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Re: Arguments For Q

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  • Stevan Davies
    Well now, I thought I d send y all a copy of the letter Bruce has already responded to, some of which concerns itself with the presumption that Bruce isn t
    Message 1 of 9 , Sep 8, 1998
      Well now, I thought I'd send y'all a copy of the letter Bruce
      has already responded to, some of which concerns itself
      with the presumption that Bruce isn't going to respond to it.

      Steve

      ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++=
      It's a rainy Labor Day holiday here in Pennsylvania. So I think
      I'll reply to Bruce even though he says he plans not to respond.
      The (potential) Baseball Game of the Century isn't due to start
      for awhile.

      > Prologue: First, I waive comment on some procedural aspects of this
      > discussion, such as the occasional "being cute," or the game of seeing who
      > is left holding the phrase "scissors and paste," or the epithet "old" as a
      > dismissal of an argument, as though valid points were not liable to be
      > urged repeatedly over the years - except to say that cuteness and
      > caricature and evasion are properly excluded from serious discussion
      > precisely because they distract and distort and derail serious discussion.

      I would comment on this unwarrented attack on the pleasing rhetoric
      of cuteness but, in his own cuteness below, he belies himself.

      > Second, to save Yuri the trouble of reiteration, I will here concede the
      > point he has earlier urged: Q is absolutely here to stay. Forever. There is
      > California money behind it, manifestly it holds the interest of a
      > significant nonscholarly readership, there will before long be a theme park
      > in Florida for it. All that is given. If I had money to invest
      > (unfortunately, Brill has it all), Q is where it would go. Q and Microsoft.

      And a fine cuteness it is.

      > Any argument about Q is moot from the first: it will only affect a tiny
      > handful of ivy-covered scholars. But that argument would still be
      > theoretically interesting to have, in a sort of nostalgic, abstract way,
      > and my remarks here are by way of seeing whether, given that the argument
      > cannot be efficacious, it might at least be cogent in its own terms.

      I can tell by sensing the vibrations in the air with my antennae that
      there are two considerations that speak against this dour thesis.

      1. I sense that the great majority of SBL members who do believe in Q
      do so because "everybody else" does. A strong well publicized case
      against Q, which one hopes is forthcoming from Mark G., might well
      sway opinion more than you think. Probably attract adherents in
      inverse proportion to their age.

      2. I sense that Burton Mack is thought to have gone way too far with
      Q so that there is some wondering "if this is what Q leads to, maybe
      we need to think about this again." Along with this I sense a general
      disturbance with the idea that Q can be analyzed a la Kloppenborg as
      a discreet text. And following along with these two sensings, I sense
      a frisson in the more conservative wing of the SBL that adherence to
      Q might well lead to the assertion a la Mack that a non-canonical
      source is a superior source for knowledge of the Lord.... that having
      knocked down and stomped on Thomas for its presumption, it might
      be time to do the same for Q.

      This may be the high water mark of Q acceptance, but I see no
      reason to think that the tide might not recede. In this scenario
      Mark plays the role of King Knute... but potentially, at least, he
      could have more success.

      > 1. The fact about this interchange that most impresses at least this naive
      > spectator is that the Q side of it does not stand still. Take the issue of
      > responsibility. Whereas MarkG seems to be, so to speak, a lineally
      > accredited spokesman for the FH, so that any concessions he makes may well
      > be damaging for the FH in our time, nothing any Q proponent may say in
      > response endangers or implicates Q................

      This appears to be a function of the numbers of people involved.

      In my investigations of the Maya I was surprised to find so few
      people involved. Perhaps 20 of prominence and 100 more. Far as I
      know there are fewer serious Mayanists than there were people at the
      SBL session I addressed last fall. There are probably more books on
      Paul's Epistle to the Philippians than on Tikal, Copan, Uxmal, put
      together.

      There are literally thousands of professors who take a position on
      the Q question even though most probably have done little more than
      read up on the question for a grad school class. How many specialists
      are there in America on the Tao Te Ching's textual history? How many
      critically analyze the early Confucian texts?

      The difficulty of changing opinon on Q is both a problem of argument
      and a sociological problem.

      > 2. There is a lateral version of this same fact. Bill distances himself at
      > one point from the views of certain other Q proponents, thus getting a more
      > comfortable position for himself in the discussion. ---------------

      > Q adherents not only do not implicate Q, they do not implicate
      > each other, or even themselves on some future occasion. Unless someone is
      > keeping track. And keeping track of anything so large and multiplex as the
      > Q enterprise is, to say the least, a daunting prospect. It would require a
      > subsidy from Microsoft.

      I think these observations are correct for Internet discussions just
      as they would be correct for face to face conversations. But when
      Mark G's book arrives and, let us assume, Bill and Klop review it
      very favorably for prominent journals conceding their inability to
      overcome his arguments.... then the immovable object would shift.
      But granted that no amount of internet discussion is going to shift
      it.

      > 3.Q
      > is abiding as a concept, but fluid as to details. Yet it is only at the
      > level of its details that a theory can profitably be subjected to scrutiny.
      > This makes for a frustrating, and, more importantly, for an indeterminate,
      > discussion.

      I can certainly understand that. But it is inherent in the nature of
      the beast, a hypothetical variously reconstructable text. Only if one
      says (as has been said on crosstalk) that a hypothetical variously
      reconstructable text cannot be considered as any form of evidence
      for anything at all can one do more than say that, while the
      discussion will be frustrating and indeterminate it should be carried
      on regardless. I'd wager that most discussions in the Humanities
      are frustrating and indeterminate, e.g. the matter of the Historical
      Jesus.

      > 4. modern Q proponents enjoy
      > extreme latitude in distancing themselves from the arguments on which Q was
      > originally founded. ----------------

      I'm pretty sure this is a pseudo-problem. Sounds like a version of
      the genetic fallacy.

      > 5. What stands out to me
      > in the record from Reimarus to the present is that, whatever the specifics,
      > the Synoptic discussion *as a whole* is not content to abide in the thought
      > that GMark best represents the earliest Christianity. No sooner is that
      > proposition forcefully urged than *something* - Q or some other
      > hypothetical text, some archaeologically recovered text, Markan
      > Nonpriority, all the above - is put into the space between Jesus and GMark.
      > This seems to me to be the one guiding meta-fact that underlies the entire
      > debate.

      Yes. For one thing we have the letters of Paul and early letters of
      his associates (e.g. Colossians) in that space. For another thing we
      have, in that space, the assumption that Jesus' disciples were not
      themselves going about lamenting their culpable ignorance but that
      Mark constructs them as culpably ignorant. Thus one surely is
      permitted to wonder what there was, promulgated by disciples, before
      Mark and thus open the possibility of some hypothetical (Q)
      or archaeological (Thomas) text conveying pre-Markan information
      that could well be more reliable than that transmitted by Mark.

      > suspect that some critical point of doctine is imperilled by
      > recognizing GMark as the most authentic statement of doctrine.

      You've lost me. I suppose you're correct.... but the only person
      I know of who ever recognized GMark to be this was AMark.

      > My guess
      > would be that the felt doctrinal lack in Mark is the one that both GMt and
      > GLk already conspicuously fill, that GJn goes on to take into metaphysical
      > realms, and that noncanonical texts such as GThos also make statements
      > about, namely: an account of the origin and, so to speak, cosmological
      > status, of Jesus

      This "trajectory" toward greater cosmological assertions about Jesus
      is often assumed but easily refuted. Such assertions are found in
      Paul's letters (e.g. 2 Cor 4 3-6) ca. 57 and the non-Paul but
      generally-dated-60's letter Colossians (1:15-17). It is a trajectory
      that seems to be one that logically should be there... but it isn't.

      Or, one might say, it is a trajectory of thought that arose and
      culminated prior to the writing of the canonical gospels.

      > I cannot help being impressed by the fact that in the early centuries of
      > the Church it had become heretical to doubt that Jesus had existed from the
      > beginning of the world.

      Perhaps so. Idea was asserted in the first decades (Col. 1:15).
      Idea is not in Mark but Mark IS in the Canon, so it was not heretical
      not to mention it. In fact I believe that the canonical status of
      Mark was considerably less subject to dispute than the canonical
      status of John.

      > Just thinking out loud. I have no intention of commenting further on Q, and
      > I stand reminded that I still owe several listmembers a response to their
      > postings on more discussable matters, namely the specific
      > interrelationships of the three GSyn.

      Are you sure this is an intellectually respectable position? That you
      will determinedly ignore what is, for the great majority of scholars
      who have carefully investigated the matter, and the great majority of
      scholars who take those investigations to have settled the issue, the
      single most explanatory and convincing hypothesis in existence....

      A. If one refuses on principle to discuss hypothetical Q.
      B. Admits synoptic intertexutality.
      C. Admits Markan priority.
      D. Accepts on Faith that Luke is later than Mark.
      E. Ignores Thomas
      Then one through principle and Faith has arrived at the the Farrer/
      Goodacre theory and can sit back satisfied and content but,
      outside of, perhaps, ruminating over C. above I don't know what
      there would be left to discuss.

      Steve
    • Jeff Peterson
      I ve found helpful the exchange between Bruce and Stevan on the reasons for continued adherence to Q and prospects for same. I here wish to comment on only one
      Message 2 of 9 , Sep 8, 1998
        I've found helpful the exchange between Bruce and Stevan on the reasons for
        continued adherence to Q and prospects for same. I here wish to comment on
        only one aspect of Bruce's reflections on the topic, viz., the motives that
        encourage adherence to Q. I'll begin by quoting the relevant passage from
        Bruce's original post to Synoptic-L for interested CrossTalkers who may
        have missed it.

        >5. (SNIP) What stands out to me
        >in the record from Reimarus to the present is that, whatever the specifics,
        >the Synoptic discussion *as a whole* is not content to abide in the thought
        >that GMark best represents the earliest Christianity. No sooner is that
        >proposition forcefully urged than *something* - Q or some other
        >hypothetical text, some archaeologically recovered text, Markan
        >Nonpriority, all the above - is put into the space between Jesus and GMark.
        (SNIP)
        >
        >As to why it should be so, I (SNIP) suspect that some critical point of
        >doctine is imperilled by
        >recognizing GMark as the most authentic statement of doctrine. My guess
        >would be that the felt doctrinal lack in Mark is the one that both GMt and
        >GLk already conspicuously fill, that GJn goes on to take into metaphysical
        >realms, and that noncanonical texts such as GThos also make statements
        >about, namely: an account of the origin and, so to speak, cosmological
        >status, of Jesus (and, in the case of GThos, of his alleged brother Jacob).
        >I cannot help being impressed by the fact that in the early centuries of
        >the Church it had become heretical to doubt that Jesus had existed from the
        >beginning of the world. We seem to have here no mere sentimental fondness
        >for the manger scene in the Mt/Lk nativity stories, but a perceived
        >central concern of early Christianity as such. That concern would seem to
        >be logically threatened by accepting GMark, which is entirely silent on
        >this issue, as an authentic account of the *earliest* Christianity.

        I think Bruce is right to consider scholarly motives along with evidence in
        assessing the vigor of Q in the past century and a half of NT scholarship,
        but I don't think the motive he suggests here will explain the attraction
        of the hypothesis, since the non-Marcan virginal conception shared by
        Matthew and Luke is not included in the reconstructed lost document
        accounting for their agreements against Mark (although it should be, as I
        suggested in a previous post on "Q 1:31"). Q rather answers to two distinct
        interests of scholars along the theological spectrum. First, for
        theologically conservative scholars, Q represents documentary evidence
        transmitted independently of Mark and thus gives us an additional witness
        to put on the stand when inquiring after the historical Jesus. Second, this
        witness's testimony can be particularly congenial to theologically liberal
        scholars at least since Harnack, as (legitimately or illegitimately) it is
        taken to represent a variety of early Christianity unencumbered with
        doctrines of atoning death and bodily resurrection; if one stratifies Q one
        can even be rid of that pre-scientific Second Coming business. So Q
        provides conservatives a further link in the evidential chain connecting us
        to Jesus, and Q provides liberals historical legitimation for excising from
        Christianity elements ill comporting with the Enlightenment distaste for
        superstition. What could be better?

        Best,

        Jeff

        Jeffrey Peterson
        Institute for Christian Studies
        Austin, Texas, USA
      • E. Bruce Brooks
        Topic: Arguments for Q From: Bruce In Response To: Jeff Peterson JEFF: I think Bruce is right to consider scholarly motives along with evidence in assessing
        Message 3 of 9 , Sep 9, 1998
          Topic: Arguments for Q
          From: Bruce
          In Response To: Jeff Peterson

          JEFF: I think Bruce is right to consider scholarly motives along with
          evidence in assessing the vigor of Q in the past century and a half of NT
          scholarship, but I don't think the motive he suggests here will explain the
          attraction of the hypothesis, since the non-Marcan virginal conception
          shared by Matthew and Luke is not included in the reconstructed lost
          document accounting for their agreements against Mark (although it should
          be, as I
          suggested in a previous post on "Q 1:31").

          BRUCE: I agree with Jeff; I think the passages to which he points do
          logically belong in Q (assuming that anyone succeeds in holding Q
          accountable to its ostensible logic). In that case, his exception to the
          applicability of my general suggestion (which by the way was at the level
          of the collective Zeitgeist, and made a point of not addressing individual
          scholarly motives) vanishes, and my general suggestion stands. As a
          suggestion. A Zeitgeist suggestion.

          JEFF: Q rather answers to two distinct interests of scholars along the
          theological spectrum. First, for theologically conservative scholars, Q
          represents documentary evidence
          transmitted independently of Mark and thus gives us an additional witness
          to put on the stand when inquiring after the historical Jesus.

          BRUCE: I have earlier suggested, I think on CrossTalk, that the chief
          ultimate effect of Q is to privilege Luke, on perhaps the majority view the
          latest of the gospels, above either Matthew or Mark. The result in practice
          is to yield a very Lukan Historical Jesus, what I have called the "Nice
          Jesus," to which, for example, the deliberations of the Jesus Seminar, for
          whom Q is not a parallel early source but in practice a source *earlier
          than* Mark, have demonstrably led. My suggestion is that this result, and
          many parallel ones, is far more comfortable for the scholarly and church
          community than the more austere Markan Jesus would have been. And thus has,
          in Darwinian and not conspiratorial terms, a far higher chance of survival
          in scholarly debate, publication, and general acceptance.

          JEFF: Second, this witness's testimony can be particularly congenial to
          theologically liberal
          scholars at least since Harnack, as (legitimately or illegitimately) it is
          taken to represent a variety of early Christianity unencumbered with
          doctrines of atoning death and bodily resurrection; if one stratifies Q one
          can even be rid of that pre-scientific Second Coming business. So Q
          provides conservatives a further link in the evidential chain connecting us
          to Jesus, and Q provides liberals historical legitimation for excising from
          Christianity elements ill comporting with the Enlightenment distaste for
          superstition. What could be better?

          BRUCE: On the evidence, nothing so far. Whether the parallel track of
          Buddhist-attenuated Christianity will oontz it out, who can say? But
          analytically, I think Jeff is right to point to the further appeal implicit
          in the stratification of Q: Adherents can not only have their cake, they
          can pick their layer. This substantially broadens the possible adherent
          base, and, again, increases the Darwinian coefficient of Q as against other
          accounts of the Synoptic situation.

          E Bruce Brooks / University of Massachusetts
        • Jack Kilmon
          ... Since the earliest writings by Paul and Mark, and that of a separatecommunity with an early history (Yohannine) do not mention what is unique enough to be
          Message 4 of 9 , Sep 9, 1998
            E. Bruce Brooks wrote:

            > Topic: Arguments for Q
            > From: Bruce
            > In Response To: Jeff Peterson
            >
            > JEFF: I think Bruce is right to consider scholarly motives along with
            > evidence in assessing the vigor of Q in the past century and a half of NT
            > scholarship, but I don't think the motive he suggests here will explain the
            > attraction of the hypothesis, since the non-Marcan virginal conception
            > shared by Matthew and Luke is not included in the reconstructed lost
            > document accounting for their agreements against Mark (although it should
            > be, as I
            > suggested in a previous post on "Q 1:31").
            >
            >

            Since the earliest writings by Paul and Mark, and that of a separatecommunity
            with an early history (Yohannine) do not mention what
            is unique enough to be mentioned (virgin birth), I can only assume
            that the tradition began as a midrash by the Matthean scribe and was
            later "historicized" by Luke (if Luke used Matthew) or by a Lukan
            redactor (if Luke has priority to Matthew).

            It's problematic to me to include this tradition in any primitive
            source (Q or otherwise) predating the destruction.

            What would be the reason for believing it should have been in Q?
            Mebbe I missed dat part.

            Jack
            jkilmon@...
          • Jeff Peterson
            ... I suggested in a post a few days ago that if the governing definition of Q is source of non-Marcan matter common to Matthew and Luke, then the common
            Message 5 of 9 , Sep 9, 1998
              At 5:00 PM 9/9/98, Jack Kilmon wrote:

              >Since the earliest writings by Paul and Mark, and that of a separatecommunity
              >with an early history (Yohannine) do not mention what
              >is unique enough to be mentioned (virgin birth), I can only assume
              >that the tradition began as a midrash by the Matthean scribe and was
              >later "historicized" by Luke (if Luke used Matthew) or by a Lukan
              >redactor (if Luke has priority to Matthew).
              >
              >It's problematic to me to include this tradition in any primitive
              >source (Q or otherwise) predating the destruction.
              >
              >What would be the reason for believing it should have been in Q?
              >Mebbe I missed dat part.

              I suggested in a post a few days ago that if the governing definition of Q
              is "source of non-Marcan matter common to Matthew and Luke," then the
              common phrase KAI TEXH(I)//TEXETAI DE hUION KAIKALESEIS TO ONOMA AUTOU
              IHSOUN (Luke 1:31//Matt 1:21) qualifies and should figure as Q 1:31 in a
              methodologically rigorous reconstruction of Q.

              Best,

              Jeff

              Jeffrey Peterson
              Institute for Christian Studies
              Austin, Texas, USA
            • Jack Kilmon
              ... I understand now. I have been thinking about this from the Luke knew Matthew paradigm. I see this as classical aggadic midrash and since I cannot
              Message 6 of 9 , Sep 9, 1998
                Jeff Peterson wrote:

                > At 5:00 PM 9/9/98, Jack Kilmon wrote:
                >
                > >Since the earliest writings by Paul and Mark, and that of a separatecommunity
                > >with an early history (Yohannine) do not mention what
                > >is unique enough to be mentioned (virgin birth), I can only assume
                > >that the tradition began as a midrash by the Matthean scribe and was
                > >later "historicized" by Luke (if Luke used Matthew) or by a Lukan
                > >redactor (if Luke has priority to Matthew).
                > >
                > >It's problematic to me to include this tradition in any primitive
                > >source (Q or otherwise) predating the destruction.
                > >
                > >What would be the reason for believing it should have been in Q?
                > >Mebbe I missed dat part.
                >
                > I suggested in a post a few days ago that if the governing definition of Q
                > is "source of non-Marcan matter common to Matthew and Luke," then the
                > common phrase KAI TEXH(I)//TEXETAI DE hUION KAIKALESEIS TO ONOMA AUTOU
                > IHSOUN (Luke 1:31//Matt 1:21) qualifies and should figure as Q 1:31 in a
                > methodologically rigorous reconstruction of Q.

                I understand now. I have been thinking about this from the "Luke knew Matthew"
                paradigm. I see this as classical aggadic midrash and since I cannot attribute
                this primary Jewish literary style to Luke, have to assume it originated with
                the Jewish Matthean scribe...even evidenced by his use of the LXX. The
                "virgin birth" as creative historiography typical to midrashic style makes
                sense to me given the Matthean scribe's noted preoccupation with OT
                authority. In this case, it would be "special M" material which leaves the
                question on how it got in Luke. I see only two trajectories. Either Matthew
                was known to Luke or it's the result of a later Lukan redactor who attempting
                to "harmonize" and not understanding midrashic style, historicised it.
                Still struggling with the "Luke knew Matthew" possibility, I am, for now,
                more comfortable with the latter.

                Jack
                jkilmon@...
              • Tim Reynolds
                ... EBB s description of the Q community applies nicely to the AntiStratfordian community. I once attended a meeting, 2-300 people. Affable disagreement on
                Message 7 of 9 , Sep 10, 1998
                  > Just as Q evades implication by any statement or
                  > concession made by any of its adherents (the previous point), so Q
                  > adherents are apparently entitled to differ *from each other,* without any
                  > perceptible weakening of their own position; on the contrary, with
                  > individual strengthening of their own position. If Q can be defended in
                  > individual discussions only by abandoning some of its tenets, that is in
                  > principle a point against Q. But there is no referee, no Whiteheadian
                  > higher recording consciousness, that keeps track of these moves, correlates
                  > them, and renders a running verdict as to where they collectively leave the
                  > Q position. Q adherents not only do not implicate Q, they do not implicate
                  > each other, or even themselves on some future occasion. Unless someone is
                  > keeping track.

                  EBB's description of the Q community applies nicely to the AntiStratfordian community. I once attended a meeting, 2-300 people. Affable disagreement on who had produced the Work, unanimous agreement that the Stratford fellow had *not*. No referee.

                  The auditory piracy model -- that the assemblers of Mt and Lk had access to Mk only via public readings -- eliminates one Q argument I've run across. It goes: Look how they dicked around with Mk, which they naively believed to be the revered Peter's recollections. So why not Q?

                  In the 1790's one Robert Holcroft's "greatest coup was the pirating of Beaumarchais's play Figaro, by memorizing it in the Paris theater where it was being played." They keep turning up.

                  I like the Q theme park.

                  Tertium datur,

                  Tim Reynolds


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