“Q” is for Q (March 15, 2012)

…Opening To…

Therefore, we pray you, Lord, forgive; so when our wanderings here shall cease, we may with you for ever live, in love and unity and peace. (Gregory the Great, from The Hymnal 1982)

…Listening In…

Therefore, you should treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you; this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12; context) (also Luke 6:31) (from Q? perhaps)

…Filling Up…

This Lent, we are exploring our faith by running through the alphabet. Today, “Q” is for Q. I know, I know, I’m cheating again – but there aren’t a lot of “Q” words that have to do with church or discipleship. So, instead of stretching to words like “quest” or “quality” (which I considered doing), I thought I’d talk just a bit about an important theory of Biblical scholarship (called the “two source hypothesis”). This theory is cool because it gives us one way to organize some issues surrounding why the accounts of the Gospel say different things.

It’s called (conveniently) “Q,” which stands for “Quelle,” the German word for “source.” Simply put, the theory behind Q posits that there was a written source of certain things that Jesus said and did, and this source existed well before the accounts of the Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Scholars call this document Q, and they think that only Matthew and Luke knew about it or used it. They think this because Matthew and Luke share details that do not appear in Mark. (John is usually left out of this discussion because it is so different from the others.) Matthew and Luke used Mark for the basic structure, but then added all sorts of other material that they presumably got from Q.

So why is this important for non-Bible scholars or seminary professors. Well, it isn’t really. Except that Q helps show how the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection spread abroad after his ascension. We don’t know for sure if Q existed, but it’s a safe bet that it did. Reconstructed, Q shows what some very early witnesses wanted to remember most about Jesus. You can find what these early witnesses held on to by reading Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and then figuring out what only Matthew and Luke share in common. Sounds like fun, right?

…Praying For…

Dear God, thank you for the witnesses that proclaimed the good news before the Gospel was written down. Help me to be a herald of the same good news all the days of my life. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, counting myself blessed that you would choose to make me the person I am and love me into the person I am becoming.

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