We've been revisiting my old statistical study of word frequencies in
the synoptics on another list.
Original study here:
Dave Inglis has been trying out some different mathematical approaches
and we've been looking at the results. I'll spare everyone the details
of the changes, due to probable lack of interest. However, I thought it
might be of interest that some variations seem a little more favorable
to the Mark-without-Q hypothesis. I would not go so far as to say we
have conclusive evidence, but it did get me thinking about the problem
I had suggested a "Q forgery scenario" here:
But I think I may now have a simpler suggestion along the same lines.
Let's suppose, as Mark Goodacre has argued and as some statistical
investigation has suggested, that Sondergut Matthew and Matthew's "Q"
material were produced by the same process - that is both were original
creations by the same author.
However, it seems to me that the very minimum sense in which a sayings
list could have existed would be in Luke's work-room. That is - even if
Luke were only working from Mark and Matthew, the process would require
that he go through Matthew, write down things he wanted (thus
momentarily producing something "Q"-like), and then rearrange and expand
the material for inclusion in his gospel.
One issue with this behavior I've questioned is that Luke seems to
respect Matthew as an early source, by carefully quoting him, but on the
other hand based on the reshuffling of the order, seems to treat Matthew
more like we would expect Luke to treat a contemporary author without
first-hand insight into the order of events.
These considerations led me to my "Q-forgery" idea. But now I see that
it need not have been so elaborate. Suppose around the year 85, someone
decides to produce a new gospel, based on Mark, but also expanding it
significantly. This author puts out the story that the additions are
based on an interview with Matthew (although this is probably not true),
and that Matthew wrote down and remembered quotes of Jesus. Given that
we have forged works in the name of Paul, this scenario seems quite
But now we have a reasonable explanation for Luke's treatment of the
gospel of Matthew. Luke knows the gospel of Matthew is a contemporary
work, based largely on a much earlier gospel - Mark, but also believes
that this new gospel also contains words of Jesus based on a direct
interview with Matthew. Thus Luke decides that his first task is to
extract those direct words from the gospel of Matthew and make a list
for himself. He then proceeds to use the earliest copy of Mark
available to him, and his newly-created list of Jesus sayings to produce
the gospel of Luke.
I would then add that some longer areas of textual agreement with are
assigned to Q, for example John's special preaching, were not added to
Luke by the original author. These were the work of other later
"authors" importing bits of Matthew into the text of Luke. These larger
bits of text look distinctly Matthian.
A while back we noted a statistically significant result. If you take
Luke's two main additions, the sermon on the plain, and the travel
narrative and look at the length of exact quotes there, and then also
look at the length of exact quotes found outside of these sections, the
difference in length is statistically significant, suggesting that these
two sets of agreements were produced by different processes. I.e. the
two main sections were produced by the original authors of Luke, whereas
the longer agreements were produced by later copyists.
Sr. Systems Engineer/Statistician
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