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.