Date: Fri Oct 13 1995 - 17:01:01 EDT
Re. arguments against the existence of Q--
Feeling like neither a fundamentalist nor a hog-warsher (as in, "what a bunch a
hogwarsh!"), and not having the time to write a full-blown defense of the
two-gospel hypothesis today, let me simply note the following:
1.) Biblical criticism is not a beauty contest. The simple fact that most
scholars accept the existence of Q is, by itself, meaningless. Once upon a
time, most scholars believed that the sun and stars revolved around the earth.
I note that fact not to imply that "Q-believers" are idiots, but simply to
reinforce the fact that even in the face of scholarly unanimity, there's still
a lot of "on the other hand." We do ourselves and our guild a disservice when
we insult serious scholars and students simply because they do not agree with
2.) To make a point the Farrer made, the Mk-Q hypothesis and the Mk-Mt
hypothesis (which encompasses both the two-gospels hypothesis and the
Farrer/Sanders/Goulder hypothesis) do not start out on equal ground. We can
absolutely and without reservation prove that Matthew exists. We cannot do the
same for Q.
That being said, shouldn't fair-minded consideration start with a full
exploration of the Mt-Mk hypothesis? This is the most logical way to proceed,
is it not? Don't go appealing to hypothetical documents until you've proven
that extant documents don't fit the bill.
The considerations of Streeter, et. al. that led to a discounting of the Mt-Mk
hypothesis are faulty. They are based on the assumption that Lk was only a
compiler of sources, not an author/theologian in his own right. The fact that
Lk (according to the Mt-Mk hypothesis) scatters, alters and condenses Matthean
discourse material CAN COGENTLY BE ACCOUNTED FOR in terms of Luke's theological
purposes, whether one ultimately accepts this accounting or not.
Further, Streeter contends that if Lk had used both Mt and Mk as sources, he
would have used both in the same way, following both equally. This is
fallacious. As a pastor, I have written dozens of Bible studies, etc., with
several "source documents" on my desk. I have *never* depended on two source
documents equally. The human tendency is to pick one document, digest it and
rewrite it in your own terms, then use material from other documents to "fill
in the skeleton."
Which is exactly what Lk has done with Mt and Mk, according to the Goulder
hypothesis. He takes the general narrative framework for his gospel from Mk
and then (to borrow from Farrer again) mines material from Mt to build his
house on that frame.
Farmer (who is also neither a fundamentalist nor a hog-warsher) notes several
heretofore ignored factors in this debate. First, he notes that Augustine
apparently changed his mind: first, he held that Mk was Mt's "epitomizer."
Later, however, he held that Mt and Lk were written first, and that Mk
condensed their accounts to produce a picture of Jesus as both king (Mt) and
priest (Lk). In this, Augustine concluded that the uniform testimony of the
church from the second century (Papias) onward was correct. But his earlier
view became standard dogma: his later view was ignored.
Second, Farmer notes political pressure within the German academy in the 19th
century. This pressure was the result of struggles between the German
government and the Catholic church. This pressure may have influenced a
lessening emphasis on Mt (which after all gave Peter the keys to the kingdom)
and a greater emphasis on Mk.
Are we so naive as to deny that political pressures (not to mention political
correctness) "greases the skids" in ways that affect intellectual and scholarly
opinion? Are we going to claim that "we are scholars" and are therefore immune
to the influence of our social and personal locations?
Are we really going to deny that a great deal of present day Jesus scholarship
is as much based on anti-authoritarian and anti-ecclesiastical sympathies as it
is on a clear-headed analysis of the evidence?
Grace and peace from a Q-agnostic (and a fundamentalist hog-warsher),
Perry L. Stepp, Baylor University
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