Thursday, January 13, 2011


I'm currently reading through Studying the Synoptic Gospels by EP Sanders and Margaret Davies as introductory material to my Synoptic Gospels class this semester. In one section, they showed a diagram of one scholar's solution to the 'Synoptic Problem':

This is FC Grant's 'Multiple Source Theory,' an elaborate cousin to what's widely known as the 'Two Source Theory' that posits Markan Priority for the Synoptic Gospels as well as the presence of a hypothetical source called Q (Quelle, German for 'source'). But my reaction when I saw this chart was not 'Ohh, I finally get it.' but rather 'What!?!' It's so complicated that I couldn't bear to really think through the implications of all those lines and sources. I know my professor, Mark Goodacre, is a proponent of the Farrer Theory, which posits Markan priority without the necessity for Q. I'm still not sure yet where I stand on this issue and it'll be interesting to see where I land as the semester unfolds. He'll have us create our own synopses and color-code various tradition materials (Double-tradition, Triple-tradition, etc.), which I think will be an excellent way to get our feet wet in the Synoptic Problem.

My question for you is: What's your take on Q and why?


nearemmaus said...

I find Q problematic because we don't have it. I do think it is interesting that there is text that appears to have a shared source, but I do not know if we can be anything but agnostic about that source and its nature.

Mike S. said...

Brian: I agree that the fact that we have no physical evidence of the document is a big case against it. Though it still surprises how easily scholars accept its existence when they make their arguments about other issues in Synoptic Gospels studies. I think that's one big thing that my professor is trying to get at in his work, namely, that scholars nowadays don't even make a case for Q because they have basically assumed its existence as a source for the Gospel writers.