The synoptic problem is the basis of historical critical scholarship of the gospels. As a result, the solution to the synoptic problem will influence "one's redaction criticism, and form criticism of the gospels as well as affect the quest for the historical Jesus, early church history, and even the text of the gospels". And the synoptic problem is an examination into the existence and nature of the literary interrelationship among the first three "synoptic" gospels, which are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and in the contrast with John. And the synoptic gospels "share a great number of parallel accounts and parables, arranged in mostly the same order, and told with many of the same words".
Should one fully read the opening four Gospels of the New Testament, he or she can find many similar patterns of literature and themes affording much attention to detail and study. This is what someone such as Merriam Webster would define as the “Synoptic Gospels”. So, what are and how can we explain the differences and similarities among synoptic authors Matthew, Mark, Luke, and the gospel, John? Which Book was written first? To what extent did the Evangelists depend on oral tradition, written sources, or each other? The phenomenon and mystery of these similar but unique Synoptic Gospels has for centuries challenged some of the best minds of academia and the church, stirring up much scholarly controversy; baffling many New Testament Survey students.
To completely understand the similarities and differences between these Synoptic Gospels we must first be acquainted with the authors of them; we ought to discern the background of their life, academic qualifications, experiences, literature styles, and occupations. We must also ask the questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? The first very important question I'd like to pose is: Who? Who were these author's that challenged our hearts and minds and taught us Jesus' life, ministries, and importance? The foremost book of the New Testament is Matthew. It was written by the author, Matthew, to illustrate clearly that the “King” has arrived. Matthew, a Jew, was very literate. He was a despised tax collector who later changed his life and lived completely for Jesus and became one of His' twelve disciples. Matthew directed this Gospel to his fellow Jews c.60-65 A.D. to prove that Jesus is the Messiah and to explain God's kingdom that He holds in store for all of man. The Jews waited for a leader who had been promised centuries before by prophets. They believed that this leader-the Messiah (“anointed one”)-would rescue them from their Roman oppressors and establish a new kingdom. As their king, he would rule the world with justice. However, many Jews overlooked prophecies that also spoke of this king as a suffering servant who would be rejected and killed. It is no wonder, then, that few recognized Jesus as the Messiah. “How could this humble carpenter's son from Nazareth be their king,” they thought. But Jesus was the King of all the earth, and it ...