Dan Wallace and Q

For those who are interested in such things, Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, Executive Director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts published a very readable post regard the existence of “Q” that you can read here.


3 thoughts on “Dan Wallace and Q

  1. I am curious what you think, but I have pretty much always made the assumption that those who believed in “Q” also believe that aliens have already invaded…I obviously could be wrong on both counts but I really cannot see what we need a “Q” for other than to explain away the belief that the Holy Spirit could and did actually give more than one author similar material to work with. Why invent a “Q”?

    While I am sounding cynical, and am perhaps, I am willing to be convinced otherwise. But this article didn’t do it. Unless this author of course has a secret source he himself is writing from…”W” perhaps?

    • The question of the existence of Q is tied up with the question of priority, that is, which of the gospels was written first. Since the 19th century, most scholars have held to Markan priority. The idea that Mark was written first would explain the near total absorption of Mark into Matthew and Luke. Of Mark’s 11,025 words, only 132 have no parallel in either Matthew or Luke. Percentage-wise, 97% of Mark’s Gospel is duplicated in Matthew; and 88% is found in Luke. On the other hand, less than 60% of Matthew is duplicated in Mark, and only 47% of Luke is found in Mark.

      But there is also the fact that there are sayings common to Matthew and Luke that have no parallel in Mark. So that reality gave rise to the two-source hypothesis, which theorizes that Matthew and Luke were dependent on Mark as well as another unidentified source that would account for the differences between the Synoptics. The verbal agreement between Matthew and Luke is so close in some parts of the double tradition that the most reasonable explanation for this agreement is common dependence on a written source or sources. The case for some sort of second document that was used by Luke is buttressed by the fact that Luke states explicitly in Luke 1:1-4 that he knew of other written sources about the life of Christ and that he used those sources in writing his narrative.

      On the other hand Q is only necessary if you hold to Markan priority. If you hold to the Augustinian hypothesis (which is the traditional Catholic position, I believe) which says that the Gospels were written in the order they appear in the New Testament, the existence of some second source is unnecessary, since most of those who hold to the Augustinian hypothesis believe that Mark is an abridgement of Matthew.

      Speaking only for myself, I don’t think postulating the existence of Q is outside the bounds of orthodoxy, but I think the case for the existence of such a document is far from 100% certain.

      I hope that helps!

  2. Actually that helps a great deal…and I do not believe that the Catholic Church holds an official or at least dogmatic position beyond hypothesis on the topic. In fact in the NABRE Catholic Study Bible (New American Bible Revised Edition) I believe that there are even references to a possible “Q” in some of the footnotes. That I would need to check on however.

    Having said that, I think my biggest concern or objection to “Q” is the gigantic opening that those on “Q steroids” as it were( i.e. Jesus Seminar devotees and the like) are pretty much in love with this idea and that of course (and should, I think) give me great pause in regard to the thesis. But I also realize that a thesis itself is not necessarily wrong even if it is misused.

    In any case the biggest thing to realize is that it is indeed a thesis, and probably a pretty much improvable one at that. Also I have heard, but again not researched this out, that some of Luke’s other sources mentioned may have been interviews or discussions with the mother of Jesus, who was very possibly alive at the time and could give clear insight and detail into such areas as the Nativity as he describes it in ways that Matthew and Mark do not. But again not-so-provable.

    Bottom line is it will make very little difference in eternity who wrote what and in which order. What we do with it will.

    Thanks again.

"I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve." (Romans 16:17-18) Please read "The Comments Policy."

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