22[Excavating-Q] Jesus and "Q"
- Nov 3, 2000Professor Kloppenborg-Verbin,
While I have not read extensively from the large selection of
books devoted to the synoptic problem and the analysis of
"Q", I had long ago discovered _Formation of Q_ and
immediately recognized it as perhaps the best analysis of Q
to be found. One thing that I had noticed was that you seemed
to emphasize the fact that the sayings do not necessarily
have to derive from Jesus, even if that is how Q represents
As stratified by Mack, the basic redactional layer of Q is
rather bland stuff. In a recent discussion on Mike Grondin's
"Gospel of Thomas" list (8/20/00), I suggested to Bill Arnal
that the synoptics could be perceived not so much as
instructional or devotional literature as propaganda intended to
change the perception of Jesus held by the Roman
authorities. To this effect, I quoted you as saying:
"Koester ("Apocryphal and Canonical Gospels" [HTR 73,
1980, 105-130]) suggests that Q may have circulated
anonymously at first. I do not think this is very likely in view of
Q sayings such as 6:46; 9:57-58; 10:3, etc., which virtually
demand attachment to a named sage, and more particularly,
in view of the almost universal tendency of sayings genres to
attach themselves to names sages. This obviously is no
guarantee of the ultimate authenticity of any of Q's sayings.
As in other cases, sayings from other sources may have been
borrowed by Q and placed on Jesus' lips." (_F of Q_, page
At this point Bill responded by saying:
That is a standard view in the field, i.e., that just because
material is attributed to Jesus doesn't mean he actually said
it. Kloppenborg is here just trying to avoid the straightforward
equation of literary with tradition history, i.e., he says this
because he doesn't want people to *assume* that just
because material comes from the primary stratum of Q, it
must go back to Jesus (and likewise doesn't want to promote
the assumption that just because it comes from Q2, it can't
go back to Jesus).
Whether or not Bill has accurately captured your intent when
you wrote that footnote, I would like to get a better feel for
where you think these sayings ultimately originated. I have not
had as much time as I would have liked to closely review your
book in the three weeks I have had it in my hands. So far,
though, I have not been able to put my finger on a particular
spot in _Excavating Q_ where you definitively say where you
think those sayings come from and why. Yes, you do indeed
discuss several understandings of the social location of the Q
community, but it is hard to determine what position you favor
as to origins of these sayings.
Unfortunately I have not had a chance to determine whether
this way of looking at the sayings source(s) holds water when
applied to the basic redactional level of Q according to your
stratigraphic analysis. My interest is discovering whether you
entertain the idea that some of the sayings originate outside of
the body of Jesus' teachings. If so, why were they so used? It
does not appear that Q scholars have devoted much attention
to the possible use of Q material as propaganda intended to
change outsider's perception of Jesus (i.e., make him seem
less subversive by converting him from a prophetic reformer,
say, to a harmless Cynic-like social critic). Could you perhaps
briefly comment on this possibility?
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
This is the _Excavating Q_ Seminar (Oct. 23 -- Nov. 10 2000).
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