Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Schizophrenia of Q Research

I am currently reading through E. Earle Ellis, The Making of the New Testament Documents (Leiden: Brill, 2002) and finding his approach to the formation of the NT most enjoyable (it is kinda like J.A.T. Robinson meets Birger Gerhardsson). There's this gem of a quote about Q:

"Q is a single document, a composite document, several documents. It incorporates earlier sources; it is used in different redactions. Its original language is Greek; it is Aramaic; Q is used in different translations. It is the Matthean logia, it is not. It has shape and sequence; it is a collection of fragments. It is a Gospel; it is not. It consists wholly of sayings; it includes narrative. It is all preserved in Matthew and Luke; it is not. Matthew's order of Q is correct; Luke's is correct; neither is correct. It is used by Mark; it is not used by Mark" (pp. 17-18).

Well, I'm dizzy already!

BTW, Ellis is one of my favourite Baptist NT scholars (up there with George Beasley-Murray) and we should look forward to his forthcoming commentary on 1 Corinthians in the ICC series. But don't hold ya breath as last I heard is that he's only up to chapter five.


Anonymous said...


Last time I talked(about 9-10 months ago) to Prof. Ellis he said that he is working hard to get the work published by 2009. I took a course with him on the Theology of First Corinthians. It was very rewarding.

I remember clearly in class Dr. Ellis used to make fun of what so-called Q document and its proponents. He used to refer to Rudolf Bultmann as "Ruddy" because he knew him personally.

He had us read his "The Making of the New Testament Documents" for almost every course I took with him:)

Michael Barber said...

Great quote!!! I really appreciated his article on pseudonymity.

I'm with Goodacre, Perrin, Sanders et al.--Q is hugely problematic. Even if it existed--and that's a big if--I have to agree with Craig Evans who has showed how problematic it is to try to reconstruct Q.

By the way, have you read that article by Evans in Authenticating the Words of Jesus? It's very compelling. Check out a preview here. If nothing else, I think we need to dispense with reconstructions that are based on the theory. Scholarship could use a whole lot more restraint when it comes to using the hypothesis as a fundamental building block.

Jim Hamilton said...


Thanks for this post! (and for the kind mention of my lecture).

I was in Fort Worth a little over a week ago, and Prof Ellis is through chapter 11 of 1 Cor, but he recently had a stint in the hospital. He's praying that he'll have strength and life to finish this commentary before he's called home.