Is Q a Juggernaut? - Journal of Biblical Literature

Is Q a Juggernaut?

By Journal of Biblical Literature

  • Release Date: 1996-12-22
  • Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines
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In the last twenty years the pursuit of Q has become a considerable industry. Not only do articles and books on Q appear in flood, (1) with competing versions of the original text, (2) but a great concourse of scholars is at work to produce a definitive edition. (3) Many Ph.D. students are laboring in the same vineyard. The studies are often concerned to find not the final version but the phases to the final version, the theology of the different editions, the different groups within the early church that produced these editions, and so on. The study is not merely of the Q hypothesis but of the hypothetical earlier forms of Q and the even more hypothetical settings in life that gave birth to them. So much piling of Pelion on Ossa might itself be cause for alarm, but what further raises the anxiety level is the confidence with which this is being done. Q is a hypothesis that has stood for a century and a half; but it is not an unchallenged hypothesis, and Ronald Piper notes, in his introduction to a recent book of essays on Q, that there is considerable hesitation in Britain over whether Q ever existed. (4) For example, Christopher Tuckett's article in a recent symposium is entitled "The Existence of Q," (5) and David Catchpole opens his Quest for Q with a fifty-nine-page chapter entitled "Did Q Exist?" (6) The live alternative to Q is in essence that proposed by Austin Farrer in 1957: (7) Mark wrote first; Matthew wrote an expanded version of Mark; and Luke used and adapted both earlier Gospels. Under this theory Luke either copied or rehandled the "Q" verses in Matthew, so the lost source can be dispensed with. Such a position requires a detailed defense, and I have offered such myself in a two-volume, eight-hundred-page work, Luke: A New Paradigm (1989). (8) Q is now hardly defended in the University of Oxford.

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