So, did Q exist or not?

The BNTC Q debate, Watson v Tuckett…

Francis Watson couldn’t make it so Simon Gathercole stood in and read his paper (see also Watson’s recent NTS article) which was sympathetic with Mark Goodacre’s take on the Synoptic Problem. Tuckett defended the standard model of Q. A significant part of Tuckett’s presentation, which is a crucial part of the recent debate I think, involved critiquing the counter argument that Luke had ‘artistically’ (if that’s the right word) presented the Matthean sections on Sermon on the Mount. Tuckett also suggested Luke’s handling of such material would have been extremely difficult in pinpointing the bits he wanted if he was reading Matthew.

I’ve seen Christopher Tuckett present before but, curiously, I’ve never seen him present on Q. He argued extremely well and, it seems to me,  that Q means more to him than any other academic issue, at least on the basis of what I’ve seen before and what I saw on Friday. Admittedly, that’s only my impression and I don’t know if he has ever commented on this.

And there was a vote which was meant to be a vote on the arguments presented, though I can imagine at least some people voting on what they actually believed to be the best solution irrespective of the quality of the arguments. While I don’t usually like these sorts of votes, I was interested in seeing where the majority would be.  And…Q won but a fairly comfortable margin, followed by what was being called M/L, and then the ‘don’t knows’ (including Gathercole, incidentally). I think that was the right order for second and third but Q definitely was most popular.

My problem with the debate was that it had the two positions too fixed and polarised with other options not really present. For instance, if we ditch Q, but don’t follow Goulder on Lukan creativity,  what do we call the additional ‘sources’? Would that bring us closer to the more chaotic form of Q (or qs) developed via Barrett, Taylor and Casey (Steph may want to comment on this). If we were to keep Q, and assume Luke was still written after Matt, what do we make of the Lukan prologue? Would he not have been at least aware of the existence of Matt? I don’t have any answers to these questions but I think there is room for more scope in this debate. I realise we can’t have everything represented in such a conference debate but  I think this was an example of the scholarly crystallisation of the two positions which we have seen in the previous few years. I think there is room for some differently nuanced positions between the two.


9 responses to “So, did Q exist or not?

  1. Did either of them even acknowledge the chaotic hypothesis and inconsistencies in the simple models this time? Not by the sound of it. It sounds as if it went pretty predictably to me and I didn’t

  2. Was Watson’s paper any different from his article in NTS or had Tuckett developed any new arguments since his latest book? Vote – always a compromise!!!

  3. oh and by the way, Occam should have grown a beard – a HAIRY one!

  4. I’m working from memory now but I think Watson’s was meant to be a summary of his NTS article. I’d have to check Tuckett’s work on Q to be sure, but it seemed to me that there were some new criticisms of counter criticisms. I can’t remember off the top of my head what Tuckett has written on scribal practice this was certainly included in the debate. I don’t recall anything mentioned on the chaotic model – it was more a debate between the two positions.

    The vote was by popular demand John Barclay was chairing it and wasn’t going to allow it but plenty of people did so there we go.

    Now, if you were there to ask questions…

  5. yup i do have a couple of questions but i’m just going for a swim – I’ll swim on it and come back.

  6. Polarisation of the debate is not restricted to Watson vs. Tuckett. But there is a plausible middle way. I suggest that Q as normally understood never existed, but there was a source that really did consist solely of sayings, like GTh. Part of the Double Tradition is the result of Luke’s use of Matthew, and the other part came from the sayings source. The details are on my web site. I have yet to find any convincing arguments against it from either supporters of the 2ST or supporters of the FT, so it surely deserves serious consideration.

  7. I assume if this has taken place in the US the Farmer fanboys would have spoken – was that even part of the discussion here?

  8. No, at least not in any significant sense. I think Farmer was, at most, mentioned very briefly in passing.

  9. I’m interested to know where Tuckett’s evidence is from for writing practices and scribal habits before, and it would be useful to know what he said. How does he apply them to a single document model, does he appeal to Millard, or Derrenbacker, and I presume he (hopefully and sensibly) dismisses Mack. I had thought about putting forward the most important arguments for the kind of chaotic hypothesis that I’m expecting to argue for, but it would take too long, so I won’t. But I could just say that the idea that Luke had not read Matthew depends both on a late date for Matthew and not taking Luke’s prologue seriously, and there are reasons to doubt both a late date and taking Luke seriously. Also that the Sermon on the Mount, which you said was the centre of a significant part of Tuckett’s presentation, is not a good place for either the conventional view of ‘Q’ or the view that Luke took everything from Matthew, whereas the drastic lack of common order, and significant variation in verbal agreement, between Matthew and the parallels scattered through Luke, fit a chaotic model perfectly.

    I just love John Barclay’s scepticism about voting, and the fact that he must have given up trying not to allow this unscholarly process at a scholarly meeting! I do wish I’d been there – not just for the ‘debate’ – but I miss everybody!

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