The Orthodoxy Of The ‘Q’ Sayings Of Jesus -- By: Edward P. Meadors

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 43:2 (NA 1992)
Article: The Orthodoxy Of The ‘Q’ Sayings Of Jesus
Author: Edward P. Meadors

The Orthodoxy Of The ‘Q’ Sayings Of Jesus

Edward P. Meadors


Many recent studies of 'Q' presuppose that it reflects a 'variant' or 'second sphere' of primitive Christianity which was not influenced by the preaching of the cross. This assumption is misleading, however, because Jesus' sayings, as represented in Q, are fully compatible in content with their synoptic contexts. The lack of allusions in Q to Jesus' death and resurrection reflect the historical span of time in the early to middle stages of his ministry when the sayings were originally voiced. Neither Matthew, Mark, nor Luke contain full-blown early church doctrines of the atonement, therefore, Q does not contradict its synoptic environment.

I. Introduction

Walter Bauer’s 1934 book Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei im ältesten Christentum1 defines orthodoxy or the ‘ecclesiastical position’ along the following four points:

1) Jesus revealed the pure doctrine to his apostles, partly before his death, and partly in the forty days before his ascension.

2) After Jesus’ final departure, the apostles apportioned the world among themselves, and each took the unadulterated gospel to the land which was allotted him.

3) After the death of the disciples the gospel continued to spread but dissension sprang up within Christianity and heresy developed.

4) Right belief defeated false belief and orthodoxy was maintained within the church.2

Bauer’s thesis is that this deeply rooted understanding of Christian origins may not be historically accurate. Instead, he speculates that at the very beginning Christianity may have been characterized by a plurality of beliefs, and some beliefs which the Church eventually castigated as heretical may originally have been, in some areas, the only forms of Christianity. Thus, beliefs we now

classify as orthodox and heretical emerged side by side—each as valid a form of Christianity as the other.

One specific body of gospel material which some New Testament scholars have identified as ‘unorthodox’ is the sayings source Q. The first to suggest the variant quality of Q was H.E. Tödt who claimed that Q’s distinctiveness rested in its peculiar selection of Son of Man sayings. Because Q does not contain ‘suffering’ Son of Man sayings, Tödt identified Q as an independent Christological tradition which strictly associated Jesus with the future exalted Son of Man.3

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