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Jacobson on Q

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  • Ron Price
    After complaining that Q scholars didn t treat Q scientifically, i.e. take the 2ST as a hypothesis and check its predictions, I was referred to Jacobson s
    Message 1 of 16 , May 20, 2004
      After complaining that Q scholars didn't treat Q scientifically, i.e. take
      the 2ST as a hypothesis and check its predictions, I was referred to
      Jacobson's article _The Literary Unity of Q_ in JBL 101/3 (1982) 365-389.

      To his credit, Jacobson did attempt to set the philosophical scene. But he
      did so, in my opinion, incorrectly.

      "... A source hypothesis has no predictive power. Since it cannot predict
      anything, it cannot be tested and falsified in the way ordinary scientific
      hypotheses can be tested and falsified." (p.366, n.4)

      But a source hypothesis *does* have predictive power. For instance the Two
      Source Theory, based on Luke's ignorance of Matthew, predicts that the
      double tradition (with perhaps a few small additions) once existed as a
      stand-alone document. Whether the testing is like that of scientific
      hypotheses seems to depend on the interpretation of the word "ordinary".
      However that may be, Jacobson's denial of testability and falsifiability
      let him off the hook. From that point on he could set aside any worry that
      his investigation might undermine the basis for Q. How convenient.
      Yet curiously he seemed almost to come full circle when five pages later
      he added: "If this double tradition material came from a single document,
      then it would be reasonable to expect the material to give some evidence of
      literary unity." The difference is that now he was in a safer world, where
      failure need not be contemplated.

      After several more pages of argumentation, he concludes that " ... the
      deuteronomistic tradition provides the theological framework for Q" (p.386).

      This would give it a degree of coherence. But how much? Insofar as the
      deuteronomic characteristic is uniform, the removal of one or more pericopes
      will not affect the coherence. This means it doesn't stick together very
      well. For in a strongly coherent document, the removal of pericopes will
      almost certainly shatter the coherence. Perhaps a small degree of coherence
      is better than nothing.

      But the deuteronomistic characteristic is evidently not uniform. For
      he goes on to perceive the imposing of a deuteronomistic-Wisdom layer on a
      Son of Man layer (p.388), and "the beginning of a tradition history of Q"
      The ink on his defence of the literary unity of Q is not yet dry, and
      already he perceives a multi-layered document. Well is it a literary unity
      or isn't it? Jacobson can't have his cake and eat it, at least not in any
      self-consistent view.

      Ron Price

      Derbyshire, UK

      Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
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