At 02:20 PM 8/29/01 -0500, William Arnal wrote:
>Okay, as Stephen Carlson has already indicated, this forum is not the best
>place for a detailed consideration of such as issues as a Q baptism.
>Moreover, the issue is tangential to (though unquestionably important to) a
>discussion of the historicity of the baptism, and has departed somewhat from
>that topic. Nonetheless, Stephen has raised some points that deserve to be
>addressed, and I don't want to leave the issue where it curremntly stands.
>So . . .
Thanks, Bill, for your detailed remarks. Naturally, I have
a different perspective. For example, most of the so-called
anomalies that you've brought are with the older parts of Q.
However, Q is a stratified document, and the Q baptism should
be judged in accordance with the layer of redaction it belongs
to. As you know, each layer of Q3 has a different implied
audience and a different set of preferred forms.
The links within Q that the Q baptism has are with the temptation,
suggesting that the Q baptism belongs to the Q3 stratum, and
so some differences with the earlier layers are to be expected,
just as Q3 already has some differences and tensions with its
earlier layers. Therefore, although you have pointed out some
possible tensions with other parts of Q, their significance is
not sufficient enough, on balance, to discount the strength of
the Q baptism's coherence with the temptation, a necessary part
But... rather than get into a point-by-point rebuttal of every
point that you've raised, I would like to shift the topic back
to the issue whether the baptism of Jesus by John is a Markan
It is clear that the nub of our disagreement over the Q baptism
is in the level of the burden of proof in assigning material to
Q. My position is that the level ought to be "more probable than
not," and it appears that your position is that it should be "pretty
near overwhelming." Furthermore, it seems that a Q baptism is
one of those cases in which the level of the burden makes a
difference. I agree that the evidence is not "pretty near
overwhelming," but I also agree with the IQP that, on balance,
the evidence is such that its inclusion in Q is "more probable
How does this affect the analysis over whether the baptism is
a Markan creation?
Given the usual dates for Q and Mark, a Q baptism shows that
the baptism pre-existed the composition of Mark, contradicting
the view that Mark created it. This is where the level of the
burden of proof for the Q baptism is crucial.
I argue the proper level for all historical judgments is "more
probable than not." The view that the baptism is a Markan
creation ought to be judged on that basis -- the same basis
I use to analyze the Q baptism.
If, on the other hand, the level of the burden were "pretty
near overwhelming," then the Markan creation thesis cannot
be sustained. The strongest evidence that has been adduced
is that the Markan baptism is conducive to Mark's aims. It
is possible that Mark could have created it, but it is just
as possible that Mark could have selected it from his
tradition. Conduciveness to Mark's aims is simply not enough
of a reason to be "pretty near overwhelming" evidence of it.
How does the Markan creation thesis fare under the more
appropriate "more probable than not" standard? If it is
more probable than not that the baptism predated Mark,
due to its probable inclusion in Q, then it is less probable
than not that the baptism is a Markan creation. Therefore,
it would not fare well under this standard as well.
What if the Q baptism is judged on the "pretty near
overwhelming" standard, but the Markan creation thesis
is not judged so stringently? Then, the latter thesis may
well pass muster, if there are no other credible
Thus, it appears that the Markan creation thesis can
only be sustained by insisting on a higher level of proof
for its counterevidence (the Q baptism) than for itself,
but I see no reason why such an evidentiary double
standard is warranted in this case.
Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
"Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35