlightened the Roman Empire from end to end, and finally brought its systemic oppression crashing to the ground.
Luke has really acted as simply the recepticle, the Spiritual Conduit for that Fire. He faithfully gathered up the greatest and most concentrated deposits of that Fire, and reliably transmitted them in their full strength and purity.
Luke has simply drawn living water from that inexhaustable fountain of the Holy Spirit which drove the primal church to its destiny and its role as the Lamp on a Hill, a holy vessel for the Light of the World.
Synoptic Chart of Luke / Mark / Matthew
Here we have laid out the basic relationship in a standard synoptic chart form. Each section (numbered in the first column of previous table) is represented by a single line.
With the detailed Lukan Outline Above (and discussion), it will be possible to identify the lines (sections) in the chart below, and have a more thorough understanding of Synoptic relationships between the Gospels.