The beginning of Q
- Most Q scholars claim that once upon a time there existed a document whose
content was virtually identical to the Double Tradition of Matthew and Luke.
Without such a claim they would be unable to write about a theology of Q,
let alone a history of the supposed layers of Q.
Yet in spite of faithfully retaining most Q pericopes, Matthew and Luke are
usually presumed to have missed out something at the beginning.
The problems are as follows (others may be able to add more):
1. Exactly how did Q begin ?
2. Why was so much space devoted to JnB ? (c.f. Tuckett, Q, p.109)
3. Who was the target of the "You brood of vipers" insult ?
4. Would "If you are the Son of God ..." in Mt 4:3 have made proper sense in
a Q without a prior declaration of Jesus' sonship (c.f. Mt 3:17) ?
No Q supporter has been able to find a satisfactory answer to these problems
which arise from the Q hypothesis of the 2ST. Yet they vanish completely on
either the FT or my radical form of the 3ST. On the latter, the sayings
source began with "Blessed are the poor ..." which was both significant (Gal
2:10) and credible (it began the Sermon on the Mount and it began the Sermon
on the Plain), and no space at all was devoted to JnB, as can be seen on the
web page below.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- To: Synoptic (GPG)
In Response To: Ron Price / On: Beginning of Q
Ron considers that certain difficultly answerable questions with Q are
solved by either the FH or his own 3ST. And they are. I would like to point
out, from the margin as it were, that they are also solved by the ETH (or
Luke A/B) approach. Herewith my answers to Ron's questions.
RON: 1. Exactly how did Q begin? / BRUCE: as an idea in the minds of
scholars, going back to Weisse (1838), but most simply expressed by Harnack,
to account for (a) common material in Mt/Lk but not in Mk, plus (b)
bidirectionality of that material. Q never actually existed, and so has no
beginning in real time.
RON: 2. Why was so much space devoted to JnB ? (c.f. Tuckett, Q, p.109) /
BRUCE: Matthew had expanded the JohnB treatment in Mk to include some of
JB's preaching, in which he makes JB target the same people Jesus targeted,
namely the Pharisees. This increased the compatibility of John/Jesus, and
solved a problem then concerning believers: Was Jesus either a mere TA for
John, or on the other hand, was he a rebel? Neither answer was comfortable.
That Jesus was in this area continuous with John, and simply carried on his
teaching (vis-à-vis Pharisees) after John's incapacitation, solved one of
the problems. The rest, the originality of Jesus, was left for the rest of
the text to handle. Luke, noticing this extension in Matthew, added it to
his own text, but then further extended the John sermon to revisit some
economic issues very close to the center of his theology. This answer can
also be framed (and has been framed) in terms of FH. No specific advantage
here, either way. All the Mt > Lk subset of the Mt/Lk common passages can
be, and have been, handled this way. It is the Mt < Lk subset that cause the
problem for FH.
RON: 3. Who was the target of the "You brood of vipers" insult? / BRUCE:
Pharisees; see above.
RON: 4. Would "If you are the Son of God ..." in Mt 4:3 have made proper
sense in a Q without a prior declaration of Jesus' sonship (c.f. Mt 3:17)? /
BRUCE: Presumably not. We can take the Matthean temptation as based on the
Markan baptism. But my own guess is that Matthew is here going in a
different direction from that implied in Mark (in Mark, the temptation looks
like a period of spiritual austerity; notice how Jesus prays during the rest
of Mark), and veering off toward his Jerusalemization interest. Luke B,
coming later and again taking over this new matter, agreed, but reversed two
of Matthew's Temptations so as to make Jerusalem climactic, thus further
reinforcing the Jerusalemization scenario. Again, this explanation does not
contradict or refute FH.
I very much agree with Ron that the JohnB material in the Mt/Lk set is a
problem for the usual scenario for Q. So are the respective Birth Narratives
(sparse in Mt, gaudily rewritten and rechoreographed in Lk). So is a lot of
stuff. As for things that are problematic for FH, these are the Lk > Mt
subset of the material. I have given several specimens in earlier notes, and
won't here repeat.
E Bruce Brooks
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
- On 8/1/2011 6:20 AM, E Bruce Brooks wrote:
> But my own guess is that Matthew is here going in aCould you please articulate what you mean by "spiritual austerity"?
> different direction from that implied in Mark (in Mark, the temptation looks
> like a period of spiritual austerity;
> notice how Jesus prays during the restHe does? How does this compare with Luke' portrayal of Jesus? And
> of Mark),
where is prayer mentioned in Mk 1:12-13?
Have you noticed the links between the Gethsemane scene in Mark and his
"testing" (NOT temptation) story? Would you call the Gethsemane scene
a period of "spiritual austerity" (what ever this phrase means). It it
not not presented as a struggle on Jesus' part to remain obedient to
both a mission and that mission's constraints?
Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
- To: Synoptic (GPG)
In Response To: Jeffrey Gibson
JEFFREY: Could you please articulate what you mean by "spiritual austerity"?
/ BRUCE: Not a new term. But in general: deprivation of the flesh (beginning
with fasting, but not limited to fasting) in the interest of cultivating a
higher consciousness or a closer contact with God. The flesh is the enemy of
the spirit. Common in the East (the ultimate source seems to be India), not
excluding the Near East. Tends to separate out as a more or less distinct
tradition within European Christianity (St John of the Cross, Meister
Eckhart, the practice of the presence of God; that stuff) and visible in the
austerity saints of earlier times (Simeon Stylites).
I had referred to how Jesus prays in the rest of Mark. JEFFREY: He does?
How does this compare with Luke's portrayal of Jesus? / BRUCE: I could get
into that (the word "spirit" becomes useful in this context; notice the
points at which Luke adds it to the beginning of the Markan Jesus story).
But it's not necessarily relevant: both Matthew and Luke drastically
reconceptualize Jesus, and geographically resituate his mission, and a whole
lot of other stuff. If we work with the rule that the Gospels must be saying
the same thing, I doubt we can find a really good reading of any one of
JEFFREY: And where is prayer mentioned in Mk 1:12-13? / BRUCE: Not a lot
even if we take the whole of Mark. But it rather stands out that whenever
Jesus seeks guidance, he goes off by himself to do it (as when deliberating
whether to leave Capernaum; his disciples finally locate him there). And in
the episode of the epileptic boy, the disciples ask why they couldn't cure
him, and Jesus answers (in effect) that some of these cures are high-voltage
matters, and require a lot of spiritual power, which they get by prayer
(Bezae and several other manuscripts add "and fasting," which is probably
textually unwarranted, but substantively in the right direction). Notice the
Woman Healed of a Flow of Blood: in that case, the energy (Chinese chi) or
spiritual power or whatever in Jesus is tapped into without even his being
aware of it: it passes by touch. He notices when it is gone - not that he
feels her touch, but that he is aware of a diminution of his "power to
heal." That power is like a fluid: it is accumulated during solitary contact
with God, and can be discharged in the form of healing.
Matthew, of course, in defiance of public convenience, makes mountains a
place for Jesus to contact humanity in the large, not to cultivate a private
relationship with God. This is part of what I mean by "reconceptualization."
He does not thereby improve on Luke (who is himself improving on Mark), who
has Jesus come down from the height before addressing the masses.
JEFFREY: Have you noticed the links between the Gethsemane scene in Mark and
his "testing" (NOT temptation) story? Would you call the Gethsemane scene
a period of "spiritual austerity?" . . . Is it not presented as a struggle
on Jesus' part to remain obedient to both a mission and that mission's
constraints? / BRUCE: Yes, it is. But this is a heavily rewritten part of
Mark (notice that in this same section we get one of the two clear
references to the Atonement doctrine, of which Mark is otherwhere innocent;
this is a very late concept). The post-Baptism "Testing" episode in Mark,
which is enigmatic as it stands (though perhaps a little less so if one has
been through a course of meditation or other personal preparation, or its
equivalent), is developed in Matthew (and following him, in Luke) as a
challenge to Jesus's commitment to his own death. That is, the original
episode is homogenized, in Matthew, with Mark's Gethsemane scene. But this
is a Jesus who has been rewritten at many points to plan his own death from
the beginning (John goes still further in the same direction, which is why a
lot of people like John: None of these worrisome inconsistencies). If we
want to catch a glimpse of any possible original Jesus, we need to push away
the later strands of the reworked tradition, and see what is left at the
As in any historical enterprise, or so I understand it.
E Bruce Brooks
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Much has been written on austerity in early Christianity, but perhaps we
could use a little more. Personally, I doubt that anyone who does not
understand austerity practices can really get the "spiritual" (meaning,
spirit possession) element in many of the early churches. You empty
yourself, so that something else can fill you. That something can heal, it
can prophesy, it can cosmically attune; it can save. It has powers greater
than the ones you have surrendered in order to acquire it. I somehow doubt
that we can read Luke adequately (to mention only Luke) while sitting down.
People might spend more time on the Apostolic literature than they seem to
do. Take the Acts of John, for instance. It is little more than a string of
miracles (and so, for that matter, is the We part of Acts, Luke's essay in
the Apostolic genre), but the typical miracle is preceded by John praying.
First the power, then its action in the world of men. Accumulation, then
discharge. Law of nature, or at least nature as it is understood by some.