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RE: Q on Tape

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  • Don Spencer
    On Wednesday, July 08, 1998 11:17 AM, Mike Bossingham ... Right, I don t think many of us have any problems with the provenance of Q. But I wonder whether the
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 8, 1998
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      On Wednesday, July 08, 1998 11:17 AM, Mike Bossingham
      [SMTP:MikeBossingham@...] wrote:
      > Right, back to basics.
      >
      > Q is a hypothetical document expounded by one particular solution
      > to the Synoptic problem. It has never been found, its content is
      > deduced from the other Gospels. It's existence is now increasingly
      > being questioned.

      Right, I don't think many of us have any problems with the provenance of
      Q. But I wonder whether the implied concern about the tape edition of Q
      betrays an ambivalence on the part of scholars about the role of public
      debate. Q has been, rightly or wrongly, a scholarly preserve for 150
      years. We now hear about Q on TV, radio, occasionally even from the
      pulpit, and now from our Walkman or car audio system. Ownership of *this*
      synoptic solution is no longer isolated to those in academia. Questions
      about whether the great unwashed have the intellectual capacity to handle
      the nuances of the debate seems to me to be the general response among
      scholars.

      >
      > I have no problem with the media on which it appears, that is
      > irrelevant. The problem is that the words seem to describe it
      > as a concrete and known document. This kind of sickly writing
      > promotes Q beyond its value in the eyes of many of the
      > listeners and readers minds.
      >

      I think it useful for us to remember another thing. Q is important not
      *just* because it is a solution to the synoptic problem. It is part of
      other contexts as well, one of which is general scholarly debates about
      the NT involving literary criticism, redaction criticism,
      interdisciplinary methodologies, etc.

      The broadest context is, of course, where scholars and the general public
      converge. The tape edition is a popular publication. But it leaves little
      doubt that Q is a scholarly construct, a hypothetical text whose actual
      words are not hypothetical at all, but part of the apparently familiar
      text of the synoptics. Words familiar in one context, unfamiliar in
      another. Hence the value of the tape edition. We hear them, words,
      phrases out of context, yet mysteriously provocative and insightful (yes,
      I know, this is not a scholarly evaluation, merely personal impression).
      It's part of what Mack calls "defamiliarization". Scholarly
      consternation and public fascination turn out to be pretty much the same
      thing - loss of the familiar and curiosity about the unknown.

      Shalom,

      Don Spencer
      dspencer@...

      "A high proportion of what I say is probably wrong...The only problem is
      that I do not know which bits are wrong."
      N. T. Wright
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