‘Q’ Revisited

28 Jan

The bloggers are talking about a new poll over at the Jesus Blog which contains a simple question. “Do you Q?” You can answer it at the following link

So far 53% of those who responded answered in the affirmative. I did not join that group. Jim West was more of a bully about it

Mark Goodacre posted a good article on the topic

I certainly feel much less lonely than I did fifteen or twenty years or so ago when it was automatically assumed in the USA that anyone who denied the existence of Q must also, of necessity, deny the existence of Marcan Priority too.  Indeed, Q sceptics probably thought the earth was flat too, and that Elvis was still alive.  I well remember Stephen Patterson describing the view as even more obscure than Griesbach.

He also wrote an earlier post on the topic

I do not recall but one of my reasons for rejecting Q probably came from him. The document Q has never been attested to anywhere in ancient writings. The Church Fathers do not refer to it nor does anyone else which is a big barrier to overcome.

Nor does Polycarp mention it and his friendship with the apostle John  would make him the most likely person of all to know about source material for the Gospels. No one in the ancient world speaks of source material for the gospel writers.

The structure of the criteria for entry into the one volume Bible being constructed would cast some light on source material but the main point for inclusion seems to limit the sources to the apostles themselves. The criteria are:

Basically, the early church had three criteria, he said. First, the books must have apostolic authority–that is, they must have been written by apostles themselves, who were eyewitnesses to what they wrote about, or by followers of apostles…

second, there was the criterion of conformity to what was called the rule of faith. That is, was the document congruent with the basic Christian tradition that the church recognized as normative?

And third, there was the criterion of whether a document had had continuous acceptance and usage by the church at large. (The Case For Christ, by Lee Strobel, pg. 66)

If Q was the source for the gospels and it met those 3 conditions, why not use it instead of one of the others? Why let Q, if it ever existed, disappear from history? It would have been valuable eye-witness evidence.

Obviously, if it existed, Q did not meet any of the above three criteria and is ruled out as a source for the gospel writers. After all, why would Matthew need a source when he was an eye-witness to the events he wrote about?

Mark had Peter to get his information from and possibly the other disciples as well so he would not need an external source to help him write his book. The only possible person who may have needed source material would be Luke, who states up front that he investigated before writing

1Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things [a]accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning [b]were eyewitnesses and [c]servants of the [d]word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having [e]investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been [f]taught. (Luke 1 NASB)

The things we do not know about Luke are most germane to his authorship. If he was a disciple, why would he need to investigate everything? He would have been an eye-witness to what he wrote about.  If he was too young, then he would need to investigate but why would he go to a book that wasn’t written by the disciples to get his information?

Q has no apostolic pedigree even if it had existed so its information would not have been eye-witness material. After all, Luke had the Apostles to talk to, he had Mary, Jesus’ mother and his siblings to talk to. Plus he would have a myriad of eye-witnesses to bits and pieces of Jesus life to go to for information so in reality he would not need a source book like Q.

In his book, A Case For Christ, Lee Strobel interviewed different legitimate scholars to obtain his material, which is why I have no problem with quoting from his work. In 2 separate interviews, one with Craig Blomberg and the other with Gregory Boyd, he asks about Q and they both gave him the same answer, independent of each other

It is nothing more than a hypothesis…(Pgs. 26 & 122)

That is the key. Certain scholars who saw similar material in the gospels came up with the idea that the gospel writers had to have used the same source material. They were not satisfied with the writers being eye-witnesses or students of eye-witnesses, they had to conjure up a book instead.

I say conjure up because , if you recall I said it was not attested to anywhere in any ancient writers’ works. It also did not leave a manuscript trail or any other evidence one would expect to find when one refers to an ancient work. Basically the scholars pulled it out of thin air and declared it to be the source. Here is their premise

Throughout the nineteenth century, the study of Q was facilitated by a cluster of factors that succeeded in accrediting Q as the most viable solution to the so-called synoptic problem: How is it that Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell much of the same story in much the same order, whereas John has a completely different procedure? Answer: Matthew and John used the same two sources, Mark and a no-longer-extant collection of sayings, commonly called Q. (The Sayings Gospel of Q in English and Greek by James Robinson, Paul Hoffmann & John Kloppenborg, pg. 11)

It is far-fetched for as has been said, the book never existed. These authors also admit to they non-existence of Q:

Now Q need no longer remain purely hypothetical, a mere postulate lurking unattainably behind Matthew and Luke. The result in more recent times has been a multiplication of reconstructions of the Greek text of Q, in whole or in part. The Sayings Gospel Q presented here in Greek and English is based on the collaboration of a team of scholars who, since 1985, have been working together as the International Q Project. (Ibid pg. 12)

So scholars are trying to reconstruct a book that has never existed. Of course, they can put any scripture they want into that supposed volume because there is no way to verify if they got it correct. They are basically constructing a non-existent book and claiming that is the actual source of Matthew and Luke.

This is the way it is with unbelieving scholars and they actually trap believing scholars into this mess because it is work done under the scholastic and academic umbrella.

To sum up, Q is like the theory of evolution. It does not exist and never has but enough people have bought into it because it gives them an alternative to the truth and they get to make the rules and decide its content. They do not have to rely upon God for anything.

The Gospel writers did not need a source book. John and Matthew were apostles who lived with and heard Jesus on a daily basis. Mark and Luke had access to and learnt at the feet of the eye-witnesses.

If they are similar then that is because they are talking about the same stories in the order that they may have taken place. They were not using the same source. Why God had them do that is a question for another day. The important thing to remember is that Q has never existed and it was never used as a source by the Gospel writers.

Plus, the theory of Q comes from deceived unbelievers not men of God.

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Posted by on January 28, 2014 in academics, Bible, theology


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