New Testament scholars working in different fields often appear to live in parallel universes with little contact between them. We need to specialise if we are to go deeper into our chosen areas; and the multiple non-academic pressures on scholars, not least those who, like David Catchpole, have given of themselves generously to the wider concerns of both academy and church, mean that most of us can scarcely keep up in a small field, let alone across the whole spectrum of early Christianity and related topics. Scholars who, like the present writer, spend much of their lives working on Paul rarely venture across the street to visit those who work on Q , and vice versa.
All this may be inevitable, but I find it regrettable; and there are times when to cross the street, if only as a gesture of interest and support, may be worth while. It is, of course, risky. The book of Proverbs (26:17) warns that to meddle in someone else's quarrel is to take a stray dog by the ears. The high degree of current specialisation means that one may expect, as the least reward for one's pains, to be told to stick to one's own last, to mind one's own business.
But of course it is our business. By comparison with other academic fields—second-Temple Judaism, for instance—the study of the early church and its writings is a small field, with few primary sources and a small geographical and chronological framework. If it is true that a document or tradition existed that corresponds to what people today call Q , and if it is claimed that this document reflects the religious and theological interests and hopes of a community in the middle of the first century, those of us who have worked on documents that we actually possess and communities for which we have first-hand evidence are bound to take notice, especially if these hypothetical documents and communities are claimed to hold significantly different views from those commonly ascribed to early Christians. The large and often high-profile growth of Q studies in recent years,