Re: Q

    WHile I appreciate Sterling's disucssion because it does raise some
interesting issues and methodological questions that I don't want to miss.
First, I'd like to know how it has been determined that the "consensus" of
all biblical scholars thinks that Mark 16:9 is the original end of the 
Gospel of Mark?  THe authors I mainly read don't seem to think so (and no, 
I don't mean devotional works).  One I can think of right off the bat is
C.F.D. MOule's commentary on the Greek text of Mark.  Not a radical, 
highly speculative article but a piece of solid exegesis, which is much more
valuable in my eyes. 

Oral Tradition?  Maybe
We have sources from within and around the 1st century that claim to recount 
discourses or actions of various figures.  We can either ASSUME that none of 
this is anything but pure fabrication, or accept the likely (IMHO) probability
that in a primarily-oral society, people would have learned, if not 
memorized things they heard multiple times.  I won't claim that my model is
beyond reproach, but I'll suggest an alternative that is primarily oral, 
though I don't deny the possibility of some written sources at some points.
Jesus I would think repeated his teachings many times.  After all, everyone
needed to hear about the KOG.  Why continually invent new parables when the
old parables still work (and as for consensus, I remember not long ago the
consensus was that all parables had just one point -- so much for the value of
consensus!!!).  SO Jesus repeated his teachings many times.  The disciples,
who had nothing else to do but listen to him, and no outside distractions like
television, radio, outside reading, etc., had the opprotunity to listen to his
teachings.  Jesus is crucified and resurrected and his followers make 
Jerusalem the center of where they gather to worship him.  While
there, over the years, they proclaim, teach and repeat what they heard and saw
Jesus say and do.  OVer time there came to be a basic set of stories and
discourses that the early Church had as the core of its teaching about Jesus.
In that context, is it any wonder that those who came from this group and
wrote the Gospels might have similar material?  I realize there are a few
"orthodox" assumptions there,  but they are no worse or any less justifiable
than other assumptions, such as those I see Sterling holding.

Did Mark "dumb down" Matthew and Luke?  Begging the question!
We haven't even established that if Mark was not used by Mt. and Lk. that 
Mark would have used Mt.  That does not logically follow.  THere
is no valid reason for making this an either/or.  The same holds true for
the leap of logic that says because there are sections of Mt. and Lk. that are
very similar and sometimes almost identical that that similar material, and
ONLY that similar material is in another document both copied.  It's a very
big, unproven and unprovable assumpiton that Q, if it exists, is coterminous
with the "Q" sections of Mt. and Luke.  In any case, we don't know when the
Gospels were written.  Even if Mt. was written before Mk., that does not
force Mk.to have used Mt. nor does it mean that the community that received
Mk. first would have had a copy of Mt. to compare.  Furthermore, if
Papias is right (and all Sterling does is say there is reason to be suspicious
of both Papias and Eusebius, without giving any real,verifiable reason for this
suspicion -- he clearly holds a highler degree of historical skepticism
than I do regarding documents if they are ancient than I do  -- we've
established this in private correspondence so he knows this about me), then
the weight of Peter's influence is behind the acceptance of Mk. in the
early Church.  Furthermore, if Papias is not to be trusted, and 
Mk. ended at 16:8, why in the world did the early Church accept it?  Just
because they thought it was early?  Then where's Q?  Or, bu Koester's dating,
why isn't GTh not in the canon if it was so early?  Being early as such just
does not fit the facts that way.  

    All the arguments about "would it have been easier for x to omit y or y to 
correct x?" are specious in my eyes because the answer is so purely 
subjective.  If, however, we assume a primarily oral base for the
Synoptics, then what we have mostly at work is memory plus paraphrase or
expansion to "clArify" whatever the original was on the one hand, or perhaps
a failure in memory in details in other cases.  Additionally, the view that
Mt. corrected Mk. or Mk. added errors to Mt. assumes as well that the smallest
appearance in the text of two similar statements saying something
different means they are a bald contradiction, is IMHO, unwarranted and
assumes stupidity on the part of the original authors.  If Mt. can't copy from
Mk. without creating glaring contradiciton after glaring contradiciton, then
he's just plain stupid and somehow, the Gospel of Matthew strikes me as too 
well designed and implemented as a piece of literature to posit that low a level
of IQ to its author.  No, no one has shown me convincing parallels from
other areas to justify this, even if that made any difference, and that's 
a whole other methodological problem.  

Finally, I want to emphasize once more that in biblical studies it seems that
most results are "truth by consensus".  Just because Kloppenborg affirms it,
or believes he has refuted something does not make it so.  Furthermore, we
just don't know enough about 1st cent. society to say whether an oral theory
is impossible.  I know that when I walk through a college dorm and see 
students watching Star Trek reruns, repeating the lines verbatim before the
actors speak them, it certainly makes me think (it spite of some obvious
differences) that it's possible to pretty closely memorize something you've 
heard a few times if it matters to you.  Not being a "Trekkie" I can't do that
for Star Trek, but I can do it for Star Wars and in many cases jsut hearing
what I considered a memorable exchange of dialouge ONCE was enough to
remember it, and yet Jesus' disciples couldn't remember his teacyings after
being togeher 24 hours a day for two or more years?  I can't buy that.

Ken Litwak