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Joseph Priestley on ‘the synoptic problem’, 1780

A Harmony of the Evangelists in English; with Critical Dissertations, an Occasional Paraphrase, and Notes for the use of the Unlearned. London: J. Johnson, 1780. 4to, [ii], xxiv, 155, xxviii, 261 (p.158 misnumbered 356), [7] pp., folding engraved map of the Holy Land, contemporary gilt-panelled calf, smooth spine decorated gilt, slight loss to head, ownership signature of Francis Pratt (1771) on B2, a very nice copy.

First edition, dedicated to Richard Price. Priestley’s similar Harmony of the Evangelists in Greek was published three years earlier. Both works treat what would be known in later biblical scholarship as the ‘synoptic problem’ — that of the relation between the parallel but varying narratives in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. See Robert E. Schofield, The Enlightened Joseph Priestley: A Study of His Life and Work from 1773 to 1804, pp. 31ff.

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