Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Luke and “Q”

Initially, I should state that Q was a document created to provide a foundation for the two-document hypothesis. I think we will see little green men before we ever find Q, a mythical document no one ever knew “existed” prior to 1860. I write, not to discuss the merits of Q but, to remind you that B.H. Streeter favored proto-Luke and that Wellhausen concluded that Luke had preserved the better text of Q. I suppose it would be more accurate to say that the earlier versions of Q contained only the sayings of Jesus while the later versions combined the sayings with the passion narrative. Scholars who set forth the text of Q have apparently accepted Wellhausen’s view, since the reconstructed Q is practically a mirror image of the Gospel of Luke. It is also important to remember that the debate in the 1860’s was initially about the historical basis for traditional Christology. The existence of Q was then cited in the argument that challenged the historical basis for traditional Christology. It seem to me, following Occam’s Razor, that the whole idea of Q should be abandoned and the priority of Luke should be considered rather the alternative explanations positing hypothetical documents.

All of this is really an extended introduction to a point I made earlier that the analysis of priority should begin with the passion narrative. Luke clearly has the earlier, more accurate account of the passion narrative. The discussion on Luke is usually sidetracked by the claim that Luke revealed his knowledge of the destruction of Jerusalem. C.H. Dodd and J.A.T. Robinson have adequately addressed this argument.

Briefly, “This generation” refers to those who heard and saw Jesus as witnesses and who are now (the first generation) listening and/or reading Luke. All of the explicit references to the destruction of the city are to be found in the special material of the Gospel of Luke. Those most interested in the fate of Jerusalem were not Gentiles but were Jewish residents of the city. If Luke wrote to the Gentiles post 70 C.E., the most impressive statement he could make would be: “Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem and this prophecy was fulfilled.” If Luke were writing after 70 C.E., he, being a stickler for details, would have noted the separate fates of the city and temple. Although Luke on numerous occasions emphasized the fulfillment of prophecy, nowhere does he indicate that the prophecy regarding the fate of the city has been fulfilled. As Robinson noted, this would be the most impressive statement any NT writer could make. None did. The Temple is still standing when Luke addressed Theophilus. The Temple prophecy of Mark 13:2; Matt 24:2 and Luke 21:6 resembles and echoes the prophecies of Micah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel that God's imminent judgment on Israel would involve the overthrow of the Temple.

But I suppose the most important thing I can say is, have a Happy New Year.

As a postscript, Santa in his year end report notes that no one included "Q" on his/her Christmas wish list!

Copyrighted 2005


Blogger Jim Deardorff said...

Hello Richard,

You've got to be so right on Q. It can be no more than a hypothetical document invented for the theological purpose of making the editorial behavior of the writer of Luke be respectable. Otherwise, with the close verbal agreement between Matthew and Luke, in the "Q" verses, one of the two had to be copying from the other. Having invented Q, NT scholars could more easily assume that the verbal agreements came from the writers of Luke and Matthew each utilizing Q independently (but for some reason never mentioning that so much of their text came from this imaginary document).

But what do you think of the analysis of Michael Goulder, for example, who has repeatedly pointed to spots where Luke is (irreversibly) dependent upon Matthew? And of so many others who find that Luke is dependent upon Mark?

3:59 PM

Blogger Richard H. Anderson said...


I believe in the priority of Luke in Greek and I am undecided which came second and third. On most days, I believe Matt was both first and last, first as a Hebrew or Aramaic text and last as a Greek text. I have read Goulder's first work but not the later ones. Could you provide me some examples where Goulder is irreversibly dependent upon Matthew?

Richard H. Anderson

9:34 AM

Blogger Anne and Mike said...

It seems like the gospels are telling us that temples made by men are to be destroyed, and that the Spirit only dwells in our heart and that Spirit flows from Jesus' words.

Perhaps the writers of Luke and Matthew are in cahoots when they wrote...their gospels complement each other.

11:54 AM


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