|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
"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 -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]:
difficult if not impossible to regard the same community, the same set
people—not to mention the same man—as having produced the two sets of
one reflecting an enlightened lifestyle of tolerance, accommodation,
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
different personality and mode of expression. Q2 reflects an
oriented mind or community, one which believes in the [future coming
Son of Man. That type of orientation does not suddenly displace a
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
It does not of itself seek large-scale conversion of others, especially
rich and powerful. Thus it would be difficult to envision the mindset
changing into the mindset of Q2 within essentially the same group of
matter what the perceived provocation.
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]:
more important to the first-century Jew than questions of space, time
literal cosmology were the key issues of
I asked, "Where are all—or any—of these Jewish preoccupations in Q1 or
parallel layer of Thomas? Where is the divine mandate, the will of the
covenantal God of Judaism, the future role of the gentile, the
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
were themselves Jewish or what the proportion may have been between Jew
gentile. The main issue is the nature of Q1. We have to keep in mind
are really two aspects to the question. But since an essentially
(even if subscribing to Jewish ideas) would support more compellingly
of a non-Jewish Q1 (as Wright presents it), the two are linked.
from both sides. His first piece of evidence that the Q people were
and that Q1 is "Jewish" is the reference to Solomon in Lk/Q 12:27:
"Solomon in all his splendor was
like one of these [lilies]." But as a legendary figure reputed
have possessed great riches, Solomon would hardly be unknown to anyone
lived in the vicinity of
Then there is Kloppenborg's suggestion that the gentiles are used "as negative examples" in Lk/Q 6:33-34 and . 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.
are various definitions of hamartōloi. The principal one is the word in English:
is nothing to prevent this from being a reference by gentiles (or Jews)
sinners within the broader society outside the sect, Jewish or Greek.
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
heathen, which is the way Kloppenborg and Zeichman are taking it,
examples given by Bauer are from pre-New Testament writings. It
(Bauer says) means the heathen in a few Gospel passages like Mt. 26:45
parallels, and perhaps that also applies to Lk/Q 6:32-4. But there is
guarantee that this reference singles out gentiles as a group (sinners
rather than actual sinners of any ethnic group. In fact, it is not at
likely, if we apply a bit of common sense to the passage itself. The Q
is advocating an ethic which is beyond the ordinary. Is the speaker
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
would hardly win over gentiles in the audience, who would definitely
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 ] 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.
claims there are passages in Q that
make allusion to the Hebrew bible, and these verses "refer to
are you the poor,
for yours is the
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
instead of ashes..."
could as well say that Butterfly's aria before stabbing herself is an
to Hamlet's line, "To be or not to be" when he ponders the choice of
suicide. Q's promises to
connection Zeichman tries to draw between Q
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 ), gehenna (12:5) and "the son of man" (, ), 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 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].
other example is even more inapt.
Lk/Q 9:61-62 is supposed to be an allusion to 1 Kings 19:19-21. An
may be, but it has nothing whatever to do with specifically Jewish
the nature raised by Wright. What is the Jewishness of a Master
a prospective disciple leave all behind to follow him? This is a
sentiment. If the Q 'speaker' of this saying had 1 Kings in mind, it
draw a psychological response in the listener from its echo in the
bible, something the Gospels are full of, since the story of Jesus was
fashioned to echo various motifs in scripture and its pseudo-history.
does not of itself fill the bill to satisfy Wright's quest for
Jewish concerns. Neither does a mere mention of "the Torah" in 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
in Q. In fact, blithely dismisses study of
"the law and the prophets"
as a thing of the past, supplanted by John the Baptist's preaching of
way, his whole exercise is moot. As I
said earlier, there is no doubt that the Q people were acquainted with
Jewish scriptures, whether they were Jew or gentile. And an interest in
Hebrew bible and Jewish apocalyptic expectations about the coming
be natural in gentiles who had attached themselves to a Jewish
a syncretistic development would have been quite feasible in a mixed
cosmopolitan area like
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 , 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 ? "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 ? "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. (Lk. / 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. (Lk. / 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'.
that appeal to the triple tradition
simply ad hoc speculation on my part. Kloppenborg does the
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.
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
been a major disconnect between the former and the latter (which I
with). Yet here, he must assume a major discontinuity between Q and the
in regard to their view of the Son of Man. First let me state a
I trust Zeichman will not dispute. The Synoptic communities are
the Kingdom-preaching community represented by Q, later phases of it.
Matthew and Luke do not represent communities with no derivation from
group and have for obscure reasons picked up the latter's traditions
and incorporated them in Gospels that are not a reflection of
communities. That would be too bizarre a scenario. Therefore, the
Matthean and Lukan communities are outgrowths of the earlier Q one.
What do Mark, Matthew and Luke demonstrate of attitudes toward the Son
They include his future coming, his coming on the clouds, his coming in
'kingly' attributes like sitting on a throne, filling the role of judge
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
three links to Daniel 7 in the son of man sayings are wholly
the Q presentation of the son of man." However, he surely must admit
are present in all three Synoptics. But can we reasonably label all
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
motifs as being present in or behind the Q apocalyptic Son of Man
Zeichman and the scholars he appeals to evidently do? If so, how does
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
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
expectations of the Son of Man"?
The Son of Man as Judge
The same considerations apply to the question of the
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
Recently on the IIDB, Jeffrey Gibson raised the same objection (with
greater vehemence). I will quote my response to him at that time, which
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
will also acknowledge [homologēsō, will confess] him before my
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 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
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
(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
entourage. Will there not be a conflict between them in their
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
straight for audiences and parishioners? Zeichman speaks of the "narrative of Q." Let's take a look at that.
off with John the Baptist preaching the erchomenos. Thereafter,
figure fails to put in any appearance at all (other than in John's
him in the Dialogue of 7:18f), but is supplanted by a Son of Man who
take over similar qualities and responsibilities. Both are to be
with the presumably present Jesus (though such an identification is
spelled out), yet they are allegedly different figures. This Jesus must
schizophrenic, or perhaps inhabited by two spirits. In my concept of
coherence, Q seems somehow deficient. As for John's erchomenos
a judge (Zeichman puts it: "is also not said to
be a judge"), I
wonder what is entailed by Lk/Q -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 . 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.)
for a moment, I consider that
labeling the Temptation Story as 'biographical' is a mistake. This unit
never have been composed to represent even an imagined historical
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
(or messianic) temptations of
Jesus; instead they are paradigmatic and symbolic for the Q
model...Jesus' refusal in the temptation account provides both a
and a structural homologue for this mode of behavior"... "In short, the
provides a paradigm and aetiology for the kind of behavior which Q
recommends for the followers of Jesus." Thus, the story is not
history, not biographical, and
therefore unrelated to any possible narrative concerns. And consider
quotes. Kloppenborg and the others are getting perilously close to
another reason why Q developed an imaginary founder. Instructional
best impressed upon the recipient, and tend to be embodied, in personal
involving an individual. An individual serves better as an exemplar
an abstract directive. (This may have been an essential impulse for the
creation of the first Gospel.) The same principle applies to the
catalogue of sayings along with the miracle and controversy stories. An
attribution of such teachings and activities to the community (inspired
personified Wisdom), which originally served to articulate the sect's
self-understanding, would inevitably have focused on an historical
(real or imagined) to better highlight and convey that understanding.
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 considerations of
"narrative," Zeichman's rationalizations on this topic would be quite
unworkable. He has tried to explain why the opening Baptist
the Son of Man does not sound like he is speaking of an historical
he really think that Q could have come together, or would have been
organized, to produce a "narrative" in which considerations such as
whether John knew Jesus at the time of his pronouncing the initial Q
would have been taken into account? Does he think that during Q's
stage that any compiler, if he had an historical Jesus in his own
background, would have offered a pronouncement by John that clearly
erroneous impression that John was not speaking of a human person
the scene? Would such an oral tradition on which it was supposedly
conveyed such a thing? That saying of John would simply not have formed
that in the first place, oral or written, if any historical Jesus had
for the Q community. For the same reasons, Zeichman's further rationale
work: that John at the time of this preaching didn't know the
Jesus, he hadn't yet met him; so regardless of whether John is warning
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
figure. This is alarmingly naive, for it would have to be based on the
pericope being an accurate memory of actual words by John. If it isn't,
is impossibly not, this was a saying formulated in later tradition,
written by a Q compiler, who did know of an historical Jesus,
would be reflected in the formulation of any saying by John. To suggest
the oral tradition or compiler would have taken this into account in
interests of strict narrative accuracy, and have John reflect what
been a non-knowledge of Jesus, would be too bizarre to countenance.
protestations of the amateur apologetic type, and have simply not been
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.
illustrate this practice of creating
incongruities in redactive evolution, it would be interesting to note a
in Kloppenborg and the implications that can be drawn from the
describes. In discussing [p.94] the "Logical and
Qualitative Progression in Q" he points out a glaring
between the opening Baptist pericope and the Dialogue of 7:18f. He
in 7:18-23, "Jesus is
expressly identified with the Coming One" (that is, with the erchomenos
of the Baptist saying
But Kloppenborg has already stated that the earlier erchomenos
himself or some supra-human
(Why, by the way, not simply the expected apocalyptic Son of Man?) So
he implying here, even if inadvertently? It must be that between the
time the opening pericope
formed and the time the Dialogue was constructed, the "erchomenos"
of John had been re-interpreted to mean Jesus where it had not been
This is heavily indicative of an evolution from a stage of no founder
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 -23. How is the miracle-worker of 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 (-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 and -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
the Son of Man sayings in Q are attached either to the preceding or
sayings and function to explain or interpret them." This is in the context of
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?
point, it may come as something of a
shock to Zeichman that I may have to agree with him on one point about
of Man. In my Reader Feedback response to him I said that I favored the
that Q never identified its new founder with its apocalyptic Son of
that this only occurred when Q was incorporated into the Gospels—which
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
sense, speaks of John's erchomenos, who (if I'm not missing
cannot be seen as a separate figure from the coming Son of Man. So even
passage is late in Q's evolution, it seems to require that the
that later stage came to identify their new founder as the Son of Man,
in a pre-apocalyptic ministry. It is possible that this was effected
the influence of the non-prophetic son of man sayings—the 'generic'
were now capable of being interpreted as speaking of a 'ministry'
(e.g., Lk. and possibly the triple
tradition Mk. and 28). These would more
been associated with a founder; then, by extension, the apocalyptic Son
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
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,
integrity of my separation of the Q Jesus from the Q Son of Man remains
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 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 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
the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so
the Son of Man be to this generation. At the Judgment, when the men of
generation are on trial, the Queen of the South will rise with them and
them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of
and behold, something greater [pleion,
than Solomon is
here. The men of
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."
also brings in Lk/Q 17:23-30 as
support for a "ministry
in progress." I
the reader to peruse that passage and try to find any implication of
activities for the Son of Man in phrases like "when his day comes" and "on the day when
the Son of Man is
wrapping up, claims that, well, if Jesus is presently conducting a
can hardly be said to be going to "return, for he is
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
meantime, there is nothing to prevent me from telling her, while I am
with her on Sunday, that I will "return" on Wednesday. And if a third
person is speaking, it's virtually required. Consider the following
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
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 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.
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.
tries to counter this kind of
observation by some rather strained rationalization. The reason why
not included in the reference in to prophets persecuted by
the Jews, he
says, is because he hadn't been killed yet; it would have been awkward
Jesus to refer to himself as one in those ranks. I have two objections
One is that early Christian writers were quite adept at working in
of future events, either as prophecy or in the form of parables placed
Jesus' mouth which embodied allusions to his future death; for example,
Parable of the Tenants in Mark 12:1-12 and parallels, in which the
owner, after sending servants to collect the rent only to see them
even killed, finally sends his son, thinking the tenants will respect
he too is seized and killed. The servants represent the prophets and
represents Jesus; the latter element is precisely what is missing in
11:49, which in other respects is a perfect fit to the parable.
had no compunction about having Jesus openly prophecy his death to the
disciples; why not the Q3 redactor?
objection is based on the agreed
originality of the Lukan version, with its attribution of the saying to
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
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
according to Kloppenborg, she is doing precisely that with the oracle
stands: "I will send
you prophets and messengers...),
she could very well have included reference to the killing of Jesus. If
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
knowledge of, at any stage of Q, a death of its founder, so the
have had no reason to assign one here to either Wisdom or Jesus. This
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
Passion was the invention of Mark.
Zeichman's succeeding argument refers to "two verses." One is clearly , 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 ) 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 is Jesus equated
with Wisdom? (Is
he saying this simply on the basis that Matthew later changed Wisdom to
I have said that Jesus may have replaced Wisdom in the mind of
community as the source of the sayings. (Any source in the Cynics would
since have been struck from their memory.) I have said that sayings
like traditional Wisdom oracles (such as ) were placed in Jesus'
mouth. In the
redacted text of Q itself I can see no "contradictory
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.
Matthew shows a tendency to regard Jesus as an incarnation of Wisdom
scholarly view I've seen, but perhaps it has fallen out of favor, as
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
an infusion of the Logos within himself. It doesn't mean that Philo
Moses and the Logos as equated.
The other Wisdom passage that needs to be taken note of is Lk/Q
like Kloppenborg, regard this as a Wisdom (Sophia) oracle. Its
nature seems evident by the way it is tacked on in Luke after a passage
Q) that ends in the word "
Burton Mack [The Lost Gospel, p.98] places these verses in his
(something Zeichman disapproves of). It is not clear from Q that they
actually envisioned as spoken by its Jesus, but this may well be, in
it would belong in Q3. What we would then be seeing is a dramatic
the Wisdom attribution evolving into a Jesus attribution, what once
now Jesus says, just as we see this in other cases when the
Matthew, change references to Wisdom (such as 11:49) and the Son of Man
direct references to Jesus or pronouns representing him. It is also
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,
house [meaning the city or the
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
ancient Israel...[it] probably received its final editing in early
times...."wisdom literature" exudes something of a cosmopolitan air,
which reflects its origin in a wisdom tradition common to the ancient
East. The literary genres found in Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes and
content they convey have parallels in Mesopotamian and Egyptian
Moreover it is clear that, in a number of instances, such extrabiblical
literature has had a direct impact on the Israelite traditions. For
Proverbs reflects a
classic Egyptian wisdom text, The Instruction of
Amenemope, and the
"problem literature" of
extremely interesting observations for our purposes. First, they show
process of integration and attribution tends to take a length of time.
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
to preclude a stage in which the sayings were simply imputed to
Wisdom, let alone that the Q1 material went through an initial stage
was imputed to some foreign source. Moreover, the development of
other early Hebrew documents, as outlined above by Fontaine, reveals a
of foreign literary impact on Jewish circles, a borrowing from
sources and making them their own, integrating them into more immediate
traditions and teachings. This is precisely the situation I advocate in
genesis of Q, including the identification of Q1 as non-Jewish, namely
[T]his arises with
the fusion of the well-known sapiential
motif of Sophia as a preacher of repentance (Prov -33, 8:1-21) and
as indwelling the
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
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
regarded as the source of the sayings (once the Cynic derivation was
discarded). To her also, for a time, could the prophetic sayings of Q2
been attached. What else would the Q preachers have regarded themselves
"prophets," and as Kloppenborg notes, prophets were traditionally
seen as being 'indwelt' by the Wisdom of God; 7:35 more than intimates
they regarded themselves as her "children." Kloppenborg himself
them as "envoys of Sophia"
cit, p.123]. There would have been nothing untoward in the Q
claiming that their teachings were God's Wisdom speaking through
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" (-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
attributed their evolving document to Wisdom would be perfectly in
this traditional interest in ascribing "transcendental" authority for
such a body of instructions to Wisdom herself. Neither Kloppenborg nor
can specify that, in the case of Proverbs, the ascription to Solomon is
as its clear ties to Wisdom, or rule out that Solomon came to be
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
"renowned sage"; he was the actual author, an obscure figure who
wrote this book around 180 BCE. Apparently, a sayings collection could
and be passed on without an ascription to someone famous or
Such a situation may have obtained with the earliest version of Q1:
from and initially ascribed to an obscure figure who may have been its
in the pre-Q state. That 'source' may have been considered insufficient
longer relevant, and without an actual "renowned sage" to transfer it
to, the ascription in the Q community may have been given to Wisdom.
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.
I have said that miracle anecdotes, such as the
controversy [Lk/Q -23], could originally have
in terms of the exorcist practices of the community itself, before any
entered the picture. As another mental experiment, let's paraphrase
(speculatively, of course) that pericope here, substituting general
to Q preachers for the singular Jesus. (Note that in the Q3 redactive
is pericopes like this, in whatever state they existed, that would have
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.
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
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
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
again, the idea works equally well in the context of the community in
It is they who want to provide proof of the validity and
nature of their teaching; it is they, as a sect, who want to
faith from the wider society (as well as from their own members), faith
their words and mission.
[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 (; 10:9; ). 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
the late-invented human founder who replaced Wisdom in Q, he is
misleading. He makes it sound as though I maintained that it was
"Jesus" and tried to offer explanations for this, ones that are
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
shows that I did anything but declare that this was the name that was
him; in fact, I offered several possible scenarios that did not
as Zeichman might style it, a Q3 redactor sitting at his desk and
himself 'Now, what name should I give to this guy I just invented?'
idea, which Zeichman actually tries to counter, is never put forward by
is too ridiculous to imagine I would present. To say that the community
develop over a certain amount of time the idea of a founder who had
the sect's beginning and spoke its recorded sayings is hardly
suggesting that one person, in the course of amending a document, was
responsible for the whole thing.
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
horse, at least one that had been put out to pasture. There is no way,
a manuscript of Q, that we can know for certain if the figure in it was
Jesus. The assumption that it was is based on scholarly preconceptions
traditional paradigms about Q and the Gospels, which are the very
are being challenged in The Jesus Puzzle.
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
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
(Doherty's) conclusion that Q , , 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 , 9:60, and 9:62 (which they do not)—
interrupt. First of all, I did not present things as though the three
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
attributing something to me which is rather simplistic. Yet even if
stood together (which is not impossible, since they could have been
through thematic commonality), what would have been the "argumentative logic" in that sequence of verses
and 62? There is none to interrupt. They are simply three unrelated
the demands and conditions of sectarian membership. Either Zeichman
grasp this, or he has deliberately introduced a red herring to try to
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
but it hardly serves to establish that redaction of Q1 at later stages
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.
them, yes, it makes my suggestion less secure, but it is still
other indicators, including that presence in Thomas of a component
lacks the chreiic structure and the internal presence of the
Jesus. The latter cannot be excluded (and Zeichman offers no arguments
so) from indicating a more primitive, independent existence of one of
It is more likely
that the entire
pronouncement story is a post-Easter
creation...The next pericope (-28) is clearly
commentary word  is an originally
independent Kingdom saying...known in another
form in Gos. Thom. 46.... [op cit, p.107-109]
7:31-35 is presented as loaded with composite features, including v.35
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,
Q to (my)
whims," not "having done the
Thus Kloppenborg is appealing to
several independent sayings (two of which can be located in Thomas) as
indicators that the entire complex is an artificial construction. In
we can identify it as later than Q1, since it contains those
characteristic features of Q2 mentioned by Zeichman.
In his "Appendix: Other
Zeichman takes me to task for a number of things. Most of
them have been addressed in earlier contexts, but a couple need
One is his quote of my statement in The Jesus Puzzle [p.152]
(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
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
Five Gospels. When they refer to Q in this text, they do not
layers. Then, in the first example Zeichman offers above (The Great
parable), both Kloppenborg [op cit, p.229] and Burton Mack [The
Gospel, p.98] place the unit in Q1, not Q2. His second example (a
placed under a basket) is included by Kloppenborg and others in Q2, but
reasons that may be a bit obscure, since there are none of Zeichman's
Q2 themes present, and it has something of a Q1 atmosphere. In
Kloppenborg [p.135] gives little in the way of justification for
in Q2, since it is clearly a discipleship saying. The Seminar, ranking
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
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
example, however, is not even judged by the Jesus Seminar to be
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
include it in Q at all, since Luke has no direct parallel in
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.
is revealed in that one
sentence. Central is the implied 'sin' of attempting to "override the paradigm offered by
Let's have no discrediting or doubting of anything put forward by a
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
have to be "agenda-based,"
thus automatically suspect, if not to be rejected a priori.
Morever, quoting him further, I base "large amounts of (my) work on avoidable
would be caught under nearly any peer-review system."