EARLY CHRISTIANITY, Q AND JESUS , delivered by Uwe Rosenkranz

Early Christianity, Q and Jesus


John S. Kloppenborg and Leif E. Vaage, eds.

Copyright © 1992 by Society of Biblical Literature.

Published in Atlanta, GA.


Contributors to This Issue


1.    Early Christianity, Q and Jesus: The Sayings Gospel and Method in the Study of Christian Origins

John S. Kloppenborg


2.    Q and the Gospel of Mark: Revising Christian Origins

Burton L. Mack

3.    The Sayings Gospel Q and the Quest for Aramaic Sources: Rethinking Christian Origins

Heinz O. Guenther


4.    Literary Convention, Self-Evidence and the Social History of the Q People

John S. Kloppenborg

5.    The Son of Man Sayings in Q: Stratigraphical Location and Significance

Leif E. Vaage

6.    Blessings and Boundaries: Interpretations of Jesus’ Death in Q

David Seeley

7.    The Mission Charge in Q

David R. Catchpole


8.    Q and Jesus: Assumptions, Approaches, and Analyses

Richard A. Horsley


On the Stratification of Q a Response

Christopher M. Tuckett

Reflections on Research into Q

Harold W. Attridge

Lists in Early Christianity: A Response to Early Christianity, Q and Jesus

John Dominic Crossan


Contributors to This Issue

Harold W. Attridge

Department of Theology

University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, IN

46556 USA

David R. Catchpole

Department of Theology

University of Exeter

Exeter EX4 4QH


John Dominic Crossan

Department of Religious Studies

DePaul University

2323 North Seminary Avenue

Chicago, IL 60614

Heinz O. Guenther

Emmanuel College

75 Queen’s Park Cresent East

Toronto, Ontario

Canada M5S 1K7

Richard Horsley

Department of Religion

University of Mass-Boston

Boston, MA

02125-3393 USA

John S. Kloppenborg

Univ. of St. Michael’s College

81 St. Mary Street

Toronto, Ontario

Canada M5S 1J4

Burton L. Mack

Claremont Graduate School

831 N. Dartmouth Avenue

Claremont, CA

91711 USA

David Seeley

Department of Religion

Miami University

Oxford, OH

45056 USA

Christopher M. Tuckett

Faculty of Theology

University of Manchester



Leif E. Vaage

Emmanuel College

75 Queen’s Park Cresent East

Toronto, Ontario

Canada M5S 1K7


John S. Kloppenborg

University of St. Michael’s College

Toronto School of Theology

The essays in this issue are part of the product of a remarkable conversation that has taken place in the Q Seminar (1983–89) of the Society of Biblical Literature. Since its inception, the work of the seminar has had two quite distinct foci: on the one hand, the establishing of a critical text of Q, and on the other, the discussion of various literary critical, tradition-historical and social-historical issues. The former, undoubtedly the more tedious of the two, will result in the first genuinely collaborative reconstruction of Q, based upon a comprehensive survey and analysis of the history of Q scholarship. This work continues under the auspices of the International Q Project, a working group sponsored by the SBL (see International Q Project, 1990).

The issue-oriented portion of the Q Seminar considered a series of topics, including orality, textuality and the generation of sayings collections (1983), wisdom materials in Q (1984), Mark and Q (1985), apocalypticism and the Son of man (1986), redactional stratigraphy (1987), the social history of the Q people (1988) and early pre-Q collections and their settings (1989). This is not the place to read the roll of the many scholars who have participated in the work of the seminar, and whose contributions are, directly and indirectly, found within the following pages; however, the names of James M. Robinson and Helmut Koester deserve special recognition in view of their efforts in founding the seminar and in guiding its work.

The essays in this issue of Semeia are offered in the conviction that the recent intense investigation of Q in North America, Britain and Germany has issued in results that are pertinent not only to specialists in the Synoptic gospels, but to all engaged in the reconstruction of Christian origins and the historical Jesus. An important threshhold was achieved in the early 1900s with Harnack’s Sprüche und Reden Jesu, whose publication effectively put an end to the almost algebraic, sometimes whimsical, use of the idea of a second synoptic source in order to solve the Synoptic problem. From that point on, Q became a fixed and relatively definable point of reference, used by form- and especially redaction-criticism, in the quest for understanding the distinctive styles and theologies of the Synoptic evangelists. In the investigation of the theological and social history of primitive Christianity, however, Q remained something of an abstraction and Q texts were invoked mainly as a matter of argumentative convenience, and more often ignored. This is understandable, of course, since prior to the 1970s there were few attempts to come to terms with Q as a distinctive expression of early Christian thinking and social arrangements. With the completion of two decades of such research, it is perhaps time for its results to be factored into the next wave of reconstructions of the intellectual and social history of primitive Christianity.

This is not to say that a single vision of Q has emerged. There is now a broad agreement on the central role that wisdom materials have played in the composition and framing of Q, and it is now fairly clear that Q is a composite, layered document, in spite of the fact that no single compositional model can be said to have won the day. And it is clear that the persons represented by Q could think of themselves as followers of Jesus without ascribing any special saving significance to his death or resurrection.

This volume reflects much of the critical consensus but also many of the important disagreements that have been part of the conversation of the Q Seminar. The relationship of Q to Mark, once virtually a settled issue, has risen again. The evaluation of Cynic parallels to Q, and of the role of prophetic and apocalyptic traditions in Q remains controverted. Various issues involving the description of the composition of Q and its stratigraphy are raised in these pages, as well as the large issue of the impact that Q scholarship ought to have on both the reconstruction of the history of the Jesus movement, and on the reconstruction of the historical Jesus.

The editor wishes to register his thanks to the University of Windsor and to its late Dean of Arts, Joseph T. Culliton, for generous financial assistance and support during the early stages of editing this volume.

John S. Kloppenberg

University of St. Michael’s College

Toronto School of Theology

Early Christianity, Q and Jesus: The Sayings Gospel and Method in the Study of Christian Origins

John S. Kloppenborg

University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto School of Theology

Leif E. Vaage

Emmanuel College, Toronto School of Theology


The Sayings Gospel Q has occupied a position at the thresholds and transition points of NT scholarship. Harnack’s publication of the text of Q signaled a shift in method with respect to the way in which external (patristic) testimony was to be valued in relation to internal textual data. For Harnack and now for Mack, the Sayings Gospel affords an important alternative to an apocalyptically defined portrait of Jesus, while for Bultmann, Q served as a testing ground for form criticism. More recent investigation of Q has suggested that Christian origins are far more complex, and its development much less linear than had been hitherto imagined.

In The Archaeology of Knowledge Michel Foucault notes the varying ways in which documents have been used in the historical sciences during the modern period. An earlier view looked to documents as the fragile, yet decipherable voices of the past and from them tried to reconstitute various historical moments, to define the relations between these moments and to locate each within a series or totality. The more recent view does not have as its primary aim the reconstitution of events; instead it works on the document from within: history “organizes the document, divides it up, distributes it, orders it, arranges it in levels, establishes series, distinguishes between what is relevant and what is not, discovers elements, defines unities, describes relations” (6–7). The earlier view naturally found continuities; the later exposes discontinuities. The interplay described by Foucault is especially evident in the history of the study of the Sayings Gospel Q. In fact, in the history of the study of early Christianity and its literature, the investigation of Q has been associated with major epistemological thresholds and conceptual transformations of the discipline.

1. The Text of Q and the Synoptic Problem

The existence of a sayings collection was posited over one hundred and fifty years ago, the inference of Christian Hermann Weisse’s solution to the Synoptic problem (1838). Weisse had taken his inspiration from an influential essay on Papias’ statements about the gospels published six years earlier by Schleiermacher (1832), a proponent, ironically, of Griesbach’s synoptic theory. Weisse’s solution did not achieve widespread approval in Germany until after the publication of Heinrich Julius Holtzmann’s Die synoptischen Evangelien in 1863, or in Britain until the work of William Sanday’s Oxford seminar (1911; Streeter, 1924). Nevertheless, Q played a decisive part in the discussion of the relationships among the Synoptic gospels that reached a climax in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The nineteenth Century’s interest in the Logia source (as it was originally called) was ultimately a function of a desire to reconstruct the history of Christian ideas from Jesus’ own understanding of the kingdom—including developments within that understanding—to the emergence of “early Catholicism.” The plotting of this history required that its principal documentary witnesses be arranged in order and that the relationships between them be specified. In the course of the development of the Markan hypothesis it was necessary to account for the relationship of Mark to Matthew and Luke and, concretely, this meant explaining not only the non-Markan double tradition, but also the materials present in Mark but absent in one or both of the others (e.g., Luke’s “great omission” of Mark 6:46–8:26). It was also necessary to account for pericopae that were much fuller in Matthew and Luke than in their Markan parallel (e.g., the temptation story).

Papias’ testimony played a key role here. His characterization of the work of Matthew as logia, ‘oracles’, encouraged Weisse (1856:156; cf. Holtzmann, 1863) and others to deny certain of the double-tradition materials to Q—most notably the temptation story (Q 4:1–13) and the healing of the centurion’s son (Q 7:1–10)—citing a principle of generic purity: a λόγια-source should contain only sayings, and sayings of Jesus at that. But if the later gospels did not get John the Baptist’s sayings and the double-tradition narrative material from Q, they must have obtained it from an earlier recension of Mark. Thus the birth of Ur-Markus which, ex hypothesi, was used by Matthew and Luke and abbreviated by Mark. Besides the apparent economy of apportioning narrative and sayings materials to distinct documents, this solution had the added benefit of positing not one, but two documentary sources that predated the Synoptic gospels, and hence two sources nearer to the Jesus of history. Others, most notably Bernhard Weiss (1908), solved the problem by positing a much-expanded “sayings source”—though in view of its character it could no longer be called that—which contained, in addition to the double-tradition material, Markan pericopae up to the anointing at Bethany. While B. Weiss expressly rejected the principle of generic purity which had been extrapolated from Schleiermacher’s discussion of Papias, his Matthäusquelle seemed to be an attempted rehabilitation of the patristic rumor that Matthew was the first to compose a gospel and that the other writers used this source.

Although the late nineteenth century generally assumed that the second Synoptic source was documentary rather than oral, Q (as Johannes Weiss [1890] had christened it: cf. Neirynck, 1978; 1979) was nonetheless treated more as a convenient postulate which facilitated certain explanations of the Synoptic problem than as a monument attesting to a particular moment or moments in the history of early Christianity. It was not until the publication of Harnack’s text of Q that this threshold was crossed and then, ironically, Q seemed to disappear from view almost as soon as it had appeared.

Following the lead of Paul Wernle (1899), scholarship in the early decades of the twentieth century was to reject both the artificial principle of generic purity and Papias’ testimony—at least insofar as it favored Matthew in the reconstruction of Q—in favor of less a priori approaches. Along with these, the need for an Ur-Markus vanished. Harnack’s 1907 text of Q signaled a methodological shift: his reconstruction was based solely on the non-Markan material common to Matthew and Luke and thus his attention was directed within the body of Synoptic data rather than outside to patristic testimony and the system of homogeneous relations presupposed by that testimony. Although Harnack, unlike Holtzmann, Wernle, and B. Weiss, still favored Matthew in the reconstruction of the wording and order of Q, his reasons rested not on Papias or Irenaeus but upon his earlier studies of the style and literary habits of the Synoptic writers (Harnack, 1906). Harnack’s text of Q, which included John’s preaching, the Temptations and the Centurion’s story, provided a kind of benchmark for later discussions of Q. The very “appearance” of the document in a reconstructed form put an end to the speculative and, at times, whimsical use of the notion of a lost source for solving the Synoptic problem. The ghost of Papias had been exorcized, if only partially.2

2. Q and Jesus: Harnack and Mack

Harnack’s interest in Q was not related to its utility for understanding the composition of the Synoptics. By 1907 it was already clear that the works of Wrede (1901) and Schweitzer (1906) had sounded the death knell for a quest of the historical Jesus based upon Mark. But Harnack’s “publication” of Q provided an independent basis for reconstituting the “purely religious and ethical elements” of Jesus’ message that had been suppressed in Mark and overlaid with apocalypticism (Harnack, 1907:173; 1908:250–51). In this regard, Harnack found no followers in his own day. Attention shifted to other aspects of early Christian tradition and Harnack’s achievement in reckoning with the documentary nature of Q was bypassed.

It has not in fact been until quite recently that Q has figured importantly in reconstructions of the historical Jesus. To be sure, Q sayings such as 6:20b–21 or 11:20 were regularly ascribed to Jesus. Yet until Burton Mack’s chapters on Jesus of Nazareth and on the earliest Galilean Christians in A Myth of Innocence (1988b:53–97), historical Jesus scholarship paid little or no attention to the documentary status of Q and, therefore, to compositional and redactional features that ought to affect the way in which Q materials were used in a reconstruction of a portrait of Jesus. Mack, of course, does not share the theological interests that are so clear in Harnack, nor does he simply resume Harnack’s project. For in the meantime the approach to Q had itself changed. It was no longer possible to regard Q simply as a deposit of Jesus’ words; now the document represented the textual intersection of various generic, ideological and mythic trajectories, each of which had to be sorted out and analyzed carefully. For both Harnack and Mack, however, the existence of an early documentary collection of Jesus traditions took on an importance for the reconstruction of the historical Jesus that it did not have either before or in the intervening period.

3. The Disappearance of Q and the Rise of Form Criticism

The main lines of Synoptic research did not follow Harnack. Instead, the course was set by his critic Wellhausen (1911), who observed that Q contained all too many signs of secondary elaboration to be regarded as a deposit of historical Jesus material. This point was reiterated in Bultmann’s first publication on the Synoptics and only article on Q (1913), an essay which quoted Wellhausen extensively, but never Harnack. For Bultmann, Q rendered evidence not of the Jesus of history but of the Urgemeinde (“early Church”), of its “eschatological mood” and the freedom it inspired, and of the emergence of church rules. Although the term Formgeschichte (“form criticism”) is not used in this early essay, Bultmann’s treatment of Q clearly anticipates his later (1921, 1931) treatment of the Synoptics in History of the Synoptic Tradition.

From one perspective, Bultmann’s essay crossed an important threshold. Q now served as a testing ground for form-critical insights; it was no longer treated as a monument to Jesus. In fact it no longer served as a monument at all, since Bultmann was able to deconstruct it into several intersecting series: an emerging ecclesial pattern that occasionally displaced the foundational “eschatological mood” and sayings infused with a spirit of freedom alongside expressions of worldly and practical wisdom and of crass legalism. Indeed, the very existence of Q—which Bultmann viewed as a catechetical and regulatory document—was further evidence of the appearance of the “spirit of order” (1913:42).

Ironically, Bultmann’s landmark treatment of Q led to its virtual disappearance from view as a document. It is true that his demonstration of the extent to which Q comprised materials of various origins and of competing presuppositions set the stage for the stratigraphical and gattungsgeschichtliche (“genre-historical”) analyses of the 1970s and 1980s. Yet for Bultmann and his immediate successors, what was important was not a particular moment in the history of the composition of the Synoptic gospels which Q evidenced, nor a particular literary monument to the pre-Markan Jesus, but the generality of the “Urgemeinde” itself—its habits, its moods, its theology. The particularity of documents gave way to the generality of “the Urgemeinde.” Q was either subsumed under the supposed catechetical needs of the early community or dissolved into numerous individual “traditions” emanating from that group.

4. Q as a Second Kerygma

Although Q figured in many Synoptic studies of the ensuing forty years, the hegemony of neo-orthodox theology and its insistence on the normative character of the (Pauline) kerygma tended to encourage characterizations of Q as “parenetic” and “didactic.” Q studies languished during this period, perhaps because parenesis seemed much less interesting than kerygma. It was not until Heinz Eduard Tödt’s 1956 Heidelberg dissertation that the study of Q once again took on revolutionary import. For Tödt had demonstrated that in Q “christological cognition” was in full swing and that this was not merely a function of the tradition embedded in Q, but was instead the result of the literary activity of compiling the sayings collection. Q could not simply be seen as evidence of a hypothetical “Urgemeinde.” It was at last noticed that the form-critical analysis of individual Q pericopae did not in the least support the conclusion that Q had a mainly parenetic function. Q had to be reckoned with as a piece of theological reasoning in its own right.

A decade later Q reemerged fully from the shadows with the appearance of Dieter Luhrmann’s Die Redaktion der Logienquelle (1969). This was not simply the logical extension of redaction-critical method from the Synoptic gospels to Q; something more happened. Although Lührmann was rightly skeptical about the importance Tödt had attached to Son of Man christology in Q (1969:85–86; cf. Schürmann, 1975), Lührmann confirmed Tödt’s basic insight about Q by demonstrating that it had been framed without any attention to the passion kerygma or to the question of Jesus’ death. For Q Jesus had not yet become the subject of the kerygma; the continuity between Jesus and his followers consisted not in the kerygma about Jesus but in the proclamation of the reign of God (1969:94–96).

This rediscovery of Q was a discovery of another “kerygma“—one which had no special place for the death of Jesus and which, unlike Paul, did not view the vindication of Jesus through the apocalyptic metaphor of resurrection. And there was more. Q was also the verification of the active and experimental character of early Christian thinking. Instead of a passive, essentially mimetic, style of transmission, the earliest levels of the Jesus tradition were characterized by intense theological reflection: what historians of religion call mythmaking.

The importance of the reemergence of Q for imagining Christian origins can scarcely be overestimated. If the framers of Q could celebrate Jesus and the kingdom of God without needing to refer to a saving death and a vindicating resurrection, then it would also be necessary to ask again about the relation of the kerygmatic language of the crucified and risen Jesus to the cycle of pre-Markan pronouncement stories (see Kuhn, 1971; Mack, 1988b:204–207) and the catenae of miracle stories identified by Achtemeier in Mark (1970; 1972) and by Fortna in John (1970; 1988).

The revolution in understanding Christian origins was already under way in James M. Robinson’s ground-breaking study on the genre of Q first published in a volume to commemorate the sixty-fifth birthday of Bultmann (Robinson, 1964; 1971). Robinson’s contribution was much more than simply the application to Q of the literary method of analysis then in vogue, namely Gattungsgeschichte or genre criticism. “LOGOI SOPHON” placed Q not alongside the canonical gospels, in comparison with which it inevitably would seem deficient both in its theology and its literary structure, but on a trajectory of ancient wisdom collections stretching from Proverbs (and its Near Eastern relatives) to the Gospel of Thomas and m. ‘Abot. Q was more than a discernible moment in the evolution of the Synoptic gospels. It represents, in Robinson’s view, a nexus in the evolution of early Christianity. Q in fact offered an opportunity to suggest the sapiential origins of at least one part of early Christian literature and then to trace its later development, on the one hand in Gnosticism (Gos. Thom.) and, on the other, in a more domesticated form in the Synoptic gospels. Q became for the history of early Christianity something like the physical anthropologists’ missing link.

At this point Helmut Koester’s clairvoyant description of the varied texture of formative Christianity and of Q offered a critical clarification. For understanding primitive Christianity he suggested a model that implied a fundamental diversity from the very outset. The significance of Jesus was grasped by means of various metaphors—the apocalyptic deliverer, the divine man, the sage who is also Sophia’s envoy, and the crucified and resurrected savior (Koester, 1971c). Accepting Robinson’s designation of Q as “LOGOI SOPHON,” Koester argued that Q represented Jesus according to the third modality, that of the sage/envoy of Sophia. However, he also observed that Q contained sayings that did not fit this genre particularly well, for example, apocalyptic sayings, especially apocalyptic Son of Man sayings (1971a:138; 1971b:166–75). The Gos. Thom., by contrast, contained no apocalyptic sayings and its only Son of Man saying (86) used the designation in a non-apocalyptic manner. Thus Gos. Thom. revealed the primary characteristics of the genre “wisdom gospel,” as Koester had christened Q. This then permitted the further conjecture that

[i]f the genre of the wisdom book was the catalyst for the composition of sayings of Jesus into a “gospel,” and if the christological concept of Jesus as the teacher of wisdom and as the presence of heavenly Wisdom dominated its creation, the apocalyptic orientation of the Synoptic Sayings Source with its christology of the coming Son of Man is due to a secondary redaction of an older wisdom book (1980:113).

To suggest that Q was at its core a sapiential document and that it represented an early kerygma parallel to but independent of other kerygmata challenged the hitherto prevailing assumption that apocalyptic imagination and symbolism were inextricably connected with the roots of the gospel tradition. Naturally, it also added further urgency to the question of the extent to which Jesus was himself an apocalypticist, a question that has been raised repeatedly in recent work on the parables (e.g., Crossan, 1973; Scott). The Sayings Gospel Q will undoubtedly remain at the forefront of this debate (see Mack, in this volume), just as it had been with Harnack, and this for one simple reason: of the four patterns discussed by Koester, only two are well represented in documentary form. Apocalyptic scenarios are obviously embedded in certain early documents (1 Thessalonians 4–5; Mark 13; Didache 16), but it is not so clear that entire documents were framed at an early stage with these motifs serving as the determinative theological elements. The same might be said of the christological and soteriological modalities connected with miracle working. The pre-Johannine signs source is perhaps the likeliest early example of a document framed along these lines, although it is unclear whether this too incorporated a passion and resurrection story. For the other two modalities, there is clear documentary evidence: Paul’s letters afford good evidence of the fourth modality—the crucified and risen Savior. And for the christology built around Jesus as sophos and Sophia, we have not only early traditional units such as materials in 1 Corinthians 1–4 and 8 and the pre-Pauline christological hymn in Col 1:15–20 but an extremely early document standing near the beginning of the activity of gospel-making, namely, Q.

5. Stratigraphy and Redaction in Q

A considerable literature has recently emerged regarding the different layers of Q. Koester’s hypothesis that multiple strata are present in Q is now something of a commonplace (Kloppenborg, 1987b; Uro, 1987; Sato) and his suggestion that at its core the Sayings Gospel is strongly sapiential has received confirmation from two quite independent studies by Kloppenborg (1987a) and Piper (1989). Both acknowledge what Arland Jacobson demonstrated in his 1978 Claremont dissertation, namely, that at one stage of editing, the Deuteronomistic theme of the rejection and violent fate of the prophets, who are now seen as the envoys of Sophia, provided an organizing motif. Yet both Kloppenborg and Piper argue that another earlier stage consists of organized sapiential clusters, largely untouched by apocalypticism. Piper stresses the literary art and the persuasive intent of these compositions, while the burden of Kloppenborg’s argument is to show that the closest generic relatives to this stratum of Q are to be found among Near Eastern and Hellenistic wisdom instructions. It is important to underline two matters: neither Kloppenborg nor Piper regards the earlier stage of Q as “mere secular wisdom” and neither would allow the results of a literary analysis of Q to be converted naïvely into conclusions about the Jesus of history. Nevertheless, what has been demonstrated is that at a very early stage in the Jesus tradition it was possible to organize and transmit sayings materials using sapiential models (and all that they imply) rather than prophetic or apocalyptic forms.

A major methodological inversion signaled by the stratigraphic analysis of Q is the fact that it takes as its basic point of departure the document as such. The reality that Q was a written text, which Lührmann had assumed and Kloppenborg has demonstrated, is not merely an accident but the first datum to be reckoned with. This will have important consequences both for the reimagining of Christian origins and for the quest of the historical Jesus. At the very least, the reading of any text ought now to begin with a serious consideration of its character as a text before imagining the seemingly infinite variety of pre-textual (oral) performances to which the text may bear witness.

6. Q and Social Description of Early Christianity

At the same time that Lührmann’s book set in action a renewal of the literary description of Q, a parallel revolution in its historical evaluation was announced by Gerd Theissen in his 1973 article on “itinerant radicalism.” With this essay, specific attention began to be paid to the social history of Palestinian Christianity and, as before, Q was at the center of things. As with Lührmann, Theissen’s preliminary insights required further explication and elaboration by others.

As noted by admirers and critics, Theissen’s discussion of “itinerant radicalism” is fraught with conceptual baggage, both theological and sociological, that often makes the expression of his primary insight difficult to accept (see, most recently, Horsley, 1989b). Theissen is also insufficiently attentive to the particular nature of each of his sources, blending them all together (Stegemann). Fundamentally, however, Theissen looked to establish the recognition that not all of early Christianity shared the same social formation (Theissen, 1979). Not only was there a diversity of thought and of literary style among the early Christians; there were also—and perhaps at the root of these divergences—critical differences in lifestyle and social location. A single Sitz im Leben could no longer be imaginatively or woodenly maintained to account for all the literature produced and preserved by the first believers.

Since Theissen, of course, there have been numerous other studies of the social world of early Christianity that are unrelated to the study of Q. At the same time, within this growing area of investigation and debate, Q does provide one of the best instances of a very particular or peculiar group formation, whose literary remains cannot be subsumed successfully into any of the more generalized models of social experience presently dominating the discourse. In this respect, the study of Q may serve to foster a methodological refinement of the social description of early Christianity by its resistance to too unified a picture of the ancient Mediterranean world and Greco-Roman society in Palestine.

Just as the “second kerygma” of Q developed alongside the kerygma of Jesus’ death and resurrection, so the Q group resembled neither the Pauline congregations of the Christ nor those for whom Mark wrote. Neither can it be said to have been a community like the one at Qumran. If the document’s particularity is not lost from view, the study of Q will thus serve as a catalyst for further concretizing our knowledge of the differing social styles available to early Christians.

7. Q and the Comparison of Early Christianities

Two additional developments in method should also be noted. Both are in fact implicit in a number of Q-specific works but perhaps can be thematized and raised to the level of self-conscious procedure here.

The first of these concerns the use of parallels and the ways in which they are employed. While the history of Q research reveals little direct reflection on this problem, it is clear that de facto changes in the habits or boundaries of interpretive discourse have created a drift whose theoretical import should not be lost. In a sense the threshold of the shift was crossed with Robinson’s essay “LOGOI SOPHON”. In this essay other ancient collections of sayings were not just evidence of the abstract possibility of the thing called Q; they also aided in determining the character of Q. This perspective has since been made a key feature of Kloppenborg’s work, for whom all three of Q’s literary strata can be shown to correspond to ancient genres, whose numerous exemplars in turn provide critical clues to the meaning of the sayings we find at each level of the text.

In his dissertation Leif Vaage (1987) took this heuristic use of parallels one step beyond the questions of literary convention and form to matters of material content. Vaage finds that the sayings in Q, especially the “mission instructions” at the document’s formative stratum (Q 10:3–6, 9–11, 16), are strongly matched by contemporaneous traditions of Greco-Roman Cynicism—and this in the absence of any other notable parallels. The result is that these materials prove decisive for the reading that Vaage gives to Q.

Vaage is not the only one to have noticed similarities between elements of early Christianity and Cynicism. Indeed, the observation of correspondences between the two begins already in antiquity, for example, with Aelius Aristides (Or. 46) and Origen (Contra Celsum 3.50). Most recently, Gerald Downing (1988a, b) has tried to show how extensive the comparison can be, though not without certain due criticism (Tuckett, 1989). At the same time, it is clear that in the case of Q a profound resonance exists between this text and what we know about the Cynics (see also Seeley, in this volume). Accounting for this fact demands that New Testament scholarship reexamine its axiological categories for their historical veracity and descriptive constraints.

Differences are not to be ignored, of course, and both Kloppenborg and Vaage have noted many. To discuss parallels to Q does not mean arguing that both sides of the comparison are exactly the same. But the similarities are as notable as the differences. And, it could be argued, in the context of the history of New Testament scholarship, it is first of all important to recognize and describe the ways in which Q and other early Christian literature belong to some part of the Mediterranean world, as opposed to having Q (along with Jesus and early Christianity) stand over against everything else as somehow finally unique (see now J. Smith, 1990).

In this regard, our situation exists in interesting contrast to that of certain other disciplines, e.g., the history of religions, for which making equations, unifying examples, and creating cohesive wholes of disparate parts have been the order of the day. In New Testament scholarship the current has tended to run in the opposite direction, revealing how early Christianity, Q and Jesus were different and distinct, unable really to be compared with anything else, and not susceptible to categorization or association beyond themselves. The irony, then, is that the emphasis of Robinson, Kloppenborg and Vaage on similarities in the comparison of parallel materials with Q serves precisely the same interests of historical description as are in play when, in other disciplines, a case is made for taking differences seriously.

8. The Resurgence of Q and the Future of Form Criticism

A second refinement that the study of Q may help to bring about has to do with form criticism. Despite the many other criticisms which have since sprung up, form criticism remains a fundamental feature of the trade, if only as an abiding set of assumptions about “the larger picture” or place of early Christianity in the context of the first—century CE Mediterranean world. These assumptions are revealed in the kind of language with which we still tend to categorize texts and their various parts.

Consider, for example, some of the terms used by Bultmann in his History of the Synoptic Tradition that are never justified by historical argument as valid characterizations of early Christian materials, but which nonetheless remain in use today as basic notions. Especially notable are terms like “mission,” “missionary,” “church” (or Urgemeinde), and “worship.” How is it known that the social realities suggested by this language actually existed in the first-century Mediterranean world? Bultmann acknowledges that, in fact, his terminology reflects a “provisional picture of the primitive community and its history, which has to be turned into a clear and articulated picture in the course of my inquiries” (1963:5)—something, however, that was never done.

It is well known that the provisional picture included Bultmann’s assumption that the most important feature of early Christian history was the transition from so-called Jewish or Palestinian to Hellenistic Christianity. This assumption is now at best highly questionable, if not already proven to be unworkable (see Guenther, in this volume). However, it is perhaps time to inquire into the appropriateness of other categories, too. The use of the term “church” may be wholly inappropriate to the village context that seems to be implicit in the earliest stages of Q (see Horsley and Kloppenborg, in this volume). Likewise, if the terms “mission” and “missionary” imply that only “religious” concerns were at stake—an assumption which is obviously lurking in many of our treatments of early Christianity—then these should perhaps be abandoned as descriptions of what Jesus’ earliest followers were doing (Horsley, 1989b:69).

There is another way in which Q highlights a particular problematic at the heart of both form criticism and the conventional constructions of Christian origins. Both have typically assumed that some experience of “Jesus’ resurrection” was uniformly implicit in at least the earliest forms of Christian speech. References to “sayings of the risen Jesus” (Boring) or eschatological pronouncements like “sentences of Holy Law” or oracles of judgment would rationalize and, after a fashion, historicize the belief in some such transformative moment at the beginning of it all. Form criticism’s debate with all naïve (nineteenth-century) uses of the gospel materials as evidence for the historical Jesus, making most of them “church creations,” nonetheless maintained as self-evident the Easter faith of the disciples, the presence of the risen Lord, and the like. Moreover, these features were made constitutive of all early Christian statements. This, together with the illusion of Palestinian vs. Hellenistic Christianity, served to justify a description of early Christian literature and life in terms often sui generis and otherwise more biblical than contemporary or Greco-Roman.

In Q, however, there is nothing that warrants the assumption that “Jesus’ resurrection” was involved in any way in the generation or production of the document and its various sayings. Nor is there evidence for a concern to interpret Jesus’ death as salvific (Kloppenborg, 1990b). If Q both as a text and as a social manifestation of early Christianity was not grappling in any apparent way with the mystery of Jesus’ demise and abiding presence, then students of Christian origins might ask again how we are to understand Q and early Christianity and what categories of social and literary description would be appropriate to account for Q. And what does its “lack” of certain dogmatic preoccupations suggest about the selection and elaboration of these concerns in other contexts?

Reviewing the history of scholarship on Q, it becomes clear that many important methodological transformations and thresholds in the study of Christian origins have been associated with consideration of this document. Q has served both as a testing ground for source-critical and form-critical insights, and the most recent spate of publications on Q will perhaps occasion some adjustments in the terminology and assumptions of form-criticism. In both the investigation of Christian origins and the quest of the historical Jesus, taking Q seriously allows for strikingly new reconstructions, as the works of Mack and Horsley have shown.

Tödt’s discovery of Q as a “second kerygma” exposed the diversity that existed in early Christianity from the very beginning, and more recent studies have discovered significant developments even from stage to stage within the Q group. Much more remains to be done. However, the investigation of Q has already proven to be an extremely fruitful arena of study and promises to stimulate various salutary clarifications and adjustments in the terminology, taxonomy and method of the study of Christian origins.

Q and the Gospel of Mark: Revising Christian Origins

Burton L. Mack

Claremont Graduate School


The importance of Q for reimagining Christian origins can hardly be overstated. Recent studies in Q have identified layers of literary tradition from which stages of the social history of its tradents can be reconstructed. The movement that comes into view is markedly different from the kerygmatic congregation that scholars have customarily imagined as the first social formation of Christianity. Since the traditional picture of “the earliest Christian community” is largely dependent upon a conflation of Pauline texts and the Gospel of Mark, scholars are now forced to consider the relation of Q to Mark and Paul. This essay takes up one of these challenges by focusing upon the relation of Q to Mark. It argues for the priority of Jesus movements like that reflected in Q and explains the Markan divergences from Q in terms of Mark’s own plan for his gospel. Finally, the implications for a reconstruction of Christian origins are sketched and some consequences for New Testament studies in general are drawn.

1. Q and the Kerygma of Christian Origins

Bow to Your Partner, and Your Corner Too

The embarrassment has always been that the strong traditions in which the sayings of Jesus were cultivated are not clearly reflected in the Pauline corpus, that the kerygmatic interpretation of Jesus’ death does not surface in the sayings traditions, and that the Gospel of Mark where both traditions come together seems not to be comfortable with either earlier picture of Jesus as founder.

Despite the embarrassment, scholars have continued to imagine Christian origins on the basis of a scenario that conflates the three disparate accounts. This scenario includes (1) an apocalyptic Jesus, (2) a dramatic trial and crucifixion in Jerusalem, (3) post-resurrection appearances to the disciples, (4) the formation of the first kerygmatic congregation in Jerusalem, (5) a Petrine mission to the Jews, and (6) a Pauline mission to the Gentiles.

Recent studies on Q challenge this reconstruction. In the first place, Q and its tradents can no longer be fitted into the traditional picture. In the second place, Q offers its own plausible account of Christian beginnings. In the third place, Q’s picture is so markedly different from the customary persuasion that both cannot be right. This section of the essay describes Q’s challenge to the prevailing imagination.

1.1 Q and the Followers of Jesus

The Primacy of Wisdom. A majestic study of the literary history of Q was published in 1987. In his book, The Formation of Q, John Kloppenborg was able to identify three major layers in Q’s composition on the basis of literary analyses. The layers broke along the lines of “sapiential instruction” (Q1), “the announcement of judgment” (Q2), and the emergence of biographical characterization (Q3). The study built upon detailed work in the history of Q scholarship, marshalled a formidable array of argumentation, and proposed a clear and convincing thesis for the sequence of the layers. The thesis has the full weight of ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman practice behind it, so that the compositional history of Q turns out to look quite normal and the genres quite familiar. Kloppenborg’s demonstration has become the working hypothesis for the Q Seminar of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL).2

The implications of Kloppenborg’s demonstration for certain scholarly aporiai in the study of Christian origins are stunning. It resolves, for instance, the old problem of trying to understand Jesus both as a wisdom teacher and as an apocalyptic preacher at one and the same time. And it points to the possibility of identifying the kind of wisdom characteristic of the earliest stages of the sayings traditions and perhaps for Jesus himself. That is because the style of this “instruction” is aphoristic and thus corresponds nicely with other early sayings material found among the parables and the pronouncement stories.

The question since the publication of Kloppenborg’s book has been whether the literary history of Q reflects a social history as well. Kloppenborg argued persuasively for the sequence from wisdom to apocalyptic in the compositional history of Q. If that literary history could be read as a change in the discourse of the tradents of Q, the stages of a Jesus movement might come into view.

The Jesus Movements. In preparation for the Q Seminar of the SBL at Chicago, 1988, Kloppenborg and I both took up the matter of Q’s social history for serious investigation. Our papers came to remarkably similar conclusions (Kloppenborg, this volume; Mack, 1988a). Several stages of a Jesus movement came into view that follow a definite sequence and describe a discrete social formation. According to these reconstructions, the tradents of Q were followers of Jesus who cultivated a critical stance toward social conventions by acting out their statements of independence and by forming a loose network of groups that met for mutual support. The attraction appears to have been the challenge of the lifestyle and the nature of the social encounters and relationships that ensued. Both the behavior and the social experience were understood to be manifestations of what they called the reign of God, an order of things slightly theologized, thought to be recognizable in nature, and said to be available to all who dared to live against the prevailing societal mores. It is important to notice that the society under critique was at first not described as particularly Jewish, and that Q1‘s criticism was certainly not directed at any specifically Jewish institution such as the temple state, the scribal authorities, or the diaspora synagogue.

Only at the second major stage of social experience (reflected in Q2) did this Jesus movement come into a situation where it experienced conflict with Jewish codes and sensibilities. The codes in question are limited to a very small list of items having to do with ritual purity and the way in which keeping the codes might apply to persons participating in the Jesus movement. This is evidence that the Jesus movement had run up against problems of self-definition. Scribes and Pharisees also are in view as prime examples of persons who, in the eyes of Q, did not live according to their own codes (see Vaage, 1988b). There is one mention of having to give an account of one’s loyalties before “synagogues, rulers, and authorities” (Q 12:11–12). And there are other sayings that threaten judgment upon entire Galilean towns and “this evil generation.” Thus it appears that critical questions of self-identification were partially phrased in debate with Jewish institutions and ethos, but the conflict is best described as internal to the Jesus movement itself. Conflict over Jewish codes, moreover, seems to have been closely related to the pain of divisions among family members and a general sense of frustration at not being taken seriously by one’s own generation.

At this stage (Q2) loyalty to Jesus and his teachings was insisted upon even at the expense of reproach and rejection by the “evil generation.” Something obviously had happened to dampen the esprit characteristic of Q1, and all of the signs point to the pain of social formation. To continue with the Jesus people now required a major commitment. This commitment appears to have had consequences for one’s family relationships and for one’s continued participation and status in circles where Jewish sensibilities were important and would not allow some persons to accommodate the Jesus people and their claims. Curiously, however, in light of the apocalyptic language used to threaten judgment upon gainsayers, the next layers of the Q tradition (Q3 and the Gospel of Matthew) reveal that these tradents had not become an apocalyptic sect, had not been traumatized by their battle with scribes and Pharisees, and had no intention of relinquishing a claim to the legacy of “Israel.” They had, in fact, become scribes in the school of their own “rabbi,” Jesus. How could that have happened?

The Intellectual History. Paying close attention to the layers of literary composition and to the stages of social history, it is possible to trace the development of a marvelous myth of origins for this movement. Two important foci for the mythmaking can be discerned. One is the figure of Jesus whose importance increased in direct proportion to the teachings attributed to him and to the spelling out of the consequences of not taking this emerging discourse seriously. Eventually Jesus came to be seen as an imposing authority of divine wisdom and will. The other is the emergence of a large-scale epic-apocalyptic imagination that was used to frame Jesus and his words, link him up with the history of Israel, and position his followers firmly in his train.

Thus the people of Q eventually turned Jesus into a founder figure of divine and imposing presence. The means by which they did this were not at all unusual for the cultures of context, so that it is no longer necessary to imagine some unique and originary impulse of the historical Jesus in order to explain how and why the founder figure took on such authority. The list of practices that contributed to his authorization, practices that were common for the time, include the attribution of gnomological material to teachers and founder-figures, the invention of chreiai (anecdotes), the elaboration of chreiai, the creation of “speech-in-character,” the invitation to biographical imagination, typological characterization, and the idealization of founder-figures in competition with adjacent cultures. All of these imaginative moves can be documented for Q.

To take but one example, Ron Cameron’s watershed study of the John and Jesus material in Q 7:18–35 (1990) works out the logic for wanting to imagine Jesus and John addressing the question of each other’s identity, for placing them in the tradition of the prophets, and for finding a way to rationalize both as children of wisdom. Kloppenborg’s discussion of the temptation story is also apropos (1987a:246–62; 1988a:25–26). By adding this story to the beginning of the collection of Jesus’ sayings at yet another stage of social history (Q3), the Jesus people enhanced both his credibility as well as his authority in ways that were particularly appropriate to the new situation in which they found themselves. Mythmaking is thus in evidence from the beginning to the end of this literary and social history. The depictions of Jesus that resulted from this imaginative activity are not essentially different from any number of fantastic pictures of the special man imagined during this period in other traditions and cultures. Philo’s Moses, for instance, or his depictions of Abraham, Jacob and the other patriarchs, should always be kept in mind as precaution against thinking that crucifixions and resurrections were needed in order to divinize one’s heroes. The question, therefore, is whether the myth imagined by the people of Q presupposed the kerygma.

1.2 Q and the Kerygmatic Christians

Jesus’ Death according to Q. The apocalyptic-kerygmatic hypothesis of Christian origins rides on the assumption that Jesus’ death was a traumatic experience for his disciples because they had regarded him as the long awaited Messiah, only to be crushed by the reality of his crucifixion. Q’s challenge to this hypothesis is clear. Q1 does not cast Jesus as an apocalyptic preacher. The disciples that figure prominently in Mark are not in evidence anywhere in Q. And there is no mention at all of Jesus as the Messiah or the Christ. The term simply does not occur. How then did the tradents of Q regard Jesus’ death?

Interestingly, Q1 does not take note of Jesus’ death at all. One is forced, therefore, to conclude that Jesus’ death was understood at first in light of risks and dangers common for the times. In Q2, however, there is evidence that the painful experience of rejection on the part of his followers had been rationalized by alignment with the largely Deuteronomistic motif of the (rejection and) killing of the prophets. Since Jesus was also reimagined as a prophet at this stage of the movement, it seems reasonable to conclude that his followers may have entertained the thought that his death also was that of the fate of a prophet. This thought is not expressly articulated, however, and its consequences are nowhere elaborated. Even if the implications had been worked out, the meaning of Jesus’ death according to this model would only have been to attest the legitimacy of his role as a speaker with authority, nothing more. As a true prophet, attested by being counted among those who had been rejected and killed, the seriousness of his pronouncements would be obvious. Thus the tradents of Q were consistent through every stage of reimagining Jesus. It was the teachings that mattered. The authority of Jesus as a founder-figure was enhanced with each reimagination, but only in roles appropriate to the authority required by the developing genres of the community’s discourse.

This means that the death of Jesus, though known and possibly reflected upon by his Q followers, was not seen as an intellectual offense unbecoming the Messiah, was not regarded as a founding event, was not observed as a martyrdom for their cause, was not invested with vicarious significance, and was not interpreted by means of sacrificial mythologies. The Q people were not kerygmatic Christians.

Q and the Resurrection Myth. Although Q scholars have known that there is no evidence for a kergymatic interpretation of Jesus’ death among these sayings, most have continued to talk about “Easter” as a decisive event in the history of Q. If Christianity started in the Jerusalem church at Easter, so the thinking seems to have gone, most of the sayings in Q must have the aura of a “post-Easter” ethos about them.

One of the reasons for this scholarly cliché has been the difficulty of imagining how the tradents could have enhanced Jesus’ divine status apart from such a belief. Another has been the notion that Q reflects the preaching activity of its tradents, and that preaching the sayings attributed to Jesus could only have been dared by those persuaded of his spirit and spiritual presence. Another has simply been the assumption of a single dramatic point of origin for all forms of early Christianity.

Kloppenborg has taken up this matter for thorough investigation in his article on “Easter Faith’ and the Sayings Gospel Q” (1990b). The possibility that the Q people imagined a resurrection for Jesus is handled with great care. Every trace that might be thought to lead to some persuasion of a resurrection for Jesus is explored. None is found and Kloppenborg concludes that there was none. He is surely right about this, for the logic of the resurrection mythologoumenon stands in the service of the kerygma, and the tradents of Q were not kerygmatic Christians. What kind of Christians, then, could they possibly have been?

Myths of Origin without a Kerygma. Q’s challenge is to imagine followers of Jesus who took his teachings seriously, formed distinctive groups, and invested their loyalties in a movement strong enough to last for several generations, but without becoming kerygmatic Christians.

As strange as this idea may seem, given the traditional scenario of Christian origins, the Q tradents may not have been the only exception to the kerygmatic rule. The miracle stories, at any rate, also need not be read as stories of the resurrected Jesus. The pre-Markan pronouncement stories are not concerned with kerygmatic characterizations. Jesus as the “living one” in the Gospel of Thomas does not get and hardly needs any kerygmatic credentials. The Didache makes no mention of the death and resurrection of the Christ. And as for the synoptic Gospels in general, it is now becoming clear that, in spite of their narratives of the passion and resurrection, they are exceedingly fuzzy at the point of the necessity and significance of these events. They are certainly not strong evidence for a kerygmatic interpretation of Jesus’ death. Myths of origin, yes; strong convictions about the saving significance of a kerygmatic event on the model of Pauline views, no.

What then are we to do with findings such as these? What if the Jesus movements produced myths of origin that were not kerygmatic? What if such myths of origin were fully adequate to the social formations of these movements without appeal to the vicarious significance of crucifixion? What if the Jesus movement reflected in Q was more the rule, that kerygmatic Christians were more the exception, for the social experiments that occurred in the name and wake of Jesus? Our task would be to revise the conventional picture of Christian origins.

Sides Face, Grand Square

It is not possible to revise the conventional history without coming to terms with Mark. That is because Mark’s place is in the Jesus traditions, and it contains a passion narrative that does reflect knowledge of the kerygma. It is Mark’s story, moreover, that lies behind the (Christian) scholarly imagination of the founding events (see Mack, 1987b). In the Gospel of Mark Jesus appears announcing the kingdom of God, runs into conflict with the Jewish leaders, knows that he must die, predicts an apocalyptic vindication, is crucified as king, and is raised to become the coming Son of man. If Mark is right about Christian origins, the tradents of Q certainly got it wrong.

But how, in fact, can Q be wrong? The more we know about Q and its tradents, the harder it is to set them aside. The more we learn about the Jesus movements, the larger they seem to loom. Where were these people when the big bang occurred, if that indeed is what set the Christian church in motion? Where can they be fitted into Mark’s account of the beginnings at all? Nowhere. Mark’s story has no room for them. And the reconstruction of the Q movement has no room for Mark. So something is amiss.

Thus it is that Mark and Q compete for the scholar’s attention. The traditional wisdom gives both their due independently of one another, two privileged places, set in parallel on the familiar chart of synoptic relations. Mark is positioned on the one hand, Q on the other, equidistant from the same dramatic point of departure. But what if that arrangement were to break down? What if Q, not Mark, describes the Jesus movements closer to their beginnings? If Q is better evidence for the earlier history, Mark has to be seen as a later creation at a quite particular juncture of social and ideological history.

2. Q and the Gospel of Mark

With a Curtsy Turn to Face Back in

Mark presents the scholar of Christian origins with a host of horrendous problems. His apocalyptic reading of the kingdom sayings and the parables is a problem when it is seen that some of this material occurs in other contexts without apocalyptic nuance. His view of the various kinds of Jewish leaders is a problem when it is seen that he lumps them altogether in a single plot to kill Jesus. His view of the destruction of the temple is a problem when it is seen that he links it up with the crucifixion of Jesus. His story of the passion is a problem when it is seen that the kerygma works best without historical placement or narrative explication, and that the Jesus movements did not produce one. His characterization of Jesus is a problem when it is seen that he creates it by manipulating and merging many myths and figures from earlier and disparate traditions about both Jesus and the Christ. There are, to be quite frank about it, many more problems for the critical historian of Christian origins with Mark’s story of Christian beginnings than with the picture that can be derived from Q.

There is some agreement among scholars that the Gospel of Mark reflects upon the Jewish War of 70 CE, and that its genius was a studied combination of traditions from the Jesus movements with the kerygma from the Hellenistic congregations of the Christ. I have recently argued that Mark’s story was a novel formulation along these lines, the creation of a new myth of origin for a group of Jesus people troubled about their place in the Jewish-Israel-Roman scheme of things in the period after the war (1988b). Many of the problems cited above can be resolved if Mark is given credit for his narrative design. To place Mark in the 70s, and to discern his purpose in the writing of an apocalyptic gospel, clarifies his way with the parables, the pronouncement stories, and the miracles stories that he takes up into his gospel. It even helps to understand his particular view of the kerygma. But it does not immediately help to assess the question of Mark’s relation to Q.

The question of Mark’s knowledge and use of Q is not as easy to address as his knowledge and use of other forms of the Jesus traditions. That is because Q represents a written tradition and textual studies have not been able to demonstrate a documentary relationship between Q and Mark. It does help to have Mark placed in the 70s, and it also helps to know that most Q scholars tend to date much of Q prior to Mark. But there is no consensus of scholarship on the question of whether Mark should then be read against the background of Q. Q scholars, at least, seem to prefer leaving Mark out of the Q picture altogether, content to move directly from Q to either Matthew or Luke. And scholars working on the Gospel of Mark seldom ask about the material held in common with Q, treating the pre-Markan materials in Mark simply as “traditional.” When asked, most scholars have said that Mark did not use Q and probably did not know about it. Thus the question of Q and Mark becomes critical for the historian of Christian origins.

2.1 Q and Mark: Documentary Hypotheses

A Rubik’s Cube. The task begins with the observation that Mark and Q do have sayings material in common. A convenient listing of the verses in Mark that overlap with Q is given by Neirynck in a review article on “Recent Developments in the Study of Q” (1982:53). In it he summarizes the judgments of Polag, Morgenthaler, Schenk, Schmithals, and Laufen.5 Laufen’s list is the slightly more conservative and numbers 25 units (of from 1 to 4 verses) or 43 verses altogether, roughly 22% of the approximately 200 verses that have been assigned to Q. If one added items, moreover, that are more thematic than syntactical, the percentage of overlap would markedly increase.

The conservative list of common material includes some features of the story of John the Baptist (Mark 1), the Beelzebul pericope (Mark 3), the sayings in Mark 4 about things hidden and revealed, the parable of the Mustard Seed (Mark 4), features of the sending out of the disciples (Mark 6), the Pharisees seeking a sign (Mark 8), some of the discipleship sayings (Mark 8), isolated sayings about salt (Mark 9:50), divorce (Mark 10:11–12), faith (Mark 11:22–23), prayer (Mark 11:24), the scribes who love the places of honor (Mark 12:39), and some of the sayings in the apocalyptic discourse (Mark 13). By any standard, this listing of shared sayings is worthy of notice and requires some explanation.

The problem with these overlaps is that there is a great deal of dissimilarity in matters of vocabulary, syntax, contextual interpretation or application of particular sayings, and in the order in which the common material occurs. Any attempt to account for the common material in terms of documentary relationships has to explain all of these differences while arguing for a certain sequence of textual dependency.

On the Rocks. Documentary hypotheses have nevertheless been proposed by a number of scholars, including J.P. Brown, Lambrecht, Schmithals, and Schenk. They are in agreement that the sequence ran from Q to Mark. In order to account for discrepancies in the shared material, however, each has proposed a complex theory in which dependence occurred at some point in the redactional history of documents other than those attested by the texts as they stand. Unfortunately, no two theories agree, and explanations for the complexities involved tend to cancel one another out.

One of the more embarrassing phenomena requiring such complex hypotheses has been called the “primitiveness” of some Markan formulations. Obviously, if Mark copied from Q, sayings in Mark that appear more primitive than their parallels in Q need to be explained. The monograph by Rudolph Laufen on the “double traditions” addressed this question directly (1980). On the basis of a redaction critical analysis, he argued that Mark and Q each contained elements that were more primitive when compared with the other text in approximately 50% of the cases. He concluded, therefore, that both had independently used a common fund of oral and written traditions.

The problem with Laufen’s study is that his criteria for “primitiveness” are not critical with respect to the traditional scholarly scenario of Christian origins. And pushing the common material back to traditions that each used independently of the other conveniently sidesteps the issues of sequence and avoids looking into the possibility that Mark and Q may reflect different social histories. (Laufen’s own conclusion was that the common primitive tradition put one in touch with the historical Jesus, high Christology and all.) Nevertheless, Laufen’s study does illustrate the difficulty encountered when the problem of Mark and Q is posed solely in terms of documentary relationships. Laufen, at least, could not establish any dependence of either upon the other.

With a Twist of Lemon. The documentary hypotheses do not work because the assumptions about scribal activity upon which they are based are inadequate, if not wrong. Texts are treated as if “scribes” were mainly “transmitting received tradition,” as if the received tradition was regarded by its copyists as a sacred text, as if all changes in a textual tradition would have been made solely as slight “editorial” revisions of pronouncements held by their tradents to be pristine in the interest of “applying” the originary meaning to a new situation.

While there is evidence that, in some circles, some texts such as the books of Moses (Philo), the Hebrew prophets (Qumran), or Homer (Stoic allegorists and Alexandrian grammarians) were being read as epic precedents with specific hermeneutical design, and while it is clear that these practices prepared the way for the later Christian treatment of New Testament texts, it is questionable to regard all scribal-authorial activity in early Judaism and Christianity on the model of the transmission of sacred texts. An alternative perspective is given when the large corpus of Jewish literature produced during the Greco-Roman era is acknowledged as “scribal” activity. In this case, scribe translates as author, and the mode of authorship can be recognized as intertextual composition. Intertextual composition is a modern notion, coined to designate the way in which a given piece of literature treats its precursor texts and relates to contemporary patterns of discourse. Creative borrowing is involved, as well as the resignification of signs, the rearrangement of symbols, the manipulation of genres, and the freedom to produce from traditional images novel configurations. Intertextual composition is a critical category entirely appropriate to the analysis of first century texts, including such documents as Q and the Gospel of Mark.6

To recognize the intertextuality of early Christian writings makes it possible to move beyond documentary hypotheses with their assumption of monolinear transmissions from a single, originary articulation or text. That Mark “knew” Q in some or several versions, while choosing not to incorporate all of its material, is fully comprehensible on the intertextual model. According to this model, Mark is to be placed at a certain juncture of textual and social histories. As a creative composition, its novel merger and rearrangement of given materials from diverse sources should be analyzed in the light of Mark’s own circumstances and his own project of mythmaking. If the distinctive features of the Markan composition can be accounted for on this model, the questions one must ask about the Markan use of Q can be rephrased and largely answered.

2.2 Mark and Q: An Intertextual Hypothesis

Mark’s Recasting of the Jesus Traditions. Mark was clearly aware of a variety of Jesus traditions. Studies of the pre-Markan traditions used by Mark include parables, pronouncement stories, and the miracle-story chains. A number of the logia and some of the narrative material have also been viewed as traditional, including many of the Markan overlaps with Q. If Q circulated prior to Mark, it would be legitimate to ask about Mark’s knowledge of and interest in the material. Considerations of dating, genre, composition, content, and the reflection of social movements all suggest that the formation of Q took place before the composition of Mark. Thus it is that most studies of Mark and Q have hypothesized a Q-Mark sequence, whether in the attempt to establish a documentary relation, or to argue for independence. This sequence means that Mark’s knowledge of Q is a possibility and that questions about his interest in its material might be ascertained in the light of the way he employed other Jesus traditions.

The distinctive features of Mark’s own program should be kept in mind. They include the characterization of Jesus as a man of authority and power, the theme of discipleship and the misunderstanding of the disciples, the apocalyptic reference in the preaching and teaching of Jesus about discipleship and the kingdom of God, the development of the passion plot, and preference for the Son of man designation to delineate the destiny of Jesus, among others.

It can be shown that these and other features of Mark’s program influenced the way in which he reinterpreted the Jesus traditions. Parables and sayings about the kingdom of God were reinterpreted to support Mark’s view that the teaching of Jesus was about the apocalyptic mystery of the kingdom of God. The authority of Jesus inherent in the pronouncement stories was thematized as exousia, a new concept that built upon various notions of authority appropriate to a speaker as rhetor and sage, but was expanded to include the power to effect one’s pronouncements. The miracles stories were interpreted as signs of this power, enhanced by emphasizing exorcisms, and linked to the theme of exousia by interweaving pronouncements and miracles in the first set of stories (Mark 1:21–3:6). These genres (parables, pronouncement stories, and miracle stories) were then used to depict Jesus’ confrontation with the authorities and so develop the passion plot. Perhaps Mark treated Q material the same way.7

Mark’s Selection of Q Material. Supposing that Mark knew Q and took from it the material now recognized as common to both, what can be said about the material Mark rejected? The first thing to be said is that it is largely Q1 material, and the second is that it is teaching material set forth in Q as if its listeners were fully capable of receiving the instruction. Since Mark was not at all interested in depicting Jesus as a teacher whose teachings were understood and accepted by those who heard him, he “deleted” the Q1 material on the beatitudes (Q 6:20–21), the exhortation to love one’s enemies (Q 6:27–35), the instruction about mercy (Q 6:36–38), the sayings about blind guides and good trees (Q 6:39–45), building on a rock or doing what Jesus says (Q 6:46–49), the Lord’s prayer (Q 11:2–4), asking and receiving (Q 11:9–13), foolish possessions (Q 12:13–21), anxiety (Q 12:22–28), seeking first the kingdom (Q 12:29–31), selling possessions (Q 12:33–34), agreeing with one’s accuser (Q 12:57–59), and serving two masters (Q 16:13).

From Q2 the material deleted is similar: the preaching of John (Q 3:7–9), the centurion’s servant (Q 7:1–10), John’s question about Jesus and Jesus’ teaching about John (Q 7:18–35), woes on the cities (Q 10:12–15), who hears you hears me (Q 10:16), enter by the narrow door (Q 13:24–25), invitation to the great supper (Q 14:16–24), the lost sheep (Q 15:4–7), heaven and earth (Q 16:17), forgive seven times (Q 17:3–4), and the parable of the talents (Q 19:12–13, 15–26).

In contrast, the material common to Mark and Q is mainly from Q2 and fits in quite nicely with Mark’s overall program and narrative design. None of this material was merely “copied” or “cited,” however, as if its Q2 meaning were sufficient to make the point. All was carefully integrated to support the Markan plot. Thus Mark found the following Q2 material helpful for his purposes: the figure of John the Baptist, the notion of “baptism” by the Holy Spirit, the Beelzebul controversy, the figure of the Son of man, the apocalyptic announcements, the notion of the kingdom of God as an apocalyptic manifestation, woes on the Pharisees, and the “eschatological correlative” (Q 12:8–9; Mark 8:38). Some sayings from Q1 could be reinterpreted to support the new narrative design, such as the sayings about things hidden and revealed (Q 12:2; Mark 4:22), the lamp (Q 11:33; Mark 4:21), the mustard seed (Q 13:18–19; Mark 4:30–32), the measure (Q 6:38c; Mark 4:24), and salt (Q 14:34–35; Mark 9:50).

If Mark’s narrative design is used as the criterion for his selection and resignification of Q material, it would also be possible to list a very large number of Markan sayings, scenes, and themes that could be understood as a reworking of Q. Three examples may be given to illustrate this suspicion.

(1) One example would be the Markan theme of discipleship as a narrative development of the Q sayings on following Jesus (Q 9:57–62), the “mission speech” (Q 10:2–12), hating one’s family (Q 14:26), and taking up one’s cross (Q 14:27). One should keep in mind that the notion of a select group of named followers or disciples is not at all in evidence in Q. (2) Another example would be a number of remarkable shifts, resignifications, and narrative elaborations that occur when Mark 1–2 is read against the background of the Q material on John and Jesus. In this case, Mark’s interest in the Q citations from the prophets is particularly noteworthy, extending perhaps to his interest in the Isaianic saying in Q 7:22. This saying could not be used as such, but may have triggered Mark’s choice of the miracles stories he used to create Jesus’ character. Note that they are about healing the leper, the lame, the blind, the dead, and the deaf, just those extreme cases mentioned in the Q saying. (3) A third would be the observation that Mark does not, indeed, could not follow Q in associating either the persecution of Jesus’ followers or Jesus’ own death with the Deuteronomistic motif of the killing of the prophets. But note that Mark does use the wisdom story of the persecution of the righteous one to narrate Jesus’ death. This could be considered a slight, but extremely clever adjustment to the sayings in Q where the motifs from the two traditions (killing of the prophets; wisdom’s envoys) are combined, perhaps for the first time (Q 11:49–51; 13:34–35).

If one follows these clues through a careful comparison of the two texts, one discovers many, many curious reminiscences of Q in Markan dress. Space prohibits detailed exegesis of the Markan version of preaching, controversy, call, following, rejection, the fault of the Pharisees, wilderness and the city, Capernaum and Jerusalem, conflict, division, fear, blasphemy, anxiety, denial, the hour, the signs of the time, faith, the words that will not pass away, and the promise of eventual salvation—all of which present intriguing possibilities for comparison with Q. In every case, however, it can be shown that Mark’s revision dramatized the Q material in keeping with his apocalyptic myth of origins.

Mark’s Revision of Q Material. In keeping with this hypothesis, a brief look can now be taken at some of the more striking Mark-Q overlaps widely recognized in the scholarly tradition. Only a few of the obvious differences between the two accounts can be indicated in each case, but that should be sufficient to clarify the nature of this intertextual relation and partially support the thesis.

John the Baptist. Mark enhanced the inaugural importance of John as “the Baptist” by adding the citation from Isaiah about “the voice crying in the wilderness” to the identification from Malachi about “my messenger” taken from Q (7:27), and by placing John in the wilderness to get his apocalyptic gospel started at the right place. But instead of reproducing the Q text of the public preaching of John about repentance in the face of impending wrath and fire, or Jesus’ discourse about John as “wisdom’s child” and “more than a prophet,” Mark mentioned only (a) that John preached a “baptism of repentance” to the people and (b) that John “prepared the way” by announcing Jesus and baptizing him. Note that Mark changed John’s question about Jesus as “the coming one” (Q 7:19) into John’s announcement that Jesus would “come after” him, and that he recast the Q saying about Jesus baptizing “with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Q 3:16) by deleting the mention of fire and focusing upon Jesus’ own baptism as the moment when the Holy Spirit descended upon him. This narrative clearly prepares for the Markan theme of Jesus’ power visualized in exorcisms (casting out unclean spirits). It is, in any case, the new theme of the Spirit as an agent of power in the deeds and words of Jesus, not the notion of a public message, whether of instruction in wisdom or of an apocalyptic announcement as in Q, that Mark achieved by means of these erasures and elaborations.

The Disciples and their Mission. Mark gave narrative expression to the theme of following Jesus, already present in Q (9:57–62), by composing two call stories (Mark 1:16–20; 3:13–19) and giving names to the select group of twelve disciples. He then linked the disciples to a truncated version of Q’s “mission speech” (Q 10:2–12; Mark 6:7–13), and traced their apprenticeship through the rest of the story. This changed the connotation of “following Jesus” from the Q notion of “hearing and practicing his words” (wherever) to the imagination of being “with” Jesus at every turn in his story. As for the mission instructions, Mark deleted the references to “laborers in the harvest,” the message about the kingdom of God being near, and the peace greeting resting on the children of peace who receive those sent. He also changed the instructions about appropriate dress and added two clarifications about the disciples’ message. (a) They “preached that people should repent,” and (b) they were given “authority (exousia) over the unclean spirits.” These changes are surely in keeping with Mark’s overall program. The disciples do not proclaim the kingdom. They do join John and Jesus in representing a call to repentance, but this call is nowhere shown to have been effective. The emphasis is rather upon the disciples joining Jesus in casting out unclean spirits (mentioned twice, Mark 6:7, 13). That is all. Jesus is the one who “teaches” the logos of the kingdom, and that logos is a secret “taught” only to the disciples. Mark’s story of Jesus’ instruction to the disciples is an imagination of a founder figure, and the purpose of his activity at the beginning of the Christian time is much different than that implicit in Q. In Q, both the teachings and the pronouncements are public matters. They are set forth as if people could understand them, repent and practice being a follower of Jesus by “doing his words.”

Beelzebul. The Beelzebul pericope has long been recognized as one of the more significant overlaps between Mark and Q (Q 11:14–23; Mark 3:19–30), as well as one of the more difficult texts to analyze with the question of Mark and Q in mind. One of the problems with a Q-Mark sequence is that the Markan version omits the saying about casting out demons “by the finger of God” as a sign that the “kingdom of God has come upon you.” This verse has gained such an importance in studies of Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom of God that many scholars have not been able to imagine how Mark could have left it out of his account, if in fact he knew Q. It should now be clear, however, that Mark was not interested in material that might have been interpreted as an open invitation to recognize or enter the kingdom of God during the time of Jesus. He also left out the saying about “your sons” performing exorcisms, thus guarding against a suggestion that they (i.e., the sons of “the scribes who came down from Jerusalem”) were able to do that. Mark’s interest in the story centered on the image of Jesus as an exorcist (which Mark elaborated into a primary theme for his gospel), the conflict created by his activity and the charge against him. The pericope provided a fine opportunity for creating an elaborated pronouncement story in which Jesus could turn the tables on his accusers precisely at the point of his authority to be engaged in “dividing the house.”

Note that the immediate context in Mark is (1) the appointment of the twelve “to be with him” (Mark 3:13–19), (2) his friends at home thinking him crazy (Mark 3:20–21), (3) the scribes’ charge that he was possessed by Beelzebul, our pericope (Mark 3:22–30), and (4) the story in which Jesus marks the division between his own family and those who do the will of God. Thus the sayings from Q are retained that have to do with Satan, the kingdom, the house divided, and the strong man. To these Mark appended (1) another saying from elsewhere in Q about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Q 12:10), and (2) the information that the scribes said, “He has an unclean spirit.” Both of these additions are in keeping with Mark’s narrative themes of (a) Holy Spirit/unclean spirit in a battle for possession of the people, and (b) blasphemy as the charge that gets Jesus killed. So reading the two pericopes in the Q-Mark sequence works perfectly.8

The Instructions on Discipleship. The first unit of instruction following upon Jesus’ plain announcement of his impending death in Jerusalem is constructed largely of Q material. The unit consists of five verses (Mark 8:34–38), three of which have significant correlates in Q (Mark 8:34/Q 14:27; Mark 8:35/Q 17:33; Mark 8:38/Q 12:8–9). The two verses without parallel in Q (about buying/selling one’s life in exchange for the world) are easily understood as arguments (parabolai) that were added in the process of composing the unit as an elaboration of the thesis that to follow Jesus meant to take up one’s cross. This thesis was based upon the saying in Q where “bearing one’s own cross” does not require a martyrological nuance (Q 14:27). A new significance in agreement with Mark’s conceptuality, was achieved by (a) placement in the new narrative and discursive context, (b) the use of the third person imperative, and (c) the addition of the requirement that one “deny oneself.”

The presence of the language of denial at this point in the unit (Mark 8:34; statement of the thesis) is a significant clue to Markan intentionality. Denial will be a narrative theme. Note that the language of denial is present in the Q saying (Q 12:8–9) reworked in Mark 8:38. At that point, however, Mark deleted the part about “acknowledging” and “being acknowledged” (Q 12:8), used only the part about denying and being denied, and substituted for the language of “denying publicly” that of shame (“The Son of man will be ashamed then of the one who is ashamed now”). This allowed Mark to focus the issue of denial upon the narrative theme of following Jesus (traced by keeping an eye on Peter) and redefine both “following” and “denial” in terms of his martyrological paradigm. Note that in the third employment of a Q saying (Q 17:33; Mark 8:35), Mark added “on account of me.” Thus, to follow properly and not be ashamed, according to Mark, one had to deny oneself. That is new. That is Markan.

Other examples will have to wait for other times, but similar observations could be made on Mark’s employment of the parables in Q (Mark interpreted them apocalyptically), the sayings about the kingdom of God,9 the Pharisees who seek a sign (Mark deleted the mention of the Sign of Jonah which served in Q as an exception to the rule that “no sign will be given” and turned the “seeking” into a story of testing and controversy that supported his plot), the use of Q material in the Markan apocalypse, and many other resignifications of important terms, sayings, and ideas. So, what if the thesis were given its due?

3. Christian Origins After Q

Roll Away with a Half Sashay

Now that a Jesus movement can be imagined as the tradent of Q, other texts and scholarly reconstructions that do not quite fit the prevailing schema of Christian beginnings bid for renewed attention. Mention has already been made of a number of New Testament texts that do not support the assumption of a pervasive kergymatic persuasion: the parables, pre-Markan pronouncement stories, pre-Markan miracle story chains, the pre-Johannine miracle source, the Gospel of Thomas, Didache, and even the synoptic gospels because, though they narrate the “passion” story, they do not treat it as the founding event for a cult of divine presence. These bits of evidence for Jesus movements, in distinction from the cults of Jesus as the Christ or the Lord, may actually be but the tip of the iceberg. Once they are noticed in their difference from the traditional picture, other movements from the early period for which the gospel of crucifixion and resurrection may not have been the generative impulse can be added to the list. What about the “pillars” in Jerusalem and the several forms of Jewish Christianity that lasted for centuries? What about the Alexandrian theologians and their logos “Christologies”? And what about Christian Gnosticism? Must we continue to regard all of these configurations as developments that differed only in respect to their “application” of a commonly shared kerygmatic orientation?

New Testament scholarship is now at a crossroads, having uncovered a bewildering array of traditions (i.e., social formations, movements, and ideologies) that resist grafting onto the trunk and branches model of the Easter origins theory. We now know that Luke, for instance, not only merged Q, Mark, and Pauline traditions into his own novel account of Christian origins, but also succeeded in erasing from the reader’s peripheral vision the many alternative configurations of Jesus movements and Christ cults that had emerged during the first century, existed in Luke’s own time, and in fact would continue to complicate subsequent quests for the agreements required by the emerging church. That a certain form of Christianity finally won out over others, and that it did so in part by combining and then collapsing the myths of origin à la Paul and the gospels, is a datum of great interest and importance for understanding the social and ideological dynamics of the so-called patristic and medieval periods of church history. But the church’s view of a monolinear development from origination in a single person’s appearance, dramatic event, unique logos, or extraordinary experience at the beginning of its history can no longer be the model for scholarly reconstruction of the earlier periods.

What then? What we need is to follow the lead of the recent studies of Q: (a) a careful redescription of the rhetoric of our texts and the movements they represent is the first, most obvious desideratum. Nevertheless, this approach will not necessarily lead to the reconstruction required without (b) a forthright entertainment of a social approach both to texts, social formations, and theories of religion. If such a shift were to occur, the entire range of data at our disposal would have to be reviewed. The task would be, not only to rearrange the pieces in a more comprehensive and comprehensible history, but to rethink the making of early Christianity as a religion. Here, in conclusion, only a few issues and items that call for revision can be mentioned as examples.

3.1 Charting the Social Terrain

The Question of Attraction. It should be clear that plural social formations and their histories need to be described. Differences among them need to be noted and accounted for. Junctures of social history that made a difference in the practice, ideology, discourse, and organization of a given movement need to be pinpointed and evaluated.

If these differences and moments are taken seriously, an arena of human experience is given that requires explanation. This arena may also provide a clue to the attractiveness of these new movements apart from the usual assumption of single motivation, i.e., response to a message of event-salvation.

What if the question of their attractiveness were related to the process of social experimentation and formation itself? What if the possibility of imagining new social configurations, the experimental labor of social formation, and the challenge of self-identification in the context of Greco-Roman society and culture at large were considered fundamental factors in the “generation” of these early movements? We should then be confronted with a very exciting and challenging task of our own. It would be the task of redescribing Christian origins from the perspective of a social history of religion.

The Mythmaking Process. If the texts in hand, both within and without the New Testament corpus, are late products of many stages of selective, intertextual, and compositional activity, great care needs to be given to their analysis. Textual traditions need to be separated out, assigned to particular movements, analyzed at specific junctures of a movement’s social history, and accounted for in their present textual contexts both as traditions that were apparently thought worthy of replication or resignification, as well as moments of rhetorical significance at the juncture of their transmission documented by the texts in hand.

This would result at first in an even greater fragmentation of data than is now acknowledged by New Testament scholars. We know about the many different views of Jesus that emerged in various traditions, as well as about the different “theologies,” leadership roles, notions of authority, and so on. The analytic approach would require that other data be added to this list of items to be differentiated, and that the synoptic temptation be resisted while discrete movements are being reconstructed. Thus the notion of “the disciples” should not be assumed as shared by all early movements, but located in some particular tradition or traditions, traced through its history of social and intertextual occurrence, and accounted for in the synoptic view of origins that finally dominates the Christian imagination. It would be the same for the bits of evidence we have for various meal practices, different uses of apocalyptic language, diverse ways of domesticating the Jewish scriptures, and so on. Taken together, this congeries of textual data and scholarly reassignments is the stuff from which a social reconstruction of Christian origins has to be accomplished.

When reassigned to discrete junctures of social and ideological significance, many of the textual traditions we have in hand as the primary legacy from the early period of Christian history appear as moments of early Christian imaginative labor and mythmaking. Mythmaking belongs to the roster of activities we need better to understand. Two examples can be given to illustrate the significance of a theory of mythmaking for a critical reconstruction of Christian origins. One would be the emergence of the kerygma itself. If Jesus movements of the Q variety were more the rule for the very early period, and a sequence from some such Jesus movement to the Christ cult were hypothesized on the analogy of a Q-Mark sequence, the kerygma would need to be accounted for as the mythmaking of some particular social formation at some very early juncture of its social history and quest for social and ideological identity. A second example is given when it is seen that almost all of the Jesus movements known to us, as well as the congregations of the Christ as reflected in the Pauline corpus, worked out their myths of origin largely by means of appeal to Jewish epic traditions with an implicit claim to the legacy of Israel. Though diverse, and in some cases mutually exclusive, these efforts to domesticate the traditions of Israel provide a remarkable datum for exploring the diversity among movements that nevertheless appear to have shared some common social notion.

The problem of Mission and Mutual Recognition. Despite the fact that Q 10:2–12 has been called “the mission speech,” there is little evidence in Q, or the early Jesus materials in general, or in Jewish Christianity as a whole, that supports the traditional notion of a mission to reform or convert “Israel” as an essential part of the vision and program of earliest Christianity. Curiously, the earliest notions of the missionary apostle seem to be related rather to the Hellenistic congregations of the Pauline variety. Thus the notion of mission itself is one of the phenomena to be explained rather than assumed in the reconstructions now required.

The problem is exacerbated by Paul’s own account of meeting with the “pillars” in Jerusalem and his report that they worked out their differences about their respective “gospels” in terms of being “sent” to different peoples, Paul to the Gentiles, they to the circumcised. Paul’s construction upon this meeting can hardly be used to reconstruct the “gospel” of the pillars or ascertain whether they had any sense of “mission,” but it does show that Paul wanted to establish some common denominator between two rather incongruent forms of the movements stemming from Jesus, and that he was concerned to understand both in keeping with his own concepts of gospel and apostleship. This adds to the question of mission the problem of understanding the bases upon which the mutual recognition of diverse Jesus movements and Christian congregations was established. This question has hardly been asked before, given the monolithic paradigm, but it should become an issue as the plurality of early Christianities is accepted.

The problem of understanding the phenomenon of mutual recognition among diverse forms of early Christianity is not limited to the task of reconstructing the earlier periods. From Mark’s daring merger of Jesus traditions with the Christ myth, through the curious combination in Matthew’s gospel of a Jewish Christianity with the notion of a Gentile mission, to the series of accommodations achieved by later forms of Jewish Christianity presumably in partial recognition of other Christian persuasions, one line of differences and their adjudication is given. Another appears when one attempts to chart the significant moments on the way toward the eventual institution of the church. To take only three such moments as illustration: What are we to make of Ignatius’ letters and his sense of authority to speak as a bishop to the various congregations he visited on his way to Rome? How are we to understand the response of the church at Rome to Marcion’s “unorthodox” views and movement? And why was there such energy unleashed, both in mutual attraction and hostility, between the church and gnostic sects during the third and fourth centuries? The notion of a “catholic” Christianity cannot be used to explain these moments, for the emergence of the notion itself is in need of explanation.

3.2 Locating the New Religion

On a Two-Way Street. If the self-sufficiency of a single, dramatic point of origin has to be given up, whether of the charismatic, apocalyptic, or kergymatic variety, some other way of accounting for the new movements, their attractiveness, energies, claims, and eventual adjudications of mutual differences needs to be imagined and tested. A social approach to their histories will help by introducing other factors of significance to the mix of motives and ideas that helped to shape the new configurations. But a social perspective will not be sufficient if limited to the description of the social histories of early Christian movements alone. That is because self-definition is a two-way street, and early Christian social formations found their bearings through constant comparison if not conversation with other groups and movements that also emerged during the Greco-Roman period. Each of these, as well as the larger context of the social and cultural worlds of late antiquity, needs its own description, and all need to be explained by recourse to an adequate social theory of religion.

In Careful Competition. Of the many social and cultural configurations in the larger world of Christian beginnings, three can be mentioned that are of some importance for the description of early Christian movements. One is Cynicism. The question would be the way in which the early Jesus movements distinguished themselves from popular Cynics. A similarity of discourse is reflected in Q, the Gospel of Thomas, and the pronouncement stories of the pre-Markan tradition. But a difference in nuance can also be detected. In order to work out the terms of this similarity and contrast more precisely, a description of Cynicism and the form of its presence in the Eastern Mediterranean is absolutely necessary.

Another extremely important relationship is that of the early Jesus movements and the congregations of the Christ to forms of early Judaism. In this case we have some record of social contact and the problems that surfaced. But here a critical issue emerges. It is the need to reconstruct the social and cultural history of early Judaism itself. That is because plural formations are also in evidence in the case of Jewish response to the changing times. The several forms of Jewish response need to be understood in their differences from one another as well as in their several attitudes toward the Jesus people. The issue is critical because, from the point of view of Christian origins, different Jesus movements responded to different forms of Judaism in different ways at different times, and the reasons for all of these encounters need to be understood before rewriting the social and religious histories required. In the case of Q and the pronouncement stories, for instance, there is a great need to be more precise about the presence and role of synagogues and Pharisees in Galilee before drawing any conclusions about the issues that may lie behind the stories of conflict in these texts (see Saldarini, 1988a, b). In the case of assessing the Pauline congregations, on the other hand, it is necessary to be equally as clear about the possibly quite different nature of the synagogues in Syria and Asia Minor.

A third comparison of importance is that between the congregations of the Christ and the Hellenistic mystery religions. Working out the terms of similarity and difference here has been a frustrating preoccupation of New Testament scholars, Christian intellectuals, and historians of religion since the Enlightenment. This story has recently been told by Jonathan Z. Smith in the Jordan Lectures of 1988 (1990). He has shown that the twists and turns of this history of scholarship, and the failure to resolve the issue of Christianity’s difference from the mystery religions, can be traced to a (Protestant) bias in favor of the uniqueness of Christianity at the point of its pre-Catholic origins. Adequate description was hindered both because of this bias and because the definition of religion implicit to this scholarship was determined by the Protestant view of Catholic Christianity. By setting aside this definition of religion, Smith was able to compare the Christ cult with the Hellenistic mysteries and use the comparison to describe an understandable type of response to the social and cultural dislocations characteristic of the Greco-Roman age. Smith’s study outlines the kind of work required for the desired redescription of Christian origins, and it also illustrates the advance that is possible in our understanding of early Christianity as religion.

Via an Adequate Theory of Religion. The persistence of the traditional scholarly view of Christian origins seems to be grounded in a theory of religion that is no longer helpful. The theory in question is the one that was worked out by the old school of comparative religions at the turn of the century, assumed by the biblical scholars known as the religions-geschichtliche Schule, and refined later for American scholars by the Chicago school of the History of Religions. Though worked out conceptually at the turn of the century, the sociology of this theory is a mixture of the much older Protestant bias against (Catholic) religion, identified by Smith, with a Romantic view of human nature and experience. In its articulation by the Chicago school, especially in the works of Mircea Eliade, the negative attitude toward religion subtly present in the older discussions disappeared and a positive appreciation was cultivated. Features of this theory that have been found attractive by modern scholars, including New Testament scholars, are the primacy of the Sacred, the priority of myth over ritual, ritual as the reenactment of the first time, religious experience as awe in the face of epiphany, preference for an individualistic anthropology, and emphasis upon charismatic religious practitioners and founder figures.

It is not too difficult to see the similarity between the Protestant view of Christianity and this definitional description of religion. What happened in New Testament studies is that this definition of religion, regarded as a general theory with universal application, provided a conceptual frame within which scholars of early Christianity found it comfortable to work. The fury around the turn of the century created by the apocalyptic challenge to the liberals’ quest for reason and continuity in the history of ideas was mediated, though uneasily, by historians of religion who shifted scholarly attention to the rituals, myths, and religious experiences of early Christianity. This was dangerous, given the old Protestant program of identifying religion with Catholicism and the penchant for treating early Christianity as uncontaminated by the religions of its cultures of context. The shift was considered better, however, than being embroiled in the cauldron of Christian origins created by apocalyptic craziness. And besides, if one took care, one could assign only the most originary moments of the definitional paradigm to Jesus and the early church (epiphany, charisma, visionary experience), interpret them as pristine, breakthrough events, and leave all of the cultic embarrassments to “early Catholicism.”

Marks on the way to the modern scenario can easily be charted. Wilhelm Bousset drew his ring of magic narrowly, encircling only the historical Jesus whose message of the forgiveness of sins was the “creative marvel” at the origins of Christianity (1903:492; cited in Kümmel, 1958:331–32). Johannes Weiss, on the other hand, seeking to bridge the abrupt discontinuity from Jesus to the church, admitted the Easter experiences to the magic circle (1913:470–80; 1914:31; cited in Kümmel, 1958:353–56). And Rudolf Bultmann, as is well known, found a way to include the kerygma of Paul within the ring of fire by using existentialist interpretation to remove it from the world of Greco-Roman mythologies. Buttressed by such scholarly considerations, the traditional view of Christian origins has managed to stay in place.

Recent shifts in the study of religion, however, shifts informed by various social sciences and cultural anthropologies, have challenged the definition of religion that underlies the prevailing view of Christian origins. This means that New Testament studies are in danger of forfeiting their place in the academy by failure to keep up with current discourse about religion. The place to begin a reconsideration of our theory of religion is just now being explored, especially among those scholars interested in social approaches to early Christianity. My suggestion is that we start with Jonathan Z. Smith and use his work both as an introduction to the field and as a guide for thinking through the theoretical issues. Much of his work over the last twenty years can be viewed as a series of programmatic and critical assessments of the history of the history of religions. Recently, however, he has set forth his own constructive theory in a book about the temple at Jerusalem as viewed through Jewish and Christian eyes from Ezekiel to the foundations of Christendom in the fifth century (see J. Smith, 1987). Thus we should be able to grasp it. Smith works with our texts and offers alternative interpretations informed by rigorous methodological considerations.

When You Get Back Home, Square the Set

Thus, in conclusion, I dare a Smithian return to our topic. In his Jordan lectures, Smith takes up the distinction between Q and the Jesus movements on the one hand, and the congregations of the Christ on the other. He applies his locative theory of religion to these two forms of social formation with their mythologies and rituals. Wonder of wonders, they conform to a typology of human responses to the Greco-Roman age fully in accord with Smith’s theory of religion and his thorough acquaintance with the religions of late antiquity.

And so the first irony is that, starting with the problem of Mark and Q, a series of questions leads us eventually to consider the problem of Christian origins in general.

And the final irony is that, starting with Q, a collection of sayings and a social formation hardly worthy of being called religious from the older point of view, we end up with a theory of religion that has no trouble accepting the Q movement as a good example of one religious option of the times. So what is the significance of Q for Christian origins? Our picture of the way things started may never be the same again.

The Sayings Gospel Q and the Quest for Aramaic Sources: Rethinking Christian Origins

Heinz O. Guenther

Emmanuel College, Toronto School of Theology


The assumption that a productive and vital Aramaic tradition gave rise to early Christianity has haunted critical New Testament scholarship since its inception some 200 years ago. The traditional image of Christianity’s birth in the Aramaic-speaking milieu of Palestine, together with the idea of the church’s gradual expansion into the Hellenistic world, has made scholarship search unabatingly for Q’s Aramaic ancestors. Fanciful translation hypotheses, prompted by Q’s Semitisms and its LXXal style, are coupled in the literature with speculations about the transformation of Q’s early apocalyptic outlook on history into a manual of sapiential instructions intended to shape Mediterranean life and culture. A closer comparison of the arguments advanced in support of or in opposition to this assumption reveals its problematic nature. Studies of the evolution of Q from a compilation of sayings into a Sayings Gospel have opened new vistas from within the document itself. Q’s portrait of Jesus as Sophia’s most trusted envoy, along with the literary devices employed by the Q redactors to flesh out their vision of Jesus, suggests strongly that at each stage of its evolution the document was at home, in language and in thought, in the Hellenistic milieu of Galilee and Syria.

0. Introduction

Even though all New Testament literature is extant only in Greek, critical scholarship has for the past 200 years ceaselessly searched for the Aramaic ancestors of the otherwise Greek-written Christian traditions. Many 19th and 20th century studies pay tribute in one form or another to the idea that New Testament literature is of Aramaic origin. Only in the course of early missionary expansion are the Aramaic traditions said to have been replaced by Greek ones. In line with this general argument, A. T. Olmstead claims that the dominant language in the Near East of Jesus’ time was Aramaic. Originally all four canonical gospels therefore must have been composed in Aramaic. His advice to graduate students in New Testament studies is simple. The only requirement for successful study of the Bible, he counsels, is “to learn Hebrew and Aramaic, plus the elements of historical criticism” (41–43, 75). Any exegesis of Jesus’ sayings based on the Greek text alone, he warns, is hopelessly out of date. To understand fully the Jesus tradition in all its parts, all sayings and short stories must first be translated back into Aramaic, the language in which they had allegedly been couched originally (43).

Two decades later the assumption that a highly productive and vital Aramaic-speaking community gave rise to early post-Easter Christianity was reiterated succinctly by Matthew Black: “At the basis of the Greek Gospels,” he says, “there must lie a Palestinian Aramaic tradition, … and this tradition must at one time have been translated from Aramaic into Greek” (1967:16; emphasis added). It does not come as a surprise that in view of these claims the advocates of the Q hypothesis could not extricate themselves from the age-old Aramaic assumption. To put it more broadly in Joachim Jeremias’ terms, can it be reasonably assumed that some strands of the Greek-written tradition such as Jesus’ sayings and brief narratives compiled in the Sayings Gospel Q, and perhaps even other essential parts of gospel literature, are based on or translated from Aramaic source materials (1971:8)?

Under the weight of new archaeological discoveries and detailed studies into the use of Greek in first century Palestine, including Jerusalem (Hengel, 1974, 1:103–106; Guenther, 1989:250–51), the arguments supporting the Aramaic assumption have fallen one by one. E. J. Pryke’s (31) attempt to demonstrate on stylistic grounds that Mark’s gospel goes back to oral and/or written Aramaic traditions has not found much of a following. Werner Kelber’s (70, 201) claim that the Semitic oral mentality of Jesus’ time is still firmly enshrined in the Greek texts has been seriously disputed in recent studies.2 Harald Riesenfeld and Birger Gerhardsson’s assumption that Jesus’ earthly disciples may have memorized the master’s words in contemporary rabbinic style and subsequently transmitted them to the post-Easter community which, in response to new missionary needs, translated them into Greek (Riesenfeld: 21–29; Gerhardsson: 326–28) has now been shown to be a misrepresentation of pre-70 Judaism (Neusner, 1975:80). One cannot read back “into the period before 70,” says Morton Smith, “the developed rabbinic technique of 200 CE” (169). To apply Amos N. Wilder’s widely cited dictum about orality to the study of Christian origins, critical scholarship, early or modern, has assumed, often even without raising the least trace of doubt, that Hebrew/Aramaic sources is “where it all began” (40). Even in his latest contribution to the matter at hand, orality is for Black the link between the Greek New Testament and Aramaic Christianity (1989:37, 40 n. 19).4

More recent attempts to trace early credal forms or traditions back to Aramaic ancestors have not fared much better than their earlier counterparts. Jeremias traced the nucleus of 1 Cor 15:3–4 back “to a Semitic text” (1971:233). In agreement with Jeremias, Hans Conzelmann detected some Semitic coloring in the pre-Pauline christological formula of 1 Cor 15:3–4 but, contrary to Jeremias, noted that the early creed in its extant form is no translation from Aramaic at all but “a thoroughly Greek composition” (1966b:15–25). Even though an earlier recension of the formula may derive from the Palestinian church, the language of the early creed belies its alleged Aramaic origin. It is from the beginning a Greek composition (Kloppenborg, 1978:357). Bultmann’s assumption that in composing his gospel, the fourth evangelist used, in addition to a sign source and an independently transmitted passion account, a so-called “Revelation Discourse Source”, originally in Aramaic (1971:6–7, 113, 135 n. 4, etc.) has not found any enthusiastic response in Johannine scholarship. Even scholars who otherwise lend general support to the Aramaic assumption deny the existence of such a discourse source (Brown, 1966:28–32; cf. Schnelle, 17).

The last bastion of the once powerful Aramaic assumption is the Sayings Gospel Q. Can it be claimed with Adolf von Harnack as the link between an early Aramaic Christianity and the extant Greek-written NT literature (1908:247)? This essay will demonstrate how and why this grand assumption, despite heroic scholarly defense from all imaginable quarters, has proven itself unable to stand the test of either philological, literary or historical scrutiny. On all fronts, critical scholarship has been forced, often most reluctantly, to retreat and to let fade a theory which first seemed to be built on the most solid of biblical rock. The history of Q research is certainly not the only witness to the meteoric rise and gradual downfall of the bold assumption that Aramaic-written sources (or single free-floating Aramaic sayings and traditions) mark the beginnings of the New Testament religion. But since a review of almost two centuries of Q studies illustrates most tellingly the former prestige and eventual decline of this once widely held assumption, it is worth using Q research as a test case for demonstrating why scholarship made this assumption and what eventually led to its inevitable collapse. In the course of this demonstration, a multiplicity of hidden scholarly assumptions will leap to the eye of the critical reader.

The gradual erosion of the Hebrew/Aramaic hypothesis did not only administer a blow to those who continue to argue that the earliest postEaster Christian traditions must have originated in the land and language of Jesus, but the loss of the Hebrew/Aramaic hypothesis for the reconstruction of the history of the Christian tradition also calls into question the idea that Christianity gradually developed from an originally more or less unified Jewish renewal movement to a predominantly Gentile faith. The sweeping claim that “much of the traditional material used by the writers of the gospels and … part of the book of Arts originated among and was passed on by persons whose native tongue was Aramaic or Hebrew” (Martin:1; cf. Pryke:8; Riesenfeld:8–11) does not rest on literary evidence, but rather on a naive historical reading of certain early Christian sayings and narratives. The book of Acts figures importantly here. Ernst Haenchen’s conclusion that Luke’s portrait of Christianity’s advance from Jerusalem to Rome is not a historical one, but flowed “entirely from the pen of Luke” (195; cf. 91, 99) is as blatantly ignored by scholars who employ Acts for their reconstruction of Christian origins as Reginald H. Fuller’s observation that the Semitisms found in the gospel writings are readily “explicable as Septuagintalisms” (10; cf. N. Turner, 1965:185) is disregarded by those who base their reconstruction of Aramaic sources on the Semitic touch of certain parts of the NT.

Advocates of the Aramaic hypothesis also tend to overlook among other things the significance of the fact that genuinely Hellenistic traditions have at various points of their transmission been secondarily rejudaized (Kilpatrick:103; Strecker, 1956:463–64 and others). There is enough evidence in the NT that the gospel writers deliberately inserted Semitisms to convey to readers outside Palestine some Palestinian atmosphere (e.g., Mark 5:38/Matt 9:23; cf. m. Ket. 4:4). Palestinian coloring in itself is therefore not at all a sign of historical factuality but is in many cases the result of deliberate redaction. Equally unnoticed is the fact that even genuine NT Semitisms (Wilcox:995–1007) are embedded in otherwise genuinely Hellenistic literary genres (Guenther, 1989:251–65). A brief review of the history of the Aramaic hypothesis in Q studies will bear out some of the implications raised so far only in most general terms.

1. Eichhorn’s Primitive Gospel

Early 19th century historical critical studies into the New Testament writings merely postulate the Aramaic origin of all Christian traditions, synoptic or non-synoptic, without making the slightest effort to substantiate literarily the claims built on these premises. At the turn of the 18th century Johann Gottfried Eichhorn, struck by the verbal similarities between the three synoptic gospels, noted that in composing the gospels the synoptics must “either have used one another or else have depended upon a common source,” a gemeinschaftliche Quelle (1804:155, 162, 346), supposedly created by “an unschooled Jewish writer” (1804:155, 164). In his 1794 publication on the First Three Gospels he still followed Lessing’s lead by suggesting that the evangelists might have used their own ingenuity in elaborating upon the hypothetical primitive gospel, sometimes named a primitive writing (Urschrift) (1804:166, 347), at other times designated a Hebrew primitive gospel (Urevangelium) (1804:353). The response of contemporary scholarship to his gingerly attempt to attribute at least some compositional creativity to the gospel writers was so minimal that in a brief footnote Eichhorn expressed surprise at this scholarly disinterest in his suggestions (1804:148 n. 1). Lack of enthusiasm for the idea on the part of his scholarly readers seems to have been responsible for his change of mind.

In his 1804 Einleitung (Introduction to the New Testament), he reversed his earlier judgment by positing the apparently more comforting hypothesis for his contemporaries that the three so-called “catholic” gospels reflect neither the gospel writers’ thought nor their editorial ingenuity, but are solidly built upon the rock of an admittedly irrecoverable but still dimly recognizable primitive gospel the so-called Urevangelium. He even took it upon himself to reconstruct the alleged primitive gospel (Urevangelium) most painstakingly over the course of 220 pages, despite his admission that it was, in essence, ultimately irretrievable (1804:188–415). For the Eichhorn of the 1804 Einleitung, any argument in favor of the gospel writers’ literary freedom was unacceptable. Any attempt to trace even the slightest synoptic variations back to the evangelists themselves, he says, is tantamount to expecting “a most miserable classroom performance from mature men engaged in a most noble activity” (1804:169). Had they decided to write on their own, he argues, their reports would have been much more colorful and nuanced.

Categorically ruling out any redactional contributions on the part of the evangelists, Eichhorn claimed that all early Christian sources, whether gospel sources or any other early collection, must relate back to the firm “literary monument” of a basic source (Urschrift) assumed to have circulated in nine different versions, all of them written in Syrian Aramaic, held by him to have been the language of Jesus. One of the nine, the socalled “Exemplar D” containing fourteen pericopae, is identified by him as a “new source” (eine neue Quelle), a suggestion which relatively swiftly found acceptance in all scholarly communities. Before very long it established itself in New Testament scholarship as the Q hypothesis. Eichhorn is therefore indeed, as Kümmel pointed out, the founder of the Q hypothesis (1975:63).

The hypothesis of a Hebrew/Aramaic Urschrift underlying all gospel literature did not fail to leave its mark on the following two centuries of scholarship. In its early stages, it functioned as an effective vehicle for highlighting the authenticity and historical reliability of the core material, demoting all redactional expansions, omissions and modifications to the rank of insignificant translational variations of the qualitatively superior normative Hebrew or Aramaic “primitive gospel.” Eichhorn regarded this Urschrift as a sound but “short biography of Jesus” composed by Palestinian eyewitnesses (1804:162–64, 167–69, 173–75, 350).

The ground had now been laid for the type of circular argument which would haunt many future New Testament studies. By simply presupposing Aramaic-written sources, scholars would maintain, often with amazing confidence, that all Semitisms, Aramaisms, halakic or midrashic allusions, appearing in the New Testament, either derived from Jesus himself or originated from a literarily productive Aramaic-speaking Christian community. This assumption was then elevated to the rank of fact, thus becoming the guarantor not only of the NT Semitisms themselves but even of the historical authenticity of the NT sources. This circular argument led Eichhorn to regard Semitisms as traces of Christianity’s earliest stages and enabled him to mark them off from all later Hellenistic strands of Christian literature. Luke’s picture of Christian origins now seemed to be historically sound: Jewish Christianity did not develop in tandem with Gentile Christianity. Gentile Christianity rather constituted a new and unexpected departure from both the Jewish reform movement of Jesus and the Jewish stage of the earliest post-Easter era.

Apart from the absence of any literary trace of the assumed “primitive gospel,” the stylistic unity and the order of the synoptic gospels in relation to each other discredited Eichhorn’s assumption right from the outset. The literary structure of the gospels and their sources relegated the hypothesis to the realm of an interesting but unnecessary superstructure. All the reasons listed by Eichhorn in support of the gospel writers’ assumed dependency upon an Urschrift (i.e., the narrative coherence of the materials, the writers’ literary skill, their focus on the major events in Jesus’ life) could readily be used to explain the literary interrelation and interpenetration among the gospel writers themselves. No convincing case could be made on Eichhorn’s lines for solving the synoptic problem. His plea for the Urschrift proved to be altogether ideological. Its purpose and function was to authenticate the historical reliability of Christian literature.

In retrospect, the claim that the gospels constitute translations from a “primitive gospel” written in the language of Jesus could not succeed. The hypothesis disregards the literary evidence of the gospels so blatantly that from the first it was doomed to failure. Eichhorn did not find any following for his theories in the next generation of scholars. The disappearance of the Eichhornian Urschrift hypothesis, however, did not at all mark the end of the nervous search for the mysterious Hebrew/Aramaic core tradition allegedly lying at the roots of all Greek-written New Testament literature. Eichhorn’s failure only lifted the quest for Aramaic sources to another level of sophistication.

2. Weisse’s Aramaic Hypothesis

Some thirty years after Eichhorn, Schleiermacher’s high appraisal of the second century Papias fragments (1836:363, 389, 392) encouraged Christian Hermann Weisse to renew the old quest for a primitive Aramaic bedrock tradition. The meager remains of Papias’ five-volume work, preserved in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, prompted him to pick up the slack of the post-Eichhornian era by breathing new life into the attempt to find behind the gospels the thought and language of the Aramaic-speaking primitive church, if not of Jesus himself.

That the bland second-century figure of Papias had been, in the judgment of Eusebius at least, “a man of very little intelligence” (Hist. eccl. 3.39.13) did not discourage Weisse from attributing authenticity to Papias’ claim that Matthew had collected the Lord’s λόγια in the Hebrew language (Hist. eccl. 3.39.16). A man lacking intelligence, he alleged, can hardly be expected to have changed what he had received from his crown witness, the equally obscure presbyter John. Instead of diminishing its value, Eusebius’ low rating of Papias’ intelligence rather enhanced for Weisse the historical reliability of the fragments. T. W. Manson also subscribed to this type of reasoning. Eusebius would not have taken the trouble, Manson notes, of recording the quotes of the otherwise wooden Papias, if the fragments had only given Papias’ personal opinion (17).

Thus, Papias’ reference to a Matthean logoi collection (Hist. eccl. 3.39:16) is Weisse’s catalyst in his search for the traces of early Aramaic-speaking Christianity. It affirmed for him that the Greek-written New Testament documents rested on the historical rock of a genuine Palestinian tradition. Incidentally, for Weisse the Matthew of the Papias fragments was the apostle Matthew, not his less authentic but homonymous evangelist counterpart. What Papias handed down to posterity, Weisse claims confidently, comes from an apostle and therefore is highly “trustworthy information in every respect, nobody should ever have doubted it” (1838, 1:30). But why then did Matthew, the eyewitness-apostle, only retain λόγια? Why did he not also pass on the more elaborate speeches of Jesus or give more detailed memories of Jesus’ life and ministry? Even here Weisse is not at a loss for an answer. Jesus’ lack of formal education, he says in a daring flight of fancy, must have prevented him from delivering to his audience long speeches of a philosophically more demanding nature (1838, 2:29). Jesus’ own disinclination to long discourses is for Weisse the reason why a rather skimpy logia collection is the sole survivor of Palestinian Christianity. Without raising any question, he identified this compilation of oracles not with Matthew’s gospel, but with the Synoptic Q Source, Matthew and Luke’s common source (1838, 1:84; 1838, 2:1, 4, 8).

Trust in the historical authenticity of the Christian tradition had now once again been restored, not by another version of the Urschrift hypothesis, but by recourse to Papias’ mention of a succession from Jesus to the apostle Matthew, a member of the mysterious twelve (Guenther, 1985:53–55), and a man well qualified to deliver Jesus’ words in the way in which they must have been uttered originally, in the Lord’s own dialect. Once again the testimony of primitive Christianity had come to rest on Hebrew/Aramaic sources.

At first sight, Weisse’s identification of the apostolic Hebrew /Aramaic logia collection with the hypothetical Q Source seemed to have provided the missing link between the extant Greek-written New Testament documents and their Aramaic ancestors. Eichhorn’s irrecoverable Urschrift could now safely be laid to rest. An even sounder hypothesis, i.e., an Aramaic collection, had replaced it, one which someone in early Christianity had claimed to have seen with his own eyes. The otherwise unknown presbyter, John, mentioned by Papias, became the foundation upon which Weisse based his assumption of an unbroken development from Jewish to Gentile Christianity. That Papias, the source of this information, had by Eusebius’ own admission “in no way been a hearer and eyewitness of the sacred Apostles” (3.39.2), was conveniently allowed by Weisse to pass unnoticed.

Weisse’s attempt to use Papias’ quotations as evidence for the Palestinian provenance of the gospel tradition failed for several reasons. First, Papias’ reference to Matthew’s compilation of Jesus’ logia in Aramaic cannot be read in isolation from his preceding comments on Mark’s gospel (Hist. eccl. 3.39.15–16; Kürzinger, 1977:247, 260–63). All Papias affirms, says Josef Kürzinger, is the superior literary quality of Matthew’s gospel over Mark’s less coherent account of Jesus’ ministry. The Matthew of the Papias quotation is not, as Weisse assumed, the eyewitness apostle of Matt 10:3, but rather the non-apostolic gospel writer himself. Papias’ comments on Matthew interpret his own critical references to Mark. The two statements (Hist. eccl. 3.39.15, 16) must be seen together. To paraphrase Papias: “Matthew ordered the logia found scattered all over the Markan gospel and submitted them in the Hebrew language” (Kürzinger, 1979: 175). No reference is made by Papias to the Q Source.

Second, the context of the Papias fragment in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History (3.39.15–16) does not really support Weisse’s claim that the λόγια collected by Matthew represent a pre-Matthean collection such as the Q Source (rightly Kürzinger, 1977:254, 260; Jeremias, 1971:38). The enormous range of the term logia from individual Old Testament oracles to Jesus sayings and entire logia compilations, including the Old Testament itself, has been demonstrated by Kürzinger and others (Kürzinger, 1979:175–78), so that we need not reestablish it here. For Papias, the λόγια collection is, as Kürzinger has cogently argued, not a pre-synoptic collection, but “the content of the gospels, plain and simple” (1979:176). Black agrees with this judgment without giving up the claim that the quotes themselves could go back to a pre-Papias Aramaic (oral) layer of the tradition (1989:36, 40 n. 19).

Finally, neither the language of the first gospel nor that of any other early Christian source supports the claim that a Hebrew Matthean gospel ever circulated in the primitive Christian community before being translated into Greek (N. Turner, 1965:176; Hengel, 1974, 1:105; Kürzinger, 1977:263). That the language of the first gospel is anything but translation Greek is too widely documented to require further discussion (Kümmel, 1975:55; Kürzinger, 1983:23).

Weisse’s search for Hebrew/Aramaic Christianity is from the first motivated by dogmatic and apologetic purposes. His quest is based on neither literary nor reliable historical evidence. Papias’ quotations, suggestive though they may have proven for the discussion of the synoptic problem, do not bring scholarship back to the long sought-for Aramaic-speaking primitive church. Neither Eichhorn’s Urschrift nor Weisse’s recourse to the Papias fragments sheds light on the formative era of the Christian tradition. That hardly any 19th or 20th century New Testament scholar of rank took note of these two early hypotheses does not therefore really come as a surprise. But Eichhorn and Weisse’s failure to find the hidden gateway to Palestinian Christianity did not discourage scholarship from continuing with the search. The nostalgia for Aramaicwritten sources merely gave birth to another approach. Even if the notorious Urschrift and the Papias quotations do not bring us back to the cradle of Christianity, does inner logic not suggest that the beginnings of the Christian tradition must lie within Jesus’ Palestinian ministry?

3. From Holtzmann to Wellhausen

Heinrich Julius Holtzmann is rightly credited with moving the Q hypothesis from the realm of relative obscurity to the center of 19th century critical New Testament research. In the conclusion of his candid rebuttal of Griesbach’s attempt to explain the formation of gospel literature without recourse to two independent sources, he states programmatically that the Two-Source Hypothesis represents the most plausible solution to the synoptic problem: “The Two-Source Hypothesis deserves to be called the mature result of large-scale and impartial scholarly research into gospel literature” (1863:113–26, 140; 1901:17). More importantly, upon meticulous examination of the Q vocabulary, its key phrases and syntax structure, Holtzmann is the first to suggest that the Spruchsammlung (Sayings Source Q) used by Matthew and Luke was not a translation from Hebrew /Aramaic, but rather from the first a wholly Greek-written document: “Our very simple assumption is that Matthew and Luke shared with one another an additional Greek-written common source” (1863:128; 1901:17; emphasis added). It is these and other scholarly achievements which earned Holtzmann the eponym, “the prince of liberal New Testament scholars.”

But even this erudite and data-oriented scholar, though otherwise adamant in his rejection of all merely dogmatic claims, found it difficult to break free from the unwarranted assumption that the biblical writers, in their composition of Greek texts, had leaned on more or less coherent Aramaic fragments or source materials. It is most interesting to find even Holtzmann salute the Aramaic assumption which, by his own recognition, lacks the support of any written evidence (1863:128; 1901:7, 10, 35).

Semitized New Testament Greek is not due to translation from Hebrew or Aramaic but rather is the direct result of LXXal influence on the Greek of the gospels. Semitisms can be explained, Holtzmann notes, “from the Semitic speech forms of the LXX” (1901:19). Does this mean that the early Christian tradition, created by Greek-speaking Jewish or Gentile writers, was from the first an altogether Greek tradition? In his search for Aramaic originals, Holtzmann still proved himself a child of his time. Even though he failed to muster any linguistic evidence for the Aramaic hypothesis, he still claims that the originally free-floating sayings of Jesus must have been passed on in pre-gospel as well as pre-Q times, not only in more perfect historical order, but even in the language of Jesus, i.e., in oral or written Aramaic (1863:130, 141; 1901:7, 10, 18–20).

In his exegetical work, the “prince” of 19th century scholarship could pride himself on a candor unequalled by any of his contemporaries. His references to the history of the synoptic tradition, however, are tinctured with assertions which even his own research could not validate. Once he had taken the irrevocable step of nailing his colors to the mast of a Greekwritten Q document, one which cannot be claimed to display the characteristics of translation Greek, his tribute to an earlier Aramaic tradition, oral or written, began to dangle loosely in the air. Julius Wellhausen sensed the disconcerting ambiguity of Holtzmann’s position. But instead of disclaiming Aramaic sources altogether, Wellhausen now tried to turn back the clock in his attempt to repristinate the old hypothesis. On the basis of alleged translational mistakes in otherwise generally accepted parallel Q texts, he attempted to prove, contrary to Holtzmann, that the hypothetical Source as a whole must have had an Aramaic ancestor.

It is noteworthy that Holtzmann still needed to devote a whole subchapter to a detailed demonstration of Q’s existence (1863:126–40). By contrast, Wellhausen could take the Source for granted. After a century of vigorous proving and disproving, the Two-Source Hypothesis had finally established itself as the most persuasive solution to the synoptic problem. Wellhausen therefore states calmly, without any apologetic overtones, that Matthew and Luke must have had access to “a single, coherent source, designated as Q,” a composition whose origin he dated between his assumed Urmarkus and the canonical Mark (1905:66; cf. 58, 84; cf. Holtzmann, 1892:6–7). To be sure, Q was not for him the result of the compiler’s own theological vision. He adamantly refused to call even the evangelists “theologians” in the true sense of the word (Wellhausen, 1905:73), let alone the compiler of Q. In his Q studies he added another coat of paint to the century-old assumption that Matthew and Luke’s Source must have been the reproduction of an Aramaic document. Just as Mark had reworked an originally Aramaic Urmarkus (which, in Wellhausen’s judgment, may have been available to the evangelist only in Greek translation!), so Matthew and Luke could fall back on the Greek translation of what he suggests must originally have been an Aramaic Source of Jerusalem provenance (1905:88).

What is the basis for Wellhausen’s claim to Aramaic originals (1911:8–9)? In comparing parallel Q texts with one another, he noted that some units are virtually identical in wording (Q 3:7–9; 7:24–28, etc.), while others display sharp verbal disagreements with one another (Q 10:2–12; 22:28–30). Without excluding the possibility of the evangelists’ redactional activity here and there, he nonetheless used his observations to put new life into the old assumption that at some point the two writers must have relied on an Aramaic source.

The strange oscillation of verbal agreements and disagreements in Matthew and Luke’s Q texts can only be explained, Wellhausen argues, if “a written Aramaic Vorlage [was] the basis for the differing texts and their variants” (1905:36–37). Hence, whenever Matthew and Luke’s Q texts agree, Wellhausen claims that the writers depend upon a Greek translation of the Source. By contrast, verbal disagreements among texts dealing with the same subject matter (for instance, Q 6:22, 23; 10:5; 11:39, 41) mean for him that the two allegedly bilingual evangelists relied on an Aramaic Vorlage, each translating the Aramaic to the best of his ability. Mistranslations (for instance in Luke 11:41/Matt 23:26a–b Q text at all?), and the possibility that the evangelists at times may each have relied on two or more differing Aramaic versions (Q 6:23), explain best, he says, the discrepancies in the Q wording. Black followed Wellhausen’s lead by affirming, on the basis of numerous textual observations, that the mistranslation hypothesis is “certainly the best and probably the right explanation of the difficulty in Greek” (1967:187–88; emphasis added). In a later publication Black softened his stand somewhat without giving up the mistranslation hypothesis entirely (1989:38–39).

Holtzmann’s assumption that at an early point in primitive Christianity Aramaic Jesus sayings must have circulated in Palestine is an attractive but typically 19th century hypothesis for which hard evidence is simply not available. Wellhausen and Black’s mistranslation hypotheses are not conclusive either. Apart from the fact that both scholars are themselves aware of the shakiness of the translation hypothesis (Wellhausen, 1905:68; Black, 1967:11, 28, 188, 190; 1989:38–39), their demonstration of possible translation variants/mistranslations lacks the weight of sound evidence. Since LXX Greek invariably carries with it the strong coloring of Hebrew syntax, Semitisms need not be traced back to Aramaic originals at all. “Not enough attention has been paid to the possibility,” says Nigel Turner, that the early New Testament writers “wrote in Greek while thinking in Aramaic or, better still, that they spoke and wrote in a dialect of Jewish Greek,” a dialect “not very different from the Septuagint” (1965:174, 183). Contemporary Q studies therefore regard the assumption of the so-called “Übersetzungsvarianten” (translation variants) as a dispensable luxury in exegesis, one which raises more questions than it solves (Steck:22 n. 1; 25 nn. 1, 5; 35 n. 2; 46 n. 4; 48 n. 9; 50 n. 5; Kloppenborg, 1987a:54–59).

To make things worse, the assumption hinges on the claim that Matthew and Luke were bilingual writers who had access to both Greek and Aramaic source materials, consulting the Aramaic originals at one point, while completely ignoring them at another. This assumption is not only far from being secured, but would also transform the evangelists into rather eccentric writers swayed in their work by almost pathological literary idiosyncrasies.

Holtzmann affirmed the Aramaic assumption in dogmatic terms, while ignoring it in his analysis of the Sayings Gospel. Whatever the tradition-historical development of the sayings (and short stories) compiled in Q, the document itself is for him a Greek-written document. Wellhausen tried to reestablish the assumption of an Aramaic Q, using arguments unable to bear the weight put upon them. Mainstream Q scholarship has ignored Wellhausen’s mistranslation theory. But even though scholarship largely allowed Wellhausen’s forced solution to Q’s verbal agreements and disagreements to fade, the resilient Aramaic hypothesis readily survived that blow. It raised its head once again with new arguments, which are worthy of brief examination.

4. The Aramaic Hypothesis: The Assumed Gateway to the Historical Jesus

Early 20th century scholarship perpetuated the Aramaic hypothesis without examining its premises afresh. Black’s study of the Aramaic provenance of gospel literature is a good illustration of the lackluster support given by contemporary scholars to an essentially outdated theory. On the one hand, Black assumes quite boldly that the Greek rendition of Q is “in the main a faithful rendering of an Aramaic source,” a collection of sayings heralding the Aramaic origin of even larger cycles of pregospel as well as gospel materials (1967:188). “If a collection of Aramaic Logia did exist,” and Black assumes that it did, then “there is as much probably to be said for the theory that more than one cycle of Greek sayings-tradition is indebted to it.…” (1967:191, 271; emphasis added). But Black’s strong affirmation of an originally Aramaic Q is just one side of his painfully inconclusive argument. Despite his often repeated insistence upon Aramaic literary antecedents for the synoptic tradition, he warns on the other hand against carrying this theory too far. In accommodating himself to the findings of redactional studies, he admits that the Greek rendering of Jesus’ teachings represents much “less the mind of Jesus than the ideas and interpretation of the Greek evangelists” who, as he puts it, “did not only translate Aramaic, [but] also wrote Greek” (1967:275, 28; cf. 188–89, 205, 276). Even he admits that Semitic traits in earliest New Testament texts are the result “of the kind of Greek which an Aramaic-speaking Jew could write” (1967:271).

The dilemma of Black’s position is obvious. If New Testament Greek is Jewish Greek throughout, the claim that Q and the synoptic gospels represent a translation tradition goes up in smoke. To say, as he indeed does, that an “Aramaic sayings-source or tradition lies behind the [Jewish Greek of the] Synoptic Gospels” does not now make much sense. The question of Jesus’ own language aside, if the early Christian tradition is couched in the Greek “an Aramaic-speaking Jew could write,” as Black suggests (1967:271), why invest so much energy in proving that Aramaic originals underlie this type of Greek? From where would the evidence for such a claim come? If the Semitic Greek of both the pre-synoptic and the synoptic sources was what N. Turner calls the “biblical Greek of a kind not very different from the Septuagint” (1965:183), why continue with this search for the admittedly irrecoverable Aramaic sources? Black’s response is clear: Any Semitic coloring discernible in the use of New Testament Greek, whether in the gospels or Q, is evidence in favor of originally orally transmitted sayings of Aramaic provenance (1989:38–39, 40 n. 19).

Another answer to this complex question is provided by Harnack. His Q studies show that the quest for Aramaic sources was not at all prompted by the written New Testament texts themselves, synoptic or pre-synoptic. It is rather a quest based on dogmatic convictions. Harnack begins from the presupposition that all early traditions belong “in their substance … to the first, the Jewish, epoch of Christianity” (1901:21). His premise here dictates the conclusion. The Q Source only serves as a justification for what had long before been established in his mind. Without further ado, he assigns Q to the so-called first Jewish epoch of Christianity, elevating the source to the rank of “a document of highest antiquity,” “a priceless compilation of the sayings of [the earthly] Jesus” (1908:246, 249).

Part of Harnack’s image of Christian beginnings lies in the idea that the earthly Jesus was an extraordinarily imaginative teacher, one who proclaimed that God’s kingdom was coming into the soul of individuals (1901:11, 56). In Harnack’s judgment, Jesus was a religious founder, but one who was what he taught. As the first pathfinder, he came to know himself as the child of his Father. Only after he found God’s kingdom in his own soul could he take the tremendous leap to claim Messiahship for himself (1901:246).

Are there any early Christian sources justifying or supporting this image of Jesus? In his search for a source which would validate his claims, Q became an endorsement for Harnack’s assumptions. He used the document to fill a tantalizing lacuna in his image of Christian origins. Q became the missing link between his own image of the earthly Jesus and the christologically impregnated later gospels of the church. This explains why he calls Q an essentially homogeneous portrait of Jesus concordant “with our Lord’s genuine sphere of thought,” bearing as it were “the stamp of perfect genuineness” (1908:167, 233, 250). Owing to his dogmatic premises, Q is described as a source free from any bias and apologetic, focusing only on “the revelation of the knowledge of God, the moral call to repent and to believe, to renounce the world and to gain heaven—this and nothing else” (1908:250–51). The source, says Harnack, is “absolutely bounded by Galilee” and—who would expect otherwise—was “originally written in Aramaic” (1908:171, 247). The verbal agreements in the Greek Q text now conveniently affirm for him these home-made assumptions. Verbal agreements demonstrate, says Harnack, “that one and the same Greek translation of an Aramaic original lies behind the two gospels [Matthew and Luke]” (1908:115–16). But are the undeniable agreements in the Greek Q texts unequivocal indices of translational activity? What about the disagreements?

It is clear that Harnack posited an Aramaic original of Q to prove conclusions he had reached long before immersing himself in Q studies. As early as 1901 he wrote “when all is said the Greek language lies upon these writings [gospels] only like a diaphanous veil, and it requires hardly any effort to retranslate their contents into Hebrew or Aramaic” (1901:21). Scholarship since Harnack has shown that Q is nowhere near as homogeneous as he had proposed. Nor is it as easy to translate Q into idiomatic Aramaic as he had thought (Cadbury, 1933:421 n. 3). It is not surprising therefore that Harnack’s interpretation did not find much scholarly support. What is surprising is that the idea of a literarily productive Aramaic Christianity did not fade with the rejection of Harnack’s Q. The quixotic search for Aramaic originals continued even after Harnack, as Streeter’s comprehensive Q study shows. Streeter concludes his meticulously documented study into the Source by stating that Q was “a Greek document which the authors of the first and third gospels had in common,” an “old gospel” which may well have served the Greek-speaking and “proGentile church of Antioch” (232–33, 291), though he too could not finally liberate himself from the grip of the Aramaic hypothesis.

Streeter’s convincing source-critical distinctions leave his unargued presuppositions untouched. His “domain assumptions” continued to have a firmer hold on him than his scholarly conclusions. It is still possible, he speculates, that the Greek rendition of the Q Document may have been the “translation of an Aramaic work by Matt—possibly with some amplifications from local tradition,” an Aramaic work not dissimilar to “an Old Testament prophetic book like Jeremiah” (Streeter:232, 291; emphasis added). Streeter goes on to suggest that Q might even echo the teachings of the twelve apostles whose deadly silence in all post-Easter traditions was for him “one of the mysteries of history” (232; Guenther, 1985:53–55). The fanciful image of an early literarily active Jerusalem church with the Twelve at the helm handing down as it were “after the manner of the sayings of the Rabbis” Jesus’ authentic teachings “in original Aramaic” has here engendered the equally fanciful claim that Aramaic sources may well have been the determinative factor behind a document otherwise entirely written in Greek (230).

It is interesting to see that Streeter himself is puzzled by his own eccentric assumptions. He could not avoid wondering, for instance, why the alleged Aramaic traditions included so few parables, a literary form congenial to both Jesus and the Aramaic church. Streeter is unable to provide a convincing answer to this question (228–29). Like Harnack and Black, Streeter expresses grave doubts about a hypothesis he otherwise tried hard to support. It seems that for all these advocates of the Aramaic hypothesis early Christianity only survived the challenges of Gentile thought and religiosity because it had been built on solid Aramaic rock!

What is the origin of the idea that Aramaic sources must form the bedrock of the Christian tradition? The answer is not difficult to find. It is the picture painted by the author of the book of Acts which inspired the thought that a rich Aramaic tradition gave birth to later Greek literature. The cradle of the Aramaic source hypothesis is the Lukan portrait of Christian origins. Our ideas of early Christianity are indeed, as Cadbury put it in a different context, derived in large part from the book of Acts (1933:416). Even scholars who are otherwise critical students of early Christianity continue to draw direct historical conclusions on a one—to—one basis from a narrative like Acts. Christian faith rests for them in one form or the other upon historical facts, and Luke is invariably the crown witness. Apostolic testimony is here the truth in both historical and religious terms. A faith resting on facts cannot but be couched, so the argument goes, in the language of the original facts, in Aramaic.

But where is the evidence to be found for these claims? Assumptions and presuppositions are lavishly offered in place of the necessary but missing documentary evidence for the assumed Aramaic source materials. To apply Goodenough’s later warning to the two early 20th century scholars, Harnack and Streeter’s naive historical reading of Acts once again illustrates how devastating it is and always will be “to use Acts as literally sound history” (Goodenough:51; cf. Conzelmann, 1966a:306; Zehnle:138).

5. The Aramaic Hypothesis Bounces Back

The claim that Aramaic sources underlie the Sayings Gospel Q as well as other strands of pre-synoptic literature has taken a rather peculiar new turn in some of the more recent studies in Christian origins and their sources. This does not mean, however, that all post-war scholars have dissociated themselves from the Aramaic hypothesis.

T. W. Manson, the first scholar worth mentioning in this context, stands on the doorsteps of modern Q research. He fully endorses the Q hypothesis. His reconstruction of Q’s order has made a valuable contribution to the study of Q’s generic evolution and is still widely accepted by Q scholars. His exegetical evaluation of Q, however, is dominated by a rather uncritical version of the Aramaic hypothesis. Not unlike Wellhausen, the many major and minor verbal disagreements in otherwise secure Greek Q texts prompted him to claim that the Greek rendition of Q must rest on an “Aramaic document of apostolic origin giving the [authentic] words of Jesus” (19; emphasis added). Only very few scholars have found his full-scale return to Q as the link between Jesus’ earthly proclamation and the post-Easter church’s kerygma (Harnack’s position) persuasive enough to espouse it. Redactional studies had even in his day gained enough ground to explain variations in wording differently. Interestingly, Manson himself acknowledges, though somewhat reluctantly, the editorial shaping of some Q materials by the hands of the gospel writers. Differences in wording, he concedes, “can be explained in part as editorial-stylistic or other ‘improvements’ carried out by the Evangelists” (18). But these observations did not have any bearing on his basic assumption that Q must have been, originally, an Aramaic document intended, at least in part, “to show the true nature of Christian beliefs and practices to the Jews” (16).

It is interesting to note that his presuppositions forced him to go a step further. His assumption that most verbal discrepancies are of translational provenance made him postulate the circulation of more than one such translation. He comes to this conclusion because Matthew and Luke differ quite frequently in their reproduction of the Greek Q texts. “There is nothing improbable,” he states, “in the supposition that several Greek versions of such a document might be made,” a document which he calls, in agreement with Dibelius, a “manual of instruction” (18, 16; cf. Dibelius:27). But on what kind of evidence does Manson base the view that Q was a document of apostolic origin? In search of support for his theories he falls back on the much belabored quotations of Papias which, for him, report solid “evidence rather than airing [personal] views” (17; emphasis added). The Papias quotations fit “a document such as Q like a glove” (18). That the trust in the early date and the authenticity of these quotes is disputable has been shown earlier and need not be repeated here (§ 2). The suggestion, however, that differing Q versions may have been in circulation in pre-synoptic communities has inspired a good deal of discussion among contemporary Q scholars.

What is still supposition in Harnack and T. W. Manson reappears as established fact in William Manson’s summary of contemporary Q research. The Q sayings, he argues on the basis of surmises advanced by Harnack and others, “authentically reveal the mind of Jesus” and therefore (sic!) must be regarded, at least for the most part, as “genuine word[s] of Jesus … uttered in Aramaic” (W. Manson:108; emphasis added). He classifies the Q Document as the Manifesto of Jesus’ own proclamation. The striking deviation of Q’s Old Testament quotes from the Masoretic text is noted only to be explained away. Jesus himself, he claims confidently, spoke lucidly and quoted scripture flawlessly from the original Hebrew text. Jesus cannot be blamed, he argues, for any deviation from the exact Hebrew wording in the Greek text (e.g., Matt 5:3–4 or 5:39). Deviations stem from the imagination (incompetence) of translators who in their rendering of the Hebrew wording obscured the original text more than they clarified it (W. Manson:78). The image of an Aramaic Christianity which, in contrast to the Greek-speaking community, treasured and preserved the exact wording of Jesus’ authentic sayings had once again helped to bridge the gap between the Sayings Gospel Q and its assumed mysterious, but for W. Manson literarily immaculate, Aramaic counterpart.

The Harnackian renaissance inaugurated by the two Mansons declined as fast as it had risen. Already Rife’s study of Greek word order in the New Testament had proven their claims defective. Upon a meticulously documented examination of NT syntax, Rife concludes that there is no evidence for “the theory that any NT books are translation Greek.…” (252). N. Turner confirmed this view in the conclusion of his study into Q’s language: “No evidence demands a translation hypothesis” for the Sayings Source (1968–69:328). Kloppenborg puts it even more definitively: “Q was compiled and composed in Greek” (1987a:64). M. Smith has shown that at no point the early Christian community, Aramaic or not, was concerned with the exact wording of Jesus’ authentic sayings (174–75).

It is not surprising that in the light of overwhelming linguistic and literary evidence Dibelius parted company with the translation hypothesis altogether. Q is for Dibelius not a source but a wholly Greek-written “stratum” (233, 235). That Q was composed in Greek is in Dibelius’ judgment “more probable than the other probability that the Aramaic words were first assembled and then translated as a connected writing” (243). But even these observations did not lead Dibelius to break away from the Aramaic hypothesis. Behind the Greek Q logia still must lie, he opines, the treasure of “genuine [Aramaic] sayings of Jesus,” logia which at a very early yet irrecoverable stage “were all translated at the same time” to serve the community as the first “primitive Christian halakah” (233–43; emphasis added). It has long been seen that Dibelius’ classification of Q as a “Christian halakah” is a misnomer (M. Smith:174).

What Dibelius had sought, Dieter Lührmann finally achieved. Lührmann’s Q study is no longer haunted by the a priori assumption that, as Karl Holl put it most graphically, Hellenistic Christianity was nothing other than the “local branch of a community which had its head office in Jerusalem” (56–57). Instead, Lührmann starts at the other end of the spectrum. His image of early Christian beginnings issues from a thorough examination of the available Q texts themselves. He demonstrates that several major units or blocks of Q (6:20b–49; 7:18–35; 11:14–23, 24–26, 29–32; 11:39–52, etc.), which all evince near identical wording, share the same topical sequence in Luke and Matthew (1969:101). He notes that identical topical arrangements in two independent gospel compositions cannot be regarded as coincidental. Q thus was more than a random collection of divergent early (Jesus) materials passed on mnemonically on the analogy of what Gerhardsson (mistakenly) assumed to be the traditional mode of rabbinic transmission (Lührmann, 1969:19–20). Neither was Q an oral genre, as Kelber has classified it (201).

The still recognizable topical ordering of the Q materials reflects, says Lührmann, a specific theological vision on the part of the Q redactor. Q collection is for Lührmann Q redaction (1969:84–85). The redactional scheme showing through is determined by the view that Jesus had nothing much in common with “this generation.” The opposition of “this generation” (Israel) to Jesus and his messengers (Q 3:7–9; 7:18–35; 10:16; 11:14–15; 11:39–52, etc.) is, in Lührmann’s judgment, so consistently accentuated in the major blocks of Q that its emphasis cannot escape the eye of the redaction critic (1969:59–60). To accommodate this motif the Q redactor could and in fact did fall back on what Lührmann, following Steck, has called the Deuteronomistic portrait of Israel’s history—a sequence of ever-growing acts of violence against Yahweh and his messengers (1969:37, 47, 55; Steck:61–109, 280–89).

On the basis of his composition analysis, Lührmann challenges the assumption that Q ever was an Aramaic document (1969:21). He is not satisfied with merely reiterating that Q was from the first a Greek-written compilation of redactionally shaped traditional units. His observations rather prompt him to break away from the widely held idea of Christianity’s organic growth from an originally Palestinian to a more and more Hellenized community. Luke’s theological vision of Christian beginnings is no longer allowed to interfere with the recovery of early Christian history.

Lührmann rejects as unfounded any oversimplified reconstruction of Christian origins. The diversity of the Q materials shows, he observes, that the advance of the Christian community into the Hellenistic world was much more complex than the traditional Acts-image of Christian missions conveys. Christianity’s advance into the Mediterranean world was not at all the result of a series of unidirectional steps gradually transforming, as it were, Jewish (Aramaic) Christianity into a predominantly Hellenistic religion. Instead, the interaction between Jewish and Gentile Christianity is for Lührmann comparable to the century-old fluctuating relationship between Palestinian and diaspora Judaism. He argues that the transition from Palestinian to Hellenistic Christianity must not be regarded as a one-way street. Neither was it the result of a gradual transposition of Jewish traditions and ideas, Old Testament, rabbinic or apocalyptic, into the key of Hellenistic concepts. The history of primitive Christianity is rather “the history of a whole variety of developments within a certain [limited] geographical sphere which, within a few decades, would come to embrace the whole Hellenistic world” (1969:17). In sum, Q illustrates for Lührmann that the history of primitive Christianity was the history of overlapping developments within the same Hellenistic world (1969:16–17), stretching from Rome to Asia Minor, Egypt and Palestine. In Barrett’s terms, the gospel indeed advanced “by fits and starts, and in different directions moved at different speeds” (60).

Neither Siegfried Schulz’s nor Athanasius Polag’s studies into the world behind Q reach the level of Lührmann’s sophistication. Schulz’s large-scale tradition-historical examination of more than sixty Q sections heralds in some ways the return to positions Lührmann had tried to leave behind. To be sure, Schulz affirms that Q was from the outset a Greek-written document which circulated among Greek-speaking communities in the frontier regions between Palestine and Syria (21, 41). He concedes that Gentile Christian redactors (Endredaktoren) put the final touches on what was, for him, originally a Jewish-Christian source compiled in mostly Greek-speaking environments (484). Equally important is that Schulz does not subscribe to the simplistic view of an organic growth of Christianity from a Palestinian to a Hellenistic-Jewish, and finally Gentile community. The idea of any unbroken development from the one to the other is strongly rejected (43).

But Schulz is not consistent. In the last resort he reverts to positions he himself seems to have disclaimed earlier. In spite of what he had said about the coexistence of the Palestinian and Hellenistic Christian communities at certain points of their growth, the old idea of a chronologically more or less unidirectional development of Christianity from one stage to the other still controls his thinking. He takes it for granted, for instance, that an Aramaic-speaking community preceded its Hellenistic counterpart in both time and thought. The (later) Hellenistic communities invariably interpreted earlier Jewish (Aramaic) concepts. The Q texts reflect, he holds, a tradition-historical development from the (Jewish-Christian) stage of fiery Son of Man expectation (along with its prophetic enthusiasm and intensified Torah observance) to the later stages of a kerygmatized Jesus theology along wisdom lines which, in turn, is taken as evidence of the Greek-speaking community’s full awareness of the parousia’s delay. Schulz fits this development from one theological position to the other neatly into a chronological frame of sequences. The divergent traditions emerged, he says, in clear chronological progression, even though Palestinian and Hellenistic communities later coexisted with one another over a considerable span of time. “We have to reckon with a certain chronological progression, and especially with a type of coexistence that would be more than simply temporary” (43; emphasis added). The failure of Palestinian Christianity to endure the tension arising out of this coexistence led, for Schulz, to the gradual isolation of the former from the latter, and finally to the collapse of Palestinian Christianity altogether (487).

Despite significant modifications, Schulz leads scholarship back to the traditional image of early Christian beginnings. Even though Q is throughout identified, with Tödt, as a document articulating a unique Jesus-kerygma for Greek-speaking communities, its tradition-historical roots still do not lie with these latter communities. Despite rich contributions from Greek-speaking Christianity, “the oldest Q materials bring us face to face with the hour of birth of primitive [Aramaic-speaking] Christianity” (53). The old image of Christian origins has once again been restored, with new purposes in mind. Christianity’s hour of birth returns us to Aramaic sources. That is where it all began. But did it really?

Polag’s comments on Christian beginnings, and especially on Q’s original language, do not add much to the discussion. He reinforces Dibelius’ earlier claims without squaring up to the ambiguity in the latter’s position. Polag, arguing with Dibelius on linguistic grounds, states that Q was a Greek document (1977:22, 28, 171–199), compiled by Christian scribes with the intention of providing post-baptismal catechesis in the face of early waves of (Jewish) persecution. But, following Dibelius’ suggestions, he insists that behind Q must lie a primary tradition, a so-called Herrenwortüberlieferung, i.e., a collection of more or less authentic Jesus sayings which, in his judgment, enable us to reconstruct Jesus’ pre-Easter proclamation, at least in skeleton form. The absence of passion references from Q is, for him, strong evidence of the circulation of such primary tradition long before Q even received its present shape (1977:196). The compilation of Jesus sayings into consciously organized block units is for Polag the first stage of early Q redaction leading to what he terms the compilation of a “core collection” (Hauptsammlung), i.e., a coherent collection later enlarged by some last minute redaction (späte Redaktion). Polag’s division of the Q materials into “core collection” and “late redaction” is seriously flawed, as has been shown in detail by Kloppenborg (1984:50–51).

Of further interest in this context is that the so-called Aramaic primary tradition (Herrenwortüberlieferung) constitutes for Polag an irrecoverable layer of the tradition. This earliest strand is by his own admission hypothetical. It is “an almost intangible variable” (“eine kaum fassbare Variable” [1977:193]). He nonetheless postulates its Aramaic provenance (1977:31, 192), unperturbed by the absence of any solid evidence. The premise once again dictates the conclusion. More importantly, what is conjecture at first is later treated as fact. For Polag all post-Easter traditions originated in some form with the earthly Jesus himself. The early Aramaic-speaking Christian community preserved the Jesus tradition and developed its own beliefs from it. The gap between the irrecoverable primary Aramaic Jesus stage and the chronologically later “core collection” (Hauptsammlung), written in Greek, does not disturb Polag much. He bridges this gap by assuming that the transition from Aramaic to more Hellenized forms of Christianity must have taken place in the interval between the two stages. Moreover, he puts the admittedly irrecoverable primary tradition into the service of his own ecclesiology. He uses his image of Christian origins to claim a more or less unbroken continuity between the Aramaic-speaking Jesus and the Hellenistic church, between the word of the pre-Easter Jesus and the word of the post-Easter church, and between the twelve apostles and the apostolic church. Once again dogmatic interests give rise to the image of the church’s Aramaic origins.

Polag seems to know that he is caught in a circular argument. He maintains, on the one hand, that the Greek syntax of the Q core units, despite a distinct tendency to employ Greek (Gräzisierungstendenz [1977:7]), is heavily overlaid with Semitisms. Ignoring that Semitisms are found in all biblical writings, including the LXX, he uses them as the backbone of his translational theory. It is the translational processes which for him first brought these Semitisms into the tradition. The undeniable Greek provenance of the Q core units (Hauptsammlung), however, forces him to move the assumed Greek translation into the twilight zone of earliest Christian beginnings. “The translation into Greek,” he says, “must have taken place at a very early stage of early Christianity’s development” (1977:31; emphasis added). The weakness of this position is obvious. The price to be paid for claiming Q’s translation from Aramaic into Greek is the removal of this translation from the literarily accessible layers of the tradition into the gray area between Jesus’ ministry and the composition of the first Christian writings.

Thus, the failure to marshal solid linguistic evidence for the Aramaic hypothesis did not dissuade modern scholars from continuing with their search for Aramaic sources. So great is the scholarly stake in an Aramaic stage of earliest Christianity that rather than abandoning the hypothesis altogether in the absence of any evidence, some scholars still prefer to uphold it by relying on arguments from silence. But even arguments from silence fail to convince, as some final comments on the literary genres in Q will show.

6. The Greek Provenance of Q’s Literary Genre

None of the major arguments advanced by 19th and 20th century literary criticism in support of the Aramaic hypothesis can stand the test of closer scrutiny. This negative result now calls for a brief examination of both the use of Greek in first-century Mediterranean culture and the extent of circulation of those Hellenistic literary units which appear in the Sayings Gospel Q. Do the language and the form-critical devices used in Q justify the assumption that Aramaic sources ever circulated in pregospel times?

The early history of the post-Easter community speaks strongly against the assumption that primitive Christianity ever produced Aramaic sources. Whatever the Palestinian origins of the Jesus movement may have been, post-Easter Christianity outgrew its own Palestinian beginnings almost immediately, making its home in the Greco-Roman world. “It was in the cities of the Roman Empire that Christianity, though born in the village culture of Palestine, had its greatest success” (Meeks:8). By contrast, as a Palestinian movement Christianity failed most miserably. In Theissen’s words, “as a renewal movement within Judaism, the Jesus movement was a failure” (1978:112). The official language of all Hellenistic cities, eastern or western, was Greek. “The bond which held the Hellenistic world together was Attic Koine” (Hengel, 1974, 1:58; 1980:76). It is not surprising therefore that within the gospels all Hebrew or Aramaic proper names (Mark 3:17; 10:46b; Matt 1:23; Acts 4:36; 13:8), titles (John 1:38, 41; 20:16), appellatives (nomina barbarica) or idiomatic expressions (Mark 5:41; 7:11, 34b; 12:42; 14:36; 15:34), as well as place-names (Mark 15:22; Acts 1:19) had to be either rendered in Greek or given in Greek transliteration (Schulz:86 n. 205).

It is hardly a coincidence that no New Testament writer, the Q compiler included, makes a plea for Aramaic as the Christian language proper, any more than any of them advocates Jewish food laws, circumcision, or sabbath observance. Nor do Aramaic fragments of Christian texts exist. The Jesus of post-Easter Christianity speaks Greek with the greatest of ease, and makes no apology in so doing. The Christians who came to follow him lived, as F. W. Beare has pointed out, “as Gentiles and not as Jews” (1962:198). Earliest post-Easter Christianity, whatever its persuasion, lived and thought in Greek, the common tongue of all Mediterranean cities, including Jerusalem (Hengel, 1980:75; Silberman:110).

All of Q’s literary genres (Gattungen), from chreiai (Q 9:57–58, 59–60, 61–62, etc.), apophthegms (Q 11:29–32; 7:18–23, 24–28, etc.) to parables (Q 6:46–49; 13:18–21; 14:16–24; 15:4–7; 19:12–13, 15b–26) and Q’s atypical miracles stories (Q 7:1–10; 11:14–23), as well as the genre of the Sayings Gospel itself, have their Hellenistic counterparts in, and are modeled on, Greek archetypes. Greek genres are for the most part centuries older than their Jewish and Christian adaptations (Fischel, 1977:463). One of the pre-synoptic literary devices used by the Q compilers is the chreia. A chreia is a brief, succinct, rational saying, disinclined toward the world of the miraculous. It captures worldly experience in language, intentionally leaving aside matters of dogmatic significance or genuinely religious experience. Together with its sub-type, the apophthegm, it was a pedagogical vehicle used for the education of the young in composition and rhetorical skills (Fischel, 1977:444–46; Silberman:111). Their appeal is to reason and common sense. The characteristic of the chreia is its reference to a named historical personage. The quick-wittedness of the model sage, philosopher, lawgiver or statesman, his skill in mastering the art and power of persuasion, his love of nature or his wisdom in evading the trick questions of opponents distinguish the chreia from other forms of poetic speech (proverbs, anonymous aphorisms, gnomai, etc.), and paved the way for their inclusion in larger chreiai collections—Q 12:22–34 mark the beginnings of such a collection in the first edition of Q (Kloppenborg, 1987a:216–23). Chreiai invariably appear in the mouth of a master, be he Pericles, Heraclitus, Diogenes Laertius, Isocrates, Lucian, Chilon, Hillel, Shammai, Jesus or anyone else. Attribution of the chreia to an accredited public figure is the distinctive mark for candidacy in the species (Fischel, 1977:456, 460–63; Crossan, 1983:78; Kloppenborg, 1987a:289–94). The real or assumed author of a chreia or a chreia collection (often founders of philosophical schools or leaders in scientific disciplines) may have been Jewish or non-Jewish. The chreia’s language proper and its species is Greek. “The closest parallels to the synoptic chreiae are found in Greek literature on philosophers and politicians” (Berger:1110). The use of chreiai in all strata of the New Testament (pre-Markan, Q and pre-Johannine tradition) indicates the age and popularity of this type of literature in the Christian community. The Jesus of the chreiai is not an apocalyptic preacher. He shows rather a keen interest in history. Not imminence but immanence is the name of the game. To search for Aramaic originals behind literature shaped from the first in Greek chreia style and addressed to a Greek-speaking audience is love’s labor lost.

The inclusion of a brief narrative into the equally brief structure of the chreia transforms the latter into what Bultmann has called the apophthegm (pronouncement story), a term borrowed from Greek literature (1963:11; Tannehill, 1981:1). Since both the chreia and the apophthegm originate in a definite person and arise out of a definite situation, they are both, in essence, species of the same kind (Spencer: 161; Berger: 1093; Robbins, 1989:xi–vii). Even though Bultmann knows of the wide circulation of apophthegmatic constructions in contemporary Greek literature (1963:51, 53), he seeks the origin of the synoptic apophthegm, including Q, in rabbinic stories and debates, and lists several of them for the sake of comparison (1963:41–46, 54–61). But why use a Greek classification for what is, for Bultmann, allegedly rabbinic in origin (Guenther, 1989:253–55)? Rabbinic stories expound legal matter. Christian stories preach Christ as the savior. Green points out that “the identity of the master himself … is not decisive for an understanding of the [rabbinic] story” (1978:85, 87). Hence, “Greek sources provide better parallels for the Gospel’s pronouncement stories than do the rabbinic sources” (Porton, 1981:97; Green, 1978:79, 86, 88). The search for Aramaic sources behind the Q apophthegmata is therefore from the start a futile undertaking.

It is well known that Q’s miracle stories, probably worked into the document at the second stage of the document’s evolution (Kloppenborg, 1987a:168), do not show interest in describing the miraculous. “The miraculous element is not itself the focus” in Q’s two miracle stories (Kloppenborg, 1987a:116; cf. 38, 88, 117–20). Q neutralized the stories by introducing chreia-like dialogue into them. The healing of the Gentile centurion’s “child” provides the backdrop against which Q’s Jesus castigates Israel’s disloyalty: “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith” (Q 7:9). Jesus’ exorcisms in Q prompt his audience to accuse him of casting out demons by Beelzebul (Q 11:14–15). In the face of this accusation Jesus lashes out at them, again with a string of chreiai (Q 11:17–20, 23). By contrast, the synoptic writers not only stress Jesus’ miraculous power but are lavish with its description. In comparison with the synoptic stories, the two Q miracle accounts are therefore quite atypical in their use of the miraculous. However, irrespective of the difference between Q and the synoptics in hermeneutical application, the generic origin of the miracle stories lies in Hellenistic culture (Theissen, 1983:274; Berger: 1212–18; Cotter, 1991:152–349, 488–93). Old Testament stories have undoubtedly had a strong shaping influence upon all Christian miracles. The Hellenistic background of the genre, however, is without question. “A thoroughgoing distinction between Christian and non-Christian miracle stories cannot be made” (R. M. Grant: 173; emphasis added). Nowhere do we find any literary evidence for the assumption that the Q (or synoptic) miracle stories were “first told in Aramaic” (M. Grant: 37).

The Aramaic hypothesis has had a field day with the parables. Nowhere else did speculation have so much scope for developing its ambitious claims than in parable research. Jeremias’ study of the parables is a vivid illustration of the dynamics at work here. He finds the marks of Jesus’ own language still so distinctly imprinted on all synoptic parables that he regards them as a tower of authenticity in the midst of the important but definitely secondary witness of the Greek-speaking church to Jesus. “In reading the parables we are dealing with a particularly trust-worthy tradition, and are brought into immediate relation with Jesus” (1972:12).

It is Jeremias’ assumption that none of the contemporary Jewish parable-tellers was able to match Jesus’ narrative genius. “We find nothing,” says Jeremias self-assuredly, “to be compared with the parables of Jesus, whether in the entire intertestamental literature of Judaism, the Essene writings, in Paul or in Rabbinic literature” (1971:29; emphasis added). Hellenistic story-tellers do not even deserve serious consideration. Only some Old Testament parables (2 Sam 12:1–7; Isa 5:1–7), told as it were “in the sacred [Hebrew] language” (1971:8), can be compared with Jesus’ superb way of speaking. Jeremias’ claim that “everywhere behind the Greek text we get glimpses of Jesus’ mother tongue” has found wide acceptance in contemporary parable research. Hans-Josef Klauck is one of its supporters: “The parables can be traced back to the earthly Jesus,” he says. “They provide the building blocks for the reconstruction of his [preEaster] message” (357). The Q parables do not confirm these lofty claims. Neither their picture language nor their point is literarily unique. As Luise Schottroff put it, “throughout the sayings source Q, an androcentric language corresponding to [the ancient] patriarchal ideology is spoken” (1991:2).

Of the twelve Q pericopes classified by Schulz as “parables” (8–9), only six (Q 6:47–49; 13:18–19; 13:20–21; 14:16–24; 15:4–7; 19:12–13, 15b–26) will be treated here. They meet the requirements set for this literary category most closely. None of them stands the test of the criterion of dissimilarity. The criterion of multiple attestation (Q 13:18–19 / / Mark 4:30–32; Q 19:12 / / Mark 13:34; Q 19:26 / / Mark 4:25) which tends to focus more on recurrent themes and concerns than on single sayings leads back to the earliest post-Easter tradition. By itself it is unable to ascertain the authenticity of a parable (Perrin and Duling: 405–407). To call any of them “authentic” would be a judgment based on pious emotion, not on literary analysis. Parallels to the parable of the Builders (Q 6:47–49) circulated widely in contemporary rabbinic and sapiential literature, as well as in popular Hellenistic writings (Schulz:315). The same holds true of the parables of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven (Q 13:18–19, 20–21). This composite Q parable, the juxtaposition of a story about a woman with one about the mustard seed (Schottroff, 1991:5), offers generalizations to the point that Beare decided to call its original setting “unintelligible” (1981:296). Its imagery, notes Schulz, represents a mixture of Hellenistic and Jewish horticultural idioms, hardly a sign of authenticity (301). Q 14:16–24, the parable of the Great Supper, deals with the common theme of Sophia inviting friends and strangers to a common table (Schulz:399), a genuinely sapiential motif (Kloppenborg, 1982:67, 84). By the same token, Hellenistic universalism left its stamp markedly on the imagery and point of Q 15:4–7, the parable of the Lost Sheep (Schulz:389, 389 n. 93). Q 19:12–13, 15b–26, the parable of the Talents, uses the venerable principles of money-making as a metaphor for advocating vigilance and ingenuity on the part of its readers (Lührmann, 1969:70–71; Schulz:298; Klostermann: 187). No uniqueness can be claimed for any of these parables which already at the Q level show clear signs of allegorization. Beare’s evaluation of the parable of the Mustard Seed can be broadened to include all six of Q’s parables: They do “not … preserve the interpretation given by Jesus, but [are] the work of a Christian expositor of the apostolic age” (1981:297).

More essential is the content of these parables and their point. In its present form the contrast parable of the Builders (Q 6:47–49) calls upon the post-Easter Christian constituency to act out the master’s teachings in everyday life. It functions as a suitable summary of the various chreiai strung together by an early Q compiler in his attempt to give the Q sermon (Q 6:20b–49) its shape (Kloppenborg, 1987a:185). Although some doubt remains as to the Q credentials of Q 14:16–24 and 15:4–7, a large majority of Q scholars assign the two parables, justly, to the Sayings Gospel itself (Kloppenborg, 1988a:166, 174). It is especially the evangelist Matthew (Strecker, 1966:158), but occasionally also Luke, who tried to activate features of intimidation in the parables of the Builder and the Great Supper by threatening the reader with exclusion from the kingdom (Matt 7:23, 27; 22:7, 8b; 25:24–27, 30; Luke 14:24?; 19:27).

The major emphasis in all five Q parables falls on the invitation to listen to the master’s voice (Q 6:47–49) and to enjoy the reward of a secure this-worldly life. In Beare’s words, the life built upon Jesus’ words “is secure against all assaults; the life that fails to observe them is fated to utter ruin” (1981:200). The same this-worldly concern dominates the parable of the Lost Sheep. Even heaven sheds tears of joy over the return of one lost sheep into the safety of the fold (Q 15:7). The parable of the Great Supper tells of a table set for a lavish meal. All guests (righteous or wicked, rich or poor) are invited to dine and eat their fill. The parable speaks of a common table, one shared by all who happen to follow the invitation (Q 14:23). Hellenistic universalism, not exclusivity dominates the parable. Sapiential motifs ring through the parable of the Talents as well. No human being is without gifts. All the gifts though, great or small, must be put to work (Q 19:13, 16–19). To hide one’s talent in the ground is foolishness in the extreme.

The inclusiveness of these sapiential instructions has been prompted, consciously or unconsciously, by concerns which go back to the Hellenistic Isis religion. Here Isis had been elevated to the rank of the one great teacher of humankind. In the wisdom teachings before and after the the turn of the eras, Isis was no longer regarded as merely an Egyptian deity. “It was the Hellenistic, not the native [Egyptian], Isis to which Sophia was assimilated,” states Kloppenborg (1982:67, 81). The deeper reasons for assimilating Isis into Jewish Sophia teachings have been explained elsewhere (Kloppenborg, 1982:57–84) and need not be repeated here. What is important in this connection is the wisdom bent of Q’s parables. The Q community behind these parables proves itself disinterested in any form of fire-breathing Son of Man apocalypticism. In the Q parables we find a vision of Jesus which focuses on him as the teacher of a new Christian ethos. Only those who assume that early Christianity developed in a unilinear manner from fiery apocalypticism to a more civilized wisdom religion find in the Q parables a challenge to early Christian apocalypticism (Schulz:301; Klostermann:185). Since the earliest layer of Q (the wisdom layer) does not speak of the apocalyptic Son of Man, it may be appropriate to find in the first edition of Q an emphasis on Jesus, the teacher and envoy of wisdom. This type of wisdom christology is not a reaction to early apocalypticism but ran parallel to it. The reconstructed Q parables (Kloppenborg, 1988a:46–47, 148–51, 164–67, 196–201) support this observation. James M. Robinson has pushed this insight further into studies related to the quest for the historical Jesus by suggesting a “new trajectory” covering the time between John the Baptist and Matthew. “Emergent layering in Q may well provide the possibility,” he says, “to replace the apocalyptic model from John to Paul with a Q trajectory between John and Matthew, on which a major sapiential deviation and a re-apocalypticizing may be plotted” (Robinson, 1991:190).

One-sided emphasis on the Jewish background of the synoptic parables, along with considerable lack of clarity about the place and function of parabolic speech in Greco-Roman literature, is for Berger the principal reason for “the pitiful state of contemporary New Testament parable research” (1111; cf. Fischel, 1977:458, 467). The Christian parables are studied, says Berger, as if the literary genre itself had originated with Judaism, and parabolic speech had been the sole preserve of Jesus alone. It is as if Quintilian (in his twelve-volume Institutio Oratoria) had said nothing about the form and function of narratio, the literary category which for him embraces parables and allegories (2.1.9; 2.10.9; 4.1.28; 4.1.32). The rich use of parabolic speech in Xenophon’s Socrates biography Memorabilia is largely ignored as well (2.1.21–33; 2.9.1–8).

As literary devices the Q parables participate in the dominating and stable laws governing all parable-telling. Their narrative structure (and the content) is indeed strikingly close to what we find elsewhere in the Mediterranean intellectual tradition (cf. Xenophon, Mem. 2.1.21–33; Testament of Job, 4.8b–9; 18.6a–7; 27.5–7), as Schottroff and Hock have recently illustrated (Schottroff, 1971:52; Hock:455–63). In shaping parables, the Q and synoptic writers learned much more from the literary conventions of the Greco-Roman world than is generally supposed (Berger:1113; cf. 1116–1123). Charles Talbert’s observation needs to be taken seriously: “The gospel parables … belong to the parable Gattung of antiquity just as the miracle stories of the gospels fit into the miracle story Gattung of the Mediterranean world” (116).

The Q parables’ inclusiveness, with their emphasis on the virtues of building up a secure life for all listeners is a Hellenistic concern. Whether Aramaic ancestors of these parables ever existed or not, to crystallize them out of their present form is next to impossible. Likewise fruitless is the attempt to translate them back into Aramaic. Such retranslation is one thing. To claim it as the “original” Q form of the parable is quite another. The latter cannot convince. Whatever lies behind them, in their present form they are Greek formulations.

The dependence of early Christian writers upon Hellenistic literary genres is not only a salient feature of chreiai, apophthegms, miracle stories and parables, it is also true for Q, the Sayings Gospel (Robinson, 1962:82–83) redacted into their respective gospel compositions by Matthew and Luke. Once the order and literary form of Q have been reconstructed, the document’s place and function within a Greek-speaking Christian community is virtually assured. Moreover, the reconstructed document’s striking affinity to other contemporary Mediterranean sayings compilations shows that its composers were anything but strangers to the world of Hellenistic literature.

The impetus which Robinson’s study of the genre connections between Q and other ancient wisdom collections has given to Q scholarship can hardly be overestimated (1971). In his essay, “LOGOI SOPHON”, Robinson casts wide his comparative net in his attempt to trace the generic provenance of Q. He views the document against the background of biblical and non-biblical, canonical and apocryphal wisdom collections which all circulated between 500 BCE and 300 CE in the wider Mediterranean basin stretching from the Near East, Asia Minor and Greece to Italy. Following Robinson’s lead that Q is to be situated on the trajectory of collections extolling in one form or another “the acts of Spirit Sophia” (Robinson, 1962:83), Kloppenborg examined Q’s language, the document’s topical arrangement, and specifically the way in which individual Q units have been modulated into the larger structure of the Q compilation as a whole. He demonstrates that each of the three major types of Q materials (1. loosely connected wisdom units [1987a:171–245]; 2. apocalyptically framed sayings denouncing the waywardness of “this generation” [1987a:102–70]; 3. narratives exhibiting biographical interest [1987a:246–62]) shows the signs of either literary independence prior to their incorporation into the document itself or of intentional shaping by the compiler. Q therefore cannot possibly be called a random compilation. Neither is it an ad hoc collection of oral materials translated into Greek for the purpose of compilation. It is rather “a carefully constructed [Greek-written] composition which employs the literary techniques characteristic of other ancient sayings collections” (1987a:323–24; cf. Jacobson, 1978:5–6, 17, 225).

Kloppenborg’s contribution was to show that in the relatively short history of its three-stage evolution (from a collection of loosely linked wisdom sayings [first edition] to a thematically organized document [second edition] and, finally, through the addition of narrative materials, to something of a Wisdom Gospel), Q stayed at each stage within the clearly definable boundaries of ancient wisdom collections (Near Eastern instruction, gnomologia, chreiai collections). He has made plain that the document belongs, on all three levels, to the trajectory of Hellenistic, mostly Greek-written sapiential collections (m. ‘Abot is no exception). The widespread assumption that Q rehearses, in one form or another, the grammar and style of Aramaic Christianity is therefore nothing else but the result of ideological dictates. Literary evidence does not support it. As a literary document, Q demonstrates the generic characteristics of Greco-Roman sayings collections. Put differently in Kloppenborg’s words, for Q “Torah observance was not an issue, but only became one in the later stages” (1990:46). Robinson adds that “the apocalypticism of the second edition of Q may in fact be a re-apocalypticizing of the Jesus tradition” (1991:191). This only highlights from another angle the intimate relationship between the document’s generic connection (Greco-Roman) and its basic message, addressed to a Greek-speaking audience.


For more than 200 years critical scholars have exerted themselves to unearth the Aramaic origins of the multilayered Greek New Testament tradition. When research into the earliest literary units such as pre-Pauline credal formulations, pre-synoptic and pre-Johannine aphorisms and vignettes had failed to yield satisfactory results, scholarly attention turned massively to the Sayings Gospel Q. This sayings source now became for many the crown witness of a literarily highly productive and vital Aramaic Christianity believed to have left its marks on the language, thought and topical arrangement of the carefully reconstructed 68 pericopes compiled in the document. Eichhorn’s Urschrift (primitive gospel) hypothesis and Weisse’s appeal to the Papias quotations are cases in point. These two early 19th century NT scholars tried hard to prove Q’s Aramaic provenance by entering into fanciful translation theories which would set the stage for decades of future Q studies.

It is interesting to note that even otherwise staunch 19th century supporters of the Aramaic hypothesis did not pay much attention to Eichhorn and Weisse’s ingenious theories. In the first half of the 20th century, Black and T. W. Manson followed Weisse’s lead and returned in some modified form to Papias’ quotations in their attempt to infuse new life into the tenacious Aramaic hypothesis. But none of these attempts to recover the Aramaic bedrock of Q was crowned with lasting success. Harnack had to make an entirely fresh start in uncovering the remnants of the mysteriously disappeared Aramaic Q source. He reconstructed the document’s language with impressive thoroughness and defined its literary boundaries with lasting precision. When he began to hail Q’s Jesus as a supreme example of unprecedented knowledge of God and purported the document to be the sole survivor not only of an otherwise lost Aramaic Christianity but even of Jesus’ own Aramaic proclamation, he earned the applause of some members of the guild. But in the long run his claims could not bear the weight put upon them. Tödt and Lührmann amply documented that at no point of its evolution had Q been a solely Jewish composition, one free of apocalyptic bias and post-Easter theologizing, as Harnack had supposed. Dibelius and N. Turner administered the deathblow to Harnack’s analysis by showing that Q’s language does not bear any of the marks typical of translation Greek. The document’s language was from the first Koine Greek. Wellhausen and Black’s mistranslation hypotheses galvanized those discontented with Holtzmann’s Q results for a time, but even their theories had too many holes in them. They faded without influencing Q studies in any significant way. The search for Aramaic Christianity therefore now shifted from claims related to Q’s language and syntax to ideological postulates. If the original Aramaic Q source left no linguistically unequivocal traces on the Q texts themselves, could it not be maintained that the document’s Aramaic origin must lie behind them?

Scholars of various persuasions such as Holtzmann, Streeter, Dibelius, Schulz and Polag all noted with one accord that Q was from the outset of its evolution a Greek-written document. For none of them, though, did the search for Aramaic Q end there. Q research now began rather to show its true colors more than ever before. Ideology, doggedly upheld, now triumphed over what was before a mere hypothesis. Even though agreement as to the linguistic provenance of written Q had been reached, Aramaic fragments (Holtzmann, Dibelius) were assumed to have given birth to the Greek source, local Aramaic traditions (Streeter), perhaps even an Aramaic catechism of sorts (Bussmann:107, 155–56, 203); or else an Aramaic primary tradition (Polag) or Aramaic Christianity in general were believed to have preceded the Greek-written document. None of these scholars proved able to provide convincing evidence for these claims. None of them was even particularly disturbed by the lack of solid evidence. Recently, partly under the influence of research into the evolution of the Gospel of Thomas, scholarship has begun to pay renewed attention to the intangible medium of orality, regarding it as the possible link between hypothetical Aramaic Q Christianity and its reconstructed Greek counterpart. Some even are bold enough to read Q’s unique theological vision back into Jesus’ own proclamation (Schottroff, 1991:4; Robinson, 1991:189–94).

In its entirety Q outlines an intriguing new vision of Jesus, one different from other New Testament writings, including the synoptic gospels. The homogeneity and ideological consistency of Q’s apocalyptic strata (chreia and apophthems such as Q 3:7–9; 7:18–23, 24–26; 11:14, 15, 17–18a; eschatological correlatives such as Q 11:30; 17:24, 26–27; proverbial sayings such as Q 17:37b, etc.) stand in sharp contrast with the much less organized and unified clusters of Q’s sapiential materials. The emphasis on the imminent coming of the Son of Man (in, e.g., the Q-Apocalypse), shot through with pericopae heralding the doom of impenitent Israel, makes the apocalyptic judgment sections emerge as one single layer of conscious Q redaction, a “stratum” shaped by the Deuteronomistic outlook on history. By contrast, the sapiential clusters confront the community with the realities of history. They call upon the readers to translate faith into this-worldly acts of obedience, encouraging them to activate Jesus’ own radical mode of life and to face up to the various conflicts Jesus’ message is bound to spark (Schottroff, 1991:9). The consistency of the apocalyptic judgment layer, if contrasted with the often rather forced organization of originally free-floating logoi, strongly suggests at least two stages of major Q redaction, with the sapiential one being the earlier layer of the two. The apocalyptic reworking of the first edition of Q undoubtedly modified Q’s sapiential vision of Jesus substantially, but it did not eclipse it. The sapiential Q vision of Jesus is therefore maintained in the whole document, even though the vitriolic language of some apocalyptic sections added a new quality to it. In the document as a whole Jesus, the coming Son of Man, is introduced as Sophia’s envoy, calling his followers to uncompromising obedience. Listening to his voice is the only means by which to escape life’s destruction.

Despite the scantiness of biographical information about Paul’s life in Galatians (1:11–2:11), the apostle’s own report on the Apostolic Council in Jerusalem (Gal 2:1–10) affirms the existence and growth of the Judean church shortly after Jesus’ death (cf. also Gal 1:22). Cephas-Peter, James and John were its leaders. The compromise reached at the Council reveals with great clarity that the three pillars, as Paul calls them, knew nothing pg 73 of a call by Jesus to go to the Gentiles. Neither is there any indication that Q’s sapiential vision of Jesus was high on their agenda. Can it be assumed that the Jerusalem church was “officially” Aramaic-speaking? It would be unwise to answer this question self-assuredly in the affirmative. Erich Dinkler’s observation that Gal 2:7–8 seems to be a Greek fragment from the minutes of the Jerusalem Council (Sitzungsprotokoll) (198, 213) cannot be dismissed lightly (Klein:283–84). That Dinkler himself regards the Greek fragment as a translation from an Aramaic original is another matter. Since he makes no attempt to validate his contention linguistically, his recourse to an alleged set of Aramaic minutes merely shows that in his analysis he too was under the sway of the Aramaic assumption, without even questioning its premises. The seamless integration of Gal 2:7–8 into its current context (except for the sudden name change from Cephas [1:18; 2:9] to Peter [2:8]!) does not suggest translation. Rather, it makes it likely that the Jerusalem church itself was basically a Greek-speaking church. There is not the least indication in Gal 2:1–10 that the language of the council was anything other than Greek.

Our observations in Section 6 endorse our contention that all early Christianity, including the Q community, was Greek-speaking. Christian beginnings cannot be legitimately reconstructed without fully taking into account the literary genres employed by the earliest Christian writers in their attempt to put their newly acquired beliefs into words. All of Q’s literary genres, from the smaller form-critical units to the larger collection have close ties with the Hellenistic world of literature. Wherever we may look, Christian content is embedded in typically Hellenistic conventions, and communicated solely through the medium of Koine Greek, the modernized Attic of the time. Whether we take the canonical gospels as finished products, the three redactional layers of the reconstructed Sayings Gospel Q or the major component parts employed by the Q compiler such as chreiai, apophthegms, miracle stories or parables, they all compare well with their Greek correspondents and could not have been created without them. To explain the striking affinity between Q’s literary units and their Hellenistic counterparts as sheer coincidence is not a responsible explanation. Too many such coincidences would have to be posited to explain those affinities.

The Aramaic hypothesis is thus in all its forms and at all levels based on ideology, not on textual evidence. None of the arguments and counter-arguments advanced in favor of it convince. It is hardly surprising that each new advocate of the assumption, dissatisfied with earlier theories, has had to make a fresh start to countenance it. None of them stand up to scrutiny. The solution to this dilemma suggests itself. Q’s unique vision of Jesus was from the first couched in Koine Greek and addressed to a Greek-speaking audience, whatever its ethnic identity. Q Christianity addressed itself in Greek to a Greek-thinking constituency, an audience steeped in Greek culture and ethos.

What becomes clear is that even the pre-synoptic Q community lived within the confines of Hellenistic culture and recruited its followers from the Greek-speaking population of its day. The community members came from the same milieu in which all of early Christianity made its home. Q’s indirect subversion of “the hierarchies of the patriarchal household” which Schottroff finds in the Sayings Gospel (1991:15–16) is another sign of the Hellenistic mind-set operative in the community. To understand the dynamics of Hellenism, to penetrate its racial amalgamation and sociocultural assimilation, is to understand the background of Q’s language, its thought and its spirit, as well as its literary ethos. To use Greek was for the Q community not a matter of choice. It was a confessional necessity, a conditio sine qua non for a religious community which could not count on the support of the first century’s established religions. The community’s survival depended solely on establishing solidarity among the various ethnically, socially or religiously oppressed minority groups of the day. The language of communication among these communities was Greek, and Greek alone.

Literary Convention, Self-Evidence and the Social History of the Q People

John S. Kloppenborg

University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto School of Theology


The redactional layers of the Sayings Gospel reflect not only the varied fortunes of Q’s vision of the kingdom within the network of villages and towns of Galilee, but also a conflict between a southern, hierocratically-defined vision of Israel and one which called for a transformation of social relations, but without express regard for the socio-political system centered on Jerusalem and the Temple. As it became clear to the tradents of the Q material that their vision was not to prevail and as opposition to that vision grew, it became necessary to define and defend group boundaries and to provide a rationalization of its apparent failures (and successes). To this end, the formal device of the chreia as an instrument for establishing ethos (both of Jesus and his opponents) and the theological schema of the sending and rejection of the prophets proved serviceable. Only at the tertiary stage of the editing of Q do the Temple and Torah appear positively in Q’s symbolic world.

0. Introduction

To discuss the particular social configurations reflected in the Sayings Gospel Q might at first glance seem a precarious undertaking. Frequently the very existence of a “Q community” is doubted. Once, however, the general outlines of the Two-Document hypothesis are granted and once it is recognized that on this hypothesis “Q” must be regarded as a document rather than a corpus of oral traditions, then it is a priori no less probable that Q was associated with a discrete community than is the case with the canonical gospels, where it is quite unexceptional to speak of Matthew’s church or the Markan community.

There are, nonetheless, several caveats. First, the very fact that, as advocates of the Griesbach hypothesis point out, there is a residue of data that the Two Document hypothesis must struggle to explain should at the very least caution us against assuming that the economy of this solution to the Synoptic problem is a completely adequate description of the actual relationships among the Synoptic gospels. The principle of parsimony is methodological; it is not an aspect of reality. Even if one is properly hesitant about embracing the so-called “complex solutions” put forth, e.g., by Boismard and Rolland, it is likely that the relationships among the gospels were more complicated than we can ever know (or prove). Accordingly, the profile of Q probably varied at least somewhat from what modern reconstructions suggest.

Second, even when one proceeds from the basic form of the Two Document Hypothesis, there remains the problem of various Sondergut texts which may or may not belong to Q (e.g., Matt 5:41; 10:5–6, 23; Luke 9:61–62; 10:8b; 12:13–21). It would make, for example, a considerable difference to a reconstruction of the social profile of the Q group if the prohibition of contact with Gentiles (Matt 10:5b) were to be included in Q (thus Schürmann, 1968:137–48 and Catchpole, in this volume), or, alternatively, Luke’s concession regarding kashruth in 10:7, 8b (see Uro, 1987:80, 82–83). Some of the items of the double tradition are not even immune from challenge. It is well known that the presence of the parables of the Supper (Q 14:16–24) and the Entrusted Money (Q 19:12–27) in Q has been a matter of longstanding dispute (see Kloppenborg, 1988a: § 55, 67). But what is not so widely realized is that at least since 1856 the presence of the Temptation story has been questioned (Weisse, 1856:156–57; Lührmann, 1969:56). For the purpose of the reconstruction of Q’s social history, the inclusion of the Temptation story is of some import, since it is the sole instance in Q where a citation formula is used in an argument (contrast Q 7:27). The way that Q 4:1–13 reflects the assumption that the text of the Septuagint can serve as the basis for debate and riposte is telling in regard to the way in which the immediate audience of Q (if this pericope belonged to Q) understood itself with respect to the scriptures of Israel.

Finally, it would be naïve to suppose that every document of primitive Christianity associated with a community in fact mirrored the viewpoints of that community. Abraham Malherbe cautions that some documents may have been preserved precisely because they challenged rather than reflected community theology and practice (1977:13). It is also quite conceivable that a given document preserved an idiosyncratic vision which neither reflected any group’s self-understanding nor was successful in propagating that vision.

But for Q this seems not to be the case. The probability of multiple recensions of Q suggests that it proved a serviceable document for a community or set of communities for a significant span of time, notwithstanding the fact that it required periodic revision and expansion. The same is perhaps suggested by the fact that it was evidently copied sufficiently to fall into the hands of both Matthew and Luke, perhaps in slightly differing recensions.

Internal indications also permit the inference that Q addressed a community or set of communities. First, the dominant mode of address is the second person plural typical of antique instructional literature. Yet this mode of address by itself is not decisive. The second person plural became a stereotypical element of the instruction which we know to have been used in other social locales—most notably, the scribal school—that would scarcely qualify as “communities” in the sense in which we are here speaking. At this point material considerations become important. Q’s inversionary rhetoric and its explicit and implicit criticisms of the values of others (e.g., in Q 6:20b–23, 27–29; 12:33–34; 16:13) are best understood as an attempt to promote and sustain a critical vision of the cosmos among a discrete group. So too the admonition to “Beg the master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest” (Q 10:2) is obviously directed at a group that thinks itself capable of sending out envoys.

That the framers of Q were concerned to influence the self-understanding of a group is also evident in the obvious apologetic character of one layer of Q materials. At various strategic points Q conducts a campaign against impenitent Israel (“this generation”) by invoking the Deuteronomistic motifs of Israel’s repeated rejection of God’s envoys and of the violent fate suffered by the prophets (Q 6:23c; 11:49–51; 13:34–35). It also contrasts unfavorably the fate of Israel with that of Gentiles at the judgment (Q 10:13–15; 11:19, 31–32; 13:28–30; cf. 22:28–30). The deployment of these motifs is best understood as the author’s pastoral endeavor to rationalize an apparent failure to promote the Q people’s own view of the kingdom among fellow Jews. Here the Sayings Gospel engages a strategy aimed at reducing the dissonance caused by the failure of group expectations with regard to the coming of the kingdom.

1. From Text to Social Entity

If it is reasonable on the basis of both formal and material considerations to speak of a “Q group,” what sort of people might they be? The only data available for reconstructing the social entity of the Q group are, of course, the Q materials themselves. Obviously, the Sayings Gospel does not offer a complete catalogue of the group’s beliefs. Nor can we avail ourselves of the kind of prosopographic analysis that has yielded evidence of the social level of Pauline Christians (see Meeks). Nonetheless, if we suppose that the Sayings Gospel had a “canonical” function in the group, much is to be learned by attending to both the content and the form of the group’s canonical document.

I begin with the premise that a homological relationship exists between the symbolic world of the social group and the formal and material characteristics of its documents, such that the “truth” of the canonical documents is rendered self-evident by its correspondence to the structure of the social world and, conversely, the appropriateness of the group’s manner of knowing the world is reinforced and buttressed by the way in which its canonical literature represents and explains the nature and processes of knowing. Insights that were once subjective are condensed into symbols that can be shared; thus they are objectified and generalized, and rendered self-evidently true. “It is thus … that knowledge comes to have an overwhelming and at the same time taken-for-granted independence, which in the end is based on the subjective results of experience and explication, but which contrasts with the individual and the subjectivity of his experience and situation” (Schutz and Luckmann: 284; cf. Kee, 1989).

The point of entry into Q’s social world will be the series of literary features that reflect the various unspoken assumptions made by the Q people about the world they inhabited. These have to do with the nature of social boundaries and the means by which they are defined, the nature of authority, issues of social status and role, the specific role of ritual, the choice and adaptation of given literary genres in communication, and ways in which the group, the world, and God are perceived (cf. Kee, 1989:65–67). Literary and rhetorical considerations are key to the analysis of Q; it is not only the explicit statements of Q on any of these matters that are of interest, but even more importantly, the unspoken assumptions which are at work in the selection of one literary genre over another, the consciousness of the social catchment of the group implicit in the use of a particular mode and level of rhetoric, and the many unexpressed but “self-evident” premises at work in the formulation of explicit arguments. Despite its relatively short length (about 4500 words, only slightly longer than 2 Corinthians), the Sayings Gospel provides some answers to most of these questions.

Recent literary analyses have suggested that the Sayings Gospel is the result of several stages of literary growth (Jacobson, 1978; Schenk, 1981; Zeller, 1982; “Formative and Redactional Layers in Q” Kloppenborg, 1987b; Uro, 1987; Sato; Piper). Elsewhere I have offered a reconstruction of the literary history of the document in three stages. (1) The initial stage is characterized by clusters of admonitions which take the form of sapiential Mahnsprüche (i.e., imperatives with aphoristic motive clauses), prefaced by programmatic aphorisms and sometimes concluded by warnings to heed the words of the sage. This formalization of sayings is typical of the genre of a sapiential instruction, even though some of the contents of Q are not paralleled in Near Eastern instructions. (2) At a second level of redaction a substantial body of prophetic and polemical sayings, mostly framed as chreiai and elaborated chreiai, appear. It is at this level that one encounters the bitter polemic against “this generation,” the sayings in Q 3 and Q 7 which treat the relationship between John and Jesus, and all of the apocalyptic Son of Man sayings. (3) A final stage was reached with the incorporation of the Temptation story and the addition of a few glosses, most notably Q 11:42c and 16:17, all of which reflect—in contrast to the rest of Q—a strong concern for the validity and perdurance of the Torah.1 While there are several variant reconstructions of the literary history of Q, I shall assume the stratigraphy described above in an endeavor to tease from it a coherent picture of the social entities represented by the various stages of Q.

2. The Instructional Layer and Its Audience

2.1.    Form, Content and Rhetoric

From the standpoint of form, the earliest stratum of Q may be characterized as an instruction, the dominant Near Eastern genre for prescriptive wisdom with representatives from the third millennium BCE (e.g., Ptahhotep) to the first centuries of the common era (e.g., the Teaching of Silvanus). Although the morphology of the genre is quite complex (see Kloppenborg, 1987a:264–89), the form-critical building blocks of the instruction are admonitions with supporting maxims, often collected into thematic clusters. These clusters may be prefaced by a narrative or nonnarrative prologue and/or introduced by programmatic aphorisms and concluded with warnings or promises.

The first section of the inaugural discourse (Q 6:20b–35) provides a good illustration of how this form could be employed for framing sayings of Jesus. As in the case of the other late examples of the instruction, the influence of Hellenistic rhetoric is visible. The unit opens with a quartet of beatitudes which, by their inversion of the usual understandings of blessedness, serve a programmatic function for the admonitions that follow. The anaphora created by the repetition of μακάριος (“blessed”) is further enhanced by the parallel syntactical and rhetorical structure of the first three beatitudes: each is bipartite, with the second clause introduced by ὅτι (“for”), and each balances the present tense in the first clause with a contrasting future in the second. If it is the case that Luke 6:24–26 derives from Q (see Kloppenborg, 1988a:26), the sermon opens with a balanced and anaphoric synkrisis on the nature of true blessedness.

The core of the instruction consists of between seven and ten thematically related imperatives (depending upon how one reconstructs Q 6:27–31), each recommending behavior that is at variance with the usual norms of social exchange. Its construction is not artless: the first set of admonitions, which place the imperatives (ἀγαμᾶτε [love], προσεύχεσθε [pray]) before their objects, is balanced by a second set of admonitions which begin with nominalized participles (τῷ ῥαπίζοντι [someone who strikes], ἀπὸ τοῦ αἴποντος [from someone who takes], τῷ αἰτοῦντι [to someone who begs], τὸν θέλοντα [someone who wants]) and place the imperatives at the end of the clause. Although 6:31 is also an admonition as well as a commonplace, it serves a summarizing function and from the perspective of rhetorical proof, its appeal to self-interest amounts to a pathetical argument. The remainder of the proofs are furnished, first, by the trio of enthymemes or logical proofs (6:32–34) which operate on the assumption that the only truly meritorious behavior is that which surpasses the ordinary expectations of reciprocity and, then, by the rhetorical induction from the paradeigma supplied by God’s own activity (6:35c).

What do these features imply about the intended addressees? Two observations are relevant. First, although Q 6:20b–35 proposes a countercultural ethic which claims divine sanction and appeals to the divine paradeigma, the examples are drawn from rather mundane exchanges in a village or town (small local conflicts, robbery, small loans). The arguments rest on appeals to generalized values: honour achieved through public and divine approbation (6:23b, 32–34, 35b) and the self-evident status distinctions between toll collectors and Gentiles on the one hand and Jews on the other (Q 6:32–33). Nevertheless, the framer of Q 6:20b–35 has adopted a deliberative posture rather than, e.g., the style of prophetic pronouncement or apocalyptic revelation as a means of persuading the addressees to embrace this vision. Ronald Piper’s recent study of the wisdom materials in Q has confirmed that this appeal to reason is not restricted to Q 6:20b–35, but can be found thoughout the earliest levels of Q (Piper, 1989).

Second, the instructional genre itself is most frequently associated with palace and scribal schools, although occasionally more general audiences seem to be envisaged. The genre typically reflects the values of the scribal sector: a celebration of human learning, the positive valuation of the process of tradition (usually, though not exclusively, represented as instruction in loco parentis) and concern for both the content of wisdom—however its criteria of adequacy might be framed—and the origin, nature and means by which wisdom is acquired.

In its content, the advice typically offered in the instruction is not merely prudential and eudaimonistic as it is sometimes erroneously assumed. On the contrary, since wisdom has its transcendental origin in the divine world, the pursuit of wisdom is a form of piety. Ultimately, the sage assimilates and emulates the divine ethos—just as Q 6:35 recommends. The Hebrew sapiential tradition dramatized the means by which wisdom is acquired with a threefold schema. Wisdom is sometimes represented as openly available; at other times she is hidden beneath the veneer of chaotic everyday experience; or she has withdrawn and is therefore found only by those whom Wisdom herself seeks out. The second dramatization accounts in particular for the scribal penchant to view both transmitted texts and contemporary reality, both physical and social, as fundamentally enigmatic and therefore the object of research. But whatever the means of acquisition, wisdom—both as a particular mode of conduct and as a vision of the divine—is for the scribe the redemptive medium itself. In regard to Sirach, Burton Mack observes:

In that he is filled with the spirit of understanding as a benefaction from God, the scholar’s piety is ultimately a special form peculiarly suited to his vocation. By means of it, he can lay claim to immediacy of vision, divine presence, and finally, to wisdom (1985:98).

The content of the instructional layer of Q is consistent with this picture. Although the topos of parental instruction is avoided, reflection on the relationship of masters and students and on the process of transmission is present (Q 6:40, 46–49; 10:16; 14:26–27) and both God and Jesus are held up as mimetic ideals (Q 6:35, 36; 9:58; 11:13; 12:3; 14:26–27). Q 10:16 affords the clearest example of one of the fundamental hermeneutical assumptions of the genre: that the sage speaks with the mouth of God. Here Q reflects the same dynamics as those of Prov 1:20–33 or Sir 51:23–30 where human logoi are absorbed into the divine logos. The relationship of the speech of Jesus and his followers to the divine later becomes a matter for explicit reflection in the second layer of Q, appearing at Q 7:35; 11:49–51; 13:34–35 and especially in the so-called Johannine logion, Q 10:21–22.

In accord with scribal values, the Sayings Gospel places a premium upon both clarity of perception, especially when it comes to matters of guidance (Q 6:40, 41–42), and good speech, the characteristic mark of good thinking (Q 6:45). Guidance and moral example are also the subjects of the sayings on judging (Q 6:37–38), scandal (Q 17:1–2) and forgiveness (Q 17:3b–4). This reflects the self-consciously “public” character of the scribal pursuit: although the scribe necessarily requires leisure not at the disposal of the peasant or hand-worker, the scribe’s responsibility is ultimately to the public and public approbation in the form of honor and fame crowns the sage’s achievement.

The saying preserved in Q 12:2 on the revelation of things hidden is not only a wisdom saying; it reflects a characteristic sapiential interest in what is hidden as an object of research and conceives the process of disclosure of the order of things as grounded in the relationship between God and the world. Accordingly, Q can use 12:2 programmatically to introduce admonitions that understand the process of the preaching of the kingdom, with the opposition it provokes, to be analogous to the processes of research and discovery. A similar confidence appears in the pair of growth parables in Q 13:18–19, 20–21 which, in contrast to Mark’s single parable of the mustard seed (Mark 4:30–32), develop the contrast between hidden (ἔβαλεν εἰς κῆπον, ἐνεκρύψεν, “he cast [it] into a garden,” “hid”) and revealed (ηὔχησεν καὶ ἐγένετο εἰς δένδρον, ἐζυμώθη ὅλον, “it grew and became a tree,” “it leavened the whole”) instead of Mark’s treatment of the contrast as one of small and great. Natural processes are treated as analogies for social (or “religious”) transformations. Much of the rhetoric of Q is founded upon related premises: the indiscriminate benefaction of the sun and the rain is invoked in support of the admonition to analogous behavior in the human sphere (Q 6:35); the biological processes of fruition, life, death and growth are correlated with activities in the human sphere (Q 6:43–44; 12:6b, 24, 27–28); and the ordinary transactions of human families become the basis for an induction about divine benefaction (Q 11:11–13). The physical and social cosmos is for Q the medium of divine self-disclosure for those who have the ability to grasp it.

This point is extremely important because it helps to fix the social locale of the persons to whom Q appealed. We have three clues. The first is the perhaps surprising fact that neither the Temple nor the priesthood nor purifications nor kashruth nor Israel’s epic history nor the Torah figures importantly as a redemptive medium for this layer of Q. The rhetoric of the Sayings Gospel does not proceed from the premise of the self-evident truth of the Torah or of the appropriateness of purity distinctions, nor does it represent itself as offering an exposition of these. Later stages of Q will turn from silence on these subjects to polemic and then to limited approval. But in the formative stratum we encounter only sheer confidence in the immediacy of divine presence in the ordinary and the availability of God’s benefaction without the need of other mediators. Persons to whom this might have appealed would naturally be those who were geographically or socially distant from the redemptive media of the Temple or Torah, or those who had come to perceive those media as inefficacious.

A second clue is the frequency of sayings that idealize poverty and the simple life and that warn against the acquisition or service of wealth. The striking (and unusual) dichotomy that Q 16:13 draws between “serving” wealth and serving God is the clearest but by no means the only example of this. Q’s rhetorical appeal is not based upon the sophisticated artifacts and processes of culture but upon “nature”—however much an idea of nature is itself socially constructed—and to the most rudimentary aspects of culture: the family (Q 11:9–13), simple house building (Q 6:47–49) and the lowest forms of market transactions (Q 12:6b). This suggests a lack of confidence in the “higher” forms of culture and a tendency to value “natural” objects as inherently more stable and trustworthy.

Finally, the instructional speeches are far from being “random collections of sayings.” They display, on the contrary, signs of deliberate stylization and reflect some of the techniques fostered in rhetorical schools. Yet Q does not show the same sort of self-conscious and studied composition expected in the products of the elite scribal establishments. The mode of organization is topical rather than by more complicated devices such as alphabetic acrostics or numeric schemata. There are few word plays apart from a possible pun on μωραίνω (Q 14:34) and rhetorical ornamentation does not go much beyond alliteration and assonance.

2.2.    The Social Location

In view of the wealth of agricultural imagery found in Q, one might be tempted to conclude that the audience of the formative stratum consisted of peasant-farmers, agricultural laborers and itinerant handworkers. Several factors weigh against this, however. The selection of a relatively learned and characteristically scribal genre by which to convey sayings of Jesus does not accord well with a peasant setting. The general lack of meaningful contact with the social settings in which this genre was cultivated renders it unlikely that peasants would have borrowed the instructional form.6 And while peasants are quite capable of significant protest against oppressive structures (e.g., by social banditry or resistance to innovation), the visible and overt social radicalism of Q seems atypical of peasant protests.

A much more likely setting for this stage of Q is among those who might anachronistically be termed the “petit bourgeois” in the lower administrative sector of the cities and villages. It is plain from Egyptian evidence that it is precisely within these sectors that the instructional genre was cultivated. Nevertheless, we are faced with two immediate questions. Where would such a group be found in a sufficient density to account for the origin and transmission of the Q instructions? And what social factors might account for persons from this sector opting for the countercultural lifestyle advocated by Q?

Villages in Galilee, the region of the Decapolis, Peraea and Ituraea all undoubtedly had administrative infrastructures which saw to the collection and disbursement of various revenues and to the administration of justice. The best epigraphical data on village administration comes from Ituraea (including Auranitis [modern Hauran] and Trachonitis) and from a slightly later period. What these data indicate is that the area east of the Jordan was “a country of villages,” as A. H. M. Jones puts it (1931a:268). The relative rarity of significant cities allowed the villages to develop structures which emulated those of the polis: assemblies (οἱ κωμῆται, το κοινόν, ὁ ὄχλος, ὁ δῆμος), a village chief (πρωτοκομήτης, στρατηγός), and various appointed magistrates and commissioners of public works (διοικηταί, πιστοί, προνοηταί, ἐπιμεληταί, ἐπίσκοποι, οἰκονόμοι, ἔκδικοι, see Harper: 116–45; MacAdam: 107–108). Martin Goodman has made a plausible argument that the same situation obtained in the Upper Galilee. Josephus’ description of Galilee in Bell. 3.35–43 suggests that

all Upper Galilee lay outside the ξώρα of any πόλις, which would encourage, as in Bashan, Hauran, and Trachonitis, the growth of efficient government on the village level, either completely independent or in some sort of coalition under a μητροκωμία (Goodman, 1983b:120).

The epigraphical data from Ituraea attest to no more than a handful of officials per town and there is little reason to suppose that Galilean villages were much larger than those of Ituraea. In the villages of Lower Galilee that depended on a polis, the growth of independent administrative offices would probably have been suppressed even more, although even these villages undoubtedly had a bureaucratic structure, since the polis was normally not involved in village life beyond the collection of rents and tolls.

Given these indications, it seems doubtful that a single village could have sustained the Q group. The Q people, however, may have flourished in a network of villages, perhaps even in association with the lower administrative sectors of a larger center. The toparchic centers of Tiberias, Sepphoris, Tarichaeae and probably Gabara (or Garaba: see Schürer: 195 n. 43) would certainly have had a sufficient density of scribes and administrators. One might also consider the larger towns like Capernaum in Galilee or Bethsaida Julias in Gaulanitis, whose commercial interests would have supported a relatively substantial bureaucracy.

At Tiberias, at least, there was an ἄρχων (“ruler”), a Βουλή (“council”) of six hundred, a board of δεκάπρωτοι (“leading men” = Latin decemviri) and an ἀγορανόμος (“clerk of the market”). The fact that Sepphoris alternated with Tiberias as the capital of Galilee no doubt makes a similar administrative structure at Sepphoris probable. It is also reasonable to assume the existence of a substantial number of lesser managers, trustees and supervisors of public works, especially given the amount of building that followed the foundation of Tiberias by Antipas. The relatively low degree of literacy also meant that one would also find a good number of scribes and notaries in the agora of any city, ready to assist in the transaction of sales, loans, rental agreements, marriages and divorces. While it does not seem very likely that the Sayings Gospel reflects the interests of the higher end of the managerial sector, it may very well have stuck a resonant note in the lower levels of the administrative and scribal classes.

2.3.    The Social Situation

If there is evidence of a social locale in which the instructional genre might appeal, is there any reason to suppose that Galilean or Ituraean scribe-scholars during the 50s or 60s might have adopted the particular ethos reflected in Q? Here I assume that the persons to whom a countercultural and inversionary gospel might appeal are those whose confidence in the ordinary channels through which social identity is mediated has been shaken or destroyed. Two kinds of observations are relevant here. There is ample reason to suppose that the lower administrative and scribal sectors suffered economic and social hardship along with peasants. The vagaries of harvests, which had their most direct effects on the peasants and day laborers, also affected the administrative sector in as serious a way. For example, the drought of 25/24 BCE (Josephus, Ant. 15.299–304) led not only to a widespread famine and a reduction of seed grain for subsequent years; it also sharply reduced tax revenues used in Herod’s building campaigns and hence deprived the cities of revenue. The increasing debt load, one of the contributing causes of the revolt of 70 CE, resulted in the reduction of some freeholders to the status of tenants. Others emigrated to the Decapolis (Josephus, Bell. 2.279) and still others were forced into social banditry, a phenomenon that the Romans were ineffectual at controlling and, on occasion, employed to their own ends. While the peasant was most directly affected by debt, the entire economic and social fabric was subjected to considerable stress. And of course, no one was immune from banditry, as Josephus amply attests (Vita 206–7).

A second factor had an even more immediate impact upon the cities and their dependent villages. Various transfers of political jurisdiction caused administrative disruptions and provoked hostilities within and between the cities. The reduction of Galilee and Philip’s tetrarchy to a Roman province at the death of Agrippa I (44 CE) no doubt resulted in administrative adjustments and shifting fortunes of patrons and their clients, including those in the administrative and scribal sectors. We are quite well informed via Josephus about the events of 54 CE when Nero transferred the cities of Tiberias, Tarichaeae and two Peraean toparchies to the domain of Agrippa II (Ant. 20.159), who had been given Philip’s tetrarchy the year previous (Ant. 20.137–38). This meant that Tiberias, which had been the capital of Galilee since its foundation in c. 18 CE, had to surrender that position to Sepphoris. The most troubling effect was the transfer of the βασιλική τράπεζα and the ἀρχεῖα to the new capital (Vita 38). That the royal bank and archives were significant sources of revenue and prestige is indicated both by the fact that Sepphoris had petitioned Rome for the transfer and that some years later Justus of Tiberias was able to incite a Tiberian crowd against Agrippa and Rome by recalling this injury. Significantly, Justus was not among the urban rabble of which Josephus disparagingly speaks, but was an intellectual with an excellent rhetorical education and literary skills, and was later appointed to Agrippa’s τάχις ἐπιστολῶν (“private secretariat,” Vita 356; see Rajak: 345–68).

We have evidence, then, both of a social sector that could account for the production and transmission of the Q instructions and of social circumstances that might account for its appeal. It is not possible to know whether the deracination of the Q group is literal or metaphorical, that is, whether economic hardship and social upheaval had already deprived the members of their place in the system, or whether they were still active in the scribal and administrative sector but had begun to question the integrity and stability of the system. Both are possible. What is more certain is that they were prepared to imagine an alternative to the present order.

2.4.    Q’s Vision of the Kingdom and its Propagation

This is not the place to elaborate the alternative which the formative stratum proposed, but a few characteristics are noteworthy. Perhaps the most striking feature is the idealization of the simple and detached life in its various forms. This is signalled in the opening section of Q’s instructions, Q 6:20b–21, which singles out not the πένης, who might own property and have servants but was nonetheless under compulsion to toil, but the πτωχός, the beggar. The mission speech likewise uses as a designation of honor the term ἐργάτης (10:2, 7), which normally connoted the dispossessed day labourer rather than the peasant. One might add to this the Son of Man saying in Q 9:58 which likewise seems to extol vagrancy. Other Q texts—12:4–7, 22b–31; 14:26–27; 16:13—recommend a lifestyle that does not invest in the ordinary channels of personal security.

It does not seem very likely that idealizations of poverty and detachment would have had much appeal to beggars, day workers or small holders; instead, these are the views of intellectuals who utilize such idealizations as a counterbalance to what is perceived as a bankrupt or failing culture (see Finley: 37–42). The rhetorical strategy of Q is to select the extreme examples or “focal instances” of those who do not have the resources to defend their position in social rankings (see Malina: 355–56) as a means of posing an alternative for those who do. While some of the admonitions in Q 6:27–35 presuppose situations that could occur at many social levels (abuse, 6:28; insult, 6:29a; robbery, 6:29b), Q 6:30 is obviously formulated from the point of view of persons that were in a position to make loans. This extraordinary counsel to make loans without expectation of return should be viewed as a response to predatory lending practices and the chronic problem of indebtedness that ensued. It might be added that the scribal sector would be particularly conscious of this problem, since it was the scribe who normally prepared the loan agreement.

The inversionary use of the terms πτωχός and ἐργάτης not only implies a critical view of society; it also serves a positive function in Q’s rhetoric. Disvalued figures such as beggars and hand-workers are used along with insignificant sparrows, strands of hair (Q 12:6–7), ravens, lilies, grass (Q 12:24–28), mustard seeds (Q 13:18–19) and leaven (Q 13:20–21) in arguments a minore ad maius as means of underscoring the bounty of divine provision and surveillance and the ways in which God’s behavior exceeds the expectations of reciprocity. The Q people are encouraged to rely on this bounty and emulate the divine ethos in their dealings with others (Q 6:27–30).

The concern for subsistence provisions and the “mission” materials in Q 9:57–60, 61–62; 10:4–11, 16 raise the question of the relative importance of itinerants in the Q group. Gerd Theissen (1973; 1978) popularized the view that itinerants were responsible for the preservation and transmission of many Q sayings and, more recently, Zeller (1982) has argued that the core of several Q instructions had their original Sitz im Leben with wandering preachers. The natural inference is that the itinerants “founded” communities and perhaps eventually settled down, as the Didache later suggests.

While the Q people obviously attempted to promote their vision of the kingdom and approved the activities of the “workers,” a careful examination of the pertinent materials suggests that this view needs qualification. First, we should be clear on what itinerancy would mean in Galilee and the areas contiguous with it. Given the facts that the region of the lower Galilee is only 15 by 25 miles, that it contained not only several large centers (Sepphoris, Tiberias, Tarichaeae, Capernaum) but also a large number of villages, that the lower Galilee had one of the highest population densities in the Roman empire (Broshi: 3; Overman: 165), and that the adjacent region of the Decapolis had a similar village structure, one could easily travel from a home base to the next village in less than an hour, and to another major center in several hours or a day at the most. Hence itinerancy is more likely to have looked like brief excursions than like the extended journeys of Paul. Indeed, the workers are specifically enjoined not to carry a travel bag or wear sandals—that is, not to appear as though they were on a long journey.15

Second, there is little in Q 10 to suggest that the “workers” were expected to stay for a long duration in any village, or that they intended to “found” a community there. There is indeed no indication that the “workers” were leaders at all, either in the communities from which they were sent forth or in the villages that accepted them. They depended upon the former for the justification of their roles and upon the latter for material support. Because of their tenuous social position, Q insists that what the workers do constitutes work and is deserving of “wages” (Q 10:7b), here understood as food and lodging (10:7a). They are viewed as able to convey a blessing upon a receptive household (10:6). The very fact, however, that Q describes these persons with the metaphor of agricultural or construction laborers—whose relative social position needs no elaboration—and the fact that it needs to remind the addressees that such “workers” were deserving of subsistence support surely implies that this could not be taken for granted, let alone that they would be recognized and accepted as leaders. It is important in this regard to note that these workers are not invested with the titles “apostle” (1 Cor 9:1; Did 11.3–6), prophet (Did 11.3–11; 13.1) or teacher (Did 13.2), any of which would have made their role as (potential) leaders clear.

Q 10:10 seems to envisage acceptance and rejection at the level of the village itself: being welcomed by one household (10:5) is convertible with being welcomed by the village, and rejection is rejection by the village. In other words, when discussing the specific role of the workers, Q 10 presupposes village structures in which the social solidarity produced by kinship, patron-client relationships and economic ties would have made it difficult for any village household to adopt a posture that varied from the rest of the village. While it remains unclear what concretely would be at stake for a village in rejecting or accepting the Q people, it is relatively clear that from Q’s perspective the activities of the workers served to define a network of sympathetic villages, probably adjacent to some larger center. At the village level, leadership was probably vested in local leaders, perhaps household heads (so White: 256).

At this formative stage, the Q people evince some of the characteristics of liminal situations that produce communitas: the fictive use of family language (Q 6:41–42; 17:3) and the corresponding devaluation of ordinary kinship ties (14:26), and the use of inversionary language (see V. Turner, 1967; 1969; 1974). Indeed, it has been argued by Leo Perdue that the very genre of instruction presupposes a social situation of liminality in which the prospective sage is separated from his former status in order to be reintegrated into society at an elevated level (125). “[T]he teacher’s task … is to assure the student that the social reality correctly reflects metaphysical reality and to remove by effective argumentation anomy in any form that threatens his depiction of social reality” (120). Q is distinctive insofar as it does not envision the stage of aggregation or reintegration; thus Q imagines a perpetually liminal and anti-structural state that Victor Turner calls “normative communitas” (1982:47–49). The use of a blessing formula to describe those who suffer reproach and exclusion because of their allegiance to the Son of Man (6:22–23b) presumably signals the beginnings of the formation of social boundaries. Likewise, the “exit ritual” used on the occasion of departures from villages that were not hospitable (10:10–11) amounts to an act defining and sharpening group boundaries. On the other hand, beyond the simple affirmation of Q 10:16, there is no attempt to account for either the positive or negative reception of the workers. At this stage, an alternate community has coalesced but social boundaries are as yet quite weak.

3. Rejection and Rationalization

3.1    Chreiai and Q

The second stratum of Q (Q2) is dominated by the redactional motif, first identified by Dieter Lührmann (1969), of the complaint against “this generation” for its lack of penitence. Coupled with this is the announcement of Israel’s judgment, variously associated with God, the figure of the Coming One (Q 3:16), and the Q group itself (Q 22:28–30). One of the most prominent features of Q is its use of Gentile figures whose positive response, real or imagined, is contrasted with the faithlessness and obduracy of Israel (Q 7:1–10; 10:13–15; 11:31–32; 13:28–29).

From the standpoint of form-critical units, this level of Q is characterized by a significant number of prophetic forms: oracles of warning and judgment (Q 3:7b-9, 16–17; 11:19b, 31, 32; 12:39–40, 49, 51–53, 58–59; 13:26–27, 28–29, 34–35; 17:34–35; 22:28–30), blessings (Q 7:23; 10:23–24; 12:43), woes (11:39b–44, 46–52) and prophetic correlatives (11:30; 17:24, 26–30). Yet it would not be accurate to suppose that Q was framed as an oracle collection and patterned on Hellenistic chresmologoi or on the prophetic books of the Hebrew scriptures (thus Sato). Although prophetic and apocalyptic sayings are present, most of these have been absorbed into chreiai and elaborated chreiai. For example, the oracle in Q 3:7b–9 is specifically framed as a saying of John delivered on the occasion of persons coming for baptism. This introduction transforms the oracle into a chreia or, as Theon defines it,

a brief statement or action fittingly attributed to a definite person or something analogous to a person (Theon, in Hock and O’Neil:83–84).

Thus Q’s opening fittingly ascribes to John a call to repentance and the reference to baptism. It is also worth pointing out that if the minor agreement, πᾶσα ἡ περίχωρος τοῦ Ἰορδάνου (“the entire region of the Jordan,” Matt 3:5b/Luke 3:3a), belongs to the introduction of John’s oracle, he is placed by Q in the very region in which the fiery destruction of Sodom occurred—an appropriate spatial element for an oracle that likewise threatens fiery destruction upon those who falsely rely upon their kinship with Abraham (see Kloppenborg, 1990a).

The framing of Q does not emphasize the first person of the divine speaker who confronts Jerusalem and Judah with their sinfulness, as is the case, for example, with Isaiah of Jerusalem. God in fact never speaks in Q and the oracle of Heavenly Sophia in Q 11:49–51 is not prefaced with the prophetic formula τάδε λέγει ὁ κύριος (ἡ σοφία) (“thus says the Lord [or Sophia]”) but is instead framed as Jesus’ report of what Sophia had said (εἶπεν) followed by Jesus’ own reiteration of the Sophia saying (ναί, λέγω ὑμῖν, “Yes, I tell you,” 11:51b). There is no doubt that Q understands Jesus as speaking with God’s authority, but the genre selected to report Jesus’ words is not a prophetic one.

The selection of chreiai as the means by which to transmit sayings of various natures (prophetic, apocalyptic, sapiential) has the effect of emphasizing not simply the confrontation between God and Israel, but rather the interaction between Jesus, John and their partisans on the one hand, and specific other groups (mostly within Israel) on the other. Most of the types of chreiai classified by Tannehill (1981:101–19) are represented in Q: commendations (Q 7:24–28; 10:21–22 + 23–24), corrections (Q 3:7–9 + 16–17; 11:27–28; 12:54–56 + 57–59; 17:23–24, 26–30, 34–35, 37 + 19:12–27 + 22:28–30), (testing) inquiries (Q 11:16, 29–32), objections (Q 11:14–15, 17–26; 11:39b–44, 46–52), quests (Q 7:1–10), inquiries (Q 7:18–23) and descriptions (Q 14:16–24).

It is perhaps as significant that nearly all of Q’s chreiai have already undergone a process of elaboration: John’s warning (Q 3:7–9) has been expanded by an announcement of the judgment of the Coming One (Q 3:16–17). The apparently apocalyptic title “the Coming One” (Q 3:16) recurs in John’s inquiry (Q 7:18–23) which, as Ron Cameron has shown, has become the starting point for a chreia-elaboration (Q 7:18–23 + 24–28, 31–35) that skillfully recharacterizes both Jesus and John and interprets their “coming” (7:19, 33–34) not as eschatological figures but as Sophia’s children who stand in opposition to and are rejected by “this generation” (Cameron, 1990:62). It should be added that the combination of the quest in Q 7:1–10 with 7:18–28, 31–35 amplifies the polemic against “this generation” enunciated in 7:31–35. The self-commendation in Q 10:21–22 has been elaborated into a commendation of the entire group of disciples (Q 10:23–24) and, because of its juxtaposition with Q 10:13–15, the unit establishes a sharp contrast between those who have responded positively to the preaching of the kingdom and those who have not. Q’s most complicated construction is found in Q 11:14–36, 11:14–36, 46–52, consisting of three cycles of sayings. At least the first two (Q 11:14–15, 17–18; 11:16, 29) began as chreiai (paralleled in Mark) which were then elaborated by appeals to the arena of history (Q 11:19–20; 11:31–32), aphorisms (Q 11:23; 11:33) and parabolic sayings (Q 11:21–22, 24–26; 11:34–36). In each case the construction is designed to shift the rhetorical stance from apology and defense to critical attack, a tone that is sustained throughout the woes which follow. The correction chreia in Q 12:54–56 has been expanded into a warning (Q 12:57–59) and, assuming that Q 19:12–27 and 22:28–30 formed the conclusion to Q, the correction of a faulty eschatology in Q 17:23–24, 26–30, 34–35, 37 has been elaborated by the addition of a parable which expands upon the theme of gain and loss introduced in the correction (Q 17:26–30, 34–35), and anticipates the motifs of reward, reign and judgment in the concluding pericope.

Even though the chreia was a characteristic component of both Hellenistic rhetorical training and the Cynic tradition, the presence of chreiai in Q does not automatically imply a shift into a predominantly Gentile realm. Fischel (1968) has shown that the early rabbis found the chreia a convenient vehicle for conveying their traditions. And as recent investigation into the social conditions of the lower Galilee indicate, there is little reason to assume that Galilee was a Semitic enclave in a sea of Hellenism (D. Edwards; Overman; Goodman, 1983b:64–89). It is unclear whether Q attained its final form in Galilee or in some adjacent Gentile area, but as the following discussion will suggest, the genre proved valuable for defining boundaries over against Q’s Pharisaic competitors.

The distinctive nature of the chreia and the Sayings Gospel’s reliance upon this mode of speech afford important clues in regard to the social situation of the Q people. While chreiai serve instructional purposes, their function goes beyond this. As Mack observes, the chreia serves “to add to the characterization of a well-known figure and to explore the application of their philosophical position to some situation in life” (1987a:4). Indeed the chreiai of Q2 provide characterizations not only of Jesus, but also of John, of those who reject or oppose their preaching and, at least indirectly, of those who follow Jesus. It is no coincidence that most of Q’s christological statements come to the fore at the final stage of redaction. The earlier, mainly sapiential collections identified by Kloppenborg, Zeller and, most recently, Piper, take for granted that Jesus is a teacher who speaks decisively and whose words are ignored only at one’s peril. But the sapiential components of Q do not make this a point for special argument or defense. For chreiai, however, the ethos of the speaker is precisely the issue, and sayings must be ascribed to him or her μετʼ εὐστοχίας, with aptness. Hence we encounter chreiai that characterize Jesus as one who has ἐξουσία (“authority,” 7:1–10), who not only bests his challengers with skillful speech (11:14–19); his activities as an exorcist are also correlated with the coming of the Kingdom (11:20) and his preaching of repentance points to the presence of “something greater than Solomon/Jonah” (11:31–32) and to the Coming One (7:18–23) and the Son (10:21–22). It is also no coincidence that the introduction of John in 3:7–9, 16–17 makes it necessary to relate the characterizations of John to those of Jesus, and to smooth out potential conflicts between these two figures, something that is accomplished in 7:18–28, 31–35.

That the transmitting group found it necessary or useful to resort to chreiai is itself telling. Q’s chreiai are not merely didactic and corrective; they are combative. They are not simply the outcome of the immanent tendencies of a group to define itself, but are responses to the dissonances produced at least by a perceived failure of the group’s vision of the kingdom and probably by the indifference or, perhaps, hostility of other groups. In this context, it became important to establish group boundaries and to defend the image of the founder and those associated with him.

3.2    Defining the Boundaries

The definition of boundaries and the defense of Jesus are simultaneous. One of the important strategies of this defense is the alignment of John, Jesus and their followers with a mythic “Israel.” At this stage of the editing of Q, the term “Israel” makes its appearance (Q 7:9; 22:30), and notwithstanding the single allusion to Solomon’s proverbial wealth in Q1, it is only here that one finds appeal to Abraham (Q 3:8; 13:28) and to other heroes of Israel’s epic history: Abel and Zachariah (Q 11:51), Isaac and Jacob (Q 13:28), Jonah (Q 11:29–30, 32), Lot (Q 17:28–29), Noah (Q 17:26–27), Solomon (Q 11:31) and the prophets (Q 6:23c; 11:49–51; 13:34–35). Not only is Jesus aligned with John as the fulfillment of John’s announcement of a Coming One (Q 3:16–17; 7:18–23) and as one of Sophia’s children (Q 7:31–35); but Jesus and those whom he represents are aligned with the heroes of Israel: what he preaches is comparable with, indeed even greater than, Solomon’s wisdom and Jonah’s preaching; the table at which he will sit is the patriarchs’ table and the thrones he promises to his followers are the thrones of Israel.

The Sayings Gospel and the Q people thus visualize themselves as the culminating expression of “Israel.” They are, to be sure, aware of competing definitions of Israel, and hence are required to distinguish this “Israel” from those other definitions. Abraham becomes one of the foci of the dispute. The Q people evidently thought it important to retain the category “children of Abraham” and so tried to provide a characterization of true filiation with Abraham. Q begins programmatically with John’s warning that physical descent is not sufficient to spare one from the coming wrath (Q 3:8–9). Competitors’ understandings of “Israel” are further undermined by contrasts between faith-filled Gentiles and non-believing Jews (Q 7:1–10, 31–35; 10:13–15; 11:31–32) and between the kinsfolk of Jesus who end up excluded (Q 13:25–27) and far-off Gentiles who will enjoy the fellowship of Abraham’s table (Q 13:28–30).

The decisive taxic indicator in the definition of this “Israel” is repentance. This is a term that the Q group absorbed from the orbit of the Deuteronomistic tradition, perhaps mediated by Baptist circles. The term makes its first appearance in Q on John’s lips (Q 3:8). Although its connotations for John can no longer be known with certainty, what it meant for the Q people can be determined from the context in which the Sayings Gospel uses the term. “Repent” recurs at Q 10:13 and 11:32. In the first instance it has to do with the expected response to the viewing of the miraculous, and in the second, it concerns the actual reaction to Jonah’s preaching. Recognition of divine activity is the common denominator here: the saying parallel to Q 11:32 pairs “coming” to hear Solomon’s wisdom (Q 11:31) with repentance. The same is true elsewhere. Jesus’ commendation of the centurion is based on his recognition of Jesus’ exousia (Q 7:9–10); John’s messengers are directed to Jesus’ thaumaturgic activities (Q 7:22); “this generation” is criticized for its blindness to Sophia’s children (Q 7:31–35) and her prophets (Q 11:49–51; 13:34–35); Jesus’ opponents are blamed for ignoring the divine power at work both in Jewish exorcists and in Jesus himself (Q 11:19–20); and his contemporaries are rejected because they failed to know, and to be known by, the “householder” (Q 13:25–27).

Thus it would seem that repentance for Q is not a matter of individual contrition for one’s sinfulness, but hearkens back to the classical prophetic usage, where repentance signals a recognition of the covenantal relationship. According to the Q people, “this generation” has failed to recognize that the true Israel is to be found with Jesus’ followers. They have not repented. It is at this point that the “self-evident” character of the identification with a mythic “Israel” is most clearly seen, even though Q seems also to concede that the phenomena which demand the response of repentance are sometimes tinged with ambiguity, as is the case with the apparently contradictory behavior of John and Jesus (Q 7:33–34). Nevertheless, Q’s polemic reveals that recognition, whether simple or not, did not occur, and it singles out the towns of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum for special criticism.

Social boundaries are intimately connected with the evocation of a mythic Israel. The Sayings Gospel places itself in the sweep of the history of faithful response to God and faithful service to Sophia, beginning with Noah and Lot, continuing through the patriarchs and prophets (including John), and culminating in the final appearance of the reign of God. But there is a remarkable ambivalence with this “Israel” since, on the one hand, those who hold competing definitions of Israel are excluded, while the traditional ethnic boundaries are effaced so that Gentiles can enter this Israel. Remarkable, too, is the fact that Moses does not figure at all in Q’s self-definition, and Jerusalem is treated not merely like the faithless Galilean towns, but is mythologized as the ancient opponent of God’s envoys. This confrontation is epitomized by the report of the murder of a prophet in the heart of sacred space, the Temple (Q 11:51a), and the subsequent abandonment of that sacred space.

3.3.    Social Location of the Q People

It has already been suggested that Q found its home in either Galilee or perhaps an adjacent area such as the Decapolis, and that at least some of the activities of the Q people are assumed to occur in the context of the village. It is important, however, to note in regard to the mission material in Q 10:2–16, that this unit has already undergone redaction by the insertion of Q 10:13–15 and the creation of the transitional verse, 10:12. From the perspective of the redaction of Q, the “missionary” efforts outlined in Q 10:2–11 (16) seem to have ended in relative failure. When this is coupled with the fact that Q speaks of Gentiles in strikingly positive terms, the possibility is raised that the later stages of Q reflect either a movement beyond predominantly Jewish areas, say, the Decapolis or the coastal region, or a move into the cities (properly so-called) and large towns of Galilee where the presence of Gentiles would be more likely. It could be noted that Q 7:31–35 takes for granted that the agora is a place where judgment occurs (Cotter, 1987:289–304), and accordingly presupposes the civic plan of a Greek city rather than a Galilean village. The same conclusion is suggested if the occurrences of plateia (“broad street,” “plaza”) in Luke 10:10; 13:26 and 14:21 (all in Q contexts) belong to Q rather than to Lukan redaction.

The concrete social circumstances reflected by Q redaction can be seen in part. The importance laid on the characterization of Jesus and his foes, the use of polemic, and the language of boundary and division indicate that the Q group saw the need to erect defensible social boundaries, something not yet in evidence at the formative stage. The tenor of Q1 is extremely optimistic about the prospects for the kingdom: it will appear mysteriously but rapidly, like the growth of mustard or leaven (Q 13:18–21), like the inevitable disclosure of secrets (Q 12:2). The prospects for the “harvest” are great, despite the scarcity of laborers (Q 10:2) and the dangers that face them (Q 10:3). Evidently what was expected did not materialize. Perhaps the purveyors of Q1, who as typical scribes took seriously their responsibilities to influence the direction of society, found themselves progressively marginalized both socially and economically in the society they wished to redeem. After all, the countercultural nature of their vision, especially their views of debt and wealth, cannot have appealed to patrons and the local aristocracy upon whose benefactions the populace depended.

There may have been more specific tensions, too. The relatively lengthy polemic against the Pharisees suggests that the Q people saw the Pharisees as their principal competitors and the cause of their apparent failure. That this would be the case is by no means surprising. Mack observes that in comparison with the Pharisees who had “status, institutions, traditions, rationalized ethic and skill in argumentation on their side,” the resources of the Q group were rather meager (1988a:626).

Rather than taking on the Pharisees on what might be considered their own “turf,” i.e., legal interpretation, Q uses the prophetic form of the woe oracle, but turns it into an instrument of lampoon. Without posing clear alternatives to the Pharisees’ practices—as Matthew will later do—Q engages in ridicule and hyperbole designed to undermine the credibility of the Pharisees’ vision of society.

[B]y poking at the system’s self-evidence …, by pocking its armour and chipping away at its veneer of perfection and completeness, the social conglomerate of tradition and invention was rendered more dubitable and, thus, more manageable, that is, inhabitable (Vaage, 1988b:584).

The rhetorical posture of the woes and the topics mentioned—scrupulous tithing, washing of vessels, having the seats of honour in the synagogues, greetings in the market place—suggest the vividness of local conflict rather than the studied distance of abstract and idealized reflection on the opponents. Nevertheless, Q does mythologize the conflict by its insertion of Q 11:49–51, the Sophia oracle, into the midst of the woes. The Pharisees are thereby aligned with the intransigence of “this generation” and the vaticides in the Temple, while the Q people call Sophia and her prophets to their corner.

The chief obstacle to the assumption that Q’s primary conflict was with the Pharisees is the relative paucity of evidence for any sustained presence of either the Pharisees or the great scholars from Jerusalem in Galilee prior to 70 CE. Sean Freyne describes their presence as sporadic and evidently unsuccessful, a conclusion that the notably unproductive tenure of Yohanan ben Zakkai in Arav (near Sepphoris) also supports (see Neusner, 1970:47–53). However, Freyne infers from Josephus’ reports regarding the destruction of Herod’s palace in Tiberias (Vita 65–66), the resistance of some in Tarichaeae to the grant of asylum to Gentile refugees without their first being circumcised (Vita 112–13) and John of Gischala’s sale of kosher oil to the Jews of Caesarea Philippi (Vita 74–77; Bell. 2.591–93) that there were at least pockets influenced by Shammaite Pharisees. This conclusion is attractive not least because Q 11:39b–41 betrays knowledge of Shammaite distinctions regarding the purity of vessels (see Neusner, 1976). On the other hand, the evidence of Josephus is suggestive rather than probative and at best indicates intermittent Pharisaic influence, and probably only in the cities. The Sayings Gospel may itself serve as evidence, especially because the Q woes do not yet use the Pharisees as a stereotyped image of the enemy but seem to reflect local conflict. And the fact that immediately after the War Gamaliel II, Eliezer ben Hyrcanus and others were active in Galilee probably means that some foothold had been gained prior to 70 CE.

Q’s rhetorical posture vis-à-vis the Pharisees indicates that it was not a matter of the struggle of two rival but more or less equal groups competing for social dominance. The woes, especially Q 11:43, 46, 52, concede that the opponents enjoy positions of honor in the synagogues and market places and that they are in a position to recommend modes of behavior to others and to prevent or discourage persons from embracing alternative modes. Since the reconstruction of Q is particularly difficult here, it is uncertain whether the complaint is with the Pharisees alone (Q 11:39, 42) or also with scribes. As is well known, Matthew uses the two terms as a kind of hendiadys while Luke directs the first set of woes to the Pharisees and the second to the “lawyers,” i.e., the scribes. In any event, the opponents here are not the indigenous lower-level notaries, school teachers and petty administrators (who belonged to the scribal sector) but scholars, presumably from Jerusalem, whose status and influence made the conflict with the Q people a distinctively uneven one.

The fact that Q 11:49–51 aligns the Pharisees (and scribes?) with Jerusalem and the Temple may not be accidental. Employing the typology of Lenski (214–96), Anthony Saldarini has suggested that Pharisees would have functioned in Galilee as retainers of interests in Jerusalem. The Pharisees’ emphasis upon tithing and their priestly model of piety made them especially attractive to the hierocracy in Jerusalem who wished to collect taxes and to exert influence in a region that lay outside their direct political control (Saldarini 1988a:35–49, 277–97; 1988b:205). As retainers, the Pharisees’ presence would be restricted mainly to the cities (i.e., the centers of tax collection).

This seems to fit the evidence of Q quite well: Q’s opponents are encountered in the large towns, in the agora (of a city); they evidently have influence and status, and they can easily be aligned with the interests of Jerusalem and the Temple. Conflict with the elite members of the scribal establishment may also make intelligible Q’s use of the Deuteronomistic motif of the killing of the prophets. Not only was this complex at home among scribes, wisdom teachers and the successors of the Hasidim (Steck: 206–15); its appearance in early Christian literature (Acts 7:42; Mark 12:1–9; 1 Thess 2:15–16) demonstrates that it was ideally suited to polemical deployment, especially against opponents who enjoyed positions of power or influence. Conflict with southern scribes or Pharisees who promoted a hierocratically oriented vision of “Israel” also renders intelligible Q’s conscious polemic against other views of Israel (3:7–9; 13:28–29) and especially its lack of reference to the Torah, Temple, purifications or kashruth—ingredients that would be fundamental to the opponent’s “Israel.”

4. The Final Redaction and Its Public

As noted above, I have assigned to the final stage of redaction the Temptation story (Q 4:1–13) and two glosses, Q 11:42c and 16:17 (see Kloppenborg, 1990c). What is common to all three is the premise of the enduring validity of the Torah. It is frequently observed that the repartee using biblical quotations in the Temptation story is reminiscent of the later haggadic midrashim which, of course, were scholarly products. Even though the intent of Q’s story is not exegetical, it is clear that the story is framed to depict Jesus not only as learned in the Torah but as obedient to it. This represents something of an anomaly when viewed against the earlier strata of Q, which display no tendency to ground or justify either their ethics or their polemic by recourse to the Torah. It is also notable that Q 4:9–12 places Jesus in or on the Temple without betraying the least embarrassment about associating him with the institution that Q 13:35 declares to be desolate, and whose principal functions the remainder of Q has ignored. The narrative line of Q 4:9–12 merely requires altitude: any cliff, tall building or tower would do. Q3‘s choice of the Temple is not innocent, but implies a positive and traditional image of the Temple as a sacred space where angels would naturally be present to aid holy persons.

The two tertiary glosses are similar in character. Q 11:42ab had painted an absurd caricature of Pharisaic practice as part of its polemical strategy (see Kloppenborg, 1990c). With the addition of Q 11:42c, however, the focus shifts from lampoon to a more measured objection and the offer of an alternative: the Pharisee’s practice, though misconceived, is perfectly wholesome once it is seen in a theologically appropriate framework. What is notable here is that the rhetoric of Q is no longer that of a group which lashes out at a rival with whom it cannot speak as equals, but that of a group which has come to appreciate the intellectual accomplishments of its rivals and can now confidently offer alternatives from within the logic of that system. What Q3 begins, Matthew will continue with a vengeance.

It is also the consciousness of the importance of the Torah which seems to have inspired the addition of Q 16:17 as a mitigation of the troubling assertion in Q 16:16, which might be taken to imply the end of the Law and the Prophets. This self-consciousness bespeaks a growing awareness of the need for an apologetic which explicitly appeals to the Torah. This development may be due to dynamics immanent in the group—for example, antinomian tendencies—which are most effectively addressed by an appeal to an obvious symbol of authority. Or it may be that continued conflict with scribes who took Torah obedience to be normative eventually moved the Q people to an apologetic response based on Torah.

Since this level of redaction is so sparce, the data are lacking for a detailed reconstruction of the social situation of the final stratum. Nevertheless, the character of these three texts suggests a situation of rising valuation of the Torah both as a redemptive medium and as a basis for argument and apologetics. Correspondingly, there is a rising confidence in the group’s ability to respond to opponents in a way commensurate with their real or imagined criticism.

The implication of this shift in rhetorical stance is probably that during the course of the struggle with the southern scribes or Pharisees, the Q group either absorbed enough of its opponents’ ethos to make the Torah and Temple an integral part of their system’s architecture, or that in spite of Q’s repeated statements about Israel’s non-response, the group succeeded in attracting scholars, perhaps only a handful, for whom the institutions of Torah and Temple had essential and positive meaning.

5. Conclusion

The social matrix from which the Sayings Gospel emerges is dominated at every stage by persons in the scribal sector. Beginning in the lower levels of the scribal class, probably in the villages and large towns of Galilee, the Q group solidified around a vision of society that was countercultural in important regards. The framers of the formative stratum chose a typically scribal genre, the instruction, as the vehicle by which to codify the Jesus traditions. At this stage, the evidence of strong boundary language is slight, though not entirely wanting. Consistent with the genre of Q1, the emphasis is upon the characterization of the divine ethos, not upon the defense of the ethos of its human purveyors.

Boundaries and defensive strategies are evident, however, at the second stratum of redaction, where elaborated chreiai are used to characterize John, Jesus and their opponents. The Deuteronomistic view of history and the construction of a mythic “Israel” serve to establish group identity and group boundaries, and to rationalize the group’s general lack of success in promoting its vision. To judge from the resort to the typically Hellenistic form of the chreia, and from the strikingly positive characterization of Gentiles, the framers of this second stage were quite prepared to look beyond the boundaries of Israel and to embrace both Hellenistic learning and Gentiles, while at the same time rationalizing their identity by appeal to Israel’s epic history.

At the final stage of redaction there is evidence of a significant shift in the character of Q’s rhetoric, and a striking elevation of the institutions of Torah and Temple in Q’s symbolic universe. The concern to ground arguments in the Torah and the willingness to engage the Pharisees with what is perceived to be their own logic probably signal, on the one hand, a rising confidence in the group’s ability to hold its place in society and, on the other, an attenuation of the countercultural aspects of the group’s activities and a domestication of its message.

The Son of Man Sayings in Q: Stratigraphical Location and Significance

Leif E. Vaage

Emmanuel College / Toronto School of Theology


There are nine son of man sayings in Q (6:23; 7:34; 9:58; 11:30; 12:8–9; 12:10, 12:40; 17:24, 26–28). From the perspective of a stratigraphical analysis, all but two (7:34; 9:58) belong to the document’s secondary or tertiary redaction. All the son of man sayings at the level of Q2 betray an apocalyptical sensibility grappling with its social world’s (imagined) downfall, and hoping not to fail with it. The son of man himself in these sayings remains an abstract figure. At the level of Q1, the son of man is identified with Jesus, appearing as a noted carouser who eats and drinks, and an apparent ascetic with nowhere to lay his head. There is no evidence in any of the son of man sayings of Q of the pesher-exegesis associated by Perrin with the origin of this kind of language in early Christianity.

0. Introduction

The title “son of man” did not succeed in becoming a term of much christological importance in the theological thinking of the West. The Nicene creed, for example, speaks in absolute categories of the second person of the Trinity as “true God and true Man,” although in keeping with the usual attempt to use only biblical language and concepts, it would have been possible to score the same basic point by calling him instead the real “son of God” and a real “son of man,” both terms being amply attested throughout the Scriptures.

Of course, more is meant by “son of man” than merely “human being.” The point is simply that unlike other titles such as “son of God,” “Messiah” or “Christ,” “Lord,” “Savior,” “the Word,” etc., the figure of the son of man did not notably excite the devoted Christian imagination after the first century CE or so. The irony is obvious. How could so much ink have been spilled by so many scholars on a subject whose importance in terms of socio-political effects is, at best, questionable?

In fact, it is only by virtue of a number of partial associations that the son of man issue has made itself felt with such force among New Testament scholars. Because the term occurs in Daniel, taken as the fountainhead of the biblical apocalyptic tradition, and then is placed on the lips of Jesus especially in the synoptic gospels, attention to the “son of man” has seemed vital to solving the modern debate about Jesus and apocalypticism. Did he or did he not speak of this person? Did he or did he not refer to himself in this way?

If the historical Jesus did speak of himself as the son of man, what might he have meant by this? Answers given to this question have ranged from the suggestion that it was just a mannered way of saying “I, another human being,” to the claim that Jesus was thereby conscious of himself as a divine plenipotentiary. If he did not speak of himself as the son of man, the term belongs to the process of “christological cognition” whereby Jesus as a founder figure was elevated in the imagination of early Christianity to the highest conceivable status. In order to describe as accurately as possible the mechanisms of this cultural process, it is important to understand especially the first shifts in perspective “from the proclaimer to the proclaimed,” one of which would be the use of “son of man” as a title for Jesus.

As Heinz Eduard Tödt demonstrated more than thirty years ago, the son of man sayings in Q are one of the document’s more salient features, itself likely the earliest (albeit fragmentary) Christian text we have. Tödt read the son of man sayings in Q as mainly about Jesus’ claim to authority. We might now ask again in the light of intervening research exactly what their significance is and what the answer to this question implies for the other issues that have been identified with it (Uro, 1989).

Recent research in Q has demonstrated the need to distinguish between at least two distinct literary strata in the document: an initial formative layer (Q1) and its secondary redactional elaboration (Q2) (Lührmann, 1969; Jacobson, 1978; Kloppenborg, 1987a). What is the stratigraphical location of the son of man sayings? Do they form part of the document’s formative stratum, or are they a feature of its redaction? What difference does it make one way or the other?

1. Methodological Considerations

Determining Stratigraphical Location. How does one determine the stratigraphical location of a saying in Q? John S. Kloppenborg (1984) has demonstrated from the history of Q research the dangers of confusing tradition-critical analysis with literary or redaction-critical investigation. The latter has especially to do with the compositional stages of a written document; the former belongs to the form-critical imagination of “free—floating” oral traditions in early Christianity and reads Q as one example of these materials’ documentary sedimentation. Kloppenborg does not argue against the validity of a tradition-critical analysis of Q. Indeed, he assumes it as fundamental, to judge from his conclusion that one cannot simply observe that a given saying has been inserted into its present context in order to attribute it to Q’s redaction. Beyond noting signs of discontinuity, one should also be able to show that the same saying belongs to a wider rhetorical strategy throughout the document. Comparison of Q with other “parallel developments” of early Christian tradition (for example, the Gospel of Thomas) is further thought to be important.

Kloppenborg subsequently refined and developed this approach. He suggests by way of summary a set of literary criteria and procedures that he believes will contribute to consensus about Q’s stratigraphy (1987b:19–20). The net result of his proposal is at least twofold. First, all debate about Q’s redaction(s) must proceed from the final edition of the document “backwards” or “downwards.” The proper question for purposes of stratigraphical location is always whether or not what looks like inserted or additional material is due to (one of) the final editor(s). Stated negatively, we are not concerned in this kind of analysis about whether or not a given saying is “authentic” or a “creation of the church.” These questions are simply irrelevant. Nor is a discussion of the form in which the saying has been preserved especially pertinent. The question is rather which sayings or parts of sayings can be shown to be later literary glosses, scholia, textual constructions on top of or interpolated into an underlying composition that would be Q’s formative stratum. Stratigraphical analysis does not mirror in its method an imagined prehistory for the document under investigation. Nor does the method of investigation correspond to a particular model of Q’s formation. Only for this reason can it claim to have some semblance of objectivity.

Second, it is not enough simply to note that a given saying has been inserted into its present context in order to ascribe it to Q’s redaction. If the word “redaction” is to mean more than just “something added,” the fact of insertion must be shown to form part of a wider pattern of editorial activity throughout the document, evident in such things as a given train of thought or particular literary style. The son of man sayings cannot be ascribed to Q’s redaction just because they look like secondary accretions in their current location; it must be demonstrated that as sayings, both compositionally and conceptually, they belong to a larger rhetorical strategy throughout Q.

Previous scholarship. We now face the problem of how to incorporate much of the scholarly literature on the son of man. For the better part of what has been produced does not work with the same theoretical or methodological framework as outlined above. Most scholars have rather assumed in one way or another that Q is part of an evolutionary process of increasingly complex development (the “history of the synoptic tradition”) whereby originally “independent” units of material eventually came to be the first three canonical gospels. Initial groupings of tradition and smaller collections of sayings are thus necessarily presupposed for Q. This aggregation model of the document’s composition is then taken as a guide to its analysis.

The result is that every example of composite discourse in Q tends to be viewed “from the bottom up.” The relative history of any conglomerate’s constitutive parts is sorted out by first—imaginatively—beginning at the beginning. The smallest “fundamental” piece of “transmissible” tradition is isolated. Other materials are then discerned that would or could have been conjoined to it later. In the case of Q’s son of man sayings, given that they do not seem to be the primary bit of tradition in their present context, the question is then at which point each one should be placed on a continuum from original disconnectedness to final textual assignment in Q.

Insofar as the pivotal point of reference is “the beginning,” the logical answer is inevitably “as early as possible,” evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. The basic reason for this is the aggregation model’s prospective orientation, i.e., from the beginning to the end. A methodological prejudice exists in favor of earlier composition. The son of man sayings, although subsequently added in their current context, can nonetheless be thought of as inserted early on in Q, because it is not obvious that they could only have been introduced at the time of the final redaction. The reasoning is cogent, given the premise.

But is the premise sound? Can a prospective reconstruction of the history of a composite discourse do more than imaginatively begin at the beginning, that is, begin with our imagination of the beginning and proceed accordingly? The answer to both questions is obviously no, for the beginning as such is quite lost to us. What remains is only the final product, in this case, the text of Q (as preserved for us via the mutually fragmented attestation of Matthew and Luke). Thus, in fact, we always do begin, as Kloppenborg suggests, at the end, with the document itself. In this case, observation of a saying’s additive appearance would suggest precisely literary redaction.

The history of scholarship remains helpful insofar as it identifies the discontinuities and incongruities which constitute a given saying’s additive appearance. It is in this capacity that previous work on the son of man sayings in Q has proven significant for what follows. Insofar, however, as the methodological framework within which these various observations have been made is as I suggest, the significance attached to them by the same scholarship proves simply not germane.

2. The Son of Man Sayings in Q: Individual Analyses

I will now consider one by one the son of man sayings in Q, to be examined in their immediate and larger literary context for evidence of secondary insertion and compositional usefulness.

2.1.    Q 6:22–23

Kloppenborg summarizes well the basic reasons for the general consensus that 6:22–23 was subsequently added to 6:20–21.

The main grounds for this conclusion are the striking differences in construction and logic between the first three beatitudes and the fourth:

(1)    The structure of the first three blessings is bipartite, consisting of μακάριοι οἱ, “blessed are those,” with a substantive followed by an explanatory clause introduced by ὅτι, “for.” The fourth begins with “blessed are you when,” and employs a temporal clause rather than a substantive to describe those upon whom blessing is pronounced. Rather than simply asserting the impending reversal of fortunes, 6:22–23 uses a complex sentence consisting of two imperatives with a motive clause (introduced by ὅτι or γάρ, “for”). And it is undergirded with a clause drawing attention to the historical analogy of the prophets (introduced by οὕτως/κατὰ τὰ αὐτά, “for thus”).

(2)    The first three blessings depend on the logic of eschatological reversal, while the fourth invokes the notion of reward.

(3)    Q 6:20b–21 is addressed to the inherently distressing situations of poverty and its consequences, while 6:22–23 concerns the more specific situation of persons who are persecuted because of their affiliation with the Son of Man.

(4)    The first three blessings use substantives and active participles to describe the blessed, while the fourth uses impersonal plurals which function as passives.

Boring adds that the use of the second person in 6:22–23 distinguishes it from the third person form of the blessings in Q 6:20b–21. This conclusion, however, is not as secure as one might hope since it is not clear that the first three macarisms (blessings) were framed in the third person (Kloppenborg, 1986:36–37).

Additional considerations in favor of a “break” between 6:22–23 and 6:20b–21 include the greater length and complexity of 6:22–23 (Daube; Lührmann, 1969:55; Collins:376), the greater detail of 6:22–23 (Schulz: 454), and the lack of reference in 6:22–23 to any text of the Old Testament, along with the unspecified or imprecise character of the promised eschatological reward (Coppens: 161). It can also be said regarding 6:22–23 that “a deconcretization of Jesus’ message and concentration on the ‘congregation’ of those who confess him is underway” (Hoffmann: 115). “The saying was first developed in the tradition and added to the three original beatitudes in order to update them” (Hoffmann: 148).

Kloppenborg’s own position is a bit more complicated. He argues that just the two phrases, “on account of the son of man” (6:22c) and “for thus it was done to the prophets” (6:23c), are due specifically to the Q redactor, whereas the rest of the saying corresponds to “prior tradition” (1986:45–46). The primary saying (6:22–23b) is said to have been added to 6:20–21 “[in] the tradition at a very early stage” (1986:36; 1987a:178, 187). Essentially following Schürmann (1975:131), Kloppenborg supposes that 6:22–23b already had to be in place after 6:20b–21 before 6:27–35 could have been added; the theme of violence introduced by 6:22–23b provides the peg on which the saying about loving your enemies was hung.

But only the compositional model of a process of (oral) aggregation makes this logic compelling. For a glance at the rest of the “sermon” in Q makes clear that the correspondence that otherwise would exist between 6:20b–21 and 6:22–23 is as tight as any that links the remaining sections of this part of Q together (see Vaage, 1989a). The sayings in 6:20b–21, which refer to poverty, hunger, and weeping, invoke the products of a situation of social oppression. Thus they too, like 6:22–23, raise implicitly the issue of enmity and how to deal with it.

This is not to deny that 6:22–23 both as a beatitude and as a saying about personal aggression fits well between 6:20b–21 and 6:27–35. But are we to assume that the redactor who inserted it here was oblivious to this fact, i.e., incapable of appreciating the opportunity s/he found at hand to add a saying whose contribution would not result in manifest literary bungling? The contrasts between 6:22–23 and the sayings both before and after it are apparent. The fact, then, that formal and material correspondences can be seen as well, may simply reveal the reason why this setting was the one finally chosen to assimilate 6:22–23 into the document.

Kloppenborg acknowledges at one point “the original independence of 6:22–23 from 6:20b–21” (1986:37). Parallel statements similar to 6:22–23 occur a number of times in other early Christian documents (e.g., Gos. Thom. 68–69a; 1 Pet 3:14; 4:13–14; Polycarp, Phil. 2.3; Clement Alex., Strom.; see Kloppenborg, 1988a:25). Indeed, variations of this saying are more widely attested than is the case for any of the three preceding beatitudes. Kloppenborg lists only two sayings from the Gospel of Thomas (54, 69b) as parallel to 6:20b–21 (1988a:25). At the same time, in none of the parallels to 6:22–23 is the son of man ever mentioned. The redaction of Q in 6:22–23 has made the common martyrological theme of “blessed though beaten”—shared with a variety of other early Christian texts and reflected elsewhere in Q’s secondary stratum (see Seeley, in this volume)—into a matter of allegiance with the son of man.

There is a way in which 6:22–23 helps to “tie in” the denunciatory opening of Q’s redaction (3:7–9, 16–17) with the subsequent and otherwise much less polemical “sermon” (6:20b–49) from Q’s formative stratum.3 The over-confident children of Abraham referred to in 3:7–9 are here contrasted with those who now suffer a precarious existence on account of the son of man. The assumption of the former about their ultimate wellbeing is finally mistaken. Instead, it is the latter currently facing ill who are really blessed. The son of man is then not mentioned again in the rest of this section (6:20b–49).

At the same time, Lührmann (1969:55) suggests that 6:22–23 establishes at the beginning of Q, as a kind of redactional Leitmotif, an opposition between the son of man and his adherents on the one hand, and the rest of humankind on the other.

For all these reasons, therefore, it seems likely that 6:22–23 was added as part of the document’s redaction; its stratigraphical location would be Q2.

2.2    Q 7:33–34

A commonly held perspective on the compositional history of the larger unit in which this son of man saying is found (7:31–35) is summarized well by Kloppenborg.

The composition of Q 7:31–35 is relatively simple to outline. Q 7:33–34 is intelligible on its own and fits so artificially with the parable (7:31–32) that it is likely that it was an originally independent saying, now functioning as a commentary word. Fiedler suggests that this saying (7:33–34) is indeed primary and that the parable was added to it. But the reverse is more likely; the enigmatic nature of 7:31–32 invited further explication, and this was provided by vv. 33–34, (35). The commentary word must have been added relatively early in the history of the cluster since it is by virtue of its mention of John (7:33) that 7:31–35 could be associated with the other Baptist-related sayings in 7:18–23, 24–28 (1987a:11; cf. Schulz: 380–81).

But things are not so simple as that.

There are at least four distinct component parts in 7:31–35 whose relationship with one another must be clarified. These are (1) the question of and reference to “this generation” (7:31–32)—the opening phrase in 7:32a, “they are like” (ὅμοιοί ἐσιν), is obviously part of the initial inquiry, “To what shall I compare this generation?”; (2) the analogy (parable) of the children playing in the marketplace in 7:32b; (3) the subsequent saying in 7:33–34 contrasting John and the son of man; and (4) the final saying in 7:35 about Sophia and her children. The principal problem is where to begin. Nothing is obviously primary beyond the order in which the verses are presently arranged. Everything admits of contrary evidence.

Perhaps, the place to begin is with the assumption—accurate, in my view—shared by Kloppenborg and others that 7:31–32 and 7:33–34 did not originally form a single saying. Evidence of their secondary conjuncture can be found, for example, in “the discrepancy between the parable and interpretation: the children of the parable correspond to ‘this generation’ in the introduction, and to John and Jesus in an allegorical way in the interpretation,”5 along with the “inversion of the progression dancingmourning (intentional chiasma?)” (Hoffmann: 224–25). Hoffmann also suggests that the particle γάρ at the beginning of 7:33 makes clear that 7:33 was subsequently added to 7:32: “the charge [in 7:32] no longer intelligible in a later situation (without knowledge of the concrete situation) required some explanation” (227).

Agreement about the secondary union of 7:31–32 with 7:33–34 does not suffice, however, to determine in which order this took place. Which of the sayings came “first”? Did one of them perhaps already form part of the document’s formative stratum, to which the other was then affixed by Q’s redaction? Or were both sayings, whether “originally independent” and “free-floating” or created for the occasion, subsequently brought together at the same time in Q, and thus the question would be at which stage of Q this coupling should be imagined to have occurred?

Lührmann has convincingly shown that use of the term “this generation” and related themes is one of the hallmarks of Q’s redaction (1969:24–28). If he is right, the question in 7:31, “To what shall I compare this generation?” and its response in 7:32 that “they are like children playing in the ἀγορά” must be the work of Q’s redaction. The saying (7:31–32), in other words, is a redactional creation. Such a conclusion is significant; it is, in fact, the cornerstone of the reasoning that follows. But by itself, it does not allow us to decide whether 7:33–34 was affixed to 7:31–32, that is, introduced into Q at the same time that 7:31–32 was constructed or not. More discussion of 7:33–34 is required.

Before coming to that, however, we must consider first what is the relationship between 7:33–34 and the following verse (7:35); and then, between 7:35 and 7:31–32. The conjunction καί at the beginning of 7:35 is a weak transition after 7:33–34, given that the discourse suddenly shifts from comparing John and the son of man to a statement about Wisdom and her children. According to Siegfried Schulz, the conjunction is an adversative καί (386 n. 58). The logic linking 7:33–34 and 7:35 is discontinuous. Its difficulties are not unlike those that exist between 7:31–32 and 7:33–34. Hoffmann makes the additional observations:

In the saying about the children of divine wisdom (Luke 7:35/Matt 11:19) the framework of the parable’s interpretation is abandoned. The parable is given thereby a new accent that goes beyond its original intention. The messengers’ rejection by this generation is opposed to their acceptance by the children of wisdom (228).

Otherwise, Hoffmann (225, as Lührmann, 1969:29) seems to assume that 7:35 originally (always?) followed 7:33–34. But his statement that in 7:35 “the framework of the parable’s interpretation is abandoned” can only refer to 7:33–34, insofar as Hoffmann also assumes that 7:33–34 was secondarily added to 7:31–32. Hoffmann’s lack of clarity at this point reflects a general oversight by scholars regarding the question of how 7:35 relates to what precedes it. Most scholars have tended to be interested only in the relationship between 7:31–32 and 7:33–34. Q 7:35 is then just lumped together with what precedes (see, e.g., Kloppenborg, 1987a:111). But this is hardly defensible, especially once it is seen that 7:35 coheres well with 7:31–32.

With one exception, the fact that both 7:31–32 and 7:35 refer to children has not been taken very seriously by previous scholarship, perhaps because different Greek words are used in the respective verses. Q 7:31–32 speaks of the παιδία who are like “this generation,” Q 7:35 about the τέκνα of wisdom. Hoffmann suggests that “we will not go wrong if we see in the expression [‘children of Wisdom’] reference to the group of Jesus adherents that stand behind Q … in opposition to this generation” (229–30). The children of 7:32 are precisely those of “this generation.” With notable symmetry, therefore, these children—of “this generation”—are set up over against those of Wisdom. The reasoning is very tight, were it not for the “interruption” of the logic by 7:33–34.

The obvious and critical question is therefore how to account for the placement of 7:33–34 between 7:31–32 and 7:35. If, as so often remarked, 7:33–34 is the pivotal saying that permitted the entire unit (7:31–35) to be integrated into the larger block of Q 7:18–35 and if it holds that the same conglomerate of materials can be shown to be as such the work of Q’s redaction, must we not conclude that 7:33–34 is also therefore most likely due—i.e., written by—the same hand (Kloppenborg, 1987a:111; Wanke: 216; Schürmann, 1975:132; Lührmann, 1969:29–30)? Or was 7:33–34 perhaps an earlier saying later bracketed by 7:31–32 and 7:35 and thus incorporated as an elaborated unit into the redactional composition of 7:18–35? In the first instance, the stratigraphical location of 7:33–34 would be Q2 at the earliest. In the latter, it would be Q2 at the latest, and quite possibly—though now bereft of any larger context—the formative stratum of Q.8

At this point, things become more complex. I remain for the moment at the level of 7:31–35. The first and final verses of this unit cohere well together, but cannot be conjoined as such into a single saying. Their cohesion is rather that of a synthetic literary composition. Both 7:35 and 7:31–32 reflect rhetorical strategies characteristic of Q’s redaction.10 It is notable that they occur here side by side in a complementary way.

On the other hand, as frequently observed, 7:33–34 stands intelligibly on its own (Kloppenborg, 1987a:111). It does not require a further context in order to be understood. Indeed, the present context only complicates our understanding of it. This cannot be said conversely with regard to 7:35. Its point would be quite obscure on its own without some sort of additional material to give substance to its apodictic pronouncement. Like 7:33–34, Q 7:31–32 is also intelligible on its own, but unlike 7:33–34, shows every sign of being a redactional creation. The analogy in 7:32b of the children playing in the marketplace cannot be separated from the preceding question about “this generation” without another referent to replace it.

Thus one is tempted to conclude that 7:33–34, an originally independent saying, was secondarily placed within the later framework created by Q’s redaction between 7:31–32 and 7:35 (much as Mark elsewhere has constructed a narrative ribbing into which he then distributed his various source materials; see, e.g., Mark 6:6b–7, 8–11, 12–13). But where would Q’s redaction have found 7:33–34 as an “originally independent” unit? The saying is unparalleled in other early Christian literature (Kloppenborg, 1988a:61). We cannot speak, therefore, of an independent tradition, or a theme or topic shared by different texts and groups.

This fact might seem to suggest that Q’s redaction is responsible: 7:33–34 should be seen as a saying developed by the Q redactor when s/he put together the various traditions that we find in 7:18–35. After all—returning to an observation already made—were it not for 7:33–34, the larger unit could not have been affixed (at least so facilely) to the preceding composition (7:18–23, 24–28). Although intelligible on its own—a fact agreed with but not to be given any further importance—the exigencies of constructing a more extensive discourse (7:18–35) are to be held as the predominant reason for thinking that 7:33–34 like 7:31–32 and 7:35 is due to Q’s redaction.

But which of the following is more likely: that the Q redactor, when s/he constructed 7:18–35, simultaneously made up not only 7:31–32 but also 7:33–34, thus intentionally—redactionally—creating the different tensions that have so often led scholars to distinguish the sayings as secondarily conjoined; or that the same redactor, in constructing the discourse, used a pre-existing saying (7:33–34) as an anchor, which s/he then elaborated via 7:31–32, 35 and used to conclude the composition begun in 7:18?

Obviously, the final answer to this question will depend on how we imagine the general composition of 7:18–35, i.e., whether or not we think that, though redactionally defined in the end, this part of Q nonetheless contains earlier material that could be ascribed to the document’s formative stratum. It would be premature, in my opinion, to invoke here the concept of “earlier tradition” to explain the different unevennesses that are evident in the text. Furthermore, a stratigraphical analysis consistently applied cannot switch in mid-stream to a discourse based on metaphors of growth and aggregation. But to review further the compositional history of 7:18–35 exceeds the limits of this article.

I will only say, therefore, that I am inclined to find the second possibility more plausible, namely, that 7:33–34 existed in Q before the redactor created 7:18–35. The fact that 7:33–34 is otherwise unparalleled in early Christian literature makes it difficult to argue that the saying was ever “independent” in the form-critical sense of “free-floating.” The most economical solution would be, in my opinion, to recognize in 7:33–34 a saying from Q’s formative stratum; one whose current (secondary) placement at the end of 7:18–35 is both propitious and awkward.

A number of scholars contend that it is unlikely that 7:31–32 was later attached to 7:33–34. Wanke, for example, asks: “Why would anyone have clouded the plain polemic with an unclear image?” (216; see also Kloppenborg, 1987a:111). This perspective, however, assumes that while what 7:33–34 means is clear, the point of 7:31–32 is somehow obscure. But in fact what 7:31–32 means is equally clear: this generation is like children playing in the marketplace. The only real obscurity is what the comparison made in 7:31–32 has to do with 7:33–34, i.e., the problem with which we began. In response to Franz Mussner’s contention that the “choice of terminology [in 7:32] … already has in mind the strict ascetical character of the Baptist and the joyful mealtime behavior of Jesus referred to in the following saying,” Hoffmann opines that “[i]n the event of a forward-looking correspondence, the different sequence of things [in 7:32] could easily have been brought into conformity with what ‘was seen’ to follow [in 7:33–34]” (227 n. 130). But I fail to see how this argument would not equally apply vice versa.

In summary: Only with great difficulty can the saying in 7:33–34 be seen as a creation of Q2 (although it now clearly forms part of the redactional composition, 7:18–35). Neither can it easily be argued that 7:33–34 ever existed independently of Q. Thus, its stratigraphical location as a saying likely was originally Q1 (though the impossibility of discerning where exactly in the earlier document 7:33–34 was placed makes this a somewhat abstract conclusion). This assessment is largely the result of the lack of any other convincing explanation.

2.3.    Q 9:57–58

The current placement of 9:57–58 in Q is obviously secondary, if one conceives the saying as at one time “independent” (Bultmann, 1963:28; Kloppenborg, 1987a:191; cf. Gos. Thom. 86). But there is no reason to conclude that its stratigraphical location was originally later than the document’s formative layer.

Schürmann’s suggestion that 9:57–58 was subsequently added to 9:59–60 (61–62) derives wholly from his method of analysis. Moreover, it is not clear that Schürmann accurately reports the scholarship he cites in support of his position, namely that

[a]s soon as one sees that Luke 9:59–60 par. with Luke 9:61–62 (special material) as a double anecdote previously formed a unit in the Q tradition, one can understand Luke 9:[57–58] as a secondarily constructed introduction to this unit that simultaneously generalizes and provides motivation for what is said in Luke 9:60, 62 (1975:132).

It is, however, hardly certain that 9:61–62 ever belonged to Q, at least not if the total absence of any parallel to it in Matthew is taken as significant.13 Schulz, moreover, to whom Schürmann appeals, in fact holds an opposing view:

The present apophthegm [9:57–60] constitutes a larger compositional unit and contains two parallel scenes … Although both discipleship scenes are intelligible in themselves, one hardly has to think that they were once originally independent apophthegmata. This “double anecdote” certainly carries the theme of discipleship, but probably from the very beginning constituted a tradition-historical unit (435–36).

There are positive reasons for thinking that 9:57–58 was originally part of Q1. One is the coherence that can be demonstrated between this saying and what follows both in 9:59–60 and in 10:2–16, virtually all of which is usually assigned to Q’s initial stratum. To be sure, it is sometimes said that 9:57–58 does not cohere with 9:59–60. Kloppenborg, for example, speaks of a “differing logic and structure” in the two sayings (1987a:191). But what he means by this, if not overly refined, does not suffice, in my opinion, to contradict the strong similarities that hold the sayings together.

As Bultmann (1963:62) and others like Schulz have repeatedly observed, 9:57–58, 59–60 both share the same form. The content of the sayings is furthermore equally concerned about the meaning of “discipleship.” Moreover, while in 9:59–60 this peculiar vocation is distinguished from the usual habits of human society by denial of a basic cultural obligation (the burial of one’s parents), in 9:57–58 the life of the son of man and his (would-be) followers is set over against the natural habits of certain animals. Discipleship is thus revealed by the combination of the two sayings to be neither “nature” nor “culture,” but apparently something else. Finally, it is notable that reference to the “son of man” in 9:58 gives way immediately in 9:59 to the question of “my father.” Following the son of man displaces the filial relationship between child and parent. This theme is discussed elsewhere as well in Q1 (e.g., 14:26–27). Differences in the two sayings’ style of argument cannot undo these other bonds. As for the coherence between 9:57–58 and 10:2–12, Collins rightly observes that

[l]ack of a home in the Son of Man saying is indeed analogous to various elements of the missionary speech: carrying no purse, bag, or sandals (Luke 10:4 par.), traveling from town to town, being dependent on hospitality and vulnerable to rejection and thus to lack of shelter (Luke 10:5–8, 10 par.).

With the sole exception of Luke 10:8, every verse from 10:2–16 discussed by Collins belongs to the text’s formative stratum (Vaage, 1987:72–300). That, as Collins (377) goes on to say, “the link between the Son of Man saying (Matt 8:19–20/Luke 9:57–58) and the missionary speech is secondary in relation to the link between that saying and the one about the dead burying the dead” simply means that a certain compositional skill is evident also at this level of the document. The stratigraphical location of 9:57–58 is thus Q1 (cf. Tödt: 120–21). Notably, the “son of man” is used here in a way similar to that of 7:34.

2.4.    Q 11:30

There is widespread agreement that 11:30 did not originally follow 11:29, i.e., that the saying is a secondary addition to 11:29. Indeed, assuming that Luke’s version of the saying corresponds to Q, Kloppenborg writes that “[t]he correlative [11:30] is constructed specifically as the explanation of 11:29, repeating the key words σημεῖον, Ἰωνᾶς and γενεὰ αὕτη.” If we accept the consensus as correct, the only remaining question would be whether or not Q’s redaction is responsible for the addition.

Many scholars assume that 11:30 was added to 11:29 “early”—rather than “later on”—in “the tradition.” The principal reason is 11:31–32 or the fact that immediately after 11:30 there occur two other related sayings (Kloppenborg, 1987a:130). The current literary sequence of 11:29–32 is thus thought to represent chronological stages of composition (Schürmann, 1975:134; Wanke: 220; Kloppenborg, 1987a:124). But is this the case? It is certainly not a necessary or inevitable conclusion, given the possibility of a redactional insertion of a saying into a pre-existing combination (see, e.g., Q 7:27). We must take a closer look at the relationship between 11:31–32 and what precedes it (11:29, 30).

Both Lührmann (1969:41–42) and Richard Edwards think that 11:29c or the concluding phrase, “except the sign of Jonah,” together with 11:30 represent the lynch pin of 11:29–32 as a redactional composition. Both conclude that this complex of sayings was created in a single moment: 11:29ab (cf. Mark 8:12) and 11:31–32 were originally distinct and separate sayings; 11:29c with 11:30 is an ad hoc creation of the Q-redactor. Edwards contends that

the expansion of the saying about refusing a sign into the Sign of Jonah saying is a clarification of the enigmatic conclusion to the Ninevite comparison in the double saying: “A greater thing than Jonah is here” (Luke 11:32 = Matt 12:41). The limited greatness of Jonah is his preaching, therefore the absolute greatness must be stated.

But not everyone agrees. Schürmann, for example, has a different view.

A secondary insertion of Luke 11:30 par. between Luke 11:29 par. 31–32 par. instead of the son of man—”more than Jonah”—in agreement with 11:31 most likely would have introduced more clearly the earthly Jesus calling Israel to repentance (as the verse in its current Lukan context also probably ought to be understood). That previously, therefore, Luke 11:29 already served to introduce 11:31–32 (cf. v. 32: Jonah) before v. 30 was added is difficult to conceive (1975:134).

But as Collins rightly points out,

Schürmann, however, did not pay sufficient attention to the fact that vv. 31–32 claim that something greater (pleion) than Jonah is here, not someone (pleiōn). Even though vv. 31–32 are placed in the mouth of Jesus, the use of the neuter allows a broader reference than one to the person of the earthly Jesus alone … Since vv. 31–32 need not refer narrowly to the earthly Jesus in a minimally or pre-Christological sense, the possibility that v. 30 was added by the editor of Q cannot be excluded (377–78; cf. Wanke: 220–21).

There are other reasons why Schürmann’s perspective is unconvincing. For Lührmann, Edwards, and Collins to be correct, Schürmann thinks that a stricter correspondence would be necessary between mention of the son of man in 11:30 and the subsequent (presumed) reference in 11:31 (sic! 11:32?) to the earthly Jesus. But why? Instead of originally elaborating the equation of Jonah and the son of man in 11:30, why could πλεῖον in 11:31–32 not recall the similarly neuter noun σημεῖον in 11:29? The “sign” (of Jonah) mentioned in 11:29c would then (not quite exactly) correspond to whatever in 11:31–32 is “greater than” Solomon and Jonah. Any incongruity that exists between mention of the son of man in 11:30 and that of “something greater” in 11:31–32 would simply reveal that the insertion of 11:30 between 11:29 and 11:31–32 paid more attention to the preceding verse than to the subsequent ones.

Wanke claims that 11:30 was most likely added to 11:29 before 11:31–32 was attached to both, because “in the double saying Jesus is compared to Jonah only as a preacher of judgment (unsuccessful to boot), whereas in the Deutespruch [11:30] it is the coming son of man who is related to Jonah” (220). Wanke assumes here that reference to the son of man is somehow self-evidently antecedent to reflection on Jesus as a preacher of judgment. But why make this assumption? Does it not in fact make as much sense to imagine Jonah serving first in 11:31–32 as a terrestrial analogue to Jesus before the celestial leap of imagination in 11:30 that compares the prophet Jonah to the son of man?

Lührmann’s thesis has already been cited regarding 7:31–32 that finds in the expression “this generation” and related themes one of the hallmarks of Q’s redaction. The term “this generation” occurs repeatedly in 11:29–32. In addition, 11:31–32 speaks explicitly about “the judgment,” something Kloppenborg (1987a) has shown to be likewise characteristic of the same stratum. If 11:30 is still seen as secondarily conjoined to 11:29, the stratigraphical location of 11:30 can therefore be no earlier than Q’s redaction. If Lührmann and Edwards are correct that 11:29c–30 is, in fact, the means by which 11:29–32 was put together, then Q2 is the saying’s specific point of origin.

2.5    Q 12:8–9

Kloppenborg summarizes the main reasons for thinking that 12:8–9 was added to the preceding group of sayings (12:2–7) by Q’s redaction.

Although composed of originally independent sayings, 12:2–7 has a unitary thrust. With Q 12:8–9, however, new motifs and interests appear. As Lührmann notes, 12:8–9 has to do with confession rather than preaching. Moreover, the confession has an explicit christological focus lacking in the preceding material. Formally, too, 12:8–9 is distinctive. Widely regarded as a “sentence of Holy Law” with its origin in prophetic speech, it moves beyond the essentially sapiential idiom of 12:2–7, introducing the motif of apocalyptic reward and punishment. The addition of 12:8–9 was undoubtedly occasioned by the forensic allusions in 12:4 and especially 12:11–12. As Lührmann points out, 12:8–9 is not simply a warning against apostasy, directed at the community members who find themselves under examination in the synagogues. It is a warning to the hearers of the community’s preachers. As with the addition of 10:12, 13–15 to the mission instructions, which shifted the focus from the community itself to the targets of its preaching, 12:8–9 effects a similar shift from community to outsiders (Kloppenborg, 1987a:211; see also Collins: 378–79; Schürmann, 1975:136).

A few other incidental remarks might be made along the same lines. Lührmann, for example, suggests that it was “apparently the sense of promise in Luke 12:8/Matt 10:32 that made the addition [of 12:8–9] possible.” Lührmann also writes that “[i]t is striking that Luke 12:8–9/Matt 10:32–33 is not added as justification of fearlessness, which in itself would have fit well.”

A. J. B. Higgins notes that “[t]here are only two examples of sentences of holy law with the Son of man as subject, Luke 12:8 and Mark 8:38. Both of them resemble the eschatological correlative” (108). What is relevant here is Higgin’s observation that 12:8–9 has certain stylistic peculiarities. The “eschatological correlative” is also found in Q 11:30; 17:24, 26, 30. Insofar as these other sayings also derive from Q’s redaction, the formal similarities between them could then serve as circumstantial evidence that the stratigraphical location of each (including 12:8–9) is Q2. The reasoning, however, remains circular.

The fact that in earlier quests of the historical Jesus, 12:8–9 was thought to be of singular importance cannot be cited to oppose its secondary stratigraphical location in Q, insofar as the methodological perspectives that directed those investigations simply did not reckon with this kind of analysis. Indeed, here is precisely one of the more striking consequences of a stratigraphical analysis of the son of man sayings in Q. The long-standing assumption of New Testament scholarship that 12:8–9 is an “early” “authentic” saying has been called into question. Everything suggests that these verses are instead a late addition to Q made at the time of the document’s second-stage revision.

2.6    Q 12:10

The stratigraphical location of 12:10 is very uncertain, though it is difficult to see how it could be argued that this saying once formed part of the document’s formative stratum. It is most improbable that 12:10 originally followed 12:8–9, which it flatly contradicts. Q 12:8–9 insists on the importance of confessing the son of man; 12:10 asserts precisely the opposite: that you can say whatever you want about him, the only relationship that counts is with the holy spirit. At the same time, it is evident that 12:10 is where it is in Q in order to comment on and qualify the preceding saying.19

If 12:8–9 was added to Q with the document’s secondary stratum, 12:10 can then be placed no earlier than this redaction. But if, as seems to be the case, it is difficult to imagine that the person who contributed 12:8–9 to Q was also responsible for negating the import of that contribution in the next breath, then 12:10 perhaps needs to be read as an even later commentary. It may be a Q3 gloss like those of 11:42c and 16:17.

2.7    Q 12:39–40

Once again Kloppenborg summarizes well the sensus communis:

As many have noted, 12:39–40 is itself a secondary composition. The parable (12:39) has to do with the prevention of a theft through foresight and watchfulness. But 12:40 implies that the coming of the Son of Man cannot be foreseen nor its catastrophic results prevented. The Gos. Thom. [21b] contains the parable of the thief, without a parallel to the Son of Man saying in Q 12:40 … In view of the inconsistency in logic between v. 39 and v. 40 and the fact that the parable occurs elsewhere without the Son of Man saying, we must conclude that the Son of Man saying was a secondary interpretation of the parable. It must be assumed, however, that 12:40 was already attached to 12:39 prior to its association with the following materials, since the basis of that association is undoubtedly the statement, “You do not know in what hour (or day) the Son of Man (or Lord) is coming” (12:40, 46).

Only Kloppenborg’s final statement is not strictly true. For one could also assume that 12:40 was attached to 12:39 at the same time that these verses were combined with the following materials for precisely the reasons Kloppenborg states. In fact, Kloppenborg argues that 12:39–59 as a whole is a redactional composition secondarily added to the group of sayings in 12:22–34 from Q’s formative stratum. Q 12:39 is key, for the various catchword connections between the two sections all have to do with this verse.

Q 12:39–40 is attached to 12:33–34 on the basis of two catchwords, κλέπτης (Matt 6:19, 20 // Luke 12:33, 39) and διορύσσω (Matt 6:19, 20 // Luke 12:39). The artificial nature of this association is evident not only in the radical difference in tone between the two sections, but also in the fact that 12:33–34 concerns acquiring treasure which a thief cannot steal, while 12:39 deals with measures to present an actual theft (Kloppenborg, 1987a:149).

Collins has made similar observations:

The unit about the thief … may be in its present position because of a catchword association with the preceding saying about treasure … which mentions a thief (thieves in Matthew). Alternatively, it may have been placed before the admonition about the faithful and wise slave/steward (Matt 24:45–51/Luke 12:42–46) as its introduction. In that case, the Son of Man saying would serve as an allegorizing interpretation of the master (kyrios) in the admonition and would be constitutive of its meaning at a relatively late stage of the process of transmission (381).

In other words, the combination of 12:39, 40 is the critical link in the sequence of sayings that begins at 12:22–31, 33–34 with a discussion of why not to worry about food and clothing, treasure and loss, and ends in 12:42–46 with a parable of watchfulness plus other sayings (12:51–59). While 12:39 recalls the language of 12:33–34, 12:40 both elaborates this saying (12:39) and at the same time serves to link it with what follows. Thus, 12:40 is especially important for the joining of the two sets of discourse. Lacking any close parallel in early Christian literature (Kloppenborg, 1988a:139) there is every reason to assume that 12:40 was created precisely for this purpose by the Q redactor. The saying’s stratigraphical location is Q2.

2.8    Q 17:23–24, 26–28

This final set of son of man sayings inaugurates what is sometimes called the “logia apocalypse.” With the exception of 9:57–58, these are the only son of man sayings that appear at the beginning of one of the document’s major units. All the other son of man sayings in Q are either wedged into encompassing speeches and sayings or are attached in one way or another to the end of a distinct discourse. The observation of dis/continuity as a prime marker of redactional/original inclusion in Q is thus rendered virtually inapplicable. Only if we were to assume for other reasons that the formative stratum of Q concluded before this section (i.e., 17:23–37) might it be possible to speak of these sayings and what follows as similarly “appended” to a prior composition.

At the same time, 17:23 does not obviously elaborate any immediately antecedent discourse in Q. How 17:24 in turn relates to 17:23 is difficult to assess, because the original wording of 17:23 is most uncertain. The post-positive γάρ in 17:24 could suggest that this saying was secondarily added to whatever came before it (cf. Rigaux: 415; Schnackenburg: 222; Schürmann, 1975:139). While the related sayings in 17:26, 30 lack this conjunction, the other “eschatological correlative” in Q (11:30) likewise begins with γάρ, precisely because it was subsequently affixed to the preceding saying. In the end, Kloppenborg seems to agree.

In the case of Q 11:30, there is good reason to suppose that it was deliberately created as an Interpretament for 11:29. With Q 17:24 the case is not so clear cut, since 17:24 does not obviously build on the vocabulary of 17:23. There is, moreover, an intriguing parallel to 17:24 found at Qumran [4QpsDan Aa = 4Q246].… The fact that the correlative appears in an eschatological context raises the possibility that Q 17:24 was not a Christian creation ex nihilo, but an adaptation of a current apocalyptic slogan. In Q it serves to provide a positive counterpart for 17:23 in terms of Son of Man eschatology: do not attend to earthly messianic figures; the Son of Man will come as a heavenly figure!

The fact that 17:23 originates in the polemic against false messiahs, while 17:24 reflects the realm of Son of Man speculations, indicates that 17:23 was not always found alongside 17:24. The absence of a counterpart for 17:24 in the Markan version of the saying points to the same conclusion.

Without obvious transition but with clear symmetry of form and content, 17:26–30 comes immediately on the heels of 17:23–24. The result is a single clump of two (three) son of man sayings huddled together towards the end of the document. Together, they compose a set of variations on a single theme.24 As noted already, however, except for 17:23 and the related but separate sayings in 17:34–35, 37b, no larger literary context is apparent in which to place the discourse (i.e., 17:24, 26–30).

It might be argued that this final dyad (triad) of son of man sayings was put where we find it in Q in the absence of any more suitable context for it (cf. Schürmann, 1975:140). The three sayings as a group help to “cap off” the announcement of judgment with which the redaction of Q began its expanded text (3:7–9, 16–17) and otherwise disseminated throughout it (Lührmann, 1969:74–75; Kloppenborg, 1987a:166–70). If so, then the stratigraphical ocation of these sayings would also be Q2.

3. The Son of Man Sayings in Q: A Synthesis

Using stratigraphical analysis, I have surveyed all the son of man sayings in Q, asking to which stratum of the document each should be ascribed. The criteria used to make this decision are compositional and conceivably applicable to any text that has passed through more than one edition. Especially significant in this regard are (1) the additive appearance of a saying in its present literary context, and (2) evidence of its belonging to a larger rhetorical strategy throughout the document. The majority of the son of man sayings considered in this way were seen in their immediate context most likely to belong to Q’s secondary stratum. I will now look at the same sayings in terms of their relationship with one another as a definable group, thus considering in greater detail the possibility of their being a particular (redactional) discursive formation.

About twenty years ago, R. Edwards (1969; 1971:47–58) observed that almost half of the son of man sayings in Q share a distinctive form he called—wrongly in the view of some—the “eschatological correlative.” Edwards improperly claimed, moreover, that it was unique to Q (Schmidt). It cannot be denied, however, that Edwards rightly saw a kinship of style linking 11:30 and 17:24, 26, 30, a style which we might less theologically refer to as reasoning by direct analogy: just as this, so that. Edwards, unfortunately, was more interested in the eschatological quality of these sayings than in the rhetorical character of their correspondence.

In fact, the sayings cohere together as a group not only formally but also materially. I have in mind specifically the way in which they all make use of biblical tradition and metaphors of violence. In both 11:30 and 17:26–30, well known persons and their different histories are used to threaten judgment and destruction. Just as the story of Noah (17:26–27) was one of global doom and the figure of Jonah (11:30) heralded Nineveh’s demise, so will the arrival of the son of man spell deep distress.

This threatening use of biblical lore occurs elsewhere in Q’s redaction (cf. Lührmann, 1969:75, 98–99). Except for Solomon in 12:27, every other reference in Q to a person or group of persons from the Bible is part of a condemnatory invective. In 3:8, calling Abraham one’s father is rejected as an adequate defense in the face of the impending wrath. In 11:51 (part of the woes against the Pharisees) the blood of Abel through that of a certain Zechariah is cited against this generation. In 22:30 thrones are promised on which to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. In 11:31–32 the encounter of Solomon with the queen of the south and that of Jonah with the citizens of Nineveh means a negative verdict for this generation on the day of judgment.

While the other two son of man sayings from this group (12:39–40; 17:24) do not refer explicitly to the Bible, the analogies they make to the son of man share the biblical references’ same sense of violence and destruction. Thus in 12:39–40 the advent of the son of man is like the breaking and entering of a thief into a house. In 17:24 the flash of lightning—a metaphor of natural menace—constitutes a similar comparison.

A second set of sayings (6:22–23; 12:8–9, 10) discuss the implications of one’s relationship to the son of man. Like the preceding group, these sayings do not indicate who the son of man is. Rather, what is discussed are the consequences of association/dissociation with him. A situation of social conflict is apparent, at whose center stands this person. Thus, in 6:22–23 oppression suffered “on account of the son of man” is promised a great reward in heaven. In 12:8–9 acknowledgement versus denial of “me” directly determines what the son of man will do for you above.

The meaning of one’s (lack of) identification with the son of man is also discussed in 12:10. But, as already noted, the conclusions drawn here are precisely contrary to those stated in the preceding saying (12:8–9). Q 12:10 implies that ultimately one’s relationship with the son of man makes no difference; everything will be forgiven. What matters is how you get on with the holy spirit. The saying (12:10) is in this regard quite anomalous.

In the second set of sayings (6:22–23; 12:8–9, 10) the son of man is active in heaven. Behavior by human beings here on earth is noteworthy because of the reciprocal response above. This contrasts with the son of man’s arena of efficacy in the first group of sayings (11:30; 12:40; 17:24, 26–30). There the son of man’s significance was felt on earth after his arrival from heaven.

But no real contradiction exists between the two groups of sayings. Instead, they complement each other. The judgment of this generation and the earth that comes with the son of man will also mean for those whose relationship with him was one of acknowledgment and perseverance a great reward and their own recognition in heaven. Together, the two groups of sayings betray an apocalyptic sensibility grappling with its social world’s (imagined) downfall and hoping not to fail with it. The figure of the son of man expresses this desire, contributing at the same time to Q’s redactional program of “mythification.”

The son of man is not alone at the secondary stage of Q, but rather one of a coterie of quasi-abstract, larger-than-life figures introduced into the document by this stratum. Besides the son of man, there is as well “this generation,” Wisdom and “her children,” “the prophets,” “the son,” and “he who is coming.” The subject of another essay, a longer look at the way the son of man belongs to the larger argument engendered by this secondary cast of characters would help to detail the discernible shift in reflective style from Q1 to Q2 as well as raise the question of the precise socio-political significance of such a modulation.

Only two son of man sayings belong to Q’s formative stratum. These are 7:33–34 and 9:57–58. In both sayings, the son of man is implicitly identified. In 7:33–34 he is John’s opposite; perhaps by extension, his counterpart. In 9:57–58 the same son of man is unlike certain animals, specifically, foxes and birds. In neither saying is there any suggestion that the son of man should arrive shortly or suddenly with concomitant cosmic judgment and salvation.

In 7:33–34 and 9:57–58 someone of much less regal or divine stature is held up as the son of man for consideration and characterization. His behavior is notably unorthodox, having neither the serious ascetic demon-possessed demeanor of a prophet like John nor the least trace of a “civilized”—”natural”—way of being. The son of man is in this instance simultaneously an eater and drinker to excess, carousing with socially disreputable types, and wont to spend the night wherever it finds him (or he happens to fall down, if what is said of him in 7:34 was true). Why a character of this sort would be called the son of man is hard to know, though “nicknames” and their like often have a touch of oddness to them (if we are not immediately driven to assume that the term “son of man” was self-evidently and necessarily imbued from the beginning with the ontological weight of a title; more, in any case, is said of this below).

4. The Son of Man Sayings in Q: Significance

The results of the preceding discussion call into question a number of long-standing ideas about the son of man in early Christianity. We have seen, for example, that instead of those sayings in Q which speak of him as an eschatological actor being chronologically prior to those that refer to his present activity, the opposite is true. Those that have the son of man very much down to earth are stratigraphically earlier in Q, while the sayings which portend a celestial being’s imminent advent come later. What does this mean for assumptions about the historical Jesus that presuppose an apocalyptical fervor at the origin of everything?

If inclusion of the son of man sayings in the document is essentially a feature of Q’s secondary redaction, its formative stratum by contrast is the privileged domain of almost every reference in Q to the kingdom of God. This fall-out is more than interesting. What does the division in discourse mean? Again a full discussion of the matter exceeds the limits of the present essay. But some comment is needed.

The kingdom of God sayings in Q1 encapsulate the way of life of the persons whom this stratum represents. The term “kingdom of God” serves to express a sense of their ethos’ ultimate value and correctness. Far from symbolizing divine supremacy or rule, the kingdom of God denotes, as in the self-understanding of certain Cynics, the self-validation of an otherwise socially heterodox comportment. Thoroughly self-referential, it has nothing to do with eschatological revelation or consummation. Temporally speaking, there is no horizon beyond today (see, 11:2–3; 12:28–31; Vaage, 1986; 1987:431–92).

With Q’s redaction, however, especially in the son of man sayings that belong to it, the future becomes the focus. Instead of defending the secondary stratum’s social posture on the basis of intrinsic merit, ideological support is sought for it elsewhere. Someone from another time and place, namely, the son of man will come to set things right.

The son of man does this at the redactional level of Q in one of two ways, either consoling with the hope of vindication (6:22–23; 12:8) or embodying the threat of retribution (11:30; 12:9, 40; 17:24, 26–30). In the first instance, the implied reader is a beleaguered set of persons; in the second, those who are beleaguering them. He is an apologetic type: one way of objectifying those whom Q’s redaction represents for purposes of self-justification.

In every case, the figure’s contribution to the saying itself is quite abstract; we would even say mathematical, providing an unseen but implied point of reference, rather like the vanishing point in later painting. And because the son of man consistently has no other function than this in these sayings, the point of reference to him always remains the same. Logically, in every case we could replace the “son of man” with an x and still grasp whatever is at stake.

The only thing added by the actual words “son of man” in the text of Q’s redaction is semantic contact with a certain intertextual (apocalyptic) field of play. The name allows a set of associations to be made, giving the interested imagination (e.g., that of New Testament scholars) a range to fill in the blank. Debating, then, which set of associations “fits best” is the art of interpretation, the source of polemic, the mechanism of group boundary definition, and the way we write history.

A debate that quickly fizzled out in antiquity, it flared back like the phoenix into prominence with the “rediscovery” of early Christian apocalypticism at the end of the nineteenth century. If it fizzles out again, it will be because the mythological construction that this figure represents, at least in Q, has been seen for what it is: a rather rude deus ex machina employed by the first Galilean followers of Jesus to imagine their own salvation as a group, not knowing apparently what else to do.

At Q’s formative level, the “son of man” has a somewhat different meaning, if only because in 7:33–34; 9:57–58 the identity of this person is implied. Use of the term “son of man” in these two instances is tinged with a peculiarity that resists reduction to a function.

Presumably, of course, more than a few persons in antiquity were drunks and gluttons, able to be seen in the presence of tax-collectors and sinners; but the “son of man” in 7:34 does not mean only “whoever eats and drinks to excess with companions of dubitable reputation” but, specifically, the particular person whose behavior otherwise admitted comparison with John, hence the import of the cited contrast. Likewise, the son of man in 9:58 would not have been the only human being that slept on the ground. But the “son of man” refers here to a particular person whom others otherwise might have chosen to follow (9:57).

Obviously, if the structural analysis of language has any truth to it at all, every statement can ultimately be reduced to the mathematical play of (binary) oppositions. But in the case of 7:33–34; 9:57–58, especially if we can assume a concrete historical context for Q’s formative stratum, use of the term “son of man” denotes something (someone) more specific. The explicit reference to Jesus in 9:57 suggests that in 7:34; 9:58 he is the son of man.

It may seem strange that in 7:34 the son of man is described as a licentious person, only to be followed immediately in 9:58 by a reference to the same person’s austere sleeping habits. Is this not a contradiction in terms, to imagine someone who was simultaneously both a noted carouser and an apparent ascetic? It may be for us an impossible contradiction. But it was not so in antiquity, at least not in the comparable case of Diogenes the Cynic, whose reputation had him both “roughing it” in different ways and at the same time wont to consume more than the indicated amounts of food and drink in diverse companies. In any case, 7:33–34; 9:57–58 are equally united with other sayings from Q1 by a transgressive quality that, in my estimation, makes the surface variation in detail between them of cumulative interest, but not otherwise a problem (Vaage, 1989b).

A few remarks on how the findings of this essay relate to previous scholarship on the son of man, taking as exemplary the work of Norman Perrin. It was Perrin’s conviction that reference to Jesus as the son of man stemmed from early Christian pesher-exegesis of the Scriptures in the wake of Jesus’ death and the “experience of the resurrection.” Perrin could not be aware of recent research that makes clear the inappropriateness of simply assuming knowledge of or concern about Jesus’ death and resurrection in Q (Kloppenborg, 1990). But what happens to Perrin’s thesis if reference to the son of man is not self-evidently grounded in grappling with the meaning of those primordial events?

A glance at the texts Perrin cites in support of his position leaves no doubt that Perrin’s conclusions were understood by him to describe the evolution of pre-documentary tradition. This, however, is precisely what stratigraphical analysis suggests cannot coherently be done. To ask about the stratigraphical location of the son of man sayings in Q is precisely to take scholarly discussion of them out of the profound but very muddy waters of “oral” transmission and development and suggest that, at least for the time being, it would be better to let our gaze rest on the undoubtedly shallower, but infinitely clearer literary sources (though I would hardly say that Q is crystalline in its formation). Doing this has led to the conclusion that except for 7:33–34; 9:57–58, the son of man sayings in Q are all secondary additions to the document. For the same reason, Schürmann’s (1975) contention that all the son of man sayings in Q are later than the formative stage of oral aggregation but prior to the final stage of literary composition cannot be accepted.

Another glance at the texts Perrin cites in support of his position reveals that none of them (specifically, Dan 7:13–14; Ps 110:1; Mark 13:26; 14:62) is found in Q at all.29 There is absolutely no evidence in the document for the kind of exegetical reflection that Perrin thought essential to the development of this tradition in early Christianity. The biblical personages that otherwise flicker on Q’s emerging mythological screen are invoked as folkloric figures. Neither they nor the son of man show signs of being the result of a more detailed or intricate scriptural investigation and stitchery. Perrin’s position may be correct for Mark and that document’s peculiar mode of mythmaking. But as a description of the way the son of man was introduced into early Christian reflection, it founders utterly on Q.

At the same time, the results of this essay essentially confirm the insight of Helmut Koester regarding the import of the single son of man saying in the Gos. Thom. (86), which corresponds to Q 9:57–58 (1971b:170–71; 1971c:213–14). It was Koester’s contention—made in tradition-historical terms—that the one and only son of man saying in the Gos. Thom. shows that the son of man sayings in Q were added to that document at a later developmental stage. The accuracy of this deduction can now be affirmed on a quite different methodological basis.

5. Conclusion

I began by briefly suggesting the coeval irrelevance and importance of the figure of the son of man in early Christianity and New Testament scholarship, noting at the same time the significance of recent stratigraphical theories regarding Q for the discussion of any discourse in the document. After defining more precisely how the stratigraphical location of a given saying is determined, and the great divergences in analytic method between this essay and that of earlier writings on the son of man, I examined separately each son of man saying in Q, and then the interrelationships among them as a definable group of utterance. Last but not least, I assessed aspects of their significance for our understanding of early Christian history. The son of man sayings in 6:22–23; 11:30; 12:8–9, 40; 17:24, 26–30 all belong to Q’s redaction. Those found in 9:57–58 and 7:33–34 (with less certainty) are part of the document’s formative stratum. Q 12:10 is most peculiar and could very well be a gloss made at the time of Q’s tertiary revision.

Blessings and Boundaries: Interpretations of Jesus’ Death in Q

David Seeley

Miami University


This article maintains that Q 14:27 is the earliest interpretation of Jesus’ death in Q, and that it functions in accordance with the pattern of the philosopher’s noble death. The noble death is held in both Cynic and Stoic circles of the first century CE as a model to be re-enacted imaginatively by students of philosophy. Those who do so gain the strength to re-enact it literally. If one is capable of dying for one’s philosophy, then one has become a true philosopher. The congruence between 14:27 and a reconstructed version of Q 6:22–23 helps establish the early dating of the former, since the latter has been persuasively identified as part of the earliest stratum of Q. The reference to prophets in 6:23c is shown to be a transitional phase between the noble death and the later, Deuteronomistic-prophetic outlook. This outlook is used by the later strata of Q as a context for the Q community’s sense of rejection and, it seems, for Jesus’ death. Q 7:31–35 demonstrates the outlook emerging, 11:47–51 contains a hardened form of it, and 13:34–35 evinces a late, somewhat moderated version. Throughout, the methodology employed to determine the relative age of a pericope centers on the issue of boundary formation. The assumption is that as the Q community developed, it experienced more and more friction with competing groups and so erected stronger and stronger boundaries to mark off its own identity against them.

0. Introduction

While Q never comments explicitly on Jesus’ death, there are a handful of passages (6:22–23; 7:31–35; 11:47–51; 13:34–35; 14:27) which treat the subjects of persecution and death in a way that could readily have been applied to his demise. These passages are, however, quite diverse in outlook and function. This diversity makes it hard to believe that they come from the same literary stratum.

The present article will show why Q 14:27 should be considered the earliest of the passages just listed. It will also show why the Q texts that concern the rejection and the killing of the prophets and perhaps, by extension, Jesus’ death ought to be regarded as later. It will do so by demonstrating that 14:27 is not indebted to any of the boundary formation procedures attached to those possible allusions (Q 7:31–35, 11:47–51, 13:34–35). Q 14:27 concerns itself not with boundaries between the Q group and its enemies but with the moral achievement that should distinguish a member of the Q group. In this, the verse bears comparison to Cynicism and Stoicism, neither of which is particularly interested in the problem of social boundary formation. Indeed, according to these philosophical schools, the sage should assiduously avoid such activity. By contrast, Q 7:31–35, 11:47–51, and 13:34–35 evince the Deuteronomistic-prophetic outlook, which draws lines between the Q community and its enemies. It seems logical to regard as early those parts of Q that do not set boundaries. Presumably, they pertain to a period in the life of the community when the tensions separating it from its opponents had not yet arisen. Conversely, signs of such tensions would seem to signal relative lateness.

That 14:27 should be the earliest interpretation of Jesus’ death in Q makes a difference in how we conceive of Christian origins. In this verse, we find a style of thought familiar from Cynic and Stoic schools. That fact, in turn, suggests that even the first strata of Christianity were more open to Hellenistic influences than has often been thought (Seeley, 1992:nn. 30–32).

1. Q 14:27 and the Philosopher’s Noble Death

Below is Kloppenborg’s translation of the Matthean and Lukan versions of Q 14:27 (1990d:67). Boldface indicates identical wording.

And whoever does not take

Whoever does not bear his

his cross and follow after

own cross and come after me

me is not worthy of me.

is not able to be my disciple.

I discuss elsewhere the reconstruction of Q 14:27, along with its possible relations to Mark 8:34 and Gos. Thom. 55 (Seeley, 1992). Here, a brief summary of the argument is sufficient. The basic meaning of Q 14:27 is this: to associate with Jesus in an authentic way, one must carry the cross and travel the path he walked. Two points are important here. First, regardless of whether or not Q 14:27 derives from the historical Jesus (Vaage, 1989b:175), and regardless of what σταυρός originally meant, there is little doubt that to any Christian living after the death of Jesus, “to bear one’s cross” could signify the imitation of that death. Second, although 14:27 ought therefore to be interpreted as including the idea of literal crucifixion, its focus on discipleship indicates that it also envisions a constant readiness to re-enact such an end. After all, any movement which was satisfied only with the literal execution of its adherents would itself soon perish. The worthy disciple is thus to be constantly aware, not only of death, but death in its grisliest, most dishonorable form. Now, these two points suggest a certain kinship between Q 14:27 and Cynic and Stoic ideas about a philosopher’s noble death.

According to Cynic and Stoic circles of the first century CE, it is the readiness to follow a teacher in suffering or even death that qualifies one as a true philosopher. This belief is based on the following sequence of logic: (1) a true philosopher seeks what is right; (2) the worst threat one can face in this search is that of suffering and death; (3) if one can continue the search even unto death, then one’s status as a true philosopher is beyond challenge. The question is, how does one arrive at a readiness to endure the worst? Such a state is not easy to achieve. The answer: one imaginatively re-enacts the noble death of a model by hearing or reading the story of it. One thereby gains the fortitude to face death literally, if necessary. This explains the frequency with which such stories are encountered. The more often one imaginatively re-enacts the deaths of great teachers or models, the more often one proleptically enacts one’s own death for the sake of philosophy, and the less daunting such a prospect becomes.

An extensive account of this notion has been given elsewhere (Seeley, 1990a:113–41; cf. also Seeley, 1992). It will suffice here to refer to an epistle of Seneca, who writes to encourage his friend Lucilius not to worry over a lawsuit. The path to serenity is simple, Seneca avers: picture to yourself the worst that can happen. Soberly take its measure, and “You will thus understand that what you fear is either insignificant or short-lived” (Seneca, Epistulae morales 24.2). There are plenty of exempla available for imagining such a worst-case scenario. Seneca names Rutilius, Metellus, Socrates, and Mucius. He knows that this kind of thinking is so common as to be a cliché: ” ‘Oh,’ say you, ‘Those stories have been droned to death in all the schools; pretty soon, when you reach the topic “On Despising Death,” you will be telling me about Cato’ ” (Seneca, Epistulae morales 24.6). Still, the frequency with which the lesson has been taught does not make it any less valid, and so Seneca does tell Lucilius about Cato. He recommends the great Roman’s death as an exemplum to steel the heart.

Now it is true that Cato is not usually regarded as a philosopher. That, of course, need not keep Seneca from using his demise as an object lesson. But there is also evidence that Seneca treats Cato precisely as one who exemplifies the virtues of a philosopher: (1) he considers him alongside Socrates; and (2) in 24.7–8, he describes Cato’s life and even his death as on behalf of the principle of freedom. In any event, it is clear that by imaginatively re-enacting the noble man’s end, strength will be gained to face instruments of torture and death without fear (Seneca, Epistulae morales 24.14). One will become worthy of even so august a forerunner. The picking up of a cross is not mentioned, but it would not have looked at all out of place here.

The same basic pattern is at work in Q 14:27. The mark of Jesus’ worthy follower or true disciple is carrying the cross and following him. That is, a willingness to die like the model qualifies one as a true Christian. Only in Cynic and Stoic circles do we find such a willingness put forward as a test to determine who is authentic and who is false. That the similarity between 14:27 and Cynic and Stoic thought is a coincidence strains credulity. Given the lack of any other source for this view, and the accessibility of centers of Hellenistic philosophy from most locations in Galilee (D. Edwards; Overman; Seeley, 1992), one must grant the possibility that Q 14:27 reflects the influence of Cynic and Stoic popular philosophy.

2. Q 14:27 in Light of Q 6:22–23

The hypothesis that Q 14:27 is early and reflects the influence of Cynic and Stoic views on death finds support in Kloppenborg’s (1986) exegesis of Q 6:22–23. As a result of his exegesis, these verses can be seen to have provided for the Q community an ethic which would have made the call to emulate Jesus’ death quite natural. Kloppenborg argues that: (1) from the point of view of stratigraphy, Q 6:22–23 belongs to the formative stage of Q; and (2) from the point of view of vocabulary and construction, it reflects a Cynic ethos. If such an ethic did indeed pertain at an early level of the Q community, then a Cynic sort of reference to the teacher’s death in 14:27 would hardly be surprising.

In what follows, I shall briefly summarize Kloppenborg’s article and add several points of clarification. He reconstructs and translates Q 6:22–23 as follows (1986:44):

22a    Blessed are you when they hate you and exclude (persecute?) you,

b    and reproach (you) and cast out your name as evil

c    on account of the Son of Man.

23a    Rejoice and be glad,

b    for your reward is great in heaven;

c    for thus they did to the prophets (who were before you?).

There are two parts of this passage that Kloppenborg peels away as later additions. The first is 22c. Colpe has pointed out that phrases beginning with ἔνεκεν (on account of) and alluding to Jesus seem secondary. For example, in the saying on gaining and losing one’s life, Matt 10:39 and Mark 8:35 have “on account of me,” while both Luke 17:33 and John 12:25 lack this phrase and appear to be more primitive versions (Kloppenborg, 1986:45; cf. Colpe:443 n.308). In an analogous fashion, neither version of the persecution beatitude in Gos. Thom. 68 or 69a refers to the Son of Man. Further, Schürmann’s (1975) findings on the lateness of the Q Son of Man sayings, and the brusque fashion in which “Son of Man” is mentioned here both suggest that 22c is secondary.

The other part of this passage which Kloppenborg removes is 23c. Trilling and Steck have shown that 23c is logically superfluous; it adds to 23b another—and quite different—rationale for rejoicing. In addition, 23c employs the so-called Deuteronomistic-prophetic view of history, according to which God sends prophets to call for repentance, but Israel persecutes and kills them (cf. Steck). Jacobson (1978) has shown that this view tends to appear at a late stage of Q composition. Hence, Q.23c should be judged as secondary (Kloppenborg, 1986:45–46).

Kloppenborg proposes Cynicism as a context for the meaning of Q 22ab.23ab. In seeking a life according to divinely established natural law, Cynics customarily broke conventional norms. Not surprisingly, this made a lot of people angry. While Q does not expressly invoke the ideal of living according to nature, its ethic would inevitably provoke a similar response.

The refusal to engage in socially sanctioned transactions puts one in the position of being reproached and ostracized. Those who refuse to treat enemies as enemies threaten the integrity of social boundaries. Rejection of the ordinary modes of retaliation, legal redress and the etiquette of economic transactions will quite naturally be viewed as a threat to the stability of social order. Clearly, those who take seriously Q’s paraenesis will soon find themselves in the position of being hated, reviled and excluded (Kloppenborg, 1986:51).

What did it mean for a Cynic to find himself in such a state? That he was doing the right thing, of course. Reviling and persecution signaled the successful carrying out of the Cynic lifestyle. “It is precisely on the occasion of reproach that the sage’s freedom becomes apparent” (, 1986:50).

While Kloppenborg does not refer to it, a 1978 article by Malherbe sharpens this point very nicely. In the course of this article, Malherbe comments on a pseudonymous, first-century CE Cynic epistle attributed to Diogenes. The theme of the letter is

that Diogenes’ self-sufficiency and garb demonstrate his freedom from popular opinion (ἐλεύθερος δόχης) to which all men are enslaved. He is called κύων ὁ οὐρανοῦ [the dog of heaven] because he conforms himself to heaven, οὐ κατὰ δόχαν, ἀλλὰ κατὰ φύσιν ἐλεύθερος ὑπὸ τὸν Δία, εἰς αὐτὸν τεθεικὼς τἀγαθὸν καὶ οὐκ εἰς τὴν πλησίον [not according to opinion, but according to nature, free under God, attributing good to him and not to a neighbor]. It is his freedom from δόχα [opinion] that is equivalent to being free under God. His clothing, like that of Odysseus, that wisest of the Greeks, is an invention of the gods, and he lives πρὸς θεῶν [in the presence of the gods] … The contrast between δόχα [opinion] and φύσις [nature] in this context is certainly Cynic, and his statements that to live κατὰ θύσιν [according to nature] is to be free from popular opinion, free under God and in the presence of the gods, are to be understood in light of such statements as that of Dio Chrysostom [6, 31] who says that in his self-sufficiency and natural way of life Diogenes imitated the life of the gods, and of ps-Heraclitus [ep. 9], that the gods are his fellow citizens and that he dwells with them through virtue (Malherbe, 1978:50; cf. also Epictetus 1.9.22–26).

Malherbe’s comments make a difference in how the temporal orientation of Q 6:22ab.23ab is to be interpreted, because they offer a way to link it to Cynicism more closely than has been done so far. Kloppenborg places the passage between a straightforwardly present orientation and one directed toward the eschaton:

The blessedness of those who are excluded is already manifest in the present in their rejoicing and dancing but this realization of eschatological joy is also coordinated with the promise of further reward (Kloppenborg, 1986:48).

If we take seriously what Malherbe has to say, however, the “eschatological” aspect of Q 22ab.23ab ceases to be very compelling and can be seen instead as a Cynic appreciation of the sage’s kinship with the gods. Q 23ab does, after all, lack a future verb; indeed, it lacks any verb at all. Malherbe shows how the verse can be made sense of in a simple and straightforward manner. We no longer have to imagine it suggesting that the addressees will receive a future reward in heaven, despite the fact that it does not say so. Now it can be regarded as very much in keeping with the Cynic tone of 23ab. The phrase “your reward is great in heaven” refers not to the eschaton, but to the persecuted addressees’ participation in a divinely established and sanctioned mode of life.

This can be seen even more clearly in light of a passage from Epictetus to which neither Malherbe nor Kloppenborg advert. Epictetus states that the true philosopher derives advantage from any situation, no matter how awful it may seem.

[B]ring whatever you will and I will turn it into a good. Bring disease, bring death, bring poverty, reviling [λοιδορία], peril of life in court; all these things will become helpful at a touch from the magic wand of Hermes. “What will you make of death?” Why, what else but make it your glory, or an opportunity for you to show in deed thereby what sort of person a man is who follows the will of nature.… Everything that you give I will turn into something blessed [σεμνός], productive of happiness, august [μακάριος], enviable (Epictetus 3.20.12–15).

This shows that μακάριος could be used in the Cynic and Stoic traditions to signal the blessedness attendant upon persecution and even death. Such negative experiences exhibit and, indeed, intensify the extent to which a philosopher lives in accordance with divinely constructed natural law. They thus exhibit and intensify also the extent to which a philosopher participates in the divine, as suggested by the fact that σεμνός carries connotations of holiness. A philosopher could indeed say readily and with conviction that he is μακάριος when he is persecuted and reviled (see also Plutarch’s “How to Profit by One’s Enemies”).

It should be clear, then, that whatever the precise genealogical relationship between Q 6:22ab.23ab and 14:27, the former presents an outlook which could readily have served the Q people as the basis for the point made by the latter. Q 6:22ab.23ab comments on persecution in an oddly dialectical manner. Only the Cynic and Stoic schools offer any compelling parallels to its approach. The way seems to be open, then, for concluding that a movement indebted to Cynic and Stoic notions concerning persecution would show a similar indebtedness in describing the demise of its founding figure. Just as Cynic and Stoic views could portray persecution as a blessing, so also the same sort of thought presents the master’s death as something which a true follower must be prepared to emulate. If Kloppenborg’s argument is right (along with my treatment of it via Malherbe and Epictetus), then Q 6:22ab.23ab remarks on persecution in a Cynic and/or Stoic way. This, in turn, would increase the likelihood that Q 14:27 remarks on the related issue of the master’s death from a similar perspective.

It should now be asked whether Kloppenborg’s placement of 6:22ab.23ab in the development of Q aids in placing 14:27. The answer is that it does. Kloppenborg concludes that 6:22ab.23ab belongs in the earliest stratum of Q.

While the later strata of Q exhibit strong tendencies in the direction of “strong boundary language” (e.g., 10:21–22; 11:31–32; 13:28–29), the comportment of the earlier strata … is less influenced by the exigencies of communal self-justification and self-definition (Kloppenborg, 1986:50).

These “exigencies” commonly involve defining one’s own group over against rival groups, adhering to “a particular confession or logos,” and appealing to “a transcendental explanation for membership (election, predetermination)” (Kloppenborg, 1986:49). None of these pertains to Q 14:27. Although suffering and death are salient concerns there, persecutors are nowhere in sight. This fact is striking enough that it ought to be regarded as determinative for setting the verse within Q’s compositional history. The Q community is not being defined here by excoriating those who drove Jesus along his way of the cross. The interest of 14:27 in the way of the cross is, on the contrary, confined to the Q group’s own ethos. It is used, not as an issue over which to berate others, but as a yardstick to measure the genuineness of the Q people themselves. Q 14:27, therefore, can be judged early according to this by now familiar logic: a) as a community forms itself, it gives off signs of that formation; b) these signs become more aggressive and belligerent as the community forms itself more sharply over against competing communities; c) pericopae that lack these sorts of signs should be placed at an early stage in the life of the group.

All this is not to say that a communal sensibility is absent in Q1. The predominantly second-person plural form of address which Q1 uses demonstrates that a group is being spoken to and advised. Certain modes of behavior which the Q people are at least implicitly expected to live up to (Q 6:22ab.23ab, 27–38; 14:27), concern about relationships with others (27–38; 17:1–2, 3–4), and interest in the role of guides (6:39, 41–42) indicate a social network beginning to emerge. However, the communal sensibility which Q1 does exhibit is relatively loose and imbued with a heady optimism more interested in appreciating its ethos than justifying or defending it.

We may sum up our treatment of Q 14:27 with three points: (1) this verse conspicuously lacks the Deuteronomistic-prophetic outlook which Jacobson has shown to be characteristic of Q’s later stratum; (2) persecution and death are viewed within the framework of a mimetic ideal, not rationalized as the inevitable fate of a prophet; and (3) the focus is on the moral achievement of the disciple, not the perverse nature of the persecutors. Each of these features supports an alignment of 14:27 with the formative stage of Q as described by Kloppenborg (1987a).

3. Q 6:23c

We have already noted 6:23c cursorily, but a closer examination is in order. As always with the Deuteronomistic-prophetic outlook, it should be remembered that Jesus’ death is not overtly connected with that of the prophets. In fact, the link between the addressees and the prophets is quite explicit here—more so than anywhere else in Q. The Greek of Matthew (οὕτως or “thus”) and of Luke (κατὰ τὰ αὐτά or “so”) makes this clear. It is also noteworthy that, unlike Q 11:47–51 or 13:34–35 (or even Q 7:31–35, after its fashion), there is no attempt to portray the prophets’ persecutors as evil. The focus is simply on the prophets, and on the analogy between them and the addressees. The prophets are being used here in much the same way that Jesus is used in 14:27, that is, as models. There does not seem to be any sweeping Geschichtsbild. Indeed, because of the limited way in which “prophets” is used, it is doubtful whether one should say the Deuteronomistic-prophetic outlook is present at all. What seems to be happening is that the characteristically Greco-Roman mimetic pattern of 14:27 is being adapted to accommodate a more Jewish topic: prophets. Q 6:23c can thus be considered a “bridge” between the early mimetic interpretation of Jesus’ death, and the later, Deuteronomistic-prophetic outlook. The structure of its thought is essentially that of the former, but its Jewish-oriented subject matter allows it to begin looking toward the latter.

4. Q 7:31–35

The Deuteronomistic-prophetic outlook can be seen actually emerging in Q 7:31–35. This passage is not as pronounced an expression of it as the remaining two passages (Q 11:47–51 and 13:34–35, discussed below). Nor is it even as clear a reference to persecuted prophets as 6:23c, though, as just observed, 6:23c is working with a logic different from the Deuteronomistic-prophetic outlook. Nevertheless, it is generally placed in the interpretive matrix of that outlook (Kloppenborg, 1987a:112; Schulz: 353; Steck: 213; cf. Lührmann, 1989:65). John the Baptist is called a prophet in 7:26, the theme of rejection occurs in 7:33–34, and in 7:35 Wisdom can be seen as the sender of prophetic figures down through John and Jesus. For these reasons, the passage deserves our attention.

In terms of the logic of boundary formation, Q 7:31–35 stands between 6:22ab.23ab on the one hand, and 11:47–51 and 13:34–35 on the other. In 6:22ab.23ab, the only boundary operative is that which separates the addressees from conventional, boundary-making society. Since the Q people stand on the far side of that boundary, they are a threat to the boundary-making procedures that constitute “normalcy,” and are thus a threat to society. The persecution that naturally arises from this situation shows them they are doing the right thing, that they are in accordance with the divine, and hence that they are “blessed” (cf. Kloppenborg, 1986:51). In Q 11:47–51 and 13:34–35, as we shall see, boundaries are sharply drawn. But in Q 7:31–35, boundaries are emerging, yet not solidified.

Cameron has shown that Q 7:24–25 portrays John the Baptist as a “recognizable Cynic” (1990:56). Vaage had already demonstrated that 7:25 is a Cynic topos used to contrast the soft lives of courtiers with a Cynic’s rigorous existence (1987:556–57; cf. Cameron, 1990:42). Cameron explicates Q 7:24 along the same lines. It remains true, however, that 7:26 makes some gesture toward characterizing John as a prophet. Why does 7:26 to this? My answer would be that in this verse we see boundaries starting to form. A prophetic designation is beginning to be attached to John and, perhaps by implication, also to his successor Jesus. The move from Cynic to prophet is happening because, as the community starts to form boundaries, it must employ designations that can serve that end. “Prophet” fits the bill nicely because, as we shall see in Q 11:47–51 and 13:34–35, it has the potential to form some very strict boundaries over against the Q people’s increasingly negative picture of Judaism. The peculiar thing is that, despite its use in such boundary formation, “prophet” carries with it a Jewish ambience. The reason for this peculiarity involves the ethos of the earliest strata of the Jesus movements. Apparently it consisted merely of the strange sort of anti-ethos ethos typical of Cynicism, one which defined itself only to the extent that it had cast off all humanly constructed ethē. (This renders inappropriate Horsley’s call to determine precisely what the Q1 “counterculture” was counter to; cf. Horsley, 1989a:195–96.)

Early Christianity was thus not easily able to articulate a contrast between itself as a community and other communities, for it had been accustomed to regarding itself as a community precisely to the degree that it eschewed community boundary formation. The early Jesus movements therefore had to appropriate elements from a recognized community (i.e., Judaism), and then use those elements against that community (Mack, 1990:95). The prophet was no doubt attractive in this situation because, as portrayed in the Deuteronomistic-prophetic outlook, he is Jewish, and yet he is critical of Jewish practices. He is sent by God, rails against society, persecuted, and even killed. At the same time, the prophet provided the closest Jewish analogue to a Cynic, to whom the preceding sentence could also be applied. This made him eminently useful to the Q people for boundary formation, as 11:47–51 shows. But in 7:26, such use is not much more than a glimmer, for “prophet” attaches to John in a rather pallid way. He is a prophet essentially because, as v. 27 says, he is an ἄγγελος [messenger] sent before Jesus (Cameron, 1990:39; Kloppenborg, 1987a: 109). Obviously, the emphasis is on Jesus, and John’s “prophetic” role here is to announce him. The issue of rejection, so fulsome in 11:47–51, does not appear until 7:31–35, and then only in an attenuated fashion.

This attenuation is seen in the imagery that is used. It is not at all clear how “this generation” is to be related to the children of Q 7:31–34 (Cameron, 1990:40; Kloppenborg, 1987a:111; cf. also Cotter, 1987). What is clear, however, is that “this generation” likely refers to Israel and that it is being criticized, but not in an intense manner. The problem is that you just can’t satisfy “this generation.” John does one thing, and they complain. Jesus does another, and they still complain. They’re never happy. The tone is one of grousing, not cold hostility. Boundaries are being drawn, but they are not rock solid. If one were in a speculative mood, one might say that it sounds as if the Q community had been trying out different ways of getting its message across, and had met with rejection each time. Still, hope does not seem to have been abandoned. There may yet be a chance that dancing and singing will be done concordantly.

In any case, the community assures itself in 7:35 of its own legitimacy. There, notice is given that “Sophia is vindicated by her children.” Now, Sophia is a figure who could be taken as a symbol of Q’s sapiential roots. Kloppenborg’s point in labeling Q1 “sapiential” was “more formal than material,” but nonetheless, that stratum operates “in the realm of individual sagacity and folly,” calling on people to have the (uncommonly) common sense to see God’s rule in the world around them and reject the foolish conventions screening it (Kloppenborg, 1989b:210–11). But in 7:35, Sophia does not stand for this kind of worldview. Here, she remains quintessentially a sign of legitimation. Q 7:31–34 shows that tension is building with another group. Yet even so, this legitimation is not gained by dint of hard boundary formation. The rejection of John and Jesus as prophets has not yet become a reality. Perhaps one could say that it hangs vaguely in the air, like the scent of smoldering tinder. There is no real interpretation of Jesus’ death presented here, though we can see the structures which will be used for the Deuteronomistic-prophetic interpretation beginning to emerge. Conversely, the Q community’s legitimation, of which v. 35 speaks, is won in spite of “this generation,” not at its expense. There is no victory over the opponents envisioned here. As noted, the hope still seems to be held out that the singing and dancing might be successful. In such an event, the phraseology of Luke (“all her children”) would have a sweet fulfillment.

5. Q 11:47–51

The hopefulness evinced by Q 7:31–35 has vanished in Q 11:47–51. The rejection of the prophets which had been nebulous has now become distinct. Q 11:47–48 rages at the addressees, though the accusation against them makes little sense. They are criticized for entombing prophets killed by their fathers. Kloppenborg offers a summary of attempts to explain v. 47 without coming to a solution (1987a:141–42). More recently, Miller has observed that “Here the logic of Q breaks down. Building tombs is a way of honoring the dead, not of expressing approval of their murders” (230). This fact is further complicated by the absence of a uniform explanation in v. 48:

The explanations not only show marked verbal differences, but offer different reasons. In Luke the building of tombs entails complicity with the deeds of the fathers (tomb-builders are guilty because they ratify the deeds of their ancestors). In Matthew, the tomb complicity stems from inherited guilt (tomb-builders are guilty because they are the sons of guilty fathers) (Miller: 227).

This situation would seem to leave us with three basic alternatives: (1) Matthew reflects Q 48; (2) Luke reflects Q 48; or (3) Q 48 is unrecoverable, and we can only assume that it made some kind of reference to the addressees’ fathers killing the prophets, as well as to “witnessing” in some manner. If the first is true, then Q’s accusation was based simply on guilt through blood lines. If the second is true, then Q did not really make sense here because, as Miller notes, building tombs is more logically construed as a way of honoring the dead. If the third is true, then we can only assume that, whatever Q 48 said, it was unsatisfactory to both Matthew and Luke. In any event, the likelihood that there was ever a plain or persuasive grounding of the accusation appears to be small.

What difference does this make? It shows the Q community sliding into a mode of polemical rhetoric. The addressees are being comprehensively castigated for no very good reason.1 “Woe to you (all),” Q 47 begins, and perhaps we should take the lack of any specificity in the (probably more primitive) Lukan account seriously. Deep, and yet general disaffection is being expressed here. The grumpiness of Q 7:31–35 has descended into what Garrison Keillor portrays as the motto of the Norwegian bachelor farmer: “Tellwidem.” Perhaps it is inappropriate to search for a specific enemy here. Perhaps it is also inappropriate to search for a specific accusation that makes sense. Perhaps the point is that the Q community is beginning not to care so much about making sense. It is fed up.

That accusations no longer need to be genuine for the Q community to use them is amply demonstrated by 11:49–51. Here, boundaries have become extremely hard. Hope of convincing the other side seems to have been entirely abandoned. Sophia has gone beyond merely giving a stamp of legitimation, as she does in 7:35. Now she stands more intimately with “our side” as the sender of prophets (something she does not do in Q 7:31–35). Remarkably, this sending seems designed to provoke hostility, which will then be duly punished. Sophia will send prophets to be killed so that the blood of all the prophets (Luke) or righteous (Matthew) will be required of (Luke) or come upon (Matthew) this generation (Q 11:49–50). Enemies now are such so surely that they are condemned by divine fiat. The entire sequence occurs so that the guilt of “this generation” may be heaped up.

Miller argues that “some of the bitter irony of the ἵνα (so that) in 11:50 is blunted,” for it can be taken as signaling “a less specific consecutive clause rather than a strict purpose clause” (232). He quotes Bauer in support of his position, but Bauer himself notes that “[i]n many cases purpose and result cannot be clearly differentiated, and hence ἵνα is used for the result which follows according to the purpose of the subject or of God” (BAGD: 378; italics mine). Whether the irony is blunt or sharp, it seems clear that 11:50 contains an especially insidious form of accusation. The Q community appears to be rationalizing the failure of its “prophetic preaching” (Miller: 233). But there are many ways to rationalize failure. We saw one very interesting way above in Q 6:22ab.23ab. The latter did not engage in this sort of boundary formation to explain rejection. Instead, it had recourse to Cynic understandings of what naturally happens to the sage when he calls people out of their folly and exemplifies a divinely sanctioned lifestyle. I have argued that Q 14:27 makes sense out of Jesus’ death in accordance with this outlook. Here, however, the problem is not folly, but evil; what’s more, the evil is virtually mandated by the divine (not that that makes “this generation” any less guilty). The difference is evident. The “enemies” of 6:22ab.23ab bring a blessing. Indeed, they act like enemies only because the sage knows that all people are brothers and sisters under God, and refuses to engage in enemy-making boundary formation (cf., e.g., Epictetus 1.9). So “enemies” in this context are really friends, except they don’t know any better. Q 11:50 focuses on people who might be regarded as not knowing any better because they are caught up in a supernaturally initiated sequence of prophet killing. Yet they are condemned precisely because they have been caught up in this sequence (11:51b).

The situation is analogous, of course, to Mark 4:10–12, where Jesus speaks in parables “so that” his listeners will not comprehend, repent, and gain forgiveness. The follower of a teacher who purposely obfuscates would seem to have no ground for condemning those who misunderstand and persecute that teacher. Yet Mark does present the destruction of the Temple as God’s definitive judgment against the Jews (Mack, 1988b). Likewise, there is no prospect here in Q of a reconciliation between the Q people and “this generation.” The sapiential aspect of Q, instead of signifying the wisdom that dissolves conventional boundaries, now appears as a character so angry and vengeful that she arranges the opponents’ sins so they can then be punished. She not only creates boundaries; she does so literally with a vengeance. Indeed, it may be the displeasure of the community which brought about the combination of the Deuteronomistic-prophetic outlook, on the one hand, and Sophia as the sender of prophets, on the other. There is no real evidence for this combination in pre-Christian literature (Jacobson, 1978:234; 1982b:387; Johnson:47–52). Perhaps the Q community was able to forge such an ideological novum in the fire of anger and resentment.

6. Q 13:34–35

We come, finally, to Q 13:34–35. The first thing to be noted about this passage is its focus on Jerusalem. The city has killed the prophets and refused the speaker’s tender advances. But up to the writing of this passage, the Deuteronomistic-prophetic outlook had never been applied to Jerusalem. The latter had not been accused of disobedience or associated with the prophets’ deaths (Miller: 235; Schulz: 351; Steck: 227–28). Odd as well is the reference to the Temple, unusual for Q. The explanation for all this would appear to be the date of 13:34–35, which was sometime around 66–70 CE (Steck: 237–39). The dire circumstances invited by 11:49–51 have now materialized in the form of the war with Rome. And yet, it appears that vengeance was not as sweet as the Q community may have expected it to be. The tone of 13:34–35 is not angry; it is sorrowful. It does not gloat, but rather shakes its head sadly at the ruination. In viewing the imminent or actual destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, the Q community may have experienced a sense of shock. The slaughter of those on the other side of the newly drawn boundaries apparently gave it pause for thought. Still, there is no thought of a return to the dialectical approach of 6:22ab. 23ab, according to which an enemy is really a friend and persecution is really blessing. Here, a straightforward, tit-for-tat arrangement holds firm. Jerusalem refused the speaker’s offers of kindness. Therefore, it has paid the price. The destruction is unfortunate, but the city brought on ruin by its own doing.

In a similar manner, even the act of forgiveness, by which a previous deed is effectively canceled, is too dialectical for the straight lines of social interchange imagined here. There will be no more association between the speaker and Jerusalem until the city capitulates and blesses the coming one. The scene of blessing does imply a reconciliation of sorts, but it is not based on forgiveness. It is based on the “other side” finally coming around and admitting the rightness of “our side.” One cannot resist noting the irony of “blessed” here. The Greek is εὐλογημένος, and not μακάριος, but a comparison with 6:22ab.23ab is still revealing. In the latter, blessedness came about because of persecution. It was bestowed, so to speak, on the addressee by the active hostility of a (dialectically construed) “enemy.” Here, a blessing is called out by the (very straightforwardly conceived) enemy to seal the process of his buckling under. Before any reconciliation takes place, capitulation must be complete.

Even so, it must be acknowledged that a reconciliation is envisaged. Here, at least, the Q community does not engage in the absolutist drawing of boundaries found in Mark. Mark seems to take a certain satisfaction in the Jews finally getting what they deserve. The Q community is not dismantling its boundaries, but it is waiting for the day when Jerusalem sees the light. On that day, presumably, it will extend the hand of friendship and invite the defeated Jews to join it inside its borders.

The last item that must be noted regarding 13:34–35 is the way in which the focus on the Deuteronomistic-prophetic outlook in v. 13:34 changes to a focus on the “coming one” in v. 13:35. The scheme used to interpret Jesus’ death is turned away from in the face of the opponents’ ruin, and the future, with the risen Christ being hailed by his erstwhile persecutors, is anticipated. With this, the Deuteronomistic-prophetic interpretation of Jesus’ death comes to its fulfillment. As charted above, it begins by riding piggy-back on notions of mimesis at home in Cynic and Stoic circles (Q 6:23c). It hovers nearby as the characterization of Jesus and John is transformed from Cynic to Jewish-prophetic (Q 7:31–35). It grows rigid when 11:49–51 places it in the context of a divinely established, deterministic regime. Finally, it softens without altering structurally as the Q community eyes its fallen adversaries and contemplates a day when they can be safely embraced. At that point it is time to move from the resentful rationalization of the founder’s death to the happier thought of his return. But make no mistake: it is only because the boundaries that have been constructed via the Deuteronomistic-prophetic outlook are so firm that the community can afford the latter thought. Q 13:35b does not exactly constitute magnanimity. It expresses a self-confidence sufficient to foresee the legitimation of its murdered but risen leader by his penitent murderers. Boundaries are not being let down; a gate through them is being entertained for those who wish to join the insiders.

7. Conclusion

This article has demonstrated that 14:27 is the earliest interpretation of Jesus’ death in Q. That verse fits well with 6:22ab. 23b in its avoidance of communal boundary formation. Kloppenborg has already shown that 6:22ab. 23ab belongs to an early stage of Q, and so, it would seem, does 14:27. Both use thought patterns characteristic of Cynic and Stoic circles. Q 6:23c refers to prophets, but in a way more similar to Cynic and Stoic notions than to the so-called Deuteronomistic-prophetic outlook. Q 7:31–35 shows the elements of that outlook beginning to come together and be used for communal boundary formation. Q 11:47–51 exhibits the deuteronomistic-prophetic outlook being used for rigid boundary formation, and Q 13:34–35 presents the outlook being restrained a bit in response to the first Jewish war with Rome. This progression reflects the relative ages of these interpretations of Jesus’ death in Q.2

The Mission Charge in Q

David R. Catchpole

Department of Theology, University of Exeter


This essay investigates the history of the tradition of the mission charge in Q. The dependence of Mark upon Q is suggested, and the possibility of using Mark’s version of the mission charge as evidence of an earlier pre-Q version set aside. Instead, it is argued that the original charge, which is a unity, antedates Q and probably stems from the historical Jesus, consists of the sheep/wolves saying, the equipment rule, and some instructions on conduct in houses and in towns (Q 10:3, 4, 5–7, 8–12).

Internal evidence suggests that just one layer of tradition was superimposed. This included not only the harvest saying, the woes on the towns of Galilee and the “sending” saying (Q 10:2, 13–15, 16) but also the prohibition of activity among Gentiles and Samaritans (Matt 10:5b). Thus Q articulates the outlook of a Palestinian community whose members are aware of a Christian mission to the Gentiles but set themselves exclusively to continue Jesus’ mission to Israel.

0. Introduction

Every study of Q, its theology, its community setting, its purpose, and the history of the traditions it contains, accepts that the mission charge (Q 10:1–16) is both sensitive and significant as a pointer to all those concerns. If it were possible to reconstruct with assurance this Q text, and if the existence of strata within it were demonstrable, then there would be every hope that the history of the tradition would disclose the history of the community itself. Such hope turns out, however, to be threatened by many hazards and uncertainties, of which just three may be mentioned at the outset.

Firstly, the recent notable advances in the discussion of Q in general (Kloppenborg, 1987a) and the mission charge in particular (Uro, 1987) have accepted the view that Mark did not use Q (see, above all, Laufen, and Mack, in this volume). On such a basis the Mark/Q overlap can be used as a means of locating “the core of the tradition.” Thus for John Kloppenborg this core consisted of at least the equipment instruction (Q 10:4/Mark 6:8–9) and instructions about acceptance (Q 10:5–7/Mark 6:10) and rejection (Q 10:10–11/Mark 6:11) (1987a:192–94). For Risto Uro the original “kernel” consisted of the instructions about equipment and conduct in houses (Q 10:4, 5–7), and was later extended by instructions about acceptance and rejection (Q 10:8–11a) to form an “early mission code”; the influence of Q 10:4–11a was then exerted in two directions to produce on the one hand Mark 6:7–13 and on the other, after two more developmental stages, the final Q text (1987:116). These proposals, identifying with a widespread tendency in Q-research, would be threatened if Mark’s direct use of Q were to carry conviction. Yet this threat does seem to be a possibility worth taking seriously.

1. The mission instructions exhibit the recurrent phenomenon, namely, that when Q and Mark overlap it is Q which preserves the earlier version of the tradition. There is arguably no detail here in respect of which the Q tradition shows secondary development at the same time as Mark retains the primary version. It would be remarkable that this should be the case after just one further stage of independent development: how much more so if, as Uro proposes, there were two?

Specifically, if we work back from Mark’s text, using the normal literary-critical procedures, we find that the pre-Markan tradition in no way diverges from what seems likely to have figured in Q. Thus, on the equipment rule, the express permission to carry a staff and to wear sandals is gratuitous in view of the natural assumption that a staff would be carried and sandals worn.5 This “denial of denials,” as Dieter Lührmann has called it (1989:63), looks like an accidental hint to the discerning reader that such items had in fact been forbidden, which was the case in Q. Similarly, removal of the obviously awkward MarkR [Markan redactional] attachment “nor do they hear you” (μηδὲ ἀκούσωσιν ὑμῶν), discrepant with its context in that it uses a plural rather than a singular form, as well as the typical MarkR explanation “for a testimony to them” (εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς, Mark 6:11), leaves the statement about the rejecting community in much the same shape as it had in Q.

2. The instructions presented in direct speech by Mark (6:10–11) read like fragments of something more coherent. As they stand, they could scarcely survive in isolation, and therefore do not appear to support the suggestion that the inconsistency of Mark’s version is more primitive than the consistency of the version in Q.6 Pre-Markan tradition must indeed lie below the surface of Mark’s combination of narrative, indirect quotation and direct speech, as Uro has rightly argued (1987:33–36), but the range of that earlier tradition has to be uncovered.

When Mark’s readers reach 6:6b–13 they are clearly intended, as Uro points out (1987:26–29), to recall earlier material, of which 3:13–19 is a prime example. The links between the two traditions are evident: Jesus’ calling disciples to himself as the initial move (3:13; 6:7); the designation of those called as “twelve” (3:14; 6:7); the intention to send stated and then effected (3:14; 6:7); the authority to expel demons/unclean spirits envisaged, then renewed, and finally activated (3:15; 6:7, 13); preaching given prominence first and last (3:14; 6:13, even though not mentioned in 6:7). On the Markan level whatever may be the truth about any pre-Markan level, 3:13–19 and 6:6b–13 are in direct sequence as far as continuity of ideas is concerned.

This direct sequence, however, does not start at 3:13–19. It develops out of 1:16–20, since there the process of assembling the personnel who will make up “the twelve” begins and the first hint of Jesus’ design for their mission is dropped (1:17). But even before that, 1:16–20 is dependent on 1:14–15, and the latter passage is likely to be the first term in the series, controlling all of 1:16–20, 3:13–19 and 6:6b–13. The links are again evident: preaching, specifically, preaching of repentance, by both Jesus and his emissaries (1:15; 6:12), with the suffering of the Baptist casting a dark shadow across both complexes (1:14a; 6:14–29). Since the reference in the intermediate tradition to the twelve’s being appointed to be “with him” (3:14) is doubtless intended to establish the basis of their authority within the church, and to do so in a context where his mission and theirs are identical and inseparable, the formal announcement by Jesus that the kingdom of God has drawn near and presented itself for belief in the form of the gospel is clearly intended to be what they in their turn will be announcing. For our purpose, Mark 1:14–15, 16–20; 3:13–19, and 6:6b–13 ave to be viewed as developing stages in a single unified story. And when that is done Uro’s three reservations (1987:37) about Markan use of the Q mission charge can be met and overcome.

The first is a hesitation over “why Mark would have left out a positive order to proclaim and heal (cf. Luke 10:9) and at the same time have laid so much stress on the disciples’ preaching activity and on the power over demons as he did in his narrative frames (6:7, 12–13; cf. also 3:14).” The answer is surely that the healing has survived (6:13b) and, most importantly, the proclamation has already been used in direct speech attributed to Jesus (1:15), whence it can in turn define the proclamation of the disciples.

The second concerns “why Mark would have greatly emphasized the equipment prohibitions (Mark 6:8–9) at the expense of the instructions crucial for the execution of the mission.” The answer this time is that the instructions crucial for the execution of the mission are those which pick up ideas already introduced in 1:14–15, 16–20 and 3:13–19. These do not include the equipment rule, upon which Mark is therefore perhaps not placing such great emphasis.

The third is that “we may doubt whether (Mark) deliberately struck out the concrete details from the instructions.” Yet this may well be what Mark has done on Uro’s hypothesis, for by itself Mark’s final product in 6:6b–13 can only with difficulty be regarded as a complete and well-rounded whole. If he knew the contents of Luke 10:5–7, i.e., that which existed at the second of the proposed four stages of development, he was clearly prepared to shorten and even, as we might say, spoil the balance of the material he received. In other words, there is no issue here between those who accept Markan use of Q and those who do not.

3. According to Uro, “most of the sayings in the Q speech which have no parallel in Mark show signs of being later additions, and this renders it probable that they have grown onto the speech at a stage of transmission which has no contact with the Markan tradition.”7 Yet the evidence, collected by Wolfgang Schenk, of the influence of Q 10:13–15 on Markan material adjacent to the mission tradition remains impressive (1979:150–51) and can be extended to no fewer than six items. This evidence consists of a series of Q/Mark correspondences:

First, the occurrence of mighty works (δυνάμεις γίνεσθαι) is mentioned in a cluster of passages in Mark dealing with the healing of the woman with a haemorrhage (5:30), the visit to the home town (6:2, 5) and the summary report of Jesus’ activities which reached the ears of Herod (6:14). The same term occurs in the woes on the towns of Galilee (Q 10:13–15), present in the mission charge by courtesy of the Q-editor.

Second, repentance and the near kingdom figure together in the Markan summary of Jesus’ initial proclamation (Mark 1:14–15). The same association is achieved by the mission charge and the editorially added woes (Q 10:11, 13–15).

Third, there is a parallelism between miracle-inhibiting unbelief and being “scandalized” by Jesus in Mark (6:3, 6) and that unrepentant hardness of the towns of Galilee which draws from the Jesus of Q those woes (Q 10:13–15). For in Q the woe pronounced on those who refuse the message of the miracles is the obverse of the beatitude pronounced on anyone who receives it: “Blessed is the person who is not scandalized by me” (Q 7:23).

Fourth, if in addition the πατρίς of Jesus (Mark 6:1) is intended to be Capernaum (Mark 1:21; 2:1, 15), the rejection by the πατρίς becomes a further feature shared with the woe on Capernaum (Q 10:15).

Fifth, there is a notable correspondence between the twofold issue of an Elijah-type call to followers (Mark 1:16–20) in immediate association with the kingdom-centered mission (Mark 1:14–15), and the Q-editor’s placing of a double Elijah-type call to followers (Q 9:57–60) in immediate association with the kingdom-centered mission charge (Q 10:2–16).

Sixth, it will be argued later in this chapter that the shaliah saying (Q 10:16) in its Q form contrasted “hearing” (ἀκούειν) and rejecting (ἀθετεῖν), and that it was added to the mission charge at the editorial stage. An echo of this saying can be discerned in the MarkR editorial phrase “nor hear you” (Mark 6:11). Mark 9:37 would, of course, use the tradition more fully, and it is easy to see the Mark/Q discrepancies between the two versions as assimilations to the Markan context: the child as the paradoxical paradigm of leadership (Mark 9:33–35 amplified by 9:36–37), and the phrase “one such child” drawn in under the influence of Mark 10:13–14; the phrase “in my name” matching 13:6 and registering a lurking awareness that persons with a message are involved; the verb “receive” chosen naturally because of suitability in the immediate context and perhaps also as a reminiscence of its earlier use within Mark’s own version of the mission charge in 6:11; and finally the removal of the rejection theme (Q 10:16b), again under the influence of the context.

We can sum up the argument thus far as follows. If the presupposition of Markan independence of Q appears insecure, it is logically no longer possible to use Mark/Q overlaps as evidence of the original and earlier “core” or “kernel.”

Another significant issue in the reconstruction of the Q mission charge and its history concerns the singly attested sayings within the double tradition of Matt 10/Luke 10. Some of these are not uncommonly assigned to Q, and others frequently attributed to one or the other evangelist. Yet the length of the list of such single traditions, and the consequent variety of permutations and combinations of those which might be attributed to Q, is a further warning of hazards ahead. It is not necessary to carry out an examination of the credentials of each one of these sayings, some of which have scarcely any role of note to play. It is safe to accept that Q probably did contain the prohibition of greetings on the way (Q 10:4b), but not the prohibition of movement from one house to another (Luke 10:7d). It will be argued that Q also contained a saying which placed Gentile territory and any Samaritan town out of bounds (Matt 10:5b), but not the injunction to eat whatever food is provided (Luke 10:8b).

Finally, the familiar difficulty of reaching back behind Matthew and Luke to the Q wording is rendered at first sight more complicated than usual by the existence of an additional Lukan version (Luke 9:1–6 / Mark 6:7–13). This can, however, be turned to advantage, indeed a help for believers in Q rather than unbelievers. It allows us to detect LukeR reminiscences of Q even when Mark is the primary source. And while the tendency to favor Luke’s wording as more original than Matthew/s (thus Uro) is usefully inimical to both Griesbach/Farmer and Farrer/Goulder versions of the hypothesis of Lukan use of Matthew, the suspicion remains that Luke may have created more and Matthew preserved more than tends to be supposed by some exponents of Q. However that may be, the reconstruction of the original Q text is not easy, never has been, and never will be, and the arguments set out below have to be expressed with proper tentativeness.

With these three hazards in mind we shall consider the overall content of the Q mission charge, consisting as it clearly does of the harvest saying, the “sheep among wolves” saying, the equipment rule, arguably the “Gentiles/Samaritans” saying (Matt 10:5b), the preaching and healing instructions, the instructions about conduct in houses, the rule concerning reaction to rejection, the woes on the Galilean towns, and the “shaliah” saying. The main concern of this essay is the significance of any material which may be assigned to a later, rather than an original, stratum. More attention will therefore be given to the sayings about the harvest, the Gentiles and the Samaritans, the towns of Galilee, and the shaliah than to the rest. On the other hand, those sayings depend upon the others, would not be meaningful without them, and in no way undermine their continuing authority for the transmitting community. Therefore a modicum of discussion of those other sayings will be necessary as well.

1. The Harvest Saying (Q 10:2)

The two versions of this saying are almost identical. Intended to control the mission charge as a whole, it is at the same time discrepant with it because its harvesting metaphor is wholly absent from what follows, and its presumed audience consists of those who pray about mission rather than those who engage in it. Since the praying community asking for a supply of missionaries scarcely belongs to the situation of Jesus we can infer that Q 10:2 is a Christian construction added editorially for the purpose of controlling 10:3–16, that is, defining the meaning and context of the main mission charge and indicating to us how that charge should be read. This fact in itself suggests that it will be especially rewarding to establish with care what Q 10:2 presumes in respect of the character of the community addressed, the christology, the mood and scope of mission, and the underlying eschatological conviction.

1. The well known parallel in Acts 13:1–3; 14:26 serves us well in clarifying the character of the community. There an assembled church engages in worship, variously described as service and fasting (this latter the accompaniment of prayer, and preparation for the receipt of revelation: see Acts 13:3; 14:23). The worship is directed to the Lord and focused on his designating already charismatically endowed persons for a new missionary task. The task itself is defined, in conformity with Q 10:2 and wider NT usage, as “work” (Acts 13:2; 14:27). Altogether, the match with Q 10:2 is so close that it is easy and indeed natural to set the latter in the context of the former. The speaker calls upon the community to engage in prayer, the outcome of which will be the designation and Spirit-endowment of missionaries. There is just one small, but not unimportant, difference between Q 10:2 and Acts 13:1–3, namely, that Acts envisages the pioneering of a new mission whereas Q looks for the reinforcement and expansion of an already existing mission currently in the hands of the “few.” Thus the community of Q 10:2 is one which participates in, takes responsibility for, and exercises control over, an established but small-scale mission, one which has potential for growth and one which Uro justifiably labeled “church mission” (1987:205–206).

Having said that, however, we should probably not drive a wedge between “the mission of the wandering charismatics (in) the Jewish realm” and “the church mission … aimed at converting Gentiles,” as Uro does. It is difficult to accept that the community whose outlook is expressed in 10:2 regarded the instructions to the wandering charismatics in 10:3–16 as belonging exclusively to time past, articulating an obsolete pattern, and prescribed for a quite different setting. The sheer quantity of the instructions which follow would suggest a degree of respect for the authoritative past which expresses itself in the contemporary adoption of its patterns. Moreover, although it is a tiny detail, the common use of “work” / “workers” in Q 10:2, 7b may well imply, as Arland Jacobson suggests (1982a:421), the same stage of redaction and thus an identical perspective. The perspective in question would appear to be that of the wandering charismatic missionary (cf. 1 Cor 9:14). So instead of employing a wedge we should probably speak of a charismatic church sponsoring a charismatic mission. As far as the contrasting Jew/Gentile settings are concerned, we shall comment shortly.

2. Christology comes to the fore, but rather subtly, in the term “the Lord of the harvest.” An instinctive inference that this is a reference to God shows itself in the literature. Is this instinct right, we may ask, or could Jesus himself be in mind? It would not be the only case in Q of Jesus’ referring to himself objectively, as it were (cf. Q 10:22), and several considerations suggest that an identification with Jesus is not at all impossible. First, concentration upon the harvest is conditioned above all in Q by the Baptist’s speech in 3:17. Within 3:7–9, 16–17 it is highly likely that (historical) traditions deriving from John have been edited by the insertion of 3:16b. They thus no longer refer to the work of the coming God but to that which will be carried out by Jesus. Right at the outset, therefore, he is presented as in a certain sense Lord of the harvest. Consistently with this, the saying in Q 11:23, intrusive in its present context, defines being “with” Jesus as being involved in his (sic) missionary “gathering” (a term used elsewhere in connection with harvesting, cf. Matt 6:26). Similarly, the secondary parable of the talents/pounds (Q 19:12–27), presupposing by its very scheme of the departing and returning “lord” the delay of the parousia (cf. Q 12:42–46), insists upon strenuous activity on behalf of the person who “reaps where (he) did not sow, and gathers where (he) did not scatter.” That “lord” is, by definition, Jesus. Secondly, the immediacy of the sending by Jesus himself in Q 10:3 is intended to interpret 10:2. In the sending by Jesus there is effected the sending by “the Lord of the harvest.” Thirdly, the overwhelming majority of “lord” allusions in Q refer to Jesus; indeed from the especially intense appeal in the probably redactional Q 6:46 (cf. Catchpole, 1986:301–302) onwards it becomes clear that this is the dominant christological category. It would therefore be consonant with widespread Q usage for the term “the Lord of the harvest” to stand for the exalted and returning one who during the present interval authorizes those who continue and expand upon his own mission.

And yet one must hesitate. To invoke the exalted Jesus in prayer probably implies a christology higher and later than that which could be sustained among the Q Christians. Admittedly, the cry of the Aramaic-speaking Christians, “Maranatha,” is addressed to the exalted Jesus in eager anticipation of his coming, but an ejaculatory cry is different in kind from a measured prayer to the heavenly Lord who supervises the mission during the interval before the end. Moreover, it is perhaps not without significance that a mission charge which is prefaced by a call to prayer to the Lord of the harvest is followed almost immediately by a prayer to the Lord of heaven and earth (Q 10:21), a prayer which is immediately expounded in such a way as to underline the closeness of association between Jesus and God (Q 10:22), but nevertheless a prayer by Jesus to God as Lord.

Are then those straws in the wind which seemed to point to Jesus in Q 10:2 simply to be blown away as light trivia and insubstantial wisps of fantasy? Not at all! They imply, indeed they demand, that a functional equivalence between God and Jesus be recognized. God’s authority is experienced in his authority. God’s harvest is his harvest. If God’s harvest involves separation—and it does—the separation will be visible in his mission. God’s sending is involved in his sending. In short, the language may vary but the meaning is the same as in the concluding declaration that “he who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Q 10:16).

3. The mood and scope of mission have been closely connected by Uro, who detects in Q 10:2 an optimistic tone and the prospect of a receptive audience, whereas “it is difficult to believe that the mission among the Jews could have been considered with such optimism at the time of the writing of Q.”11 He draws a contrast with the supposedly more pessimistic mood of the sayings in Q 10:3, 12–16, which are taken to represent an earlier stage of tradition and experience, and uses the Acts 13:1–3 comparison to support a Hellenistic setting (Uro, 1987:205, 208). It should be noted that Uro accepts in the process that harvest imagery is itself neutral and can be applied to divine intervention in either Jewish (Isa 27:12; against Lührmann, 1969:60) or non-Jewish (Isa 24:13; Joel 4:1–13; Micah 4:11–13) spheres. Nevertheless, he takes the frame of reference of Q 10:2 to be the Gentile mission.

While the evidence for a Gentile mission elsewhere in Q remains a matter of dispute, Uro’s proposal for the especially sensitive material in 10:2–16 remains unconvincing on several grounds.

Firstly, while leaving 10:12, 13–15, 16 for later discussion in view of the likelihood that the latest stratum of redaction may be discerned in some of that material, we may immediately clear away the argument as it relates to 10:3, “Behold, I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves.” In connection with the activity of wolves the ἅρπαχ word group is used quite conventionally. It is notably employed in Q to describe both the opposition encountered by the kingdom-centered mission from the beginning of the period of Jesus (Q 16:16), and also the fundamental alienation of the Pharisees from the principles of the covenant (Q 11:39). The latter saying has, incidentally, been assigned to the “original core” of the Woes tradition (Kloppenborg, 1987a:140–41), but that requires a separate discussion (Catchpole, 1991). What is important for our present concern is that Q 10:3 + 11:39 + 16:16 combine to indicate the context of religious polarization in which the Christian mission takes place. The Pharisees and the emissaries of Jesus are locked in conflict, perhaps because of some differences of theological emphasis, and perhaps also because of competition for the commitment of one and the same constituency, but most likely because of the disjunction between the charismatic and the institutional, the prophetic and the priestly (to borrow Max Weber’s terminology), and the disturbance caused by the one to the other. Q 10:3 uses the polemical language of polarization and alienation but does not in itself require either an optimistic or a pessimistic outlook for the mission itself.

Secondly, it is fair to say that any mission must as a matter of fundamental principle be undertaken in hope and with optimism. Yet in any context, and most particularly in the context of bringing to Israel a disturbing call not to presume on the covenant as the sure and sufficient basis of security and the enjoyment of the grace of God, sober realism would dictate the need to be prepared for rejection. Social function dictates substance. To divide the traditions into the optimistic and the pessimistic is to risk disturbing a natural and necessary balance. Certainly Q 10:6b, 10–12, 13–15, 16b strike a somber note, but not excessively so. And such a note of warning is by no means precluded by the use of the harvest metaphor here. After all, John had used it (3:17) and had exploited it both positively and negatively, to warn in respect of the chaff and to reassure in respect of the wheat. That the editor should attach 10:2 to 10:3–16 implies that he regarded each as naturally defining the other. If that is so, we cannot use 10:2 to establish the existence of an unqualifiedly optimistic stage of missionary experience discrepant with the stage represented by any of the following traditions.

Thirdly, against the proposed Hellenistic setting of the “church mission” must be set the evidence of Gal 2:1–10 (esp. vv. 7–8): another community with a strong in-built institutionalizing tendency and an emphatic commitment to mission sustained by Spirit-endowed leaders. If the Jerusalem church tried to keep as firm a hold on Antioch-based developments as the Pauline evidence attests, it certainly would have done so in the sphere of Q, and nothing in Q 10:2–16 takes us outside the parameters laid down by that church. Since sayings like Q 17:23 have no obvious relevance in a Hellenistic setting, but very clear application in a Palestinian context, this latter would seem to be the background against which 10:2 should be read.

In sum, Q 10:2 provides the interpretative context in which 10:3–16 must be read, and it envisages a reinforcement of an established smallscale mission led by the “few” and continuous with the missions of Jesus and (ultimately) John. As to the ethnic horizon of the saying, we are not taken beyond the confines of Israel, and Q 22:30 makes it natural to recollect the twelve and their mission (cf. Gal 2:7–8). This conclusion will, however, be underpinned or undermined by whatever conclusions we reach on other editorial elements within 10:2–16.

4. Finally, the eschatological outlook of 10:2 requires comment. That the harvest metaphor is used so frequently with the End in mind must favor the view that Q 10:2 does the same, and in so doing it could endorse the proclamation of the nearness of the kingdom which was central to the main body of the mission charge. While the summary of that proclamation in Luke 10:9 includes the phrase “upon you,” this is absent from the agreed version in Matt 10:7/Luke 10:11. That agreement makes it unlikely (so Schulz, contra Uro and others) that the phrase in question should, on the basis of a correspondence between Luke 10:9 and Q 11:20, be accepted as original here. It is more likely that the longer version in Luke 10:9 involves a Lukan reminiscence of Q 11:20 and an expression of the evangelist’s characteristic preference in matters eschatological. If that is so, short-term imminence is the contribution of Q 10:11 to the meaning of Q 10:2. That means once again an echo of the preaching of John and also the voicing of the conviction that this mission has a certain ultimacy about it: human responses to it will determine the final divine assessment of the persons who hear (cf. Q 6:46, 47–49). To say this is not to forget that Q presupposes the delay of the parousia; it is simply to recall that in spite of the delay the Q community found itself in a situation where it became appropriate once again to revive the stronger form of expectation for the future. In the situation which gave rise to the popular prophetic movements against which Q warns, this was not difficult.

2. “Gentiles … Samaritans … Israel” (Matt 10:5b, 6)

The spectrum of opinion about a Q origin for this saying ranges from strong support15 to equally strong resistance, with those who resist varying in attributing the saying to MattR, or oral tradition, or even to an alternative version of the mission charge.

1. The relationship between Matt 10:5b, 6 and Matt 15:24 is an initial complication, but it is fairly clear that the latter does not represent an independent or earlier version. Instead, it is either dependent upon Matt 10:6 or, if the latter is MattR, it is that as well. Variations in wording are trivial or easily explained by reference to context, and the attempt to establish a Semitic original for Matt 15:24 (Jeremias, 1958:19–20) on the basis of its distinctive features must be judged unsuccessful. The most notable distinguishing feature of Matt 15:24 is “I was sent,” which makes it not only an I-saying but also “an even more fundamental and exclusive formulation” (Laufen: 19–20). In fact, the positioning of Matt 15:24 inside 15:21–28 forces it to have this form and significance. The verb as such was available in Matt 10:5a/Mark 6:7, and the MattR tendency to create I-sayings completes the picture. We can therefore safely ignore Matt 15:24 when investigating the earlier tradition-history of Matt 10:5b, 6.

2. Is Matt 10:5b, 6 in accord with Matthew’s own theology? The evangelist’s theological commitment to worldwide mission is beyond all doubt (21:43; 28:19). Alongside these sayings, which point to a post-passion expansion of Christianity to the world beyond Israel, we twice find in OT citations a close identification between the mission of the pre-passion Jesus and the mission to the Gentiles: Matt 4:15 (Isa 9:1–2) and 12:18, 21 (Isa 42:1–4). The first text makes the “Galilee of the Gentiles” allusion a matter of christological geography and causes the setting of Jesus’ own work to be a microcosm of the world. The second text exploits a slightly artificial correspondence between the (Markan) secrecy motif and the reticence of the Servant, but Matthew has little interest in secrecy and appears to use it as merely a pretext for the exploitation of more favored ideas within the Isaiah text, namely, the endowment with the Spirit, the relief of suffering, and the saving incorporation of the Gentiles. This last element appears twice (vv. 18, 21), and while “in his name will the Gentiles hope” might be given a post-passion setting (cf. Matt 28:19) the pre-passion setting of “he shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles” is unavoidable. So Jesus’ own mission to Israel is a “transparent” window for viewing the mission to the Gentiles. In this light two other texts which relate directly to Matthew’s version of the mission charge provide assistance. In Matt 10:18 the Israel-centered mission (cf. 10:23) incorporates experiences with Gentiles, and in 15:24 (=10:6) Jesus provides parenthetic teaching for disciples on how the primary commitment to Israel is to be understood: the “periodizing” demand that the children first be fed (Mark 7:27) is omitted and the faith-confession of Jesus as Son of David and Lord already opens the door to the Gentiles. Hence, a salvation-historical division of time into successive periods of Israel and the Gentiles, a scheme into which Matt 10:5b, 6 might fit, does not emerge. If the approach to the Gentiles can be attributed to Jesus and, as it were, be overlaid on the approach to Israel, then the sharp antithesis set out in our saying fits very uneasily.

Christology now calls for attention as possibly holding the key to Matt 10:5b, 6. We begin by noting that just as a mission to the world is a function of Jesus’ lordship over the universe (Matt 28:16–20), so also his mission to Israel is a function of his messiahship. This fits the SyroPhoenician woman’s address to him as “Lord, Son of David” (15:22), in which the second title is MattR. Its relevance to our present inquiry is suggested by Matthew’s positioning of the healing of the two blind men just before the mission charge (9:27–31; cf. Mark 10:46–52), with the confession “Son of David” again having a central place. This was itself followed by the healing of the dumb demoniac (9:32–34), with its double “choral ending” polarizing two contrary assessments: an event unique in an Israelite context, and one which therefore points to the uniqueness of Jesus (v. 33b), or an event achieved in liaison with the prince of demons (v. 34).

From here a signpost points to two later traditions. The first is Matt 12:22–24, where the same polarized assessments reappear, except that “Can this be the Son of David?” occupies the position of, and provides commentary upon, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” The second is Matt 10:24–25, which is present in the mission charge only because of Matthaean compositional activity, and which, by virtue of “If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household?,” establishes an identification of the missionaries with Jesus, not only in his rejection but also in his Davidic messianic activity. This essential theological insight is suggested by two other features which enable us to approach Matt 10:5b, 6 even more closely, as it were, from either side. The first is the MattR amplification of the disciples’ miracle working, so that Matt 10:8 diff Lk 10:9 (1) matches the miracle working of Jesus (Matt 11:5), interpreted by MattR as “the works of the messiah,” and (2) builds a bridge between Matt 9:33 and 10:25b by means of “cast out demons.” The second is the MattR amplification of Mark 6:6 in Matt 9:35–36. This draws in alongside teaching the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom and the healing of disease (cf. 4:23) as a paradigm for 10:7–8, and provides a commentary derived from Mark 6:34. That commentary, referring to the sheep without a shepherd, draws on three OT passages (Num 27:17; 1 Kgs 22:17; Ezek 34:4–6) which understand the wholeness of the nation in terms of the provision of authorized leadership. For Matthew, therefore, the answer to Israel’s problem is found in the combination of Jesus’ own activity and that of the missionaries. Consequently, there is a deliberate matching of Matt 10:6 with 9:36/Mark 6:34.

In assessing Matt 10:5b, 6 we have to combine the two conclusions reached above concerning Matthaean theology, i.e., the interpenetration of the mission to Israel and the mission to the Gentiles, and the interpenetration of the disciples’ mission and the mission of Jesus as Davidic messiah. These two conclusions enable us to see Matt 10:6 as wholly consonant with Matthaean thinking and therefore, in view of its proximity to 9:36, very probably dependent upon the same source, namely Mark 6:34. They also enable us to see how uneasily Matt 10:5b, and specifically the contrast in Matt 10:5b, 6, can fit into Matthaean thinking. It is Matt 10:5b which remains isolated and needing to have its origin determined.

3. A series of considerations suggests that MattR is not a satisfactory explanation for Matt 10:5b. Firstly, there is no precedent in MattR material for the creation of an essentially negative saying about the Gentiles (τὰ ἔθνη). All other MattR ἔθνη-sayings are positive and inclusive in spirit (cf. 4:15; 12:18, 21; 21:43; 25:32; 28:19). Negative or exclusive sayings derive either from Mark (cf. Matt 10:18; 20:19, 25; 24:7, 9) or from Q (cf. 6:32a; ἐθνικός-sayings in Matt 5:47; 6:7; 18:17). Secondly, whereas Mark 6:34 serves as the source for Matt 10:6, there is nothing in the Markan context to serve as the stimulus for Matt 10:5b. Thirdly, there is no evidence elsewhere of any Matthaean interest in Samaritans. Fourthly, as it stands, Matt 10:5b, 6 exhibits a nicely balanced symmetry, with its two short negative εἰς-statements in one half followed by a rather longer πρός statement in the other. It is widely supposed that the two halves must always have belonged together, at whatever stage the saying came into being. Only rarely has the alternative been mooted, as, for example, when Maria Trautmann, after detecting a discrepancy between strictly geographical terminology in v. 5b and theological terminology in v. 6, went on to ascribe v. 6 to the historical Jesus and to view v. 5b as a later attachment within the Q community (220–21). Against this: (1) when v. 6 is viewed in association with 10:23 it seems doubtful whether the geography/theology discrepancy should be pressed; (2) we have already seen grounds for explaining v. 6 otherwise; and (3) it is not necessary to see v. 5b as dependent on v. 6. Matthew’s fondness for creating antithetical sayings, together with the capacity of v. 5b for separate existence, suggests that it should be considered by itself and in its own right. When that is done, much depends on whether this saying, which exhibits parallelism of form, and for which an Aramaic original cannot with any conviction be posited (against Jeremias, 1958:19–20), could fit into Q and, if so, whether it would be dropped by Luke.

4. There are very good reasons for thinking that Matt 10:5b could fit into Q and that it would be dropped by Luke.

Firstly, immediately Luke begins his travel sequence, and shortly before the mission charge, he tells of the rejection of Jesus in Samaria. This is so close positionally to where Matt 10:5b stands, and so close in terminology (Luke 9:52: “they entered into a village of the Samaritans” / Matt 10:5b: “do not enter even into a town of the Samaritans”) that the suggestion of some literary relationship is almost irresistible. Since there is no strong case for assigning any of Luke 9:51–56 to Q, it is likely that 9:52 is a reminiscence of Matt 10:5b.

Secondly, Luke gives considerable attention to Samaritans. Luke 10:29–37 and 17:11–17 are not only Samaritan stories but favorable Samaritan stories, stories which place Jewish persons in an unfavorable light. In 9:51–56, for all that the Samaritans reject the approach of Jesus and his associates, it is significant that Luke records an approach to them, places it first in his journey sequence, and has Jesus refuse to allow them to experience the fire of judgment. Since Luke in 10:1, 8b keeps one eye on the mission of the post-Easter church it is clear that the positive and prominent inclusion of Samaria would be on his mind (cf. Acts 1:8; 8:4–25; 9:31). It would therefore have been extremely surprising if he had transmitted any saying like Matt 10:5b.

Thirdly, that which applies to the Lukan treatment of Samaritans applies even more to his treatment of Gentiles. All three of the Q ἐνικός sayings are rewritten or removed (cf. Matt 5:47; 6:7; 18:17). It is surprising that one of the unfavorable ἔθνη- sayings in Q does survive (Q 12:30a), but since for him Israel is an ἔθνος (LukeR at 7:5; 23:2), the phrase “all the nations” (πάντα τὰ ἔθνη) does not mean Gentiles over against Jews but all humanity outside the sphere of faith. In association with Samaritans the ἔθνη of Matt 10:5b could not but be Gentiles as over against Jews, and an evangelist like Luke could not possibly accommodate such a prohibition. Indeed for him Jesus is the light for revelation to the Gentiles simultaneously with being the glory of Israel (2:25); in the mission of the one who is manifested to Israel (1:80) there is a fulfillment of the promise that “all flesh shall see the salvation of God” (3:6); at the same time as the centrality of Israel is acknowledged in the good works of the Gentile (7:5) his own incorporation into the community of faith anticipates the decisive outreach to the Gentiles via Peter (Acts 10:1–11:18; 15:7–18).

Fourthly, that which applies to both parts of Matt 10:5b does not apply to 10:6. If the word “rather” (μᾶλλον) were removed from the latter, it would fit perfectly into the Lukan scheme where Jesus is the coming redeemer of Israel (24:21) and the fulfillment of Israel’s constantly mentioned hope (cf. the Lukan infancy narratives). The apostolic proclamation is to “all the house of Israel” (Acts 2:36; cf. 4:10; 13:17, 24), and Jesus’ significance is repeatedly defined with reference to Israel (see Acts 10:36; 28:20). Moreover, the imagery of the lost sheep is accepted easily enough by Luke in his presentation of Jesus’ concern for fringe members of Israel (Luke 15:4–7).

Fifthly, Matt 10:5b, with its narrow and particularist presupposition, fits rather well with other material in Q which is not only depreciatory of Gentiles but also arguably belongs to a later or editorial stratum within Q. Thus Q 6:33, where LukeR has removed the original Gentile reference (ἐθνικοί), is a secondary Q commentary on the earlier demand for love of enemies (Schulz:129–30); Matt 6:7a is a secondary Q introduction to the prayer instruction (cf. Catchpole, 1983b:422–23); Q 12:30a is a secondary expansion of the concluding demand for avoidance of anxiety about food and clothing (Catchpole, 1989:377–78); Matt 18:17 reflects that stage in the development of the Q community when institutionalization has been achieved (Catchpole, 1983a).

5. We conclude, therefore, that the Q mission charge probably contained, along with other prohibitions, the instruction not to go into any way of the Gentiles nor to enter into a town of the Samaritans (εἰς ὁδὸν ἐθνῶν μὴ ἀπέλθητε, καὶ εἰς μόλιν Σαμαριτῶν μὴ εἰσέλθητε). Since it belongs most suitably with redactional material its contribution must be measured along with other editorial additions. The most important feature of this saying is that it voices an exclusive and particularist view of mission in a setting where an alternate inclusive and universal outlook is maintained by others (Beare, 1970:9). The speaker presumes that the Gentile mission is taking place, but declines to participate in it. We know from Gal 2:7–9 of one community and of one period of time when such a position was maintained.

3. Woes on the Towns of Galilee (q 10:13–15)

1. The woes on the towns of Galilee belong to the mission charge in Luke (10:13–15) and occur shortly after it in Matthew (11:20–24). In both sequences they occur immediately before the Jubelruf (Q 10:21–22), if Luke 10:17–20, itself almost certainly not derived from Q, is set aside. While the introductory Matt 11:20 can readily be assigned to MattR (Laufen: 228), the decision about vv. 23b–24 is less straightforward. Their presence in Q might be inferred from the formal parallelism of the two oracles, that is, a denunciation (vv. 21a, 23a), an adverse comparison with notoriously sinful towns (vv. 21b, 23b), and a declaration of grim prospects in the day of judgment (vv. 22, 24) (Fitzmyer, 1985:851). This could be reinforced by finding in the absence of vv. 23b–24 from Luke evidence of a concern to avoid repetition, while the numerical discrepancy in the two references to “you” in v. 24 (ὑμῖν … σοί) might stem from MattR insertion of “I say to you that” (λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι) into Q source material here as in v. 22 (diff Luke 10:14). Rather more plausible, however, is the alternate attribution of vv. 23b–24 to MattR. V. 23b is a pale and inadequate reflection of v. 21b, since it lacks any reference to repentance; it causes v. 23a to focus on miracles (as does the MattR v. 20) instead of preserving a more comprehensive reference, probably to Capernaum’s having been the home base of Jesus, though conceivably to its having set itself polemically over against the totality of what had been happening through Jesus; it depends for its force upon a phrase “until today” (μέχρι τῆς σήμεπον) which is characteristically MattR (cf. Matt 27:8; 28:15); v. 23a, as it stands, details an offense and amplifies the threat of judgment, i.e., it contains within itself hints of all three formal elements of the first oracle; and, finally, Luke elsewhere shows no prejudice against parallelism, indeed quite the opposite. The most likely conclusion is therefore that vv. 23b–24 did not belong to Q. In that case they are a MattR reminiscence of Q 10:12 and a confirmation that the woes did belong to the mission charge in Q.

2. The secondariness of Q 10:13–15 in their present (Luke/Q) context is beyond doubt.25 There is a discrepancy of audience between the missionaries and the towns; woes are pronounced before the disciples have even been in action; it was easy for Matthew to move the woes to a different context. Therefore the position of Q 10:13–15 is due to an editor.

What is the Sitz im Leben of Q 10:13–15 when considered in isolation? It surely must be that of a mission, not to Gentiles but to Israel, typified by Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, and providing a context in which an adverse comparison with notorious Gentile towns would be particularly galling to the hearers. The mission called for repentance and exhibited its essential character in some mighty works (δυνάμεις), suitably interpreted. The impression of a prophetic speaker, conveyed by the use of the “woe” form (Uro, 1987:163) and the demand for repentance, is reinforced by the recollection of the most closely related tradition elsewhere in Q, namely, 11:31–32. The contemporary speaker of wisdom and prophecy has an even higher claim to a response than his illustrious predecessors, but neither hearing nor repentance have been forthcoming. Again Gentile persons serve to enforce an adverse contrast with a presumed Israelite audience.

What is the implication of an editorial insertion of such a tradition as Q 10:13–15 into the mission charge? The insertion was clearly designed to strengthen the miraculous element in the mission (Q 10:9) and the contrast between a rejecting city and Sodom (Q 10:12). But it can surely be no accident that the inclusion of material with a well-defined Israelite audience was deemed so appropriate. In other words, the editorial intervention in this third case has the same horizon as in the first and second cases, that is, a charismatic mission dedicated to the renewal of Israel.

4. Sodom and the Rejecting Town (Q 10:12)

The sayings about the rejecting town come to a climax in the declaration about Sodom, and the latter has often been regarded as a Q-redactional anticipation of the woes on the towns (Q 10:13–15). On this very attractive hypothesis, the pre-editorial tradition ended with the dust-shaking (10:14), while the Sodom saying echoes the Tyre and Sidon saying (10:14) with which it is “astonishingly parallel.”

To test the validity of this view we need to consider the role of the Sodom saying within 10:10–12. V. 11b, the threatening declaration about the kingdom, and v. 12, the Sodom saying, are clearly somewhat in competition with one another: the former is a comment reinforcing the messengers’ removal of the dust of the rejecting town from their feet, while the latter is a comment intended for the messengers. The former is best regarded as LukeR, for it assimilates this discourse to others with a “knowing” or “being known” (γινώσκειν/γνωστὸν εἶναι) climax (cf. Acts 2:36; 13:38; 15:18; 20:34; 28:28) and characteristically attributes rejection to ignorance (cf. Luke 19:41–44; 23:34 v.l.; Acts 3:17; 13:27). With the removal of the competition represented by v. 11b, the key question is the relationship between v. 11a and v. 12, and it appears to be a very smooth and uncomplicated one. Does this cast doubt on the proposal that v. 12 be attributed to Q-redaction?

Firstly, the mission charge achieves only a weak climax without v. 12, unless v. 16 be drawn in to provide a final comment on the implications of rejection. We have already begun to see that this is unlikely, given the harmony that exists between 10:16 and the editorially attached 10:2. Now the metaphorical dust-removal is certainly “a symbolic breaking off of all community” (Jeremias, 1971:238), but it does not spell out the theological consequences. With v. 12, on the other hand, a natural continuation of vv. 10, 11a is achieved, and those consequences are spelt out bluntly. We recall also the observation that one of the crying scandals about the Sodomites was their refusal to show hospitality to visiting emissaries. Within the mission charge hospitality is the explicit and open sign of commitment to the message of the kingdom, so v. 12 is more a natural development of what precedes it than an anticipation of what follows. The totality of the whole tradition from Q 10:5 onwards conveys with the utmost clarity the same message as T. Asher 7:1: “Do not become like Sodom, which did not recognize the Lord’s angels and perished for ever.”

Secondly, the extreme radicalism of the saying encourages the thought that it is very ancient and indeed authentic. For Sodom had long since been viewed as an extreme example of corruption, “the incarnation of wickedness,” a classic example of what provokes judgment by fire.31 To affirm that any town will fare worse than Sodom in the eschatological judgment is truly astonishing. One recalls Lam 4:6: “The chastisement of the daughter of my people has been greater than the punishment of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment, no hand being laid upon it.” Such a worse fate must mean final and once for all condemnation (cf. Jub. 36:10; Luke 17:28–30)—and all for rejecting the words of the messengers of Jesus, and that alone! No suggestion is made that Sodom-like offenses have been committed, such as adultery, lying and the approval of evil (cf. Jer 23:14), or pride, gluttony, prosperous ease, failure to help the poor and needy, and idolatry (Ezek 16:49; cf. Jude 7; T. Levi 14:6; T. Naph. 3:4; T. Benj. 9:1)—only rejecting the words of the messengers of Jesus! Yet the words of the messengers of Jesus are the proclamation of the nearness of God’s kingdom which, for all that it spells salvation and healing, also by definition implies judgment. And only 10:12 articulates that judgment.

So it seems fair to register some hesitation about the assessment of Q 10:12 as redactional. But should that hesitation be deemed incorrect, then the implications of 10:12 for the outlook of the redactor will be the same as the implications of the insertion of 10:13–15. The Sitz im Leben is the same the mission to Israel in the context of near expectation.

5. “Eat What is Set Before You” (Luke 10:8b)

The instruction to eat whatever is provided, attested by Luke alone, is an item of some sensitivity, both in the recovery of the Q text and in the discussion of Q-redaction. If it were present in Q and not attributable to LukeR it would have to be regarded as redactional, since it is usually interpreted as encouraging conduct unrestricted by Jewish food laws (cf. 1 Cor 12:27), and such behavior belongs to a setting of Christian advance into the Gentile world. By the same token, if it were Q-redactional it would threaten the main proposal of this essay that the Q-editor belongs to a situation in which a Gentile mission elsewhere is known about but not emulated. Arguments mounted against LukeR by Uro (1987:69) are, firstly, that “Luke avoids introducing a Gentile mission in the teaching of the earthly Jesus,” and secondly that “Luke takes a respectful attitude towards Jewish ritual law” (cf. Acts 10; 15:29). But against the first argument, Luke does not keep quite so watertight the compartments of the period of Jesus and the period of the Church. One thinks of the Spirit, the promise for the post-resurrection community (Luke 24:49), yet introduced by LukeR at the pre-resurrection stage (Luke 11:13 diff Matt 7:11). Moreover, if (as Uro suggests) Q presupposes a Gentile mission in its Jesus-sayings, Luke incorporates these sayings within his Jesus-period contentedly enough, and the parallelism between Acts 10 and the redactional Luke 7:3–5 reinforces the point. Against the second argument, Q is just as strong as Luke in maintaining an extemely conservative view of the whole law (Q 16:17), and Philip F. Esler has shown that a conservative view of the law in general does not prevent a more relaxed approach to the food laws in particular (71–109).

Counting more significantly against the inclusion of Luke 10:8b in Q are some structural considerations. Luke 10:8–11 is plainly intended to form an antithetical parallelism, with the two subsections beginning “and into whatever town you enter and they receive you” (v. 8a) and “and into whatever town you enter and they do not receive you” (v. 10a). Each describes certain actions by Jesus’ emissaries and concludes with an announcement in direct speech that the kingdom of God is near (vv. 9, 11). This parallelism is contrived, depends upon Lukan data which have no Matthaean support (cf. the earlier discussion of v. 11b), and, since it by no means follows that a reference to rejection in a town (vv. 10, 11) must have been preceded by a reference to acceptance (Hoffmann: 277), is most naturally attributed to LukeR. The words “and into whatever town you enter” (καὶ εἰς ἣν ἂν πόλιν εἰσέρχησθε, v. 8a) are supported by Matt 10:11a, itself a preface to material stemming either from MattR or from Mark 6:10. They cannot have stood alone in Q, and in principle could have led smoothly into a description of healing and preaching. The words “and they receive you” (καὶ δέχωνται ὑμᾶς) confine the healing and preaching to a setting of reception. This is scarcely conceivable in principle and scarcely in harmony with the Q perspective documented in Q 10:13–15, for there miracles have been part of the appeal for a response, and have failed to achieve it. And then the words “eat what is set before you” (ἐσθίετε τὰ παρατιθέμενα ὑμῖν) conform to Lukan usage (cf. Acts 16:34) as well as to the Pauline slogan (cf. 1 Cor 10:27), and plainly belong to the setting of house rather than town.

We conclude, therefore, that Luke 10:8b is LukeR, and that the Q contribution to Luke 10:8, 9 was confined to statements about entry to a town, healing, and the announcement of the near kingdom.

6. The Shaliah Saying (Q 10:16)

The shaliah saying (Q 10:16) has survived in two divergent forms at the end of the mission charge, and is also echoed in several passages elsewhere in the NT (Mark 9:37 par.; John 12:48; 13:20; 1 Thess 2:13; 4:8).

Matthew’s shorter form, lacking a rejection statement, is probably a MattR adaptation to a context (Matt 10:40–42) which shows the influence of Mark 9:37–41; in neither Markan nor Matthaean setting would a rejection statement have been appropriate. Probably under that same influence of Mark 9:37 there occurs at the climax of the saying the declaration that “he who receives me receives him who sent me,” for which Luke has no equivalent except in the rejection part of Luke 10:16. Laufen attributes the longer form to Q (230–33), but it is not easy to explain a LukeR shortening. The other major discrepancy is between Matthew’s “receive” and Luke’s “hear.” This time it is easy to adopt the consensus view that Luke’s version is the original one.

The recent reconstruction of the mission of the historical Jesus by Graham N. Stanton has found in Q 10:16 the epitome of that mission (188), and it is easy to understand why. There is an essential harmony between it and the material earlier in the mission charge which we have claimed as derivative from Jesus. It overlaps with the explicit “sending” saying, Q 10:3, at the start of the pre-Q tradition. It matches the recurrent pattern of positive and negative elements in Q 10:5–7, 8–12. In and of itself it positively demands a Sitz im Leben in mission. But an authentic saying of Jesus whose necessary setting is missionary activity is not thereby shown to be an original and integral part of the pre-Q mission charge in particular. Formally it is self-contained and self-sufficient, could survive without difficulty, and therefore could reach a later editor by other channels prior to being incorporated by him in his own version of the mission charge.

As a saying using antithetical parallelism it is particularly well suited to the end of a mission charge, since the conclusion of a discourse frequently sets out the issues, the choice of human response, the consequences of that choice. In all those respects it can function in this discourse in just the same way as Q 6:47–49 functioned in the inaugural discourse. As a saying whose major emphasis is in its second half it naturally relates to a mission in Israel where the covenant encourages confidence and even a complacency which it is the prophetic task to disturb. As a saying located at the end of this mission charge it is particularly fitting.

7. The Underlying Mission Charge

Our discussion so far has suggested that the eating rule (Luke 10:8b) was not present in Q, while the Sodom saying (Q 10:12) belonging to Q was not redactional. On the other hand, we have isolated the harvest saying (Q 10:2), the declaration that “the laborer is worthy of his hire” (Q 10:7b), the Gentiles/Samaritans saying (Matt 10:5b), as well as the insertion of the woes on the towns of Galilee (Q 10:13–15) and the final shaliah saying (Q 10:16) as Q-redaction. This leaves us with the sheep/wolves saying (Q 10:3), the equipment and greeting rule (Q 10:4), instructions about conduct in houses (Q 10:5–7) and in towns (Q 10:8–12). It is now necessary to discuss the extent to which this material is unified.

1. It is scarcely conceivable that any material relating to mission could exist without some statement of commissioning. Indeed, if we were confronted by the equipment rule (Q 10:4) and instructions on conduct in houses (Q 10:5–7) alone, we would have no idea why this rule and these instructions were issued. In short, they are not self-sufficient and could hardly survive in isolation. Therefore, Q 10:3 is needed as an initial statement of definition.

Reference has already been made to the situation of religious polarization which Q 10:3 addresses, and it may be worth amplifying a little. Wolves occur in contexts which highlight rapacity, destruction and devastation (cf. Gen 49:27; Prov 28:15; Jer 5:6; Ezek 22:27; Zeph 3:3; T. Gad 1:3; T. Benj. 11:1–2; Matt 7:15; John 10:12; Acts 20:29). To mention sheep in the same breath is to conjure up a vision of confrontation, threat and danger—one in which there is no fellowship or peace (Sir 13:17–18), one which, if brought about by a human shepherd, implies negligence (2 Esdr 5:18) or, if by divine decision, implies judgment (1 Enoch 89:55–56). Harmony between sheep and wolves in the natural world is so inconceivable that it is assigned to the eschatological age when God makes possible the hitherto impossible (Isa 11:6; 65:25).

What is striking about Q 10:3 is that in a context giving some prominence to the peace theme (Q 10:5) we have presupposed here a dark situation from which peace is absent (Hoffmann: 294); a metaphor which could be employed in Jew/Gentile confrontation (1 Enoch 90:1–27) here being applied to a confrontation between Jews; a situation which might imply negligence on the part of the person responsible, clearly indicating nothing of the sort, even though their “defenceless and unprotected state” (Jeremias, 1971:239) is brought about deliberately; a metaphor which could convey a message of judgment doing no such thing. This striking saying makes it abundantly clear that the mission cannot proceed with imperturbable calm, and it hints that the missionaries, although potential victims of conflict, are not themselves its initiators. Such an outlook is consonant with (1) the lack of a staff (Q 10:4), which is another way of expressing vulnerability to danger; (2) the use of the term “peace” (Q 10:6) to describe the bond between sympathizers, as over against opponents, the sort of terminology which recalls polarizing Qumran-speak; and (3) the warning of rejection by particular communities (Q 10:10–12). It also suggests recourse to the Deuteronomic scheme for the interpretation of prophetic missions to Israel,34 and when we consider how extremely widespread is the evidence of the use of that scheme in early Christianity (cf. Q 11:49; Mark 12:1–9; Acts 7:51f; 1 Thess 2:15), and how inevitable and immediate a resource it was for any mission experiencing conflict, then the presence of this view in the mission charge is less likely to be derived from the final redactional stratum and more likely to mark what is shared with the Jesus-tradition from its very earliest stage onwards. As far as Q 10:3 is concerned, it is needed by Q 10:4, 5–7 and in respect of the theme, leads naturally into what follows.

2. The Q form of the equipment rule probably prohibited the carrying of money, a bag, sandals or a staff (Q 10:4a), and may well have led into a prohibition of greetings on the way (Q 10:4b). There is good reason to suppose that this rule is an authentic element in the very earliest form of the mission charge: it is coherent with other authentic traditions, it picks up themes which are multiply attested, and it runs contrary to human instinct, Cynic practice (Tuckett, 1989:367–68), Jewish assumptions (cf. Exod 3:5; 12:11; m. Ber. 9:5; m. Yeb. 16:7) and criticisms of anyone unduly dependent on help from fellow human beings (b. Pes. 113b), and the tendency of early Christian reflexion, as attested by the less rigorous Mark 6:8–9.

Firstly, the lack of money certainly excludes buying and selling (cf. Josephus, Bell. 2.127) but probably implies far more, namely, the ready acceptance of poverty, the abandonment of material concern with the present age, and an identification with those to whom the message of the kingdom is directed. It is not a prophetic sign of what is to come, since poverty is a mark of the present rather than the future. The classic text which gives profound meaning to this rule, and one which shows how well Q 10:4 integrates with Q 10:9, is Q 6:20b: “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”

Secondly, the lack of a bag means that no food can be carried (cf. Jud 10:5; 13:10) and consequently, for the person concerned, the expectation of suffering (Gen. R. 60.11) and what the rabbis, commenting on dependence on a neighbor’s table, described as “life which is no life” (b. Bez. 32b). Of course, provision will be made by the “sons of peace” (thus Q 10:4 connects to Q 10:5–7) or not, as the case may be (thus Q 10:4 connects to Q 10:10, 12), but the reason for the prohibition has still to be found. While Q 12:22–31 (specifically that part of the earliest pre-Q stratum visible in Q 12:24) clearly corresponds with the promise of divine provision of food, the deliberate plan expressed in “no bag” is most suitably understood as an identification with those to whom the message of Q 6:21a is directed, “Blessed are the hungry, for they shall be filled.”

Thirdly, the lack of sandals, more drastic than the Essene pattern (Josephus, Bell. 2.126) and too extreme for Mark (6:9), is shown by parallel texts to mean not only the absence of a basic, even ultimate, necessity but also openness to insult and shame, a life which is worse than being dead and buried (Deut 25:9–10; Amos 2:6; Sir 46:19; b. Pes. 113b; b. Sab. 129a, 152a). Openness to insult is attested elsewhere in Q 6:29 (embedded in the context of passive acceptance of enmity), but this does not suffice as an interpretative guide to the lack of sandals. That is to be found in the association between going barefoot and being in mourning (2 Sam 15:30; Isa 20:2–3; Ezek 24:17, 23; Uro, 1987:119–20), from which a straight line leads to Q 6:21b, “Blessed are the mourners, for they will be comforted.”

Fourthly, the lack of a staff, without which no ancient oriental traveller would expect to set out, means the absence of support (cf. Gen 32:11; Ezek 29:6–7; Tob 5:17) and, more seriously, of the means of self-protection (2 Sam 23:21; 1 Chr 11:23; Bel 26). Not even the itinerant Essenes went this far (Josephus, Bell. 2.125). These unprotected and vulnerable emissaries of Jesus are clearly compelled to play the part of “sheep among wolves” (Q 10:3) in physical as well as religious terms, given the occurrence of the staff in many texts describing the shepherd’s instrument for the protection of the sheep (Ps 2:9; Mic 7:14; Zech 11:7). But, as with the other prohibitions, some more positive intention is to be expected, in this case probably an exhibition of the hallmark of the mission which is “peace” (Q 10:5–6). That “peace” is ultimately derivable from Isa 52:7, the announcement of the kingship of God which belongs to the Isaianic complex to which the text underlying the Q beatitudes (Isa 61:1–2) looks back. Once again we find a conceptual network holding Q 10:4, 5–7, 8–9 together.

3. Conduct in houses is focused on three items in Q 10:5–7, i.e., the initial greeting (vv. 5–6), the acceptance of hospitality (v. 7abc), and residence in only one house (v. 7d). Apart from minor verbal uncertainties the original Q text has probably been preserved by Luke (Schulz:405–406).

In Q 10:5–7 the themes treated give, in association with Q 10:4, a balanced and symmetrical depiction of the personal position of the emissaries. During their journey they lack independent provision and establish no relationships by means of greetings: at the end of their journey they experience provision, and are sustained by an established relationship inaugurated by a theologically loaded greeting. In literary terms, there is plainly homogeneity in Q 10:4, 5–7. In religious terms, it is important to dwell on the key function of the greeting. That which might be expected to be part of normal human interchange (Exod 18:7; Tob 5:9; Sir 41:20; 1 Macc 11:6) is here invested with heavy significance. There takes place a real, but conditional, communication of peace. It may be communicated indeed, though a hostile response will cause its return to its source. When communication does occur it binds the speaker to the “son of peace.” Elsewhere in Q the phrase “son of …” has both a present (Q 6:35) and an eschatological orientation (Q 13:28) and therefore we must envisage here too the prospect of eschatological peace, the peace of Isa 52:7, and a peace which is exhibited in personal demeanor and celebrated in table fellowship. Although the coming kingdom has in the Luke/Q sequence not yet been mentioned, one cannot but recall two other traditions in which that coming kingdom is the future reality in the face of which divine fatherly care brings about the provision of food (Q 11:2–4; 12:22–31). Here the same applies, though with the extra datum that divine provision is brought about by human means. Moreover, the shared table brought about by the fellowship of peace has also itself to be seen as an anticipation of the ultimate meal (Q 13:28–29).

The discussion of the meaning and content of Q 10:5–7 adds to our sense of the close connection between it and adjacent sayings, both those which precede and those which follow it.

4. The preaching of the kingdom is mentioned in Q (Matt 10:7/Luke 10:9, 11) but not in Mark. In Luke 10:8–9 it is quite naturally connected with entry into a town but, as we have seen, rather unnaturally attached to a specifically welcoming town within which food is provided. The provision of hospitality would be more appropriately connected to a house, and is in any case a reduplication of Q 10:7, while the linkage with a welcome seems designed only to balance the concluding declaration about the kingdom to an unwelcoming town (Luke 10:11b). LukeR is therefore substantially in evidence. On the other hand, the introductory reference to entry into a city is likely to have been in Q since (1) it is in tension with the following LukeR reference to hospitality; (2) there is a Matt/Luke agreement on such an introductory phrase following the proverbial saying about the laborer; and (3) without any introduction at all the command to preach and heal would follow very abruptly on the instruction detailing conduct in houses. Reference has already been made to the LukeR “upon you” (ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς) and the MattR expansion of miraculous activity, so when small and insignificant Matt/Luke discrepancies are tidied up this part of the Q text emerges as “and into whatever town you enter, heal the sick and say, The kingdom of God has drawn near” (καὶ εἰς ἣν πόλιν εἰσέρχησθε θεραπεύετε τοὺς ἀσθενεῖς, καὶ λέγετε· ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ)

This statement must have figured in the original mission charge if the latter was in any sense coherent and clear. Here alone is a definition of what the mission was all about. Links have already been pointed out between this saying and what precedes and is made meaningful by it. Moreover, if the preceding material has, in terms of its own tradition-history, high claim to stem from the historical Jesus, the same applies here. In other words, a stratum of the mission charge later than that of Q 10:4–7 is not in view.

5. The saying about the rejecting town (Q 10:10–12) has in all probability been worked over by both Matthew and Luke: Matthew introduced “hear your words” and added the reference to the house while Luke moved to this stage the idea of entry into the town, added the reference to the streets of the town, and created a new climax with “nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.”45

In substance this Q saying exhibits a neat balance with the preceding saying about preaching and healing. Q 10:8a describes entry into a town, and Q 10:10a describes departure; Q 10:9 describes the positive approach of the messengers with the proclamation and power of the kingdom, and Q 10:10b, 11a describes the refusal of their approach and their negative reaction; Q 10:8–9 describes what will always happen as a strategy of mission is activated, and Q 10:10–11 describes what may happen simply because a successful outcome of the mission cannot be guaranteed. Thus there is an inherent symmetry and unity about the underlying text of Q 10:8–11. The emphatic sequel in Q 10:12 serves merely to reinforce and reiterate for the benefit of the emissaries the eschatological bearing of what is happening. Just as the greeting, which has a more than usually deep theological bearing, is to be offered but may be rejected, so also the effective approach of the kingdom in word and action is to be offered and may be rejected. The first is connected with the micro-community of the house, and has for the emissaries a personal dimension, since it touches on whether their material needs will be supplied; the second is connected with the macro-community of the town, and has a public dimension. The first deals with a response at a deep level (“a son of peace”), which shows itself in the provision of hospitality; the second uses the word “receive,” which can stand for a general and overall response and for the welcome which may express itself in table-fellowship in particular. In short, there is an integrated homogeneity about these different instructions which combine to form Q 10:4, 5–11, 12. To separate any one of them from the rest is to damage a carefully judged whole.

8. Conclusion

We set out to examine the possible unity of the sheep/wolves saying (Q 10:3), the equipment rule (Q 10:4), and the instructions on conduct in houses (Q 10:5–7) and in towns (Q 10:8–12). Our conclusion is that the unity of this materal is indeed probable. It does not contain strata within itself. One single stratum was later superimposed upon it, a stratum consisting of the harvest saying (Q 10:2), the “Gentiles/Samaritans” saying (Matt 10:5b), the woes on the towns of Galilee (Q 10:13–15), and the shaliah saying (Q 10:16). The superimposition of this single extra stratum was what fitted the old Jesus-material for re-use in a context which was later but not altogether new, that of the post-Jesus mission to Israel.

Q and Jesus: Assumptions, Approaches, and Analyses

Richard A. Horsley

University of Massachusetts, Boston

Harvard Divinity School


Portrayals of Jesus based on analysis of isolated sayings of Jesus are problematic because the meaning discerned in sayings isolated from literary and/or social context on which their historical meaning would depend is highly susceptible of determination by the concerns of modern scholarly interpreters. Recent literary and social-historical analyses have sharpened our awareness of the (interrelated) importance of both literary context (genre, etc.) and social context for the significance of particular sayings and accounts of Jesus in the synoptic Gospel tradition. More particularly, sophisticated recent analysis of Q as composed of clusters of sayings with particular purposes has opened a new avenue with great potential for a more contextual understanding of the tradition of Jesus’ sayings. The Q clusters provide a relatively elaborated framework in which (otherwise isolated) sayings of Jesus were understood by certain communities just a few decades after Jesus’ ministry and roughly in the same social circumstances. Analysis of the development of Q materials into clusters, moreover, indicates how those materials may have been shaped and understood at a stage even closer to the context of Jesus’ ministry. The series of complexes of sayings that constitute Q portray Jesus engaged in the renewal of the people of Israel as well as the preaching and manifestation of the kingdom of God. Many of the sayings classified as sapiential appear, in context, to be popular convenantal teaching addressed to local communities which are the social form in which the renewal of the people is apparently taking place. Two of the clusters are sharp condemnations of the Jerusalem rulers and the scribes and Pharisees for the debilitating effect they have had on the people. Comparisons of the Q portrayals of Jesus’ ministry with similar Markan materials suggest that Jesus was a prophetic figure engaged in the renewal of the people, including revitalization of convenantal forms, and in conflict with the authorities in a way that accords with the structural social and regional conflicts prevailing in ancient Jewish Palestine.

1. Procedural Considerations: Meaning in Literary and Social Contexts

Imagine a portrayal of Gandhi or of Martin Luther King based only on a few of their respective speeches—as if they were only religious teachers—and not only oblivious of their respective actions or campaigns, but also uninformed about British colonial rule of India or about segregation in the United States. Such a portrayal would seem superficial. Yet in New Testament studies, many treatments of Jesus proceed as if it were possible to reconstruct and make sense of Jesus’ “teachings” without much consideration of the concrete historical situation which he addressed and without much reference to his actions and the movement he led.

Our predecessors in the field, convinced that the narrative materials in the Gospels were of little value for historical reconstruction, focused the study of Jesus on the (basically form-critical) quest for particular “authentic” sayings. We have thus learned to proceed by analysis of discrete sayings purposely isolated or “freed” from literary context. This is a highly problematic procedure, of course, if the goal is historical reconstruction, for the more isolated or “aphoristic” a saying is, the more difficult it is to discern its meaning in a particular life-situation. The resulting lack of context has at least two noteworthy implications. What we see in particular sayings is determined by what we are looking for, such as religious truths or ethical principles or, more recently, proverbial forms (Robbins, 1985:45–53). Moreover, since meaning depends upon cultural context, the meaning discerned in sayings which we have isolated from their literary and historical contexts is highly susceptible of determination by the cultural context of the modern interpreter.

Apparently much of what has been discerned and debated in studies of Jesus and the Gospels has indeed been determined by the conceptual apparatus presupposed in the field. Insofar as we assumed the modern synthetic construct of “apocalypticism,” then the presence of certain “apocalyptic” motifs in his teaching led some to believe that Jesus was an apocalyptic visionary, while others labored mightily to save Jesus from any implication of having been a fanatical “enthusiast.” Insofar as we were looking for the “christology” of a given document, with “the Son of Man” as one of the options, then the occurrence of “son of man” in Q 17:24, 26, 30, etc. meant that Q had a “Son of Man” christology and that Jesus was understood in Q as the exalted Lord. Insofar as we assumed modern individualism, then Jesus appeared as a teacher to individuals espousing a particular “lifestyle.” Insofar as we presupposed that biblical and related texts are about “religion,” and that we are studying the emergence of “early Christianity” out of “Judaism,” in which the Pharisees and the (ir) Law were normative, then if not Jesus himself at least his followers were rejecting Judaism/Israel.

If, on the other hand, those presupposed concepts are not warranted by ancient literary remains and historical realities, then it would appear inappropriate to keep investigating and debating certain issues. “Apocalypticism” may be such a broad synthetic category that it obscures rather than elucidates particular texts and figures. “Christology” may be a modern concept appropriate to Pauline writings but not to Q or certain pre-Markan materials. Thinking in terms of “Judaism” and “Christianity” may simply obscure the diversity and particularity of texts, figures, and groups, on the one hand, and tend to “reduce” to only religious phenomena what were inseparably social-political as well. Much of what is transmitted and debated in our field may turn out to be false knowledge not only because it is unsupported by historical evidence, but also because it ignores and even veils the concrete historical social relations in which textual and other expressions were rooted.

Recent advances on three fronts in particular make it impossible to proceed as before in understanding Jesus through synoptic and other gospel traditions. First, sensitive examination of the “sapiential” sayings of Jesus suggest that many of the “aphorisms” of Jesus not only require a concrete context in order to be understood, but apparently arose out of and addressed a situation of conflict as well (Robbins, 1985, in response to the stimulating analysis of Crossan, 1983; cf. Beardslee, 1970a; 1970b; Williams, 1981; 1988). Second, the emergence of highly sophisticated treatments of the genre and composition of Q itself and of Mark have sharpened our awareness of both the concrete references and the degree of social conflict portrayed in synoptic Gospel materials (e.g., Kloppenborg, 1987a; Mack, 1988b; Kelber). Third, the increasingly precise questions we are posing with regard to historical social structures and movements in Jewish Palestine call into question much of the received conceptual apparatus in our field. Thus our recognition, for example, that Jesus’ sayings would only have been remembered and transmitted if they resonated with people in particular circumstances and that meaning is dependent on context are leading us to recognize that a more adequate approach to Jesus must involve more precise attention to the concrete historical social situations in which Jesus, his followers, and their literary products were involved.

Procedurally, in fact, a certain priority must be given to reconstruction of the pertinent social situation(s) in order to have a context in which to understand the meaning and function of sayings, actions, and relationships portrayed literarily. Although it can be done only briefly here, it is thus necessary at least to mention a few significant features of the picture of historical social relations in first-century Jewish Palestine now emerging from recent investigations based on review of available historical data in the light of comparative sociological studies of traditional agrarian societies (see the fuller sketch in Horsley, 1989b). In traditional societies, of course, “religion” was inseparable from other dimensions of social life, whether of kinship and village community at the local level, or of the political-economic governing apparatus at a regional level. The fundamental social division in Palestine was not between Judaism and Hellenism or between Jewish and Christian, but between what appears in various aspects as rulers and ruled, taxers and taxed, city/court/temple and town/village. Yet this fundamental opposition was not between entities that can be understood in isolation, but involved shared cultural heritage and mutual influence as well as relations of domination and exploitation. No longer able to speak simplistically of “Judaism” or even of “Jewish society,” we must come to grips with different communities on at least two overlapping levels: village or town communities with their own semi-independent social forms, on the one hand, and the community (ies) centered around the urban-based governing apparatus, on the other.

The fundamental structural opposition between local and central governing communities was compounded by the historical regional differences in Palestine, particularly that between Judea/Jerusalem and Galilee, which had become subjected to the Jerusalem high priesthood only about a century before Jesus, and which was under the jurisdiction of Herodian rulers during the ministry of Jesus and the early development of his movement. The historically rooted regional differences would have resulted in serious cultural differences and political-religious tensions between Galileans and the ruling institutions in Jerusalem. For example, directly contrary to the conclusions he is arguing, the evidence Freyne presents (chaps. 7–8) indicates that Galileans tended to resist the demands of the Temple and of the official interpreters of the Torah. Although there had been a degree of “Hellenization” in Galilee, the rebuilt city of Sepphoris and Antipas’ new foundation of Tiberias were basically royal administrative cities with a largely Jewish population (Jones, 1931a; 1971). As Josephus attests (e.g., Vita 30, 39, 66, 375), the relations between these cities and the Galileans subjected to their administration could erupt into open hostility. We can expect particular pieces of our picture of ancient Galilee to come more precisely into focus as further sociological analyses are undertaken.

About two further matters of key importance for understanding both Q and the ministry of Jesus, however, some clarity is emerging. First, the principal form of local self-government was apparently the village or town assembly. Like knesset in tannaitic literature, synagogue in the synoptic gospels (except for Luke 7:5) refers not to a religious building but to the local assembly gathered (in the agora or “town-square,” not “market place”) to conduct community affairs such as fund-raising or prayers or keeping the peace (Safrai; Hoenig; Horsley, 1989b; Kee, 1990). Second, the Pharisees, far from being leaders of local assemblies, were apparently among the scribal-legal “retainers” of the sacerdotal government in Jerusalem (Saldarini, 1988a). As an ever more precise focus on concrete social circumstances and relationships develops, we must obviously adjust our reading of synoptic gospel texts and of the movements or communities from which they emerged.

Given our new awareness of the importance of both literary composition and of social context, it is clear that, in our efforts to understand a text adequately, issues of genre and composition and those of social origins and implications cannot be pursued separately. The pursuit of literary and social analyses in close interrelationship, however, can lead to important qualifications of the accepted results of literary analysis that was pursued separately.

The opening of biblical studies to extra-biblical literary criticism has sharpened our appreciation of the importance of literary form for the meaning of texts. Meaning, in texts at least, is certainly heavily shaped by genre. With regard to Q in particular, James M. Robinson (1964; 1971) posed and pressed the issue, and John Kloppenborg (1987a) has focused and refined it. The latter, moreover, sharpening the focus on instructional and gnomological forms and their respective hermeneutics, has also raised a number of questions that tend to “relativize” the importance of genre or, stated more precisely, lead us to consider genre in relation to other factors, principally that of the particular social-historical setting.

To what degree did Q ever really function as a text, or a sayings document? The question about the actual functioning of Q as a sayings document or text is further sharpened by the rather fluid form of Q during the brief time of its existence. Although there are various hypotheses about the general development and particular stages of composition that Q underwent, there is consensus that it was composite and changing, with certain distinctive additions and redactions—somewhat similar to the continuing development of what we now have as the Didache. This fluidity along with other factors would appear to keep open the question of the degree to which the sayings genre functioned within an oral context of remembering or even performing Jesus’ sayings (Robinson) or a context of reading a text (Kloppenborg). Thus, while a sharp opposition of textuality and orality is essential in understanding the meaning of Plato’s dialogues in contrast with earlier Greek epic traditions (Havelock), it would appear to make little difference with regard to the meaning-in-context of Q (cf. Robbins, 1985:51–52). During its brief existence, the shape and contents of Q were developing and there was apparently regular interaction between oral tradition and textual redaction. On Kloppenborg’s reconstruction even the genre was shifting somewhat, from instruction to gnomologium, including chreiai which had absorbed sayings, and finally moving in the direction of narrative.

Particularly if the literary genre is broad and general, as in the case of Robinson’s logoi sophon and Kloppenborg’s instruction and gnomologia, the more precise our questions about meaning and understanding, the less significant genre becomes in relation to other key hermeneutical factors, particularly the historical and social settings and the particular forms and motifs included in the text (Kloppenborg, 1987b:31). Q and the Gospel of Thomas and m. ‘Abot are as different from each other in their respective meaning-in-context as any one of them is from, say, an epistle such as James or 1 Timothy. Or, with regard to the purposes of this essay, the picture of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas appears far more dramatically different from that in Q than does the portrayal of Jesus in Mark.

This recognition of the importance of social and historical settings in relation to genre, however, suggests that there cannot be an adequate discussion of genre apart from its function in particular settings. And it is precisely in this connection that the compositional analysis carried out by Kloppenborg and others has its greatest importance (quite independent of any stratigraphical hypothesis). Such analysis has clearly demonstrated that Q (in contrast to the Gospel of Thomas) is really not simply a collection of sayings, but is composed as a sequence of clusters or complexes. If we then attempt to read the document in its particular historical social setting, i.e., apparently mid-first century CE Galilee, we must attend to the functions or purposes of the clusters. And, that the subject or concern of some of those clusters is evident virtually on the surface of things suggests that analysis of the respective functions of the various clusters may contribute to a sense of the overall functions, hence the hermeneutic and significance of the document as a whole.

The purposes of some of the complexes are immediately evident, such as Q 10:2–16, presenting instruction on mission, and 11:2–4, 9–13 with its instruction on boldly petitioning God. Assuming that the series of clusters was composed to go together, then the function of the Q material behind Luke 17:23–37 is also fairly clear: this exhortation to preparedness in the face of the sudden judgment day serves as a sanction on the exhortation in the rest of the document. Although perhaps less obvious, the purpose of some of the other complexes is not far to seek. Anticipating further discussion in the next section below, we can discern tentatively the purpose of several significant Q clusters. Besides being Jesus’ inaugural discourse, 6:20–49 is apparently a programmatic presentation first of blessings of the kingdom and then of covenantal admonitions regarding interaction in the community (evident particularly in 6:27–36, 37–38, 41–42). Q 7:18–35 deals not simply with John and Jesus, but with what is happening with them, the fulfillment of popular longings and prophecies of restoration. Q 12:2–12 exhorts Jesus’ followers to confess courageously in the face of persecution, and 12:22–31 addresses the people’s anxieties about the necessities of life. Two of the clusters are attacks against those apparently viewed as opponents of Jesus and his followers. Q 11:39–52, and perhaps the whole of 11:14–52, sharply condemns the Pharisees for exploiting the people and rejecting the manifestation and preaching of the kingdom. Correspondingly the fragments of Q material in Luke 13:28–30, 34–35 and 14:16–24 appear to be a cluster of sayings directed against the Jewish rulers in Jerusalem. Figuring prominently at significant points in most of the clusters (6:20; 7:28; 10:9, [11]; 11:2, 20; 12:31; 13:18–21, 28–29; 16:16?; 22:28–30, at least implicit in “thrones”), the kingdom of God provides the unifying theme of the whole document, with its double-edged effect of salvific benefits for those who respond but implications of judgment for those who do not. We have no way of knowing for sure exactly how the document began and ended, but 3:7–9, 16–17 would provide an appropriate opening, threatening fire as well as promising Spirit, and 22:28–30 a highly reassuring closing, in which the notion of kingdom implicit in “thrones” entails the renewal (not judgment!) of Israel.

The potential impact of the recognition that Q is composed of a sequence of saying-clusters and must be read and understood according to the functions of those clusters is profound not only for the way in which the sayings are read at the Q level but for our approach to the ministry of Jesus as well. Although it has not been discerned, let alone pursued, one extremely significant result of recent compositional analysis of Q is that it has opened a new avenue with great potential for a more contextual understanding of the tradition of Jesus’ sayings (and deeds and relationships). Ironically, in terms of historical method, scholars interested in the historical Jesus have found no satisfactory alternative to establishing a “data base” of relatively isolated individual “authentic” sayings. Among the major problems with such an approach are (a) that it may simply be impossible to get back to some sort of “original” of a given saying (since sayings were shaped, transmitted, and reshaped as they were significant to particular people in particular situations) and (b), as noted, that a saying has no meaning at all apart from some particular social or cultural context. The sophisticated recent compositional analysis that presents Q as a sequence of complexes can help us in two important ways in the requisite process of determining how sayings and typical actions of Jesus were understood in the historical context of social relations. First, as a relatively well-shaped document (even if still undergoing minor additions and insertions), Q can provide a relatively elaborated framework in which particular sayings and sets of sayings were understood by Jesus people just a few decades after Jesus and in roughly the same social circumstances. Second, analyses of the development of particular Q materials indicate also how those materials may have been shaped and understood at an even earlier stage, closer to the immediate context of Jesus’ ministry.

The procedure I am suggesting we explore is to pursue, through Q clusters, an indirect route toward some sense of the connections of sayings (and typical actions) with each other and with concrete social relations (established as much as possible through other sources), a sense which may otherwise be unattainable. Instead of isolating discrete bits of data, which are virtually meaningless outside of literary and historical contexts, we should attend first to the literary context and the social context indicated in available documents, in this case Q, and then reason critically backwards to connections and situations in what was basically the same historical social context only a few decades earlier. Once we have recognized that Q is composed in several complexes, then the sayings must be interpreted (initially at least!) within the context of the purpose or function(s) of those complexes. This procedure is indicated by the results of recent compositional analysis regardless of whether one finds a particular hypothesis of stratigraphy convincing. Only after reading the particular sayings in the literary and social context of the sequence of clusters in a particular stratum of Q or in Q as a whole would the interpreter have a clear enough sense of one actual contextual meaning of given sayings to be able to project or discern earlier stages in the use, application, or understanding of those sayings in relation to other sayings and in concrete social context.

Finally, before examining the Q clusters more closely, it may expedite the inquiry to be clear at the outset what does not appear in the Q clusters discernible through Matthew and Luke. The inventory is sobering for what is missing. Not only is there no allusion to a passion-resurrection kerygma in Q, there is no reason internal to Q to believe that the cultivation of Q material and the composition of the document presupposed the passion and/or resurrection. Nor is there any clear indication in Q of either an “exalted Jesus” or “the parousia.” The assumption that either or both are present in Q is dependent on the dual assumptions that “son of man” is a “christological title” and that such a title belongs to Jesus in Q (Boring: 141, 182; Walker: 607; cf. Neirynck, 1982:69–74). But when Jesus uses “son of man” in reference to himself in Q (6:22; 7:34; 9:58; 11:30), there is no reference to the future judgment, and when he uses the stereotyped expression “the day(s) of the son of man” or “the son of man” in reference to the judgment (12:8–9, 40; 17:24, 26, 30) he is not referring to himself. There is nothing in Q corresponding to the three predictions of the passion-and-resurrection of “the son of man” in Mark 8–10 that would suggest that Jesus himself is somehow the exalted and/or coming “Son of Man.”

Partly because those sayings about the judgment—classified as sayings about “the apocalyptic Son of Man,” a modern concept for which there appears to be little or no basis in ancient Jewish texts—loomed so large in the christological focus of scholarly interpreters, Q has been read as heavily apocalyptic in tone and orientation. But not only are “much of the specialized vocabulary of apocalypticism and … its central presuppositions … absent from large portions of Q” (Kloppenborg, 1987c:292), there are virtually no materials that Bultmann classified as “apocalyptic sayings” and precious few “apocalyptic motifs” even in the judgmental sections of Q. There is no pending cosmic disorder or end of the world. The threat and suddenness of judgment is prominent at several points in Q, particularly in the penultimate cluster behind Luke 17:23–37. But the differences between even the judgmental materials in Q and “mini-apocalypses such as Mark 13, Matthew 24, Did. 16, and 2 Thess 2 are more striking than the similarities” (Kloppenborg, 1987c: 301). Moreover, some of the sayings classified as concerned with “the end” refer to the present historical crisis, and not any end of the world or age. It seems highly questionable, therefore, whether it is appropriate to label even the materials in Q 12 and 17 as “apocalyptic,” or as dealing with “the end,” as have some recent treatments (e.g., Crossan, 1983:344–45; Kloppenborg, 1987a:92).

Two other, related concepts that appear to have been read into Q from other “early Christian” literature and/or from modern Christian scholarship are the supposed “Gentile mission” (or even “actual Gentile faith” or “conversion”) and “the rejection of Israel.” The only explicit mention of “Israel” outside of the concluding saying in Q 22:28–30 comes in 7:9, where indeed what appears to be a Gentile responds to Jesus with faith. The point of the story, however, is to challenge Israel to respond more fully, and (as in the mission discourse itself) there is no suggestion of a mission to Gentiles. Other than Q 7:9 there is no reference to Gentile belief (see further Horsley, 1989a:187). It has been claimed that “near what seems to be the end of Q, we encounter material where it is clear that Israel has finally been abandoned and her position taken by Gentiles” (Jacobson, 1978:227), such that “the Jews, who were first, will not enter the Kingdom of God … and conversely, the Gentiles, who were last, will enter and become first” (Crossan, 1983:45). But such an interpretation relies on the Matthean use and placing of Q 13:28–29, assumes that Jerusalem, lamented in 13:34–35, is the same as Israel, and assumes that the “first-last” contrast refers to Jews-Gentiles rather than to social classes. Furthermore, nothing in Q suggests that 13:28–29 refers to a future “Gentile pilgrimage” rather than a gathering of Israel.

2. The Functions of Q Clusters and Jesus’ Sayings in Context

The following survey of Q clusters is obviously preliminary, incomplete, and at points sketchy. Even some consensus clusters of Q will be treated cursorily or not at all if they are not crucial to the present argument. And comparison with parallel material in Mark, the Didache and the Gospel of Thomas will be kept to a minimum.

2.1    Q 6:20–49: Kingdom and Community

While Kloppenborg has made a convincing case that the material in this complex is predominantly sapiential in form, his analysis also suggests that continuation of that debate, sapiential versus prophetic, may not be all that decisive for understanding the material at the Q or pre-Q levels (Koester, 1990:137–38). In both beatitudes and admonitions, materials that are not typically sapiential in content stand in tension with sapiential forms (Kloppenborg, 1987a: esp. 188–89). We may get further at this point by asking after the concrete purpose or function of this complex of sayings: what is the thrust of 6:20–49 that corresponds, say, to the function of 10:2–16 as instructions for mission or that of 12:22–31 as reassurance about anxiety or that of 17:23–37 as sanction on the whole of Q?

In this connection comparisons with how the same or similar material is used in comparable later writings may be instructive. In Did. 1–2 a different version of most of the sayings in Luke 6:27–35 / Matt 5:38–48 is linked with explicitly covenantal principles rooted ultimately in the Decalogue. In Matt 5–7 the Q beatitudes and most of the admonitions in Q 6:20–49 are reset explicitly as the giving of a renewed Mosaic covenant. What Matthew has made explicit is only implicit (as least as far as we can know) in Q, of course. But it seems evident that the purpose of this inaugural discourse was to proclaim the kingdom of God to the poor and to give instruction for social interaction within the renewed community (ies). The complex is not simply a collection of general sapiential exhortations or some sort of “radical ethics.” Nor is a particular set of sayings (6:39–45) concerned with speaking and teaching, as if directed to a few people playing special roles in a movement or community. These sets of saying are socially more concrete in focus and purpose, and they are directed to the people generally. “The Q beatitudes … pronounce blessing upon a group defined by social and economic circumstances: poverty, hunger, sorrow and persecution” (. Kloppenborg, 1987a:188). Following that “programmatic statement” come a “body of instructions” addressed to the kind of concrete social-economic problems faced by just such people in their local communities (6:27–36, 37–38, 41–42; cf. Horsley, 1987:265–73), and the complex concludes with general exhortation and sanction on the admonitions (6:43–45, 46–49).

As one of only three collections featuring sapiential teachings in Q (the others being 12:22–31 and 11:9–13) and the only sustained discourse, it is especially important for assessment of wisdom teachings in the pre-Q tradition and in the ministry of Jesus. And since typically sapiential materials can be used in a variety of connections, it is crucial to look for indications of implicit connections among sayings in the history of their tradition.

The set of sayings in 6:27–36 may be the most suggestive with regard to possible connections that may be implicit in and behind the current literary context. Comparisons with parallel materials in Did. 1:3–5, Matt 5:38–48, and 2 Clem. 13:4 suggest that just these sayings or many from among them, while they could also be transmitted separately (cf. Gos. Thom. 6b, 95), often went together in combinations that are similar even if the order and wording is varied. While Kloppenborg states at the outset of his discussion that they were “several originally independent sayings,” his ensuing analysis suggests that they were combined prior to the composition of Q and, as it were, belonged together (1987a:174–75). (The difference between second person plural and second person singular address in 6:27–28, 32–33, 35a and 6:29–31 respectively may simply indicate the difference between general exhortation and what Tannehill [1970] called “focal instances,” and need not require a hypothesis of original rhetoric supplemented by later additions; the same appears true of the similar cluster of sayings in Did. 1:3–5.) There are clear allusions in several of these sayings to traditional covenantal instructions such as those in Lev 19. But the relationship need not be conceptualized in terms of explicit scribal reinterpretation (radicalization or intensification) of the Torah itself. This set of sayings appears rather as popular covenantal instruction (sapiential perhaps, but not of the scholarly sort) addressed to local social-economic relations (cf. Exod 23:4–5; Deut 22:1–4; Sir 29:1;. Horsley, 1987:271–72). These same sayings are clustered with older covenantal instructional materials in Did. 1–2. Matthew, therefore, merely makes explicit and more “scribal” what was already implicit at least in Q and, surely, prior to Q, i.e., that 6:27–36 is covenantal instruction addressed to particular circumstances.

Just that recognition, however, leads to other ways in which Matthew may just be making explicit what was already implicit in Q or prior to Q. In Matthew’s extensive and schematic reworking of these and related materials, it is unmistakable that Jesus is giving renewed covenantal teaching. Blessings (and curses) were part of the traditional Israelite covenantal pattern as sanctions on keeping “the law” or principles of social order. In his extended set of beatitudes, however, Matthew has Jesus proclaim the presence (or at least imminence) of future blessings which previously would have been thought of as strictly conditional on keeping the Law—as the divine gift of the kingdom that provides the basis for renewed covenantal rigor among the people. But beatitudes formed the preface to covenantal admonitions already in Q. It is unnecessary to search for catchwords or common themes that might “explain” why the sayings in 6:27–36 were joined to the beatitudes. There was already an inherent connection between them: the blessings of the kingdom were given to the poor, hungry, etc. as the presupposition of new covenantal admonitions. Similarly, there is an inherent connection between the sayings that conclude the complex and those in 6:27–36, etc. Already in Q, as later in Matthew, the parable of the two builders provided the sanction on observance of the covenantal admonitions, replacing the covenantal blessings and curses which Q’s Jesus had transformed into a pronouncement of the kingdom. Thus the basic covenantal pattern is evident in the joining of these particular sayings in Q 6:20–49 and, as seems likely, in a pre-Q cluster of sayings.

2.2    Q 7:18–23, 24–28, 31–35: Fulfillment in Jesus and the Kingdom

This cluster is misunderstood if we focus on the relative merits and roles of John and Jesus rather than on the function of the whole cluster in the Q document and the Q community. Emphasis is on the fulfillment of hopes and how remarkable the kingdom of God is, despite its rejection by the authorities. 7:18–23 declares that “the coming one” announced in the first cluster has indeed come, fulfilling the long-standing hopes articulated by the prophet Isaiah. 7:24–28 asserts an even more astounding claim, that the kingdom of God transcends all previous historical experience, insisting that “the least in the kingdom” is greater than John, who was not only a prophet (against the rulers in their palaces) but more than a prophet, indeed Elijah preparing the way for the fulfillment of hopes, the renewal of Israel. 7:31–35 protests the dismissal of both John and Jesus (and what they represent) by ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη. That rejection or opposition to John, Jesus, and the kingdom of God go together with the sense of historical fulfillment in Q is confirmed by the saying that Matthew appropriately includes here, 11:12–13, although its original order in Q may have been in the Lukan sequence at 16:16 or is simply unrecoverable.

Following upon the programmatic offering of the kingdom to the poor as the renewal of community life, 7:18–35 focuses on the positive role and effects of the one who John declared was coming, i.e., with the Spirit (the principal Isaianic passage alluded to, Isa 61:1, began with “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me …”). While 7:18–23 is ostensibly a dialogue with John’s disciples and 7:24–28 is addressed to the crowds and 7:31–35 is addressed to “this type,” the whole complex is composed as assurance to the community that they are recipients of and participants in unprecedented events of fulfillment and renewal, the kingdom of God. “The one who is coming” in 7:19 is more susceptible of being read as a title than the more complicated phrase in 3:16, but the emphasis is clearly on what is happening in 7:22, not on affixing some sort of title to Jesus. In 7:24–28, the rhetorical questions regarding John’s significance, astounding as it is, serve to set up the assertion about how great the kingdom of God is. Picking up the note of social conflict already sounded in 7:25–26, 7:31–35 juxtaposes the dismissal of both John and Jesus by what appear to be the Pharisees. All of the other occurrences of ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη in Q come in the cluster of 11:14–52, where it clearly refers to the Pharisees (11:49–51). A close reading of the language of the parable in 7:31–32 also suggests the Pharisees. The scene is the agora, the town square where public activities such as assemblies and courts took place. “This kind/breed” is likened to “children,” yet instead of running about, they are rather formally “seated,” as in court making judgment, and are not “calling to” but formally “addressing” one another (Cotter, 1987:295–302). Even though these officials, in utterly childish manner, dismiss John for his fasting (“he has a demon”) and Jesus for his banqueting (“a glutton and a drunk”), wisdom will be vindicated by her “children” or works.

This complex contains a wealth of pre-Q prophetic motifs and allusions. It is all the more telling that Q 7:22 is not a quotation but a set of allusions to various Isaianic passages, apparently with Jesus’ miracles in view (Kloppenborg, 1987a:108). This suggests that well prior to Q, Jesus’ ministry was being understood in prophetic terms and as fulfillment of prophetic expectations. That the references to Isaiah in 7:22 are both allusions and a mixture of different Isaianic passages suggests a popular (oral) tradition (as opposed to scholarly-scribal citation) at work. Similarly, behind 7:24–28, besides the apparently early saying about the kingdom in 7:28 (cf. the variation in Gos. Thom. 46), is a firm and apparently long-standing understanding of John as a prophet, although the implicit identification of John with Elijah in 7:27 may be late. Q 7:33–34, intelligible on its own in contrast to the parable in 7:31–32, is an early saying fascinating for setting John and Jesus parallel in their rejection as well as for the apparently early “son of man” as a self-reference by Jesus.

2.3    Q 9:57–62; 10:2–16: Mission

One finds a good deal of vagueness or even confusion about mission and discipleship in interpretations of this complex and its constituent sayings. A number of the key texts for various interpretations of the “Jesus movement” as constituted primarily by “wandering charismatics” are located here. Such interpretations, however, usually involve a somewhat literalistic and/or individualistic reading of sayings such as 9:57–62 and 10:3, 4, 5–7.

As noted above there is no clear indication that “son of man” is a christological title in Q (the self-references here and in 6:23 and 11:30 are hardly titles), and there is no indication in Q of any conscious identity as “Christian” over against or within “Israel.” Hence the point of 9:59–60, 61–62 would not appear to be that somehow the vagrant existence of the Son of Man provides “the pattern for all Christian discipleship” (Kloppenborg, 1987a:192). Similarly, the point of these passages hardly appears to be a call to a homeless lifestyle or radical detachment in general, but the urgency of proclaiming the kingdom of God and the absolute commitment necessary. Thus it does not seem clear at all that the placement of these chreiai before 10:2–16 shifts the emphasis of the latter from mission to discipleship in general.

This whole sayings complex, however, can be seen to have a distinctive message and function if read as a constituent part of Q as a document about the kingdom of God focused primarily on the restoration of Israel manifested in the renewal of local community (ies). If 9:57–62 are taken as linked to the more explicit instructions about mission in 10:2–12, then they are not about individual discipleship but the mission Jesus has inaugurated. 9:61–62, which a significant number of recent analysts include in Q, alludes to Elijah’s call of Elisha (1 Kgs 19:19–21). In fact, it is possible that 9:59–60 and even 9:58 are also allusions to the commissioning of Elijah and Elisha in 1 Kgs 19. In that story Elijah was commissioned to catalyze a revolt against the regime of Ahab and Jezebel, which did not actually erupt until Elisha succeeded Elijah and anointed Jehu. But in the rest of the Elijah-Elisha cycle, they and their followers, “the sons of the prophets,” were apparently involved in a renewal of Israel based in rural communities. In Q the sayings alluding to the Elijah-Elisha story that introduce the instructions on mission emphasize the urgency of the task in which Jesus and his agents are engaged: the preaching and manifestation of the kingdom of God.

The mission in Q is one of renewal or restoration for the people of Israel (cf. esp. 22:28–30). The harvest image at the outset picks up the same double-edged motif from John’s prophecy that apparently opened Q. The one coming was both to gather the wheat and to burn the chaff (3:16–17). Now his envoys are sent on a mission to heal and preach the kingdom (10:5–9), as Jesus himself had been doing (7:18–23), but those who do not respond are condemned (10:10–15). There is no reason to think that the mission is directed to the Gentiles. Harvest was a traditional prophetic image of judgment that had been used for the ingathering or deliverance and judgment of Israel as well as for judgment of Israel’s imperial conquerors (see esp. Isa 27:12–13; Hos 6:11; Jer 51:33; Joel 4:13). The woes in 10:13–15 do not predict Gentile repentance. The reference to Tyre and Sidon is rhetorical, focusing on these frequent targets of traditional prophetic condemnation as enemies of Israel in order to motivate the Q community by the sharply judgmental sayings against those who do not respond. The woes are also not a condemnation of Israel in general, in contrast with Gentile faith, actual or anticipated. Nor is “sheep in the midst of wolves” a reference to Jews in the midst of (missionaries to hostile) Gentiles. (Q 10:3 and 10:13–15 stand in impossible tension and are utterly opaque if read in the context of Jew versus Gentile in the Christian mission.) The historical social context and the other clusters of sayings in Q itself involved plenty of social conflict and struggle, and “wolves” was apparently a traditional term for hostile rulers (Ezek 22:27; Zeph 3:3). That the mission charge is directed not simply to particular envoys but to a movement or a community generally can be seen in both 10:2 and 7b. As Kloppenborg has pointed out, the former is directed “to a community involved in the preparation and commissioning of preachers” (and healers, 10:9), while the latter is directed at “those who are expected to support the missionaries” (1987a:200).

As indicated by the parallel in Mark 6:8–13 / Q 10:4–11, the core of the complex pertained to mission prior to the composition of Q. There would thus appear to be no grounds methodologically for pulling 10:4 out of the mission context in which it is intelligible in both pre-Q and pre-Markan tradition. But the same holds for other sayings in this complex which may not originally have been linked with 10:4–11. 10:2 clearly pertains to mission, urgent in the face of judgment, as suggested by the harvest metaphor. Moreover, both 9:59–60, with its explicit “go and proclaim the kingdom of God,” and 9:61–62, with its allusion to Elijah’s calling of Elisha, also pertain to mission. These sayings involve hyperbole, and should not be read literalistically, as if the primary point were a call to some sort of radical antifamilial itinerant individual lifestyle.

2.4    (10:21–24) 11:2–4, 9–13: Bold Petitioning for the Kingdom and its Goods

In the absence of any clear indications that 10:21–24 belongs to the previous cluster and given the ostensibly prayer-like introductory formula with which 10:21 begins, it seems best to read these sayings as linked with the prayer in 11:2–4 and the exhortation to bold petitioning of the Father in 11:9–13. There is nothing within Q itself (neither 7:35 nor 11:49) that compels us to read 10:21–24 as Wisdom christology. Ironically 10:21–24 contains the most “apocalyptic” saying in Q. On the other hand, if we compare it with Jewish apocalyptic literature and the tradition of sages and their cultivation of wisdom in which such literature was rooted, then 10:21 is virtually anti-apocalyptic (and anti-sapiential). The point of the saying, surely, is that “these things” (the manifestation of the kingdom or Jesus’ ministry: see 6:20–21; 7:18–23; 11:2–4) have been hidden from the wise and learned and revealed to babes. This stands in direct opposition to the assertions of apocalyptic literature, in which it was the wise who received revelation or wisdom regarding God’s mysterious plan for the resolution of the historical crisis. The beatitude which follows in 10:23–24, moreover, indicates explicitly that what Jesus’ followers were seeing and hearing was the final satisfaction or fulfillment of age-old longings, even those of “prophets and kings.” The parallels with the sense of fulfillment and historical climax expressed elsewhere in Q (e.g., in 6:20–21; 7:18–23, 24–28; and 22:28–30) seem obvious. 10:21–24 can thus be read as a highly appropriate framing for the prayer for the kingdom and the goods it is bringing.

When one reads 11:2–4, 9–13 together, particularly in comparison with how particular sayings or variations of some of the component sayings are used elsewhere (such as the Gospel of Thomas), perhaps most striking is how concretely social-economic are the concerns of both prayer and exhortation. The prayer for the kingdom is also a prayer for sufficient food and forgiveness of debts (linked with the mutual forgiveness of debts in the community). The goods for which the people are to be bold in petitioning God in 11:9–13 are, as suggested by the illustrations, basic foods.

Read within the complex of sayings itself, despite the apparent shift of perspective from agentless receiving expected in 11:9–10 to the agency of God in 11:11–13, the components have a certain coherence and “logic” among themselves. Just as the people petition in the prayer with the anticipation that God will respond, so they are exhorted in 11:9–11 to petition with the confidence of receiving from a generous Father. In Gos. Thom. 2 and 92 the seeking and finding is taken in isolation (with variation and/or development) and in Gos. Thom. 94 the seeking-finding plus knocking-opened is taken in isolation and focused on revelation and spiritual enlightenment, and with no concrete reference at all. Thus the links with the Lord’s Prayer and the rhetorical questions about good gifts of food in the Q context make all the difference to the meaning of seeking-finding and knocking-opened.

It seems idle to inquire about the “original” meaning of such brief sayings that have virtually no meaning outside of a cluster of sayings or a document with some inherent indication of its own “hermeneutic.” With indication of social relations and social context, however, we can reason toward the likely connection in which such sayings functioned at early stages in the use of Jesus sayings. And in that regard there is no indication in Q or any other source that any of the sayings now appearing in the cluster of 11:2–4, 9–13 pertained, for example, to a radical individual lifestyle, involving voluntary poverty or begging. Nor is the cluster addressed to the “church,” if the latter connotes a specially religious gathering as distinct from other dimensions of life. Rather the prayer cluster in Q pertains to the same general class or community (ies) of poor hungry people as do the blessings in 6:20–21 and the sayings about anxiety in 12:22–31.

2.5    Q 11:14–26, 29–32, 33–36, 39–52: Defense and Attack Against Pharisees

This complex presents a remarkable sequence of sub-clusters in which Jesus, responding to charges of collusion with Satan, moves to the offensive against his accusers for not recognizing the presence of the kingdom of God and finally condemns them for oppressively blocking access to the kingdom. The last set of sayings, 11:39–52, are woes explicitly against the Pharisees and lawyers (Luke) or scribes (Matthew), who in 11:49–51 are also referred to as ἡγενεὰ αὕτη, the same term used for the target of the judgmental sayings in 11:29–32, suggesting that the whole complex is addressed to the same group. Matthew has the parallels to both 11:14–23 (Luke has τινές in 11:15 in a context where he is clearly rewriting Q, as in 11:16, 18b) and 11:29–32 directed at the (scribes and) Pharisees, and the Markan version of the Beelzebul controversy similarly involves the scribes from Jerusalem (3:22–27).

‘H γενεὰ αὕτη has traditionally been translated “this generation” and has been the key to the recent claim that at least the judgmental layer of Q materials is directed against “all Israel.” Neither that translation nor that claim is warranted. As is clear from usage in Mark (and other usage in antiquity), the meaning of ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη depends upon context and varies from a broad reference to “this era/generation” to a more specific reference to “this type” or “this family/clan” (Mark 8:38; 9:19). The context in Q 11:39–52 clearly indicates a specific reference to “this type/kind,” i.e., the (scribes and) Pharisees. Moreover, all but one of the seven occurrences of the term in Q are concentrated in 11:29–32 and 11:50–51, the remaining occurrence being 7:31. That is hardly a broadly enough distributed occurrence throughout Q to form the principal basis for the claim that several clusters of Q are directed against all Israel.

In the Beelzebul controversy the basic tradition in Q was 11:14–15, 17–18a with the additional v. 19, like the parable or analogy in 17–18a, indicating the absurdity of the accusation. The climax is reached in 11:20: since the very opposite of what the Pharisees charge is true, i.e., Jesus casts out demons by the power of God, the kingdom of God has come upon them through Jesus’ activity. As Kloppenborg (1987a:124) points out, the climax of the “argument” here parallels that in the subsequent prophetic sayings in 11:31–32: something greater is here. With 11:20 the posture also shifts dramatically from the defensive to the offensive. In fact, now that Jesus has bound the “strong man” and is plundering his house, neutrality is impossible (11:21–23) and, unless one joins “the stronger one” and recognizes the presence of the kingdom, one will not remain free of demonic possession (11:24–26).

“This evil type/breed” who, despite the obvious manifestation of the kingdom in Jesus’ activity, nevertheless demand a “sign” are told in no uncertain terms that none will be given except “the sign of Jonah.” The appended saying makes explicit what was already implicit, that Jesus’ preaching of the kingdom is quite sufficient to indicate the necessity of repentance, with the implication that the lack of repentance entails judgment (11:29–30). The attached double saying in 11:31–32 then pronounces precisely that fate for the stiff-necked “evil breed” who will be accused at the judgment by the queen of the South and the Ninevites for failing to discern that something even greater than Solomon or Jonah is present. Q 11:33–35 then expands, with very different images, on the “light” that is now displayed for all to see and the “evil eye” that leaves the (Pharisees’) body “full of darkness.”

The series of woes, just as it brings the whole complex of 11:14–52 to a climax in a direct condemnation of the Pharisees, presents a sequence of ever more serious indictments against the Pharisees that climaxes in the Sophia-oracle requiring of “this breed” the blood of all the murdered prophets. This set of woes, read through certain Christian theological presuppositions, has often been interpreted as focused on “Judaism” and/or the Law and/or Pharisaic emphasis on the multiplication of rules, particularly ceremonial (as opposed to the ethical) laws. In fact only three of the seven woes even allude to what might be termed laws and/or Pharisaic concerns about purity (11:39–40, 42, 44). But all of them focus on the social role and effects of the scribes and Pharisees.

In 11:39–41 the Pharisaic concern for the purity of cup and plate becomes a (reverse) metaphor, setting their “extortion and evil” into stark relief. The Pharisees’ obsession with “tithing mint and every herb” in 11:42 is hyperbole and caricature set off against their neglect of justice and love of God, and insinuating in no uncertain terms their rigor in advocating payment of tithes from the principal crops such as grain on which the people were dependent for their own bare subsistence. The woe in 11:43 then expresses resentment at the Pharisees’ expectation of “first seats” in assemblies and deferential greetings in town squares. Assuming that Luke 11:44 represents Q, comparing the Pharisees to unmarked graves alludes to their own concern about purity, specifically that graves would be a source of danger, and indicts them as a source of danger for the unsuspecting people. Loading the people with heavy burdens in 11:46 refers to the mediating (“retainer”) role of the Pharisees and lawyers/scribes in the temple-state’s economic demands on the people. As in 11:43 (which refers to their social posturing), so in 11:46, the focus is not on scribal interpretation of the Law, but on their religiously sanctioned political-economic function. On the other hand, “touching the burdens with one of your fingers” could conceivably be an ironic comment that they could if they would, in their authority as interpreters of the Law, alleviate the people’s burden with a few strokes of their scribal pen. Most seriously of all, they share the guilt of their fathers, who killed the prophets, by pretending to honor the prophets’ graves (11:47–48), hence the blood of all the slain prophets will be required of “this breed.” Finally, the concluding condemnation is a summary of the overall effect of the Pharisees’ role and actions: they prevent people from entering the kingdom of God! This subcluster of woes may be addressing active Pharisaic opposition to Jesus and his movement, but not necessarily so. It is primarily a sharp indictment against the scribes and Pharisees for the deleterious effects their roles and activities have on the people.

All three sub-clusters in 11:14–26, 29–32, 39–52 have parallels in pre-Markan material, although the only close verbal parallel in Mark to the Q charges against the scribes and Pharisees is limited and ostensibly concerned with only their social posturing (Mark 12:38–39; Luke 11:43; but see further below). The Markan version of the Beelzebul controversy, Mark 3:22–27, provides parallels to the core of the Q version, i.e., to Luke 11:15, 17–18a, 21–22, including specific references to the end of Satan’s kingdom and the plundering of the strong man’s house in connection with Jesus’ exorcisms. Thus we have two substantial parallel traditions attesting the interpretation of Jesus’ exorcisms in terms of the struggle between God/Jesus and Satan/demons. Then Q has used as the climactic saying in 11:14–26 the independent saying already in existence that interpreted Jesus’ exorcisms as manifestations of the kingdom of God. Thus the struggle between God and Satan was one way in which at least some of Jesus’ activities were understood at a very early stage in the transmission of Jesus-sayings.

In the common tradition (Mark 8:11–12; Luke 11:29) about the giving of a sign it is likely that Mark, focused on Jesus’ disclosure of secret teaching to his disciples (see e.g., Mark 4:10–12, 33–34; 13:3–5), omitted the reference to “the sign of Jonah” rather than that Q, substantively so focused on preaching and repentance, added it. Thus we have parallel attestations not only of an almost anti-apocalyptic rejection of searching for signs (cf. Luke 17:20–21, 22–24; and Mark 13:32–37 versus 13:14–29), but of a prophetic thought-pattern of historical analogy (cf. Q 11:31–32; 17:26–27, 28–30; and on “the prophetic correlative,” see Schmidt; Fitzmyer 1979:90–93). Mark 8:11–12 also indicates that at least Mark, if not the pre-Markan tradition, like Q, understood “this (evil) breed” who sought a sign as a reference to the Pharisees.

2.6    Q 12:2–12: Bold Confession

Although it is extremely difficult to sort out the contributions of the evangelists and reconstruct Q itself in this passage, it contains a number of parallels with Mark, most of which pertain to situations of conflict. The cluster is clearly directed to the Q community (ies), as readily apparent in the core of the passage, 12:4–7 and 12:11–12, as well as in 12:3. There is no reason to read 12:8–9 as directed to outsiders (paceKloppenborg, 1987a:214–15); for “(the day of) the son of man” (not identical with Jesus in Q) is used elsewhere in Q also in reference to the judgment as a sanction on the discipline of the community (see 12:40 and esp. 17:23–37). That Mark uses a variation of the saying in a similar context (Mark 8:34–38) suggests that 12:8–9 is highly appropriate to its Q context. Moreover, the similar composition in Mark 8:34–38 of exhortation in “sapiential” sayings followed by a sanction in a threatening “prophetic” saying indicates that the latter was integral to the cluster concerning bold confession, and should not be separated out too quickly as a later redactional insertion into an already completed and exclusively sapiential set of sayings. (On 12:10, see Kloppenborg, 1987a:213–14.) Q 12:11–12, like its parallel in Mark 13:9–11, clearly pertains to a community struggling against repression, apparently by hostile authorities.

2.7    Q 12:22–31 + 12:33–34: Anxiety About Food and Clothing

Interpretation of this complex depends on the degree to which it is assimilated to its Lukan setting. Discussion of the disposition of “possessions” is a typical Lukan theme. Matthew’s version (6:20–21), surely closer to Q, is not about “wealth.” From other indications in Q materials, it seems unlikely that the Q people had any. The contrast of “earthly treasures” with “heavenly treasures” (i.e., with God) simply reinforces the key saying in the whole complex, “seek first the kingdom of God” (12:31). The complex as a whole addresses the people’s anxiety about the basic necessities of food and clothing, an anxiety that would be understandable if the Q people were from among those “poor” and “hungry” addressed at the opening of the inaugural discourse (20–21) and among those for whom a prayer for bread and forgiveness of debts was appropriate (11:2–4).

Although Q 12:25 appears to be an addition, and v. 29 obviously repeats v. 12:22, there is some agreement “either that 12:22b–24, 26–28 was an original unity, or that 12:24, 26–28 was an early addition composed expressly for 12:22b–23” (Kloppenborg, 1987a:218). It is important to recognize, now that we are backing away from an eschatological reading of “the kingdom of God,” that 12:31 does not introduce an “eschatological” aspect otherwise alien to the other sayings. Indeed, 12:22b–31 appears rather closely parallel to the combination of eager longing for the kingdom with concern for necessities of life in the Lord’s Prayer (11:2–4).

2.8    Q 13:28–30, 34–35; 14:16–24: Against the Rulers

It is difficult to discern how Q materials are “clustered” once we move into Luke 13–16 and the parallels in Matthew. Kloppenborg (1987a:223–37) includes 13:24–30, 34–35; 14:16–24, 26–27, 34–35 among the “sapiential speeches,” but then finds much of the material to be later redactional insertions. It makes more sense to consider those “insertions” as forming a complex with a particular function within Q. That is, the prophetic materials in 13:28–30, 34–35 and 14:16–24, all separable from a sapiential context, share a polemical thrust of judgment and exclusion from the kingdom. These prophecies with parable have often, perhaps even usually, been read as declaring judgment against Israel or Jews in general. And that may well be how they are used in their Matthean or Lukan settings. But it would be inappropriate to allow the agenda of an emergent “Christianity” separating itself from its origins in “Judaism” to determine our reading of Q (much less of Jesus). Nothing in Q itself suggests an emergent “Christian” self-consciousness and there is no indication of any Gentile mission, such that the primary conflict behind Q would have been Christian versus Jewish or Jewish versus Gentile response to Jesus and the kingdom. There is certainly nothing in these two prophetic sayings or the parable about the coming of Gentiles or the refusal of Israel. The primary conflict in Jewish Palestine generally was between rulers and ruled (Horsley, 1989b:83–96). More particularly in Galilee, where Q is now being located, that fundamental conflict was compounded by historical regional differences and tensions. That the judgmental prophetic lament in 13:34–35 is focused explicitly on the ruling “house” in Jerusalem suggests that the whole complex presents prophetic declarations of judgment against the wealthy and powerful centered in Jerusalem. But Jerusalem was no more identical with Israel for a popular movement in the first century CE than it was at the time of Ahijah and Jeroboam or Elijah and Elisha or in the prophecies of Micah (see, e.g., Mic 1:5; 3:1–12) and Jeremiah. What these Q prophetic sayings juxtapose are the fulfillment of Israel in the banquet of the kingdom and the self-exclusion of the intransigent Jerusalem ruling house.

2.9    Q 17:23–24, 26–30, (33) 34–35, 37b: Warning of Judgment

This cluster is almost anti-apocalyptic in pointedly rejecting any attention to signs and speculations. In contrast with Matt 24, which utilizes some of these sayings, this cluster in Q is not about “the parousia” of “the Son of Man,” but about “the day of the son of man,” i.e., the judgment. Nor is there any concern with “false messiahs and false prophets” (cf. Mark 13:22–23; Matt 24:23–24). As Kloppenborg stresses (1987a:165–66), in contrast with the more parenetic Markan “apocalypse,” this cluster in Q, with its ominously threatening tone, is basically a “prophetic proclamation of coming judgment.” But it carries a function similar to the “synoptic apocalypse” in Mark 13 or the little “apocalypse” in Did. 16, i.e., a closing sanction on the exhortation and teaching in the rest of the document.

2.10    Q 22:28–30: The Renewal of Israel

Many view this as the likely concluding saying of Q. But far from declaring the (negative) judgment of Israel, it is a highly positive declaration of the renewal or restoration of the people of Israel in the traditional symbolism of twelve tribes. I have elsewhere argued for the positive, restoration reading (Horsley, 1987:201–207). Sufficient here is to recognize that those who have followed or persevered with Jesus are to be “establishing justice for” the twelve tribes of Israel in a function very similar to that assigned to the anointed one in Pss. Sol. 17:26–32 or to the twelve men and three priests constituting “the Council of the Community” at Qumran in 1QS 8:1–4.

3. Q and Jesus

The question of Q and Jesus cuts both ways. Obviously Q, as our apparently earliest establishable “source,” is of special importance as evidence for and interpretation of Jesus’ ministry. But our reconstruction of Jesus based on Q and other evidence and interpretations is in turn a key factor in our reconstruction and evaluation of Q. Not only does Q provide some control as well as key materials for our reconstruction of Jesus’ ministry, but our reconstruction of Jesus offers a source of control for interpretation of Q.

A particular reconstruction of Jesus based primarily on one source is inadequate if it cannot accommodate features of Jesus necessary to explain how Jesus is represented in other early sources or the development of certain social formations evident in our sources. For example, there is too strong a tradition of Jesus as an exorcist and healer for us to reconstruct his teachings without taking such actions into consideration. Or, there is too strong a tradition of his activity and execution in Jerusalem for us to interpret his teaching and actions in Galilee without taking the conflict in Jerusalem into account.

It is particularly difficult to imagine how we could explain the emergence or formation of local communities if Jesus was only or primarily a teacher of individual ethics. As Kloppenborg’s analysis indicates, the clusters assigned to Q’s formative sapiential layer were directed to a community, and not simply to several individual itinerants. Thus, for example, it is difficult to discern how the meaning of the sayings in Q 9:57–62, which in Q are clear allusions to Elijah’s call of Elisha as an introduction to a mission discourse directed to a community, could originally have been only aphoristic admonitions to an individual lifestyle. There is nothing in the sayings themselves that suggests voluntary poverty or a Cynic-like itinerancy and beggary. The hypothesized social context and meaning of the sayings have been supplied by modern scholars who have isolated the sayings from their literary context in the first place. It is far more credible for informed historical reconstruction to imagine, particularly in the absence of any compelling evidence otherwise, that the context and meaning of these sayings at the earliest stage of their transmission were similar to their context and meaning at the Q stage at which we are able to catch sight of them for the first time in literary form.

The approach to be followed here, therefore, while involving dialectical historical reasoning, will be primarily to project backwards from the Q clusters (i.e., from the meaning of their constituent sayings as discerned in the literary and historical social contexts indicated in Q) toward some salient features of Jesus’ ministry. We will still focus first on portrayals in Q, although we will now be considering materials across the various clusters. But it should then be possible both to compare portrayals of Jesus in related literature and to consider pre-Q traditions, particularly those paralleled by Markan or pre-Markan material in order to assess the relative historical value of those portrayals for construction of a credible historical picture of Jesus’ ministry. We will focus successively on what in Q, Mark, pre-Q and pre-Markan materials, etc., are the purpose(s) or agenda of Jesus’ ministry, the principal social conflicts entailed, his teaching on particular matters of concern, and the particular (culturally determined) role(s) Jesus plays.

3.1    Mission to the People: The Renewal of Israel

Q represents Jesus’ ministry as a crisis of fulfillment and judgment, programmatic in scope and significance. At the opening of the “inaugural sermon” stand parallel beatitudes offering the kingdom of God to the poor, hungry, and despairing as a fulfillment of what they had been longing for. The Lord’s Prayer has a similar scope and thrust. Although healings and exorcisms receive limited attention, the utmost significance is claimed for them: the rule of Satan is being ended and the kingdom of God established through Jesus’ exorcisms. Much of the rest of the preaching of Jesus in Q accords with these programmatic statements. At the outset John announces the one coming with baptism of both Holy Spirit and fire, to gather the grain but to burn the chaff. The overarching theme that unifies the whole document, of course, is the (presence of) the kingdom of God, with its double aspect of deliverance and rewards for the poor who respond but judgment for those who oppose or do not respond. The ministry of Jesus is a time of crisis for all, for those to whom the kingdom is offered must respond appropriately and must persist in common commitment to Jesus’ cause.

There are at least three principal indications in Q that Jesus’ ministry is focused not just on the coming of the kingdom to the poor, but more particularly on the renewal of the people of Israel. Throughout the document there are numerous references to Israelite tradition, whether to the ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob or to events and figures cited as historical examples, such as Sodom, Jonah and the Ninevites, and Solomon and the Queen of the South. Although outside of the temptation story, there is only one quotation (of Mal 3:1 in Q 7:27), there are allusions to other prophetic passages at two further points (7:22 and 12:51–53). The mission discourse in 10:2–16, of course, indicates explicitly an intentional organized effort at preaching and healing apparently among Galilean villages and towns, as evident from the curses against the unresponsive Galilean towns of Chorazin and Bethsaida and the references to the nearby alien cities of Tyre and Sidon (used typically in Israelite prophetic tradition in exhortations to Israel). Finally, in what was apparently the closing saying in Q, Jesus declares, again programmatically, that (in the renewal/restoration) his followers will be effecting justice for the twelve tribes of Israel. If it had not been stated explicitly earlier in the document, this statement about the twelve tribes makes abundantly clear that Q represents Jesus and his followers as engaged in the renewal of the people of Israel.

Every major aspect of this representation of Jesus’ ministry as a programmatic renewal of the people of Israel is paralleled in Mark. Jesus proclaims the presence of the kingdom of God as the overarching theme (1:15), although in Mark its manifestations come more dramatically to the marginalized than to the poor. Moreover, while Mark gives far greater attention to healings and exorcisms than does Q, the epochal significance of the exorcisms is the same, articulated in the same particular tradition: Satan is being defeated (Mark 3:22–27). These parallel early (pre-Markan and pre-Q) traditions do not mean that Jesus’ whole ministry was understood in terms of the struggle between God and Satan. But clearly we must acknowledge this struggle as one principal way in which at least Jesus’ exorcisms were understood at a very early stage in the transmission of Jesus’ sayings (and, of course, that Jesus was known as an exorcist at the earliest stage). Although less explicitly than Q, Mark (and/or pre-Markan materials) also represents Jesus’ ministry as the renewal of Israel. Repeated references to Israelite traditions (and their renewal), such as the sabbath and the great commandments, leave no doubt about the historical foundation and orientation of the ministry, and Jesus’ actions, particularly in the miracle chains in the middle of the Gospel, are portrayed as those of a new Moses and/or Elijah renewing the people. In a tradition parallel to that in Q, Mark’s Jesus projects a systematic mission of preaching and exorcism (see Mark 6:7–13). Although Jesus’ ministry in Mark extends to Gentiles, there is nothing explicit about this in the commissioning for mission, which is apparently (primarily) to Israel. In Mark, moreover, it is the twelve who are commissioned for that mission (6:7 and 3:13–19), further specifying in symbolic terms the renewal of Israel.

Special note, finally, should be taken that three of the key indicators that Jesus’ ministry was understood as a programmatic renewal of the people, and more particularly a renewal of Israel, in both Q and Mark are parallel traditions. That is, that the significance of Jesus’ exorcisms was the divine victory over Satan, that there was some sort of organized mission in Galilee/Israel, and that the symbolic twelve (disciples and/or tribes) represented Israel undergoing renewal are all solid pre-Q and pre-Markan traditions. There would thus appear to be credible indications that the ministry of Jesus was focused on the renewal of Israel.

3.2    Conflict with the Jerusalem Rulers and their Retainers

At the center of the social conflict evident in several Q clusters are Jesus’ sharply polemical condemnations both of the Pharisees and of the Jerusalem ruling house. Social conflict has been largely overlooked or downplayed by scholarly interpretations of Jesus and the Gospels, partly because of the theological concerns and religious focus of the field, partly because we have been at pains to make Jesus appear politically innocuous for apologetic reasons, partly because we have tended to think of “Judaism” as a coherent whole despite its “sectarian” divisions. Two of the significant recent developments in the field mentioned at the outset above, however, lead us to take more seriously the indications of social conflict in Q materials. Sophisticated recent literary analyses of Mark and the other synoptic Gospels as whole compositions have made dramatically clear that the plots of the Gospels involve several major conflicts. More particularly, the major, structuring conflict in Mark is between Jesus and the officials, escalating from the initial surveillance by the Pharisees and scribes, who are sharply criticized by Jesus in the first half of the Gospel, to Jesus’ prophetic condemnation of the ruling institutions and rulers in Jerusalem and the latter’s successful plot to capture and execute him. In the other recent development, we are just beginning to recognize the structural social conflict prevailing in ancient Palestine at the time of Jesus. We must therefore examine more closely the materials in Q that represent Jesus as condemning precisely the groups locked in struggle against Jesus in our other earliest source, the Gospel of Mark.

The Q materials behind Luke 11:14–26, 29–32, 39–52 are particularly important both for the Q portrayal of Jesus and for an approach to Jesus’ ministry because all three sub-clusters of sayings have parallels in Mark and refer to specific activities or relationships of Jesus. As noted above there are clear indications that not only 11:39–52, but 11:14–26 and 29–32 as well were directed against the Pharisees and scribes/lawyers in Q and likely in their pre-Q form as well. They were the opponents accusing Jesus of collusion with Beelzebul, Jesus’ response to which charges that they, rather than he, stand opposed to God’s purpose. They were the recalcitrant “evil breed” still “demanding a sign” when Jesus’ preaching of the kingdom should have been more than sufficient to make the crisis in which they stand abundantly clear. And, in their role as the “retainers” of the sacerdotal government in Jerusalem, they have had debilitating social-economic effects on the people.

The Markan parallels to all three Q sub-clusters name the scribes or Pharisees as Jesus’ opponents. Because Mark has the Pharisees and the scribes from Jerusalem as the opponents of Jesus schematically throughout the first half of the Gospel, we might dismiss them in these particular traditions as Mark’s polemical editorial work. But that Q also apparently cast the Pharisees or scribes as the opponents of Jesus in the parallel traditions suggests that we explore the likelihood that the conflict between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees was not simply Mark’s invention. It has recently been suggested that the pre-Q and pre-Markan materials about conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees must have originated in the struggles between Jesus people and the Pharisees as local competitors for influence in the synagogues. But scribes and Pharisees were almost certainly not indigenous leaders of local assemblies. Also contrary to recent suggestions, there is no indication in Q that the conflict with the Pharisees involved persecution of Jesus’ followers.

In fact, the particular indictments of the Pharisees and scribes suggest that the issues of conflict were of a substantive social-economic character and long-standing, rather than recent persecutions of the movement. We noted above that the Markan parallel to the indictments against the Pharisees in Q 11:39–52 appears to be limited to their social posturing (Mark 12:38–39; Q 11:43). The continuation of that Markan parallel to Q 11:43, however, although not a directly parallel saying, is an indictment of the scribes for the devastating economic effect of their activities on the common people, an indictment similar to those in the Q cluster.

Mark, moreover, has other material similar in substance to Q’s indictments against the Pharisees, even though not what would be called “parallel sayings.” Controversy over cleanliness rules stands at the opening both of the Q woes in 11:39–41 and of the debate with scribes and Pharisees in Mark 7:1–15. And both Q (11:39–41, 11:44) and Mark (7:1–5, 14–23) mock and reject the Pharisees’ concerns about purity. In both Q 11:39–52 and Mark 7:1–13, however, Jesus’ indictment focuses on the oppressive social-economic effects of the scribes’ and Pharisees’ actions. Although Mark’s Jesus explicitly rejects “the traditions of the elders,” he is not asserting the validity of the “written Law” against the “oral Torah.” The driving concern in Mark 7:1–13 is similar to that in the Q woes: the disintegrating social and economic effect that scribal rulings and exhortations have on peasant families (care of elders by their children, mandated in “the commandment of God,” in the case given). Thus both Mark 7 and Mark 12:38–40 articulate concerns similar to those in the Q woes, which charge the Pharisees and scribes with extortion, neglect of justice and compassion, and binding heavy burdens (11:39–41, 11:42, 11:44, 11:46). Those concerns are the general and long-standing social-economic effects that the scribes and Pharisees were having on the people apparently in their official roles as scribal-legal retainers of the government, not issues of religious competition or actions taken in persecution of Jesus’ followers in particular.

It is thus difficult to discern how these indictments would pertain any more to a situation twenty or thirty years after Jesus’ death than to that of Jesus’ ministry, since both situations involved basically the same social structure and the same economic situation in much the same locations. In that light, the fact that we find parallel sayings in Q and Mark (hence pre-Q and pre-Markan) as well as non-parallel but substantively similar indictments in Mark against the scribes and Pharisees strengthens the case that the conflict with the scribes and Pharisees did not begin only with two (or more) different Jesus movements (and get read back into Jesus’ situation), but began with the ministry of Jesus. It is difficult to discern in either Mark or Q any justification for imagining that, for a time following the death of Jesus, there was some sort of “grace period” during which Jesus’ followers expanded their movement free of conflict with the authorities. Mark’s portrayal of Jesus as constantly under surveillance by the Pharisees and occasionally the scribes from Jerusalem as well cannot be historically reliable. Ancient aristocratic states did not administer their societies, let alone have the kind of surveillance apparatus regularly utilized by modern regimes (although Josephus suggests that Herod the Great may indeed have employed a network of informers). But the portrayal of conflict between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees in both Q and Mark would fit what we know of the structure and dynamics of historical social relations in first-century Galilee.

We noted that the polemical prophetic materials in 13:28–30, 34–35 and 14:16–24 can be understood as a complex directed against the Jerusalem rulers. The most obvious point, of course, is that, given the class and regional differences in first-century Palestine, a prophetic lament over the anticipated desolation of the “house” of Jerusalem suggests a rejection not of “all Israel” but of the rulers and governing apparatus located there. Mark also presents Jesus as prophetically condemning the (high priestly) rulers in Jerusalem as well as the Temple itself. Mark weaves into his story of escalating conflict a prophetic parable of the vineyard condemning the rulers (12:1–9), a prophetic demonstration in the Temple (11:15–18), and a thrice-mentioned prophecy of the Temple’s destruction (13:2; 14:58; 15:29). Although not in such a form that they were seriously considered in various pursuits of “authentic” sayings of Jesus, they are all clearly pre-Markan traditions. That Jesus was arrested by the Jerusalem authorities and crucified by the Romans are widely accepted as solid data. It would seem odd historical reasoning to dismiss traditions of Jesus’ opposition to the high priests and Temple as utterly unrelated to his execution. Given the variety of pre-Q and pre-Markan traditions, it seems highly likely that Jesus in some way, by word and/or deed, opposed the rulers and/or ruling institutions in Jerusalem.

3.3    Jesus’ Teaching for the (New Covenantal) Community

Because they are so adaptable to different contexts, the sapiential teachings of Jesus have been utilized in a variety of ways in our sources and have been interpreted in a variety of ways in modern scholarly literature. It is all the more important, therefore, in dealing with the most sapiential teachings in Q, to look first for the connections, thrust, and meaning in context indicated in the Q clusters in question, and then to consider the connections and meaning in context indicated from other Q materials and parallel or similar materials primarily from Mark.

The obvious starting point may be the sayings about boldly petitioning God and those about anxiety concerning necessities of life. It should go without saying that the meaning of this instruction will depend upon who is addressed as well as what is said. When sayings such as those in Q 11:9–13 and 12:22b–31 are read as general ethical teachings to individuals, without much consideration of literary or historical social contexts, they could easily be read as admonitions to voluntary poverty, even exhortations pertaining to itinerant beggars. We noted above that their links with the Lord’s Prayer and the rhetorical questions about good gifts of food in Q 11:2–4, 9–13 indicate that the sayings about seeking-and-finding and knocking-and-opened were addressed to people who were concretely poor and hungry. In fact, the petition in the prayer for the kingdom referring to the people’s forgiveness of debts (following the wording in Matthew) suggests a local community situation including people who are indebted. We noted also that once Q 12:22b–31 is no longer read in its Lukan resetting as concerned with “possessions,” it appears to address ordinary people’s realistic anxieties about the basic necessities of life, food and clothing. The sayings in both of these clusters can thus be seen to address the same class of poor and hungry and despairing people addressed in the beatitudes. It seems difficult to imagine how the sayings in the clusters on boldly petitioning God and on anxieties about necessities could have “originally” pertained to a radical individualistic ethic of voluntary homelessness and poverty and only later have been broadened and transformed into sayings of solace and encouragement to the general lot of poor and hungry, as in the Q clusters. It is far more likely that the Q clusters represent something close to what the thrust of such sayings was typically in the earlier tradition and probably even in the situation of Jesus’ ministry.

The clusters on prayer and anxiety, besides addressing the poor, are clearly also addressed to a community (ies). Traces of the character or shape of those communities, however, are difficult to find. Given the lack of evidence for the formation and form of Jesus communities in the synoptic Gospel traditions, the tendency has been to project congregations gathered for meals from the pattern in Hellenistic churches onto Jesus movements in Palestine (recently, e.g., Mack, 1988b:80–83). Evidence for this, however, appears to be absent not only in Q but in Markan materials as well. There is not even an allusion to a group meal in Q—the beatitude that the hungry shall be filled, the prayer for bread, and the fantasy of the future banquet of the kingdom are all images of fulfillment, but not allusions to current community meals. But even in Mark Jesus’ or a community’s table-fellowship does not appear all that important, with only one of the pronouncement stories (2:15–17), along with the last supper passage, involving Jesus at table, while other stories concern celebration or mass feedings of the people in the time of fulfillment (2:18–20; 6:30–44; 8:1–10) rather than community meals. Our earliest gospel sources thus provide little basis for any hypothesis that meals or house gatherings were the occasion for the teaching of Jesus or its continuation in Jesus movements. Where Jesus teaches the people is not indicated in Q materials, and in Mark Jesus teaches typically in a local assembly (1:21; 6:2), at his house (3:20), by the sea (4:1), or out among the villages (6:6), but not at meals.

Perhaps it is unnecessary, however, to find some special social form such as a meal as a link between Jesus’ teachings and the Jesus movements. In populous and socially diverse Hellenistic cities, of course, some point of contact and form of meeting, such as the already existing Jewish “house of prayer” or a newly formed “house-church” was prerequisite for the development of a movement. But in the Galilee represented in the synoptic Gospel materials themselves, the people Jesus addressed and those whom his movements involved were apparently located in villages and towns in which people were already involved in close contact and in which new or special social forms were not necessary to bring people together for common concerns. Thus, the most important indication of the social form involved in a Palestinian Jesus movement may be what is left unsaid, what is apparently simply assumed or taken for granted: except for those engaged in mission activities, the people addressed in Jesus’ teachings and involved in Jesus movements are right where they always were, in their local village or town communities, in which religious dimensions of life were inseparable from local social-economic forms and relationships.

But it is precisely those local social-economic-religious relations, as well as the general religious-economic circumstances of the people, that Jesus’ “sapiential” teachings address. That can be seen best in the “inaugural sermon.” That is, just as Q 11:9–13 and 12:22b–31 offer reassurance to poor and hungry people anxious about their difficult circumstances, so the teachings in 6:27–38, 41–42 address those same people who, partly because of their difficult circumstances of mutual indebtedness and acute anxiety, are faced with extraordinary tensions and the disintegration of social relations in their local communities. In examination of the Q clusters above we noted that 6:27–36 in particular appears to be a kind of popular covenantal instruction addressed to those social-economic circumstances, rooted in a long Israelite tradition visible in such texts as Lev 19 and Exod 23:4–5, and cultivated also in sapiential teaching, as evident in Sir 29:1. Furthermore, the covenantal pattern was evidently the principle operative in the linking of the sayings in 6:27–36 with the beatitudes and the parable of the two builders. It also seems evident that the covenantal connection was not imposed only at the stage of Q composition, but was inherent earlier in the content and function of such admonitions themselves as addressed to local circumstances. A more tentative way of making the argument about the significance of this set of sapiential sayings for our reconstruction and understanding of Jesus’ ministry is that if by comparison with other, subsequent use of some of the same or similar sets of sayings it is clear that 6:27–36 are connected with other sayings as parts of covenantal instruction to poor people to whom the kingdom of God has just been proclaimed, then that is the way those sayings should be understood in Palestinian contexts prior to Q, even in the situation of Jesus’ ministry.

Previous discussion of sayings such as those in Q 6:27–36 in terms of the intensification or the qualification of the Torah impose a scholarly-scribal definition of terms onto these sayings. But Jesus’ teachings, debates, and prophetic woes, in both Q and Mark, reject precisely such scholarly-scribal views and the social agenda they entailed, as noted just above. Matthew’s schematic recasting of these sapiential sayings from Q (Matt 5:20–48) has the effect of making Jesus seem more scribal while also making the covenantal character of his instruction more explicit. Assuming the Q form of these sayings is closer to Jesus than the Matthean, however, such “sapiential” teachings of Jesus at the early stages of their transmission were popular covenantal teaching addressed to local communities, not scribal debate about the Torah. Moreover, insofar as local village communities were the fundamental social form in which the people of Israel were constituted, such covenantal exhortation is precisely what would be appropriate to an overall purpose of the renewal of Israel.

That covenantal themes and forms are important elsewhere in synoptic traditions prior to Matthew can be seen, for example, in the story of the last supper in Mark 14:22–25, which also juxtaposes a renewal of the covenant with the advent of the kingdom of God. For the Markan or pre-Markan community (ies) the story of the last supper was significant in the founding of the new covenant people more than as a founding of a local congregation’s meeting for meals (as in 1 Cor 11:23–26: “do this in remembrance of me”). Moreover, Mark 7 has Jesus not debating Torah (i.e., defending the “written Torah” over against the Pharisees’ “oral Torah”) but engaged in fundamental covenantal teaching, insisting on the basic “commandment(s) of God” for guidance of social and familial relations (see esp. Mark 7:9–13 and 21–22; and note further 10:17–25; 12:28–34).

3.4    Jesus, Prophet of the Kingdom of God (and Renewal of Israel)

The Q complexes and pre-Q materials provide a number of indications of the role and significance Jesus was understood to have. Neither crucifixion-resurrection kerygma nor messianic titles figure anywhere in Q, so far as we know. It also seems clear now that Jesus is not identified with the exalted and/or coming “Son of Man” in Q. There is thus no basis for viewing Jesus as the heavenly revealer of prophetic sayings to Q prophets. He is, rather, throughout the clusters of sayings, the prophet pronouncing woes and warnings and the popular teacher giving covenantal and sapiential admonitions. Yet he clearly transcends the role of an ordinary prophet and wise man, because for Q Jesus is the one of utmost historical significance who has brought the kingdom of God and the restoration of Israel. As John proclaims at the outset, he is the stronger one coming who would both bring renewal (through the Holy Spirit) and execute judgment (with fire). He has the special role of mediator with the Father (10:21–24) and at the end of Q receives the sovereignty and passes it on to the renewed people of Israel (22:28–30).

The greatest specification of Jesus’ role and significance comes in the complex of materials behind Q 7:18–35. Jesus affirms that he is indeed the one who is to come in whose healing and preaching the prophecies of (personal and social renewal by) Isaiah are being fulfilled (7:18–23). That Jesus, while obviously a prophet, far transcends the significance of any ordinary prophet for the Q people can be seen most directly in the next set of sayings regarding John’s significance (7:24–28). John was a prophet, indeed more than a prophet—the messenger (Elijah) prophesied by Malachi. But even this greatest one born of women does not compare to the least in the kingdom of God. Implicit, of course, is that if John was more than a prophet, how much more extraordinary is Jesus, who preaches and manifests the kingdom. Yet Jesus is clearly a prophetic figure parallel to John in this discourse, an impression confirmed in the next sub-cluster which concludes with the declaration that “wisdom is vindicated by all her works/children” (7:31–35).

Among the other indications in Q that Jesus is understood in prophetic terms are the sending of envoys on a mission of preaching and healing, the allusions to Elijah’s call of Elisha in the sayings prefatory to the mission discourse itself (9:57–62 + 10:2–16), and the idea that people must respond and adhere to the words of the prophet or face divine judgment (e.g., 10:10–15; 12:8–9; 17:23–37).

Q apparently understands Jesus as the climactic figure in the long line of Israelite prophets. That is never articulated directly, but it is implied in the insertion of 11:49–51 into the woes against the Pharisees. Moreover, it is at least conceivable that this passage also implies that the death of Jesus was understood as that of a prophetic martyr. The theme of the historical killing of the prophets occurs in both the sub-cluster of woes against the Pharisees and in the cluster of prophetic sayings against the Jerusalem rulers (11:47–48; 13:34–35). It also occurs in what is usually deemed a late insertion into an expansion of the beatitudes (6:23b), which suggests that the Q community (ies) or composer(s) saw themselves as well as John and Jesus as standing in the heritage of Israel’s prophets. The key saying is the oracle of wisdom: “I will send them prophets … some of whom they will kill … that the blood of all the prophets … may be required of this breed …” (11:49–51).

Certain assumptions which have heavily influenced interpretation of this oracle (see esp. Miller: 230–33) must first be addressed. It is God’s (apocalyptic) wisdom who speaks, with no implied identification with an exalted Jesus (after he quotes wisdom Jesus himself resumes speaking: “Yes, I tell you”). It is “apocalyptic” speech, with a perspective over history, addressing but not located in the present. There is no reason to believe that “a sense of failure” stands behind this saying (we would not say that the apostle Paul had a sense of failure because he was persecuted and believed in future judgment!). Indeed, the present situation that the oracle addresses is not that of the Q people or Q prophets, but that of Jesus’ ministry. There is an unspoken premise already in 11:47–48, i.e., that those who build the tombs of the prophets are themselves opposing the purpose of God in the present situation (i.e., Jesus and the kingdom). Moreover, some extreme action of “this breed” would be necessary for the blood of all the prophets to be required of them.

The insertion of wisdom’s oracle in this context thus suggests that the prophets sent are Jesus and John and that the extreme action by “this breed,” i.e., the Pharisees in the context, is their opposition to and complicity in the killing of Jesus, who must be the climactic or decisive prophet. Thus 11:49–51 like 14:27 (for which it is difficult to discern the context and meaning) could be an allusion to Jesus’ death, with the implicit placement as the climactic figure in a series of martyred prophets, although there is no explicit statement about Jesus’ death elsewhere in Q.

This understanding of Jesus (along with John) as a prophet in the line of Israelite prophets was clearly present also in pre-Q materials, particularly 7:22, 24–26, 33–34 and 11:47–48, as noted above. Moreover, although there are no precise parallels to these Q and pre-Q traditions that understand Jesus in prophetic terms, there are any number of other early indications that Jesus was so understood. Perhaps it is sufficient here to focus only on Mark and pre-Markan traditions. Most dramatically in Mark Jesus appears transfigured on the mountain together with Moses and Elijah (9:2–7). Then twice, reports of popular responses to Jesus are given, with all of the alternatives being prophetic: Elijah, one of the prophets, or John the Baptist returned (6:14–16; 8:27–28). The most important evidence for the understanding of Jesus’ ministry in prophetic terms, however, are the pre-Markan chains of miracle stories. As Mack has explained, “these collections combine allusions to the activities of Moses and Elijah,” particularly “the Exodus story … because each set begins with a sea-crossing miracle and ends with a miracle of feeding in the wilderness” and “the miracles of healing that … remind one of the Elisha-Elijah cycle of miracles.… The images of both Moses and Elijah were taken no doubt from the common stock of lore popular in the north” (1988b:92).

What we have, then, are at least two separate movements, reflected in pre-Q and pre-Markan materials respectively, in which Jesus was understood in prophetic terms, and some pointed attempts in Q (7:27) and Mark (9:11–13) to insist that John was Elijah, evidently in the face of an understanding of Jesus as an Elijah-like figure. It is of course possible that Jesus was “reimagined” as a prophet only at the composition or redaction of Q and independently “reimagined” in somewhat parallel fashion in the formulation of the pre-Markan miracle chains. Then, of course, Q and Mark would independently have countered the understanding of Jesus as Elijah apparently independently developed in their respective traditions. Perhaps if it were only a matter of ideas and literary composition such a reconstruction would be credible, for we could believe that ideas of Elijah or some other prophet were simply “in the air,” particularly in Galilee, with its northern Israelite heritage. But there were actual prophetic figures active in Palestine in the mid-first century CE, indeed of two distinctive types (Horsley, 1985). The popular prophets of the one type, who led movements, appear to have been Moses-like or Joshua-like (or Elijah-like?), according to Josephus’ reports. One prophet of the more oracular type, Jesus son of Hananiah, is reported to have uttered a lament or woe over Jerusalem somewhat similar to that of Jesus of Nazareth in Q 13:34–35. Thus, given both the parallel early traditions understanding Jesus in prophetic terms and the currency of actual prophetic figures in mid-first century CE Jewish Palestine, it is far more likely that Jesus was understood as a prophetic figure from the outset than that he was “reimagined” as a prophet only later, but virtually simultaneously in two separate movements.

If Jesus had been understood as a teacher of individual ethics at the earliest stage in the transmission of his sayings, then it is difficult to explain how the tradition of healings and exorcisms can be connected and how the emergence of a movement of local communities can be explained. If, on the other hand, Jesus’ actions and teachings in interaction with followers and others in Galilee were such that he was understood in prophetic terms, then it is possible to imagine how most of the synoptic gospel materials in both Q and Mark could stem from Jesus’ ministry and/or emerge in the development of his message and movement(s). Teachings and prophecies cohere as components of a ministry and a movement (including mission) directed toward the renewal of the people of Israel in their traditional form of local covenantal communities under the conviction that the kingdom of God was at hand. (Just as “apocalyptic” and “sapiential” forms cannot be rigidly separated in literary productions such as Daniel or 1 Enoch 91–107, so prophetic and sapiential materials cannot be socially segregated in popular movements.) Healings and exorcisms are integral to that renewal as the restoration of personal wholeness that corresponds to the renewal of local social-economic life. As previously in Israelite history, renewal of the people entailed conflict with the authorities, conflict that at times involved the defense and renewal of traditional (local) covenantal forms and principles over against the official interpretations and interests. The development of the pronouncement stories used in Mark, nearly half of which involve opposition to the Pharisees, would have played an important function in this regard.

The only major components of the synoptic gospel (and closely related) traditions that cannot be readily explained as rooted in a prophetic ministry or an obvious outgrowth of it are the crucifixion-resurrection kerygma, the passion narrative in Mark, and both the royal and the “Son of Man” christologies (Mark, Matthew)—i.e., the components that have been most prominent in subsequent Christian ritual, theology, and general New Testament studies. Mack (1988b), Nickelsburg (1980), and others have made major recent contributions to how the origins of these components and their combinations with other components of the synoptic traditions can be explained and understood. It seems clear that any of those major components can easily be understood as an interpretation of the significance of Jesus’ death, or rather death and vindication, independent of his ministry. It was Mark’s genius and contribution to have woven them together with traditions of Jesus’ ministry, while Q provides a clustering of Jesus’ prophecies and teachings that enable us to imagine how they could have been components of a prophetic ministry and movement of social renewal in Galilee.

On the Stratification of Q a Response

Christopher M. Tuckett

University of Manchester

It is both a pleasure and a privilege to be asked to write a brief response to some of the papers presented in this issue of Semeia. The articles cover a wide range of important issues in the study of early Christianity, Q and Jesus and they all provide stimulating new insights. In this Response, I shall try to focus on some aspects of the studies devoted specifically to Q itself and on some of the methodological issues raised. But any appearance of criticism in the comments offered here must be tempered right from the outset with deep and sincere appreciation for the works to which these comments are responding.

It has become almost axiomatic in many Q studies today to assume that “Q” is a multi-layered entity, so that instead of “Q” simpliciter we should be thinking of at least three stages in the growth of Q—Q1, Q2 and Q3 (to use the nomenclature that is becoming standard for many)—with each stage in Q conceived of as a well-defined entity and individual traditions assignable to a specific layer and making sense almost exclusively within that layer. The starting-point for this work is often taken to be John S. Kloppenborg’s rightly influential book (1987a) where such a stratigraphy was argued for with great learning and detail (though similar theories had already been proposed before 1987 by scholars such as Jacobson, Polag, Schürmann and others, as well as several proposing a division of Q into two layers). Possible further implications of such a division within Q are developed in some of the essays here: for example, Kloppenborg himself seeks to delineate the social history of the Q people (cf. too Mack, 1988a); Vaage distinguishes between the uses of the term “Son of Man” in the various strata; and Seeley develops a potentially even more complex model (or at any rate postulates a greater number of stages) in Q sayings referring implicitly to the death of Jesus. Coupled with this trend is a firm belief that the path back from gospel literature to Jesus is a complex one; hence one should start from the presence of an individual tradition in Q before making too hasty deductions about its authenticity or its place within any possible context of the ministry of the pre-Easter Jesus.

The last point is surely well made. Those of us who have not been persuaded by the merits of the revived Griesbach hypothesis, or by the Farrer/Goulder theory, are all convinced of the existence of some kind of “Q” tradition. And the development of Q studies, certainly since the work of Tödt, has convinced many that it is indeed sensible to think of Q as a body of tradition with a rather distinctive theological profile. Moreover, for those who operate within such assumptions, it seems most probable that the Q traditions represent the end-point of a development where Q itself (a Q-“editor,” or a Q-“redactor”) has been actively involved in redacting the tradition received. In this sense, it is indeed entirely right and proper to conceive of a “Q1” and a “Q2“, thinking of “Q2” as a redactional layer superimposed on an earlier “Q1” tradition. Further, few would doubt that the “Q2” layer (in the nomenclature widely used) represents a significant and distinctive feature of the Q tradition. It is here that the polemical attacks on “this generation” are located and, certainly since Lührmann’s work (1969), this aspect of Q has often been identified as most characteristic of “Q” and Q’s “redaction.” In this sense, therefore, I am very happy to accept the isolation of a “Q2” layer as a significant feature within Q.

I do however have rather more problems with the alleged “Q3” stage, and also in part with “Q1“, or perhaps better with the use that is made of the proposed layer by some. In particular there is the problem of continuity or discontinuity between the various stages, or strata, postulated within the growth of Q. One must remember that theories of different stages in the development of Q concern the growth of a single body of tradition in Christian history. In distinguishing different layers within Q, one is not distinguishing two quite separate strands of Christian tradition which never had contact with each other (e.g., Q and Paul, or Hebrews and John). Rather one is envisaging a process whereby an earlier tradition is adopted and positively evaluated, so that the older tradition is re—”published,” albeit with further additions and possible redactional alterations. A priori one would therefore expect a firm measure of continuity between the different levels. Conversely, the discontinuity between stages in Q is likely to be lesser rather than greater. With this in mind it becomes rather harder to conceive of the same words having radically different meanings at different stages of the development of Q.

Of course, this is not to deny that some measure of discontinuity may exist. Indeed we shall only be able to identify the existence of layers in the tradition, and the activity of a secondary editor, if there are elements of discontinuity. Nevertheless, if too much of a disjunction between layers is postulated, or if total rejection of the earlier tradition by the later editor is proposed, the question arises why the earlier tradition was ever used at all by the later editor. Also it seems not unreasonable to assume that where traditions are carried forward without modification by a later editor, working with the same Q tradition and (one presumes) within the same social group, then no great change in the significance seen in the same words should be postulated without positive evidence to the contrary. I wonder therefore if Q study generally has something to learn from recent trends in “redaction”-critical study of the gospels themselves where there has been a move away from the very strictly defined “redactional” approach, focusing only on the redactional changes made by an evangelist, to a more “literary” approach, taking the text as a unified whole (see Tuckett, 1987:120–26).

I offer first a few comments on the alleged Q3 stage. Q3 is assigned the Temptation story as well as some strongly nomistic traditions (such as Q 11:42d and 16:17) by Kloppenborg (1987, 1990c) and in this volume Vaage adds Q 12:10 (cf. p. 118). There is however a danger here that “Q3” simply becomes a repository for anything that does not fit, or seems out of place, in Q2. For Kloppenborg (1987a), the temptation narrative seems unlike the rest of Q, and other nomistic traditions cohere with this (1990c). Vaage is more forthright. Q 12:10 “flatly contradicts” Q 12:8–9 and is thus assigned to a Q3 gloss (see p. 118), being “quite anomalous” (see p. 122). Vaage is certainly to be applauded for facing squarely the problems created by the juxtaposition of Q 12:8–9 and Q 12:10 (if indeed they were juxtaposed in Q and not just in Luke). But his solution only seems to push the problem to a different level. What are we to make of the Q3 editor who decided to “flatly contradict” Q2, but also to retain the Q2 tradition with which s/he apparently disagreed so strongly. Vaage’s suggestions about Q 12:10 effectively makes the Q3 editor not unlike Bultmann’s proposed ecclesiastical redactor of John’s gospel: a figure who makes rather a botch of his/her tradition and is at times in a relationship of radical discontinuity with the earlier tradition.

Now clearly the existence of such a later editor is theoretically possible. Nevertheless, the degree of discontinuity postulated by Vaage for Q 12:10 seems almost too extreme for comfort. Indeed, criticisms often brought against Bultmann’s interpretation of the fourth gospel may be apposite in Q studies. Critics of Bultmann have often urged that, before proceeding to isolate an earlier, purified Ur-John form of the text purged of the tiresome ecclesiastical redactor, we should work with the final form of the text as we have it and seek to make sense of that in the first instance.1 The same comments could apply to Q itself. Should we not perhaps respect the integrity of Q and seek to interpret Q in its “final” form in the first instance? Much is made in several of the articles here of the importance of working backwards from texts which we “know” about to earlier stages in the tradition, rather than vice versa (cf. Kloppenborg /Vaage p. 9; Horsley, p. 197). Vaage himself explicitly says that “all debate about Q’s redaction(s) must proceed from the final edition of the document ‘backwards’ or ‘downwards’ ” (p. 105). But in terms of the stratigraphy assumed by Vaage, the “final” edition of Q is Q3, and not Q2! Should we not therefore initially be seeking to make sense of that stage in Q’s growth that has both Q 12:8–9 and Q 12:10 side by side, rather than (as Vaage does) using “Q3” as a useful dumping ground for an odd saying that will not conveniently fit into the more exciting Q2 stage? Should we indeed be thinking at all of a Q3 stage distinct from Q2?

One solution to the problem posed by Q 12:10 is often sought in a distinction made between the pre- and post-Easter situations: “speaking against the Son of Man” means opposing Jesus during his earthly life, and this is forgivable; “speaking against the Holy Spirit” means opposing the preaching of Q Christians after Easter and this is not forgivable (cf. Tödt:110–11; Hoffman:152 and others). Such a solution is not without its problems (Kloppenborg, 1987a:212–13) but it still seems to me to be the best solution. If so, it may indicate that not everything in Q is spelled out explicitly. If this interpretation of Q 12:10 is accepted, then it does show that Q (or at least Q3!) presupposes some kind of significance in the dividing line of Easter. I would agree with Kloppenborg (1990b) that “the Easter faith” may not be so significant for Q in that Q certainly does not make of Jesus’ death and resurrection what Paul does (cf. too Mack here). Nevertheless, that does not mean that Jesus’ death (and perhaps “resurrection”) has no significance at all for Q. Clearly, Q (or at least Q2) places Jesus’ death in an interpretive context, namely that of the violent fate suffered by the prophets, even if that death may not be interpreted explicitly as vicarious or even necessarily as qualitatively different from other prophetic deaths. And even if Jesus’ death is not explicitly stated to be qualitatively different from other prophetic deaths, it is clear from elsewhere in Q that Jesus himself is regarded as unique (cf. Q 6:46–49; 7:22–23; 10:16; 10:21–22, and indeed the very existence of Q as the promulgation of the teaching of Jesus). Q 12:10 may indicate that a qualitative difference between eras is being presupposed by Q, with “Easter” (or at least the end of Jesus’ earthly preaching) as the dividing line between these eras. This example should perhaps alert us to the possibility that not everything that is significant for Q is necessarily spelt out explicitly in those parts of Q to which we have access.

The problems of continuity, and also perhaps of unwritten presuppositions, are highlighted for me in the essays of Seeley and Vaage. Seeley’s essay on the interpretation of the death of Jesus in Q proposes a model even more complex than a three-stage development of Q. Seeley argues for five stages in Q’s thought about Jesus’ death: a Cynic interpretation (Q 14:27), prophetic ideas introduced unpolemically (6:23c), opposition being experienced and boundaries starting to form in the face of increasing outside hostility (7:24–35), leading on to harsh, unyielding polemic using the Deuteronomic-prophetic scheme (11:49–51), with the polemic then later softened with just a glimmer of hope (13:34–35). Further, Seeley spells out at the end of his article that this sequence is not simply one of logic: rather it represents the historical process of development in the thinking of the Q Christians and their changing social situations: “This progression reflects the relative ages of these interpretations of Jesus’ death in Q” (p. 145 above; emphasis added).

My major difficulty with this lies in the attempt to delineate such a complex progression on the basis of such a limited amount of evidence within a single document Q. As interpreted by Seeley, all five interpretations are rather different, with different nuances and different degrees of hostility in the environment presupposed. Yet all are included in Q; indeed almost all are in “Q2” (according to those who would divide Q in this way) and, moreover, nearly all the sayings are preserved unglossed and unaltered. (The exception might be 6:23c which glosses 6:22ab–23ab). Presumably then they all made sense to the final editor as they were (except possibly 6:23c). And indeed, if the Q order is best preserved by Luke, the last word on the subject in Q (in Q 14:27) is the viewpoint of the earliest tradition, preserved unaltered! It seems most likely that, at the least for the final Q editor, Q 14:27 was interpreted under the assumption of Jesus’ death being seen as part of the line of prophetic deaths. And the Q editor (at least of Q2 and Q3) can presumably take that as self-evident when reproducing Q 14:27 simply because so much of Jesus’ death has already been implied in Q (viz. in 6:23c; 7:24–35; 11:47–51; 13:34–35!).

But this in turn must cast some doubt on Seeley’s claim that Q 14:27 is to be interpreted on a quite different (i.e., Cynic) model. Seeley’s prime reason is that Q 14:27 lacks any explicit concern with community boundary formation in not using the death of Jesus (and others) to attack social enemies: this is the force of the use of the Deuteronomic-prophetic scheme presupposed in the later Q texts such as Q 11:49–51 and 13:34–35, but explicit reference to the later (prophetic) model is absent from 14:27 itself. Any argument from silence is problematic. Indeed, it is a stock argument against theories of the existence of a non-“kerygmatic” theology in Q that silence about the kerygmatic significance of the cross does not imply that such significance was not seen (cf. Hengel, 1976:75). I remain convinced that, in the case of Q as a whole, the size of Q is sufficient to make the absence of reference to the death of Jesus as explicitly vicarious or saving a significant silence. However, when the size of the “database” is reduced, in this case to a single, short, isolated verse, arguments from silence become all the more precarious. Not every aspect of every writer’s beliefs is, or can be, spelt out explicitly at every point. Sometimes things are left unsaid, either because they have been said elsewhere, or because they can be presupposed. Thus to take a single verse such as Q 14:27, and build upon its silence about prophetic themes and social hostility a fairly elaborate theory of developments in Q’s thoughts about the death of Jesus from Cynic to rather different prophetic models, seems somewhat dangerous. Few would wish to deduce from Rom 15:3 a chronologically earlier (i.e., exemplary) view of Paul’s about the atonement which he subsequently developed later in his life; nor would many try to reconstruct the chronological history of the Markan community’s beliefs about Jesus’ death from the varied statements in Mark 8:31; 10:45; 14:24 and 15:38; at best they would be seen as different aspects of one view (Mark’s) or perhaps different traditions incorporated by Mark. But even in the latter case it would seem precarious to plot these statements against a chronological scale and see a history of the tradition developing in a unilinear way within a single community. So too then perhaps with Q. Rather than using a series of short sayings in Q to reconstruct five separate stages in the conceptual and social history of the Q “community,” one should perhaps see all the sayings as expressing potentially different aspects of a single overall view which at least the final editor was happy to include in the final version of the text and which presumably was thought to make some kind of coherent sense.

Similar problems appear to me to arise in Vaage’s essay on the use of “Son of Man” (henceforth SM) in Q. I have already referred to the problems of assigning Q 12:10 to a Q3 layer. For the rest, Vaage assigns all but two of the SM sayings in Q to the Q2 level, the two exceptions being Q 7:34 and 9:58 which are assigned to Q1. Vaage may well be right at one level, and I certainly would not want to quibble with the general view that some SM sayings come to the Q (or Q2) editor from his/her tradition and that some of the SM sayings are extremely significant for that editor in expressing his/her ideas.

Vaage does however go rather further in suggesting that the majority, if not all, of the Q2 SM sayings are not only brought into Q by the Q2 editor but are also created by the editor at this stage. Vaage is aware of the problem but argues that a saying could be regarded as “redactional” (by which he appears to mean a redactional creation de novo) if it can be shown to cohere with Q’s “wider rhetorical strategy” (see p. 105). Thus Vaage’s method is to argue that the Q2 sayings are all of a piece with Q2 itself and hence probably originate there. I would certainly not disagree that the SM sayings cohere with “Q2“. But again the vexed problem of continuity arises. Can we be so sure that the “rhetorical strategy” of Q2 is so different from its earlier tradition, or indeed from that of Jesus? It is becoming clearer that the boundaries between “Q” and Jesus are not so clearcut as some might like. The relationship between Q and Jesus at the level of discipleship is perhaps one of more continuity and less discontinuity (cf. Kuhn, 1980); Catchpole in this volume argues persuasively for a strong element of continuity between the “missionary” practice of Jesus and of Q Christians; and elsewhere he has argued forcefully that, even in the polemical passages of Q often thought to be so characteristic of Q (or Q2), we cannot and should not drive too much of a wedge between Q and Jesus (Catchpole, 1991).

Can we then so confidently affirm that the SM sayings in Q2 passages are not only added here by the Q editor but are also created by that editor? No one would doubt that, within Q, earlier traditions have sometimes been glossed by a later editor. But this does not preclude the possibility that the glossing takes place using earlier traditions available to the Q2 editor. In several instances too, according to Vaage’s analysis, the SM saying in question represents a separable unit, quite capable of existing independently (unlike, say, the Lukan gloss in Luke 5:32 where Jesus is made to say that he has come to call sinners “to repentance”: the gloss is only a two word phrase, incapable of independent existence). However, the fact that a tradition in toto coheres with the concerns of Q2 cannot of itself preclude the possibility that the tradition in question also existed prior to its being incorporated into Q. And nothing, as far as I can see, in Vaage’s introductory “Methodological Considerations” really shows that his allegedly different approach solves the problem here any better than others. Kloppenborg’s warnings (1984) about not confusing tradition-history and literary history still stand; and Schürmann’s self-imposed limitations about the implications of his own analysis of the SM sayings in Q (1975:141)—that his theory only concerned the stage at which a SM saying entered the present form of the tradition, not the question of the ultimate origin of the saying—deserve repetition here.

Further problems seem to me to arise in the interpretation Vaage gives to the phrase “SM” both in Q1 and Q2, and in the conclusions he draws from these. I would agree with Vaage that the SM sayings he assigns to Q2 cohere together, and indeed cohere with important aspects of Q2 in stressing the imminent threat of judgment hanging over the addressees. The question Vaage rather sidesteps is why the phrase “SM” itself is used here at all. Thus he claims that

the figure’s contribution to the saying itself is quite abstract; we would even say mathematical.… Logically, in every case we could replace the “son of man” with an x and still grasp whatever is at stake. The only thing added by the actual words “son of man” in the text of Q’s redaction is semantic contact with a certain intertextual (apocalyptic) field of play. The name allows a set of associations to be made, giving the interested imagination (e.g., that of New Testament scholars) a range to fill in the blank. (p. 124).

This does not however seem very satisfactory. The very fact that the phrase is so unusual in Greek (and most would agree that at least Q2 is a Greek “text”) suggests strongly that the “set of associations” which could be made are not just a matter for modern NT scholars but were important for first-century readers and writers too and that the “semantic contact” was something that the author of a text such as Q expected his/her audience and/or readership to pick up. Our problem is of course that we constantly struggle to identify the “semantic contact” appropriate for a first-century Christian writer! It is also the case that no clear explicit reference to Daniel 7 (or Psalm 110) appears in the Q SM sayings themselves (Casey), though some would argue that a Danielic allusion is clearly implied in the talk of the coming of the SM (cf. Lindars:95). But it seems unlikely that we can simply ignore the potential meaning of the phrase entirely in the way Vaage appears to, and I remain unconvinced that we could replace “SM” with “x” and lose nothing at all in the meaning of the sayings.

At the level of Q1, Vaage claims that the “SM” is quite different, “someone of much less regal or divine stature” (p. 123) (though is the SM in Q2 “regal” or strictly “divine”?) but more of an unorthodox wanderer delightfully free from convention (a Cynic?), eating and drinking freely and sleeping where he wills. Here too Vaage raises the question of why Jesus is called “SM” in this context, but again simply sidesteps the issue, saying that it is “hard to know,” and hinting that it may be some sort of “nickname” (p. 123). Once again the problem of continuity arises. What does Q2 make of the allegedly quite different Q1 sayings? Does not the fact that the same unusual Greek phrase “SM” is used in all the sayings have any significance at all? Can we say that the phrase, and the Q1 sayings, meant one thing for Q1 and something quite different for Q2? The more of a wedge is driven between Q1 and Q2, the harder it becomes to see why Q2 ever used Q1 at all or what sense it made of it.

In fact, one could argue for a far greater degree of continuity between the various SM sayings. I have argued elsewhere (1982) that Q 7:34 and 9:58 both occur in contexts which imply social conflict with hostility and opposition being experienced. In Q 7:34 this is quite clear: the “SM” and John the Baptist are both rejected by this generation, despite their different lifestyles. In Q 9:58, this is perhaps less obvious; but if, as many maintain, Q 9:58 acts as the introduction to the mission discourse (cf. Kloppenborg, 1987a:200–201), and if that missionary discourse also reflects a situation of hostility and opposition and hence is rather more Q2-like than Q1 (cf. Jacobson, 1982a), then the homelessness of the SM in Q 9:58 may be portrayed by Q as paradigmatic for the lack of reception which the Q missionaries will experience. In other words, the homelessness of the SM is seen as a result of social conflict, not as the result of any Cynic-type scorning of conventions. Q 7:34 and 9:58 thus belong very closely together; they also cohere well with the other SM sayings which reflect a similar situation of conflict and/or articulate Q’s response to that conflict. It seems therefore dangerous to drive a wedge between Q1 and Q2 here.

It may also be dangerous to drive a wedge between Q and Jesus at this point. Vaage attempts to do this almost solely on the basis of his “stratigraphical” analysis. However, as I have already indicated, it is methodologically dangerous to try to solve traditio-historical problems by literary critical means (cf. Kloppenborg, 1984). A relative latecomer into Q is not thereby inauthentic! And if Jesus was involved in some kind of conflict situation with his Jewish contemporaries (which the very fact of his death must surely imply), then there must be an element of continuity between Q and Jesus at this point. I am not arguing that all the Q SM sayings can be taken as ipso facto authentic; nor am I arguing that the “SM problem” is easily soluble. It is not! All I am arguing is that the question of the possible significance of the phrase “SM” on the lips of Jesus cannot easily be solved in the way Vaage suggests. At the very least, one must say that conflict, hostility and rejection seem endemic to the SM sayings in Q. In turn this makes the SM in Q not so dissimiliar at one level from the SM in Mark who is above all a figure who “must” suffer and die (Mark 8:31, etc.). The terminology is not identical, but there is an underlying agreement here which makes it at least plausible that some such idea might be traceable back to Jesus.

In this response I have tried to focus on a few methodological problems in relation to the stratification of Q proposed by some. I have tried to argue that perhaps a model of an earlier Q-tradition being used by a later Q-redactor may represent the upper limit in terms of complexity that our evidence will allow us to perceive. In any case, we should not drive too many wedges between the various proposed stages in the tradition. Further, problems about rediscovering anything of Jesus may have to proceed with lines of argumentation additional to those engaged with trying to delineate the history of the development of the Q tradition.

Reflections on Research into Q

Harold W. Attridge

University of Notre Dame

Research into Q in some ways resembles the investigation of subatomic physics. In both cases increasingly powerful research tools are used to dissolve tightly integrated units into their component parts. Such parts are not long-lived, stable entities, but disappear almost as soon as they are created. The objects of study remain elusive, encountered primarily through traces registered on sophisticated detection equipment: electronic sensors or scholarly imaginations. The research effort in each case is enormous, yet the enterprises have proven to be extremely illuminating. Smashing atoms has contributed not only to theories about the structure of matter, but also to contemporary hypotheses about the origins of things. Dissection of the Gospels along with the isolation and analysis of Q has revealed the complexity of early Christian literary activity and also contributed to a reassessment of the originating impulse(s) of the whole Christian movement.

The essays in this collection illustrate the spectrum of opinion generated during the last decade or so by those who work with the hypothesis that there was a Synoptic Sayings Source. The most dramatic differences appear in the historical inferences different scholars draw on the basis of their probes into Q. At one end of the spectrum stand Mack, Kloppenborg, Vaage, and Seeley; on the other Horsley and Catchpole. To oversimplify a bit, the former see the people who first produced Q, and probably Jesus as well, in the mold of a Jewish Diogenes. These Jesus people promulgated a lifestyle concerned with human relationships as the locus of the “reign of God.” They were somewhat unconventional, removed from the sacred traditions of Israel maintained by the Temple and its priesthood. They were not, however, engaged in any direct conflict with those sacred traditions. The rhetoric of the basic layer of Q is hortatory, not conflictual; vehement oppositions, images of judgment, an eschatological “Son of Man” all emerge at a secondary level.

The latter group of scholars, and particularly Horsley, see the Q people, and Jesus as well, in the mold of Elijah and Elisha, Amos and Isaiah. For these analysts, social conflict is the stuff of, if not all life, at least of Palestinian life in the first century. Confrontation, challenge, and judgment are, therefore, part of the literary and historical tradition from the start. The followers of Jesus who created Q, along with their master, were engaged in a deliberate attempt to renew or revitalize the covenant traditions of Israel.

Despite these different assessments of the significance of Q for describing Jesus and some of his followers, both groups of scholars represented here agree on certain positions. Both are struck by the silence of Q on the death and resurrection of Jesus and by the relative paucity of explicit christological titulature in Q, although there are differing assessments of how much christology is present. Both camps conclude that Q was produced by “non-kerygmatic” Christians, people who would not have summarized their stance as followers of Jesus with credal formulae like Paul’s in 1 Cor 15:1–5. The silences of Q merit further reflection, but first I wish to explore further the disagreement among the several Q scholars.

The social and historical analysis in each camp is closely correlated with literary stratigraphy. In fact, the most important characteristic of the last decade of research on Q has been its analysis of the document into three distinct strata. On the basis of a firm separation of Q1, Q2, and Q3 as sapiential, apocalyptic, and biographical versions of the document respectively, Kloppenborg, Vaage, Mack, and Seeley draw their historical and sociological inferences about the Q people and, with varying degrees of probability, about Jesus. The refusal to see chronologically distinct strata allows Horsley, who prefers to speak of “clusters” in Q, to draw on all manner of sayings material from Q in his reconstruction of the historical Jesus and his immediate followers. Two obvious questions emerge: (1) Are the results of the stratigraphic analysis of Q secure? and (2) Are the historical and social inferences drawn from that analysis adequately warranted?

1. The Stratigraphic Model

Kloppenborg, on the basis of other redactional work on Q by scholars such as Dieter Lührmann and Helmut Koester, has formulated the following analysis of Q into its component strata:

In Q1 Jesus offers a message about God’s reign which consoles the poor, hungry, and persecuted (6:20–21). He teaches an ethic of radical, non-violent love (6:27–38) and urges self-awareness (6:41–42). This Jesus is interested in disciples (6:39–40), founded firmly on his teaching (6:46–49). He challenges them to follow him, without home or shelter, and careless of traditional obligations (9:57–62). These disciples have a harvest to reap and Jesus instructs them to travel lightly while proclaiming the kingdom of God (10:1–11 or 12). Jesus teaches them to pray with simple confidence (11:2–4, 9–13). He assures them that nothing will be hidden from them, that they, precious in God’s sight, will receive help in persecution (12:2–7, 11–12). They should not, therefore, be concerned about their livelihood or other ordinary concerns (12:22–31, 33–34). He offers them a formidable challenge, to squeeze through the narrow gate into the reign of God (13:24), to hate their parents, bear a cross, lose their lives (14:26–27; 17:33), and be the salt of the earth (14:34–35). He also tells a few parables (15:4–7; 16:13), forbids divorce (16:18), warns against scandal (17:2), urges repeated forgiveness (17:3–4) and calls for profound faith (17:6).

In Q2 Jesus is a disciple of the fiery preacher John (3:7–9, 16–17). Jesus heals (7:1–10), and sees himself fulfilling a scriptural role (7:18–22, 31–35). He is engaged in controversy over his exorcisms (11:14–26, 27–36). He claims to be a prophet and criticizes religious leaders (11:39b–44, 46–52). He warns of a day to come unexpectedly (12:39–40, 42–46). He himself has come, perhaps to cast fire onto the earth (12:49) and certainly to cause division (12:51–53). He predicts the coming of a Son of Man, which will be swift like lightning and resembling the days of Noah (17:23–24, 26–30). That will be a time of separation (17:34–35, 37b); some will be rewarded for their faithful service (19:12–27) while his intimates will sit on twelve thrones over the tribes of Israel (22:28–30).

At the same stage of the development of the text a few other notes of judgment and conflict are inserted into earlier material. Disciples are to be persecuted as were the prophets (6:23c). Rejecting villages will be worse off than Sodom (10:12), particularly Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum (10:13–15). To confess Jesus will be requited (12:8–9); blasphemy against the spirit of God will not be forgiven (12:10). While many will come to the kingdom banquet, opponents will be excluded (13:28–30). Jerusalem is to be pitied (13:34–35). Too bad for those who turn down the invitation to the party (14:16–24)!

In Q3 biographical interests emerge in the story of the temptation (4:1–13) and the enduring value of Jesus’ words is affirmed (16:17).

The hypothesis has won widespread assent, as Mack’s essay indicates. There are, however, at least a few loose ends in it, consisting of uncertainties about where to assign certain sayings.

In this collection, for instance, Vaage agrees that 7:18–35 is a redactional composition and therefore Q2, but that the key “Son of Man qua lush” saying is probably Q1. Vaage duly qualifies the judgment: “Thus its stratigraphical location as a saying would be originally Q1, though in a somewhat abstract manner, given the impossibility of discerning where exactly in the earlier document 7:33–34 was placed.” Such disagreements are to be expected in the details of a complex and subtle redactional analysis; it is the stuff of which Q seminars are made. If such disagreements multiply and other elements of Q2 are judged by one or another critic to be more at home on the Q1 level, the relatively clear layers delineated by Kloppenborg will soon become quite muddy. An “earlier document” which has a number of impossible-to-place sayings is one whose genre and ideology will remain difficult to determine with precision and an ever fragile foundation on which to build social and historical analysis.

Despite the sophistication of the redactional analysis throughout the current Q literature, there remain sayings the strata of which everyone has difficulties in locating. Consider, for instance, 12:10, the saying that allows libel against the “son of man,” but not against the holy spirit, a saying that apparently contradicts the preceding threat of eschatological punishment for denigrating the “son of man.” Vaage suggests that this is a late gloss, added to correct the obviously redactional 12:8–9, but his conclusion is quite tentative. He is, however, fairly certain of one thing, that “it is difficult to see how it could ever be argued that this saying once formed part of the document’s formative stratum.” Perhaps so, if Q1 is simply a collection of proverbs and exhortations, but if it is a more complex sapiential document, like Ecclesiastes, what might have lurked in it? It might even be possible to imagine a saying such as this (“Go ahead and say nasty things about the son of man [= ‘me’ or ‘people’], just watch what you say about the spirit of God”) following the observation that the “son of man” has a reputation for getting in his cups, which Vaage, with most other scholars, tentatively assigns to Q1.

The difficulty of placing this and other interesting sayings (e.g., 10:21–22; 10:23b–24; 13:18–19; 13:20–21; 16:16) remains a problem for the stratigraphic analysis of Q. If some of this material is a part of the formative stage of Q, it might be a more complex document, representing a more complex social phenomenon, than some of the current Q research maintains. The move from Q1 to Q2, if such there was, may have involved more continuity than discontinuity.

Catchpole’s essay indicates another point of stratigraphic uncertainty. The pericope which he explores, the mission charge of Luke 10:1–12 (with parallels in Matt 9:37–38; 10:9–16; Mark 6:8–11; Luke 9:2–5) has played a pivotal role in defining the ethos of the Q community. Catchpole agrees with many critics, such as Kloppenborg, that 10:13–15 and 16 are redactional, and disagrees only with the classification of 10:12, considering it to be possibly primitive. That minor departure already introduces into the primitive layer of Q an element of (eschatological? prophetic?) judgment that stands in tension with what others take to be the sapiential character of Q1.

The distinction of the strata within Q has its ragged edges. Even if an apocalyptic Son of Man and a vividly portrayed eschatological judgment are emphasized in what may be regarded as redactional layers of Q, features connected with a prophetic-apocalyptic image of Jesus are present at the level of Q1. The prediction of persecution (12:11–12) and the call to radical renunciation, even to the point of taking up a cross (14:26–27), seem to be injunctions of a very intense kind of sage. If persecution and renunciation are corollaries of the mission or functions of a mission (10:2–11) to proclaim the “reign of God,” I wonder what it is in the vision of that reign that impels such commitment. I suspect that the vision is more than, in Mack’s terms, “lightly theologized” and may well be connected with the notions of judgment so explicit in Q2.

Horsley’s position, of course, represents an even more radical challenge to the hypothesis most effectively presented by Kloppenborg, although Horsley could have joined the issue more clearly on methodological grounds. He, in effect, questions a major working assumption of Kloppenborg’s analysis, that generic differences imply redactional layers. He implicitly asks whether an author(s) or compiler(s) of a sayings collection could have used contemporary literary genres as an organizing principle for sub-sections of his collection. I suspect that the answer to that question generally is probably yes. The Wisdom of Solomon, among sapiential texts, is a rather complex piece, while within the genre “apocalypse” there are certainly works such as 1 Enoch or 4 Ezra that have significant sapiential elements. I suspect too that the large store of unpublished, fragmentary “sapiential” texts from Qumran will yield other interesting examples of mixed genres. It would have been interesting to see Horsley discuss these or other “clustered” works as parallels to the literary phenomenon of Q.

2. Rhetoric, Reality, and Jesus

The essays in this collection certainly involve a careful application of the techniques of source and redaction analysis. They also operate with an impressive repertoire of analytical moves inspired by the sociological and rhetorical methods widely in use in current biblical scholarship. In moving from the literary structure and history of Q to the history, social location, and adaptive techniques of the “Q people” and ultimately of Jesus, our Q researchers make more interesting and more problematic claims about the person to whom Christian traditions look as their source.

Old issues and shades of arguments past run through this portion of the analysis. Is Jesus “apocalyptic”? Are there greater continuities or discontinuities between John and Jesus, between Jesus and Paul? Are certain elements of the Gospel tradition more reliable than others? To summarize the two ends of the spectrum represented here: For Mack, Q (or more properly Q1) has Christian origins right and Mark has them wrong; for Horsley Q (in its entirety) and Mark tell the same overall story.

Mack’s reconstruction of the community and the person that generated Q is certainly attractive on many grounds, and although Mack may not advertise it as such, it stands in continuity with a now venerable modern tradition of liberal theology. Yet, even if we assume that the stratigraphic analysis is correct, we may ask whether the resulting reconstruction of early Christianity is persuasive. Two considerations give me pause.

One assumption of the socio-historical analysis appears to be that later attestation implies later generation. Thus, for example, the fact that Jesus is envisioned as a prophet in Q2 is due to the fact that the Q community reimagined Jesus in this role as they came into increasing conflict with Jewish authorities and understood their own plight in the light of the biblical motif of the persecution of the prophets. Yet social function does not necessarily say anything about generation. It is equally possible that certain traditional sayings were applied or recovered and utilized in a new situation. The definition of Jesus as prophet, the “apocalyptic” sayings of Q2 that warn of impending judgment and the coming of the Son of Man, the woes on recalcitrant cities, the criticisms of religious and social leaders could all be early and authentic material gathered and used to shape or reshape the sayings tradition.

Another assumption is that silence is golden; it is, in fact, highly ambiguous. The existence of Q1 perhaps warrants the inference that some followers of Jesus propagated a way of life stressing simplicity, non-violence, mutual forbearance, and pious reliance on God to whom they pray daily. They are apparently members of an intentional community who hold conventional social ties in low esteem. One of the few really practical stipulations of their fellowship is that divorce is not allowed. Their fellowship and their way of life they associate with the “reign of God.” That much can be said positively. The verses in question provide no information about other motivating or symbolizing factors of this fellowship and its leader. We do not know how Jesus was supposed to have thought of himself, or whether he performed any deeds that could be construed as miracles or signs. We do not know what kind of social order prevailed among the disciples, whether any rituals accompanied the daily prayers, etc. Our ignorance does not warrant the assumption that there was no assessment of Jesus among the tradents of these sayings, that they had no eschatological beliefs, community structures or rituals. Various reconstructions of Jesus and his immediate followers are compatible with the data of Q1, from Jesus the Cynic to Jesus the visionary prophet to Jesus the deluded Messianic pretender. When Mack argues about the assessment of Jesus’ death among the tradents of Q1: “one is forced, therefore, to conclude that Jesus’ death was understood at first in light of risks and dangers common for the times,” I wonder who or what is applying the force.

A third consideration has to do with the breadth of the data which ground the reconstruction of Jesus and his Q-type followers. If the stratigraphic hypothesis is correct, Q1 has a total of approximately 85 verses. It constitutes one witness to Jesus traditions, composed for uncertain purposes with presuppositions that remain unclear. How privileged a place should it have in historical reconstruction? Mack poses the issue in the form of much too stark a dilemma: either Mark or Q (in fact Q1)! Other relatively primitive strands of the gospel tradition are introduced only to bolster certain negative conclusions. Thus, for Mack, the miracle tradition need not presuppose the kerygma of cross and resurrection any more than the sayings tradition. Surely the other primitive traditions need to be carefully assessed, but what are they?

I would suggest that four or five bodies of data need to be considered in reconstructing Christian origins. First there is the evidence provided by those kerygmatic-apocalyptic Christians, best represented in Paul and his epigones (Mark, Luke, the deutero-Paulines). Two important bits of information about them are relevant. Unless Paul radically changed his understanding of his basic Christian commitment in the course of his career—and that is highly improbable—it is clear that the sort of kerygmatic-apocalyptic Christianity that he represents was very early and widespread (in the mid 30s, as far afield as Antioch). Also, unless Paul is thoroughly deceitful, the fact that he and the Jerusalem leadership agreed in the late forties on the basic “gospel” that they were preaching (Gal 2:2–10), although certain halakic matters remained disputed, indicates that apocalyptic-kerygmatic Christianity was the form that the movement took among a group that included several of the immediate followers and relatives of Jesus. These kerygmatic Christians have important things to tell us about Christian origins; they are much too readily dismissed when Mark alone bears the weight of representing this strand of Christianity.

The second important body of data is provided by the members of the community of the beloved disciple. Sorting through the strata in the fourth gospel is as complex and controversial a matter as reconstructing Q, yet it cannot be ignored. My not terribly idiosyncratic reading of the development of the Johannine tradition holds that strands of apocalyptic-kerygmatic and sapiential Christianity are interwoven in a complex mixture. The current narrative frame of the Gospel holds the theological reflections of the Johannine community within the kerygmatic framework of death and resurrection. At the basis of the tradition lies some sort of collection of miracles of Jesus, something like Bultmann or Fortna’s Gospel of Signs. How those miracles were interpreted remains quite ambiguous. Sandwiched within those earliest and latest strata are the reflections embodied in the Johannine discourses, with their contemporizing interpretation of categories such as immortal life, judgment, and resurrection. The means employed for the hermeneutical process often have their closest parallels in the Jewish sapiential tradition and they frequently involve sayings or elaborations of sayings attributed to Jesus. Yet I think that it is clear that what is being interpreted is in general a form of apocalyptic-kerygmatic Christianity. That remains the primary stratum in the trajectory of Johannine interpretation. Whether the material that has been developed into the discourses bears any significant relationship to the earliest stratum (if such it is) of Q remains to be seen. A case for the primacy of Q1 in the reconstruction of Christian origins would be much strengthened if a close relationship could be shown. If, on the other hand, the earliest stratum of John is independent of the Synoptics, as I believe it is, and if its theological cast is indeed best described as apocalyptic-kerygmatic, the case for the primacy of Q1 weakens.

An analogous set of considerations, by the way, arises in connection with the overlaps between Mark and Q to which Catchpole and Mack call attention. Some contributors (e.g., Horsley) believe that Mark and Q, where they do overlap, are independent witnesses to the sayings tradition. If so they have, a priori, the same value for determining the most primitive tradition. If, however, there is dependence of Mark on Q, Mark’s value as a source for reconstructing the sayings tradition diminishes. Presupposing that Mark knew Q, Mack analyzes how Mark adopted and revised the material that suited his purpose, and how he deliberately suppressed the non-apocalyptic, non-conflictive Q sayings. A Mark-Q connection is certainly possible, although Mack’s position is more suggestive than definitive. It would be interesting to see a response from Horsley about the implications for his assessment of the value of Mark and Q if Catchpole and Mack are correct on the literary question.

The third body of data to be used for exploring Christian origins is the Gospel of Thomas. Much ink has been spilled on the character of Gos. Thom. and its relations with the Synoptics. Its parallels with Q in certain areas, particularly in its silence about the death, resurrection, and parousia of Jesus, are certainly intriguing. Yet the kind of theology that it represents remains a matter of debate. In this context I want to make only two points that might easily be forgotten. The first is that Thomas has significant parallels not only with Q1, but also with material assigned to Q2, as the following chart illustrates:

Comparison of Q and Thomas, by Q-Stratum



Point of Comparison






Blessed the poor



Blessed the hungry


68, 69a

Blessed the persecuted



Don’t lend at interest



Don’t do what you hate



Blind leading blind


43, 45

Tree and fruit






Son of Man has no place for head






Harvest great, workers few

Matt 10:16


Clever as snakes, innocent as doves



Eat what they serve you





2, 92, 94

Seek and find


5, 6b, 33

Hidden revealed






Don’t worry (longer in P.Oxy. 655)



Seek unfailing treasure






Mustard seed








55, 101

Hate father and mother



Shepherd looks for one



Not two masters



Making peace will move mountains






What did you come to see



None greater than John






Binding strong man (=Mark 3:27)

11:27–28 (?)


Blessed the womb



Light on stand



Why wash outside



Pharisees and scribes took the key



Blasphemy against the Spirit


103, 21

Knowing robbers




12:49 (?)

10, 82

Casting fire on the world



Not peace but division






First will become last



Great Supper





3, 113

Coming of kingdom, here



Two on couch






Them that have, get

The second point to remember is that Thomas, probably like Q, has certainly undergone some process of redaction. There is, in fact, for Thomas at least one bit of hard evidence for such a process in the alternate form of the text attested in the Oxyrhynchus Papyri (Attridge). The character and tendencies of the redaction have not been adequately described. Perhaps that is an impossible task. Some people have, of course, argued that there was a de-eschatologizing tendency, due to the interests of “gnostic” tradents. If such a tendency could be demonstrated, it would diminish the utility of Thomas for supporting the existence of a non-apocalyptic stratum of Q. I am not persuaded that the Thomas trajectory did move from an eschatological form to a non-eschatological form. I am, however, intrigued by elements in Thomas that do have apocalyptic connections, elements such as saying 11:

Jesus said, “This heaven will pass away, and the one above it will pass away. The dead are not alive and the living will not die. In the days when you consumed what is dead, you made it what is alive. When you come to dwell in the light, what will you do? On the day when you were one, you became two. But when you become two, what will you do?”

or Saying 111a:

Jesus said, “The heavens and the earth will be rolled up in your presence. And the one who lives from the living one will not see death.”

Examples could be multiplied, but the basic point is that Thomas, despite its lack of a passion-resurrection-parousia kerygma, is not a witness to a form of Christianity innocent of “eschatological”, even “apocalyptic” elements (Lelyveld).

The fourth body of data to be used in reconstructing Jesus and Christian origins is the tradition of the deeds of Jesus, particularly his baptism by John, his choice of 12 disciples, which I, perhaps benightedly, hold to be historical on the basis of 1 Cor 15:5, and the temple episode. Much has been written about these of late, particularly by Horsley (1987, 1989b) and Sanders, and need not be repeated here. There are problems in interpreting the data to be sure, but their attenuation in or absence from Q is not adequate grounds for ignoring them. At the very least these traditions point toward a more active, confrontational Jesus than do the sayings of Q1 taken in isolation.

The fifth body of data to be considered is the corpus of Jesus’ parables, which are scattered throughout the streams of tradition. These everfascinating and ambiguous stories seem to me to suggest a way in which the tendencies of the other bodies of data can be read as compatible, not contradictory. The parables are, to recall McLuhan, a relatively cool medium; they resemble the tone of Q1 and they lack the dramatic intensity of Luke 17 or Mark 13. They are, nonetheless, often confrontational and provocative, like Q2 and Mark. The parables, like Q1 and Thomas, lack the appeals to the “great tradition” found in the proof texts of Matthew, or Luke’s concern with Jerusalem. Yet they occasionally display ironic engagement with elements of that tradition, as in the mustard plant’s parody of Ezekiel’s cedar.

The case about other significant bodies of data on Christian origins could be developed at length. My overarching point is that a focus on Q, particularly Q1, as the surest path to the origins of Christianity is methodologically flawed. Attention to the other relevant bodies of data does not necessarily validate the Markan picture of Christian origins. Horsley is a bit too optimistic on that point. It does, however, suggest that the originating figure himself was a much more complex individual than Q1 gives him credit for being.

Lists in Early Christianity: A Response to Early Christianity, Q and Jesus

John Dominic Crossan

DePaul University, Chicago

When Narcissus died, the flowers of the field were desolate and asked the river for some drops of water to weep for him. “Oh!” answered the river, “if all my drops of water were tears, I should not have enough to weep for Narcissus myself. I love him.” “Oh!” replied the flowers of the field, “how could you not have loved Narcissus? He was beautiful.” “Was he beautiful?” said the river. “And who should know better than you? [replied the flowers] Each day, leaning over your bank, he beheld his beauty in your waters.” “If I loved him,” replied the river, “it was because, when he leaned over my waters, I saw the reflection of my waters in his eyes.”

Oscar Wilde, “The Disciple”. Pp. 356–57 in Richard Ellmann, Oscar Wilde (New York, NY: Knopf, 1988).

It is probably fair to say of this collection of articles that neither early Christianity nor Jesus receives as much attention as Q. Even in the sections devoted explicitly to those frames, the emphasis is heavily on Q. In responding to the volume, therefore, I want both to move from Q back towards Jesus and at the same time to open the discussion laterally into earliest Christianity itself.

In so doing it is very important, if we have learned anything from experience, not to replace the monopoly of a kerygmatic Jesus with that of a sapiential or a Cynic Jesus even or especially if those latter focuses are an improvement over that former one. “A particular reconstruction of Jesus based primarily on one source is inadequate,” as Horsley warns us in his article, “if it cannot accommodate features of Jesus necessary to explain how Jesus is represented in other early sources or the development of certain social formations evident in our sources. For example, there is too strong a tradition of Jesus as an exorcist and healer for us to reconstruct his teachings without taking such actions into consideration. Or, there is too strong a tradition of his activity and execution in Jerusalem for us to interpret his teaching and actions in Galilee without taking the conflict in Jerusalem into account.” I hope, then, both to give adequate attention to the Sayings Gospel Q and to those other traditions as well.


Burton Mack’s article advises us to read Jonathan Z. Smith’s writings and he cites Imagining Religion (1982) as an example. That is very good advice both in general and particular. In that latter collection there is an article on canonicity from an anthropological viewpoint. I take from it, for my present purposes, the following statement, at once invitation and warning: “The list is, perhaps, the most archaic and pervasive of genres. It has received surprisingly little scholarly attention” (Smith, 1982:44). But he footnotes one “extensive study of the list” (1982:142 n.15), namely, the chapter entitled “What’s in a List?” from Jack Goody’s book, The Domestication of the Savage Mind (74–111). Here are a few quotations:

Particularly in the early phases of written cultures in the first fifteen hundred years of man’s documented history, [bureaucratic] materials are often presented in a form which is very different from that of ordinary speech, indeed of almost any speech. And the most characteristic form is something that rarely occurs in oral discourse at all (although it sometimes appears in ritual), namely the list (80).

Lists are seen to be characteristic of the early uses of writing, being promoted partly by the demands of complex economic and state organization, partly by the nature of scribal training, and partly by the “play” element, which attempts to explore the potentialities of this new medium. They represent an activity which is difficult in oral cultures and one which encourages the activities of historians and the observational sciences, as well as on a more general level favoring the exploration and definition of classificatory schemes (108).

The list … increases the visibility and definiteness of classes, makes it easier for the individual to engage in chunking, and more particularly in the hierarchical ordering of information which is critical to much recall (111).

Think, for a moment, about lists and listing. If each of us were to say, “Jesus spoke in parables. We have, for example …” and then gave, say, five parables, that five would be more or less different for each of us, more or less different again for each of us on different occasions, and more or less different in sequence for the same person giving the same list on different occasions, etc. We could, I suppose, describe all such ad hoc sets as oral lists but we would have to be very careful about the meaning of that expression. What we have in our heads is a coded mess (or matrix, if you prefer) of stuff which we can process into a list of whatever type is needed for whatever purpose, a heap in the head but a list on the lips, as it were. If we always cited a fixed sequence of parables, it would mean that we were thinking scribally rather than orally, and it might be better to describe such fixed sets as scribal lists given orally. Such a fixed oral operation, apart from magic or ritual, would not and could not occur before the conception of a fixed and written format or sequence had been created, that is, before the first arrival of literacy on a given scene. It is, indeed, the non-normality of fixed sequence in an oral context that relegates any such fixations to the realm of magic and ritual. In one sense, therefore, and even allowing for the loose usage just mentioned, the term oral list is somewhat ambiguous and might better be avoided. In strictest usage, an oral list is something of a contradiction in terms, as Goody has emphasized. He notes that initial literacy may contain “lists of individuals, objects or words in a form that may have no oral equivalent at all” (86), or, more cautiously, that the list “rarely occurs in oral discourse at all (though it sometimes appears in ritual)” (80).

Two examples: First, the Apocryphon of James 8.5–10 says, “It was enough for some «to listen» to the teaching and understand ‘The Shepherds’ and ‘The Seed’ and ‘The Building’ and ‘The Lamp of the Virgins’ and ‘The Wages of the Workmen’ and ‘The Didrachmae’ and ‘The Woman’ ” (Attridge, 1985:1.40–41; 2.21–22). That list of parables may be a previous written list or a list created for writing ad hoc. The only way one could argue convincingly for the former derivation would be the discovery of the same set in another and independent source. I presume, therefore, in the absence of any such discovery, that those parables represent an ad hoc list made from the general matrix of the author’s memory. On the other hand, there is the triad given in the Dialogue of the Savior 53, “Mary said, ‘Thus with respect to “the wickedness of each day,” and “the laborer is worthy of his food,” and “the disciple resembles his teacher” ‘ (Emmel: 78–79). In that instance, for example, Julian Hills has just recently argued for a written source behind that trilogy’s fixation (1991).

If, then, as Goody claims the list is a characteristic genre of writing for many cultures moving from orality to literacy, could the same have been used by certain transmitters of the Jesus-tradition as they made that same step? I presume that we are not so much talking of oral transmitters becoming themselves newly literate as of oral transmitters presenting their materials as best they can to scribal recorders.

Sayings Lists

The theory of lists, of listing as an inaugural genre for the first move from orality to literacy, seems to work very well for the words-tradition. The Gospel of Thomas is a perfect example of a list, indeed, even of a maxilist made up of mini-lists. I do not think, however, that it is a written maxi-list made up from randomly associated written mini-lists. It is my presumption, pending any evidence to the contrary, that such verbal, formal, and thematic mini-complexes as occur in that document were established precisely as the document itself was being composed (Crossan, 1988:153–57). Even if the Gospel of Thomas was a random written sequencing of already formed written mini-lists, that would not be anything extraordinary. It is, however, so hard to find independently attested written mini-lists that I am inclined to doubt their existence completely or at least in any number worthy of consideration.

The situation with the Sayings Gospel Q is much more complicated and, for the present discussion, I accept John Kloppenborg’s general stratification. The six units proposed by Kloppenborg for Q1 contain fairly careful internal structuring but no overall general structuring. We have, if he is correct, a development in the listing phenomenon from (speaking formally, not chronologically) the Gospel of Thomas to Q1. As Q1 was expanded into Q2 and Q3, the phenomenon of listing becomes more and more structured thematically and developed almost biographically. And all of that is well within the trajectories of list development. Goody, speaking of “the scientific and intellectual achievements of the societies of the Fertile Crescent” and especially of “the role of lists in the development of history,” noted that “the piecing together of ‘epic’ material into a ‘historical’ form is seen as developing out of the ability to produce lists” (90–91).

Finally, if nothing else happened from outside their own intrinsic trajectory, we could imagine saying lists developing into dialogues and discourses in which accidental juxtaposition generated meditative combination, extension, and expansion. That has been shown to have happened in Johannine composition by the studies of Peder Borgen, Helmut Koester (1980b), and Barnabas Lindars (1981).

Miracle Lists

I depend here on a very important line of research developed by Julian Hills and David Frankfurter, a line which demands not only its acknowledgement but also its continuation and development.

Hills considered miracle-lists from the Epistula Apostolorum 4–5 and other early Christian literature, both in his 1985 doctoral dissertation at Harvard, giving 23 cases with content summaries (1985:52–87), and in its 1990 publication, giving 19 cases with full texts (1990a:37–66). He noted that the list in Ep. Ap. 4–5 had integrated carefully together both miracle reports and miracle-narratives and most of his analysis focused on the fact and meaning of that compositional care. Since the Ep. Ap. knows the intracanonical gospels, some dependence on them was presumed for that miracle list. But Hills noted that, with regard to the reports, they “are indistinguishable from those in other early Christian miracle lists … [which] suggests that a previously extant list, written or oral, was taken over by the author of Ep. apost.,” and that, with regard to the narratives, their “relation to their NT counterparts is of a kind which makes direct borrowing from texts almost impossible to demonstrate. Random quotation is also an improbable compositional theory” (Hills, 1985:86–87=1990a:65). There is no explicit discussion as to what extent either reports and/or narratives might be directly or indirectly independent of intracanonical accounts. Later, in an article in the 1990 SBL Seminar Papers, Hills inventoried 29 miracle-lists from the second to the sixth century and asked, among other questions, “is there a core list, a thaumaturgical proof-text, as it were, that was transmitted independently of, if ultimately derived from, the NT gospels?” (1990b:376). Miracle-lists, in other words, seem indirectly or directly to be based on the intracanonical gospel accounts of Jesus’ miracles.

David Frankfurter, however, in an article in the same volume of papers, argued “that the miracle-list in early Christian tradition circulated autonomously of both gospel accounts and traditional legends of Jesus’ miracles. As a literary form the list continued directly from early Jewish lore of ‘the miracles of the age of the prophet like Moses’ ” (345) and he exemplified this with Isa 35:5–6, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.” Furthermore,

the primitive miracle-lists continued to circulate either orally or textually through the third century … and … that oral tradition itself, with the necessities and conditions of transmission and performance, exerted the primary control over each writer’s particular form of the list (358).

He explicitly opposes, in other words, “the conventional scholarly explanation of these lists: that they were composed as deliberate summaries of the miracles recorded in the gospels or circulating orally” (Frankfurter: 355) and argues instead that “very few lists exhibit knowledge of full gospels or even legends of Jesus’ miracles” (372). For Frankfurter, then, miracle-lists arose independently of miracle-stories, continued beside them both independently and/or with mutual interaction, and lists may have generated miracle stories just as much as stories lists. I judge that complicated and interactive dualism to be basically correct and, indeed, Ep. Ap. 4–5 may be but one example of the creative combination of intracanonically independent miracle-records (or lists), for example, “he made the deaf to hear and the blind to see, and he exorcized those who were possessed, and he cleansed the lepers” in Ep. Ap. 4:8–9, with intracanonically dependent miracle-narratives, for example, that in Ep. Ap. 4:7,

the woman who suffered twelve years from a haemorrhage touched the edge of his garment and was immediately whole; and while we reflected and wondered concerning the miracle he performed, he said to us, “Who touched me?” And we said to him, “O Lord, the crowd of people touched you.” And he answered and said to us, “I noticed that a power went out from me.” Immediately that woman came before him, answered him and said to him, “Lord, I touched you.” And he answered and said to her, “Go, your faith has made you whole.”

If, then, miracle-lists existed independently before, during, and after the intracanonical miracle-narratives, we may have an explanation of why there is much less multiple independent attestation for miracle-stories than for sayings. There was no equiprimordial lists of Jesus’ miracle-narratives as there were of Jesus’ sayings. There were, indeed, multiple and almost ad hoc lists of miracle-records, made up anew for each new need. Indeed, miracle-narratives may be later than miracle-lists just as, say, dialogues and discourses are later than sayings-lists. And derived from them?

Finally, once again, if miracle lists were left totally to their own logical trajectory of development without any outside interference, we would have lists of miracle-reports generating lists of miracle-narratives and thence aretalogies.

Prophecy Lists

In Helmut Koester’s monumental Introduction to the New Testament (1982) the stemma for “The Sources of the Gospels” places three separate streams at the inception of that process. They are, in his words, Collections of Sayings, Collections of Miracles Stories, and Passion Narrative (Koester, 1982:2.48). My present analysis, placing the anthropological phenomenon of lists and listing as the generative force, speaks instead of Lists of Sayings, Lists of Miracles, and Lists of Prophecies. There is no debate over the saying-lists or collections. But, if the preceding section from Hills and especially Frankfurter is correct, lists or collections of miracles would not be of miracle-stories or narratives but of miracle-records. It is such terse enumerations that I intend by miracle-lists and not at all later collections or lists of miracle stories. Finally, and somewhat similarly, there is the third phrase, “Passion Narrative”. On the one hand, Koester knows better than anyone what was involved in “the development of the passion narrative.” It is not a case of there being “once an older historical report which was later supplemented with materials drawn from scriptural prophecy,” since the “form, structure, and life situation of such a historical passion report and its transmission has never been clarified.” Instead,

the alternative is more convincing: In the beginning there was only the belief that Jesus’ suffering, death, and burial, as well as his resurrection happened “according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3–4). The very first narratives about Jesus’ suffering and death would not have made the attempt to remember what actually happened. Rather, they would have found both the rationale and content of Jesus’ suffering and death in the memory of those passages in the Psalms and the Prophets which spoke about the suffering of the righteous (Koester, 1980a:127; italics added).

Notice, by the way, for discussion at another time, how the passion-resurrection dyad from Paul becomes a passion monad in the following sentences from Koester himself. If, however, we understand the passion (and vindication, I would add) narrative as the historicization of passion prophecy, then prophecy lists might well be the intermediate literary phenomenon between isolated prophecies applied to Jesus’ fate, discursive exegetical developments, and thence those later narrative sequences.

The prophetic passion, I argued in The Cross that Spoke, existed before, during, and after the narrative passion derived from it. What struck me most forcibly when I first read Frankfurter was the similarity of our claims for two quite separate sections of the narrative tradition about Jesus. We both claimed that prophetic-fulfilment units which were originally quite independent of the canonical gospels had continued their independent life into the third century and in that process interacted creatively with those narrative versions. Thus, for both of us, to understand the gospel miracle or passion stories it became necessary to read Christian writers not only from the first but even from the third century. Miracle-lists for him, and passion/vindication-prophecy lists (testimonia, if you prefer) for me, continued their independent and/or interactive life with the gospel narratives for at least two hundred years. All in all, therefore, it seems better to restate Koester’s inaugural triad not as Collections of Sayings, Collections of Miracles Stories and Passion Narrative on the same primordial level but as Lists of Sayings, Lists of Miracles, and Lists of Prophecies. That would explain, at least, why there is such paltry independent attestation for what came into the tradition at a later stage: not miracles, but miracle-stories; not passion/vindication but the passion/vindication story.

Finally, those prophecy lists could have had their own separate trajectory of development into more and more detailed exegetical discourses and it would have been such exegeses rather than the bare prophecy lists themselves that became the basis for constructing the narrative passion/vindication account.

I conclude with two corollaries to that extremely delicate attempt to see, in a unified field, the tradition as it moves from orality to literacy. First, the individuals or groups associated with the Miracle Lists, Saying Lists, and Prophecy Lists may have had an increasing scribal and literary capacity as one moves across that triad from Miracle to Saying to Prophecy. Such class distinctions will require much more discussion: an oral memory may recall a saying (in core, of course) or even create a miracle-list ad hoc but it requires scribal learning to find a prophecy. Second, since both Frankfurter and myself found ourselves looking as far as the third century to understand the first-century narrative gospels, it will be necessary to consider the stunning challenge of Graydon Synder’s 1988 book, Ante Pacem: Archaeological Evidence of Church Life before Constantine. If we had read all the texts from the first 150 years of Christianity and then guessed or projected what images the second 150 would select to paint on their catacombs or carve on their sarcophagi, we would have been dismally, abysmally wrong. We find, on the one hand, nothing at all about a crucified or risen Jesus but we find multiple images of danger overcome, innocence rescued, or suffering vindicated from the Old Testament. And we find, on the other, multiple images of Jesus’ miracles, images whose direct derivation could have been miracle lists dependent on or even independent of the intracanonical gospels (see Snyder: 43). If those selections represent, as Synder suggests, popular Christian religion as against official Christian religion when first we get to see them both side by side in the third century, we may have to re-imagine what popular Christianity looked like in the first and second century when we have no such double documentation.


If the preceding analysis is correct, it may give us an explanation and a warning. It may well explain why we have far better and far more independent attestation for sayings than for miracles or passion/vindication traditions. A saying list gives us sayings, more or less directly and immediately. But a miracle list does not give us miracle stories but only miracle records. The stories may well represent a later and even dependent stage in the miracle tradition. That might help us understand why we can have up to sixfold independent attestations for sayings, for example, for Ask, Seek, Knock in (1) Gos. Thom. 2 & P. Oxy 654:2; 92:1; 94; (2) Gos. Heb. 4ab; (3) Q1: Luke 11:9–10 = Matt 7:7–8; (4) Mark 11:24 = Matt 21:22; (5) Dial. Sav. 9–12, 20d, 79–80; (6) John 14:13–14; 15:7, 16; 16:23–24, 26. But, with the best will in the world, we can hardly get better than double independent attestation for miracle stories. That may well have resulted from the fact that there were never lists of miracle-stories on the same early level of the tradition as there were lists of sayings. All that was present at the same level would have been saying lists and miracle (-record) lists. Finally, if it is in any way correct that there was not just two but three stages from prophecy lists to exegetical discourse (such as Barnabas 7) to passion/vindication narratives, we might have an explanation for why at least some scholars cannot find more than a single attestation for passion/vindication materials. Such narratives were even later in a transmissional trajectory than were miracle stories, let alone sayings.

The warning would be that a consideration of either the historical Jesus or of early Christianity must be extremely careful in using only or even predominantly sayings tradition. It must be balanced by a consideration of two far more difficult materials, far more difficult because of the absence of comparable multiplicity in independent attestation, namely, the miracle tradition and the passion/vindication tradition. There the work has hardly even begun.

Works Consulted

Achtemeier, Paul J.

1970    “Towards the Isolation of Pre-Markan Miracle Catenae.” JBL 89:265–91.

Achtemeier, Paul J.

1972    “The Origin and Function of the Pre-Markan Miracle Catenae.” JBL 91:198–221.

Attridge, Harold W.

1985    Nag Hammadi Codex I (The Jung Codex). Vol. 1: Introductions, Texts, Translations, Indices; Vol. 2: Notes. NHS 22–23. Leiden: E. J. Brill.

Attridge, Harold W.

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1982    The Politics of Aristocratic Empires. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

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1984    “Tradition and Redaction in the Synoptic Sayings Source.” CBQ 46:34–62.

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1986    “Blessing and Marginality: The ‘Persecution Beatitude’ in Q, Thomas & Early Christianity.” Forum 2/3:36–56.

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1987a    Anecdotes and Arguments: The Chreia in Antiquity and Early Christianity. The Institute for Antiquity and Christianity: Occasional Papers. Claremont: Institute for Antiquity and Christianity.

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1988b    A Myth of Innocence: Mark and Christian Origins. Philadelphia: Fortress.

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Published: March 24, 2015, 08:28 | Comments Off on EARLY CHRISTIANITY, Q AND JESUS , delivered by Uwe Rosenkranz
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