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 message.
As reluctant as you seem to be to be drawn into historical Jesus
questions, your work has been taken by others as a significant
resource in this pursuit. I know you have expressed dismay and
disapproval at how your stratification has been used (simplistically)
by its supporters and at how this use has been attacked by its
critics. You have made the point repeatedly that this is a
misunderstanding of your position. This point is well-taken and
those who still don't "get it" don't need to be taken seriously. I
respect and agree with your claifications, but still see historical
implications in your stratification. Your comments will be much
Robert J. Miller
This is the _Excavating Q_ Seminar (Oct. 23 -- Nov. 10 2000).
Please send your messages to Synoptic-S@...
Please send all other correspondence to Synoptic-S-Owner@...