here's what's wrong with Q

Date: Sat Oct 14 1995 - 11:57:51 EDT

Paul Moser said:

PM>Perhaps Perry Stepp would kindly explain what exactly
PM>is wrong with the plausible hypothesis that Matthew and
PM>Luke independently used Q sources not found in Mark?

  (I'm not sure how kind this will be, but here goes.)

  Not to speak of "plausible," but what's so judicious about building
  one's picture of Jesus--a vitally important undertaking, in my
  book--on a hypothetical document for which no shred of independent
  evidence or testimony exists? Should not this be the serious
  scholar's last resort?

  Foundationally: should we resort to hypothetical documents without
  first exhausting the possibility that provably extant documents
  provide what is needed to explain the phenomena before us? We should

  The *relative* popularity
                (no, even serious scholars and non- fundamentalist
                non-hogwarshers are not united on the existence of Q,
                nor are those who are united on its existence united on
                its content)
                            of the hypothesis is immaterial.

PM>Why assume that there's something inherently wrong with
PM>such an hypothesis, especially when it has tremendous
PM>explanatory value? In his prologue, Luke pretty much
PM>admits that he had a range of sources available to him.

  The fact that Lk had sources in front of him proves nothing in
  regards to Q. Clearly each of the evangelists had a different
  passion/resurrection narratives at his disposal. Clearly Mt and Lk
  had different birth narratives. This proves nothing regarding whether
  Lk depended on Q or Mt for the bulk of his non-Markan material.

  Besides, what the heck do you mean by "tremendous explanatory value"?
  Do you mean "usefulness"? How is *that* a criteria for which
  hypothesis is to be accepted?

PM> It's
PM>very difficult to explain Matthew-Luke agreements
PM>(against Mark) by assuming that Luke had Matthew.
PM>Consider, just for a few samples, Luke's striking
PM>divergences from Matthew in the birth narratives,
PM>the sermon on the mount/plain, and the passion/
PM>resurrection-appearance narratives.

  Does Lk's possible use of Mt necessarily equal Lk having no non-
  Markan material other than Mt?

  But let's give Lk full credit as an author and theologian. He takes
  the material from his sources and thoroughly reworks it according to
  the emphases he wants to make: for example, the John the Baptist birth
  narrative sets the stage for him to make later statements about Jesus
  as priest.

  Lk obviously didn't think much of the way Mt structured his gospel
  around a series of topical discourses. Perhaps Lk wanted to give
  more emphasis to chronology. He certainly has a different theological
  view of Israel: Jesus is much less the personification of Israel in Lk
  than in Mt. This last fact itself could account for Lk's treatment of
  the Sermon on the Mount, which paints Jesus as the new Moses giving
  the new holiness code.

                                          As for a
PM>denial of Markan priority, one must explain, among
PM>many other things, what plausible reason there would
PM>be to produce a gospel like Mark's in the presence
PM>of Matthew's more well-rounded treatment.

  If one wishes to deny Markan priority--and I don't remember directly
  denying it, I haven't really made up my mind between Goulder and
  Griesbach--the case can be made. Note again that Mt so centrally
  depends on long topical discourses. Note also the Markan emphasis on
  action and impetus--the repeated "PALIN"s and "EUTHEWS"s.

  Note also--and studies have been done on this in comparative
  literature--that while Mk's gospel is shorter, it tends to have
  comparatively longer descriptions of the same incidents. Mk describes
  a smaller number of incidents, but he does so with greater verbosity
  and detail. Which is exactly what we would expect from an action-
  minded author working with two longer documents in front of him.

  As I said, I'm not certain of Matthean priority. But I am
  certain that Q need not ever have existed for Mt and Lk to sit before
  us today in their present form.

PM>debate here must be settled by inference to the
PM>best explanation, rather than by strict proof,
PM>but still the assumptions of Markan priority
PM>and Q sources have unsurpassed explanatory power.

  I'm still not exactly certain what you mean by "unsurpassed
  explanatory power." Do you mean that it "ties things up into a neater
  package"? Is that really a reason to resort to dependency on a
  hypothetical document, one claiming no independent evidence of

  That's a judgement call, of course, but in my judgement Q fails the
  test. I'd rather work with documents I *know* existed than build sand
  castles on hypothetical foundations.

  (Hey, waitaminnit, I didn't say anything about Mt and Lk's
  agreements against Mk! Ah, well, another day, another post.)

Grace and peace,

Perry L. Stepp, Baylor University

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