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Getting to Know Your Synopsis
1. Buy the Book
Although various kinds of computer software are available for biblical studies, the very best resource for comparing the synoptic gospels is still a book. A synopsis of the gospels is a reference book that aligns similar texts in parallel columns so you may easily compare and contrast how the same story is narrated by each evangelist.
In my classes on the synoptic gospels, I require purchase of a synopsis edited by Kurt Aland and published in the US by the United Bible Societies. The English-only version costs less than $20. and is available from places like the Luther Seminary Bookstore and Amazon.
In what follows, I am assuming you have access to an Aland synopsis, whether Greek, Greek-English, or English. The directions here will make sense with any of these.
2. Start with the Index
Questions on this section? Explore further by looking at a sample index page.
It might be easiest to get to know your synopsis by starting at the back of the book. On page 341 an Index of the Gospel Parallels begins. This is a table of contents for the synopsis. Notice some things about the page:
What is a pericope?
Each pericope has a number. The Prologue is "no. 1." John the Baptist is "no. 13," and so on. These numbers are also on the inside margins of each index page.
Each segment of the story has a title, such as "The Baptism of Jesus" (no. 18), or "The Call of the First Disciples" (no. 21).
Columns of Bible References
The four columns headed, "Matt., Mark, Luke, John" each have references to biblical texts in them. Sometimes these references are in bold face type. Sometimes they are in regular type. Sometimes they are in smaller type.
At the far right hand side of the index page are page numbers for the pericopes listed. If your experience is at all parallel to mine, you will confuse pericope numbers and page numbers for the rest of your life. This book is a great tool, but it's not completely fool proof!
3. Look at a Page in the Synopsis
Questions on this section? Explore further by looking at a sample synopsis page.
Take a look at p. 14. By the way, if you have an English/Greek synopsis,
you will notice that you actually have two pages numbered 14, side
by side. One of them is in Greek and one in English.
At the top of the page, you'll find:
New Testament Texts
Pages of the Synopsis
At the top of each pericope, you'll find:
Other things on the page:
Who invited John?
What's Next: Sample Pages
If you did not follow the links above to sample pages, you get another chance here! The next button takes you to sample pages. After them, we move to coloring your synopsis.
Into the New Testament by Mary Hinkle Shore is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.