Augustinian or Two-Gospel?

On this website, my focus is on the early publication of Matthew’s Gospel, as the first Gospel to be published. Yet, among those who advocate for Matthew as the first Gospel, there are two main camps. Those subscribing to the Augustinian theory, as it is often called, affirm a Matthew, Mark, Luke, John publication sequence. Those subscribing to the Two-Gospel theory affirm a Matthew, Luke, Mark, John publication sequence.

Personally, I prefer the Augustinian ordering: (1) as I find greater support for such within the writings of the church fathers, especially when Irenaeus is not discounted due to his difficult statements;1 (2) as there was an early need for a Gospel like Mark, in support of the Latin believers of Caesarea Maritima (Acts 10);2 and (3) as I don’t put much weight on textual comparisons between the Synoptics as providing a meaningful basis for ordering, and these comparisons often underlie Two-Gospel arguments.3 We’ll get into my perspective on textual comparisons in a later post.

Nonetheless, I do find common-cause with Two-Source advocates who not only affirm Matthean priority, but also the early dating of such. And from an apologetic and trustworthiness-enhancing standpoint, this is far more important to contend for in my opinion, than debating over which Gospel came second and third.


  1. See ↩︎
  2. Note that Clement asserts that it was those who heard Peter preach “the Word publicly at Rome” who then requested that Mark write out “his sayings.” Per my determination that “at Rome” refers to Peter’s preaching in Caesarea Maritima, we thus have evidence in Clement for an early Mark. Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.14.5–7. Also see Thomas R. Birks, Horae Evangelicae: The Internal Evidence of the Gospel History, ed. H. A. Birks (London: George Bell & Sons, 1892), 281–282, 293, 313. ↩︎
  3. For example, William R. Farmer, “The Case for the Two-Gospel Hypothesis,” in Rethinking the Synoptic Problem, ed. David Alan Black and David R. Beck (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), 97–135; David Barrett Peabody, “The Two Gospel Hypothesis,” in The Synoptic Problem: Four Views, ed. Stanley E. Porter and Bryan R. Dyer (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016), 67–88; John H. Niemelä, “The Case for the Two-Gospel View of Gospel Origins,” in Three Views on the Origins of the Synoptic Gospels, ed. Robert L. Thomas (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2002), 126–97. ↩︎