One need not undertake a very close reading of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke to recognize that they have much in common. But what are the origins of their literary relationship?
The nineteenth and twentieth centuries saw considerable energy devoted to this question. Early hypotheses supposed a primitive proto-Gospel to have been the source for all three Synoptics, but later theories envisioned two sources--an early version of Mark and a sayings-source document eventually dubbed Q.
In contemporary Gospel studies, Q has taken on a quasi-factual status, resulting in such publications as The Critical Edition of Q, complete with critical apparatus. This textualization of Q has taken place despite the fact that Q has never been found, we have no manuscripts of Q, and no church fathers attest that such a document ever existed.
In Questioning Q editors Mark Goodacre and Nicholas Perrin introduce a diverse network of scholars who examine the Q hypothesis from a variety of perspectives--historical, literary, source-critical and redactional--and ask ultimately, Can we dispense with Q? and What would a world without Q look like?
Even the most ardent and articulate defenders of Q will benefit from this well-reasoned, respectful challenge to an oft-unexamined assumption.
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About the Author
Nicholas Perrin, formerly researcher for N. T. Wright, is assistant professor of New Testament at Wheaton College Graduate School, Wheaton, IL. He is also a coeditor of Questioning Q (IVP, 2005) and Thomas and Tatian: The Relationship Between the Gospel of Thomas and the Diatessaron (Society of Biblical Literature, 2002).
N. T. Wright is bishop of Durham and was formerly canon theologian of Westminster Abbey and dean of Lichfield Cathedral. He taught New Testament studies for twenty years at Cambridge, McGill and Oxford Universities. Wright's full-scale works The New Testament and the People of God, Jesus and the Victory of God and The Resurrection of the Son of God are part of a projected six-volume series titled Christian Origins and the Question of God. Among his many other published works are Surprised by Hope and Simply Christian.