Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Q, Mark, Matt, and Luke

I still owe a few replies to comments from last month, but I thought I'd blog on this conversation going on at IIDB. Q is a topic that comes up there quite a bit, and Ben C. Smith, a recent arrival there and a pleasure to know, posted the following argument....



I hinted at this argument for Q in another thread, with no response, but would really like to give it another go. I am looking for responses from those who both (A) question the existence of Q and (B) think that Luke knew Matthew, and not the other way round.

J. Kloppenborg notes on pages 88-89 of Excavating Q that Matthew 10.24-39 appears to be a Matthean compilation derived from a single pass through Q. He divides the section up into a number of separate sayings, but it seems more relevant to me to divide it up into five distinct blocks of sayings, based on their relative positions in Matthew and Luke:
Block A: Matthew 10.24-25 (disciple and master).
Block B: Matthew 10.26-33 (fear not, and before my father).
Block C: Matthew 10.34-36 (no peace, and the divided family).
Block D: Matthew 10.37-38 (loving family more, and following after me).
Block E: Matthew 10.39 (finding and losing).

Why do I slice this section up into these five blocks? Because that is what Luke had to have done on the presumption that Luke knew Matthew. The Lucan parallels come out as follows:
Block A: Luke 6.40 (disciple and master).
Block B: Luke 12.2-9 (fear not, and before my father).
Block C: Luke 12.50-52 (no peace, and the divided family).
Block D: Luke 14.26-27 (loving family more, and following after me).
Block E: Luke 17.33 (finding and losing).

(A fuller chart illustrating how these blocks work can be found on my page on editorial and redactional evidence.)

Now, on the presumption that Luke postdates Matthew and Q is a phantom, it does not bother me that Luke would take a Matthean discourse section and break it up into discrete units, scattering them throughout his gospel. What does bother me, however, is that he would break it up into five discrete units, scatter them, yet endeavor to keep them all in the same relative order: Luke 6.40; 12.2-9, 50-52; 14.26-27; 17.33. Two or three scattered parallels in the same order could be coincidence, of course, but five? That pushes the raw odds to 1 in 120, by my calculation (5!, right?). But feel free to correct my math.

So either Luke scattered this section throughout his gospel, moving each block to a different context but for some reason deciding to keep them all in the Matthean order, or Matthew simply scanned once through Q (or Luke, but remember that this post is for those who think Luke copied from Matthew, not vice versa) on the hunt for material that would fit his mission context. The latter would explain the order nicely; on the former the common order of the parallels seems arbitrary and capricious.

I look forward to responses from any of the seemingly many Q-doubters on this board, whose number I have often tried to join.



That's a fascinating argument, Ben.

Still, there are three reasons it won't work. First, any argument from order is an argument that cuts both ways. If Luke had Q in front of him, why did he preserve the order? Your odds argument just gets worse -- if both Matt and Luke preserved the same order, the odds must be 2 X 120! After all, it is generally agreed upon that Luke preserves Q's order more faithfully than Matt. So all you've done is stood the problem on its head.

Second, you are doing the statistics the wrong way. The question is not whether the order is preserved, but when Luke takes over blocks of material from Matt/Q, how often does he change the order, and how. In other words, you have to judge this against the whole spectrum of Luke's behavior. If Luke takes over 5-Block chunks and only changes the order of 1 or 2 parts, then it would lie within the spectrum of Luke's behavior as a whole to not change any at all. An outlier, to be sure, but acceptable. You need to establish what Luke's habits are, first.

But there's another issue:

Here's the text in question (USCCB-NAB):
  • 24 No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master.
    25 It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, for the slave that he become like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, 12 how much more those of his household!
    26 "Therefore do not be afraid of them. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. 13
    27 What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.
    28 And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.
    29 Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge.
    30 Even all the hairs of your head are counted.
    31 So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
    32 14 Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.
    33 But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.
    34 "Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword.
    35 For I have come to set a man 'against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
    36 and one's enemies will be those of his household.'
    37 "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
    38 and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.
    39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Luke has Mark in front of him, and Matthew too. So he consults his Mark and lo and behold, what does he find? That the reference to Beezebul comes in Mark 3, after the healing of the withered hand and the disciple naming. So in Luke 6 we have the same sequence of healing of withered hand, naming of disciples. When Luke goes back to Matt he sees the Beelzebub reference in 10:25, which occurs only one place in Mark -- Mark 3. So he shoves the disciple and master material in there. Luke isn't following Matthean order -- he's repairing Markan order.

The next set of Matthean material, Block B, is 10:26-33. Open Mark 4 and you will find similar references to hidden being revealed.

Block C has no Markan parallel, so Luke sticks it wherever he wants.

Block D has no Markan parallel, so Luke sticks it wherever he wants.

Block E parallels Mark 8:34.

In other words, A, B, and E more or less echo Markan order. Luke preserves Markan order more faithfully than Matthew. So really, are we looking at A Case of Q, or a preference for Markan order when possible? I would argue that Luke has simply chosen to follow Markan order -- in fact, to return the Matthean material to its Markan place -- and then preserved the order of Blocks C + D.


Since reading Goodacre's The Case Against Q I have become a Q-skeptic, which is only proper, given all the other things I am skeptical of.........