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Old 07-31-2001, 03:24 PM   #1
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Lightbulb "Q" and the Synoptic Gospels

In my quest to understand how the "official" canon was assembled I eventually stumbled upon the "synoptic problem" as well as the famous "Q" hypothesis.

So, bearing in mind that I am far from an expert, I am curious to hear everyone's take on the "synoptic problem" and "Q".

Does everyone think that the parts that do agree in Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John all spring from a common source--possibly "Q"? If so, how do you explain the many parts that do not agree?

Or, is "Q" just an attempt by Christian scholars to corroborate the common threads and explain away the Gospel errancy?

On that note, I also offer two book reviews that some might find of interest:

The Gospel Behind The Gospels, edited by Ronald A. Piper.

This book is a compellation of sixteen studies which present an international perspective on the whole "Q" hypothesis. These sixteen gospel scholars move this debate into the next century. Topics covered include: Q's existence, its relationship to Mark's gospel and to the Gospel of Thomas, its alleged genre, its redactional history, reference to the Son of Man and to prophetic traditions, its social history , a feminist analysis of Q, and its relation to the historical Jesus.

I'll warn you upfront, this compellation is a hard read and I would not suggest this book to a novice. Also, due to it's price, one might be better served locating it at a local library.

The second book is:The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings by Bart D. Ehrman.

This book is an introductory text to the New Testament and I highly recommend it--especially to the novice. Professor Ehrman states from the beginning that his book is written from a historical stance. That being said, he specifically avoids trying to judge whether or not the New T is "divinely" inspired. Basically, the reader is left to decide for themselves.

This book is well written and is easy to understand. It covers the formation of the the New Testament, the "synoptic problem" and a brief discussion on "Q". Throughout the text he tries to show the readers "why scholars say what they say" regarding a particular stance. He then leaves it up to the reader to form an individual opinion. Also, every chapter ends with suggested readings in case one wishes to research further.

I liked the second book so much I plan on buying it!

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Old 07-31-2001, 03:55 PM   #2
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These links should work better.

The Gospel Behind The Gospels, edited by Ronald A. Piper.

The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings by Bart D. Ehrman.

I don't think that 'Q' is necessarily a Christian construction, although some Christians try to make use of it. I was impressed with the arguments on the anti-Q site on Fatigue in the Synoptics.
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Old 07-31-2001, 05:58 PM   #3
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Q has nothing to do with the errancy of the Bible. Indeed, conservative Christians tend to be opposed to Q. This is because Q in recent scholarship has been taken to represent the views of those who did not believe Jesus to be a Messiah or God.

Plenty of information related to the Q issue is available here:
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Old 07-31-2001, 06:59 PM   #4
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is a good link for the debate about Q. At one time or another, I have debated about every detail surrounding the synoptic problem. Do I think that Matthew and Luke share a common source, aka Q? I am not sure.
I have read a great deal that argues for the priority of Matthew. Having said that, I suppose I lean towards the traditional Mark first, Matthew and Luke using Q. I do wonder what link the Egerton gospel has with the synoptics and John. Here is a good link about possible Matthew priority which would do away with the need for a Q. This is known as the Greisbach or two gospel hypothesis:
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Old 08-01-2001, 05:55 AM   #5
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Interesting links!

I think I am "Q'd" out now! The stuff makes one's head spin.

It has always been my "hypothesis" that a "God" would have kept a text that chronicles not only his existence, but salvation as well, relatively simple for all to understand.

Well, in light of the Hebrew, Catholic, and Protestant bibles and in light of how they were assembled. Well, I doubt a divine power at play.

"Q" and the synoptic problem only strengthens my suspicions. The author of the Ehrman book comments that there are somewhere around 200,000 textual differences between the copies of the Gospels that we do have.

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Old 08-01-2001, 05:58 AM   #6
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Tuckett, from Q and the History of Early Christianity p. 13-14

"Modern Griesbachians have never denied the existence of other traditions, or even 'sources', available to all three evangelists. Unless one is prepared to argue that Matthew invented his gospel de novo, then Matthew according to the GH must have been heavily dependent on earlier sources and traditions The same applies to Luke in material which is peculiar to his gospel. What is perhaps ironic in the present discussion is that many advocates of the GH today would adopt precisely this view in relation to several passages in Luke where Luke runs closely parallel to Matthew. Such a theory is said to be necessary to account for the fact that Luke's version sometimes seems to be more primitive than Matthew's parallel. [gives two examples...]

The irony is that this is effectively some kind of Q is a clear admission that the parallel versions cannot all be satisfactorily explained by Luke's direct use of Matthew without recourse to other (lost) sources or traditions."

Thus, it seems whatever you commit to, you are stuck with Q or a close cousin. I admit to leaning toward Q as the likeliest answer, but Goodacre's site on Q makes an excellent case against it, and I don't think Tuckett does that great a job answering Goulder's objections about the minor agreements, although his discussion of the problem of Luke's choice of material is devastating to Goulder.


[ August 01, 2001: Message edited by: turtonm ]
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