Tuesday, September 19, 2006

So the real Q hypothesis is yet to stand up

My Q teaching survey will always be here for whoever wishes to add responses. But for now I guess I will have to keep on assuming that for many people what Q might represent as a hypothesis is not necessarily identical to what the Q hypothesis really is. That is, I will for now answer my own question by saying that I guess because Q was originally a hypothetical document, it must remain that way--no matter how free one feels to make Q serve as a convenient symbol for the Mt-Lk double-tradition (in whatever form/s Lk & Mt found it) one must still teach that the original Q hypothesis posits a document and thus remains the hypothesis. There will always be weakened versions of the hypothesis around (for practical reasons) but for whatever reason they are not considered the 'real' hypothesis.

It still strikes me as strange that many teachers would teach a weakened form of the Q hypothesis without making it clear to students the differences between the original hypothesis (of say, Streeter since he made it famous) and the weakened 'classroom' hypothesis. So Mark Goodacre's approach would stand out as distinctive in this regard in not failing to highlight to students the difference between two opposing source theories for the material, but only, it seems, because he chooses not to deal with oral source theories as relevant for solving the synoptic problem (instead he deals with these in form criticism i.e. prior to introducing students to source criticism). I am interested in how successful this splitting off of oral source theory from synoptic source theory in general might be. I guess what I consider to be the synoptic problem differs in that I think the synoptic problem is complicated by the fact that we have as yet no clear guidelines for ascertaining how much of the Gospels are composed from oral traditions and how much is dependent on written materials, and how much on material which could be both or somewhere in between (say, either oral material becoming more written or written material circulating as more oral). I can't say that these issues are distinct from the synoptic problem proper. But I can appreciate that teachers like Mark are teaching them separately to students (as a different approach on/within source theory in general). I guess it depends on what ones definition of the synoptic problem is--mine is broad: From what materials (and how) were the Gospels composed?


Mark Goodacre said...

I am not sure that I would see the right approach as "splitting off" discussions of oral sources and written ones. In teaching, though, I do think it is important to establish that what we are looking at in the Synoptic Problem is a literary problem, i.e. how are these documents related to one another on the literary level? If it were not for the (agreed) literary inter-relationship, it would not be a synoptic problem at all. So I think we have to sort out the literary issues but at the same time explore the possibilities connected with oral traditions. What students need to realize is that oral traditions will not alone explain the complex literary relationship among the Synoptics.

Tim Lewis said...

Yes but its sounding tautalogical--the synoptic problem is (already)the literary question/explanation, form criticism is the oral-traditioning approach. But how hazy is the line between invoking types of sources? What exactly are we teaching students about drawing this line? I agree that the SP is (naturally) a literary quest-ion. Surely source theory pushes in both directions in order to confirm the division of sources? I think there is a real problem in where to draw the line.