Re: Q

As someone not involved in staking a claim re: Q, but vitally interested
in Christian Origins, I'd like to comment on the recent Q-discussion.  I
have reservations of a serious nature about what some advocate as the
historical implications of a Q-document, but I think that a
Q-type-document (i.e., one or more documents resembling what modern
scholars hypothesize about Q) is probably the best available hypothesis to
explain the large body of shared sayings material in Mt & Lk.  
	Some on this list recently have shown disdain for the Q-hypothesis
because it is ONLY a hypothesis.  Well, please note the following.  (1) A
valid hypothesis is valid (and not merely a pipedream) if it is an attempt
to explain DATA, and Q is such a valid hypothesis.  There IS data to
explain (Mt & Lk shared saying material, circumstantial evidence and great
likelihood that sayings collections would have been prepared and used in
early Christian circles, analogies of sayings collections such as Pirke
Abot, Gospel of Thomas,etc).  (2) A hypothesis remains a HYPOTHESIS if
there is insufficient data to exclude any other hypothesis.  That is, a
hypothesis becomes no longer contested and become genuinely a perceived
"assured result" of science, history, etc., when there are no other
competing explanations of the data recognized in the scholarly guild
devoted to such questions.  In the case of Q, I perceive it to be a widely
held hypothesis, but not (yet? ever?) the only proferred explanation.
Moreover, in the light of the large amount of recent major studies on Q,
there is not a single Q hypothesis, but several variations, so it would be
difficult to claim much more than SOME KIND of Q hypothesis, or a bundle
of Q-type hypotheses appear to dominate in Synoptic studies.
	So Sterling Bjorndahl, Greg Bloomquist, and those actively
involved in the Q project of the SBL quite understandably take offence at
people not actively involved in Synoptic research disdaining their hard
work.  The aggressively marketed hypothetical "spinoff" views (e.g., that
Q was a "gospel" of a particular "community" with its own "social
history", its own "kerygma" in which Jesus was merely a prophet-sage and
his death and resurrection relatively inconsequential), all these things
understandably cause some disturbance among some because of the sometimes
arrogant way these views are put across.  Among me and the crowd I drink
with at the SBL (a surprisingly wide cross-section of constituencies
represented), the response is one of amusement at the arrogance, and we
have reservations based on other data that we think are not adequately
	But there is little question I think that the Q-hypothesis is a
valid, cogent and widely persuasive basis for further Synoptic studies,
and that advocates of the debatable "spinoff" views I've mentioned above
do the academy a service by developing their views to the best of their
ability so that the rest of us can determine for ourselves whether they
stand up.

Larry Hurtado,Religion, Univ. of Manitoba 

Follow-Ups: References: