Re: What's Wrong with Q?

From: Stephen Carlson (
Date: Fri Oct 13 1995 - 17:38:56 EDT

Carl W. Conrad wrote:
> At 9:46 AM 10/13/95, Paul Moser wrote:
> >but still the assumptions of Markan priority
> >and Q sources have unsurpassed explanatory power.
> Thanks, Paul. This point of view, which may not be the majority opinion on
> our list but is certainly the majority opinion among NT scholars, needs to
> be re-asserted from time to time,

In light of Dr. Conrad's clarification, I'll just restrict my points as to
why Markan priority and Q are not being held in so high esteem today, even
though a great majority of the NT scholars support it.

1. Academic

The original pillar behind the Two-Source Hypothesis, Lachmann's argument
from order, has been essentially rendered inconclusive by Butler in 1951.
This allowed the neo-Griesbachians (starting with Farmer) to come in with
their own argument from order, but that argument too was shown by Tuckett
to be inconclusive. There is still a cadre of Griesbachians around which
might not exist if the original bases for the 2SH held up to criticism.

Since 1951, much work has shifted to the argument from redaction (e.g.,
Styler). So far, things are looking very promising for the 2SH, but much
more work needs to be done. So I would venture that the reason why many
on this list are not so wild about the 2SH is that this argument has not
been fully explored yet. When the issue is which assumption is more
plausible in explaining certain features, it does not suffice for proponents
of one side to claim that they have come up with stronger reasons than
what can imagine for the other side. *Both* sides have to put forth their
strongest case, but unfortunately it has been rather one-sided for the
moment. The Matthean prioritists must put forth a thorough case and this
hasn't been done yet.

2. Public Relations

Even with the appropriate disclaimers, a lot of the terminology coming
from the Jesus Seminar (e.g., "authenticity") and popularizers of Q
(cf. Mack's use of the words "myth" and "cult") carried along a lot of
unnecessary, negative connotations. This motivated a lot of non-specialists
to be critical of Q, when in fact the Jesus Seminar et al. had almost
nothing substantive to do with establishing that hypothesis. They just
used it for their own ends. On the other hand, I've found that other authors,
such as John Meier and Richard Stein, can use the 2SH in a manner that is
quite respectful of Christians' sensibilities and still be intellectually
honest. Unfortunately, the public sees only the most outspoken -- not
the most reasonable.

Stephen Carlson

Stephen Carlson     :  Poetry speaks of aspirations,  : ICL, Inc.  :  and songs chant the words.     : 11490 Commerce Park Dr.
(703) 648-3330      :                 Shujing 2:35    : Reston, VA  22091   USA

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:37:31 EDT