Kloppenborg’s Stratification Of Q And Its Significance For Historical Jesus Studies -- By: Dennis Ingolfsland

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 46:2 (Jun 2003)
Article: Kloppenborg’s Stratification Of Q And Its Significance For Historical Jesus Studies
Author: Dennis Ingolfsland


Kloppenborg’s Stratification Of Q And Its Significance For Historical Jesus Studies

Dennis Ingolfsland

[Dennis Ingolfsland is associate professor of Bible at Crown College, 6425 County Road 30, St. Bonifacius, Minnesota 55375–9001.]

I. Introduction

When John Kloppenborg (now John Kloppenborg Verbin) wrote The Formation of Q in 1987, it was impossible to foresee that this book would become a foundational study for some of the more radical presentations of Jesus as a non-apocalyptic Jewish Cynic.1 Although Kloppenborg distances himself from the Jewish Cynic thesis, his work has been used not only to support that thesis but to revise Christian origins.2 For example, Ron Cameron, discussing Kloppenborg’s work says that “Q demonstrates that there is no need to appeal to the crucified and risen Christ in order to imagine the origins of Christianity.”3 Kloppenborg himself believes that his hypothesis supports the idea that the Q community had a soteriology fundamentally different than the Pauline soteriology. Keylock summarizes the issue this way: “For Kloppenborg, Q represents a form of Christianity in Galilee that was ignorant of the Pauline tradition, [and] knew nothing of Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection....”4

Considering the implications of Kloppenborg’s hypothesis for the historical study of Jesus, this article will provide an analysis of Kloppenborg’s thesis as stated primarily in his book, The Formation of Q,5 but also with reference to his later work, Excavating Q, published in 2000.6

II. The Stratification Of Q In A Nutshell

Agreeing with Bultmann that Q was “a transitional stage between the un-messianic preaching of Jesus and the fully self-conscious kerygma of the Hellenistic churches,”7 Kloppenborg insists that there are only two ways

to account for this transition.8 Either there were two kerygmas existing together in the same churches, or there were at least two kerygmas existing in different churches.9 Since the core of Q’s proclamation centers on the parousia and not on the passion, Kloppenborg concludes that the earliest churches were proclaiming fundamentally dif...

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