"Q" Source

IV. Conclusion

Our investigation into the "Q" source revealed some interesting hints into the oral tradition of the early Church. Taken in the form found in Luke, the "Q" created a thematic arc that began with the Baptist and ended with Jesus' sayings about the end times; without the Passion-Resurrection narrative, Mark shared a similar arc. Luke inserted the source(s) into his text in redacted clusters, sometimes interspersed with Marcan clusters. While the "Q" did contain some unique narrative passages, it differed from Mark's heavy emphasis on narrative to highlight sayings. These sayings consisted several sub-genres: wisdom, eschatological, controversy, commands and social critique. Their short forms did encourage community members to memorize for either didactic or polemical purposes. In other words, the "Q", whether a body of written or oral passages (or both), was meant to continue an oral tradition through performance or recitation.

The "Q" source, those passages shared exclusively by Matthew and Luke, open a unique window into the faith of the Church almost from the beginning. It described the evangelization and opposition the Galilean, then Palestinian disciples faced. It taught members in the believing community how to live a Christian lifestyle. It portrayed their leader as a prophet-martyr who had a vital role in the end times. It revealed the snapshot of a rapidly evolving theology in a small movement that was determined to convert as many as possible in the face of an immanent eschaton.

Yet, the "Q" did not stand alone as a "peak behind the veil." John P. Meier argued some miracles could be traced back to the 30's CE. I insist the Passion-Resurrection narrative had its roots in the same time frame. In such a small movement, oral tradition did not segment into distinct streams. But, through the use of modern literary tools, we can investigate the remnants and influences of such early testimonies as the "Q".


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