Robert J. Miller writes:
Please, Bob--Dear John!
RJM: Re the historical Jesus, I fully agree with your position that literary
history cannot be used as any simple indicator of historicity (just because
it's early doesn't mean it's authentic Jesus material and just because it's
late doesn't mean it's inauthentic). But that does not entail that the
stratification of Q into earlier and later layers cannot be a rough guide
for historical questions. I don't mean this in reference to individual
sayings, but rather to the characaterization of the strata as wholes.
An early sapiential Q1 followed by a later apocalyptic Q2 (in whatever sense
we can characterize Q2 as "apocalyptic") seems to me a powerful clue about
the character of the teaching and mission of the historical Jesus. You have
well explained how a sapiential movement can develop an apocalyptic outlook.
But how do we explain the sapiential quality of Q1 itself? It is not
difficult to reconstruct plausible scenarios for how an apocalyptic outlook
(Paul, Mark, others) developed even if Jesus was himself non-apocalyptic.
But it is perplexing the other way around. If Jesus was an apocalyptic
figure, how do we account for Q1? The easiest explanation is that Q1
continues the sapiential and non-apocalyptic orientation of Jesus. This is
for me a strong argument that Jesus was not apocalyptic. Again, this is not
an argument about this or that saying, but about the general character of a
JSKV: I think your distinction between individual sayings and the
characterization of strata as a whole is helpful. At least it avoids the
simplistic equation of Q1=authentic; Q2=nonauthentic, when applied to
individual sayings. You are right, I think, that it would be rather
difficult to derive Q1 from an "apocalyptic" Q2 (more on the word
apocalyptic below). To be more precise, however, I think that what I did in
FORMATION and to a lesser extent in ExQ was simply to suggest that the Q1 ->
Q2 transition might be explained in two complementary ways: (a) there are
some material similarities between the two in the sense that there are
sapiential elements in both, though the sapiential elements *function*
differently in Q2, and (b) Q2 seems to respond to the issue of the *ethos*
of Jesus and to be concerned with defence of that ethos in way that Q1 is
not, and that this new interest might be seen as a response to failure,
criticism, or the like. Thus it wasn't an attempt to derive apocalyptic from
wisdom, but to account for the differing rhetorical stances of the two
I'd be interested in hearing from you just how you would use the principle
you articulate (about the characterization of the two layers in general) to
deal with the authenticity question a propos of individual sayings. I ask
you, since you've done a lot more on historical Jesus than I have. But I
wonder whether *in practice* it would simply modulate into a more simplistic
argument. Or is there something that i've missed in what you say?
I am also leary about the term "apocalyptic" as a characterization of Q2,
though I know that the stratigraphy in FORMATION has been schematized as
wisdom/apocalyptic. In ExQ I've taken care to make clear that this is *not*
how I would describe the two strata and that is certainly does not provide a
criterion for strata delineation. You, I know, understand this perfectly
well. But I wouldn't call most of Q2 apocalyptic at all, and some of it--Q
17:23-37--is virtually anti-apocalyptic. If you mean strongly futuristic,
ok. But there is also futuristic language in Q1. What I don't see in Q (1 or
2) is the anomie that i think is fundamental to apocalyptic thinking.
Let me ask you about a specific Q2 saying. What would you do with Q
11:31-32, which has a resurrection, future judgment, and condemnation of
this generation. In some contexts, I suppose, this could belong to an
apocalyptic document like 1 Enoch; but Q isn't of that character. Q 11:31-32
uses the motif of the shaming of persons by others, unexpectedly exalted
(like the wise man in Wisdom 5). I don't see anything any apriori reason to
think that Jesus did not speak abou the judgment (you don't have to be an
apocalypticist to do that) or resurrection, or he might have invoked such
tropes. I do think that we have a problem on our hands if there is too much
of a discontinuity between the strata of Q, for in that case we have to
explain how the tradents of Q could tolerate so radical a shift in what it
implies about the speaker. Sure, redaction does shift characterization, as a
simple comparison of Mark and Matthew indicates. But I'd like to hear from
you just how much a change you imagine between Q1 and Q2.
I realize that this is supposed to be a discussion of ExQ (which actually
doesn't deal with the historical Jesus anyway), but you've opened a question
that in some sense i'm implicated in, but you, Bob Funk, and others are far
more expert at this than me.
This is the _Excavating Q_ Seminar (Oct. 23 -- Nov. 10 2000).
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