Dr. Kloppenborg Verbin,
I am greatly enjoying reading _Excavating Q_ and want to add my voice to
those who have already expressed their appreciation for your time given to
I have both a comment and a question. First the comment, in response to the
following which you wrote in response to David Hindley:
> The methodological problem is that we don't have any access to the Jesus
> tradition independent of our earliest (somewhat tendentious) sources (Q,
> Mark, Thomas, bits of Paul, bits of James, some Sondergut), and it is
> problematic to *assume* that the "Jesus" behind these was a "radical" but
> that Q1, Mark, Thomas and the others all toned that down so that his
> original character is no longer really visible. I'd prefer to begin with
> rhetorical construals of Jesus present in Q, Mark, James, Thomas, etc. and
> look for commonalities, both explicit and implicit.
I believe there is a close connection between your preference for "looking
for commonalities" in "our earliest (somewhat tendentious) sources" and what
Dean Pielstuck was referring to the other day regarding Crossan's Common
Sayings Tradition--that is, those 37 sayings common to both Q and the Gospel
of Thomas. Using your stratigraphy of Q (Q1 sapiential; Q2 apocalyptic)and
Arnal's stratigraphy of Thomas (first strand, sapiential; second strand,
Gnostic) and Patterson's comparative stratigraphy of Q and Thomas, Crossan
concludes in agreement with Patterson, "the original Common Sayings
Tradition contained neither Gnosticism nor apocalypticism but required
adaptation toward either or both of those eschatologies." (_The Birth of
Christianity_, p. 255) And he sets out to explore a question posed first by
Patterson: "If Q and Thomas lie on diverging trajectories each grounded in,
yet moving away from, an early sapiential tradition, what can be said about
this early tradition itself?" (cited by Crossan, TBoC, 255). (I won't give
away the ending!)
Second, a question (or two): Your discussion of the genre of Q1 presents a
close "'family resemblance' between Q and other documents typically
designated 'instructions'" (159). You also mention the brief narrative
framing of Q2 as characteristic of chria. My question concerns the
relationship between those two named genre: Are instructions and chriae
collections considered two distinct genre, yet sometimes sharing common
features (you mention that both often begin with an ordeal or test of the
sage)? And what of the term that one frequently encounters these days,
"sayings gospel"? Does that enter the discussion of genre, or is that a
descriptive term of another (theologically less neutral!) order?
Cumberland Foreside, Maine
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
This is the _Excavating Q_ Seminar (Oct. 23 -- Nov. 10 2000).
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