Q debate: some sources

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by Neil Godfrey

For those interested in the Q debate the following is adapted from a footnote in Andrejevs, Olegs. 2019. Apocalypticism in the Synoptic Sayings Source: A Reassessment of Q’s Stratigraphy. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. (p. 1)

For recent arguments against the 2DH, see, e.g.,

For responses to these scholars, see, e.g.,

(for Watson’s rejoinder, see “Seven Theses on the Synoptic Problem, in Disagreement with Christopher Tuckett,” in Idem, 139^47).

For classic comprehensive cases in support of the 2DH, see

For recent investigations demonstrating the viability of the 2DH, see

For additional recent statements by Q scholars, see

While a close discussion of the synoptic problem lies outside the scope of this monograph, it is perhaps worth emphasizing that the solutions of Goodacre and Watson are equally, if not more so, hypothetical than the 2DH.


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19 thoughts on “Q debate: some sources”

      1. Okay…So, why has Brodie been omitted? I rather like his approach, which, if I may paraphrase, is that Q has been there all the time, staring us in the face. It was the Septuagint, the Hebrew Bible in Greek. It provided the storylines and the background resources. It is Q. I believe that Burton Mack alluded to a very similar sourcing, but never connected the hypothetical Q with the actual Septuagint, like Brodie did.

        1. Brodie had enough of a struggle having some of his ideas taken seriously when he was most active in scholarly publishing. Now that he has retired I think some of his views are even less likely to gain traction until someone or some others take them up and press actively for their acceptance.

  1. While this is certainly out of the mainstream, I thin its worth adding David Oliver Smith’s “Matthew, Mark, Luke and Paul” to the list. In that he makes a case for much of “Q” being traced back to the Pauline epistles.

      1. Thanks.

        I find it amazing and amusing how apologists have to invent a source and jump through logical hoops to defend a more complicated theory because for theological reasons they can’t admit that the evangelists invented stuff.

  2. Have you written anything about scripture writing scribes workflow? If I had all of the documents suggested as “influences” on any of the gospels open on my desktop, I would struggle greatly cobbling together a competing different version of a narrative. Do you think these “authors” had the written documents in their possession or just access to them. Did they keep all of their ideas in memory or did they outline things on parchment/paper?

    Do we know anything of these processes. Could a lone scribe do this without access to a temple library or the equivalent?

    I am asking because one needs to calculate in things like memory failures, mistakes, misinterpretations, sources in foreign languages being mistranslated, etc.

    1. You will probably be interested in this thesis: http://etana.org/node/9012 (“Ancient Compositional Practices and the Synoptic Problem”)

      Sometimes we see an influence of other literature, including the Bible, in other people’s writing, and presumably the authors are conscious of their borrowing. Is that a fair comparison? I have imagined the authors of the gospels as having been immersed not only in many years of hearing and reading the “scriptures” and related texts but also in much intense discussion about what they hear and read. I can’t imagine “Mark” having copies of Genesis, Isaiah, Daniel, Psalms, etc open in front of him as ready references as he wrote.

  3. The bit at the end is a classic – “the solutions of Goodacre and Watson are equally, if not more so, hypothetical than the 2DH.”

    While it is obviously true that both proposed solutions are hypothesis, only one offends parsimony by positing a not strictly necessary hypothetical source.

    I suspect what is meant here by “hypothetical” is something like prior probability (which actually can be more or less), where clearly someone doing Q Stratigraphy is going to have artificially high priors for Q (especially as compared to what parsimony would suggest), even then it is a dubious thing to add as a throwaway remark.

    1. what is meant here by “hypothetical” is something like prior probability

      Does Virgil’s Aeneid and Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey factor in to “something like prior probability” for Q ?

  4. Didache and The Epistle of Barnabas are two other actual documents that can be argued as standing behind G.Mk and G.Mt. Didache reads to me very much as G.Mt minus the Marcan material and as the teaching put into Jesus’ mouth in the material “scholars” attribute to “Q”. The Epistle of Barnabas reads like the thinking that preceded, and led to, G.Mk. I think it unlikely G.Mk is pre-Bar Kochva, and it and the other 3 canonical gospels only seem to have come to Eirēnaios’ attention during his writing of Against Heresie c.180. That is notwithstanding all the other contributory materials already mentioned. There are probably more than half a dozen more parsimonious than the 2D and Historicity hypotheses possibilities jostling in the probability space. You only need one Black Swan.

    1. I have fixed the formatting of one of them. If it is not what you wanted let me know and I’ll delete that, too. Some interesting possibilities to explore.

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