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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Deinde and the ever expanding Q

Good old, pool drawing Danny Deinde continues to interact with my book and I continue to be too stupid (I absolutely concede that criticism ;-)) to use the comments section. Now, in fear of opening the can of Q worms (now that's an images), I'll respond to this bit of Danny's comments which isn't a criticism, as Danny points out, but more for further debate:

Now here is my question-- if we are accepting the existence of Q though not as an actual document, can we speak of something 'common to Q', whether it be themes or words, etc? Especially if Maurice Casey's "dispersed set of traditions" (and I imagine Crossley is more than sympathetic to Casey in that he is his doctoral father, I believe) is applied to what we call 'Q material', can we speak of common themes? I would tend to think that if we are accepting Q as a swirling mix of oral traditions not circulating together as a unified tradition, then we cannot speak of a common theme--at least not in the sense of a purposeful common theme by the original tellers. Of course having said this, I can understand the possible existence of a common theme if the swirling Q traditions are all originating from the same person, Jesus.

In another fear of being accused of being an evangelical or something, I would actually accept - with a wee bit of qualification perhaps - the last sentence with reference to legal interpretation, especially as a lot of the synoptic material has a great deal in common in this area. My own interest is more the transmission of this material and the views this material reflects. There are some clear changes involving gentiles and law in earliest Christianity and these traditions were circulated at the same time. As this implies, one of the major reasons for chosing this material was because of its potentially early date (remember the time frame I went for was 26-50CE). For me the important question was how do these traditions deal with this effectively new social situation, especially as there seems to me to be a clear law observant attitude and little material explicitly concerned with a gentile mission right across the material labelled Q. This is part of the reason why I didn't feel the need to have a strong definition of Q because the question remains the same irrespective. As it happens, and here I could expect some response, there remains the good possibility that the passages I chose are early (the stuff on cups and tithing in particular), and if this is the case it almost does not matter if a vague Q, strong Q, or no-Q, is chosen. Put another way, the themes I outlined were across the synoptic tradition and is present in Markan and non-Markan material, then it must have come from somewhere and must be early. (Apart from my gentle nature, this was why I was keen to defuse the whole Q debate in relation to what I wrote a couple of months back: maybe I should have made this point more explicit?). Additionally, whether this can be labelled a purposeful theme or not (not an easy question to answer), it all refelcts something about the transmission of materials and what people were doing with the issue of gentiles with a theme of law observance.

Incidentally, writing this in a blog context, I feel very conscious of the possibility that someone like me who accepts Q, no matter how much it is qualified, could actually be in a minority.


Blogger Danny Zacharias said...

So I guess what you are saying is that your argument in the book is that the material in Q is reflecting a common theme of the aforementioned time period.

Am I reading you correctly? Danny

January 18, 2007

Blogger James Crossley said...

Yes, and I am at times thinking of the almost passive influences on traditions passed down. That said, though I can't prove it with anything like a high degree of certainty, if the chaotic model were the right approach, it would be possible that at least some the material was being transmitted in similar contexts.

January 21, 2007

Anonymous Christopher Shell said...

I think you're aware that some of us precise people want to reserve the term Q for the common source-material of Matthew and Luke, always supposing there is any such and it doesn't all derive from Matthew. I suppose we would use 'Jesus traditions' for what you call 'Q'.
Taking you up on a point in your excellent recent book, purely logically, how likely is it that luke just so happened to find so much Luke-pleasing material -especially on rich and poor - that the former (or other) evangelists just so happened to omit?
It is bad enough for the theory that it is dominical that all the other evangelists should omit it. But when we consider, in addition, how precisely luke-pleasing it is....

January 22, 2007

Blogger James Crossley said...

Christopher, on the Jesus traditions, I don't mind. as long as we know what we are arguing about then labels are secondary.

That is a very good point on the Luke-poor thing and I still don't think I have a satisfactory answer. Firstly, we can at least say it is pre-Lukan and so it is there. Obviously Luke liked it to some degree and in theory he could have invented some (I make no judgement here as to whether he did). But then he clearly has concerns for the rich and in a non-hostile way. Maybe Theissen was right that the rich/poor issue was one of the past not for Luke's present but there is, as you say, a lot of it. Possibly there is the issue of leadership from outsiders to the peasantry but difficult to prove, though the tension on the rich could be early. Maybe, and this has a bit more going for it) it is particularly useful for Luke's sharing ideals (Acts 4:32-37). I have a few other speculative ideas but they remain speculative.

Any suggestions????

January 22, 2007

Anonymous Christopher Shell said...

Yes - I think the Acts 4 stuff etc is further proof of the Luke-pleasingness of the rich-poor material. Granted there are a couple of money parables in Matt (workers in vineyard, unforgiving steward) - but I dont think they cast the rich as baddies much.

Logically (unless the pool of available Jesus-material was impossibly large - given that Matthew at least was a retentive compiler and seemed to include practically everything he could) the model that Luke just so happened to find so much Luke-pleasing material in it is not (for the reasons I mentioned) the most economical available option. It relies on two improbabilities: the other evangelists omitting it all, and it just so happening to be Luke-pleasing. Whereas my scenario (that Jesus's maxims and/or the Deuteronomic framework of Luke 9-18 were sometimes expanded by the evangelists into parables) contains no improbabilities, and is shown by Goulder JTS'68 to be highly likely.
A case of two-nil, I think :o) - unless the opposition can score three in the dying seconds.

January 22, 2007


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