Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Griesbach Hypothesis and Goulder's View on Q

I started Mark Goodacre's The Case Against Q.  Many scholars believe in Markan Priority and Q.  Markan Priority states that the Gospel of Mark came first and that the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke used Mark's Gospel as a source.  But there are things (particularly sayings) that the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke have in common, which are not in the Gospel of Mark.  According to many scholars, Matthew and Luke are getting that stuff from a source called "Q".

I first learned about Q in an undergraduate New Testament class.  Students acted as if the concept of a Q source challenged their faith, perhaps because it was totally new to them, or they thought that Matthew and Luke drawing from a Q source would contradict their Gospels being records of their eyewitness testimony to Jesus (even though Luke explicitly says in his prologue that he's drawing from sources).  As I think about how I will teach certain religion classes once I get a teaching position, I envision myself telling my students about Q in an Intro to New Testament course.  But I'd also like to communicate to my students that Q is not the only game in town when it comes to New Testament scholarship.  Consequently, I decided to read Goodacre's book in order to see what a case against Q looks like.

In my reading so far, Goodacre has referred to two challenges against the existence of a Q source.  First, there is the Griesbach Hypothesis, which states "that Matthew's is the first Gospel, that Luke used Matthew and that Mark used them both" (page 10).  The late William Farmer was a major proponent of this view, and Mark's motive under this hypothesis is sometimes held to be an attempt to unify "within the collective consciousness of the church the diverse and sometimes diverging accounts of Matthew and Luke" (page 29).  There is no Markan Priority in this view, nor is there a Q, for the commonalities between Matthew and Luke that are absent from Mark are attributed to Luke using Matthew as a source, not to a Q source.

Second, there is the idea that Matthew used Mark and other sources, while creating some sayings of Jesus, and that Luke then used Matthew and Mark.  A major proponent of this view is Michael Goulder.  Unlike the Griesbach Hypothesis, this particular view holds to Markan Priority, the notion that Mark's Gospel came first.  But it does not believe in Q because the commonalities between Matthew and Luke that are not in Mark are attributed to Luke using Matthew as a source.  Goodacre supports a modified version of this view, one that does not ascribe to Matthew as much of a creative role.

Goodacre spends pages defending Markan Priority because he thinks that scholarship tends to lump Markan Priority together with Q, when there are scholars who believe in Markan Priority while not accepting the existence of Q.  Goodacre wants to look at Q on its own merits or lack thereof, apart from the question of Markan Priority, and so he affirms and defends his support for Markan Priority at the outset.
I'll stop here.  There's more in what I have read in this book so far than what I have covered in this blog post----such as the question of how we can tell that one source is using another one, rather than vice versa.  I may get into that issue in coming posts.

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