Was There No Historical Jesus?   

Responses to Critiques of the Mythicist Case


"Fear and Loathing of Doherty's Use of Q"

A case for no Historical Jesus at the Root of Q:


  A response to Chris Zeichman's
"Fear and Loathing in a Lost Gospel: Earl Doherty and the Case of Q"


   Of those who frequent the IIDB (Internet Infidels Discussion Board), which is my main venue—if intermittently—for debating the case for Jesus mythicism, Chris Zeichman is one of the more amiable and knowledgeable of those who disagree with my position. It is therefore unfortunate that so much of the 'misunderstanding' and 'irresponsibility' he accuses me of in his critique is based on a misunderstanding of his own as to what I am saying. I don’t know if that is due to a lack of sufficient clarity on my part, or of sufficient detail to ensure proper clarity; but I do know that a major factor is a lack of careful reading on his part and a rush to judgment. I will be pointing out many examples of this. I ask the reader to bear with the length and detail of this rebuttal, not only because there is so much to refute in Zeichman's critique, but because, as is my practice, I also introduce along the way additional new evidence and argument in support of my position, in this case to demonstrate the strong likelihood that no historical figure lies at the root of the Q document. This article will thus be a major contribution to my presentation of the mythicist case. (Note: direct quotes from Zeichman, including of scripture, are in red; my quotes from scholars and scripture are in blue.)

Chris Zeichman's critique can be read at:


The Source of Q1


   For those unfamiliar with Q basics: John Kloppenborg's hypothesis of Q's compositional history, on which most subsequent scholarship on Q is based, concluded that Q was composed in at least three distinct phases [labeled Q1, Q2 and Q3]. The first has the character of 'instructional' wisdom sayings (referred to as "sapiential"), the second of apocalyptic and prophetic judgment pronouncements in a context of conflict between the Q sect and the broader society it lived in, the third (whose content can vary according to different scholars' opinions) is regarded as introducing 'biographical' elements for Q's Jesus figure. This evolution and development took place over a period of time, though of an unknown length, but probably not exceeding a few decades in the middle part of the 1st century CE, let's say somewhere between 30 and 80 (not everyone agrees with my late allowance here). The Q units are numbered (chapter & verse) according to the chapter and verse numbers of their appearance in Luke. Incidentally, Zeichman announces [n.1] that he is assuming Kloppenborg's hypothesis is "correct" so he will not be discussing "alternate compositional hypotheses." In this, he says, he is following me. If this means that he assumes I accept the general outline of Kloppenborg's analysis of Q, then he is right; if he is implying that I do, or should, accept every aspect of that hypothesis, then he is wrong. And I, too, will focus essentially on Kloppenborg, particularly in his groundbreaking book The Formation of Q (1987).


    Zeichman leads off with a particularly gratuitous misunderstanding of what I say in The Jesus Puzzle:


On page 177 Doherty informs us that "the essence of Q1 represents a foreign source, whether oral or written, one which first flourished in a non-Jewish milieu." While the rest of this statement is sufficiently dubious and will be addressed later, what is of interest here is his problematic suggestion that Q1 might have been "oral."


    This is not at all what I have said. In that quoted sentence I say that the source of Q1 might have been oral. This is not Q1 itself, but the anterior stage to Q1, as the term "foreign source" indicates, a phrase I would not have applied to any segment of Q itself. The succeeding sentence in my book: "The Jewish preachers of the new movement may have discovered and adopted it..." also indicated that the 'oral' possibility applied to a stage prior to the movement that adopted it and produced the initial stratum of Q itself. I fully agree that Q1 must be considered a written entity. Thus there is no question of Q1 material being written down only at the same time as the Q2 material; this would, as Zeichman suggests, undermine the attempt to analyze stratification, by Kloppenborg or myself.


    Note also that the writing down of the Q2 material, even though this reflects the actual activities of the sect from its beginnings and the response it received from the society it preached in, is not likely to have occurred immediately, at the same time as Q1 was formulated. Those sectarian traditions would have taken a certain amount of time to develop, and to be collected and written down. There could be a period of years between the two phases, and most likely there was, as there is always a 'history' involved when a literary record is formed, and this is certainly true of Q2. However, it may not have been true, or as true, in regard to Q1, if that was a body of ethical and lifestyle tradition taken over from a previous (non-Jewish) group or ethos. Thus we can assume that Q1 existed in a written state within the community at or soon after the sect’s formation, and only some time after that did the Q2 material take shape and get added to Q1.

Tradition History vs. Literary History

    A principal basis on which Zeichman finds fault with my use of Kloppenborg is the distinction between tradition-historical methods and literary-critical methods, and my alleged confusion between the two. He quotes Kloppenborg:


To say that the wisdom components were formative for Q [i.e., got it started] and that the prophetic judgment oracles and apothegms describing Jesus' conflict with "this generation" are secondary [i.e., added later] is not to imply anything about the ultimate tradition-historical provenance of any of the sayings. It is indeed possible, indeed probable, that some of the materials from the secondary compositional phase are dominical [i.e., said by Jesus] or at least very old, and that some of the formative elements are, from the standpoint of authenticity or tradition-history, relatively young. Tradition-history is not convertible with literary history, and it is the latter which we are treating here. [The Formation of Q, p.244]


Zeichman backs this up with a quote from Crossan:


[Some] of the material that an author used as the first layer of a composition could be created at that very moment, and some of the ones inserted as a second layer could have been there from long before. The stratification of a writing's composition is not the same as the stratification of a tradition's history. [The Birth of Christianity, p.250]


    One should realize that Kloppenborg's statement is simply a 'proviso' on his part. He does not argue that all or even any of the "prophetic judgment oracles," etc. actually are older or even contemporary with the "wisdom components." He simply wants to avoid any misunderstanding that such a possibility is being overlooked or ignored. I am not lacking "a full grasp on the concepts," as Zeichman puts it. I am dealing with Kloppenborg's hypothesis on its own self-declared basis, namely that it is a treatment of literary history, not tradition history. It would be impossible for me to deal with the latter in connection with Kloppenborg's hypothesis, since Kloppenborg himself provides no role or argumentation for tradition history in his work. Thus Zeichman's "flawed uses of Kloppenborg's hypothesis" accusation is not only false, it is a logical contradiction.


    The same is true for Crossan. He quotes the above passage from Kloppenborg, adding his own remarks (the quote above). But neither does he offer any discussion of "the stratification of a tradition's history." In fact, when he goes on [p.253f] to discuss stratification in Q and the Gospel of Thomas, he appeals to Stephen Patterson's Wisdom in Q and Thomas, accepting his view that the sayings in common between them go back to a root "corpus of material" which was entirely sapiential, and had no elements of apocalypticism or Gnosticism; the latter were later "redactional adaptation." What does this do for his and Kloppenborg's proviso mention of "tradition history"? Not only have both commentators failed to offer any evidence that in fact elements of Q2 did predate the elements of Q1 in terms of their tradition-historical provenance, the evidence they do discuss tends to argue against it. Besides, if some prophetic/apocalyptic sayings were older than the sapiential ones (Crossan's "six wisdom speeches"), and both represent actual words of, or very early traditions attached to Jesus, what compelling reason would we have for assuming that only sapiential sayings would be set down when a written record (Q1) was begun—the formative stage of the literary history? On what basis can we imagine the community making that kind of distinction and choice? If Jesus was regarded as an apocalyptic preacher as well as a wisdom teacher, why be so exclusively selective in one direction when setting about to record his supposed words? Those "wisdom speeches" are artificial constructions. Jesus would not have delivered them like that, nor would a scribe have taken them down on such occasions. The sapiential layer, if representative of Jesus' teaching, would have been a deliberate, careful undertaking, supposedly drawing on oral tradition, by the initial formulators of the Q document's earliest stage. But there would have been no reason for them to formulate that document with only wisdom sayings. In any case, this would assume some kind of sophisticated thought and selection process on the part of the compilers which I see no reason to attribute to them. This is the sort of trap that modern scholars and theologians constantly fall into: reading their own highly sophisticated analyses (based on years of intensive academic study and dissection of the minutest implications they can find in the text) into the minds of first century sectarian writers or compilers.


    Thus, both Kloppenborg's and Crossan's provisos are without actual foundation (except in principle). When Kloppenborg says, "It is indeed possible, indeed probable, that some of the materials from the secondary compositional phase are dominical or at least very old...", this is more or less indistinguishable from wishful thinking. The actual evidence does not support it, nor does Kloppenborg try to produce any. The most likely scenario here is that literary history went along with tradition history. Q2 was added to Q1 some time after its component sayings were formed, but all of it postdated the material of Q1 which was essentially anterior to the sect in its original form. Naturally, we cannot state that with surety in regard to all cases, but it is the most appealing option in general, and a legitimate one on which to base my case concerning the root nature of Q and its alleged founder figure.

Order and Layers in Q

    This comment by Zeichman is an overstatement:


One last example can be found in passing remarks suggesting that Q1 was "reorganized" by the redactor (pp. 147, 153 [of The Jesus Puzzle]), again undermining an indispensable premise of Kloppenborg's hypothesis. It is essential that the original order of Q1 was preserved in the final edition of Q, even if it was interrupted by Q2 and Q3 redactors. Again, this is because it is based on a literary-critical reading of Q, where specific redactive units interrupt pre-existing ones. If these had been modified in any way, there would be no way to identify such redaction, and Q1 material which was moved would appear to be Q2 material or one would be unable to determine strata if this were done to even a moderate degree.


    Zeichman has made too much of this. First of all, I said "possibly with some reorganization" when later sayings were added, not throwing the whole business into the air and picking them up where they fell.  A certain amount of change to the order of Q1 sayings relative to each other would hardly have rendered it impossible to identify later insertions, since the latter could be identified on the basis of their contrasting nature, which is the principal method of determining Q stratification. Kloppenborg and Crossan [op cit, p.252] are able to identify the insertion of a later beatitude [v.22-23] into the "inaugural sermon of the Q Gospel" [Lk/Q 6:20b-23] because of its apocalyptic nature and reference to the Son of Man, as opposed to the preceding ones of a sapiential (Q1) nature. Changing the order of surrounding verses would not foil that identification. Zeichman's warning that "there would be no way to identify such redaction" is obviously mistaken, or hyperbole. As well, linkages between a Q2 saying and a Q1 saying preceding it are obvious and common on other grounds, through Q2 sayings being recognizably a later 'commentary' on the earlier. (This is a major method of identifying the Q2 material as later than the Q1.) In the latter case, a redactor would not split up those two sayings in any 'reorganization' because he would recognize that they have been joined together on an associative basis. In any event, perhaps we have lost some revealing juxtapositions through later reorganization, but enough has remained to serve our stratification purposes.


    Similarly, as I point out in The Jesus Puzzle [p.153], Crossan's dilemma in finding no trace of a common order between Q and Thomas in their Common Sayings Tradition (i.e., those sayings in common between Thomas and Q1), is easily solvable by postulating some reorganization of that order by either Q or Thomas. Crossan does not say that the original order of Q1 had to be strictly preserved, or that any modification would foil identifying later redaction. Thus he should be able to postulate a certain amount of reorganization of either Q or Thomas as an explanation for why there is an "absolute lack of any common order or parallel sequence in the way the common material is presented in the two Gospels" [p.249]; this would relieve him from being forced to rule out "some documentary or written source common to both these Gospels that might explain the large amount of parallel data." If he is reluctant to see much or any reorganization for Q, Thomas would be the more likely candidate in any event. A major relisting of its sayings could have taken place when a body of new sayings was added (perhaps the redactor did throw it into the air), as there is virtually no organization in that document as we have it, as well as little in the way of thematic or catchword linkage. The 'wisdom' and 'gnostic' sayings are interspersed almost willy-nilly, allowing some scholars to claim that there is no internal evidence that the former are the older. (Other factors tend to date the former as earlier.)


    In connection with this, Zeichman later in his critique chides me thus:

Doherty is very unclear about his opinion on the relationship between Q and Thomas. He suggests that Thomas used Q1, vice versa, that they have a common written source, and that they share a common oral source, many on the same page (p.163 [this is a typo; the page is 153]).

This is unwarranted. I was listing theoretical options here, and in fact went on to favor one of those options, a common source document. Moreover, this follows on a quote from Helmut Koester on the previous page as doing exactly that, offering those same options (for which he too was "chided"). Also, I see no sign of me including a common oral source as one of those options. In fact, I state in the first sentence on that same page (153) that "the relationship is a literary one." My reference to "perhaps oral tradition" was on the previous page, in listing the theoretical derivations of the early layer of Thomas; it was in a rhetorical question as part of the introduction to this section, posed before stating the conclusion that the relationship between Thomas and Q had to be literary, thus ruling out that theoretical option. This would have been clear in a dispassionate reading of my text, which Zeichman obviously did not give it. Too much of his criticism of me is unfounded (if not deliberately deceptive), based on a rush to present my case as deficient in understanding or methodology.


    At what stage did those Common Sayings Tradition (CST, the term is Crossan's) similarities come about between Thomas and Q1? That is a complex question for which there is no simple answer, and I am not going to attempt one here. It is not a case of Thomas borrowing from a finished Q1 (much less vice-versa). If a “common source document” was involved, what relation did that document bear to Q1? An early version of it, prior to what can be extracted from finished Q? Even separating out the so-called ‘gnostic’ sayings exclusive to Thomas leaves us with a CST that contains a few apocalyptic elements, expectations of the End-time, but notably without an apocalyptic Son of Man. (Note Thomas #44, which is a close match to Q 12:10 [blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, etc.], but the reference to ‘speaking a word against the Son of Man’ is replaced by blaspheming against the Father and the Son.) At what point, through what connection, did those ‘Q2’-type elements enter Thomas? The Gospel of Thomas as we have it is generally dated as going back to the mid second century, though the CST portion is favored to be essentially a product of the mid first century, roughly contemporary with early Q. Crossan discusses this situation at length in his Birth of Christianity [p.252f]. In The Jesus Puzzle I offered only basic observations because of the complexity and uncertainty of the whole issue. There are limits to what that book can contain.


    There is another fundamental flaw in the way Zeichman evaluates my argumentation. He bases his objections on standard or majority scholarly presumptions and analyses, and where I don't agree with or ignore those presumptions in presenting my arguments and conclusions, this becomes "a lack of understanding" on my part.


    For example, he questions my identification of the Dialogue between Jesus and John (Lk/Q 7:18-35) as a product of the Q3 redactor. My definition of Q3 and what can be assigned to it is clearly different from that of Kloppenborg, and argued differently. Zeichman needs to evaluate my assigning of the Dialogue pericope within the context of my hypothesis, not Kloppenborg's, or at least to take the former into some account. He also seems to assume that anything put forward by mainstream/majority scholarship, or in the Kloppenborg hypothesis, must be addressed, resolved or refuted in presenting my case. If that were necessary, there would be no end to my text. (Of course, I do a certain amount of that.) If I present arguments or a scenario backed by evidence which is in contradiction to those scholarly conclusions, then the latter are automatically set aside in my view. Which is not to say that Zeichman is not entitled to argue for them; but it does not signify that I am lacking a "full grasp of the concepts," a type of phrase he throws around far too much and with far too much enthusiasm.


    In disagreeing with my stance on the Dialogue being the product of my Q3, Zeichman argues on the basis of Kloppenborg's Q3, namely, one extended pericope, the Temptation of Jesus (Lk/Q 4:1-13) [see The Formation of Q, p.317]. Everything else following on the sapiential layer of Q1 is to be assigned to Q2. Zeichman says:


The scripture cited in these verses [of the Dialogue] is not from the Septuagint, which one would expect if this were the case [i.e., if it were in Kloppenborg's Q3]. The exegesis of Isaiah here [in the Dialogue] is not typical of what is found in [Kloppenborg's] Q3; here [in the Dialogue] scripture functions predictively, as opposed to the "anxiety regarding the enduring validity of the Law" found in Q3. Similarly, the understanding of Jesus' miracles differs from that of Q3 where they function christologically, a contrast from the "event of the kingdom" understanding found elsewhere in the synoptic sayings source [Zeichman is paraphrasing Kloppenborg here].


    First of all, Kloppenborg makes these characterizations of the Temptation Story as a way of identifying it as a later addition, not of the same ethos as Q2. But Zeichman's mistake is in not acknowledging that Kloppenborg is talking about only one unit; that's all his Q3 consists of! Zeichman can hardly appeal to this as something "typical" of Q3, or how scripture functions in Q3, or how miracles are understood in Q3, when it is all based on only one example. (I'm reminded of Lee Strobel's interviewee Dr. Alexander Metherell saying that "we're told in the New Testament" that Jesus' side was pierced at the crucifixion, when this is found only in the Gospel of John.) A single example does not create a generality against which everything else has to be compared and to which it has to conform. One unit does not make a standard. Thus, Zeichman cannot claim that the "predictive function" of the use of Isaiah in the Dialogue, or its particular use of scripture, or its understanding of Jesus' miracles, bars it from inclusion in Q3 when the latter, for him, is represented by only one pericope. This is a clear logical fallacy. I depart from Kloppenborg and others in assigning to, and defining, Q3 in terms of what can reasonably be identified as the introduction of Jesus into the document. This is not arbitrary or circular, since my overall breakdown and stratification of Q, and the arguments involved in doing that, have to make consistent sense, which I maintain they do. (Again, Zeichman is entitled to argue against that, but he has to do it on the basis of my breakdown and analysis, not judge it by that of others and simply declare mine invalid because it doesn't agree. Too much of this sort of thing is done in argument against the mythicist case in general; it is done from the locked-in standpoint of traditional scholarly paradigms which are given some kind of axiomatic status.)


In light of this, I must dispute Zeichman's summary judgment in this section of his critique, that I have set aside Kloppenborg's literary-critical method in favor some illegitimate "tradition-historical endeavor." What I have done is essentially identify the two, which does not contradict Kloppenborg because he has given us no reason to think that one cannot, in this case, treat the literary-critical as reflecting the tradition-historical. Simply stating in principle that the two cannot automatically be treated as the same, without demonstrating that such a prohibition in fact applies to this particular case, does not prohibit me from drawing tradition-historical implications from Kloppenborg's own method and hypothesis, especially if other considerations point in that very direction. Neither Kloppenborg nor Crossan declare, nor surely would declare, that it is never possible for the two to coincide.


Q and the Cynics

    There is yet more misunderstanding when Zeichman addresses my views of the Cynic root of Q, an idea of some standing among scholars. Zeichman accuses me of making "major changes to the cynic hypothesis as advocated by Mack and Vaage." I go so far "that it undermines many essential parts of the cynic hypothesis and cannot stand as he has revised it." That might be true if I had in fact performed all the changes he reads into what I say on the matter. His worst misreading is that I say "the Q1 people were Cynics." In fact, I don't even say that there were Q1 people. That is precisely one of the things I argue against, that Q1 represents a distinct, earliest stage of the community, the wisdom-oriented and tolerant state of mind of the people involved in it, while Q2 represents a later morphing of these same people, or subsequent members of the same community, into apocalyptic-oriented, fire-and-brimstone fanatics.


    Zeichman has again misunderstood my analysis of the Q1 root. It doesn't represent a temporal stage of the Kingdom-preaching Galilean sect, one preceding the expression of apocalyptic sentiment and expectation (things that are lacking in the Q1 literary layer). I make that as clear as a bell on page 164. Q1, in my estimation, represents the adoption, from a non-Jewish (ultimately Cynic) source, of a set of ethical principles, hopes and admonitions, instructions for an itinerant missionary lifestyle, etc., by a Kingdom-preaching sect which from its beginning had apocalyptic expectations and prophetic teachings. But as I said earlier, that part of Q which is assigned to the Q2 layer would have been set down and added to the Q1 material only later in its career, after such Q2 teachings and practices (existing from the beginning) had had some 'history', after they had taken shape and were collected and set down to be added to the existing (Q1) written record. I will quote the relevant passage from The Jesus Puzzle [p.164]:


    It is difficult if not impossible to regard the same community, the same set of people—not to mention the same man—as having produced the two sets of sayings, one reflecting an enlightened lifestyle of tolerance, accommodation, mutual respect, trust in a benevolent God, etc., the other a fire-breathing, intolerant outburst of vindictiveness....First of all, it is not merely a case of a different personality and mode of expression. Q2 reflects an apocalyptically oriented mind or community, one which believes in the [future coming of] the Son of Man. That type of orientation does not suddenly displace a previous stance of being without it. Furthermore, the message of Q1 is largely self-directed. It is a prescription for the members of a community to follow. It does not of itself seek large-scale conversion of others, especially the rich and powerful. Thus it would be difficult to envision the mindset of Q1 changing into the mindset of Q2 within essentially the same group of people, no matter what the perceived provocation.
    The natural conclusion is that the two layers of Q proceed from two different sources. The original collection of sayings represented by Q1 appears to have been adopted by a Jewish (or imitation Jewish), apocalyptically-minded community which first began to preach a kingdom of God in Galilee, perhaps in response to conditions such as those Crossan describes. Somewhere in that formative period, if not at its very beginning, a certain group adopted a philosophy of behavior and an itinerant lifestyle which resembled that of the Cynics, as embodied in a collection of sayings and instructions. It is possible that these were regarded as a suitable ethic and mode of conduct for those who preached and awaited the arrival of God's kingdom, with its intervention of the Son of Man.


    What I maintain is that the material represented by Q1 is derived from a Cynic or Cynic-like source which existed anterior to the formation of the Q community and preaching movement. (Perhaps some of the initial Q people had previously been involved in such circles.) I don't know if it was in the form of a sapiential-like sayings collection as we find it in Q1, let alone if it was 'blocked' into five "sermons." The latter I rather doubt. Those who did the adopting, the early Q people, may have imposed that form upon the material, whether from some earlier written state or simply from an oral body of instructions and sayings. After all, standard scholarship regards that some group of Jesus' followers took oral traditions about Jesus' preaching and imposed on it the form we see in Q1. It thus becomes equally feasible that a Kingdom-preaching group took traditions or a crude written record derived from Cynic practice and philosophy, with no historical Jesus involved, and imposed on it the form we see in Q1. Much of my case is based on the indicators there are to support choosing the latter option over the former.


    "Doherty also sees a major discontinuity between the Q1 and Q2 people." As just explained, the "discontinuity" exists between the Q1 source, the Cynic-type milieu from which it was ultimately derived, and the Galilean movement which adopted it. Within the Galilean movement, the Q1 and Q2 people are the same. This is a major misunderstanding on Zeichman's part. So I am actually in agreement with the scholars who "emphasize the continuity between the two main strata of the Kloppenborg hypothesis."


    Zeichman claims that advocates of the Cynic hypothesis (Mack, Vaage, and Co.) "do not posit dependence on those Hellenistic philosophies for their thinking, mode of dress, etc." I don't know why not. If this thinking and mode of dress, etc., are strongly reminiscent of Cynic elements, is it all simply coincidence? (If it looks like a duck...) Why not posit some form of dependence, even if through circuitous channels? Zeichman's answer:


The reason is that the cynic hypothesis which they advocate is one based upon a careful method of assessment, comparison, and re-assessment, not upon reducing the relationship to genetic dependence.


This sounds a lot like, 'because they're more professional than you and follow sophisticated scholarly procedures, not the simplistic ones you do'. But it's all rather woolly, and the jargon isn't explained or illustrated. And what is this sin of "genetic dependence"? Does Zeichman want to claim that there was no direct conscious borrowing, but simply an absorption of ideas and practices that were 'in the air' at the time? To some extent, that's quite possible. I advocate such a thing in my discussion of Christianity's possible debt to the mystery cults. But this is not to reject the idea that Cynic philosophy and practice was what put it all into the air in the first place, where it could be plucked out by the Q community. I have no objection to postulating intervening channels or stages, but that does not change the fact that one can still trace an ultimate 'genetic dependence'. On the other hand, to absorb and organize a body of material like that of Q1 would seem to require a little more than simply cocking one's ear to unattributed aural vibrations in the atmosphere. Consequently, I would prefer to postulate a certain degree of more direct borrowing or absorption, a degree of 'genetic dependence' I don't consider sinful.


    Zeichman quotes opponents of the Cynic hypothesis as debunking my reading of Q1:


Christopher Tuckett, for example, argues against the presence of Cynics in Galilee, the lack of a definite concept of Cynics in that time period, the genre of Q1 being like the "lives" of Cynics, and suggests that the mode of dress in Q is anti-Cynic. He additionally notes that there is a distinct lack of cynic writings in the centuries preceding the turn of the era in which Jesus is said to have lived (or Q1 was formed, for Doherty).


But then he promptly offers a quote from Kloppenborg which neutralizes what Tuckett has said and rescues me from demolition:


All of these, Kloppenborg notes, are irrelevant to the claims of (the advocates of the cynic hypothesis) because "[the] Cynic hypothesis does not require that Cynics be attested in large numbers in the early first century CE....It only requires one of two assumptions: either that there were still some...persons who would be identified as cynic-like on the basis of their dress, behavior, or teaching, or that the literary figure of the Cynic and the basic profile of Cynic behavior and teaching were sufficiently well-known to be recognized when they were encountered in a literary presentation of Jesus...." [hiatuses are Zeichman's]


Kloppenborg has provided all the response I need to give.


    But note the final portion of the Kloppenborg quote. He is quite comfortable with seeing Q1 as a literary presentation of Jesus that conformed to known Cynic precedents. But if the literary presentation of Jesus and his teachings closely conformed to a Cynic model, that makes Jesus a "Cynic-style sage," as scholars like Mack have suggested. It would make the literary creation modeled on Jesus as a Cynic-type preacher. Also, how does one distinguish between this and a literary creation that is simply derived from a broader Cynic-type ethos and not an individual? On any count, a 'genetic dependency' on things Cynic is to be deduced. However, this forces scholars into a scenario that doesn't ring true. Was Jesus really an imitation-Cynic, showing little interest in or expression of things Jewish? Did he get his grand ethical ideas from somewhere else (since they demonstrate close resemblance to Cynic principles)? Why did he not, as a charismatic individual (one assumes), impose personal features and interests, including biographical, on that literary creation? Looking at it from another angle, is it likely that the earliest Christians in Galilee, if even moderately 'Jewish', would, after Jesus' death, formulate a literary creation of him that mimicked Cynic patterns so closely and exclusively? Is it likely that they would not have reworked them into a record that included more recognizably Jewish interests and a recognizable individual? Is this a viable genesis of the one document and community which critical scholars think gets them closest to the genuine historical Jesus? Scholarly readings of (and into) Q create all sorts of complications like this which are not readily resolvable, and often not even recognized because things have not been thought through in the presence of axiomatic assumptions. Surely the better explanation for this "literary creation" is that it is being formed on the model of its precedent, not on a Jesus figure; it represents the adoption by the early Q community of an ethic and lifestyle which had close connections with that of the Cynics, either ultimately derived from them or influenced by them. This ethic and lifestyle they have chosen to follow and are now recording in a 'foundation document.' All of this best makes sense in the absence of a founder figure.


Is Q1 "Jewish"?

    A key consideration here is the non-Jewish character of the Q1 stratum. Zeichman, disputing this, calls attention to my quote of N. T. Wright in The Jesus Puzzle [p.158-9]:


"Far more important to the first-century Jew than questions of space, time and literal cosmology were the key issues of Temple, Land, and Torah, of race, economy and justice. When Israel's God acted, Jews would be restored to their ancestral rights and would practice their ancestral religion, with the rest of the world looking on in awe, and/or making pilgrimages to Zion, and/or being ground to powder under Jewish feet."


And I asked, "Where are all—or any—of these Jewish preoccupations in Q1 or the parallel layer of Thomas? Where is the divine mandate, the will of the covenantal God of Judaism, the future role of the gentile, the restoration of Zion in a new Jerusalem?"


    Does Zeichman counter by pointing out all the references to such things in Q1 that I have overlooked? No. Instead he alludes to "work by E. P. Sanders and others" that allegedly suggest Wright's "assessment of Judaism during the time of Jesus" is not correct. But he does not offer any example of an alternate feature of the Judaism of that time which might be found in Q1. Still, my claim "defies the evidence." And what is this "evidence"? In order to assess it, I need to first state the idea that the Q people are not necessarily Jews per se, though they may well include some; it is possible that the Kingdom-preaching movement in Galilee-Syria which Q represents was as much a product of gentiles who had adopted Jewish traditions, including an interest in the Jewish scriptures and taking part in Jewish religious observances. This is a well-attested phenomenon of the empire of the time, as in the (somewhat now discredited) term "Godfearers" (though who the term refers to is not): gentiles who had become, in many respects, "Jewish-imitating." (This phrase is neutral and usefully descriptive, despite the fact that Zeichman finds it "vaguely offensive." As a way of describing non-Jews who had attached themselves to Jewish tradition, I find no justification for that.)


    But there is some confusion here. The key issue is not whether the Q people were themselves Jewish or what the proportion may have been between Jew and gentile. The main issue is the nature of Q1. We have to keep in mind that there are really two aspects to the question. But since an essentially gentile sect (even if subscribing to Jewish ideas) would support more compellingly the idea of a non-Jewish Q1 (as Wright presents it), the two are linked. Zeichman argues from both sides. His first piece of evidence that the Q people were indeed Jews and that Q1 is "Jewish" is the reference to Solomon in Lk/Q 12:27: "Solomon in all his splendor was not attired like one of these [lilies]." But as a legendary figure reputed to have possessed great riches, Solomon would hardly be unknown to anyone who lived in the vicinity of Palestine, and especially anyone who knew the scriptures; his status would lend itself to him being used in 'proverbial' fashion by even non-Jews. Such a piece of "evidence" is less than inconsequential and hardly requires that I have dismissed it as "an anomalous feature."


    Then there is Kloppenborg's suggestion that the gentiles are used "as negative examples" in Lk/Q 6:33-34 and 12:30. Zeichman claims that these references only make sense if one presumes a Jewish community. Let's consider each of them in turn:


If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners [hamartōloi] do that.


There are various definitions of hamartōloi. The principal one is the word in English: sinners. There is nothing to prevent this from being a reference by gentiles (or Jews) to sinners within the broader society outside the sect, Jewish or Greek. Bauer's Lexicon points out that it can refer to irreligious or unobservant Jews. Now, he also points out that it can serve, among Jews, as a general term for heathen, which is the way Kloppenborg and Zeichman are taking it, although the examples given by Bauer are from pre-New Testament writings. It "perhaps" (Bauer says) means the heathen in a few Gospel passages like Mt. 26:45 and parallels, and perhaps that also applies to Lk/Q 6:32-4. But there is no guarantee that this reference singles out gentiles as a group (sinners or not) rather than actual sinners of any ethnic group. In fact, it is not at all likely, if we apply a bit of common sense to the passage itself. The Q saying is advocating an ethic which is beyond the ordinary. Is the speaker going to use the term "sinners" to apply to all gentiles (even the non-sinners among them) as a derogatory comparison to those who follow the new ethic? That would hardly win over gentiles in the audience, who would definitely have been present in Galilee. Nor would it have pleased any gentiles who were present within the community itself, a situation Zeichman cannot rule out. The phrase "even sinners do such-and-such" makes sense in this context only if it is a reference to actual 'bad' people (real sinners) who stand in contrast to the 'good' of the new ethics. (Even the average sinner is capable of doing good in the expectation of getting good back, or lending to other sinners.)


    Zeichman's appeal to Lk/Q 12:30 is even less relevant. "Do not seek what you may eat and drink," the speaker declares; these things all the nations of the world [ethnē tou kosmou] seek after. This hardly means anything more than that "the whole world" occupies itself with such things, but you shouldn't because the Father will look after you. None of this even remotely requires that the speakers are Jews or that the audience to which this is directed must be Jews, and especially Jews who set themselves off from non-Jews. Zeichman and Kloppenborg are grasping at straws here. And still nothing that relates to Wright's list of expected Jewish concerns. In fact, Kloppenborg identifies key elements of the Sermon on the Mount as belonging to the general category of "sapiential and philosophical works...the motifs of imitation of God and of the righteous as huios theou [Q 6:35] are thoroughly at home in the wisdom tradition and in Hellenistic popular philosophy" [p.180]. In other words, these key elements of Q1—the very core of Christian ethics as attributed to Jesus—are as much pagan ethics as Jewish. And not original.


    Zeichman claims there are passages in Q that make allusion to the Hebrew bible, and these verses "refer to Israel's history in precisely the way that Doherty claims Q1 does not." Do they?


Lk/Q 6:20-23: Blessed are you the poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God; blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied...etc.


This is supposedly a deliberate allusion to Isaiah 61:1-2: "...the Lord has sent me to bring good news to the humble, to bind up the broken-hearted...to give them garlands instead of ashes..." One could as well say that Butterfly's aria before stabbing herself is an allusion to Hamlet's line, "To be or not to be" when he ponders the choice of suicide. Q's promises to Galilee's downtrodden are similar to Isaiah's promises to the downtrodden of Israel because of the common nature of both expressions, although their situations were quite different. Besides, one has to wonder if Q would be concerned with echoing Israel's history when the alleged precedent involved promises of a new 'kingdom' for Israel which had not come to pass. The beatitudes do not represent specifically Jewish concerns; they are the concerns of the disenfranchised poor of Galilee and would be applicable whether such people were Jew or gentile. Kloppenborg regards this audience as members of the sect itself, making this 'sermon' a self-directed one (in keeping with sectarian needs and practices)—which is actually quite a departure from the traditional popular picture of Jesus preaching to the public at large. It is also more amenable to the interpretation that these "sayings" were a literary expression from the beginning, put together to be read by, or read to, the community itself.


    The connection Zeichman tries to draw between Q and Israel is tenuous within the sayings he quotes. This is not to say that a certain ethos is not present in Q and the Gospels which links the communities with Jewish precedent, or that such a thing is not conscious. The Gospel stories created for Jesus, after all, frequently emulate those of Moses, which is certainly deliberate; and scripture is often drawn on in Q as relating to the community's teaching and activity. But concern for that connection would be just as at home among gentiles as Jews, for those gentiles who were subscribing to the Jewish heritage. This, in fact, was the whole point of Paul's own preaching, drawing the gentiles in to an inheritance of the Jewish promise.


    And why is it left to finding vague "allusions" to biblical passages as a means of establishing the presence of Jewish concerns? As I ask in The Jesus Puzzle, 

Would this Jesus never have given voice in direct terms to the tradition of Yahwehan justice and righteousness, to the prophets as biblical precedent? Would he never give a hint of the traditional question (again going back into the prophets) of whether the people's sins and the need for repentance had anything to do with their present state of affairs? Would he never have allowed a flavor of prophetic or apocalyptic fervor to pass his lips? Why is it left to the Q2 stratum to introduce such elements?

To this we might add: where are the indicators in Q1, if a product of Jesus, to a preaching in Aramaic? The odd—actually rare—appearance of an Aramaic word or phrase proves nothing. Zeichman appeals to "mammon (Q 16:13), gehenna (12:5) and "the son of man" (6:22, 9:58), all of which Kloppenborg places in Q1," which I have "overlooked," but these can simply reflect a familiarity on the community's part with such words in a multi-cultural environment. The phrase "the son of man" is admittedly not natural in Greek, and will be dependent on scriptural precedent, either in Daniel 7 or in Semitic idiom for a "human being" (depending on one's disposition for interpreting the phrase), but this again tells us nothing about those who adopted it. It is also not clear that Kloppenborg unequivocally places 6:22 in Q1 (see his p.143 and 273). Mack does not [The Book of Q, p.83], and Crossan hedges [Birth of Christianity, p.252].


    Zeichman's other example is even more inapt. Lk/Q 9:61-62 is supposed to be an allusion to 1 Kings 19:19-21. An allusion it may be, but it has nothing whatever to do with specifically Jewish concerns of the nature raised by Wright. What is the Jewishness of a Master requiring that a prospective disciple leave all behind to follow him? This is a world-wide sentiment. If the Q 'speaker' of this saying had 1 Kings in mind, it was to draw a psychological response in the listener from its echo in the Hebrew bible, something the Gospels are full of, since the story of Jesus was fashioned to echo various motifs in scripture and its pseudo-history. But this does not of itself fill the bill to satisfy Wright's quest for specifically Jewish concerns. Neither does a mere mention of "the Torah" in 16:16 provide us with Wright's "key issue...of Torah," for this does not relate to its support or to a concern for its preservation when "Jews would be restored to their ancestral rights and would practice their ancestral religion." Such a context is utterly missing in Q. In fact, 16:16 blithely dismisses study of "the law and the prophets" as a thing of the past, supplanted by John the Baptist's preaching of the Kingdom of God. Does Zeichman not recognize these significant discrepancies, the non-connections in what he is claiming? Or is he just ignoring them in the interests of coming up with something, and hoping that his readers won't notice? This kind of superficial, ersatz argumentation is quite shameless, and it is altogether too common.


    In one way, his whole exercise is moot. As I said earlier, there is no doubt that the Q people were acquainted with the Jewish scriptures, whether they were Jew or gentile. And an interest in the Hebrew bible and Jewish apocalyptic expectations about the coming Kingdom would be natural in gentiles who had attached themselves to a Jewish culture. Such a syncretistic development would have been quite feasible in a mixed and cosmopolitan area like Galilee. But in the final analysis, I would have little objection to any claim that the Q people were essentially Jewish, although I think the better designation would be Hellenistic-Jewish, with a good compliment of outright gentiles; this would not directly affect the situation in regard to the nature of Q1 which could still have been acquired from a non-Jewish source. Kloppenborg [op cit, p.140-1] quotes Schurmann as appealing to the "woes" of 11:39f against the Pharisees, that the group constitutes "law-observant Jewish Christians" who oppose "Pharisaic legalism" and the undeserved prominence of the Pharisees in the synagogues. But gentiles, too, when part of a Jewish sectarian community, could be "law-observant" and anti-Pharisee. Since mature Christianity itself is a syncretism between Jewish and pagan, there would be little reason to deny that one of its root branches had also undergone a syncretism of its own.


    A final observation to be made here is that, whether Jewish or gentile or a syncretistic mix of the two, Q, as all scholars admit, shows every sign of having been written from the beginning in Greek. Whatever Jewish element was involved, it was seemingly not one that had strong ties to Jewish tradition and the Hebrew bible. It would have been to a great degree Hellenized, which in itself would imply the loss of those traditional Jewish interests which Wright has correctly remarked are notably missing in Q1.


The Son of Man in Q

    In discussing my views of the Son of Man in Q, Zeichman draws on a response I made to him in my recent Reader Feedback 27. He starts by accusing me of "suggesting that there are only two kinds of Son of Man saying: those that are built off of Daniel 7[:13] and those which are not." Having read that Reader Feedback response, he knows that this classification into two kinds is one of three classifications created by scholars, as noted by Geza Vermes. I opted to follow that dual classification, which is Vermes' own preference. This is followed by:


The apocalyptic son of man, (Doherty) contends, was created by the Q2 people on the sole basis of an exegesis of Daniel 7 with no intention of it being attached to any historical person.


While this is essentially correct except in one respect, it needs nuancing. The Son of Man surfaces in the first century among various sectarian groups, Jewish and (proto-)Christian, as an End-time heavenly figure, though with different characteristics and roles given to him; and in view of the features attached to him there is virtually no other likely candidate for having given rise to this phenomenon than the "one like a son of man" in Daniel 7:13-14. Some scholars (notably Vermes himself) have been prone to deny this and explain it all—at least where Q and the Gospels are concerned—as a byproduct of a supposed practice by Jesus to refer to himself euphemistically in the third person, but others have rejected that scenario. (I devoted some space arguing against it in my Feedback response and will not repeat it here.) My impression is that this is Zeichman's preference, and he consistently removes the capitalization (common in most translations of "Son of Man" sayings) from the phrase, presumably to eliminate any sense of title and derivation from Daniel. (He does the same for "Cynic," perhaps in an attempt to minimize that sense of derivation.)


    Zeichman makes it sound as though I envision the Q people poring over the book of Daniel and out of the blue coming up with their "Son of Man" as an apocalyptic figure. I was hardly that simplistic, despite his reference to my "simplistic technique." (Put it simplistically in the opponent's mouth, and you can label it "simplistic," a fine technique which Zeichman uses quite a bit throughout his critique.) However, as he should know from my Feedback response to him, I outlined scholarly debate on the question of whether there was a widely established and unified concept of an "apocalyptic Son of Man" in Jewish circles, and noted that the bulk of recent scholarship had come to the conclusion that "there was no such widespread, unified concept; rather, a lot of independent circles used the imagery of Daniel 7 to develop a diversity of messianic prediction involving a 'one like a son of man'," and that all of it was ultimately based on Daniel 7. (This was derived in part from Delbert Burkett, The Son of Man Debate: A History and Evaluation [1999], whom Zeichman himself quotes in an endnote.)


    So according to recent scholarship a "messianic" concept of a Danielic-derived Son of Man was 'in the air' of the first century, taking diverse forms (in Q and the Gospels, Revelation, 4 Ezra, Similitudes of Enoch). Yet Zeichman is anxious to deny that such a thing was present in Q. He appeals to "scholarly conclusions about Q, not least of which is the general opinion of Q specialists [who go unnamed] that Daniel 7 is nowhere presupposed in Q's portrayal of this figure," which contradicts Burkett's assessement as noted above. He even criticizes Christopher Tuckett for arguing to the contrary "because [Tuckett's] is a holistic approach analogous to what Doherty attempts, failing to account for specific anomalies in Q's portrayal of this figure" [n. 27]. By "holistic," he must mean taking the context and the spirit of a document or passage into account, rather than focusing on 'technicalities' that one can allege are "anomalies." He wants to maintain that Daniel 7 and its characteristics had no input in the Q community's conception of the Son of Man, that "Daniel 7 is nowhere presupposed in Q's portrayal of this figure."


    On what basis is such a case to be made? First, he claims that of the "future" Son of Man sayings in Q, only one says that he is "coming" (a Daniel 7 motif): Lk/Q 12:40. "Be ready, because the Son of Man is coming [erchetai] at an hour when you least expect."


    But what of 17:24? "For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning which flashes and lights up the sky." Matthew's equivalent (24:27): "...so will be the coming [parousia] of the Son of Man." Exactly what wording was found in Q cannot be said with certainty, as both Luke and Matthew display different words at the key point. But is anyone going to deny that both witness to the sense of the Son of Man "coming"? Matthew even uses a word that means a future coming. This is a perfect example of the tactic of many scholars and apologists, who appeal to a technicality while ignoring the spirit or idea. The word in question isn't there, so the argument doesn't apply! And what of Lk/Q 17:26? "Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man." Matthew's version (24:37):  "...the parousia of the Son of Man will be like the days of Noah." As well as 24:39: "...so will be the parousia of the Son of Man." The same remarks apply; these are all indicative of an expectation of the future coming of the Son of Man. Is this the way scholars 'disprove' any connection between the Son of Man in Q and features of Daniel 7? At any rate, Zeichman has admitted and demonstrated that one saying he accepts does show the "coming" motif.


    There are also three cases of reference to the Son of Man in the triple tradition which make it possible that equivalent sayings existed in Q, but that we cannot recognize them because Matthew and Luke show dependence on Mark instead.


Mk. 13:26 (Lk. 21:27 / Mt. 24:30): Here Jesus says, "And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with power and much glory."

Mk. 14:62 (Lk. 22:69 / Mt. 26:64): "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven."

Mk. 8:38 (Lk. 9:26 / Mt. 26:27): "...the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."


All these sentiments and motifs bear close relationship to those of Daniel 7 ("clouds," "power," "glory"). Did they exist in Q sayings concealed behind the dependence on Mark? Can we reasonably postulate that Mark's expression of future Son of Man ideas, his coming with glory on the clouds, was reflective of a familiarity with Q-type traditions of his own community, even if he apparently did not possess a copy of the document used by Matthew and Luke? The answer is, it is very reasonable. It is reasonable because the total spirit of the treatment of the Son of Man in Q and the Gospels would lead us to think so, that these ideas were present in the Q mindset regarding the Son of Man. The context tells us, in opposition to contrary appeals to flimsy 'technicalities'.


    Nor is that appeal to the triple tradition simply ad hoc speculation on my part. Kloppenborg does the same. In discussing the "controversy" units of Q2, he notes: 

Since this block comprises many originally independent traditions, and since several of them have Marcan parallels, the theological tendency of the Q composition may be discerned both in the principles of association of the smaller units, and in the comparison with Mark. [p.121]

Kloppenborg also speaks of Mark possessing more primitive Q traditions than Matthew and Luke [p.129] and he makes direct comparisons of elements in Mark with those of Q [p.215], as though Mark had access to those traditions, just not on a literary basis.


    And there is another consideration here. Zeichman earlier floated the concept of "major discontinuity" in connection with his misinterpretation of what I was saying about Q1 and Q2 people. He ridiculed any thought that there could have been a major disconnect between the former and the latter (which I agreed with). Yet here, he must assume a major discontinuity between Q and the Gospels in regard to their view of the Son of Man. First let me state a principle that I trust Zeichman will not dispute. The Synoptic communities are extensions of the Kingdom-preaching community represented by Q, later phases of it. Mark, Matthew and Luke do not represent communities with no derivation from the Q group and have for obscure reasons picked up the latter's traditions and incorporated them in Gospels that are not a reflection of their own communities. That would be too bizarre a scenario. Therefore, the Markan, Matthean and Lukan communities are outgrowths of the earlier Q one. 

    What do Mark, Matthew and Luke demonstrate of attitudes toward the Son of Man? They include his future coming, his coming on the clouds, his coming in glory, 'kingly' attributes like sitting on a throne, filling the role of judge (more on this presently). All these features—with the exception of the "coming" itself—are rejected by Zeichman has having been part of the Q ethos: "The other three links to Daniel 7 in the son of man sayings are wholly absent from the Q presentation of the son of man." However, he surely must admit that they are present in all three Synoptics. But can we reasonably label all these, in all three communities, as developments of thought about the Son of Man only after the time represented by Q? Is it reasonable to reject these ideas and motifs as being present in or behind the Q apocalyptic Son of Man sayings, as Zeichman and the scholars he appeals to evidently do? If so, how does he account for such a "major discontinuity" when we get to those Gospels, written by somewhat later members of the same general movement in much the same area? Did suddenly overnight all those varied communities take another look at Daniel 7 and say, "Gee, we've been overlooking all sorts of motifs here; we'd better add kingship, judging, coming on clouds with lots of glory to our expectations of the Son of Man"?

    I have been accused of a "
simplistic technique," or letting my "conclusions inform (my) hermeneutic." Zeichman needs to look at the beam in his own eye.

The Son of Man as Judge

    The same considerations apply to the question of the Son of Man as judge, a denial of which Zeichman raises with equal vehemence. "Nowhere in Q is it said or implied that the Son of man or Jesus will judge anyone." I can't even allow this as a legitimate 'technicality'. Zeichman points to Lk/Q 12:8-9: "(Here) the Son of Man acts as an eschatological witness, but this is the closest one comes to finding such a motif." (At least he admits it's close.) Recently on the IIDB, Jeffrey Gibson raised the same objection (with even greater vehemence). I will quote my response to him at that time, which took him to task, as I do with Zeichman, for not considering contexts: 

Consider the equivalent to Luke 12:8 in Matthew 10:32: "Whoever acknowledges [homologēsai, shall confess] me before men, I will also acknowledge [homologēsō, will confess] him before my Father in heaven…"

You claim that this can only mean that the Son of Man is merely a “witness before a judge”, namely God, and not a judge himself. There are a number of contextual problems with this narrow understanding.

One: Since Matthew (and Luke) understood this to be Jesus, this means that they cannot have conceived of Jesus as a judge at the End-time. This is patently false, since the whole of Christianity, especially once an historical Jesus was developed, envisioned him as the End-time judge upon his return. If there is anything associated with the Parousia of Jesus, both in the Gospels and in the epistles, it is that Jesus arriving at the Parousia will judge (Mt. 12:18, 25:31f, Jn. 5:22, 27, 2 Cor. 5:10, Rom. 14:10 [some mss], 2 Tim. 4:1, although the epistles also speak of the judgment of God). 2 Thess. 1:8 is very dramatic: “when our Lord Jesus Christ is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in blazing fire, then he will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”

Two: The reason I converted to Matthew’s version of the saying was so that I could make a direct link between it and the famous judgment scene in 25:31f, where the Son of Man is portrayed as ‘coming in his glory, he will sit in state on his throne, he will separate men into two groups, those on the right are told to enter the kingdom ready for them, those on the left are consigned to eternal fire, etc.’ If this ain’t judging, I don’t know what is. No role is given to God here. Jesus is not a mere advocate. If Matthew clearly portrays Jesus the Son of Man as apocalyptic judge here, he can hardly have the understanding you claim in 10:32, that he is simply an advocate and not a judge.

There is one isolated case (as I recall) in which the Son is portrayed as an advocate before the Father, that’s 1 John 2:1 (which by the way does not use homologeō), but in that epistle there is no concept of the arrival of the Son on earth, only of God himself (2:28). The Gospel of John 5:22 says explicitly, “the Father does not judge anyone, but has given all judgment to the Son.”

Three: Can you really think that all that dramatic language and threats about the coming Day of the Son of Man does not envision him as an apocalyptic judge? The results will be immediate. Matthew 24:39f: “So it will be when the Son of Man comes. Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken, the other left; two women grinding at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.” 24:50-51: “then the master will arrive on a day that the servant does not expect, at a time he does not know, and will cut him in pieces. Thus he will find his place among the hypocrites, where there is wailing and grinding of teeth.”

According to you, I guess God is meant to be coming in tow here, so he can sit on the bench and listen to the Son of Man prosecute all these people. (How would you like to be in the jury pool for a trial like that?!) Clearly the Son of Man himself is going to be doing the taking and the cutting here. Are Q and the evangelists saying: “You better be ready, because God’s prosecuting attorney is going to arrive when you least expect him!”?

Four: Luke 12:8 and Matthew 10:32 are usually included in Q, even though there is a somewhat similar saying in Mark (8:38). The same understanding of the Son of Man as judge must have been present in Q as it clearly is in Matthew. Matthew, as do all the synoptic evangelists, come from communities that have Q roots. Are we to think that the Q community itself had no concept of their Son of Man as a judge and Matthew only a little later, using the Q document, turned that understanding upside down? Obviously, he is continuing the previous understanding, that the Son of Man is coming to do the judging as his prime task, and that’s what the first pericope in Q indicates, John’s forecast of the coming one who will baptize with fire and separate the wheat from the chaff.

(We will also see later that the "sign of Jonah" pericope clearly ties the coming Son of Man to the Judgment, and hardly as a mere barrister.) For Zeichman to hold to his position, he needs to declare that because the word "judge" is not there, the idea isn't there (which is what he does); and he also needs to posit that "major discontinuity" between Q and the Synoptics, something that should be regarded as untenable. 

    That final reference in my IIDB quote to John the Baptist and his forecast of a "coming one" leads me to Zeichman's further argument in this connection:


If his reading [of the Son of Man as judge in Q] comes from equating the son of man with John's ho erchomenos (who is also not said to judge), he needs to justify this and not just assume it; if not, he is just as guilty of reading into the text as he accuses others of being. There are, it might be added, good reasons for doubting this interpretation, as this conflation and exposition of this composite figure defies the narrative of Q.


Although he doesn't come right out and say it, Zeichman's implication is that we should not equate the Son of Man with John's erchomenos. (Otherwise, why fault me for assuming it?) So now we have two apocalyptic figures due to arrive at the End-time, no doubt each with its own entourage. Will there not be a conflict between them in their apocalyptic activities? Will there be enough hotel and courtroom space? And what a nightmare when trying to preach these two figures! How to keep all the details straight for audiences and parishioners? Zeichman speaks of the "narrative of Q." Let's take a look at that. Q leads off with John the Baptist preaching the erchomenos. Thereafter, this figure fails to put in any appearance at all (other than in John's query about him in the Dialogue of 7:18f), but is supplanted by a Son of Man who seems to take over similar qualities and responsibilities. Both are to be identified with the presumably present Jesus (though such an identification is never spelled out), yet they are allegedly different figures. This Jesus must be schizophrenic, or perhaps inhabited by two spirits. In my concept of narrative coherence, Q seems somehow deficient. As for John's erchomenos not being a judge (Zeichman puts it: "is also not said to be a judge"), I wonder what is entailed by Lk/Q 3:16-17: 

There is one to come who is mightier than I....He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His shovel is ready in his hand, to winnow his threshing-floor and gather the wheat into his granary; but he will burn the chaff on a fire that can never go out.

Perhaps this means the "coming one" will baptize new converts by torchlight in a granary.

"Narrative" in Q

    Zeichman admits that John's words about the erchomenos do not sound as though he is speaking of an historical person, this being one of my arguments for deducing that there was no historical Jesus behind the original Q. His explanation for this is that it "is unsurprising in light of Q's narrative." I have always understood that one of the defining characteristics of Q is that it lacks a narrative quality. It is a sayings collection, with a few 'anecdotal' pericopes inserted into it, such as the Beelzebub controversy and the Dialogue between Jesus and John. No narrative structure is in evidence. On that, Kloppenborg is quite clear:


When placed alongside the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, both of which employ narrative as a framing device, Q seems deficient....Although Q lacks Mark's overarching narrative framework...Q lacks a unifying narrative format... [The Formation of Q, p.89, 94, 95]


    This is not to say that Q had no organization at all, quite the contrary. Kloppenborg: "Not only are the sayings grouped into several topically coherent clusters, there is also a measure of unity and coherence among the several clusters as well as logical and thematic development throughout the course of the entire collection" [op cit, p.89]. But thematic format is not the same as narrative format. The "sermon blocks" do not present themselves as being in the order in which they were preached. Phrases like "inaugural sermon" and "statement of principles" [Kloppenborg/Schenk] applied to the first block are scholarly labels, perhaps reflecting a certain amount of 'narrative' disposition on their part. The "eschatological" pronouncements are more or less grouped toward the end of Q, but this does not mean that Jesus waited until later in his ministry to preach about the coming End-time and the Son of Man. There may have been a logical sequence for the Q redactor(s), but it was not narrative, following the course of a ministry. If Q had had any concern for such a narrative it would have brought in biographical elements, certainly a lot earlier than the latest addition, the Temptation Story, which is supposedly the start of a 'biographical' concern in Q. Zeichman is trying to impose an historical sequence on something which lacks any such thing. If there is a bow toward an historical dimension, it is only with the initial Baptist pericope, quite understandably since it is an acknowledgement toward John that he had been the one to start the Kingdom-preaching process, an idea further stated in 16:16. In both instances there is no mention of a founder Jesus who had also, in some little way, been involved in the onset of the community's message. (Kloppenborg, in a classic example of reading something into a text he can only assume is there, says of 16:16 that it "bears on Q's understanding of the relation of John to the kingdom and to Jesus," and that it "places John alongside Jesus as an envoy of the kingdom" [p.114]. Such ideas are precisely what is missing in this saying, and elsewhere.)


    To digress for a moment, I consider that labeling the Temptation Story as 'biographical' is a mistake. This unit could never have been composed to represent even an imagined historical event. Kloppenborg discusses several scholars' evaluations of it [p.250-2], most of them seeing it as an instructional allegory. Bultmann argued that it "functioned as a paradigm of obedience suitable for post-baptismal catechesis." Others rejected it as being "unique (or messianic) temptations of Jesus; instead they are paradigmatic and symbolic for the Q community's self-understanding." "Jesus provides a model...Jesus' refusal in the temptation account provides both a legitimation and a structural homologue for this mode of behavior"... "In short, the temptation account provides a paradigm and aetiology for the kind of behavior which Q elsewhere recommends for the followers of Jesus." Thus, the story is not history, not biographical, and therefore unrelated to any possible narrative concerns. And consider those quotes. Kloppenborg and the others are getting perilously close to providing another reason why Q developed an imaginary founder. Instructional messages are best impressed upon the recipient, and tend to be embodied, in personal stories involving an individual. An individual serves better as an exemplar than does an abstract directive. (This may have been an essential impulse for the creation of the first Gospel.) The same principle applies to the broader catalogue of sayings along with the miracle and controversy stories. An attribution of such teachings and activities to the community (inspired by personified Wisdom), which originally served to articulate the sect's self-understanding, would inevitably have focused on an historical individual (real or imagined) to better highlight and convey that understanding. In a discussion of the "Projected Audience" for Q, Kloppenborg points out: 

    While the ostensible or implied audience is "this generation," it is, of course, hardly likely that Q was broadcast as a whole to outsiders as missionary propaganda, or circulated as a polemical tract....In their redactional arrangement these sayings articulate the conflict between the Q group and their Jewish contemporaries over the preaching of the kingdom. Conflict with outsiders... actually serves a positive and constructive purpose as a means to define more clearly group boundaries, to enhance internal cohesion and to reinforce group identity. This stratum of Q [Q2] articulates its conflict with "this generation" in terms which provide a transcendental legitimacy for the community....Thus, while ostensibly directed at the "out-group," these polemical and threatening materials function in fact to strengthen the identity of the "in-group" and to interpret for them the experience of persecution, rejection and even the failure of their preaching of the kingdom. [The Formation of Q, p.167-8]

    These are extremely important observations. They indicate the force that would have been at work to develop a founder, since such a figure always serves to advance those sectarian needs and purposes. The fact that such a founder is nowhere in evidence in Q1, even given the benefits that the presence of such a figure would have produced, tends to show that he is not there because no such figure was available, not that the community only had an interest in his words and not his person. The latter idea, which so many scholars offer by default, runs contrary to all sectarian behavior. Wisdom served as a stop-gap until the need for an historical founder became so insistent that he materialized in the Q mind. Even then, he almost seemed to serve for a time as a symbol to which the document's elements and the community's self-understanding could be transferred, rather than as a true historical person, for not even the latest phase of Q develops any biography about him. That would come only with the Gospel of Mark.


    To return to considerations of "narrative," Zeichman's rationalizations on this topic would be quite unworkable. He has tried to explain why the opening Baptist pronouncement on the Son of Man does not sound like he is speaking of an historical person. Does he really think that Q could have come together, or would have been carefully organized, to produce a "narrative" in which considerations such as whether John knew Jesus at the time of his pronouncing the initial Q saying would have been taken into account? Does he think that during Q's formative stage that any compiler, if he had an historical Jesus in his own mental background, would have offered a pronouncement by John that clearly created the erroneous impression that John was not speaking of a human person already on the scene? Would such an oral tradition on which it was supposedly based have conveyed such a thing? That saying of John would simply not have formed like that in the first place, oral or written, if any historical Jesus had existed for the Q community. For the same reasons, Zeichman's further rationale doesn't work: that John at the time of this preaching didn't know the historical Jesus, he hadn't yet met him; so regardless of whether John is warning of the coming Son of Man or simply a coming historical person he didn't realize was on the scene, he sounds, quite justifiably, as though he is speaking of a future figure. This is alarmingly naive, for it would have to be based on the Q pericope being an accurate memory of actual words by John. If it isn't, and it is impossibly not, this was a saying formulated in later tradition, oral or written by a Q compiler, who did know of an historical Jesus, and that would be reflected in the formulation of any saying by John. To suggest that the oral tradition or compiler would have taken this into account in the interests of strict narrative accuracy, and have John reflect what would have been a non-knowledge of Jesus, would be too bizarre to countenance. These are protestations of the amateur apologetic type, and have simply not been thought through.

    Zeichman's "narrative" concept in Q is a fantasy, and it cannot serve to explain why John is clearly speaking of someone he regards as a future judge. Kloppenborg himself is under no illusion that the Q Baptist in
3:17 is speaking of Jesus, or of anyone on the scene. 

Q opens with the spectre of a baptizing ascetic proclaiming the imminent judgment of God and the demand for repentance (3:7-9, 16-17). At first blush, there seems to be little affinity between this figure and Jesus....The prediction of the coming apocalyptic figure—either God himself or some supra-human (angelic?) figure... [op cit, p.95, 104]

    Now, there was a later stage (my Q3) at which a redactor could have altered the opening pericope to reflect John's knowledge of a newly-developed founder figure. When the redactor created the composite Dialogue, John asking Jesus if he was the "one to come" (7:18f), why at the same time did he not change the opening saying to have John speak clearly of him? As well, we have to call attention to the fact that neither did the Q3 stage make changes to 16:16 and have Jesus reflect the changeover from the Torah to the heralding of the Kingdom; and to 11:49f so as to introduce Jesus as one of those who had been persecuted and killed by the Jews in their alleged long history of such treatment of the prophets. All these voids were allowed to stand, even given the new presence of a founder Jesus in the evolving document's expression.


    Though we can only speculate, we may well assume that redactors in those days were either not very perceptive, or were not concerned about relatively minor contradictions. Or they may simply have read their later understanding into earlier passages and let them stand as is. This is not an ad hoc explanation, for it is in conformity with a common situation in the early Christian documentary record as a whole. Scholars can point to many apparent contradictions that exist between one passage and another (the Paulines are full of them, which leads many radical scholars to posit all sorts of interpolations and even later authorship), or between multiple documents, such as the Gospels. Did those redactors (and Matthew and Luke were redactors of Mark), not realize the incompatibilities they were creating? (To some extent, of course, later emendation to erase such things were performed by Christian scribes.) Thus I don't regard the incongruities between two pericopes in Q to be a serious problem.


    To illustrate this practice of creating incongruities in redactive evolution, it would be interesting to note a passage in Kloppenborg and the implications that can be drawn from the situation he describes. In discussing [p.94] the "Logical and Qualitative Progression in Q" he points out a glaring discrepancy between the opening Baptist pericope and the Dialogue of 7:18f. He notes that in 7:18-23, "Jesus is expressly identified with the Coming One" (that is, with the erchomenos of the Baptist saying in 3:17). But Kloppenborg has already stated that the earlier erchomenos is "God himself or some supra-human (angelic?) figure." (Why, by the way, not simply the expected apocalyptic Son of Man?) So what is he implying here, even if inadvertently? It must be that between the time the opening pericope was formed and the time the Dialogue was constructed, the "erchomenos" of John had been re-interpreted to mean Jesus where it had not been before. This is heavily indicative of an evolution from a stage of no founder Jesus to one which had him, with a consequent necessity to rethink and revise accordingly. Kloppenborg further remarks: 

Yet ambiguities persist, since John's Coming One is not obviously consistent with Jesus as he is described in 7:22-23. How is the miracle-worker of 7:22 who points to the presence of the kingdom equivalent to John's coming apocalyptic judge? But this is not the end of it. The title emerges a third time, now in a context (13:25-30, 34-35) which is replete with the motifs of apocalyptic judgment: the Coming One of Q 13:34-35 acquires again the ominous connotations and strongly futuristic orientation of John's figure. Hence this particular logical progression begins and ends in the idiom of apocalypticism, but makes a theological detour in which the motif of the presence of the eschaton in Jesus' activity comes to the fore.

    In other words, the Dialogue, presenting an historical preaching figure, is inserted between bookends that refer to a future apocalyptic judge. This is not a "detour," it is a whole new ball game. The other pericopes do not relate to present activities, even on the part of the community. They talk of the future activities of the Coming One; there are no miracles or preaching of this Coming One involved. But the "Coming One" of the Dialogue, now identified as Jesus, does the opposite. He is spoken of as performing miracles, the ones (as in the Isaiah prophecies) which herald the Kingdom ("the motif of the presence of the eschaton in Jesus' activity"). Whereas the figure in the outer pericopes does not represent the Q preachers themselves (he is a future expectation), the figure in the Dialogue now does; he represents what the Q community itself is doing. The stark discontinuity between the Coming One of 3:17 and 13:34-35, and the Coming One of the Dialogue, can only be explained by regarding the Dialogue as representing not only a later insertion of an artificial anecdote, but the later insertion of the entire concept of the historical founder it contains. The incongruities were allowed to stand (if they were even noticed), because they were reinterpreted in the Q mind. But the incongruity itself could not have developed if throughout Q's history all these references to a Coming One related to the same figure, an historical founder who had been there from the beginning. If Kloppenborg has not realized the implications of his own observations, it is because he is locked into traditional paradigms and does not have the capacity to step and think outside them.


    Kloppenborg makes another observation which has implications he does not realize. He points out that Schurmann has observed "that all of the Son of Man sayings in Q are attached either to the preceding or following sayings and function to explain or interpret them." This is in the context of his discussion of the "sign of Jonah" pericope. Let's look at that Son of Man saying and its preceding sentence: 

...[This wicked generation] asks for a sign, yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so shall the Son of Man be to this generation. [Lk/Q 11:29-30]

The second sentence does look like a possible later addition, because it is redundant. The speaker has already said that the sign that will be given is "the sign of Jonah." The addition of the Son of Man may be a clarification, but it is only necessary in the context of having to equate the two. If Schurmann's claim is correct (and Kloppenborg more or less goes along with it), this means that references to the Son of Man, whether apocalyptic or generic, do not go back to Jesus, or to the earliest stratum of Q. The concept has been imposed on the document, including on the earliest record of the Q2 stratum. This would seem to mean that the sect did not have a Son of Man figure in its earliest thinking, but only developed him as time went on. What that would mean is, one: the idea would not have come from a Jesus but from a source that could only have been scriptural or an 'in the air' idea that was itself ultimately from scripture; two, that it could not have been derived from a generic use of the term by Jesus himself, since even the latter sayings are shown to be secondary. Given these two conclusions, that the Son of Man concept in all its applications was a later development, it virtually rules out the idea that it was a development that arose out of an interpretation of an historical figure (which is the way scholars would opt to see it, at least in regard to the apocalyptic Son of Man), since if this "Son of Man" had already been on earth in the past, he would not have been portrayed as an entirely future figure, creating the anomaly of having the Q Jesus sound like he is speaking of someone else who was yet to come. This new Son of Man concept (even if inspired by scripture) would from his first introduction have been integrated into the past earthly founder and portrayed accordingly. Since he has not been, the conclusion has to be that the apocalyptic Son of Man arrived on the Q scene before Jesus the founder did.


    One final point here. I noted earlier that the Gospel of Thomas lacks an apocalyptic Son of Man, and that a couple of sayings similar to Q’s Son of Man sayings have alternate readings which show no sign of him. This might lead us to think that Thomas does indeed have a connection with Q which predates the introduction of the apocalyptic Son of Man into Q’s preaching. The two collections split off before the Kingdom-preaching community came up with its End-time Son of Man.

The Son of Man = a human Jesus?


    At this point, it may come as something of a shock to Zeichman that I may have to agree with him on one point about the Son of Man. In my Reader Feedback response to him I said that I favored the idea that Q never identified its new founder with its apocalyptic Son of Man, but that this only occurred when Q was incorporated into the Gospels—which includes Mark, who we have established would have had access to oral Q traditions. I had considered all the apocalyptic Son of Man sayings, but I overlooked the Dialogue which, while it does not use the term Son of Man in the apocalyptic sense, speaks of John's erchomenos, who (if I'm not missing something) cannot be seen as a separate figure from the coming Son of Man. So even if this passage is late in Q's evolution, it seems to require that the community at that later stage came to identify their new founder as the Son of Man, on earth in a pre-apocalyptic ministry. It is possible that this was effected through the influence of the non-prophetic son of man sayings—the 'generic' ones which were now capable of being interpreted as speaking of a 'ministry' (e.g., Lk. 9:58 and possibly the triple tradition Mk. 2:10 and 28). These would more easily have been associated with a founder; then, by extension, the apocalyptic Son of Man concept rode in to be attached to him on their coattails. Incidentally, Zeichman should find it ironic that this change of position on my part is rendered possible only by my equation of the erchomenos with the Son of Man. If I subscribed to his apparently preferred idea that he is not, then the integrity of my separation of the Q Jesus from the Q Son of Man remains intact!

   Yet I change my position only with the greatest reluctance, not the least because of an anomaly discussed by Kloppenborg [p.212] which not even he can explain. Lk/Q 12:8-10 reads: 

8I tell you, everyone who confesses me before men, the Son of Man shall confess him before the angels of God; 9but he who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10And everyone who will speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him.

Kloppenborg points out what should be obvious. Verse 10a stands in "flat contradiction" to verse 8-9. Rejection of Jesus in verse 9 is to be punished by rejection at the judgment. Yet verse 10a says that those who reject the Son of Man can be forgiven. If Jesus and the Son of Man are one and the same—and Kloppenborg declares that in Q they are "clearly identified"—this becomes an "enigma." He surveys various scholarly explanations for this anomaly, none of which satisfy him (nor should they), and in the end he simply observes that Q was unable to "integrate verse 10a into its theology," just as neither Luke nor Matthew were able to do.


    However, there is a dual way of resolving this conundrum. If the Son of Man and the new founder Jesus were not identified with each other, at least at the time 12:8-10 was formed, there is no conflict. At the same time, we ought to see verses 8 and 9 as originally referring to the community itself, something to the effect that "everyone who accepts our message will be accepted (judged favorably) in heaven by the Son of Man, but those who reject us and our message will be rejected." Apparently, the Q preachers felt more lenient toward anyone who might "speak a word" against the Son of Man, although a word (blasphemy) against the Holy Spirit merited no leniency. Perhaps the redaction which produced the Dialogue came even later, and only by that time was an identification being made between the erchomenos Son of Man and the founder figure. Once again, no effort was made to correct any anomalies that were now being inadvertently created in previous strata.


    However, if I am forced to agree on this point with Zeichman, such spirit of agreement is short-lived. I see nothing in Q's 6:22 which need suggest a specific founder on earth. If the Son of Man is a divine figure which the sect is preaching and conferring some kind of overlordship on, the beatitude blesses those who suffer hatred on his account; there is no necessity for him to be human, much less the speaker of the beatitude. This Q saying, in fact, is a good example of how Jesus (speaker in Luke and Matthew, and presumed by scholarship to be so in Q) sounds as though he is speaking of someone else when he refers to the Son of Man. Matthew realized this and altered it to "insult and persecute you for my sake," which would not have been the Q original.


    Nor do I agree with Zeichman's rationalization about why the Son of Man in Q is never said to be going to "return." After all, if Jesus is the Son Man and Jesus is on the scene, then speaking of the Son of Man arriving at the End-time would be about a return of Jesus/the Son of Man. Zeichman suggests that 11:30 indicates that "the son of man's ministry is apparently in progress." Let's quote that, but I'll suggest to the reader, as a mental experiment, to imagine that an anonymous preacher of the Q community is saying this, and not Jesus; that this sayings complex represents a typical harangue of an audience in a public square, let's say, in answer to a challenge to the preacher's declaration about the imminent arrival of the Son of Man and the need to repent. Someone in the crowd has demanded "a sign" as proof that the sect's claims are to be believed.


This is a wicked generation. It demands a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the Judgment, when the men of this generation are on trial, the Queen of the South will rise with them and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater [pleion, neuter] than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will appear at the Judgment when this generation is on trial, and will condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater [pleion] than Jonah is here. [Lk/Q 11:29-32] (Matthew has greatly altered this Q passage in ways that could not reflect the Q original, so I have left it out of the discussion.)


    That this passage suggests that a ministry of the Son of Man is in progress is not obvious. First, the Son of Man as a sign to this generation is spoken of as in the future (estai, will be), not in the present. As soon as the sign of the Son of Man is mentioned, what follows it? A reference to the future Judgment, when this generation will be on trial, implying it is this judgment—conducted by the Son of Man—that will constitute the sign (though this is anticipated as imminent). When the speaker compares the past figures of Solomon and Jonah with the present, he says that "something" (pleion) is here—not someone—that is greater than Solomon and greater than Jonah. The thing being compared to the wisdom of Solomon and the preaching of Jonah is the preaching of the Q community. And the arrival of the Son of Man to sit in judgment will vindicate that preaching.


    Kloppenborg's discussion of this pericope [p.131-3] suggests the possibility of an alternate explanation. He points out (following Schmidt) that the "sign of Jonah" that will be given to this generation is actually present; it is being given now. In parallel, the "sign of the Son of man" that will be given should be taken as present also, as referring to a present preaching. Perhaps. This may be what Zeichman has in mind. In support, Kloppenborg appeals to the two references to pleion, "some present reality which is greater than Jonah or Solomon. Given the context, this can only be the preaching of judgment." Earlier [p.128],  Kloppenborg has admitted that "there is no reason to construe (those references) in a christological way [i.e., as a reference to Jesus]. The neuter pleion does not invite such an interpretation." Such remarks are in keeping with my contention that what is being compared to the two biblical figures is not a "some one" but a "some thing," all of which is further evidence for the scenario that these sayings initially referred to the activity of the community, and not of an individual founder figure. But can these pleion phrases, as Kloppenborg implies, simply be equated to "the sign of the Son of Man," making that sign refer to the preaching of judgment, whether by Jesus or the pre-Jesus community? That is by no means secure. The future Judgment itself is given pride of place in what follows. And the "something greater" comparisons are brought in only as a way of justifying the condemnation of this generation in that Judgment. There is no necessary or apparent link between them and the earlier reference to the "sign of the Son of Man."


    Zeichman also brings in Lk/Q 17:23-30 as support for a "ministry in progress." I invite the reader to peruse that passage and try to find any implication of present activities for the Son of Man in phrases like "when his day comes" and "on the day when the Son of Man is revealed." Zeichman, in wrapping up, claims that, well, if Jesus is presently conducting a ministry, he can hardly be said to be going to "return, for he is already there." This is patently absurd. I may be visiting my mother on Sunday, but if I also intend to visit her on Wednesday and go home in the meantime, there is nothing to prevent me from telling her, while I am still with her on Sunday, that I will "return" on Wednesday. And if a third person is speaking, it's virtually required. Consider the following imaginary conversation in that public square. Jesus, the Son of Man, is standing off at a distance. A Q follower says to an attending citizen: 

"The Son of Man will come when you least expect him, be ready."
"But isn't that your Son of Man over there?
"So he's already here."
"Well, I mean when he comes back, when he returns after going off to heaven."
"Oh. Then why didn't you say so?"

    But enough about the Son of Man.

Wisdom in Q

    In discussing my treatment of Wisdom in Q, as the one to whom the sayings were possible attributed, later transferred to Jesus when he was introduced, Zeichman seizes on my acknowledgement "that Q presumes that Jesus was a historical figure just as it does John the Baptist." Of course it did—once it had introduced such a figure, although I earlier allowed that on his initial introduction, Q almost seems to treat him as a symbol rather than a concrete biographical entity. That is the whole basis of my scenario: no historical founder Jesus through the phases of Q1 and Q2, followed by the introduction of such a figure with resulting new material and some revision to older material. Surely Zeichman has not misunderstood this, although his trumpeting of the fact that "it is nearly irrefutable that...the Q community at some point conceived of Jesus as a human founder" would seem to indicate that he has not grasped the concept I am putting forward.


    Lk/Q 7:35 is a key verse for Zeichman. "And Wisdom is vindicated by all her children." He finds it curious that I could postulate that prior to the Dialogue's formation (this is its punch line) it could have had an independent or different existence in which John and the community itself were being compared. He suggests this would have been "an odd contrast between an individual and a collective." I see nothing odd about it. A little earlier I suggested a perfectly reasonable reading of the sign of Jonah pericope, in which the preaching of Jonah, an individual, was set against the preaching of the Q community, a collective. Kloppenborg essentially said the same thing. I see nothing to challenge getting one's mind around such a conjunction. The text itself also has a masculine Jonah and Solomon set against a neuter "something greater" [pleion], which might be considered an equally odd contrast. Of course, this saying, in its pre-Dialogue existence, may not have been comparing anything; it may simply have been some form of statement, its context now unknown, that identified a group, namely the Q sect, as children of Wisdom. In other cases we can readily recognize that when a pre-existing saying is pressed into new service, its meaning or significance can be substantially altered.


    My other argument was based on the attribution of the saying in Lk/Q 11:49 to "the Wisdom of God": 

For this reason the Wisdom of God said: "I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of these they will persecute and kill..."

This is one of the planks in my suggestion that, prior to the introduction of a founder Jesus, the collection of sayings could in some measure have been attributed to personified Wisdom. Matthew changed the speaker to Jesus, but Luke's version has to be the original. Zeichman calls attention to "a number of more probable options that Doherty does not consider." But are these "more probable" than—or incompatible with—the option that Luke reflects Q's actual wording? "The saying was a gloss later added to the passage." Yet why would the interpolator attribute it to "Wisdom," placing it amid a series of "woe" pronouncements by Jesus himself—if the latter material was attributed to Jesus at the time? If this was actually a (now-lost) Wisdom oracle, and the interpolator allowed the attribution to stand (as did Luke), why did Matthew find it necessary to change it to Jesus? Zeichman's second suggestion: "Wisdom represents the meta-historical perspective of the community looking back even upon Jesus." Yet surely this would support the demand that should have been made upon the creator of these verses to find a way to include Jesus in this "historical perspective." Finally, "That the historical Jesus actually spoke about personified Wisdom." Again, if so, why did Matthew change it? And if so, why is there no other surviving example of such a practice?


    Kloppenborg's discussion of the entire passage, Lk/Q 11:42-52 [p.139-147], assumes a "complex history" and an insertion of the Wisdom pronouncement (the "Sophia oracle" of 49-51) in bits and pieces, but in the end the original speaker is still identified as Wisdom. And in the end, we are still left with some perplexity as to why, at some stage, Jesus was not introduced here (or anywhere in Q) as the culminating example of Wisdom's oracle and Q2's focus on the deaths of past prophets. One of the insertions is regarded as verse 51a, "from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the sanctuary." Zechariah here is generally thought to be a reference to the 2 Chronicles prophet, a pre-exilic figure, or possibly the prophet of the biblical book who lived shortly after the exile. Either one is a rather distant cut-off (a terminus ad quem) for Wisdom's listing of murdered prophets. (Kloppenborg makes a similar observation.) Could an interpolator who knew of the death of Jesus have settled for describing "the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world" as having ended several centuries previously? The nitty-gritty of this complicated passage almost defies making sure judgments about it, but we are still left with a silence in any form on the death of Jesus which cannot be blithely dismissed. It is almost inconceivable that if, as Zeichman maintains, "meta-history in Q is closely linked to its use of Deuteronomistic theology"—"the theme of the killing of Yahweh's prophets," as Kloppenborg phrases it—not the slightest reference to the killing of Jesus is found anywhere in the document.


    Zeichman tries to counter this kind of observation by some rather strained rationalization. The reason why Jesus is not included in the reference in 11:49 to prophets persecuted by the Jews, he says, is because he hadn't been killed yet; it would have been awkward for Jesus to refer to himself as one in those ranks. I have two objections to this. One is that early Christian writers were quite adept at working in anticipation of future events, either as prophecy or in the form of parables placed in Jesus' mouth which embodied allusions to his future death; for example, the Parable of the Tenants in Mark 12:1-12 and parallels, in which the vineyard owner, after sending servants to collect the rent only to see them beaten and even killed, finally sends his son, thinking the tenants will respect him, but he too is seized and killed. The servants represent the prophets and the son represents Jesus; the latter element is precisely what is missing in Lk/Q 11:49, which in other respects is a perfect fit to the parable. Besides, Mark had no compunction about having Jesus openly prophecy his death to the disciples; why not the Q3 redactor?

11:49 saying speaks of "this generation (that) will have to answer for all the blood of all the prophets." Given the animosity that Q expresses toward "this generation" and the fact that it could be seen as responsible for the blood of Jesus—indeed of the very Son of God—the temptation should have been too great to assign to it, here or elsewhere in Q, the guilt of shedding this further blood. Besides, the saying encompasses persecution and rejection as well, regardless of killing. Jesus by now had undergone the former, and the redactor might have justified bringing him in on that basis. Furthermore, this is hardly a saying that is genuine to Jesus. Whether it was formulated at the Q2 stage or was a Wisdom oracle pressed into service, that the redactor would leave out the inviting inclusion of Jesus for the sake of some kind of "narrative" accuracy is again too bizarre to accept.


    My second objection is based on the agreed originality of the Lukan version, with its attribution of the saying to Wisdom. If imputed to personified Wisdom (or even to NIV's "God in his wisdom"), this would have provided an easy opening of the door to a reference to the future killing of Jesus. Kloppenborg refers [p.144] to this "saying of Sophia speaking, apparently from her standpoint at the beginning of history." Since the Wisdom of God, in such a position, would have had no impediment to forecasting the future (indeed, according to Kloppenborg, she is doing precisely that with the oracle as it stands: "I will send you prophets and messengers...), she could very well have included reference to the killing of Jesus. If we are to follow Luke, it is not Jesus who would have made the "silly" remark that "this generation has killed me" (as Zeichman objects), but Wisdom, who would be making a prophecy. On the other hand, of course, there is no reference at all to, or sign of knowledge of, at any stage of Q, a death of its founder, so the redactor would have had no reason to assign one here to either Wisdom or Jesus. This would provide an 'out' for Zeichman, provided he were willing to acknowledge that a Q Jesus would have undergone no death and resurrection, and that the historical Passion was the invention of Mark. 

    Zeichman's succeeding argument refers to "two verses." One is clearly 7:35, the conclusion to the Dialogue: "Wisdom is justified by all her children." This, he says, makes Jesus subordinate to Wisdom. But there is a second verse (seemingly 11:49) in which Jesus is “equated with wisdom,” both presumably produced by the Q3 redactor; this results in two "contradictory trajectories to simultaneously follow." But where in 11:49 is Jesus equated with Wisdom? (Is he saying this simply on the basis that Matthew later changed Wisdom to Jesus?) I have said that Jesus may have replaced Wisdom in the mind of the community as the source of the sayings. (Any source in the Cynics would long since have been struck from their memory.) I have said that sayings which look like traditional Wisdom oracles (such as 13:34) were placed in Jesus' mouth. In the redacted text of Q itself I can see no "contradictory trajectories" of the sort claimed by Zeichman. Now, I did suggest [The Jesus Puzzle, p.178-9] that there could have been a tendency to view the new founder as a representative of Wisdom, perhaps sent by her. Because Matthew shows a tendency to regard Jesus as an incarnation of Wisdom (that's a scholarly view I've seen, but perhaps it has fallen out of favor, as Zeichman suggests), I floated the idea that the later Q community could have come to see Jesus as "a human embodiment of Wisdom." But this means no more than Philo saying that Moses was a human embodiment of the Logos, that he received an infusion of the Logos within himself. It doesn't mean that Philo regarded Moses and the Logos as equated.

    Thus Zeichman's objection is unfounded. In any case, he is again assuming too much sophisticated concern on the part of the Q redactor of the Dialogue. At that stage, one presumes (at least I do) that he is piecing some pre-existing units together, with some filler. That line "Wisdom is vindicated by all her children" was already written. It served his purpose in the new construction to sum up the relationship between Jesus and John. (They are still both human characters on a more or less even footing; Jesus is not said to be "greater" than John.) What has preceded that line is a juxtaposition of John the ascetic and Jesus the more liberal: neither of whom the people would respond to. The final verse is used to imply that both approaches are valid. The redactor would hardly foil that effect by worrying about whether the line implied subordination to Wisdom by both John and Jesus, a view supposedly contradicted somewhere else in the collection where some kind of equality is allegedly implied. Such subtleties probably never occurred to him. Here again, modern scholars are so wrapped up in their minute dissection of these documents, cogitating over the implications of every little detail, that they have lost touch with the cruder reality of the time and mindset of their actual formation. (Even today, writers and thinkers introduce or overlook anomalies in what they produce.) The careful niceties of Zeichman's arguments (though often they are not careful enough) strike me as having little relevancy to the down and dirty Sitz im Leben in which these writings took shape. 

    The other Wisdom passage that needs to be taken note of is Lk/Q 13:34-35: 

34O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings and you would not! 35Behold, your house is forsaken.... [RSV translation]

Most, like Kloppenborg, regard this as a Wisdom (Sophia) oracle. Its free-standing nature seems evident by the way it is tacked on in Luke after a passage (not in Q) that ends in the word "Jerusalem." This is the "catchword" linkage, operating when there is no other obvious connection to be made between the two verses. In Q, the preceding unit (13:28-30) also has little in common except the "wailing" of those excluded from the kingdom, which can be styled a "thematic" linkage. The presence of 13:34-35 in Q speaks further to the role Wisdom played in the community, that it drew upon her oracles as commentary on its preaching mission, supporting the theory that the sayings collection, or parts of it, could have been attributed to her.


    Burton Mack [The Lost Gospel, p.98] places these verses in his Q3 stratum (something Zeichman disapproves of). It is not clear from Q that they are actually envisioned as spoken by its Jesus, but this may well be, in which case it would belong in Q3. What we would then be seeing is a dramatic example of the Wisdom attribution evolving into a Jesus attribution, what once Wisdom said now Jesus says, just as we see this in other cases when the evangelists, mostly Matthew, change references to Wisdom (such as 11:49) and the Son of Man into direct references to Jesus or pronouns representing him. It is also interesting to carry verse 35 to its end. Following on the above: 

...I tell you, you shall not see me until the time comes when you say: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord."

That final quote is from Psalm 118:26. There it had no messianic connotation. In later Judaism its "the coming one" (ho erchomenos) was associated with messiah expectation and entered Jewish mythology, taken over by Q and the Gospels. Matthew and Luke, following Q no doubt, reproduce it in the same Greek wording in which it appears in Psalm 117:26 of the Septuagint. (Because Psalms 1 and 2 were combined in the LXX, the latter's numbering is one lower than the Hebrew original.) But to what or whom did it refer in the Q mind?  Kloppenborg's discussion of this oracle [op cit, p.228] quotes some scholarly fussing over the question of who is to come in the name of the Lord. Is it Sophia, Wisdom herself? "But the evidence for a "return of Sophia" is not strong," he says. But "return" is being read into it; the verse does not speak of a "return" of whoever is being referred to, even though some translations insert that idea ("you will not see me again until..."). If this Psalm verse, and the erchomenos it contains, were thought of as referring to Jesus, we again have the same problem we faced in regard to the Son of Man generally: there is no concept here of a return. If it is part of the overall Wisdom oracle of 34-35, then Sophia seems to be saying that she will come, and it is being applied in the standard sense of a "coming one" who has not yet been here (the gender contradiction between her and the Psalm line is ignored). That may be its understanding even if it has only been attached to the oracle. Kloppenborg seems to settle for 35b being "a Christian saying referring to the coming of the Son of Man." But in that case, it still suggests a Son of Man who has not yet come.


    It is thus not at all clear whether Q 13:34-35 belongs in a Q3, understood as spoken by and referring to an historical founder, or whether it is still part of Q2 (like 11:49), a reference to Wisdom, before a founder was introduced and attracted her sayings. Once again, we are entitled to draw a clear implication from this. Over the course of Q and into the Synoptics, Wisdom as speaker of the sayings is evolving into Jesus. Wisdom sayings are being placed in his mouth. But if this 'oracle' has survived in a form which suggests it was not attributed to Jesus, that is, it does not reflect what it should have if such a founder was envisioned from the beginning (namely, that he would "return" or that he was numbered with the prophets who had been killed by 'Jerusalem'), then we have to conclude that it was formed or redacted into Q at a time when no such figure or ideas associated with him existed. Eventually, the oracle came to be identified with him, but the incongruous elements were not noticed and altered, or else the new understanding was simply read into it.


    Incidentally, the Greek of verse 35a says somewhat laconically, "Behold, your house [meaning the city or the Temple] is left [aphietai] to you." The idea is one of abandonment. Translations often use the word "desolate" or "forsaken," partly because a small minority of manuscripts add the word "erēmos" (desolate) which mirrors the similar phrase in Jeremiah 22:5 LXX: "Your house will be laid waste/brought to desolation," erēmōsin. Either way, it is difficult not to regard this as a 'prophecy' of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70. Just as prophecies of "desolation" in Mark's Little Apocalypse and parallels indicate to critical scholars that such ideas postdate the desolation referred to, there is some reason to see the phase of Q which introduced this as post-70. Zeichman, on the other hand (for whatever reason), is against the idea of seeing any part of Q as post-70. Thus he claims [n.37] that "several scholars" have maintained that "desolate" doesn't mean "destroyed." "The saying makes perfect sense if the temple is still surviving and is more difficult to explain in a post-Temple environment." He and his scholars must come from a linguistic universe that understands words differently than I do. And that last thought makes no sense at all, much less "perfect," unless the sense be Orwellian. Moreover, I would like to know just what happened to the Temple in the pre-70 period which could have merited the word "desolate." Some of Zeichman's arguments simply boggle the mind.

Q1 as "Instructional"

    Zeichman objects that the "instructional" genre of wisdom-type sayings (the Q1 stratum) is always, in the words of Kloppenborg [p.274], "ascribed to named sages, usually of some reputation...[the] attribution to a named and renowned sage is a dominant feature....It is hardly ornamental. It points to the requirement for external authorization." Zeichman adds, "Even when Wisdom is present, there is nonetheless an orator who acts as a 'mouthpiece' of this divine figure, as in Q." My suggestion that an identification of Q1 with Jesus is a later stage "flies in the face of the identification of Q1 as instruction."


    These bald statements lack a necessary nuancing. Does Kloppenborg know to whom the Q1 material, when taken over by the early Q community, was attributed? No, he does not. It could very well have had an attribution that is now lost, even one that was soon changed to Wisdom. Can he or Zeichman point to precedents like the Book of Proverbs, which in its finished form was attributed to Solomon though parts of the text feature the prominent voice of personified Wisdom, and tell us exactly who it—or rather its various components—were attributed to in those previous, formative stages, or whether there might even have been a period of attribution to Wisdom herself before the attribution to Solomon took shape? No, they cannot. Carole R. Fontaine [Harper's Bible Commentary, p.495] says this of Proverbs:


The book of Proverbs...comprises collections dating from various periods in the history of ancient Israel...[it] probably received its final editing in early postexilic times...."wisdom literature" exudes something of a cosmopolitan air, which reflects its origin in a wisdom tradition common to the ancient Near East. The literary genres found in Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes and the content they convey have parallels in Mesopotamian and Egyptian literature. Moreover it is clear that, in a number of instances, such extrabiblical literature has had a direct impact on the Israelite traditions. For example, Proverbs 22:17-24:22 reflects a classic Egyptian wisdom text, The Instruction of Amenemope, and the "problem literature" of Mesopotamia bears a striking resemblance to the tone and form of Job. Nevertheless, the Israelite sages subsumed the teachings of their neighbors into a fully Israelite perspective, one integrated with the teachings of the Torah and Prophets.

    These are extremely interesting observations for our purposes. First, they show that the process of integration and attribution tends to take a length of time. There is nothing to prevent such a process from having been part of the evolution of Q and its early Wisdom material. Neither Kloppenborg nor Zeichman offers evidence to preclude a stage in which the sayings were simply imputed to personified Wisdom, let alone that the Q1 material went through an initial stage where it was imputed to some foreign source. Moreover, the development of Proverbs and other early Hebrew documents, as outlined above by Fontaine, reveals a history of foreign literary impact on Jewish circles, a borrowing from non-Jewish sources and making them their own, integrating them into more immediate traditions and teachings. This is precisely the situation I advocate in the genesis of Q, including the identification of Q1 as non-Jewish, namely Cynic.

    Also, in the case of Q, we are dealing with a short time period compared to something like Proverbs, a matter of decades at most. Would Kloppenborg maintain that if the Q community took over and adapted for itself an instruction tradition from a source that went back to the Cynics (and perhaps it had some such attribution at the time) that overnight they would have substituted their own? That would have been a bit of a jolt. And to what "renowned sage" could this collection have been immediately switched to, in the absence of an historical Jesus? Hardly the ancient Solomon. Hardly a figure like Hillel, given the strong gentile nature of the sayings and of the community makeup itself. Wisdom might very well have been pressed into service to fill the void for a period of time. In fact, Kloppenborg opens the door to that very thing. In discussing
11:49-51 in the context of other references to Wisdom (Sophia) "sending a series of envoys to Israel with a message of repentance and judgment," he says: 

[T]his arises with the fusion of the well-known sapiential motif of Sophia as a preacher of repentance (Prov 1:20-33, 8:1-21) and as indwelling the prophets (Wis 7:27)... [emphasis mine; The Formation of Q, p.112]

In other words, there existed a view of personified Wisdom as a preacher, a deliverer of advice and wisdom teachings, that she was a force that indwelt prophets. This is a perfect fit to my contention that in the early stages of Q development, before an historical Jesus was introduced, Wisdom could have been regarded as the source of the sayings (once the Cynic derivation was lost or discarded). To her also, for a time, could the prophetic sayings of Q2 have been attached. What else would the Q preachers have regarded themselves as than "prophets," and as Kloppenborg notes, prophets were traditionally seen as being 'indwelt' by the Wisdom of God; 7:35 more than intimates that they regarded themselves as her "children." Kloppenborg himself characterizes them as "envoys of Sophia" [op cit, p.123]. There would have been nothing untoward in the Q prophets claiming that their teachings were God's Wisdom speaking through themselves.

    Kloppenborg gives us further insight that leads directly to this possibility. In discussing sayings collections in general [p.278], he says (emphases mine):

We have argued above that the tendency of the instruction genre to ascribe the sayings points to the need of the genre for legitimation. Nowhere is this clearer than in Prov 1-9. The prologue concludes with a "wisdom speech" (1:20-33) which in effect identifies the voice of the parent-teacher with that of the divine Sophia crying aloud in the street, admonishing the "simple" to receive instruction. The entire instruction is thus given not only the legitimacy which accrues to it from its ascription to the legendary sage-king of Israel's past, but more importantly, a transcendental authorization from the very source of wisdom itself. The strategy of the prologue of Sirach is remarkably similar:...to link the body of the instructions with Lady Wisdom, who as God's gift to humankind is the source of all human sagacity.

    Thus, for early Q preachers to have attributed their evolving document to Wisdom would be perfectly in keeping with this traditional interest in ascribing "transcendental" authority for such a body of instructions to Wisdom herself. Neither Kloppenborg nor Fontaine can specify that, in the case of Proverbs, the ascription to Solomon is as old as its clear ties to Wisdom, or rule out that Solomon came to be associated with the book only at a later stage. And consider the case of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus). The author, one Jesus ben Sira, was in fact not a "renowned sage"; he was the actual author, an obscure figure who wrote this book around 180 BCE. Apparently, a sayings collection could exist and be passed on without an ascription to someone famous or legendary. Such a situation may have obtained with the earliest version of Q1: derived from and initially ascribed to an obscure figure who may have been its compiler in the pre-Q state. That 'source' may have been considered insufficient and no longer relevant, and without an actual "renowned sage" to transfer it to, the ascription in the Q community may have been given to Wisdom.

    And yet, that was soon not enough. I am quite willing to acknowledge Kloppenborg's principle of "instructional" attribution. Wisdom collections do tend to be attached to human sages, and the presence of such a collection within the community would be one factor that would create the impulse to develop an historical founder, one to whom the miracles and controversy traditions could also be attributed. The benefits of such a founder are well-known in scholarly analysis of the behavior of sectarian groups. If one isn't available, the sect makes him up. Consider Elchasai and Ebion, who are judged to be invented founding figures for their respective movements. In the broader world picture, Lao-Tze, Confucius, and a single Buddha are also considered probable candidates for invention.

   Zeichman admits that "it is possible for a group to create a sage-founder," but his qualifications attached to this admission are an attempt to neuter it and do not apply. That Q1 does not itself have any mention of a human founder is something I not only admit, I champion, as a way of demonstrating that no historical Jesus can be detected at the root of Q. But here Zeichman gets himself into a dilemma. That approach on my part (denying mention of a human founder in Q1), he says, "does not cohere with scholarly findings concerning the genre of Q," which is an appeal to his previous claims about instructional collections always needing an ascription to a known sage, or "mouthpiece" if Wisdom were involved. And yet those "scholarly findings" also lead to the admission that in Q1 there is no sign of the figure of Jesus, no treatment of him in any biographical way. This is what leads scholars like Crossan and Mack to declare that Q1 was entirely concerned with the words of Jesus and not his person. To compensate by declaring, as Mack does, that Q1 in its initial stage had some kind of "Jesus said" introduction is pure speculation, as speculative as Zeichman accuses me of being with my "conjecture" that any "Jesus said" dimension is a late addition to Q. At least I have some evidence and argument to back up that conjecture, and not simply bald assumption. This is one reason why I take pains to dissect the one pericope in Q that shows any sign of containing the name of "Jesus" (see below).

    So if we are to trust 'scholarly findings', we are led to consider the strong possibility that Q1—contrary to strict application of Kloppenborg's principle—had no attribution to Jesus, and while it may have had some previous attribution prior to the Q community, this quickly atrophied and could well have been replaced (temporarily) by Wisdom.

Performing Miracles

    I have said that miracle anecdotes, such as the Beelzebub controversy [Lk/Q 11:14-23], could originally have been recorded in terms of the exorcist practices of the community itself, before any Jesus entered the picture. As another mental experiment, let's paraphrase (speculatively, of course) that pericope here, substituting general references to Q preachers for the singular Jesus. (Note that in the Q3 redactive stage, it is pericopes like this, in whatever state they existed, that would have been altered or 'fine-tuned' to reflect the involvement of a singular Jesus.) 

The (Q) prophets used to drive out devils from dumb people, and when a devil came out, the dumb person began to speak. Onlookers were often astonished, and some would say, "They drive out devils by Beelzebub, the chief of devils." Others would ask for signs from heaven. But the prophets knew they were being tested and would answer: .... [a series of sayings designed to counter the accusation which were in the repertoire of the Q preachers] .... "Anyone who is not with us is against us, and those who do not heed us will be scattered [when the Son of Man arrives].

    Zeichman maintains that the Q community "seems to have conceived of (Jesus) as a historical figure," as "put(ting) in Jesus' mouth a defense of his practice of exorcism, and an explanation for its lack of permanence a few verses later (11:24-26)." But this idea works equally well in the context of the miracle working of the community itself. The pericope was a defense of their practice of exorcism, followed by an explanation for its lack of permanence. (One wonders why the community would preserve a tradition of a practice of failure needing justification, unless it was a common occurrence and a strong memory; if such miracles had been attributed to Jesus from the beginning, it seems less likely that such traditions of failure would ever have formed.) Zeichman's preference has no more to support it than his desire to have it so.

    The same applies to his suggestion that the miracles, even if performed by community members, were nevertheless "understood as preaching the importance of faith in Jesus' word," that "whomever this deed was attributed to, in some way, was revered as having authoritative teachings, and the performance of miracles was understood as secondary to that." Yes, miracles were performed to demonstrate the divine authority conferred on the preacher(s)—this is the rationale throughout the Gospels in application to Jesus—as well as on the validity of their teachings, in this case the fact of the imminent arrival of the Kingdom. But again, the idea works equally well in the context of the community in general. It is they who want to provide proof of the validity and authoritative nature of their teaching; it is they, as a sect, who want to elicit faith from the wider society (as well as from their own members), faith in their words and mission.

    Once again, Kloppenborg provides insight which supports this. In contrasting the Temptation Story with the miraculous "
in the rest of Q," he says: 

[M]iracles are treated not so much as deeds of Jesus as they are events of the kingdom whose presence or impending coming they portend (7:22; 10:9; 11:20). Their expected function is to produce repentance in those who witness them.

While Kloppenborg is not himself saying that these were not traditions attached to Jesus, his observation lends support to my contention that these traditions were originally attached to the community activities themselves, as support for its preaching of the kingdom, and that when a Jesus was introduced to take them over, it was with an undeveloped personality which suggests that he was simply being used as a symbol of the community. This view, incidentally, would completely remove any difficulty in imagining that at a given point, the community was suddenly expected to accept an historical founding figure they had previously known nothing about. If the Q redactors introduced him as a symbol to embody the community in a foundation document, the switch to accepting him as an actual historical figure need only have taken place gradually—if in fact it took place at all during the Q period. We are not even sure that it solidified with Mark, or whether his expanded story of Jesus of Nazareth was still only a symbolic one.

What's In a Name?

    When Zeichman discusses the question of the name given to the late-invented human founder who replaced Wisdom in Q, he is particularly misleading. He makes it sound as though I maintained that it was "Jesus" and tried to offer explanations for this, ones that are "particularly unconvincing." In fact, I started by posing what I called "an intriguing question" that could be asked: "Why was the imagined founder given the name Jesus?" [The Jesus Puzzle, p.181]. What follows over the next several paragraphs shows that I did anything but declare that this was the name that was given to him; in fact, I offered several possible scenarios that did not involve, as Zeichman might style it, a Q3 redactor sitting at his desk and asking himself 'Now, what name should I give to this guy I just invented?' This latter idea, which Zeichman actually tries to counter, is never put forward by me and is too ridiculous to imagine I would present. To say that the community could develop over a certain amount of time the idea of a founder who had lived at the sect's beginning and spoke its recorded sayings is hardly equivalent to suggesting that one person, in the course of amending a document, was responsible for the whole thing.

    My consideration of the option that the name adopted by the community for their newly-developed founder was "Jesus" constituted just that, an option, and I offered the best rationale I could think of for such an adoption. If Zeichman finds it unconvincing, so be it. I don't find it too convincing either (and that was clear in my text). That is why I went on to offer other scenarios, mainly:

When Q3 first introduced a founder figure, was he called "Jesus" at all? Even if the name nowhere appeared in the Q text, even if another designation had been used by the Q3 redactors in passages such as the dialogue between Jesus and John, Matthew and Luke, with Mark's Gospel in front of them, would inevitably have changed it to Jesus.

    So Zeichman chose to flog, if not a dead horse, at least one that had been put out to pasture. There is no way, without a manuscript of Q, that we can know for certain if the figure in it was called Jesus. The assumption that it was is based on scholarly preconceptions and traditional paradigms about Q and the Gospels, which are the very things that are being challenged in The Jesus Puzzle.

    Zeichman has also misunderstood me in assuming that this newly-developed founder was not given a name at all, that he was "anonymous." I talk of Matthew and Luke changing a name, not inventing one. This point is taken up unnecessarily by Zeichman in his Appendix. Whether changing or adding, Zeichman's protestation that Luke and Matthew "would [not] have independently used a document with an anonymous founder and presumed that the teachings within were the product of the same individual" is a straw man. And anonymous or not, each of those evangelists would inevitably have linked this figure with the figure in the other source document they were using, namely Jesus of Nazareth in the Gospel of Mark, since Q and Mark, and the figures in them, had so much in common. They would inevitably have considered that the Q document was a record of further teaching of Mark's Jesus which Mark didn't have. (This could have been a major impulse for Matthew and Luke to redact Mark, to insert this missing material.) Where did Mark get his name? Presumably, from the cultic side of things, the spiritual and sacrificial "Christ Jesus" of salvation-preachers like Paul. In the amalgamation of these two very different religious expressions in the world of the eastern empire, the so-called Jerusalem tradition and the Galilean tradition, the former came to impose the name of its savior god on the imagined founder of the Q movement. On the other hand, "Jesus" was a very common name, and could, for reasons unknown to us, have already been given to the Q founder, with no concern for the etymological meaning of the name itself. It might just have been a coincidence.

Early Units and Later Constructions

    There is another type of criticism which Zeichman engages in at various points throughout his critique that is directed at the appeal I make to a basic principle applied in much of New Testament research. The simpler version of a saying or pericope is likely to be the earlier expression of it, often leading one to regard the more complex version as an artificial construction or redaction. Note that here I say "likely to be," since possibilities always exist that could account for the less likely alternative. But explanations of the latter sort tend to be strained and often contrary to common sense. (An example would be the claim that in the context of an alleged Matthean priority, the much shorter Mark can be explained by assuming he drastically edited and reduced Matthew, choosing to jettison most of Jesus' teachings and substitute difficult readings for easier ones, etc.)

    Four paragraphs into his critique, Zeichman calls attention to my treatment of the three chreiai of Lk/Q 9:57-62, which refer to the demands made on those who would preach the Kingdom of God. A prospective follower makes a statement, Jesus answers each in turn, with each response sounding like a set, pithy phrase that could have stood alone in the community as a pronouncement on membership in the movement. (Why does Jesus so often sound like he is delivering scripted sound bites?) The first of these responses, I pointed out [The Jesus Puzzle, p.162-3], can be found standing alone in the Gospel of Thomas (#86): "Foxes have their holes and birds have their nests, but the son of man has no place to lay his head and rest." Now, it is always possible that the Gospel of Thomas could have extracted (for reasons unknown) this saying from a recorded chreia by Jesus in oral tradition, or even a written record, but I prefer to suggest that the latter is a later construction, as, by extension, are the other two. I conclude from this, as Zeichman quotes me, that "Thus it is possible to maintain that in all likelihood, the name 'Jesus' was entirely absent in the Q1 layer," since if the 3-chreia complex is an artificial construction, and that construction is deleted, the name is not present. Zeichman accuses me of introducing the dreaded "tradition-historical" method into Kloppenborg's hypothesis (a subject I addressed at the beginning of this article), that I am stating that the construction took place at a later stage rather than during the Q1 formative stage in which it is found. Yes I am, but this is based on a couple of circumstances. The 3-chreia complex is the only unit in Q1 that contains the name "Jesus." And Q1 itself, beyond this unit, shows little if any evidence of artificial constructions out of prior discrete units, whereas later stages of Q are full of pericopes which Kloppenborg and others show have been interpolated and reworked. Thus the likely situation is that the 9:57-62 unit is the product of a later 'historical' phase. This is not "introducing 'tradition-historical' methods into the discussion" so much as not leaving them out as though they are illegitimate or can never be present, and bringing them in if they can be supported on other grounds.

    The issue here was whether I was justified in appealing to the stand-alone version of "
Foxes have their holes..." in the Gospel of Thomas as an indicator that the saying originally existed on its own and was only later worked into the 3-chreia pericope. This would make the latter an artificial construction and not a reflection of an actual Jesus tradition. Thus it would not likely have appeared in this form in Q1. Can the Thomas stand-alone saying serve for that kind of heavy lifting? Kloppenborg's remarks in another connection would suggest so. In analyzing Q 12:2-3 [p.210], he notes that verses 2 and 3 were a "juxtaposition" based on common words and ideas. The latter verse 3 is a "missionary exhortation," to which verse 2 has been attached. How to know that it was "an originally independent wisdom saying" and did not relate to the context in which it appears? Because the "Gos. Thom. shows" this (referring to Thomas #5 & 6). Thus the "missionary exhortation" context in which it appears is a non-historical, artificial construction, put together at a later stage than the one represented by Thomas. The same conclusion can be drawn about the 3-chreia unit of 9:57-62 based on the same principle.

    Zeichman challenges me for suggesting such later stratification here by appealing to the grounds on which Q2 stratification and insertion is regularly identified by such as Kloppenborg: 

(Doherty's) conclusion that Q 9:57, 9:59, and 9:61 were later additions to Q would be reasonable if argued within the context of Kloppenborg's hypothesis, which would allow him to argue for an alternative history of these sayings. If, for example, he found that they interrupt the argumentative logic of 9:58, 9:60, and 9:62 (which they do not)

Let me interrupt. First of all, I did not present things as though the three sayings stood in that order in that position in the original Q1, with the three introductory remarks simply inserted before each one of them. That is again attributing something to me which is rather simplistic. Yet even if they had stood together (which is not impossible, since they could have been linked through thematic commonality), what would have been the "argumentative logic" in that sequence of verses 58, 60 and 62? There is none to interrupt. They are simply three unrelated sayings on the demands and conditions of sectarian membership. Either Zeichman does not grasp this, or he has deliberately introduced a red herring to try to discredit my argument. To let him continue... 

—or that they exhibit literary features of Q2 such as polemic against "this generation" (which they do not), or that there was a projected audience of unrepentant outsiders (which there is not), then he would have had a good basis for this.

    It is good to know that he understands the dominant characteristics of Q2 material, but it hardly serves to establish that redaction of Q1 at later stages could never have been performed without introducing those dominant Q2 themes. This is particularly the case here, since these three sayings do not lend themselves to attracting such themes. Notice that the redactor was required to come up with lead-in remarks to which the new "Jesus" could give these responses; such remarks would not represent the voice of the community. Thus, there was little scope for Q2 motifs to be included. Without them, yes, it makes my suggestion less secure, but it is still supported by other indicators, including that presence in Thomas of a component saying which lacks the chreiic structure and the internal presence of the figure of Jesus. The latter cannot be excluded (and Zeichman offers no arguments to do so) from indicating a more primitive, independent existence of one of those responses.

    The situation is stronger in regard to the other example of this sort of thing, the Dialogue between Jesus and John of 7:18-35, which I have labeled "a composite one, a pastiche built up out of smaller, earlier units" (The Jesus Puzzle, p.171f). Of course, this is not an idea peculiar to me. Kloppenborg readily acknowledges the composite nature of this unit:

It is more likely that the entire pronouncement story is a post-Easter creation...The next pericope (7:24-28) is clearly composite....The second commentary word [7:28] is an originally independent Kingdom saying...known in another form in Gos. Thom. 46.... [op cit, p.107-109]

Similarly, 7:31-35 is presented as loaded with composite features, including v.35 (about Wisdom's children) which "may in fact be an originally independent saying" [p.112]. (It seems that when Kloppenborg pronounces, it's the word of the Lord; if I make the same suggestion, it's "shaping Q to (my) whims," not "having done the proper research.") Thus Kloppenborg is appealing to several independent sayings (two of which can be located in Thomas) as strong indicators that the entire complex is an artificial construction. In this case, we can identify it as later than Q1, since it contains those characteristic features of Q2 mentioned by Zeichman.

    Once again, as in regard to the 3-chreia pericope, the issue here is whether I am justified in appealing to the stand-alone version of "
What have you come out into the desert to see..." in the Gospel of Thomas (#78) as an indicator that this saying originally existed on its own and was only later worked into the Dialogue pericope; this would make the latter an artificial construction with no demonstrable connection to history. Kloppenborg's remarks in regard to separate sayings in Thomas, which I noted above, apply here as well. But in this case, the consequences are more momentous. For it further supports the idea that the Dialogue was constructed to relate John to Jesus when the latter was introduced into Q's thinking, a situation that could only have arisen later in Q's evolution. If this founder were in any way historical, such a need to establish a relationship between him and the Baptist would have been present from the start and an explanatory pericope should have appeared early. Thus the artificiality and lateness of the Dialogue is an indicator of the lack of such a founder at the sect's inception.

    A little later, in addressing my treatment of the Dialogue, Zeichman questions why "
(Doherty) offers no reason for believing specifically that the Q3 editor was the one who formed this dialogue unit." (This is where he appeals to "Q3" as constituting Kloppenborg's Temptation Story, pointing out that the Dialogue does not conform to what is "typical" of Q3, namely that single unit.) But Zeichman is again judging me by others' standards and paradigms. My "reason" for making this part of a "final" or late redaction of Q is my own, which must be judged in the context of my presentation, not by whether it conforms with Kloppenborg's stratification. I do not claim infallibility for myself, but neither am I willing to accord it to anyone else.

Appended Thoughts

    In his "Appendix: Other Shortcomings" Zeichman takes me to task for a number of things. Most of them have been addressed in earlier contexts, but a couple need attention here. One is his quote of my statement in The Jesus Puzzle [p.152] that "Those (sayings in Thomas) judged 'authentic' by the Jesus Seminar are from the stratum similar to Q1" . Zeichman calls this statement "very ambiguous," and perhaps it needs clarification. But it is nothing compared to the disorder he creates in attempting to refute it. 

If he means that the fellows of the Jesus Seminar found no Q2 sayings with parallels in Thomas to be authentic, he is wrong. Contrast the Jesus Seminar's actual findings, which state the following Q2 sayings to have authentic parallels in Thomas: Thomas 64//Q 14:16, Thomas 33:2-3//Q 11:33, Thomas 35:1-2//Q 11:21-22, Thomas 10//Q 12:49....

First of all, the Seminar never deals with Q stratification, at least not in their definitive The Five Gospels. When they refer to Q in this text, they do not identify layers. Then, in the first example Zeichman offers above (The Great Supper parable), both Kloppenborg [op cit, p.229] and Burton Mack [The Lost Gospel, p.98] place the unit in Q1, not Q2. His second example (a lamp not placed under a basket) is included by Kloppenborg and others in Q2, but for reasons that may be a bit obscure, since there are none of Zeichman's preferred Q2 themes present, and it has something of a Q1 atmosphere. In discussing it, Kloppenborg [p.135] gives little in the way of justification for including it in Q2, since it is clearly a discipleship saying. The Seminar, ranking it pink, calls it a "proverbial saying" [The Five Gospels, p.332], referring to the attraction of such sayings to the "renowned sage" Jesus, which suggests they would indeed include it in Q1. Zeichman's third example above, the "strong man" saying, is so far the only one that could belong in Q2, which is where Kloppenborg and Mack place it. The last example, however, is not even judged by the Jesus Seminar to be authentic; it is given a "grey" vote. So, regardless of whether it could be placed in Q2, it has nothing to do with my statement. Moreover, only some scholars include it in Q at all, since Luke 12:49 has no direct parallel in Matthew.

    I also can't let him get away with his misrepresentation on what I say about Q and the Gospel of Thomas. "
The relationship between Q and Thomas he proposes is assumed and not argued. He cites no instances of the alleged verbal agreement between Thomas and Q that indicate interdependence." This is what I say: "About a third of its content (Thomas's) closely parallels the sayings of Q1, often with similar wording." Is Zeichman claiming that no established scholarship proposes this basic connection between the two? That there are no "verbal agreements"—no "similar wording," which is the way I actually put it—between many of the sayings in the two documents? Something that is almost an axiom in scholarship (see below) should hardly require that I give examples which support that axiom. (This, of course, is something separate from the issue of what forms those documents were in, or what stages they were at, when such 'interdependence' was in force, or whether the later Synoptics are being brought into the question.) Crossan refers to "how striking is the amount of parallel material involved" and to "the large amount of parallel data...common to both these gospels" [op cit, p.247, 249], illustrating that "similar wording" between the two is an accepted idea, applying to the so-called Common Sayings Tradition within them. (If the wording wasn't "similar," the "data" wouldn't be "parallel.") Zeichman needs merely compare those parts of the two texts for himself if he has any doubt.

    Then he talks of me "quoting Crossan as supporting this conclusion." What conclusion? That Q and Thomas show interdependence? That would certainly make sense, if I did it. But the only appeal to Crossan I make in this chapter is to his (and others') "conclusion" that "no part of Thomas is dependent on the Synoptic Gospels" [p.152], which is not the same thing. So when Zeichman goes on to claim that Crossan "clearly rejects this on the very same page: 'neither of those gospels [that is, Q and Thomas] is derived from the other," he is completely muddled. First of all, Zeichman's "(Crossan) clearly rejects this" cannot be referring to my statement that Crossan supports the view that "no part of Thomas is dependent on the Synoptics," since the two statements are not on the same subject (Q and Thomas, vs. Thomas and the Synoptics), and we would have Crossan rejecting himself! Rather, Zeichman must be confusing this with the issue of "interdependence", but he would be wrong even here. Crossan is speaking in terms of the complete Gospels, not the Common Sayings Tradition between them. Crossan, in Zeichman's quote, is not rejecting the latter, as is clear from what he goes on to say, in discussion of "parallel data," etc. To compound the confusion, Zeichman referred to the "very same page" on which the quote is found (he didn't specify it, but I located it on page 247), but without telling us exactly what was on that "very same page" (at least it wasn't clear in his text). Nothing on that page is directly referred to either by myself or in my references to Crossan. But I'll do that now in support of what I did refer to: "That high parallelism in content is a first indication of some relationship closer than similar structure and common genre." Why then is Zeichman seemingly arguing against "interdependence" between parts of Q and parts of Thomas, when that is obviously a common scholarly observation? In fact, Crossan goes on to ask "What is the relationship between earlier stages of those twin gospels?", and he quotes Helmut Koester who also speaks in terms of early-stratum connections between the two: "The close relationships of the Gospel of Thomas to Q cannot be accidental....The Gospel of Thomas is either dependent upon Q's earlier version or upon clusters of sayings employed in its composition." Does Zeichman simply seize atomistically on words or phrases he thinks he can use and ignore their contexts, as well as not take the trouble to understand what they are actually saying?

    He sums up here by suggesting that my "thesis...needs to be given much better argumentation," but I can hardly allow for such gross misreading of my text (and others' texts), both here and at so many points in this sorry critique. Further, when I appeal to a scholar for support (and is this not part of accepted "argumentation" in this field?), if this happens to be a scholar Zeichman—which is to say his own preferred scholars—do not agree with, such backing is dismissed. In regard to the discussion above, I am "following Helmut Koester," whose views on Q's relationship to Thomas have been "chided" (by whom, he doesn't say) and are therefore unacceptable. Since Crossan, as I noted, also quotes Koester in general support of his own approach, I suppose Crossan needs "chiding" too. By such standards, a "better argumentation" on my part would probably be unattainable.

    With deeply flawed rebuttals like this, I have to say that it has been difficult to take many of the objections in Zeichman's critique seriously, let alone find a proper way to answer them. But I have done my best, if only to show what mythicists have to contend with. The problem is, when the average person reads this critique, unless they are careful to check what Zeichman is saying against the various texts and scholarly sources, including my own, (not to mention checking it against common sense), a lot of it sounds quite legitimate. The reader may go away thinking that he has scored significant points against me and the mythicist case. Whereas the reality is, the thing is so muddled and so full of misreadings, miscalculations and prejudiced stances, as well as outright errors, it needs nothing less than to be given a deep-six burial.

    I will now proceed to his—and my


    In a summary paragraph (before his Appendix), Zeichman focuses on the issue of my relationship to mainstream scholarship. It goes without saying that I suffer by comparison, and he offers opinions on why scholars have failed to "engage with (my) work." Allegedly, my "ideal audience appears to be those who lack the meta-cognition to assess the claims and arguments he makes in the book." Since this is an allusion to most of the Internet public who follow the Historical Jesus / Mythical Jesus debate, in places like the IIDB, he has managed to insult most of those who will read this article. But his use of what I consider pretentious jargon like "meta-cognition" points up one reason why scholars do not engage with me, and why I would entertain little hope of a conscientious reading if they did. Jargon itself is a mark of insider insulation and aloof self-confidence. There is so much unquestioned assumption inherent in such confidence, that new paradigms, new ways of looking at the evidence, are largely precluded. Zeichman himself is a prime example. He says:

(Doherty's) proposal for a complex set of individual arguments with little scholarly support used in an attempt to override the paradigm offered by Kloppenborg, which explains rather easily and simply the diversity in the Q tradition, clearly represents an agenda-based interpretation of the data in the same vein as the "apologists" he is trying to subvert.

A lot is revealed in that one sentence. Central is the implied 'sin' of attempting to "override the paradigm offered by Kloppenborg." Let's have no discrediting or doubting of anything put forward by a recognized scholar; let's have no questioning of received wisdom. Because Kloppenborg is recognized (and no doubt possesses the requisite "meta-cognition"), any arguments on my part, being "individual, complex, and with little scholarly support," have to be "agenda-based," and thus automatically suspect, if not to be rejected a priori. Morever, quoting him further, I base "large amounts of (my) work on avoidable mistakes that would be caught under nearly any peer-review system."

    And yet, I think that this rebuttal to Zeichman (and I suspect he regards his critique as more or less the equivalent of a "peer review") has demonstrated that he himself has been guilty of a litany of misreadings of what I (and others) say, a generous helping of fallacious reasoning (endemic in much traditional scholarship), and a great number of avoidable mistakes of his own; he has also been offered many challenges and problematic observations relating to the standard paradigms, for which there are no ready and sensible solutions within those paradigms. I have shown that Kloppenborg does not explain "easily and simply" some of the features of Q, whereas my own explanations often make better sense and better fit the evidence. Still, my scholarship is "gonzo" and "irresponsible," and I "subordinate facts to what (I) feel is the greater truth behind Kloppenborg's hypothesis."

    I think I am justified in suggesting that these judgments are founded on Zeichman's own agenda-based disposition to reject a priori the Jesus myth theory and embrace mainstream historical Jesus scholarship. I would expect no less from any other representative of the "peer-review" establishment. But why presume, in any case, that mainstream scholarship possesses some kind of unified, guaranteed accuracy and legitimizing capacity, free of "avoidable mistakes"? I have pointed out Zeichman's remarks about the  'unacceptable' views of Helmut Koester. At another point, he accuses me of relying for my Q3 leanings on Burton Mack (an exaggeration). Mack, according to Zeichman, is guilty of "destabiliz(ing) important components of the original (Kloppenborg) hypothesis," apparently another one guilty of the mortal sin of overriding Kloppenborg. (The company I keep! I guess Mack too lacks the proper meta-cognition.) But Mack is a respected first-rank critical scholar. Yet it would seem that he, too, has made avoidable mistakes and ranks with myself in not submitting to peer-review which could have prevented them. Apparently only some of the "peers" can be relied on to get things right, and I assume that I would be further required to choose the right peers to submit my work to.

    When one encounters the championing of a new paradigm, a radical re-evaluation of established ideas, appealing to old principles and scholarship as though they are holy writ is not the best way to approach and evaluate such proposals. It's really a defensive way, a way to dismiss a scary and unacceptable new direction. And those who have progressed far enough along their personal road to meta-cognition, and come to recognize that all is not well in the established view of things, are not going to be satisfied. I have no doubt made mistakes, and some of them might even have been corrected through some kind of 'peer' review. But there is much more that would simply have been labeled "blunders" and "sensationalist," as Zeichman has done, based on prejudice and a lack of open-minded judgment, along with a reluctance or inability to clearly and dispassionately examine the arguments and new paradigms put forward. I believe Zeichman has demonstrated his own failing in this regard.

    Is my Q hypothesis really a "tangled web" of "complex arguments" as Zeichman suggests? In keeping with an ancient Jewish practice of borrowing wisdom and instructional material from foreign sources (such as Egypt) and integrating them into their own traditions and culture, a Hellenistic-Jewish group (the exact or proportionate makeup doesn't matter), adopted a pre-existing source, whose precise form is not known and whose immediate provenance is also uncertain, but seems ultimately derived from Cynic philosophy and practice. This would account for its strong resemblance to that Greek movement and the lack of any strong resemblance to traditional Jewish themes. The sect that adopted this source found its ideas amenable to the new social ethic they were preaching in anticipation of the Kingdom and may have adapted its sayings and structure in that direction. (A point that might be made here is that a good portion of the "sapiential" content of Q1 is instruction that would only be relevant when facing some kind of future, in a "life goes on" situation; since the sect believed in the imminent arrival of the End-time, this suggests such material has been somewhat incongruously borrowed from a source without such a belief.) It is possible that some people involved in the inception of the Q sect had ties to Cynic or Cynic-like activities in the region; perhaps the adopted document or body of material had some form of attribution of that sort which was eventually discarded. As Kloppenborg has pointed out, Q as a whole was a collection directed primarily at the community itself, embodying its values, its experiences, its responses to opposition and rejection, and thus in true sectarian fashion it constituted a "foundation document," though one that continually underwent revision and expansion. As we have seen (and Kloppenborg supports), the Q self-definition involved an identification with Wisdom; the Q preachers were her representatives, her children, making it quite feasible that the evolving document came, for a time, to be attributed to personified Wisdom; there are indications within the document itself that this was the case. There are also strong indications that the Son of Man the sect was preaching was indeed an expected End-time figure who was not on the scene, not an historical person. The controversy and miracle stories can easily be 'reconverted' to anecdotal representations of the activities and experiences of members of the sect, not involving a specific founder figure. This is further rendered feasible by the silence on any such figure, any biography for him, any role allotted to him in the movement's inception, in the early stages of this foundation document. Eventually, again in true sectarian fashion, a founder figure was conceived and introduced, perhaps through circuitous thinking, to become the originator of the movement and of the document's content. Whether he came to be identified with the expected Son of Man is perhaps uncertain, but even at the latest stage no biography of this founder is yet introduced, suggesting that he spent a certain amount of time being simply a symbol.

    There is nothing "complex" or "tangled" about this scenario. It follows a logical line of development consistent with various parallels in the ancient world and is a good 'fit' with the content and redaction of Q itself as uncovered by general scholarship. I would maintain that it raises far fewer problems than the Kloppenborg hypothesis and others' assumptions about the document. More than that, in its ultimate evolution into the Synoptic Gospels, which were based on Q or Q traditions, it dovetails into position beside the other side of the Christian coin, the cultic movement preached by "apostles of the Christ" like Paul, whose sacrificial Christ Jesus evinces no earthly ministry of prophetic or ethical teaching and no biography, complementing Q's reverse lack of any death and resurrection for its founder or even a soteriological role. This dichotomy is completely incompatible with Christian orthodoxy and its allegedly historical Jesus of Nazareth, which leads orthodox scholarship into all sorts of problems and miscalculations, and not only where Q is concerned. It is the standard hypotheses that are tangled, complex and jerrybuilt, in order to make them conform to axioms which have a strong confessional component.

    Ultimately, I will leave it to others to judge for themselves. But I can assure everyone that, contrary to Zeichman's contention, my work does indeed "come from a genuine desire to answer the complex questions of Christian origins." If the non-existence of Jesus is where the evidence leads, I have no objection to society reaping the benefits of that conclusion. This is not an "agenda," but a recognition that the historical structure on which Christianity has been based is long overdue for collapse, and that a long and often unfortunate history based on a fantasy is in for a much-needed correction.

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