The Formation of Q: Trajectories in Ancient Wisdom Collections

The Formation of Q: Trajectories in Ancient Wisdom Collections

The Formation of Q: Trajectories in Ancient Wisdom Collections

The Formation of Q: Trajectories in Ancient Wisdom Collections

Excerpt

Libelli habent sua fata. When the manuscript of The Formation of Q was submitted for publication late in 1985, I had thought it to be a modest exploration of a relatively limited topic: the place of the Synoptic Savings Source (Q) within the field of ancient literary genres. It was an extension and continuation of the studies of the genre(s) of the Gospels and the Sermon on the Mount that had appeared during the 1970s and early 1980s and which viewed the Gospels as types of the bios genre and the Sermon on the Mount as an epitome. These works represented attempts to go beyond the older notion that the literature of the early Jesus movements was sui generis, a view that seemed informed as much by the theological assumptions of Neo-orthodoxy as it did by a grasp of the range and character of ancient literary genres.

Determining the generic taxonomy of Q was complicated by its apparently diverse and composite nature. Studies of Q from the preceding two decades, notably by Helmut Koester (1968), Dieter Lührmann (1969), Paul Hoffmann (1972), Siegfried Schulz (1972), Athansius Polag (1977), Arland D. Jacobson (1978), and Heinz Schürmann (1982), argued in various ways that Q was not cut from whole cloth; on the contrary, it was possible and indeed necessary to

1. On the Gospels, see Charles H. Talbert, What is a Gospel? The Genre of the Canonical
Gospels (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977); David E. Aune, “The Problem of the Genre
of the Gospels: A Critique of C. H. Talbert's What is a Gospel?,” Gospel Perspectives II,
ed. R.T. France and David Wenham (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1981) 9–60; Philip L. Shuler,
A Genre for the Gospels: The Biographical Character of Matthew (Philadelphia: Fortress
Press, 1982); Klaus Berger, “Hellenistische Gattungen im Neuen Testament,” ANRW
II.25.2 (1984) 1031–432; F. Gerald Downing, “Contemporary Analogies to the Gospels
and Acts: 'Genres' or 'Motifs'?,” Synoptic Studies: The Ampleforth Conferences of 1982
and 1983, ed. Christopher M. Tuckett (JSNTSup 7; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1984) 51–65.
On the Sermon on the Mount, see Hans Dieter Betz, “The Sermon on the Mount: Its
Literary Genre and Function,” JR 59 (1979) 285–297 (repr. as pp. 1–16 in Essays on the
Sermon on the Mount “Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985”).

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