Tricky New Testament Textual Issues

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This site grew out of one of many 'side-tracks' that interrupted my attempt to write a book chronicling the events that led to the English language New Testament (see About Me). For example: Why do some Bibles not contain Mark 16:9-20, Luke 22:19b-20, or John 7:53-8:11? Why does it look as though the Gospel of Luke has a second beginning, at Luke 3:1, or a Great Omission at Luke 9:18? Why do the gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke have so much text in common, but at the same time so much that is different? What are Laodiceans and the The Gospel of the Ebionites? Why are the so-called heretics (in particular Marcion) important?

After much work on these issues I realized that in order to complete my book I needed to research questions that I thought were already resolved, many of which involve The Synoptic Problem in one way or another (see this helpful video). This site attempts to answer some of my questions, on the assumption of Markan Priority (i.e. that Mark was written before Matthew or Luke), not because it completely solves the synoptic problem, but because it leaves unresolved the smallest number of issues. If you have any comments, questions, suggestions, etc. regarding anything here please email me at

Note: Where unspecified any biblical quotes in English are from the King James Version (KJV), but not for any doctrinal reason: It is just the bible with which I am most familiar. Information on variants (differences) in the text of different manuscripts (mss) of the New Testament is drawn from many sources, with English used for readability except where knowing the Greek, Latin, etc. is important.

Recent content changes: New: When is an Overlap not an Overlap? Updated: Luke 22:17-20 - The Last Supper, Doublets, the Double Tradition, and Q


Fatigue in Mark – or Damage to Mark? - Do various odd errors in Mark indicate 'fatigue' by the author of Mark when using Matthew as a source, or something completely different?

Mark 1:1-3 - The Short Beginning - Was the beginning of Mark defective at some points? What we see in Mark today suggests that it was.

Mark 1:41 - Angry or Compassionate?: When Jesus healed the leper was he angry, or moved with compassion?

Mark 2:27-28 - The Sabbath - Did Jesus say that the Sabbath was made for Man, or for The Son of Man?

Mk 3:19b-22 - Mad Jesus and Beelzebub - Was Jesus mad and possessed by Beelzebub, or is this an error in Mark?

Mark 11:11 The Non-Triumphal Entry: The multitude who travel to Jerusalem with Jesus disappear when he enters the city in Mark. Where did they go?

Mark 16:9-20 - The Origin of the Long Ending - What is the origin of the long ending of Mark, and how does this impact The Synoptic Problem?

Marcion - Is Marcion's Gospel of the Lord simply an edited version of Luke's Gospel, or did Marcion promote an early version of what became Luke?

Who Was Marcion? - Marcion is generally thought of as an influential arch-heretic who had many followers in the second century, but is this view of him basically early Christian 'propaganda?'

Marcions gospel compared verse by verse with Luke - Commentary on the differences between Marion's gospel and Luke.

Summary - What can we tell about Marcion's Gospel of the Lord from what has been written about it, both in the past and today?

Conclusions - Where does Marcion's Gospel of the Lord 'fit' in terms of its relationship to other New Testament documents?

Marcion's Apostolicon: The Pauline Epistles - An analysis of Marcion's versions of the Pauline epistles.


Luke Chapters 1 and 2 - Verse 3:1 of the gospel of Luke reads like an introduction. Did Luke originally omit chapters 1 and 2, and begin at verse 3:1?

Capernaum or Nazareth First? - In Luke did Jesus originally go to Capernaum before he went to Nazareth, as in both Mark and Matthew?

Well Known in Galilee - Twice - Why does Jesus preach throughout Galilee both before and after Capernaum and Nazareth?

The Great Omission - Approximately 75 contigous verses of Mark (usually given as Mark 6:45-8:26) have no parallel in Luke. Why are they not present?

Luke 22:17-20 - The Last Supper - These verses have many variants, with Luke 22:19b-20 not present in some mss. What was their original form?


The Not So Great Omission - A large percentage of the text of The Great Omission that is missing in Luke also has no parallel in Matthew. What does this say about what the author of Matthew saw in Mark?

The Gospel of the Ebionites: This gospel is one of possibly three, originally written in either Hebrew or Aramaic, that may be associated with The Gospel of the Hebrews, believed by some to be the original form of Matthew's gospel.

The Synoptic Problem - The gospels attributed to Mark, Matthew, and Luke have much text in common. Which of them came first?

The MwEL Theory: A New Synoptic Solution - A possible solution to the synoptic problem based on there having been an early version of Luke.

Marcion's Gospel and the Synoptic Problem - How would the synoptic problem be impacted if Marcion's gospel of the Lord was earlier than Luke?

What Exactly is Q? - A discussion of the definition of the contents of the hypothetical synoptic source document Q.

The Making of the Double Tradition - How did Matthew and Luke get to contain so much common text that is not in Mark?

Evidence of Q? - Have portions of Q been 'hiding in plain sight' in fragmentary papyri assumed to have originally contained complete gospels?

Introduction to Doublets - What are doublets, and why are they important factors in the synoptic problem?

Doublets - The study of those places at which one or other synoptic gospel contains two very similar pieces of text, broken down according to how a doublet relates to parallel text in the other synoptic gospels.

Divorce and Doublets - What have doublets to do with the restrictions on divorce in the synoptic gospels?

Doublets, the Double Tradition, and Q - The Significance of Doublets in Double Tradition Text

Synoptic Hypotheses and Authors - The divisions into which we categorize the text of the synoptic gospels can only have been known by at most one of their authors.

Stylometric Analysis - The study of linguistic style to analyze texts for evidence of authenticity, authorial identity, directionality, etc.

Stylometrics And The Synoptic Problem - An analysis of the synoptic gospels by looking at the frequency with which words are used.


Marcion's Apostolicon: The Pauline Epistles - Did Marcion edit Paul's letters, or is it possible that Marcion's versions are simply earlier, and perhaps drafts?

The Order of the Paulines - Why is the original order of Paul's epistles not what we see in bibles today?

The Contents of Codex P46 - P46 is an early papyrus codex of many of the Pauline epistles. The end is damaged, so what did the missing pages contain?

The Western Text - There are a number of Greek, Syriac, and (predominately) Old Latin mss of the New Testament that contain a text-type with unusual characteristic readings, some of which may well be older than those found in almost all Bibles.