The synoptic phenomenon is neither a uniquely NT issue nor a new issue, because there are many parallel stories, laws, and poems in the Hebrew Bible/OT. This study examines the literary technique of imitatio or mimesis in the classical and ancient Near Eastern worlds to see what the employment of this technique may tell us about why ancient writers reused, retold, and expanded select older works and how their early audiences may have understood these parallel stories. After discussing the esteem with which ancient writers viewed the accomplishments of earlier ages and defining what the technique of literary imitation is and is not (e.g., epitomization, inner-biblical exegesis, rewritten Bible), this article proceeds to discuss various dangers and disputes in the application of mimesis in the context of the ancient Mediterranean world (e.g., parody, plagiarism). The article concludes that study of creative imitation holds much promise for elucidating the significance of parallel laws, poems, lists, and stories in the Old and New Testaments. Scholars can gain an added appreciation of the literary craft practiced by the authors of synoptic Scriptures through an acute awareness of the techniques by which writers reworked, rewrote, and supplemented their sources.

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