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[Synoptic-L] A successful excavation of Q ?

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  • Ron Price
    I ve rather belatedly acquired a copy of Kloppenborg Verbin s _Excavating Q_ (Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 2000). The book is erudite and thorough (at least in the
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 6, 2002
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      I've rather belatedly acquired a copy of Kloppenborg Verbin's
      _Excavating Q_ (Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 2000). The book is erudite and
      thorough (at least in the bits he chooses to delve into), as would be
      expected from a professor. As many of you will know, I disagree with one
      of Kloppenborg's major premises as well as some of the assumptions used
      in developing his case.
      But I want to focus on the related key question of whether the
      hypothetical document presented here is so credible that it should
      silence his critics. After all, this is Kloppenborg's second major book
      on Q, so he should have had plenty of opportunity to sort out the
      problems.

      (1) In _The Formation of Q_, Kloppenborg tackled the problem of genre.
      He appeared to have scoured the ancient Near East to find examples of
      the peculiar mix of narrative and sayings in Q, and to have conluded
      that Q belongs to the genre 'chriae'. At last the genre problem was
      solved. Or was it? Strangely, in the "Conclusion" (ExQ,163-65) of "The
      Composition and Genre of Q", he calls the genre "distinctive", yet
      doesn't name it. His recognition of "The disagreements evident in the
      assessment of the genre of Q" belies the claim made to distinctiveness a
      mere two paragraphs earlier. The disagreements are of course not
      surprising when one realizes that the double tradition on which Q is
      largely based comprises a sayings source plus a somewhat arbitrary
      collection of Luke-pleasing Matthean pericopae. ;-)

      (2) The date of Q is another thorny problem. Kloppenborg homes in on two
      texts. Q 13:34-35 seems to fit the final stages of the first Jewish
      revolt. Yet Q 17:26-30,34-35, with the sudden judgement interrupting a
      very normal life, suggests a time well removed from the Jewish revolt.
      The arguments are "difficult to assess" (p.86). Not surprising to
      someone who sees the former text as Matthean ca. 85 CE and the latter
      text as sQ ca. 45 CE ! ;-)

      (3) At least Kloppenborg gave full recognition to the above two issues
      as problems. In the case of the anti-Gentile/pro-Gentile sayings in Q,
      ExQ doesn't appear to acknowledge a problem at all. Gentiles are only an
      issue as part of Kloppenborg's assessment of the work of Horsley
      (pp.191-92).
      The evidence of Paul's letters makes it abundantly clear that the
      Jew/Gentile controversy was a major problem (if not *the* major problem)
      for Paul in the 50s. It was still of major importance ca. 70 CE to Mark,
      who ridiculed Jewish laws, criticized the original Jewish followers of
      Jesus, and presented Jesus' trial as if Jews were responsible for his
      condemnation. But whereas it is fairly clear where Paul and Mark stood
      on this issue, the position of Q is far from clear. It's not simply that
      Q allows both sides to be heard, which would be unlikely but just about
      conceivable. For there are sayings which indicate in a rather casual way
      that they must have been penned originally in an inward looking Jewish
      environment which saw Gentile ways as foreign (Mt 5:47; Lk 12:30). They
      complement the outright defence of orthodox Judaism (Lk 16:17).
      Alongside these is, for instance, the story of a centurion which appears
      to have been composed in order to further the mission to the Gentiles,
      and Lk 14:16-24 which clearly hints at an open invitation to Gentiles
      after Jewish rejection of the gospel. What seems so strange is that this
      hypothetical Galilean community which is supposed to have produced Q,
      apparently tolerated a wide divergence of Jew/Gentile attitudes during a
      period when both Paul and Mark were embroiled in bitter controversy on
      the issue. Admittedly Matthew contains at least as wide a divergence of
      opinion. But Matthew is the exception in this respect rather than the
      rule, as can be seen by comparison with other extant documents of the
      period, and much of the divergence there comes from taking over earlier
      material uncritically. In a relatively small community (town or village,
      as opposed to the usual assumption of a city origin for Matthew), such
      wide divergence is less likely, and it is even less likely that any
      publication would reflect both sides of a dispute.

      Ron Price

      Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

      e-mail: ron.price@...

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

      Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
      List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
    • Maluflen@aol.com
      In a message dated 3/6/2002 10:21:16 AM Eastern Standard Time, ... What you describe here as being Mark s involvement with the Jew/Gentile problem really
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 7, 2002
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        In a message dated 3/6/2002 10:21:16 AM Eastern Standard Time, ron.price@... writes:

        <<  The evidence of Paul's letters makes it abundantly clear that the
        Jew/Gentile controversy was a major problem (if not *the* major problem)
        for Paul in the 50s. It was still of major importance ca. 70 CE to Mark,
        who ridiculed Jewish laws, criticized the original Jewish followers of
        Jesus, and presented Jesus' trial as if Jews were responsible for his
        condemnation.>>


        What you describe here as being Mark's involvement with the Jew/Gentile "problem" really sounds more like the Jew-bashing tendency found within an already established Gentile Christian community in the second century, such as one encounters in the Epistle of Barnabas. What is really an earlier problem, and one that should be carefully distinguished from this apparent anti-Jewishness, is the original reluctance within Christianity, viewed as essentially a Jewish thing, to even allow a mission to Gentiles with the message of Christ. This is the "problem" that is explored in Luke, and especially in Matthew - and it belongs to an earlier period than does what we find on the issue in Mark. Those for whom Markan priority is dogma will of course then say that the material in Matt and Lk that deals with the original Jew/Gentile problem comes from an earlier lost source. The most logical deduction from our evidence, however, would be to see these two gospels (Matt and Lk) as belonging to an earlier period than Mark.

        I think you say as much, but without drawing the logical conclusion, in the following:

        <<
         For there are sayings which indicate in a rather casual way
        that they must have been penned originally in an inward looking Jewish
        environment which saw Gentile ways as foreign (Mt 5:47; Lk 12:30). They
        complement the outright defence of orthodox Judaism (Lk 16:17).
        Alongside these is, for instance, the story of a centurion which appears
        to have been composed in order to further the mission to the Gentiles,
        and Lk 14:16-24 which clearly hints at an open invitation to Gentiles
        after Jewish rejection of the gospel.>>



        In Mark the issue of an open invitation to Gentiles with the message of Jesus is long since settled, and does not really occur any longer as a "problem".

        Leonard Maluf
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