College of Emmanuel and St. Chad, Saskatoon, SK, Canada
This article argues that the current theories of literary dependence are unable to adequately explain the apparent differences in certain pericopes found within the Synoptic traditions. Instead, it is more reasonable to conclude that the differences are due to each Gospel writer independently consulting the oral traditions preserved by the earliest believers. The data gathered from a number of studies concerning memory reveals that people are more likely to remember the gist of a story, or event, and not the intricate details. The lapse of such detail is then conflated by imagination, a neurological process that occurs in the same part of the brain that processes memory. The result is that a person will be able to recall the gist of an event, but will recall the intricate details of the story quite differently as time passes. When applied to the Synoptic traditions, this best explains why certain pericopes that relate the same event have a high level of correspondence with regard to generalities but a very low level of grammatical correspondence.
St Olaf College, Northfield, MN, USA