Q Review -- By: Peter M. Head

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 54:1 (NA 2003)
Article: Q Review
Author: Peter M. Head


Q Review

Peter M. Head

P. J. Williams

Summary

This review article focuses on recent treatments of Q, the sayings source widely believed to stand behind the common material in Matthew and Luke (the double tradition). We begin with some recent works against the Q hypothesis, before examining the work of the International Q Project, including their Critical Edition of Q and Kloppenborg Verbin’s Excavating Q. We then turn to a more detailed treatment of Casey’s Aramaic Approach to Q, which seeks to reconstruct the original Aramaic text of material common to Matthew and Luke. Discussion of these works suggests that contrary to the claims implicit in several studies it is not possible to reconstruct the actual wording of Q in either Greek or Aramaic with any confidence.

I. Introduction

In recent years Q has come of age. In both popular and scholarly books on Jesus and the Gospels it has become an almost omnipresent feature.1 Somewhere along its journey, the boring old Sayings Source has had a makeover and been transformed into the really terribly important Sayings Gospel.2 The Jesus Seminar proclaimed the existence of Q as one of the seven pillars of scholarly wisdom (although this particular pillar hardly gains credibility by association with the other six).3 Apparently more seriously, the International Q

Project (hereafter IQP), after many years of discussion, have published their Critical Edition of Q and one of the co-directors of the IQP, John Kloppenborg Verbin, has published the massive work Excavating Q: The History and Setting of the Sayings Gospel. From quite a different perspective we have Maurice Casey’s Aramaic Approach to Q, seeking to show that Q was not a single document, but that the evangelists used a variety of material from common Aramaic sources. This review article surveys some of this recent work on Q.4

We should perhaps begin with the basics. Broadly speaking Q is the term used for the double tradition, the material (mostly but not entirely sayings of Jesus) found in common to Matthew and Luke, but not in Mark. Some scholars have always used the term simply to denote that material, perhaps 235 verses or so. Others have argued that certain features of this material suggests that this material comes from a source (Quelle) used independently by both Matthew and Luke (in addition to Mark). These features include close agreement in wording, substa...

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