The Synoptic Gospels are remarkable for the extent of their similarities and the significance of their differences. There is a longstanding widely-held consensus that the explanation of these features is the Markan Priority hypothesis, which places Mark as written first of all, and then used by the other two authors.

This dissertation presents an alternative explanation of the evidence: that the Gospel of Matthew was published progressively over several decades in a series of documents, some of which were later collected and used by Luke in writing his Gospel; and then Mark wrote third, using the other two Synoptics together with the preaching of Peter. The existence of such early pre-Gospel documents is referred to by Luke in his Preface, and by Papias. The evidence is presented for the writing of such documents by the apostle Matthew and their use by Luke for the writing of his Gospel.