Tuesday, November 13, 2007

It's All about Q...

And all this for Q...
Well, almost. There seems to be a bit of a "Q" fe(a)st on at the moment, so I'll just recap for those not familiar with the discussion. "Q" is short for the German word, quelle, which means "source". I'm not sure who coined the term [somebody in the blogosphere should know], but it's been around for some time now. Basically, "Q" is the designation for material common to Matt and Lukas, but not found in Mark. It is a hypothetical source/(document?) that is postulated to account for corresponding material in Luke and Matt's gospel. An easier solution to the problem is to say that Luke used Matt, that's my view, but much scholarship today still feels the need for "Q" and so the investigation continues.
Mark Goodacre alerts us to some of the discussion going down in his post: Christmas without Q. I must plead guilty to not fully understanding all the techinical issues involved, and I am "Q" sceptic because I just can't see how or why we need to postulate a hypothetical document, when a real one [Matt] exists which explains most, but probably not all, of the difficulties in our problem. Inference to the best explanation leads me to accept Markan priority, although there were times when I favoured the Griesbach Hypothesis and still think about it, and that Luke used both Matt and Mark [cf. Luke 1:1-4].
I am particularly sceptical about much of Q scholarship, and find myself echoing a quiet AMEN when I read Meier's causcious advice:

The affirmation of Q’s existence come close to exhausting my ability to believe in hypothetical entities. I find myself increasingly sceptical as more refined and detailed theories about Q’s extent, wording, community, geographical setting, stages of tradition and redaction, and coherent theology are proposed. I cannot help thinking that biblical scholarship would be greatly advanced if every morning all exegetes would repeat as a mantra: “Q is a hypothetical document whose exact extension, working, originating community, strata, and stages of redaction cannot be known.” This daily devotion might save us flights of fancy that are destined, in my view, to end in scepticism.

J. P. Meier, A Marginal Jew II, pg. 178

So, if you're interested, get reading as this is a fascinating, though technical at times, area of research into the gospels and early Christianity.

1 comment:

Jack said...

You can read my take on Q here: