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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Why Christianity Happened: from Jewish sinners to gentile sinners

This section is a combination of a macro-historical/macro-sociological approach along with some close reading of certain texts in order to explain historical change and how the Jesus movement concerned with Jews spread to gentiles very shortly after Jesus’ death. This section provides the important link, to put it very crudely, between Jesus and Christianity when it was law observant, the chronology of which I outlined in The Date of Mark's Gospel. The fifth section will deal with the next big step, the social reasons for the rise of non-observance and Pauline theology.

It is clear that the behaviour attributed to Jewish ‘sinners’ was more or less the same as that attributed to gentiles: the two categories were non-coincidentally overlapping to a high degree. Jesus’ mission to sinners provides the ideological impetus for the emergence beyond Judaism. But there were certain long term socio-economic features that were permitting, as it were, this spread. Macro-sociologists (e.g. P. Nolan, G. Lenski, and R. Stark [sort of]) have noted the emergence of universal religions (e.g. Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity via Judaism) in the context of the long term development of agrarian empires. This is for a number of reasons to do with increasing communications and Empire building which would bring diverse human groups in closer connection and gradually erode old tribal, parochial or ethnic views. I think this is right but there is a significant lack of evidence given (naturally enough though) by macro-sociologists to back up such grand claims. I qualify this (and in fact this is precisely my present major research topic) with reference to a universalising monotheism being much more widespread at, and much more developed by, the time of Christian origins (as should be expected from macro-sociological generalisations). And this includes much of so-called ‘pagan’ thought. Significantly, on Greco-Roman pagan monotheism, some of the research done has shown how, combined with various social and economic factors, paved the way for Christianity to become the religion of the Empire.

There were a few stumbling blocks for Judaism, should Jews wish, and presumably many did not, to develop into a more universalising religion. In terms of conversion to Judaism (more on this another time) there were problematic issues of circumcision (for men, obviously), kinship, ethnicity etc. But there were other aspects of Jewish thought that could actualise (to use a phrase I don’t use in the book) the potential to spark off a shift towards a more widespread, universalising trend, helped by wide ranging Jewish social networks which were part of and interacted with various non-Jewish networks. I give various reasons why, in light of the socio-economic circumstances of Galilee outlined earlier, the Jesus movement made the choices that set things in motion for the spread to gentiles very shortly after Jesus’ death.

In the beginning things were all law observant, at least ‘officially’. The rest of the chapter shows how the earliest gospel traditions were transmitted wittingly or unwittingly with the considerations of a shift from law observant Jew to law observant Jew and gentile. The key thing here is how the transmission of the texts are significant for pushing along these broader historical trends, how the the transmitted texts were particularly conducive to the long term currents of history. And I begin with…Q

Now calm down all Q sceptics for just one moment (and I know there are a few of you out there, including one well known one). I don’t define Q very strongly. In fact I leave much wide open and define what might be necessary for the debate. The debate functions with the loosest definition of Q as a shorthand for pre-Matthean, pre-Lukan sources and nothing more. While I believe in a general Q, I have not been convinced that this was necessarily a collection or a gospel or anything like that. Just sources for now, ok?

With that solved (note the sarcasm, please!), the real function of looking at early pre-gospel sources is that they were transmitted when the general changes I describe were taking place and so potentially back up my case. And surprise, surprise they do! Generally, there is nothing in what is generally labelled Q or earliest gospel tradition that contradicts any biblical law. There are passages that interpret biblical laws, just like Jesus did, just like plenty of others did. In terms of transmitting in light of certain debates relevant to the shifts I outline, I look in some detail at the washing of the cups passage and how this functioned in terms of contemporary halakic purity laws. This includes all sorts of details on the function of the impurity of handles and the transmission of impurity from hands to cups to drinkers and the various choices of words. The key thing here is the stress on morality. The same goes for the tithing passage which I also discuss in detail with some discussion of various herbs for any herbalists out there.

These passages are important for social interaction and an analogy (and it is nothing more than that) with the rabbinic people of the land partly shows how these traditions would function among different groups, including interaction of people deemed rich and poor, so crucial as we saw. I also show from a social historical perspective how traditions could function in contexts related to the emergence of the Jesus movement. Moreover, they justify an overriding of certain expanded purity laws with an emphasis on morality and the moral issues raised are precisely the kinds of discussions found with sinners (Jewish and gentile). There is some discussion of how this provides one reason (among others) why these specific traditions were transmitted in earliest Christianity in the context outlined above and tied in with the causal chain already discussed. There are related discussions too e.g. gentiles in Q/earliest tradition (there is virtually no interest). The key thing is that a cluster of traditions intimately related to the issue of social interaction among different groups, including those relating to ‘gentile issues’ were transmitted partly because they were very useful.

I then go and apply this to Mark 6-8 in the light of what I wrote on Mark 7:1-23 in The Date of Mark’s Gospel. As a reminder to all you may not have bought the £65 book (ok, £30-ish pbk), I argue with reference to contemporary purity laws that this passage, including 7.19, is not an attack on food laws but a critique of the transmission of impurity from hands-to-food-to-eater, i.e. a critique of hand-washing before ordinary food (and note on top of this the constant contrasting of biblical law versus ‘tradition’). I take the usual view (though I was almost persuaded otherwise once) that the two feedings include one Jewish, one gentile, and that there is catch-wording (typical of haggadic traditions – see R. Aus) suggesting that there is something going on in terms of narrative interconnections. I add a few bits and pieces from Jewish cultural assumptions to back this up. So how does Mk 7.1-23 fit in here if I do not see food laws as an issue?

Well, it could be argued that all the stress on purity could mean that there is a concern for that widely held view that gentiles had some kind of inherent impurity (Alon’s influential view) and that Jesus breaks down that barrier. But it seems that there was no such thing as inherent gentile impurity. Instead, it has been convincingly shown (e.g. Klawans, Hayes) that gentiles were regarded as immoral and this was what was really 'impure' about them (though not inherent). And so there are various vice lists outlining all the naughty things gentiles got up to (idolatry, sex, theft, drinking etc.), the kinds of lists that make it into the NT. The kind of list that makes it into Mark 7.21-23… Now there are other lists without this frame of reference but notice that straight after all the gentile stuff starts happening in Mark 7. Mark 7:21-23 puts the concerns for gentile behaviour in story form if you like. On top of this note again the legal emphasis in Mk 7. On top of that note the catchword ‘bread’ in 6-8. I speculate that rabbinic traditions about bread-law-wisdom might be in the background too.

Anyway, this, I go on to argue is a major justification for law observance among Jews and gentiles in earliest Christianity. This, along with the ‘Q’ stuff, provides empirical examples. In one sense this is kind of window dressing because there overall argument does not depend too much on my readings being right or wrong. The readings are there to provde complementary empirical evidence. What is key, is that there is a movement toward gentiles that stays law observant in the early years, and that it extremely difficult to dispute.

So there is some discussion of the shift to gentiles. The final major section is how we get non-observance and here social reasons are used in a major way. At the time to my surprise (but not now) this final section has led to the most hostility from very conservative scholars but agreement from non-conservatives and the occassional evangelical. And next we’ll see how my tampering with approaches to social networks and conversion might explain the big step toward a new religion in its own right, the social reasons for the rise of non-observance and Pauline views on law and justification…


UPDATE: The 'Q' comments have been raging. Trust the Q-sceptical blogging community to have such sharp eyes for every single word (I mean that entirely as a compliment lest I be misinterpreted). See the comments on this blog, in addition to Mark Goodacre and Stephen Carlson. Any other Q related things I've missed, just let me know.

30 Comments:

Blogger Stephen C. Carlson said...

By "pre-Matthean, pre-Lukan sources" do you mean written or oral source(s)?

November 01, 2006

 
Blogger James Crossley said...

In the book I leave that open because it does not directly affecxt my argument. For what it is worth I think that in specific cases judgements can be made (e.g. strong literary parallels in the many cases implying a literary source). I'm also attracted to the idea of multiple sources with Q as the convenient shorthand.

November 01, 2006

 
Blogger J. B. Hood said...

JC,

More later on this maybe, but I wanted to drop a quote that cracked me up, relevant to a question you had on your blog some while ago. Hope you don't mind the length, feel free to disregard.

I fully realize that the dreaded f-word will be trotted out to stigmatize any model of this kind. Before responding, however, we must first look into the use of this term 'fundamentalist'. On the most common contemporary academic use of the term, it is a term of abuse or disapprobation, rather like 'son of a bitch', more exactly 'sonovabitch', or perhaps still more exactly (at least according to those authorities who look to the Old West as normative on matters of pronunciation) 'sumbitch'. When the term is used in this way, no definition of it is ordinarily given. (If you called someone a sumbitch, would you feel obliged first to define the term?) Still, there is a bit more to the meaning of 'fundamentalist' (in this widely current use): it isn't simply a term of abuse. In addition to its emotive force, it does have some cognitive content, and ordinarily denotes relatively conservative theological views. That makes it more like 'stupid sumbitch' (or maybe 'fascist sumbitch'?) than 'sumbitch' simpliciter. It isn't exactly like that term either, however, because its cognitive content can expand and contract on demand; its content seems to depend on who is using it. In the mouths of certain liberal theologians, for example, it tends to denote any who accept traditional Christianity, including Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Barth; in the mouths of devout secularists like Richard Dawkins or Daniel Dennett, it tends to denote anyone who believes there is such a person as God. The explanation is that the term has a certain indexical element: its cognitive content is given by the phrase 'considerably to the right, theologically speaking, of me and my enlightened friends.' The full meaning of the term, therefore (in this use), can be given by something like 'stupid sumbitch whose theological opinions are considerably to the right of mine'.

--Alvin Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief (Oxford UP, 2000), pp. 244-245

November 01, 2006

 
Anonymous Christopher Shell said...

Well said, Plantinga. Re Q, how is it possible to assume that everything shared by Matthew and Luke (not to mention the M and L material) derives from a source? (In theory, it's possible that very little of it does.) Is this the 'nothing was ever invented' fallacy mentioned by Sanders?

November 01, 2006

 
Blogger Ken Olson said...

James,

I have three questions on your position on Q (sorry, I bet you are looking forward to getting feedback on something else by now).

1) Your definition of Q (loosest definition of Q as a shorthand for pre-Matthean, pre-Lukan sources and nothing more) would include Mark, would it not? Is that intentional? And if not, why do you exclude Mark and/or Markan material from it?

2) If you mean for Q to represent the earliest gospel sources shared by Matthew and Luke, but not including Mark, how early is that? Is it earlier than your dating of Mark (reign of Caligula or thereabouts)?

3) You point out that nothing in these earliest sources contradicts a biblical law. What, if anything, do you find in the finished canonical gospels that does?

Best,

Ken

November 01, 2006

 
Blogger Stephen C. Carlson said...

Thanks for that, James. My main concern is that "Q" has a fairly specific meaning, and your desire (probably wise) to leave certain aspects of it open means that you are not really talking about Q as we know but something else.

November 01, 2006

 
Blogger J. B. Hood said...

I agree with Stephen; Q as you talk about it (and as I have in class and elsewhere) is not really Q as it's treated in the lit these days: pick up a book by a "Q advocate" and the idea of Q as a vague source is simply not kosher

November 01, 2006

 
Blogger Jim said...

I'd like to talk more about sinners. If the early Church was comprised mostly of Jews, and Gentile proselytes (or so it seems from Acts) is it really proper to draw a distinction between jewish and gentile sinners? Wouldn't they, I mean, have all been "Jews" at one level or another? At least in the NT texts. After, say, 150, of course the Church was predominantly Gentile. Until then, though...

November 01, 2006

 
Blogger James Crossley said...

Thanks for all that.

Firstly, like the Plantinga quotation.

Christopher: Yes, I agree to an extent, esp. the M and L stuff. While this remains possible for the 'Q' material, a stronger case can be made for there being something earlier. But ultimately, a case by case study is what has to underlie it all (that is another monumental task in itself and has been done by others). I'll get back to this point...But have I read you fairly here?

Ken: 1) my definition of Q is simply shorthand, that's right. I wouldn't include Mark partly for convenience and partly because there is the possibility that this material was not known to Mark. I include Markan material side-by-side as it happens because I'm thinking more in terms of earliest tradition.

2) I haven't properly tried but I would think it were possible to attempt to date some material if there were some kind of useful historical allusions or someting like that. But in the case of much of the material, who knows? Some material has a strong case of going back to the historical Jesus, some could have been entirely invented in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s for all I know. Some could have been modified here and there. A lot of it is just too vague on details like that to make a sufficent case. But what I want to focus on is the reasons why this stuff was transmitted in light of shifting practices.

3) Nothing in the synoptic gospels. John is different. E.g. John 5 seems to me to make the point loud and clear.

(PS Ken what is the picture?)

Stephen and Jason: I agree that the option that I entertain, i.e. that we are talking about here, is not the conventional defnition. And for what it is worth I don't really mind what it is called. But it is one option (again for what it is worth). Maurice Casey uses Q sort of in this sense and his Aramaic Approach to Q is a prominent enough book and he is building on earlier work. I also believe he has a PhD student and blog frequenter working on this area as we speak.

Jim: as you imply a lot will hang on dates. When I talk of the language of sinners I'm talking about the 30s. Rhetorically speaking there would have been broad overlap, though presumably Jewish sinners would have been circumcised. That, as I see it, is a key rhetorical/ideological/whatever context. Of course once conversion had taken place that changes things. It's the potential converts that are important here. Just one point, kind of related: Paul can talk to Peter about gentile sinners in Gal. 2. But I see your point.

November 01, 2006

 
Blogger Mark Goodacre said...

James: thanks for the clarificatory comments both here and in my blog. I reckon there is still some talking past each other, so let me attempt to hone the question down to one issue: what is your definition of Q? You appear eager to use the term "Q" in this post, and I and others were struck by your apparent definition of Q as meaning something akin to pre-Matthean, pre-Lucan sources. Your words were, "the loosest definition of Q as a shorthand for pre-Matthean, pre-Lukan sources and nothing more". Well we all believe in pre-Matthean, pre-Lucan sources, but no one else (to my knowledge) calls this large, undefined pool "Q". What I (and I think others) are trying to get at is why do you feel that it is helpful to make such an expansive definition of Q? Your problem, it seems to me, is either (a) You are not in fact talking about Q at all, but about pre-Matthean, pre-Lucan sources more generally; or (b) You are talking about Q but have not defined it clearly. If (a), then why use the term Q? That doesn't make any sense to me. Q theorists will say, "Well he's not discussing Q, so why does he use the term?" and Q sceptics will say, "Well he doesn't actually believe in Q, so why is he using the term. If (b), I think we need to hear a more precise definition. You have indicated in comments that you do not include Mark in these "pre-Matthean, pre-Lucan sources". What else is excluded?

You refer to Maurice Casey's work on Q. Maurice's definition (Aramaic Approach, p. 5 is "Q is a convenient label for the sources of passages which are found in both the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke, and which have not been taken from Mark's Gospel". How does your definition differ?

Thanks very much, Mark

November 01, 2006

 
Blogger James Crossley said...

I think you're right Mark. I think part of the problem is my fault in that there is little discussion of Q in the book and I made more of it that is necessary. I actually leave the debate wide open in the book, including the idea of a written 'gospel'. I do this because I wanted the arguments to stand sort of alone (I know it won't please all) without having to define the precise nature of these sources too clearly.

Another reason for not defining things too clearly is that I cannot come to a clear conclusion on the matter. For several years I have wanted a precise definition but I just can't make my mind up. Maurice has just about persuaded me of his version and if I were pushed I would take such an approach. But in the book I put it forward as a possibility and I wanted to show that what I'm saying works with a few different models (even an oral Q, even though I don't 100% believe in that).

This is why I think some of the blog confusion has arisen. When I use Q as a shorthand, I in fact use it to cover a few definitions of Q and leave open the question of its precise nature. I juist didn't think it was a necessary issue for the book and it would not have changed the result at all. That's why I gave the vague definition on the blog, though it seems I should have clarified that point a bit more.

The synoptic model I would work with is generally the idea of Mark and Q/Sources used by Matthew and Luke. It's just that I use I cannot bring myself to say there was a Q gospel or anything. Moreover, I think Mark did not have access to at least some of these sources and so I think it can still be fruitful to define it with some term and as some have done this with 'Q' then this works. But as I don't want to be tied down to a Q definition then Q can cover a few options which proponents have defined as Q.

Now in general if I follow a Maurice-type definition and that makes me a Q sceptic (do you regard Maurice as a Q sceptic btw?) then, as I said, I have no problem at all with that.

Does that help?

As a speculative aside I also wonder if academic context may have something to do with this. In Nottingham and Sheffield I have had people around me who think of Q in a vague kind of way and it is no big deal to me. But presumably people like yourself who are constantly engaging with the details of a Tuckett or a Kloppenborg, the idea of a more fixed Q is where the big debate lies.

November 02, 2006

 
Anonymous Christopher Shell said...

James-
Thanks for that. For the double tradition the options are many:
(1) Q - whether oral or written or a mixture. This runs into insuperable problems, since the degree of correspondence between Matthew and Luke here is on a sliding scale rather than dividing neatly into verbatim and loose. Which means it can better be explained in terms of Luke's customary greater freedom with his sources.
(2) Accepting Luke's use of Matthew, extending M accordingly, and seeing some of M as potentially dominical. This is the Goodacre position, which I don't fully share with regard to M being dominical.
(3) Goulder: M is largely made up by Matthew. Again I disagree (as does Sanders). There are other possible sources for M other than Matthew and Jesus.
All in all, there are all sorts of different positions held by scholars which would question seeing the double tradition as early, dominical, or both.

November 02, 2006

 
Blogger steph said...

If we all concede to the existence of pre-Matthew and pre-Luke sources, then maybe we can allow these sources (oral, written, Greek and Aramaic...) a label like Qs or mini qs. While even Kloppenborg concedes that parsimony is unlikely to reflect historical reality, he notes that simple hypotheses are "useful" and complex hypotheses are impossible to disprove. But a complex hypothesis is more likely to be true. Not that we need to go down the French track again, but I believe that the time has arrived... to explore more mini qs.

November 02, 2006

 
Blogger Stephen C. Carlson said...

You might want to call this material "Double Tradition," which is what it is and makes no assertations as to its nature (i.e. oral, written, integral, or fragmentary sources).

November 02, 2006

 
Blogger Mark Goodacre said...

Christopher: I have never said that I think that M is "dominical" or "potentially dominical".

Steph: I hear what you are saying but dislike the idea of talking in general terms about pre-Matthean and pre-Lucan sources as "Q" or "qs" or whatever. What would that add to the debate except the possibility of more confusion? Q has a well defined identity, and good definitions lead to clear thinking and articulate debates. To illustrate the point, why not talk about pre-Matthean or pre-Lucan sources as little "m"s or little "l"s, or little "mark"s?

James: thanks very much for taking the time to spell out your thoughts more clearly. What I am still not hearing, though, is what material you are describing as Q. When you answer my question about definitions, you tend to default to discussing whether pre-Matthean and pre-Lucan sources are written, or oral, single or multiple. But there is a more basic issue here and that is that the so-called Q material is a specific body of material that is constituted by the non-Marcan material common to Matthew and Luke. Do you at least share that standard descriptive base? When you are saying "Q", are you talking about the double tradition or not? This is still not clear to me.

Yes, of course academic context is going to influence our perspective on the issues. I don't think I'd love studying the Synoptics so much if it were not for Ed Sanders in Oxford twenty years ago. But whatever our background, as soon as one is using a particular terminology, one is speaking into a particular context in which terms have an normative meaning. In Gospel studies, Q, as you know, designates something recognisable and I don't know that being "vague" is a serious option. To illustrate, what if one of your students said in her essay on the Synoptic Problem that she had decided to be "vague" about the data, and was using the term "Q" to refer to all pre-Matthean, pre-Lucan material? You would rightly explain to her that she needs to get her thinking and terminology clear first, wouldn't you? Thanks again James. All best, Mark

November 02, 2006

 
Blogger steph said...

Hi Mark - I'm interested in James' query: do you think that Maurice is a Q sceptic.

I not proposing to increase the confusion of the problem. I'm suggesting that the problem hasn't been fully solved and I'm hoping that we can investigate further the solution proposed by Maurice Casey.

Once upon a time I believed in Q, then I didn't and became a sceptic and now I'm sceptical of Q scepticism. If everybody really does agree that there are pre-matt and pre-luke sources (which seems pretty vague) then these need to be more clearly identified and tagged (mini qs!)

November 03, 2006

 
Blogger Mark Goodacre said...

Hi Steph. Thanks for that. I think it would be difficult to tag someone who has written a book called "An Aramaic Approach to Q" a Q sceptic, though I think it is correct to say that he is asking important questions about the consensus single-document view.

I am sorry to hear that you are now "sceptical of Q scepticism", but even so, I don't know why one would want to use the term "Q", even in the re-designation "mini qs". Why not mini ls or mini ms? In other words, what is it about the Q theory that you would want to be replicating, echoing or continuing in the designation "mini qs"?

This relates to what I am asking James about. If one thinks that Matthew and Luke have used Mark independently of one another, some kind of Q or hypothesis is implicated for the double tradition. Do you think that Matthew and Luke used Mark independently of one another?

November 03, 2006

 
Blogger James Crossley said...

Thanks for that Mark. It helps clarify things further.

You said, 'what I am still not hearing, though, is what material you are describing as Q...But there is a more basic issue here and that is that the so-called Q material is a specific body of material that is constituted by the non-Marcan material common to Matthew and Luke. Do you at least share that standard descriptive base?'

The answer is yes. I think I have been assuming things too much here. On top of that I have been assuming that Matt and Luke used Mark independently of one another. I am assuming a model of the 2-source hypothesis but leaving open precisely what the Q-source would have looked like, because I've properly come to a satisfactory conclusion. I've been assuming that all along (hence Q) and obviously I should have made that clearer.

'In Gospel studies, Q, as you know, designates something recognisable and I don't know that being "vague" is a serious option.'

That's not quite what I mean by vague here. What I mean is that I cannot yet come to a conclusion on what this source looked like and so in one sense I am being vague to leave open the option I think it could be (as I said I leave open the gospel/collection option but in reality I need to be yet convinced).

'To illustrate, what if one of your students said in her essay on the Synoptic Problem that she had decided to be "vague" about the data, and was using the term "Q" to refer to all pre-Matthean, pre-Lucan material? You would rightly explain to her that she needs to get her thinking and terminology clear first, wouldn't you?'

Yes, of course. Now if the student went and argued that a strong case can be made for various sources that were used independently by Matt and Luke and that Matt and Luke used Mark independently and then went on to say that this is a vague Q because it might be a shorthand for a variety of chaotic sources then I would have no problem with that so long as it was defined. The example of Casey shows that this option is an available scholarly option. In my case, I am assuming people would have known I meant something like this (though if could re-blog on it again, I would make it clearer).

On Steph's point, whether this is called mini-qs or mini-ls or mini-ms, I wouldn't be too bothered whatever way. I just suppose the convenience of the labels traditionally used and in Steph's case Maurice supervising her then Q may be the obvious label perhaps. But if the argument is known then is there much point debating over the label whe it is the substance that counts?

November 03, 2006

 
Anonymous Christopher Shell said...

Mark- re your comment
Here I am talking not about M as commonly understood, but about M as it exists in a world without Q: ie redefined and expanded M, otherwise known as the nonMarkan portions of Matthew. If there is no Q, then M increases.

In 1994 you suggested to me (apparently against Goulder, but with Sanders) that not all of non-Markan Matthew is 'Mark, Scripture or imagination', and named (possibly flippantly) 'Jesus' as the actual source of some of nonMarkan Matthew. (Not that that is such a scandalous or unheard-of idea!! :o))

James-
I expressed myself badly in my last comment. The options for double tradition material are any one of the following, or a mixture of the following:
(1) It derives unmediated from Jesus via oral tradition;
(2) It is to be explained by Q. This option is only acceptable, as Mark rightly says, if the arguments in favour of Luke's use of Matthew (or even vice-versa)have first been weighed and found wanting. Because the untenability of a Matthew-Luke connection would be the only reason for positing Q in the first place.
(3) It consists in homiletic expansions / exegesis / midrash / accretions / sytematisations of Jesus's teaching / additions of the teachings of others.
There are therefore all sorts of different possibile scenarii wherein the double tradition is not prime evidence for the teaching of Jesus.

An additional point: the view of Q as a chaotic mixture of sources is untenable. How could Matthew and Luke have possibly just so happened independently to gather so many of the *same* chaotically scattered sources without bumping into one another in the process?

November 03, 2006

 
Blogger James Crossley said...

Christopher: 'An additional point: the view of Q as a chaotic mixture of sources is untenable. How could Matthew and Luke have possibly just so happened independently to gather so many of the *same* chaotically scattered sources without bumping into one another in the process?'

I don't agree. Traditions can turn up independently elsewhere (e.g. rabbinic). Chaotic can mean different collections too. Multiple copies could have been made of smaller collections of sources. I think Casey's explanation involved multiple copies and wax tablets and things like that, some in Greek some in Aramaic (this is certainly a possible solution). If he didn't write that in his Q book (I don't have it at hand) I remember numerous conversations along those lines when I was his PhD student. It's speculative of course (hence my constant doubt) but it is another possible explanation.

November 06, 2006

 
Blogger steph said...

Chaotic Model summed up from Maurice Casey's "An Aramaic Approach to Q" pp. 189-90:

Three Greek Qs: one with John the Baptist (prompting Matthew and Luke to align it with Mark's); one with the Beelzebul controversy (same reaction from Matthew and Luke) and one with some passion material. A Greek "multi-Q" never having had common order, including orally transmitted sayings. Much of this may be authentic and translated from Aramaic. Finally an Aramaic Q including material from Luke 11 and Matthew 23.

"This model may be too simple ... It presupposes material handed down among different Christian communities and written down on wax tablets and the like. The process of writing it down may have begun during the historic ministry. It contains a very high proportion of originally authentic material, and a significant part of the Gospel writers' editing can be determined because of their differences from each other..."

November 07, 2006

 
Blogger Ken Olson said...

James,

I agree with Mark and Stephen that it might be better simply to speak of the ‘double tradition’ rather than ‘Q’ if you are not speaking of Q as traditionally defined in scholarship. However, rejecting the traditional Q paradigm is not something to be done lightly as a lot of other things rest on it. While rejecting traditional Q, you still seem to be thinking largely in Two-Document Hypothesis terms. You say ‘there is the possibility that this material was not known to Mark.’ But I think the more pertinent question for a hypothesis like yours, which dates Mark early and does not conceive of the double tradition as a single pre-Markan document, is: how much influence did the circulation of Mark have on forming the other material that came to be written down later in the other gospels? I would think it would be a lot more than none.

(The picture is of three former cast members from ER. I’ll probably change it if I ever get around to posting anything new on my long-dormant blog).

Best wishes,

Ken

November 07, 2006

 
Anonymous Christopher Shell said...

The difficulty is that complex models like that will always be less likely than the simple model. The reason people evoke complex Qs rather than simple Qs is at root the variance in correspondence between Matthew and Luke. This is something not explained by multiple sources; and when we start evoking multiple redactions it becomes apparent just how much more (unnecessarily) complicated all Q theories must be. People always have to end up evoking Q1, Q2, Q3, or QMt, QLk. Simpler to say that Luke was able to be free with his sources.

November 07, 2006

 
Blogger James Crossley said...

Ken:L thanks forthe picture info! the reaons I retain Q is because structurally it remains the conventional two source theory. Moreover, Casey recently described this as Q and complained that there was a scholarly tradition of doing this that is often ignored. But again I'm not overly bothered with what this is called. In termsof the book (though this discussion may not make it seems so) this definitional issue is not any major concern.

As for Mark influencing if I'm right on Mark, well, that's no easy task. But knowledge of the general gospel story or stories would always have the potential to influence, irrespective of the date or availablity of Mark.

Christopher: I think the chaotic model is simple enough if that is worth anythign. A lot of the time things are being asserted here and we simply don't know the answer. It is historically plausibile to have a chaotic model to explain the transmission of sources so it can hardly be ruled out because another method seems more simple to us.

November 07, 2006

 
Blogger James Crossley said...

Oh, and I should probably add the Horsley/Draper approach to Q: this is not traditional Q but it shows the label has the potential in scholarly circles to be used in different ways.

November 07, 2006

 
Anonymous Christopher Shell said...

Of course I guess the real reason why we Q-sceptics object to the siglum Q being used at all is twofold:
(a) to see 'Q' on a page subconsciously gives credence to the view that Mt and Lk were independent, whether or not this has been argued for;
(b) it is inexact. If scholars use it in a variety of ways, then the sooner we put a stop to that the better!! :o) Scholarship is about nothing if it is not about precision, and one can easily substitute 'oral source[s]' or 'written source[s]' - or even postulate particular sources and name them - rather than speak of 'Q'.
Of course, these extra sources automatically make our theory less economical, and therefore need to be warranted and argued for.
What is methodologically contradictory is postulating any of them unless it has first been shown that Matthew and Luke are likely to be independent. That would be putting the cart before the horse. Hence my appeal to simple theories: the simple logical rule of Occam's razor.

November 08, 2006

 
Blogger James Crossley said...

Well the razor is double edged so to speak and some may counter that alternative approaches to the synoptic problem are not the simplest. And really we should be sayin what is historically plausible (and sources are) and not ruling things out if they cannot be ruled out. I see no point in ruling something out if I can't give a proper reason why. If I come to the conclusion that I just can't decide then that has to be it!

Slightly off-topic, it seems clear that there are a lot of scholarly Q sceptics around the internet. Is this the case in the world of NT studies as a whole (not just the published material?)? I ask out of curiosity more than anything.

November 08, 2006

 
Anonymous Christopher Shell said...

I'd list the reasons for Q scepticism's prominence on the internet as the following:
(1) Goodacre's site is the nonpareil;
(2) A high proportion of synoptic problem specialists are Q sceptics;
many Q believers have simply imbibed from Streeter-based NT introductions;
(3) Q sceptics have more to say, and more need to argue, since they are not 'in possession'. I have noticed this in another field: the abortion debate. When one side is in possession they become lazier about producing actual arguments - there is a danger of 'might is right'.
Excursus: Specialists are often at odds with NT introductions:
(a) By far the majority of detailed in-depth up-to-date Pastorals commentaries are in favour of authenticity or production by someone close to Paul.
(b) Again, probably a majority of Revelation-dating specialists go for 68-70, yet the introductions go for 95.
(c) With the synoptic problem there's the same pattern: Q-sceptics on the coalface, Q-believers writing introductions.

All this either shows that NT introductions are in a rut and out of touch; or that writers of introductions are not specialists in everything, and have a little knowledge about a large number of topics (a little knowledge is always a dangerous thing); or that if you're not in possession you have to work harder to make your case.

(4) Sanders is eloquent and influential;

(5) Most people will go for the economical alternative unless there is a compelling reason not to. Apart from anything else, it saves all that time-consuming and speculative Q analysis. The very thought that it might all be a monumental waste of time!

While an undergraduate I found the arguments for and against Q finely balanced. A little later, I suddenly realised some reasons why Q (almost certainly) could not have existed.

It is so difficult to remove paradigms in NT studies. That has nothing to do with whether the said paradigms are right or wrong, and everything to do with the fact that many people don't change many views after the age of 30. The Q sceptics are doing as well as can be expected here.

November 09, 2006

 
Blogger steph said...

Christopher hello, which q almost certainly could not have existed? Are you suggesting that Matthew and Luke had no access to any written material other than Mark, and for Luke, Matthew?

I just find that historically extraordinary.

November 09, 2006

 
Anonymous Christopher Shell said...

Steph
No. I'm saying that the patterns of evidence don't suggest any sources that are simultaneously (a) lost and (b) written. Oral tradition will always be operative. I consider that there is plenty of that behind Mark. Such oral tradition may sometimes be more-or-less first hand: hence Luke's knowledge of Clopas, Simeon & Anna, Joanna & Susanna, Zacchaeus. But (and this is the big but) the way that Matthew and Luke handle Markan passages doesn't suggest that they had alternative sources of narrative information (apart from, in the passion narrative etc, John; and, in Matthew's case, folk legend). As for teaching material, that can always be systematised, exegeted, updated and accreted as opposed to being found in a lost source.

November 10, 2006

 

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