June 25, 2008

Little Q's in 57 AD

I've been working on Farrer's 1955 article. Slowly. In the meantime, I stop and run down rabbit trail brainstormings of my own. This morning, I woke up with a new idea: Who, before 70 AD, would have been likely to write a crossless, nearly christless "sayings gospel"? Or who would have undertaken to compile one of those, prior to Luke writing in 57 AD? That would have to be the believing Pharisees in Jerusalem.

I don't want too go far down the road of imagining what they wrote, or investigating the apocryphal literature - not at this stage in my career. But I'm going to have to do some more thinking about this. At the very least, it may be partly what Luke was talking about. And it may be partly WHY Luke was so motivated to make his own Gospel a GOOD one. :)

Yes, Q people, the "sayings gospels" might have been early. Not necessarily earlier than Mark. Not earlier than Matthew's original notes. But early. Still, that doesn't make them more christian. The writings of Homer did not describe life for all Greeks of his time, only a select few. And the writings of some Pharisee (or whoever) don't automatically mean his 'community' was representative of early Christianity at large.

For that matter, Jerusalem was very un-smiliar to all other churches outside Israel. At the very least, the Pharisees in the church in Jerusalem (around 57 AD) were NOT representative of Paul's churches in the gentile world. They also were nothing like the church in Antioch, which began in late 33 AD, right after the scattering. And I could go on.

But the point today is that there might have been two or three Jerusalem Pharisees writing "little Q's". I do NOT mean that Luke or Matthew necessarily USED those writings as sources. I just mean "sayings Gospels". But I thought this post title might grab more attention! ;)

"Many had undertaken to compile an account"... two or three Pharisees, plus Matthew's notes, plus Mark's gospel, plus James' early pages - altogether, that's a fair stab at "many". Maybe.* And yes, of course, there may have been more. (But keep in mind that compilations didn't have to be finished to have been "undertaken".)

*Farrar says a christless, crossless compilation would not count as an account of "the things accomplished among us". Farrar said the "things" would HAVE to include the cross and resurrection. I like that idea. But it's not airtight. If there were sayings compilations that early, and they didn't include the cross & resurrection, they were still accounts of SOME of "the things accomplished among us". I'll read Farrar's argument again, but I think Luke's language is pretty inclusive of anyone who was writing pretty much anything related to Jesus' ministry years. Also, in 1955, Farrar was arguing against people who were working with the simplest scenario - 2 or 3 pre-Lukan texts, total. But it has been said by some scholars recently that it's now time to consider more complex scenarios. "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

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