Q Baptism?, was Re: non-Markan material in Matthew and Luke
- At 06:42 3/9/98 -0500, John S. Kloppenborg wrote:
>some have posited a QIn the fine tradition of Internet mailing lists of responding to a side
>baptismal pericope to account for the MAs in that section (I not among
comment, I think that a good case can be made for a Mark/Q overlap in the
Baptism. Although much of the previous arguments for the Baptism being a
Mark/Q overlap have centered on (a) the presence of agreements between
Matthew and Luke against Mark, (b) the linkage with the Temptation, and
even (c) the Western text of Lk3:22, I would like to contribute an
additional argument: corroboration by evidence of Matthean conflation.
For a four-color Greek synopsis of the passage in vertical columns, the
reader may consult my web page at
The following remarks are adapted from an article I wrote for Crosstalk
a year and a half ago:
If Q had a Baptism, then Q and Mark would overlap, so it seems fruitful
to look for signs of a Mark/Q overlap in the Baptism. This may seem
to be methodologically a daunting task, but the Two Source Hypothesis
promises predictions on what patterns of data we should see from a
candidate overlap text, consistent with the behavior of Matthew and Luke
in other, more secure Mark/Q overlap passages. If there is an overlap,
we should expect to see Luke's adoption of the Q version (more or less),
but see Matthew's conflation of Q and Mark. This means that we should be
able to locate the following features in a real Mark/Q overlap:
(1) Unlike the rest of the Markan tradition, there is a greater
prevalence of agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark
in wording and ideas [I term them "anti-Markan agreements"].
(2) Luke generally holds true to Q at the expense of Mark; thus there
is a lesser prevalence of agreements between Luke and Mark against
(3) There are indications that Matthew is conflating two sources,
viz. Mark and Q, which manifests in the text of Matthew as a
conjunction of agreements against Mark and agreements against
When we examine the pericope of the Baptism of Jesus (Mt3:13-17 =
Mk1:9-11 = Lk3:21-22), we find not a few examples of these Mark/Q
overlap features in such a short space.
In both Matthew (v16) and Luke (v21), but not Mark (v9), Jesus is
the explicit subject for the participle "was being baptized" (in a
different case). Mark's subject is implied from previous clause
that Jesus came from Nazareth, to which Matthew, not Luke, has a
parallel. Matthew has two occurrences of the name Jesus, one
corresponding to Mark's use and one to Luke's use, suggesting that
the Matthew is conflating texts.
Matthew (v16) and Luke (v22) agree in putting KATABAINW "coming down"
(albeit with different verb forms) before hWS(EI) PERISTERAN "as a
dove" while Mark (v10) places it afterward. This is one of the well
known anti-Markan agreements, but Matthew, not Luke, has a parallel to
Mark's text in placing a participle of motion ERCOMENON "alighting"
(cf. Mark's KATABAINON "coming down") after the reference to the dove.
Thus, not only is there an anti-Markan agreement, but Matthew agrees
with both Mark and Luke separately, further strengthening the
evidence for conflation.
The object of the concept of seeing is another anti-Markan agreement:
the skies versus the Holy Spirit. In Mark (v10), Jesus sees the skies
open, but in Matthew (v16) he sees (EIDEN) the Holy Spirit and in Luke
(v22) the Holy Spirit is implicitly seen, as an image (EIDOS). Moreover,
in this anti-Markan agreement as in the previous two, there is also an
indication that Matthew conflates: it has an IDOU ("behold!" another
form of EIDEN) corresponding to Mark's EIDEN.
The additional agreements against Mark are well-known. Strikingly,
Matthew (v16) and Luke (v21) agree against Mark in saying that the
heaven(s) "opened" (ANOIGW) while Mark (v10) says "split" (SCIZW).
The other two minor agreements do not prove much on their own weight
but add to the cumulative argument. Matthew and Luke agree in the
choice of the preposition to describe the landing of the Holy Spirit
"upon" (EPI) vs. "unto" (EIS) Jesus. Also, Matthew and Luke, but
not Mark, both say that someone (Jesus or people) were to be baptized,
BAPTISQHNAI, in their introductions.
So, not only is there evidence of agreements against Mark between
Matthew and Luke in the Baptism, but they are associated with some
indications of Matthew's conflating Mark and a Lukan textform (Q).
The second feature, the relative lack of agreements between Luke and
Mark against Matthew also helps to confirm the suspicion that there
is a Mark/Q overlap in the Baptism. In a Mark/Q overlap it is less
common to see Mark and Luke agree against Matthew in adding new material,
and we don't see any of that here. As for the four minor agreements of
Luke and Mark against Matthew, they are trivial indeed: for example,
Luke's and Mark's KAI versus Matthew's DE, which is a probable redaction
on Matthew's part due to his addition of vv14-15.
The placement of the Baptism in Q is not in the least problematic. It
serves as a transition from introducing John to the Temptation narrative.
The exordium of Q would otherwise be more disjointed and incoherent.
Ordinarily, Q is more a collection of sayings than narrative, yet Q's
beginning is consistent with that of other sayings collections, which
can include a brief narrative introduction.
The inclusion of much John the Baptist material in a collection of
Jesus' sayings is less difficult if one supposes that the figure of
John is somehow meant to validate Jesus's status (as his disciple?).
Thus, some explicit connection between the two of them is helpful to
that end. Not only does the Baptism help to connect John to Jesus, but
the Baptism sets up the Temptation with the questions "if you are
really the Son of God, ..." (Q 4:3 9).
These considerations are self-reinforcing. A close source critical
analysis indicates that this is a possible Mark/Q overlap, and,
independently, a simple literary criticism of Q also suggests that
a Baptism is fitting for Q.
Stephen C. Carlson : Poetry speaks of aspirations,
scarlson@... : and songs chant the words.
http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/ : -- Shujing 2.35
- At 11:22 PM 3/9/98, Stephen C. Carlson wrote:
> [...]Hello Stephen,
>In both Matthew (v16) and Luke (v21), but not Mark (v9), Jesus is
>the explicit subject for the participle "was being baptized" (in a
>different case). Mark's subject is implied from previous clause
>that Jesus came from Nazareth, to which Matthew, not Luke, has a
>parallel. Matthew has two occurrences of the name Jesus, one
>corresponding to Mark's use and one to Luke's use, suggesting that
>the Matthew is conflating texts.
Thanks BTW for having helped establish this list.
In your conflation argument, you really need to distinguish between the
writer of Matthew and its translator into Greek. If the early church
fathers and Papias were right, Matthew first came out in Hebraic. In that
case there was a later translator of it into Greek. As like as not, the
translation would not have been made until after both Mark and Luke
appeared. Then it may have been this translator who was the conflator,
though the writer of Luke had used (Hebraic) Matthew.
- Stephen Carlson wrote:
> The placement of the Baptism in Q is not in the least problematic.Stephen -- I enjoyed your comments very much. I wonder if I too
> It serves as a transition from introducing John to the Temptation
> narrative. The exordium of Q would otherwise be more disjointed and
> incoherent. Ordinarily, Q is more a collection of sayings than
> narrative, yet Q's beginning is consistent with that of other
> sayings collections, which can include a brief narrative
> The inclusion of much John the Baptist material in a collection of
> Jesus' sayings is less difficult if one supposes that the figure of
> John is somehow meant to validate Jesus's status (as his disciple?).
> Thus, some explicit connection between the two of them is helpful to
> that end. Not only does the Baptism help to connect John to Jesus,
> but the Baptism sets up the Temptation with the questions "if you
> are really the Son of God, ..." (Q 4:3 9).
might pick up on a passing comment. How far it is the case that Q
has a "brief narrative introduction"? Is it not rather (at least in
its final form) suffused with narrative? Consider, to begin with,
Q 3.2-3: appearance of John the Baptist in region of the Jordan
Q 3.21-22: Jesus is baptized by John
Q 4.1-13: Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be
tempted by the devil who then leaves him
Q 4.16 Jesus is in Nazara [though only given a C rating by the IQP]
Q 6.20 (etc.): Jesus addresses his disciples
Q 7.1: after finishing his sermon, Jesus enters Capharnaum
Q 7.2-10: Jesus heals a Centurion's boy
Q.7.18-35: John sends disciples to Jesus with a question, which Jesus
The interesting thing to me is not only the number of narrative
settings for the material but also the clear narrative sequence.
Clearly John has to have been introduced (3.2-3) before one can have
his preaching. Likewise, his identity is taken for granted in the
baptism of Jesus (3.21-22) just as Jesus' identity as Son of God
(3.21-22) is taken for granted in the Temptation narrative (4.1-13,
"If you are . . .", as you point out). John's arrest and
imprisonment (clearly subsequent to John's ministry) is taken for
granted in 7.18-35, which pericope itself takes for granted a period
of preaching and healing by Jesus (provided in 6.20ff, 7.1ff etc.).
One cannot help thinking that it is an oversimplification to
characterise Q as a "sayings collection" when one has such clear
signs not only of narrative settings but also of narrative sequence
With good wishes
Dr Mark Goodacre M.S.Goodacre@...
Dept. of Theology, University of Birmingham