Q? Curious…My Thoughts On the Source of the Gospels

During my time in seminary, and before, when I read “The Case for Christ” in high school, I learned about a source for the Gospel narratives that attempted to explain where we got the Synoptic Gospels in their final and current written form.  This document is called “Q” (from French “quelle”, meaning “source”).  If memory serves correctly, the following is a description of what Q actually was.

Q was described as an oral tradition that developed over years after the events portrayed in the Gospels took place. Between the middle of the First Century AD and the middle of the Second Century, the Gospels began to take written form.  Q’s material comes into final form around 60-65, Mark was written using Q around 75-80, Matthew using Q and Mark was written around 85-95, and then Luke-Acts, using Q , Mark, and Matthew was written between 115-130.

Now, having said that and seeing that it is a hypothesis put forward to explain what happened in the writing of the Gospels to account for similarities and differences that occur between the Synoptic Gospels, I would like to give my hypothesis.

Quite simply, I think Q violates Occam’s Razor, which says “do not multiply arguments beyond what is necessary.”

We first serve a G-d who revels in making possible the impossible.  Given He desires to do the impossible on a regular basis precisely because it fosters faith in us, and Yeshua was a prophet par excellance, at least one of the Synoptics, if not more, could have been written before the destruction of the Temple.

Further, it seems to me that, Matthew, Mark, and Luke wrote their accounts, with a missiological purpose in mind, regardless of whether their accounts are chronological. That is, their purpose in writing these accounts was to evangelize the lost among their target auidences, Matthew to a Jewish audience, Mark to Peter’s audience, and Luke to Paul’s non-Jewish audience.

Further, I would say Mark could have been incorporated in the writing of both Matthew and Luke-Acts.

But the differences seem to me to be missiological.  The authors home in on particular details that would have relevance to their given audience or leave aside details that would not.  Hence all the attention to the fulfillment of prophecies in Matthew, for example.

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