RE: [GTh] "What is Q"
Pardon the delay but I have been preoccupied with some other
matters. Also, I'm very surprised someone else didn't offer an
answer to your question.
Sorry to be ignorant, but....... what exactly is "Q"?
Q is the name scholars have assigned to a text that is
presupposed to have been used by the persons who wrote the
canonical gospels known as Matthew and Luke.
There is some disagreement about the extent of this text and the
way in which various researchers have reconstructed it. If you
wish to read more extensively about Q I recommend a book by
Burton L. Mack. _The Lost Gospel_. (San Francisco:
HarperSanFrancisco, 1993). This as about the most concise AND
readable book I can think of as an introduction.
Humble Maine Woodsman
From: Aryad [mailto:aryad42001@...]
Sent: Monday, July 30, 2001 12:58 PM
Subject: Re: [GTh] Digest Number 283
Sorry to be ignorant, but....... what exactly is "Q"?
Thanks in advance
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- On 1 Aug 2001, at 18:45, Rick Hubbard wrote:
> There is some disagreement about the extent of this text and theThere is also disagreement about the existence of this hypothetical
> way in which various researchers have reconstructed it. If you
> wish to read more extensively about Q I recommend a book by
> Burton L. Mack. _The Lost Gospel_. (San Francisco:
> HarperSanFrancisco, 1993). This as about the most concise AND
> readable book I can think of as an introduction.
document. I have provided an introduction to some of the issues
involved on my web site on Marcan Priority without Q
(http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/q/) and there is an annotated list
of web materials on the Synoptic Problem and Q on the New
Testament Gateway at http://www.ntgateway.com/synoptic.
I agree that Mack's book is concise and readable. Indeed it is
enjoyably imaginative, like all of Mack's writing. In my opinion it is
probably not the ideal introduction to the topic, however, since it
does not give an adequate account of the role Q plays in the
Synoptic Problem and scarcely hints that the document is an
hypothetical one. For a useful introduction to the Synoptic
Problem, I would recommend Sanders and Davies's _Studying the
Synoptic Gospels_. For an excellent discussion of many of the
key aspects in Q research, I would recommend John S.
Kloppenborg Verbin's _Excavating Q_.
Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
University of Birmingham fax: +44 121 414 6866
Birmingham B15 2TT
The New Testament Gateway
- First, two apologies: I was unaware that Peter Kirby had
previously responded to Andrew's question, so my own note may
have caused some confusion. Also, my apology for the delay in
responding to Mark's recent post (as an alibi I'll offer that it
has to do with my fascination over a big bass who lives in the
river behind my house. So far this year I've fed him about $40
worth of lures, so I figure in a few more weeks I'll be able to
catch him with a rope and a magnet. Meanwhile I keep trying more
Although I tried to be as "neutral" as possible in my answer to
Andrew's question about Q, it was probably inevitable that
someone would haul me to task. Mark Goodacre wrote:
There is also disagreement about the existence of this
Mark is correct. There indeed is an abundance of qualified
scholars, as well as many non-specialists, who dispute the very
existence of Q (and therefore, certainly, its reconstruction).
There are also a great many equally well-qualified scholars who
hold the opposite view-- that Q does exist. Mark Goodacre is, of
course, an articulate member of the former group.
The current discussions about Q revolve around a host of highly
complex issues and arguments. It seems to me that those who are
not well-informed about the subject would be well advised stay
out of the debate (which is one of the reasons why I have very
little to say about the matter). Nevertheless, anyone who is
interested in the history of the development of Christianity will
almost certainly be obligated to migrate to one "Q pole" or the
other. Some decision is almost mandatory. Consequently, one's
final judgment on the matter will very likely depend on which
"side" of the debate is the most persuasive AND on the shape of
one's own biases.
The influence of biases (or proclivities, or presuppositions, or
assumptions, or what ever else they may be called) cannot be
underestimated. For example Burton Mack, in his book, _The Lost
Gospel_, suggests that the Q hypothesis is a byproduct of
Reformation Christianity's effort to recover "original
Christianity's" primal form from the NT Gospels. The bias at work
behind this strategy, if I read Mack correctly, was that the
Catholic church had somehow gotten the core message of
Christianity "wrong" during 15 centuries of hegemony. Whether or
not his assertion is correct is not important. What is important
is that the tactical approach of these early researchers relied
almost exclusively on a literary analysis of the gospels. Biases
seek approaches that are ideologically compatible.
From almost the very beginning of their inquiry, early
researchers recognized that three of the four gospels in the New
Testament exhibited some undeniable similarity in wording and in
order. They noticed also that two of the gospels, Matthew and
Luke, always followed the order and wording of the third (Mark)
except in certain cases. When Matthew and Luke deviated from Mark
(in either wording or order of events) they tended to agree with
each other. This led some influential scholars to suggest that
the authors of Luke and Matthew used a form of Mark to write
their gospels IN ADDITION TO another source which they knew, but
perhaps Mark did not know (that source ultimately was designated
simply as Q). In some respects, the results of the investigation
backfired. Instead of being able to neatly separate the strands
of early Christianity from the biblical gospels, suddenly
evidence was introduced that another text lay behind the synoptic
Early on, the line of demarcation between advocates and opponents
of the Q hypothesis seems to have been drawn along confessional
lines. In general, opponents were those who simply choked on the
idea that anyone would dare call into question the integrity of
the gospels. The boundary between present -day advocates and
opponents is much less ideological, but nevertheless it is
sometimes still helpful to know what biases are present (for both
opponents and advocates). In other words, are the arguments and
objections of both sides purely objective or do they disclose
some confessional agenda?
Personally, I am ambivalent about the entire matter. I am
convinced however, that other (non-canonical) traditions about
Jesus circulated in the first century Mediterranean basin, and
that clusters of these traditions were favored by discrete
communities of people whose social circumstances were unique. The
traditions that have been preserved in the biblical canon do not
represent the only show that was in town, nor were the
communities in which they were curated the only one's with an
interest in Jesus. The clearest evidence of this presence is GTh.
At least half of the content of Thomas is unique. Moreover what
GTh does **not** contain, namely any mention of the
Passion-Execution-Resurrection cycle, demonstrates that there was
a community in which Jesus was an important figure, but not
necessarily as a messiah, son of God or risen Lord. It is
becoming increasingly clear that this same community had a social
setting that can only be described as "counter-cultural." In
addition, Raymond E. Brown has suggested quite convincingly that
the Johannine community was theologically and socially distinct
from other Jesus-oriented groups. Other scholars have
characterized the Johannines also as counter-cultural. It is
therefore, in my thinking, completely plausible that there could
have been any number of other communities that collected their
favorite Jesus traditions and committed them to writing. The
community that is presupposed by the Q hypothesis would therefore
not be an anomaly. The question therefore revolves almost
exclusively around a documentary approach that has become so
technical and complex that I am frankly bewildered by it.
This much I can say: I own two books that contain what is alleged
to be reconstructed texts of Q (_The Critical Edition of Q_ and
_Q Parallels_). If somebody walked into my office and asked
whether Q exists, all I would need to do is hand them either
book. The decision thereafter is theirs alone.
Humble Maine Woodsman
- At 10:56 AM 8/4/01 -0400, Rick Hubbard wrote:
>Early on, the line of demarcation between advocates and opponentsI disagree. The radical Tübingen school under F. C. Baur, who
>of the Q hypothesis seems to have been drawn along confessional
>lines. In general, opponents were those who simply choked on the
>idea that anyone would dare call into question the integrity of
called into question the integrity of nearly the entire New
Testament, had no use for Q.
>The boundary between present -day advocates andYour point is both helpful and unhelpful. It is always a good
>opponents is much less ideological, but nevertheless it is
>sometimes still helpful to know what biases are present (for both
>opponents and advocates). In other words, are the arguments and
>objections of both sides purely objective or do they disclose
>some confessional agenda?
idea to examine the biases of anyone who is making an argument,
but it is unfair to single out "some confessional agenda" as
the culprit. There are many other kinds biases, basically as
preconceptions in how early Christianity had to develop that
are not directly related to articles of the faith.
Among Q skeptics, there is a great range of diverse religious
beliefs, spanning the gamut from Farrer to Goulder, with Spong
in between. As a result, I don't see a confessional agenda
being a major factor in their healthy skepticism.
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