Re: _The Formation of Q_

From: Greg Carey (
Date: Fri Aug 23 1996 - 14:30:33 EDT

Does anyone else find the formation of Q hypothesis (not so much Kloppenborrg's
version as Mack's) as odd as I do? It's not that I would deny the document's
existence, or even its development over time, but the hypothesis relies upon
several assumptions.

1) We know what Q is. This assumption neglects the possibility that there
could be more to Q than we can reconstruct.

2) Layers of Q may be discerned through careful comparative work. Perhaps.

3) Each reconstructed layer accurately reflects the defining characteristics
(beliefs, behaviors, etc.) of particular communities. Does ANY document do

4) We can trace the histories of these layers over time and place. Well, we
can apply known analogies, but that's about all we can do.

Let's face it. This is poor historiography. If an American historian were to
work on a Supreme Court case with this sort of method and comparable external
data, the results would stun us.

More constructively, what we MIGHT be able to do is trace diverse and possibly
conflicting concerns as they are reflected in Q, then ask how these concerns
might have fit into what we know of early Christianity as a new religious
movement (with reference to sociology). The results WOULD AND SHOULD
necessarily be vague, much less satisfying than Kloppenborg and Mack offer, but
also more sane.

What is there about biblical studies that drives its practicioners to create
such detail?

Greg Carey
Department of Religious Studies
Rhodes College
Memphis, TN 38112 USA

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