Political Wrinkles  

Go Back   Political Wrinkles > General Discussion > Religion & Philosophy
Register FAQDonate PW Store PW Trivia Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Religion & Philosophy Discuss The Four-Source "Q" Theory at the General Discussion; One problem that has long plagued theologians is the so-called "Synoptic Problem." In a nutshell, it is this: The three ...

Reply
 
Share LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1 (permalink)  
Old 06-23-2017, 07:39 PM
PW Enlightenment
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Tennessee
Gender: Male
Posts: 8,971
Thanks: 9,073
Thanked 3,555 Times in 2,327 Posts
Default The Four-Source "Q" Theory

One problem that has long plagued theologians is the so-called "Synoptic Problem." In a nutshell, it is this:

The three Synoptists (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) use almost identical language in places. (In fact, a "harmony of the gospels" is sometimes useful, in this regard.)

Just how to resolve this?

One way, I suppose, would be to adopt the so-called "Dictation Theory": According to this, God just dictated the words to be used, verbatim; so the Synoptists wound up with the very same words in many places.

But I reject this theory--as do most serious theologians nowadays.

One problem with it is this: It does not explain the vast differences in style between, say, the Synoptists and John; or between Peter and Paul; or between any of the above.

Almost 100 years ago, B.H. Streeter devised a theory (known as "The Four-Source 'Q' Theory) that may work, however.

It essentially goes like this:

Mark--not Matthew, as had long been supposed--is the earliest of the Synoptic Gospels.

Matthew used Mark as a base.

He supplemented it with a Caesarean source document, known as "Q" (for the first letter of the German word, quelle: meaning source).

He further supplemented it with a Jerusalem source document, known as "M" (which gives Matthew its distinctively Jewish flavor).

Already, we have accounted for three of the four sources.

Moreover, Luke is believed to have used an Antiochene source document, known as "L." This, in addition to Mark and "Q."

The theory is, admittedly, not perfect; its most glaring problem is the fact that no such source documents have yet been discovered.

Still, I can see no better alternative.

Thoughts?
__________________
"In his second inaugural address, [Franklin D.] Roosevelt sought 'unimagined power' to enforce the 'proper subordination' of private power to public power. He got it…"—George Will, July 8, 2007
Reply With Quote
  #2 (permalink)  
Old 06-25-2017, 10:37 PM
ShivaTD's Avatar
Progressive Libertarian
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Immigrant to Arizona
Gender: Male
Posts: 6,029
Thanks: 1,433
Thanked 2,157 Times in 1,702 Posts
Default Re: The Four-Source "Q" Theory

Quote:
Originally Posted by pjohns View Post
Almost 100 years ago, B.H. Streeter devised a theory (known as "The Four-Source 'Q' Theory) that may work, however.

Thoughts?
Before even starting I should clarify for anyone that doesn't know that I'm an atheist that first investigated Christianity. Raised as a Christian the New Testament my initial review of Christianity. Before anything else I had to study the books of the New Testament and then I addressed the different beliefs between different denominations of Christianity. I made appointments and personally interviewed preachers and priests where I inquired about the unique difference their beliefs held. Commonality was accepted. Later I expanded my religious inquiry into an investigation of religion in general partially motivated by the response I received from some of the clergy where they would ultimately state, "We made up that dogmatic belief" in response a certain unique traits of their beliefs (I was very well prepared to ask questions at the time).

Anyway it's been a very long time since I meticulously reviewed these three books of the New Testament and while I can recall some of the research a lot of the detail has been forgotten. Perhaps memory will provide some insight to others on the question my friend asks.

First and foremost I believe that the scholars may have fallen into the trap of being more concerned with impressing others because they seem to ignore the most logical explanation because it's doesn't create a "grand scheme" of what was going on.

Let's start with the simple understanding that the authors are unknown and the original texts were not considered special or inspired. We can use "Matthew, Mark, and Luke" in referring to them but there's no evidence that apostles had anything to do with writing these texts and good reason to believe they didn't. These were just written texts to provide a little guidance shared between the leaders of the different groups that were spread out geographically by 50 AD. Copies circulated along with the Christians that traveled between the different villages and towns where existing Christian communities existed. The chronological sequence of writing does favor Mark being the first text written and then followed by Matthew and Luke.

What some may be forgetting is that there was already the oral tradition. These stories were already circulating and we can assume that all three of the authors were aware of these stories because that was the foundation for Christianity. The written texts were merely to recount the oral tradition and in some cases to add to it. Because the oral traditions were passed verbally between the people and the leaders we can't assume they were not identical nor that the authors of these three books gave the same importance to every single part of the oral stories.

So we have several things happening. The oral tradition pre-dates the books of the New Testament. The texts were anonymous and it was the canonization of the New Testament that assigned Matthew, Mark and Luke as the authors. The texts not considered to be anything more than just a written version of the oral tradition although throughout the New Testament there appear to be "additions" to the original teachings from the time of Jesus.

My conclusion was that the similarities and the differences are simply explained because of the authors knowledge, lack of knowledge, and personal preferences in what they considered important to preserve and spread in the creation of a new religion as opposed to remaining just a Jewish Cult religion. There was no grand plan, there was no unifying "Q" document, there was nothing special at all except men using a common source of verbal tradition that varied in some cases depending upon who was telling the story and varied in importance based upon what the authors of the books believed to be important.

Matthew and Luke both had an interest in establishing a chronology so they probably worked together to some extent to ensure commonality. They may have met and even made notes of what they agreed to so that it would be the same in both works. That's why they can be put side by side and the apparent linkage is obvious. Matthew didn't care about the chronology and instead focused on lessons.

None of the "books" of the New Testament originated in a vacuum. There were always interactions and discussions going on. They weren't writing a book so they could take their notes (or memory) and write down what they had come to a consensus on and they were free to ad lib to supplement the religion as they deemed necessary.

So if we remember that when written these were not "the inspired words of God" nor were they written to be a part of a book establishing a rigid set of religious criteria to define Christianity these are just loosely organized works. As we might say today "they were the expressed opinion of the author" based upon the oral tradition and other "text documents" circulating around freely in the Christian community at the time.

Bottom line I vote for the "Group-Independent Author" theory where both circulating information within the group as well as the independence of the authors resulted in some very close commonality as well as unique differences between the three books.

Or even more simple where it was "People doing People things" in the writing of the books.

My question is why anyone really cares? The commonality and the differences between these first three books of the New Testament really don't affect the basic Christian religious belief IMHO.
__________________
I CAN EXPLAIN IT TO YOU
BUT I CAN'T UNDERSTAND IT FOR YOU

Last edited by ShivaTD; 06-25-2017 at 10:52 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #3 (permalink)  
Old 06-25-2017, 10:58 PM
saltwn's Avatar
PW Enlightenment
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Esto perpetua
Posts: 74,318
Thanks: 53,302
Thanked 25,435 Times in 18,075 Posts
Send a message via Yahoo to saltwn
Default Re: The Four-Source "Q" Theory

Luke drew his stories from all the previous ones. Other than that I am not aware matthew and mark have anything in common other than they stood at two of the four corners of my bed as a child
(matthew mark luke and john god bless the bed that I sleep on.)
__________________
...
Reply With Quote
  #4 (permalink)  
Old 06-26-2017, 10:09 AM
PW Enlightenment
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Tennessee
Gender: Male
Posts: 8,971
Thanks: 9,073
Thanked 3,555 Times in 2,327 Posts
Default Re: The Four-Source "Q" Theory

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShivaTD View Post
Before even starting I should clarify for anyone that doesn't know that I'm an atheist that first investigated Christianity. Raised as a Christian the New Testament my initial review of Christianity. Before anything else I had to study the books of the New Testament and then I addressed the different beliefs between different denominations of Christianity. I made appointments and personally interviewed preachers and priests where I inquired about the unique difference their beliefs held. Commonality was accepted. Later I expanded my religious inquiry into an investigation of religion in general partially motivated by the response I received from some of the clergy where they would ultimately state, "We made up that dogmatic belief" in response a certain unique traits of their beliefs (I was very well prepared to ask questions at the time).

Anyway it's been a very long time since I meticulously reviewed these three books of the New Testament and while I can recall some of the research a lot of the detail has been forgotten. Perhaps memory will provide some insight to others on the question my friend asks.

First and foremost I believe that the scholars may have fallen into the trap of being more concerned with impressing others because they seem to ignore the most logical explanation because it's doesn't create a "grand scheme" of what was going on.

Let's start with the simple understanding that the authors are unknown and the original texts were not considered special or inspired. We can use "Matthew, Mark, and Luke" in referring to them but there's no evidence that apostles had anything to do with writing these texts and good reason to believe they didn't. These were just written texts to provide a little guidance shared between the leaders of the different groups that were spread out geographically by 50 AD. Copies circulated along with the Christians that traveled between the different villages and towns where existing Christian communities existed. The chronological sequence of writing does favor Mark being the first text written and then followed by Matthew and Luke.

What some may be forgetting is that there was already the oral tradition. These stories were already circulating and we can assume that all three of the authors were aware of these stories because that was the foundation for Christianity. The written texts were merely to recount the oral tradition and in some cases to add to it. Because the oral traditions were passed verbally between the people and the leaders we can't assume they were not identical nor that the authors of these three books gave the same importance to every single part of the oral stories.

So we have several things happening. The oral tradition pre-dates the books of the New Testament. The texts were anonymous and it was the canonization of the New Testament that assigned Matthew, Mark and Luke as the authors. The texts not considered to be anything more than just a written version of the oral tradition although throughout the New Testament there appear to be "additions" to the original teachings from the time of Jesus.

My conclusion was that the similarities and the differences are simply explained because of the authors knowledge, lack of knowledge, and personal preferences in what they considered important to preserve and spread in the creation of a new religion as opposed to remaining just a Jewish Cult religion. There was no grand plan, there was no unifying "Q" document, there was nothing special at all except men using a common source of verbal tradition that varied in some cases depending upon who was telling the story and varied in importance based upon what the authors of the books believed to be important.

Matthew and Luke both had an interest in establishing a chronology so they probably worked together to some extent to ensure commonality. They may have met and even made notes of what they agreed to so that it would be the same in both works. That's why they can be put side by side and the apparent linkage is obvious. Matthew didn't care about the chronology and instead focused on lessons.

None of the "books" of the New Testament originated in a vacuum. There were always interactions and discussions going on. They weren't writing a book so they could take their notes (or memory) and write down what they had come to a consensus on and they were free to ad lib to supplement the religion as they deemed necessary.

So if we remember that when written these were not "the inspired words of God" nor were they written to be a part of a book establishing a rigid set of religious criteria to define Christianity these are just loosely organized works. As we might say today "they were the expressed opinion of the author" based upon the oral tradition and other "text documents" circulating around freely in the Christian community at the time.

Bottom line I vote for the "Group-Independent Author" theory where both circulating information within the group as well as the independence of the authors resulted in some very close commonality as well as unique differences between the three books.

Or even more simple where it was "People doing People things" in the writing of the books.

My question is why anyone really cares? The commonality and the differences between these first three books of the New Testament really don't affect the basic Christian religious belief IMHO.
First, I want to thank you for writing a detailed explanation of your views.

In some places, however, I do disagree with your conclusions.

I am not convinced, for instance, that Matthew and Mark collaborated with each other.

And an "M" source seems even more probable to me than a "Q" source does. (How else to explain the truly Jewish flavor of some parts of Matthew?)

I do agree, however, that an "oral tradition" developed.

Do you believe that this congealed into documents known as "Proto-Matthew" and "Proto-Luke"?
__________________
"In his second inaugural address, [Franklin D.] Roosevelt sought 'unimagined power' to enforce the 'proper subordination' of private power to public power. He got it…"—George Will, July 8, 2007
Reply With Quote
  #5 (permalink)  
Old 06-26-2017, 11:20 AM
Joe Shoe's Avatar
PW Enlightenment
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 5,092
Thanks: 770
Thanked 1,509 Times in 1,025 Posts
Default Re: The Four-Source "Q" Theory

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShivaTD View Post
So if we remember that when written these were not "the inspired words of God" nor were they written to be a part of a book establishing a rigid set of religious criteria to define Christianity these are just loosely organized works.
Actually, I pretty much agree with just about everything you said except that.
You're presenting a false dichotomy there--but they are two things that, in actuality, can be BOTH the case. If, by the phrase, "the inspired words of God" you mean they were literally dictatated by God by some mystical voice from heaven in an event, then, well yes most anyone (including most Christians) are going to agree with you. But "inspired Word of God" can mean many different ideas. It's unfortunate that when people present this argument, they do so in a way that implies all validity of the Bible should be thrown out if it wasn't literally dictated--as if God couldn't use the process of Q as a source, then other words coming from that, etc.

The other area that Biblical critics fall short here is that they note the differences, but refuse to give credit to the similarities as evidence of a unified body of scripture. It's much more telling, IMO, how SIMILAR the books are than different.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShivaTD View Post
My question is why anyone really cares? The commonality and the differences between these first three books of the New Testament really don't affect the basic Christian religious belief IMHO.
Agreed, though I'd say that applies from the standpoint of being a Christian too.
__________________
What part of "shall not be infringed" do you not understand???
Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to Joe Shoe For This Useful Post:
  #6 (permalink)  
Old 06-26-2017, 01:28 PM
ShivaTD's Avatar
Progressive Libertarian
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Immigrant to Arizona
Gender: Male
Posts: 6,029
Thanks: 1,433
Thanked 2,157 Times in 1,702 Posts
Default Re: The Four-Source "Q" Theory

Quote:
Originally Posted by pjohns View Post
First, I want to thank you for writing a detailed explanation of your views.

In some places, however, I do disagree with your conclusions.

I am not convinced, for instance, that Matthew and Mark collaborated with each other.

And an "M" source seems even more probable to me than a "Q" source does. (How else to explain the truly Jewish flavor of some parts of Matthew?)

I do agree, however, that an "oral tradition" developed.

Do you believe that this congealed into documents known as "Proto-Matthew" and "Proto-Luke"?
It would simply be my opinion that collaboration, both direct and indirect occurred between the different authors and followers of the new religion. This was during the formative years of the religious beliefs and there was far more to it than just the canonized books of the New Testament.

As for the "congealing of documents" that's arguably something that occurred during the canonization process. The religious leaders were looking to establish continuity in the texts to portray their religious beliefs. Many texts were excluded and even today there are different canonizations of the New Testament because not all religious leaders agreed on the same thing.

I still return to the point that I think people create complexity as opposed to simply accepting the religion for what it is. They want to find connections when the connections they create have no meaning in the end. Perhaps they're attempting to rationalize their beliefs. I'm not sure but Christianity is not an overly complex religion so why make it an overly complex religion?

IMHO the genius of Christianity was the marketing plan where, what was just one of numerous small Jewish cults of the time, decided to market the religion to non-Jews. That's what put Christianity on the map and made it a major religion in the future. Many may not know that Jesus was not the only "messiah" with followers at the time. He was actually rejected by many Jews because he wasn't one the "political messiahs" that were promising to cast off the oppressive rule of Rome as prophesized in the Torah.

It's interesting though and any student of philosophy does themselves a disservice if they don't investigate religions like Christianity including the history and development of the religion as well as it's teachings.
__________________
I CAN EXPLAIN IT TO YOU
BUT I CAN'T UNDERSTAND IT FOR YOU
Reply With Quote
  #7 (permalink)  
Old 06-26-2017, 01:52 PM
ShivaTD's Avatar
Progressive Libertarian
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Immigrant to Arizona
Gender: Male
Posts: 6,029
Thanks: 1,433
Thanked 2,157 Times in 1,702 Posts
Default Re: The Four-Source "Q" Theory

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Shoe View Post
Actually, I pretty much agree with just about everything you said except that.
You're presenting a false dichotomy there--but they are two things that, in actuality, can be BOTH the case. If, by the phrase, "the inspired words of God" you mean they were literally dictatated by God by some mystical voice from heaven in an event, then, well yes most anyone (including most Christians) are going to agree with you. But "inspired Word of God" can mean many different ideas. It's unfortunate that when people present this argument, they do so in a way that implies all validity of the Bible should be thrown out if it wasn't literally dictated--as if God couldn't use the process of Q as a source, then other words coming from that, etc.

The other area that Biblical critics fall short here is that they note the differences, but refuse to give credit to the similarities as evidence of a unified body of scripture. It's much more telling, IMO, how SIMILAR the books are than different.

Agreed, though I'd say that applies from the standpoint of being a Christian too.
As far as "inspired" we need to remember that the texts were never intended to be a foundation for a compiled work describing Christianity and it's beliefs. They were predominately about documenting the oral tradition and some of the oral tradition was highlighted and some was arguably lost just because it wasn't written down. What I've found was that some of the texts are "inspirational" but that doesn't imply the author was inspired in writing the texts.

In any case the texts had existed for centuries before someone decided that "inspirational" texts were written by "inspired authors" especially when the authors weren't even who the religious leaders claimed that they were. The actual apostles might arguably have been inspired directly from listening to Jesus but there's no way of know if the actual authors ever knew Jesus and in some cases. based upon the writings of Paul (that may not have been the author) we know that the did not.

In any case the "inspired by God" was a declaration by the religious leaders hundreds of years after the fact had no possible way of knowing. This is what I identified in actually meeting and interviewing members of the clergy. It's referred to as church added dogma because it's not something derived from the texts themselves but instead something the Church added into their religious beliefs by fiat.

In a very real sense it reminds me of the Divine Right of Kings where the king declared himself to be the emissary of God on Earth and no one could question the authority of the king because God forbid questioning the authority of the king because the king said so.
__________________
I CAN EXPLAIN IT TO YOU
BUT I CAN'T UNDERSTAND IT FOR YOU
Reply With Quote
  #8 (permalink)  
Old 06-26-2017, 02:49 PM
Joe Shoe's Avatar
PW Enlightenment
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 5,092
Thanks: 770
Thanked 1,509 Times in 1,025 Posts
Default Re: The Four-Source "Q" Theory

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShivaTD View Post
As far as "inspired" we need to remember that the texts were never intended to be a foundation for a compiled work describing Christianity and it's beliefs. They were predominately about documenting the oral tradition.

In any case the texts had existed for centuries before someone decided that "inspirational" texts were written by "inspired authors"
Well those points are pure speculation.
Even if they were an attempt to write down a oral tradition, the oral tradition may have been to meant as a foundation for Christianity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShivaTD View Post
especially when the authors weren't even who the religious leaders claimed that they were. The actual apostles might arguably have been inspired directly from listening to Jesus but there's no way of know if the actual authors ever knew Jesus and in some cases. based upon the writings of Paul (that may not have been the author) we know that the did not.
Again, every bit of this is speculative and open to opinion and interpretation.
There is nothing to say that Luke really didn't write Luke (and Acts), or that a Matthew didn't write Matthew using Q and/or Mark as a source. I think you've done well in pointing out the obscure nature of things, but your arguments become problematic when you try to make definitive claims with this stuff.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShivaTD View Post
In any case the "inspired by God" was a declaration by the religious leaders hundreds of years after the fact had no possible way of knowing.
Except there are passages IN scripture that claims it is inspired.
__________________
What part of "shall not be infringed" do you not understand???
Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to Joe Shoe For This Useful Post:
  #9 (permalink)  
Old 06-27-2017, 12:29 PM
PW Enlightenment
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Tennessee
Gender: Male
Posts: 8,971
Thanks: 9,073
Thanked 3,555 Times in 2,327 Posts
Default Re: The Four-Source "Q" Theory

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShivaTD View Post
IMHO the genius of Christianity was the marketing plan where, what was just one of numerous small Jewish cults of the time, decided to market the religion to non-Jews.
It was principally the apostle Paul (a.k.a "Saul of Tarsus") who did this, declaring that there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles.
__________________
"In his second inaugural address, [Franklin D.] Roosevelt sought 'unimagined power' to enforce the 'proper subordination' of private power to public power. He got it…"—George Will, July 8, 2007
Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to pjohns For This Useful Post:
  #10 (permalink)  
Old 06-30-2017, 08:12 PM
saltwn's Avatar
PW Enlightenment
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Esto perpetua
Posts: 74,318
Thanks: 53,302
Thanked 25,435 Times in 18,075 Posts
Send a message via Yahoo to saltwn
Default Re: The Four-Source "Q" Theory

Quote:
Originally Posted by pjohns View Post
It was principally the apostle Paul (a.k.a "Saul of Tarsus") who did this, declaring that there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles.
I would argue it was God who did this when he showed Peter there was nothing unclean that God had blessed.
__________________
...
Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to saltwn For This Useful Post:
Reply

Tags
foursource, the, theory

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:47 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO 3.2.0