CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

Part 2: A List of Pauce Possibilities

As an experiment in historical criticism (starting back in Part 1), I have begun considering the material of GosMatt 28:11b-15, the second half of the adventures of the guards at the tomb of Jesus (i.e. where they go report what happened), from a position of feasibly minimal scepticism--not in the sense of going out of my way to do anything I can think of to reject the historicity of the material, but in the sense of slowly and carefully considering, one step at a time, the absolute minimum I might reasonably accept as historical facts. In part one, I reached this result as one tiny diamond of positive (yet still sceptically minimal) analysis: at the time this little story was written into GosMatt--by whomever wrote it, wherever he wrote it, whenever he wrote it--a certain prevalent number of Jews were saying to GosMatt's intended audience, "the disciples stole the body."

So, let us fit his little story to this one evident fact and see what happens. (Remember, though: I am still supposing as a hypothesis, for now, that our writer is completely inventing his story of the guards.)

If we keep our fact as pure as one single snowflake, we have this situation: GosMatt's Christian audience (and by the certain facts of the type of claims being made in GosMatt, especially near Guard Adventure-B, we may be entirely sure his audience is “Christian” of some kind) have Jewish opponents who are saying only that the disciples stole Jesus' body. How did this come to be?

Possibility #1.) Our Christian audience has been publicly making no “Christian” claims at all, including nothing about a missing body, and also privately have no beliefs along this line. The Jews in this region have nevertheless decided to pick a fight with these Christians by themselves inventing a story about a missing body and an explanation for this body in total disregard to whatever the Christians might be believing, even privately. GosMatt’s author somehow considers answering this charge to be important to include in his own total fabricated innovation about a missing body, and adds some more fabrications of his own to the story of these trollish Jews (as we might call them in today’s internet parlance). His audience, instead of wildly laughing off these rolling waves of fabrication which have nothing to do with what they privately believe, accept GosMatt as “the Gospel truth”, so to speak.

While this may be technically possible, I don’t think I could be blamed for considering it to be wholly implausible.

Possibility #2.) Our Christian audience has been publicly making no “Christian” claims at all, including nothing about a missing body, but they do have secretly private beliefs about Jesus and his (or His) missing body--beliefs which are only mystically metaphorical in nature, though, not historical. Some Jews in this region have nevertheless decided to pick a fight with these Christians by completely inventing a story about how that body went missing--a story of mundane (and on the face of it merely historical) facts, not cosmic mythologizing. GosMatt’s author somehow considers answering this charge to be important to include in his own totally fabricated innovation about how this missing body went missing historically. (Maybe the Jews heard he was going to try this and launched a pre-emptive counter-campaign among his audience??) Along the way he adds in some more completely invented details, which he is passing off to these cosmic myth believers, because what the heck why not. His audience, instead of wildly laughing off these rolling waves of fabrication which they certainly didn’t ask for, and maybe being insulted that someone would try to take their precious cosmic myth and re-set it in mundane dirty normal historical life, accept GosMatt as “the Gospel truth” anyway.

This might be slightly more plausible than Possibility #1 (since at least our hypothetical Jews are responding to some detail our hypothetical Christians privately believe), but we might have to be pretty desperate to accept this in lieu of anything more historically plausible.

Possibility #3.) Our Christian audience has been publicly witnessing (where our Jews might hear about it), concerning a purely mythical person who did not exist, and so who of course did absolutely nothing historically. A missing body somehow factors into this cosmic non-historical myth, but not in any way which is actually being presented as though for historical acceptance. Some Jews in this region, being apparently idiots, feel religiously threatened by these claims, or maybe just want to pick fights for the entertainment of it. They do so by completely inventing a story about how that body went missing--a story of mundane (and on the face of it merely historical) facts, not cosmic mythologizing. The details of Possibility #2 play out from there.

Again slightly more plausible, since at least our Christians are now making public claims about what they believe, maybe even with an implied or explicit request that other people ought to believe this, too; and so might aggravate a response of some kind from some nearby Jews. This possibility still involves their response being completely ridiculous and inappropriate, and still involves the author of Guard Adventure-B taking their completely ridiculous response and explaining it away with an even more ridiculous and unnecessary explanation, which is somehow supposed to be impressive to these cosmic-myth proponents. Thus, only slightly more plausible for us to believe as a historical explanation for how and why that Adv-B gets into the received text.

Possibility #4.) Our Christian audience has been publicly witnessing about a man who did not exist, and so who of course did absolutely nothing our Christians are claiming he did, but they are making historical claims about him anyway (not only cosmic-mythological claims). The claims they are making, however, are very different from the kinds of things found in GosMatt’s account.

These Jews in the region do not therefore simply say: "Who is this Jesus? Surely he never existed!"

Nor do they have the total historical naivety (itself an a-historical proposition, by the way) of our Christian GosMatt audience; they do not say: "Ah, then he must have been a great man/the Messiah/God Incarnate/whatever."

Instead, they say something like this: "If he did exist, and if he said what you claim he said, and if he died as a result of what he said, tried and executed by our own duly appointed religious authorities in a way cursed by God, then of course God did not raise him from the dead. What must have happened instead, is that his disciples stole the body. You have been deceived: whether he existed or not."

Our writer, instead of laughing his head off at these Jews coming up with all these narrative details which have nothing to do with what his target Christian audience is claiming, says to himself, "My God! That’s a great story! Why didn’t we go with that?!" After suffering a brain aneurysm over how awesome his opponents' story is by contrast to whatever historical claims he and his group had been making instead, the author decides the reason why they didn't go this route to begin with was, "Oh, right, because then disciples would have stolen the body." Having accepted this bizarre conclusion, the author then continued with a resolution something like this: "Guess I’d better explain why these Jews are saying that if I decide to use this story instead. That makes sense."

He henceforth invents a story much more in line with what these oppositional Jews totally made up to oppose whatever ostensible historical claims the Christians were making instead, and along the way he adds a further completely invented explanation to explain why Jews in contact with his Christian audience were themselves deceived. So there!

Struck by the superiority of these historical details they’ve never really heard of before, his audience decides to accept them instead, thus completing the Pythonesque sketch of utter ridiculousness by making GosMatt the most popular early Christian text. (And apparently the Ur-Gospel from which others took their cue, most notably the other canonical three.)

At least this Possibility has the slight advantage over earlier suggestions, that the Christians were making public historical claims of some sort involving the missing body of Jesus. Still, it looks like we may be going backward in proposing plausible possibilities.

Possibility #5.) Similar to #4, except that our Christians have been making public claims about historicity which, though they don’t involve a body missing from a tomb, otherwise do actually fit the sort of explanation our Jews come back with; which, according to our developing sequence of possibilities, does not involve them replying, “Who is this Jesus? Surely he never existed!” but rather the (now far more reasonable) response: “If he did exist and said the things you claim, and was tried and executed by our duly appointed religious authorities as a result, of course God did not raise him from the dead. What must have happened instead, is that his disciples stole the body. You have been deceived: whether he existed or not.”

Our writer, in reply, henceforth invents a story of guards who did not exist; taking (newly) invented orders to guard a (newly) invented tomb; who witnessed the (newly) invented breaking of the non-existent seal and the rolling of the non-existent stone; and who, when making their (newly) invented report, were bribed by (existent!) Sanhedrin officials with non-existent money to spread a (newly) invented story (newly invented by our writer, remember) about how they fell asleep at their non-existant posts.

He is (per our current hypothesis) inventing details that have absolutely no bearing on the issue at hand. Will his Jewish opponents not merely shrug and say: "What guards? We never said anything about guards! We don't even admit this man existed!"

How are we to explain the immense subsequent popularity of GosMatt after this grotesque failure?

I submit that if this had happened, we would have heard little of anything, if at all, about this purported biography. The writer would have exposed himself as not only writing total inventions presented as history; not only blasphemous total inventions presented as history (accepted by people who have very little care, in 1st/2nd c. Mediterranea, about committing blasphemy??); but as being a completely inept man in doing these things--because he couldn’t even address the reply of his opponents with any accuracy.

It is an adamantine fact, that a (wildly!) positive success occurred, in the acceptance and propagation of this document, instead of this failure. The certifiable historical fact (the success of the document) does not match up with plausibly expected results from this hypothesis--a hypothesis, which while technically possible, is still pretty freakishly implausible in itself.

Possibility #6.) Our Christian audience has been witnessing about a man who did exist, of whom our Jews can now have some independent knowledge of. (If they have no independent knowledge of him, then the result is the same as Possibility #5, at best.) In total disregard of whatever their own independent knowledge may be, however, our Jews only reply: "The disciples stole the body." And that is all they say.

In answer to which, our GosMatt writer fabricates all the details of the adventures of the guards, to explain where our Jews-who-have-independent-information-of-Jesus'-existence-but-are-disregarding-that-information got this theory.

Whereupon we are thrown back onto the results of Possibility #5; with the added implausibility that our Jews, despite having their own independent attestation to the existence of this man, have made no positive use of it whatsoever as part of their reply to the Christians (to which our GosMatt writer is counterreplying).

Considering that the details and results are actually more historically implausible than Possibility #5, I think I am being reasonable to say we ought to try accepting some other possibility instead.

Possibility #7.) Our Jews do make use of their independent attestation of a man whom they also believed to exist; but say nothing about guards or any of that.

In reply, our writer fictionalizes the incident with the guards, explaining that this is where our Jews are getting their independent attestation.

The results of possibility #5 commence again, exposing the author to his own target audience as a liar who fabricates fantasies that don't even have connection to his current historical situation and pressures. GosMatt subsequently becomes the most popular of the Gospel accounts anyway.

I submit that these are all technically possible.

But as historical hypotheses, I think we should disregard them. Unless, of course, following out the notion that our writer is somehow connecting with real history, when writing his story, leads us to an even more unacceptable conclusion.

Consequently, I would be willing, on these grounds, to accept as a historical fact (unless as a sceptic I was willing to credulously accept freakishly improbable propositions instead), that at least one response by Jews to Christian witnessing, wherever and whenever that happened, was this:

"The disciples stole the body while the guards were asleep."

Since the obvious retort by the Christians would be something like "You're just saying that!", I think we may properly continue by recognizing a further component: it must be a historical fact that those Jews were saying, "The guards who were set as watch-detail over the body of Jesus, testify themselves (as real people) that they fell asleep while on guard. And that is when the disciples stole the body."

Shall we return to a totally implausible (not to say uncharitable) scenario by supposing that our Jews were making this up out of thin air?? I refuse to do so. Instead, I infer that this was an officially ‘historical’ response given by the representatives of the Jewish population who lived near GosMatt's Christian audience: a response they gave based on some kind of historical information they themselves had, to some kind of historical claim being made by GosMatt’s main audience--a historical claim close enough in content to the response of the nearby Jewish opponents that the Jews wouldn’t seem insanely foolish (and so easily disregarded) for making it.

Now, I do not say that this therefore must have been a (much less the) stock official response by all Jews to all Christians everywhere during the time GosMatt was composed. I would agree that proposing such a widespread defense may be going beyond the existent evidence (including a rather prevalent silence or two in the data--more on that much later, though). Let it be just this one population, or even one section of this one Jewish population. That will be fine for my purposes.

I will not even claim from this that GosMatt's writer must therefore be correct in his claim that the Sanhedrin bribed the guards to say this. Let that still be considered a pure invention on the part of the writer, if you wish. I would be going beyond my purview, at the moment, to claim otherwise.

What is left over, is powerful enough.

What we have here, is a total agreement between total opponents, about historical facts they both believe are crucial:

A dead man named Jesus had disciples.

He was important enough to his disciples, that they might want to steal his body.

More specifically: the vanishing of the body must in some fashion have been important for the purposes of GosMatt's Christian audience (because this is what the polemic of Guard Adventure-B is about).

His dead body was treated in some fashion that his body could be identified for removal.

Some authorized power set guards over his body at night.

Some authorized power had reason to set guards over his body at night; this authority had reason to prefer the body not to be tampered with.

These guards lived after the events of that night, long enough to spread a story of what happened. This is the story that has reached our Jewish population, in contact with GosMatt’s audience, with some kind of official force.

These guards said the body was missing one morning.

The time between Jesus' death and the claimed removal of his body was such that his body could be identified as 'missing' (i.e. he had not decomposed sufficiently yet to be unidentifiable as "the body of Jesus").

The guards also claimed that they were all asleep (effectively or actually) when this happened.

The guards claimed that the disciples of Jesus stole the body while they were asleep at their posts.

I have been careful to distinguish between what the guards claimed, and what their claim (and the existence of their claim) must necessarily imply. But because these points are agreed to by opponents, who are each in a position where they cannot wave off what the other side is saying in some simpler fashion, then we have strong evidence for these to be considered the core facts of the case--we can establish them by solid historical reasoning, from the actual existence of a real document written by a real person to a real audience with real opponents who were (evidently) reporting real testimony by other real people.

But of course, there are some consequences, even some immediate consequences, of the acceptance of these points as inferred historical facts.

Next up: a shape of results.

Part 1: Key Evidence?

The particular (and quite limited) argument of this series has certainly been made before, in more scholarly fashions. But it may be worth looking at again, from the perspective of a realistic sceptical minimism, as an example of how far evidence can go even in such minimism, when implications of the evidence are kept in mind.

So, to begin with just about the most minimal historical fact possible:

It is a historical fact, that sometime between 30 CE and 150 CE, the document known as "kata Maththaion" was written.

I am not saying anything (yet) about who wrote it (authoring and/or compiling and/or redacting it). I am not saying anything (yet) about why it was written. I am not even saying anything (yet) about the date, or dates, of its composition (aside from the ultra-extreme range given that I have provided merely as a starting point for consideration).

Its title translates literally as "down-to/by Maththai"; or as we know it more commonly in English, "(The Gospel) According to Matthew." (Which I will tend to abbreviate as GosMatt.)

It is, I repeat, a certain historical fact that somebody wrote the material we find in this document. And it is a certain historical fact, that at some time during its composition (and/or editings etc.) somebody wrote these words (which I am reproducing as a translation and comparison of several different translations directly from the Greek) near the end of this text:

"Some of the guard-detail [from the watch on the body of Jesus of Nazareth], having gone into the city, reported to the chief priests all things that occurred. And the elders, having assembled and discussed, took silver and gave enough to the soldiers, and told them: ‘You are to say, “His disciples, coming by night, stole him as we rested.” And if the governor hears of this, we will persuade him and free you from worry.’ And taking the money, they did as they were told. And this saying has been spread by Jews until today." [Note: Matthew 28:11b-15]

We may also be entirely historically confident, that his little tale serves at least one purpose, for somebody.

So far this is very straightforward, if not terribly illuminating. But next we reach what may be considered an absolute minimum dichotomy of possibilities.

1.) The verses have absolutely no bearing whatsoever to anything historical, having been totally invented by the writer;

2.) The verses have at least some relation to actual history.

In point of fact, even in option #1 the verses must have some relationship to actual history; because it is an ironclad historical fact, that somebody who actually lived in history wrote them.

The more specific question is whether the story reflects any remotely accurate relationship to events purported to have taken place during the Passover holiday in Jerusalem, Palestine, in some particular year within the range of (say) 28 to 33 CE.

Let us try the first hypothesis: our writer completely invented the narrative details in those verses. (They were not 'verses' in the original documents, of course; chapter-and-verse notation was introduced by scribes much later as an aid to reference. They certainly aren't 'verses' in the popular sense of rhythmic metrical stanzas, either.)

Those verses do not stand alone, however. They are a concluding scene of a story (one unique to GosMatt among the canonical Gospels, as it happens): the story of the guards of the tomb of Jesus. This (larger) story says these guards existed, and explains why they were put, and who put them, and what happened to them early that morning. The story then goes on (in these verses I've quoted) to say what the guards did for some period of time afterward, with direct historical results (claims the writer) even to the time of GosMatt's writing.

We can divide the adventures of the guards. Let us call their story up to their stationing at the tomb "Adventure-A"; and their story after the tomb is opened as "Adventure-B". (We may include the angel rolling away the stone in either half; but since I am being sceptical in my analysis, I will ignore it for now.) If AdvA is total fiction, then AdvB must be total fiction. If AdvA is (to one or another extent) a fact of history, then AdvB may or may not be the fictional sequel.

Now: why would our writer simply invent this story, either whole or in part?

Perhaps the answer simply involves inventiveness in fictional writing. I happen to be a novelist myself; I can easily imagine inventing such an anecdote so that I and my readers may enjoy watching the Sanhedrin fail even more utterly than they otherwise have.

Or, to be more nuanced: having invented (as a novelist writing a fictional story) the first half of the guard’s adventures, I would not be under any obligation to invent the second half; but if I did decide to continue the story, then it would make rather good narrative sense for the Sanhedrin to behave this way. I can hardly have them becoming public converts--that would be too great a shock to the established facts in the memory of my readers (unless my readers have no relationship at all to Jewish culture). And unless I have the chief priests secretly slay the guards, then they must find a way to keep the guards quiet. Bribing them to stay quiet would be one way. But, no, I will be ending my story (whether I myself consider the ending to be fiction or not) with the command by Jesus for His followers to go out and make disciples; and unless we simply dissociate this story from all other early Christian tradition (in whatever way we define 'early', especially if 'early' means 'post-70 CE and later'...), this evangelization includes the claim that Jesus rose from the grave. In fact, now that I think of it, I will be including express commands in my story to the first female witnesses, from an angel and from Jesus Himself; to (respectively) go tell the disciples that He has risen from the grave, and that He will meet them personally in Galilee. So someone will be told something about this, in my story.

Consequently, the guards (even from a merely narrative standpoint) will need to have a counter-story. I will give them a humorously weak counter-story!--while they were asleep, or even just lounging around in the garden (the Greek, I understand, can be read either way), a crew of disciples with tools came along, and moved the stone, and took the body, and did all of this so secretly that the guards ten feet away were not disturbed! After all, we're at the end of the story now, and it wouldn't do for me to invent some truly plausible charge for the Sanhedrin to give to the soldiers for a story. Besides which, maybe I can't think of anything better than this weak explanation, either.

There. Everything is just so.

This is the sort of explanation we can accept for the existence of this little story, as a complete fiction--so long as we are willing to divorce our writer from virtually all connection to Jewish, and even (as we will soon see) to Christian life.

But of course, even the most radically sceptical scholar is not willing to do this.

Scholars may have drastically different interpretations about what Christian life was, for the audience of GosMatt; but even the most sceptical ones will admit--even insist--that the writer was borrowing at least some material from an established pool of tradition. The writer may not have borrowed that particular anecdote (unique as it is), but he borrowed the majority of everything else. (Note: The conservative and moderate scholar will also agree that GosMatt's writer is borrowing, in one degree or another, from an established pool of story--whether the pool is firsthand eyewitness, secondhand testimony, oral tradition, previously written documents, divine inspiration, or whatever combination.)

Furthermore, as the projected date of GosMatt falls later and later in whatever theory of composition we consider, the political situation becomes more dicey. There is a better and better chance that whoever writes GosMatt is risking a messy death by doing so. And under even the most radically sceptical theory, the later the date of composition (putting it ever more comfortably--for some people--out of living memory of any actual events that might throw a wrench into the acceptance of the story as history), the higher regard the audience will have for Jesus and the events surrounding His life. This is also an unavoidable historical certainty; because we know, as a historical fact, this devotion is how history did actually play out.

Inserting this anecdote out of sheer artistic amusement (onto bulky scrolls?--for bookbinding is not prevalent in the Empire until early 2nd century) becomes less and less probable.

It comes down to this: it is possible, technically, that the writer simply for invention's sake invented the story (or, with more precision for my current purpose, invented the B-Adventure) of the guards. But even the faintest wisps of relevancy to the writer's own existence in an actual historical context, begin to steadily undermine the plausibility of his having simply invented it as an artistic lark--the way a novelist such as myself might do.

And if I am going to consider the question historically (and not simply be making a sceptical lark myself), then I had better be prepared to recognize much more than the faintest wisps of relevancy to the writer's own existence in an actual historical context.

Historically speaking, if he did completely invent this little anecdote, it is overwhelmingly probable that he invented it for a practical purpose.

But, what practical purpose?

To snipe at the Jewish opposition to GosMatt's Christian audience? This little story could hardly add to that in any fashion; for if (according to the hypothesis we are considering) it is entirely fictional, then of course nobody was going around in GosMatt's time saying that the disciples stole the body! It is meaningless to attempt to invent a reply to a charge that does not exist, even to help bolster 'belief'. It is worse than meaningless--in this case it is positively harmful! It raises a doubt that (per our current hypothesis of absolute fiction of Guard Adventure-B) was not an issue: maybe the disciples stole the body!

Furthermore, this little anecdote has no merely devotional or illustrative properties concerning the goodness or propriety of 'belief' (in Jesus, or God, or whomever or whatever). If the writer has included it to help bolster belief, it can only have been in response to some perceived pressure against belief.

A candidate for the perceived pressure is not very difficult to suggest. The perceived pressure is mentioned in the story itself: to this very day (of the writer), Jews spread the story that the disciples stole the body. Except (says the writer) they're lying; or (more precisely) they have been lied to by their leaders. And here (says the writer) is how and why.

Why invent this for no reason?

There is no plausible reason to invent it 'for no reason'.

Then, for what reason would the story have been invented?

All the probabilities indicate this story was told (invented or otherwise) because of an existent historical pressure: Jews were saying that the disciples stole the body.

We may accept this as a virtual certainty.

The moment we grant the writer of this little story any shred of real connection to existence in any remotely plausible historical setting--and he certainly did exist and he certainly did write this anecdote within a real historical setting of his own--then one fact shines out with clarity as a result:

At the time this little story was written into GosMatt--by whomever wrote it, wherever he wrote it, whenever he wrote it--a certain prevalent number of Jews were saying to GosMatt's intended audience, "the disciples stole the body."

But once this fact has been accepted, a growing avalanche begins rushing downhill--released by this one tiny diamond of positive (yet still sceptically minimal) historical analysis.

Part 2 next.

refutation of Doherty's Evolution of Jesus (4 of 7)


Doherty assumes what we have just disproved, the latter development of Cross and tomb, in order to assert a fictional Q community that lacked knowledge of Jesus and set up the basic Q document:

"If, on the other hand, the "biography" of Jesus of Nazareth was something unusual which went against the grain of current knowledge and belief, one can understand how early versions of the Gospels, written around the turn of the century, would have enjoyed only limited use and isolated reworking for at least a generation."
The Gospels would certainly be limited in acceptance even if the cross and the tomb were early and well known. Doherty wants us to think its because something totally new is being introduced into a tradition that never had it before, and that is true, but that doesn't mean the new element is the cross/tomb part of the story, nor is it an earthly Jesus. What's new is the introduction of written sources as more authoritative than oral sources. Papias complains that he likes to hear the spoken word better than the written word, this indicates that even as late as the early second century some oral tradition was still lingering. The Gospels do not have to have been written by their namesakes to be inspired but even with Apostolic backing they would still take time to spread, and still take time to gain authority. No one thought of these sources as scripture. We have always known scripture, for the early church, meant the Old Testament, not what we call "the New Testament." The gospel authors didn't think of themselves as writing "the Bible." Of course the whole assertion has been disproved anyway because the early Christian writings were full of quotations and allusions to the Gospels.

At this point Doherty makes one of his most crucial moves, grounding the canonicals in the Q tradition. He tries to establish the primacy of Q as an older and more authoritative source, then he will try to separate it form Jesus completely and argue that the Christians took it over form some other group noting to do with Jesus to begin with. We shall examine this on the next page
The core of the historical Jesus precedes the Gospels and was born in the community or circles which produced the document now called "Q" (for the German "Quelle," meaning "source"). No copy of Q has survived, but while a minority disagree, the majority of New Testament scholars today are convinced that Q did exist, and that it can be reconstructed from the common material found in Matthew and Luke which they did not get from Mark.
Of course this is very misleading because there is no Q document. What we have are traces of some tradition, but it could as easily be a version of Matthew or Matthew's "Logia" (of which Papias speaks) or Thomas, or even non existent. A lot of scholarly movement is found back in the direction of anti-Q feeling, and one need not abandon Marcan priority to abandon Q (Mark Goodacre "Fallacies at the Heart of Q" and Alen J. MacNichol "Has Goulder Sunck Q?"). Trying to attach Q to a historical community is especially amazing since we don't even know what Q was.

Doherty rightly points out (according to theory) that Q was not a narrative but a "saying source," and in that sense not a conventional "Gospel" as we think of Gospels. It was filled with ethical sayings and prophetic utterances, but none of the statements about the cross or the tomb fall within the Q range of sayings. Of course that would be true because they are used in all three synoptics. If Q is automatically assumed based upon material shared by Matthew and Luke but not in Mark (of course they do allow for overlaps but that's another issue) then automatically the tomb and cross would be excluded because it's in all three. That in no way proves that it was missing from Q. Its' just a matter of dogmatically excluding such sayings from that which we call "Q." Since don't have a copy of Q it makes it very easy to say "the cross and the tomb were not in Q."

In accessing Q's origin Doherty says: "It was the product of a Jewish (or Jewish imitating) sectarian movement located in Galilee which preached a coming Kingdom of God." Koster warns to be careful of the assertion that it was from Galilee. The assertion is based upon the only place names in Q, but there could be other reasons why those are the only place names used:

Helmutt Koester (remember page 1? Doherty quotes him as an authority) warns us not to do exactly what Doherty is doing, assuming a fictional group based upon the cynical sounding nature of some Q passages!
Helmut Koester:

Q 10:13-15 announces the coming judgment explicitly with the view to two Galilean towns, Chorazin and Bethsaida: even Tyre and Didon will be better off in the coming judgment. And the same saying threatens that Capernaum will be condemned to Hades. Except for the lament over Jerusalem (Q 13:34-35) and the localization of John the Baptist's activity in the area of the Jordan (Q 3:3), these are the only names of places which occur in Q. It is, therefore, tempting to assume that the redaction of Q took place somewhere in Galilee and that the document as a whole reflects the experience of a Galilean community of followers of Jesus. But some caution with respect to such conclusion seems advisable for several reasons. One single saying provides a very narrow base. Polemic against the Pharisees cannot confirm Galilean provenance - Greek-speaking Pharisees could be found elsewhere in the Diaspora, viz., Paul who persecuted the church in Greek-speaking synagogues, probably in Syria or Cilicia. Even the sayings used for the original composition of Q were known and used elsewhere at an early date: they were known to Paul, were used in Corinth by his opponents, employed perhaps in eastern Syria for the composition of the Gospel of Thomas, and quoted by 1 Clement in Rome at the end of the 1st century. The document itself, in its final redacted form, was used for the composition of two gospel writings, Matthew and Luke, which both originated in the Greek-speaking church outside of Palestine. (Ancient Christian Gospels, p. 164).
Doherty links the first layer of Q with counter cultural non Christian movements, (as Koster warns against) hatching out for himself a bogus history for his fictional Galilean cynical non Jesus worshipping Q community:
Scholars have concluded that Q was put together over time and in distinct stages. They have identified the earliest stratum (calling it Q1) as a set of sayings on ethics and discipleship; these contained notably unconventional ideas. Many are found in Matthew's Sermon on the Mount: the Beatitudes, turn the other cheek, love your enemies. A close similarity has been noted (see F. Gerald Downing, "Cynics and Christians," NTS 1984, p.584-93; Burton Mack, A Myth of Innocence, p.67-9, 73-4) between these maxims and those of the Greek philosophical school known as Cynicism, a counterculture movement of the time spread by wandering Cynic preachers. (Mack has declared that Jesus was a Cynic-style sage, whose connection with things Jewish was rather tenuous.) Perhaps the Q sect at its beginnings adopted a Greek source, with some recasting, one they saw as a suitable ethic for the kingdom they were preaching. In any case, there is no need to impute such sayings to a Jesus; they seem more the product of a school or lifestyle, formulated over time and hardly the sudden invention of a single mind.
He's making the assumption that Q is the oldest Christian teaching, because it has an older strata. But that in no way means it's the oldest of Christian teaching. Just because Q goes through a development form cynical sounding ethical sayings to concrete history of Jesus life in no way indicates that the church's understanding went through that evolution. The PMR that embodied the Tomb/cross tradition could be just as old. Here we are comparing narrative action with ethical teaching. If one has only a concept of writing down teachings and sayings, not story lines, how does one include a narrative in a list of sayings? That doesn't prove the narrative didn't exist. All it proves is that Christian literary consciousness expanded. It moved from the static saying source to a dynamic narrative account, but this took several decades. No one had ever written a Gospel before, the communities that invented the Gospels invented the literary form. There is a good reason why the ethical saying would be older than the narrative too, because they originated out of Jesus own teachings while he was alive. That's a very good reason why the group of original disciples would have Jesus ethical says already memorized and already being copied before they got to any narrative action. They probably already had them memorize before Jesus went to the cross. So of course the body of ethical teachings could be set aside as a separate unit and preserved in the memory of the group apart from the story.

Let's consider this argument. We have indications that in the latter part of Jesus ministry he began to attract a lot of people. Women were following the camp and taking care of things (cooking, cleaning). Lots of people were always about. Jesus sends out 72 disciples (Matthew 13) to preach and work miracles. Where did he get them? From the body of followers that had began to surround him. Matthias replaced Judas. The Apostles said "he has been with us from the beginning." So clearly there were other disciples who followed Jesus and who made a camp and regularly around him. wouldn't these people, and new followers as well, want a list of the teachings they were signing up to learn and follow? Jesus was telling them how to live, so they were memorizing sayings about ethics and daily living. The Sermon on the mount was a classic example of Jesus' ethical teaching and thus we find ethical teachings in Q. What if Q represents a list of ethical teachings largely compiled before Jesus had even died? That would be a good reason for it to leave out the cross and the tomb. It may have been used to teach new camp followers about the ethical system Jesus was teaching. After Jesus died they would save the list, they would copy it and pass it on. It is our conditioning to think Jesus = Gospels, that conditioning tells us they had to add a narrative. There is a very good reason why they would not have added the narrative to the sayings list. They were not running a six o'clock news program, they all knew he died. They knew about the empty tomb. They were probably re-telling the women's finding of the tomb every night in their communal meals. There would be no need to add these things to list of teachings, but the sacrosanct nature of the teachings given by the Master before he died and went away would be reason enough to keep the list intact. I'm not saying this is anywhere near proven, but it's alternative that explain the situation without the radical conclusion that the early community did not have knowledge of the cross or the tomb.

Doherty is also assuming from the outset, dogmatically, that they are not Christians in the sense of having a Jesus story. He assumes that Jesus emerges from their ranks and the sect was already going as a cynical group oriented around some body of ethical teaching. He has absolutely no reason to assume this whatsoever, and it seems the Galilee is a major part of his assumption, and of that Koester warns us not to make too much. Of course that's convenient for Doherty because it "explains" why Jesus would come from Galilee. The group put him forward, Doherty will argue because they needed a heroic figure to counter John the Baptist. But we will get to that latter. The fact of the saying having a cynical flavor in no way means they were not Jesus' teachings or that there was any original group to which Jesus belonged. It could just as well be that the cynics were on to something and Jesus' actual teachings coincide with theirs. Of maybe he liked the cynics. That doesn't create Doherty's fictional group. Actually, the sayings are not that close to the cynical mind set. They no more the cynics than any number of ethical view points. At that point Doherty has no reason to assume that these sayings were taken over by a Jewish group with eschatological expectations. He needs this to explain the rise of the Jesus myth form this group (the need for a leader). But there is no reason to assume it. He can't show a reason why a Jewish eschatologically oriented group would be concerned with cynical teachings.

There probably had to be a group that produced the Q document (assuming there was a Q document) but to assert that it was cynical, that it was pre Christian, that it knew nothing of Jesus, is all uncalled for and to assert that it did not know Jesus death is just plain wrong. The Burton Mack assumption that Q lacks a death of Christ is totally wrong, and this opens the door to the notion that the cross was expunged from Q material. But be that as it may, there is good reason not to understand these cynical sounding Q statements as indication of a group producing Q material prior to a Christian group.

David Seely argues that the cynical expression had become so popular among Greek speaking Jews that it could be found everywhere, and that it was used as a means of framing the Jewish understanding of prophetic death. Jesus death was then dealt with by early community in way that the deaths of the OT prophets were dealt with, which means framing it in a cynical outlook:

David Seeley


[This article first appeared in New Testament Studies 38 (1992) 222-34; it appears here by permission of Cambridge University Press. The Greek of the original has been transliterated.]
The Sayings Gospel Q is notable for lacking an account of Jesus' death./1/ It is surprising that one early Christian document is apparently so indifferent to an event which plays a profound role in others (e.g., Romans, Mark). Scholars have, to be sure, observed that the issue of persecution and/or death is often referred to in Q, and many have come to believe that these references are casting an implicit glance at the death of Jesus himself. According to this line of thought, early Christians would have used the deaths of the prophets to connect Jesus' death with those of his followers. I do not intend to argue against this. Rather, I will propose that there is also another view according to which Q related Jesus' death and those of his followers. This view involved common, Cynic-Stoic ideas of the time.

The Deuteronomistic-Prophetic Understanding of Jesus' Death in Q In Q, there are six passages which deal with the issue of violent persecution and/or death (Q 6:22-23, 6:27-29, 11:47-51, 12:4, 13:34-35, and 14:27)./2/ Three of these mention the prophets./3/ Q 6:22-23 cautions Jesus' followers not to sorrow over being persecuted, for the prophets received similar treatment. Q 11:47-51 refers to the deaths of the prophets and apostles. Q 13:34-35 refers to the deaths of the prophets alone. These verses imply that Q may have understood Jesus' death in terms of the deaths of the prophets. This implication has grown easier to follow in light of O. H. Steck's work. Steck has argued that, by the first century CE, two important ideas had coalesced: 1) a belief that prophets were habitually killed by the recalcitrant Israelites; 2) the deuteronomistic view of Israel's repeated disobedience against God's laws./4/ Steck has termed this coalescence the deuteronomistic-prophetic view. According to it, the Israelites would sin, God would send his messengers to admonish them, and the people, compounding their sin, would kill those messengers. Nehemiah 9:26 provides important evidence for Steck's argument: "[the Israelites] were disobedient and rebelled against thee [God] and cast thy law behind their back and killed thy prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to thee, and they committed great blasphemies."
In conclusion Seely argues that the framing of Jesus death in this way would have been a very widespread element throughout Jewish culture of the time:
This article has done three things. First, it has pointed out that Q 14:27 does not match the deuteronomistic-prophetic interpretation of Jesus' death, even though the verse seems to address that death more directly than other Q passages. Second, it has proposed that 14:27 does match Cynic-Stoic views on the nature of a teacher's death and its relationship to disciples' deaths. Third, the article has asserted that this kind of influence is plausible from a cultural, chronological, and social standpoint. Though the arguments presented here are obviously not the only ones that can be entertained concerning this verse, they nevertheless deserve serious reflection./50/
Meanwhile, Doherty moves on to the next stage in the development of Q. He's trying to hitchhike his bogus notion of the fictional Jesus story being born out of this evolution of the Q group. He's trying to graft one on to the other.
This formative stage of Q scholars call "sapiential," for it is essentially an instructional collection of the same genre as traditional "wisdom" books like Proverbs, though in this case with a radical, counterculture content. Later indications (as in Luke 11:49) suggest that the words may have been regarded as spoken by the personified Wisdom of God (see Part Two), and that the Q preachers saw themselves as her spokespersons.
Here he is making several major assumptions not in evidence. He's making a connection that shouldn't be made, he wants us to think that because some wisdom traditions embodied a personification of wisdom, that must be the case with all wisdom literature. Solomon's Ecclesiastes is a wisdom tradition and that uses the vehicle of the wise but flesh and blood Solomon as it's author, not some idealized wisdom figure. Doherty wants to splice together these ideas of the idealized personification of wisdom with the eternal Jesus because group needed a wisdom figure. But this way of doing it is so clumsy and so contrived. I want Doherty to show me one example of any group anywhere in the world that ever did things this way. As I have argued before, he has mythology running backwards. No group first exists as an amorphous blob loosely connected to some set of ideas, decides that it needs a mascot to focus it's ideology and then drafts some ethereal being and then shapes it into a concrete historically bound story.

One also wonders what the group was about in the first place. He has a group of cynics, apparently organized around a set of sayings, and those saying are taken over by a Jewish eschatological group, which then has a crisis of leadership and needs to make up a wisdom figure to embody the sayings and give the group a new leader after the loss of the old one (John the B) but wouldn't the first set of sayings require a leader to say them to begin with? How could they just take over this group of sayings from a pagan religion and then work them into the fabric of their group separate and apart form the teachings of their own leader, then cram them into the mouth of their new fictional leader. How would all work for group cohesion in real life?

He pulls this splicing of ethereal Jesus with need or wisdom figure in the coincidence of the prophetic layer of Q.
The next stratum of Q (labeled Q2) has been styled "prophetic," apocalyptic. In these sayings the community is lashing out against the hostility and rejection it has received from the wider establishment. In contrast to the mild, tolerant tone of Q1, Q2 contains vitriolic railings against the Pharisees, a calling of heaven's judgment down on whole towns. The figure of the Son of Man enters, one who will arrive at the End-time to judge the world in fire; he is probably the result of reflection on the figure in Daniel 7. Here we first find John the Baptist, a kind of mentor or forerunner to the Q preachers. Dating the strata of Q is difficult, but I would suggest that this second stage falls a little before the Jewish War.
Here He has the community turning to the prophetic as a means of attack against the rejection they have already encountered. Who would reject and who would identify with this amorphous blob oriented around a few sayings of the Greek cynics? If there was pre Christian Q community that was oriented around the Greek cynics, they would probably have been placid and boring; the cynics were akin to the stoics, they took everything in stride and avoided emotions, if they lived in a Rodenberry universe, they would be Vulcans. Why were they rejected exactly, prior to finding this mascot (Jesus) what drew them together as a group? Just for a few cynical sayings? I think we have to do better than this. Of course its much more likely that Jesus emerged as a real flesh and blood person out of Galilee because that was a political hotbed rife with revolutionaries. It's far more likely that Jesus had this burning concept of the prophetic because real people who actually lived in Galilee thought that way, not like the placid cynics or stoics; It's really much more likely that Jesus was into this prophetic frame of mind because the Jews were into that way of thinking at that time, and because the Galilee was the hotbed of such thinking. The placid nature of a group oriented around cynicism would not fit the revolutionary zeal of the Galilee. Cynicism was popular and could fit into a larger background, but Doherty is assuming the group was oriented around the Q sayings which are cynical in nature, but he can't furnish us with a notion of the nature of the original group. Of course one might argue that if Jesus existed Christians must accept that he really thought those things so he had to more than just a revolutionary, but a thinker deeper than mere politics. That's true, but it works better with a real person. That's the kind of inconsistency one finds in real people. It's harder to see how it would it capture the imagination of a group without a real leader.

The only real clue Doherty can give us about the nature of the group is that it would be Jewish, and thus oriented around some notions of Messianic expectations of the end times. To that extent it seems a contradiction in character that their whole ethical teaching would be based upon the cynics. Now one might argue, "hey but Jesus has the same problem." But Jesus was as a real flesh and blood man could draw criticism and be seen as a challenge to authority and gain the ire of others, but as a fictional mascot who knows? Doherty assumes that the Q group would delve into the end times, understands that the son of Man comes from Daniel but seems oblivious to the fact that this was a standard epithet for the Messiah. So when Jesus speaks of himself as "son of man" in third person he is actually saying "I am the Messiah." This would have been a commonplace for the Jews.
There is good reason to conclude that even at this stage there was no Jesus in the Q community's thinking. That is, the wisdom and prophetic sayings in their original form would have contained no mention of a Jesus as speaker or source. They were pronouncements of the community itself and its traditional teachings, seen as inspired by the Wisdom of God.
one can only wonder why, Out of a hotbed of revolutionary zeal a placid cynic-stoic group (cynicism and stoicism when hand in hand) with a bland message (Love your neighbor) suddenly feels put upon, when in reality they would have been totally ignored in the revolutionary world of the Galilee? One wonders why they would muster prophetic sayings anyway with nothing more than "love your neighbor" and the like as the center of their group identity.

Doherty hitchhikes on the back of Q in seeking to play textual critic. He tries to show a disjunction between the persona of Jesus of Nazareth and the ethical says and the "son of man" statements of Jesus. He's arguing that these statements are being put in Jesus mouth, and this is supposed to prove that the Q group existed without any Jesus in their ranks and separately from any idea of a flesh and blood earthly rabbi named Jesus of Nazareth.
For while Matthew and Luke often show a common wording or idea in a given saying core, when they surround this with set-up lines and contexts involving Jesus, each evangelist offers something very different. (Compare Luke 17:5-6 with Matthew 17:19-20). This indicates that Q had preserved nothing which associated the sayings with a ministry of Jesus, a lack of interest in the source of the teaching which would be unusual and perplexing.
Or it could indicate that the evangelists organized their material in terms of the needs of their contemporary community. That's what scholars think they did, how then can this be evidence for the addition of a fictional Jesus? I think what he's talking about is what scholars call "pericopes" (per-ic-op-pees) which are independent units of story. An example would be Jesus healing the leper. That can be taken out and put in any number of places and not ruin the flow of the overall narrative. We find this happening all the time. For example In John Jesus cleanses the temple at the beginning of this ministry, in the synoptics he does it at the end as part of the Eastern weekend, and high drama leading up to the arrest. For John cleansing the temple serves to kick off Jesus ministry, for the synoptics it serves as a plot device to lead to the arrest. The evangelists weren't too concerned with chronology of each saying or each incident. They had more or less a free flowing narrative. Doherty sees this as proof that there is no history to the Jesus story, most scholars see it as an indication that these guys were not historians but preachers. They did not have a concept of writing history but were writing sermons for the community. Moreover, this device, the pericope was brought out by Bautlmann in his development of form criticism. It probably developed in this manner as indicative of oral testimony. In trying to memorize a long story one works with small independent units. Then in writing it down the redactors realized that they could play with the chronology of the units. Again this is proof, not that the Jesus story evolved over time as though it was fiction, but that the church learned, little by little, how to write.

Let's examine the two passages Doherty mentions:
Luke 17:5 And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.

Luke 17:6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamore tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.

Mat 17:19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

Mat 17:20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
These are clearly very similar statements but not identical. For one thing Jesus might actually used these two different illustrations at different times. Of course the structure of the statement is close enough that they are clearly following a pattern. No one talks in such a way as to use the very same syntax over and over again. Still the fact that there is a minor difference (one is dealing with a tree, the other a mountain) might indicate that there is a reason why similar statements are put in two different contexts. To just conclude "O well its' because it's all made up and there' no history to base it on" is absurd. Looking at the context one can see that the notion of fitting the statement to the needs of the community is probably the answer.

Doherty sees the content of Gospel discourse infused with material from a pre-Christian sect devoted to Jewish prophetic expectations in Greek cynical format. He finds that the "son of man" sayings are indicative of this barrowing. The "son of man" is a common euphemism for Messiah, it probably comes from the statement in Daniel that the prophet saw in a vision "one like unto a son of man" (meaning he was extraterrestrial but looked human). Doherty sees the third person usage of this terminology as barrowing because it is as though Jesus is referring to someone else:
Nor are the apocalyptic Son of Man sayings (about his future coming) identified with Jesus, which is why, when they were later placed in his mouth, Jesus sounds as though he is talking about someone else. When one examines John the Baptist's prophecy at the opening of Q (Luke 3:16-17), about one who will come "who is mightier than I," who will baptize with fire and separate the wheat from the chaff, we find no reference to a Jesus or an enlightened teacher or prophet who is contemporary to John. Rather, this sounds like a prophecy of the coming Son of Man, the apocalyptic judge, a prophecy put into John's mouth by the Q community.
What Doherty is unwittingly doing here is stumbling onto Jewish Messianic expectations, since he doesn't know anything about them, he's making assumptions based upon surface appearance. First of all, the statements about the "son of man" as they would be used in Daniel and in inter testamental literature would not be connected to any particular person. Secondly, of course there is a link between John's "one who is coming" and the son of man, of course both do represent the Messiah. John does not detach them from Jesus. They were detached as they appear in other venue, but since John questioning Jesus directly he's connecting them to Jesus. That just leaves the mystery as to why Jesus speaks of the "son of man" In third person. It could be a sort of royal we. I have always felt this is what I call 'signature fulfillment.' Certain things Jesus did that make no sense except as a way of leaving a finger print; he's saying 'I am the Messiah!' One example is before the arrest telling the disciples to buy a sword so they would be numbered among transgressors. What a useless idea, and they didn't even intend to use it. why would he do that? To be numbered among transgressors was a Messianic expectation. Why does he go out of his way to make a self fulfilling prophecy? Because he's signing his name, he's saying "I am the one about whom this was written." So in referring to himself as "son of man" he's saying "I am the son of man." Would we have him speak in an awkward fashion and say "I will come, btw I am the son of man" rather than "when the son of man comes." He doesn't have to add "that's me folks" because we know by the fact that when we read it we think "hey but that's him, why is he speaking of it in third person when it's him?" Doherty's argument about it proves the point, it's efficacy in forcing one to confront the signature. It serves its purpose when it makes us think, but wait, the "son of man" is supposed to be him, so why is he using third person?"


Doherty says:

"Only in Justin Martyr, writing in the 150s, do we find the first identifiable quotations from some of the Gospels, though he calls them simply "memoirs of the Apostles," with no names." This is already been disproved. I've already pointed out quotations and allusions in all the major Apostolic fathers, in Paul and in pre Mark Redaction. Doherty seems mainly to be carping on the fact that no one sties chapter and verse, as though he doesn't know they didn't write in chapters and verses.

Doherty evokes Koster, but as we see with the myther penchant for quoting Cumont, it's clear he has not read Koster closely enough:

"Scholars such as Helmut Koester have concluded that earlier "allusions" to Gospel-like material are likely floating traditions which themselves found their way into the written Gospels. (See Koester's Ancient Christian Gospels and his earlier Synoptische Uberlieferung bei den apostolischen Vatern.) Is it conceivable that the earliest account of Jesus' life and death could have been committed to writing as early as 70 (or even earlier, as some would like to have it), and yet the broader Christian world took almost a century to receive copies of it?"

But what does Koester really say? Here he speaks of how Papyrus Egerton 2 indicates an independent tradition, but that tradition is common with the canonical material and the cross and tomb are part of that tradition.


"There are two solutions that are equally improbable. It is unlikely that the pericope in Egerton 2 is an independent older tradition. It is equally hard to imagine that anyone would have deliberately composed this apophthegma by selecting sentences from three different Gospel writings. There are no analogies to this kind of Gospel composition because this pericope is neither a harmony of parallels from different Gospels, nor is it a florogelium. If one wants to uphold the hypothesis of dependence upon written Gospels one would have to assume that the pericope was written form memory....What is decisive is that there is nothing in the pericope that reveals redactional features of any of the Gospels that parallels appear. The author of Papyrus Egerton 2 uses independent building blocks of sayings for the composition of this dialogue none of the blocks have been formed by the literary activity of any previous Gospel writer. If Papyrus Egerton 2 is not dependent upon the Fourth Gospel it is an important witness to an earlier stage of development of the dialogues of the fourth Gospel....(Koester , 3.2 p.215)

But that earlier stage, and therefore the independent tradition is independent in that it is not merely copied form the canonical Gospels, but it does stand behind them as part of the material upon which they draw. But that material included almost word for word what is the canonicals, this table is but two examples presented by Koster:

Egerton 2: "And behold a leper came to him and said "Master Jesus, wandering with lepers and eating with them in the inn, I therefore became a leper. If you will I shall be clean. Accordingly the Lord said to him "I will, be clean" and immediately the leprosy left him.

Mark 1:40: And the leper came to him and beseeching him said '[master?] if you will you can make me clean. And he stretched out his hands and touched him and said "I will be clean" and immediately the leprosy left him.

Egerton 2: "tell us is it permitted to give to Kings what pertains to their rule? Tell us, should we give it? But Jesus knowing their intentions got angry and said "why do you call me teacher with your mouth and do not what I say"?

Mark 12:13-15: Is it permitted to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay them or not? But knowing their hypocrisy he said to them "why do you put me to the test, show me the coin?"
(all of that looks better in the chart on Doxa, in fact this whole pages does--scroll down).

As we can see these are the same stories, they are in a slightly different form, older (according to Koster) than those found in the canonicals, but basically the same stories. If we must assume that the tradition was a whole, why would the Orthodox just barrow from certain stories of a tradition that was totally alien to their view? The tradition as a whole must have included the cross and the tomb, and the textual evidence shows that these elements are part of the PMR and are as old as the writing itself.

Gospel of Peter

Fragments of the Gospel of Peter were found in 1886 /87 in Akhimim, upper Egypt. These fragments were from the 8th or 9th century. No other fragment was found for a long time until one turned up at Oxyrahynchus, which were written in 200 AD. Bishop Serapion of Antioch made the statement prior to 200 that a Gospel had been put forward in the name of Peter. This statement is preserved by Eusebius who places Serapion around 180. But the Akhimim fragment contains three pericopes. The Resurrection, to which the guards at the tomb are witnesses, the empty tomb, or which the women are witnesses, and an epiphany of Jesus appearing to Peter and the 12, which end the book abruptly.

Many features of the Gospel of Peter are clearly from secondary sources, that is reworked versions of the canonical story. These mainly consist of 1) exaggerated miracles; 2) anti-Jewish polemic. The cross follows Jesus out of the tomb, a voice from heaven says "did you preach the gospel to all?" The cross says "Yea." And Pilate is totally exonerated, the Jews are blamed for the crucifixion. (Koester, p.218). However, "there are other traces in the Gospel of Peter which demonstrate an old and independent tradition." The way the suffering of Jesus is described by the use of passages from the old Testament without quotation formulae is, in terms of the tradition, older than the explicit scriptural proof; it represents the oldest form of the passion of Jesus. (Philipp Vielhauer, Geschichte, 646] Jurgen Denker argues that the Gospel of Peter shares this tradition of OT quotation with the Canonicals but is not dependent upon them. (In Koester p.218) Koester writes, "John Dominic Crosson has gone further [than Denker]...he argues that this activity results in the composition of a literary document at a very early date i.e. in the middle of the First century CE" (Ibid). Said another way, the interpretation of Scripture as the formation of the passion narrative became an independent document, a ur-Gospel, as early as the middle of the first century!

Corosson's Cross Gospel is this material in the Gospel of Peter through which, with the canonicals and other non-canonical Gospels Crosson constructs a whole text. According to the theory, the earliest of all written passion narratives is given in this material, is used by Mark, Luke, Matthew, and by John, and also Peter. Peter becomes a very important 5th witness. Koester may not be as famous as Crosson but he is just as expert and just as liberal. He takes issue with Crosson on three counts:

1) no extant text, its all coming form a late copy of Peter,
2) it assumes the literary composition of latter Gospels can be understood to relate to the compositions of earlier ones;
3) Koester believes that the account ends with the empty tomb and has independent sources for the epihanal material.


"A third problem regarding Crossan's hypotheses is related specifically to the formation of reports about Jesus' trial, suffering death, burial, and resurrection. The account of the passion of Jesus must have developed quite early because it is one and the same account that was used by Mark (and subsequently Matthew and Luke) and John and as will be argued below by the Gospel of Peter. However except for the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection in the various gospels cannot derive from a single source, they are independent of one another. Each of the authors of the extant gospels and of their secondary endings drew these epiphany stories from their own particular tradition, not form a common source." (Koester, p. 220)

"Studies of the passion narrative have shown that all gospels were dependent upon one and the same basic account of the suffering, crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus. But this account ended with the discovery of the empty tomb. With respect to the stories of Jesus' appearances, each of the extant gospels of the canon used different traditions of epiphany stories which they appended to the one canon passion account. This also applies to the Gospel of Peter. There is no reason to assume that any of the epiphany stories at the end of the gospel derive from the same source on which the account of the passion is based." (Ibid)

What this means is that the individual sittings of Jesus at the end of the Gospels came from different sources, were perhaps embellishments, but the basic story, the basic tradition from which all the other sources, canonicals, Peter, Thomas, Q, Egerton 2 all of them derive, included the cross and the tomb.

Raymond Brown, in Death of the Messiah demonstrates brilliantly that the story of the guards on the tomb as reported in Peter is not derived from Matthew, but is an independent tradition, perhaps as old or older. He demonstrates the independence of Peter's Passion narrative and tomb sequences in a huge and brilliantly constructed chart, which cannot be reproduced here, but which is elaborate. He uses the same argument that Koester uses above, not one forged s a document or redacts or copies a document by taking every other word. When one finds this kind of divergence in the working is indicates a separate tradition.

GPet follow the classical flow from trail through crucifixion to burial to tomb presumably with post resurrectional appearances to follow. The GPet sequence of individual episodes, however, is not the same as that of any can canonical Gospel...When one looks at the overall sequence in the 23 items I listed in table 10, it would take very great imagination to picture the author of GPet studying Matthew carefully, deliberately shifting episodes around and copying in episodes form Luke and John to produce the present sequence. [Brown, Death of the Messiah, 1322]

This work Brown did upon the independent tradition of GPet was the work that made his initial reputation as a major scholar.

Gospel of the Hebrews

We do not possess any copies of this work. It exists only in quotations from church fathers, but that's the similar situation with Q as well. GHebrews includes the atonement and the resurrection, and the tradition is independent of the canonicals and is traced to mid fist century. This gives us several sources that show a pre Mark tradition not derived from the canonical Gospels that is at least as old as the hypothetical tradition to which Doherty alludes; it contains Jesus, it contains the cross and the tomb:

Peter Kirby:

Early Christian Writings, Gospel of the Hebrews.

Unlike other Jewish-Christian gospels, the Gospel of the Hebrews shows no dependence upon the Gospel of Matthew. The story of the first resurrection appearance to James the Just suggests that the Jewish-Christian community that produced this document claimed James as their founder. It is reasonable to assume that the remainder of the gospel is synoptic in flavor. The Gospel of the Hebrews seems to be independent of the New Testament in the quoted portions; unfortunately, since the gospel is not extant, it is difficult to know whether unquoted portions of the Gospel of the Hebrews might show signs of dependence.

Cameron makes these observations on dating and provenance: "The earliest possible date of the composition of the Gospel of the Hebrews would be in the middle of the first century, when Jesus traditions were first being produced and collected as part of the wisdom tradition. The latest possible date would be in the middle of the second century, shortly before the first reference to this gospel by Hegesippus and the quotations of it by Clement and Origen. Based on the parallels in the morphology of the tradition, an earlier date of composition is more likely than a later one. Internal evidence and external attestation indicate that Egypt was its place of origin."

Brief note on Gospel of Thomas

Peter Kirby gives a good summary of the ms attestation of Thomas:

The Gospel of Thomas is extant in three Greek fragments and one Coptic manuscript. The Greek fragments are P. Oxy. 654, which corresponds to the prologue and sayings 1-7 of the Gospel of Thomas; P. Oxy. 1, which corresponds to the Gospel of Thomas 26-30, 77.2, 31-33; and P. Oxy. 655, which corresponds to the Gospel of Thomas 24 and 36-39. P. Oxy 1 is dated shortly after 200 CE for paleographical reasons, and the other two Greek fragments are estimated to have been written in the mid third century. The Coptic text was written shortly before the year 350 CE.

Even though scholars date the actual MS to the third or fourth century, a large camp of scholars, including those who discovered Thomas, date the actual writing in middle first century. Does this work indicate a separate tradition growing up along side the canonical Gospels, a tradition that lacked the cross and the empty tomb? It does constitute a MS tradition that is not derived from the canonical Gospels, but that is not proof of "another" Church that lacked the atonement or the resurrection as central pillars of its testimony to Jesus. What it proves is that by the time these sources manifest themselves as second century or later Gnostic "other Gospels" they are minus those elements because the Gnostics would allow them to slip out. First, piece of proof on this point, GThom was heavily redacted. In fact we possess it four separate versions:

Ron Cameron (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, v. 6, p. 535):

Substantial differences do exist between the Greek fragments and the Coptic text. These are best explained as variants resulting from the circulation of more than one Greek edition of Gos. Thom. in antiquity. The existence of three different copies of the Greek text of Gos. Thom. does give evidence of rather frequent copying of this gospel in the 3d century. According to the critical edition of the Greek text by Attridge (in Layton 1989: 99), however, even though these copies do not come from a single ms, the fragmentary state of the papyri does not permit one to determine whether any of the mss "was copied from one another, whether they derive independently from a single archetype, or whether they represent distinct recensions." It is clear, nevertheless, that Gos. Thom. was subject to redaction as it was transmitted. The presence of inner-Coptic errors in the sole surviving translation, moreover, suggests that our present Gos. Thom. is not the first Coptic transcription made from the Greek. The ms tradition indicates that this gospel was appropriated again and again in the generations following its composition. Like many other gospels in the first three centuries, the text of Gos. Thom. must be regarded as unstable.

It would seem that the tradition of the Gospel of Thomas is varied and the text has been through several redactions.

Arguing Thomas' independence from the Synoptics Stephen J. Patterson (quoted by Kirby) compares the wording of each saying in Thomas to its synoptic counterpart with the conclusion that Thomas represents an autonomous stream of tradition (The Gospel of Thomas and Jesus, p. 18):

Patterson (quoted by Kirby): If Thomas were dependent upon the synoptic gospels, it would be possible to detect in the case of every Thomas-synoptic parallel the same tradition-historical development behind both the Thomas version of the saying and one or more of the synoptic versions. That is, Thomas' author/editor, in taking up the synoptic version, would have inherited all of the accumulated tradition-historical baggage owned by the synoptic text, and then added to it his or her own redactional twist. In the following texts this is not the case. Rather than reflecting the same tradition-historical development that stands behind their synoptic counterparts, these Thomas sayings seem to be the product of a tradition-history which, though exhibiting the same tendencies operative within the synoptic tradition, is in its own specific details quite unique. This means, of course, that these sayings are not dependent upon their synoptic counterparts, but rather derive from a parallel and separate tradition.

That proves that GThom was independent, that it was not derived by copying the canonicals, but it doesn't prove that saying pertaining to the Cross and the Tomb weren't just left out. Cameron argues that he can prove this:

Cameron (537) quoted by Kirby: Those who argue that Gos. Thom. is dependent on the Synoptics not only must explain the differences in wording and order, but also give a reason for Gos. Thom.'s choice of genre and the absence of the gospels' narrative material in the text. To assert, for example, that Gos. Thom. erased the passion narratives because Gnosticism was concerned solely with a redeeming message contained in words of revelation (Haenchen 1961: 11) is simply not convincing, since the Apocryphon of James (NHC I, 2), the Second treatise of the Great Seth (NHC VII, 2), and the Apocalypse of Peter (NHC VII, 3) all indicate that sayings of and stories about the death and resurrection of Jesus were reinterpreted by various Gnostic groups. For any theory of dependence of Gos. Thom. on the NT to be made plausible, one must show that the variations in form and content of their individual sayings, together with the differences in genre and structure of their entire texts, are intentional modifications of their respective parallels, designed to serve a particular purpose.

This last criterion that Cameron lays down, that "the variations in form and content of their individual sayings, together with differences in genre and structure of their entire texts, are intentional modifications of their respective parallels, designed to serve a particular purpose," why is it necessary to show that? All they had to do was leave out the bits about the cross and the resurrection. If we assume that both canonicals and GThom have a common ancestor, some group or body of sayings that they both draw from, that's pretty obvious, or there would not be such parallels, the Gnostic use of that tradition could very as greatly as just leaving out the key expressions of doctrines hey no longer included in their tradition. There are numerous parallels not only between GThom and canonicals, but E2 and the canonicals. So it's clear that these "other gospels" drew upon the same parent sources, since it is equally clear that they did not just copy the canonicals. This might indicate that the groups producing Q, Thomas and E 2 did not use sayings pertaining to the cross and the resurrection. There is evidence that they had traditions that hinted at them, and the heavy redaction might indicate purging of such sayings. Let us not forget we are dealing with sayings and not narrative. Talk of context is not the same as if we were dealing with the expunging of a part of the plot in a narrative structure. All they have to do is leave out certain sayings. There are hints this may have been done. We can see from the chart above (parallels between E2 and John) that there are passes that deal with arresting Jesus and doing violence to him. That opens the door to the possibility that cross sayings have been expunged from the overall tradition.

Let us just assume for a moment that Doherty's hypothetical case is true and there was a Q community that is also represented in general by other words, such as E2 and GThom. The overall tradition must have at one time included some references to arrest and violence toward Jesus. Thus I am arguing two things:

(1) the door is open through the heavily redacted nature of the ms to have expunged sayings not in harmony with group ideology, at some later point of transmission after the composition of the individual works. if not

(2) good indications exist that some notion of Jesus being arrested and killed existed in the general tradition and were merely not included, either left out of these individual works (Q, E2, GThom) or they fell out before the composition of these works.

As to the argument that other Gnostics deal with the cross and the tomb, so why not these? The reason for that might be because those other works were not part of the early tradition. If these sources under discussion emerged form the mid first century, the other works Cameron mentions (Apocryphon of James, Seth literature from Nag Hammadi) were much latter works. The latter came form after the Orthodox church was more pervasive and the passion and resurrection were undisputed; those events had gained so much ground in the story they could not be ignored. In the early days, the mid firs century, groups that looked down upon the flesh and deemphasized or were embarrassed by those events merely left them out and stopped dealing with them at some point. So they were either expunged from the parent sources that E2 and GThom used, (meaning the source itself was reshaped to exclude them) or they just weren't included in latter copies from which these latter were produced. At that point, only 18 years after the original events, in the groups of the original community, eye witnesses would still be alive to correct error, but in rough groups breaking off or in groups scattered far away (Egypt, Antioch) they would have been able to de-emphasize the cross at that time. Basically we need more information before we really know what the infant church taught.

Now we must turn Doherty's fantasy of a "Q community" because it is the crux of his whole argument. That is where he develops the idea of this "other tradition" that began as the original infant church.

Aside from all that, the Gospel of Thomas does actually contain a reference to the cross of Christ:

GThom:55: Jesus said: He who does not hate his father and his mother cannot be a disciple to me. And (he who does not) hate his brothers and sisters and take up his cross like me, will not be worthy of me.

Doherty makes the claim that the Gospels were not received as an authoritative contribution to the Christian tradition until after the close of the first century. The importance of this claim should be obvious, if the Gospels were not authoritative the elements that make them distinct from the other tradition must be late inventions. Thus the cross, the tomb, Jesus himself are all added late and not historical elements!

But equally important is attestation. When do the Gospels start to show up in the wider record of Christian writings? If Mark is as early as 70, and all four had been written by 100, why do none of the early Fathers—the author of 1 Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, the author of the Epistle of Barnabas— writing between 90 and 130, quote or refer to any of them? How could Ignatius (around 107), so eager to convince his readers that Jesus had indeed been born of Mary and died under Pilate, that he had truly been a human man who suffered, how could he have failed to appeal to some Gospel account as verification of all this if he had known one? (Doherty, Ibid)

While it is true that Clement of Rome hardly ever quotes Gospels in is epistle (1 Clement) it is not true that he never does so at all. From the ethereal library's translation and footnote scheme of 1 Clement: he quotes or alludes to Matt 23:35 in chapter 24 (FN 102). In Chapter 56 FN 210 he alludes to Matt 18:6, 26:24, Mark 9:42, Luke 17:2. Secondly, there are good reasons why Clement wouldn't quote many Gospels. For one thing, John was from the circles of Asia minor. While these churches were probably on speaking terms with the Pauline churches there, they probably had little or no discourse with the churches in Rome. For another thing, if the traditional dates hold up John was written sometime in the 90's and 1 Clement is traditionally assigned the date of 95. So John would only have been within a five year period, and in fact might not have yet been written yet at all. So that would explain why Clement doesn't quote John. It either had not had time to reach Rome and build up authority, or it didn't exist yet. He does quote Matt, Mark, and Luke. Matthew had more authority and more ethos than did Mark. Clement quotes Matthew more than the other two Gospels.

Secondly, Doherty misses the fact that Gospels didn't have chapter and verse at that time, people didn't use footnotes, and the allusion to an author was sometimes all one Gave. Igtantus orinary habit seems to have been quoting major works without reference to who wrote them, but this was not uncommon. Clement does the same thing. Given this understanding, Ignatius quotes from or alludes to the Gospel of John a great deal.

Ethereal Library, Philip Schaff

Philip Schaff, 1882 provides several possible quotations of John by early church fathers, who are said by skeptics not to mention him. This is an outdated source, but it makes really good use of the Apostolic fathers and that information has not changed.

But we can go still farther back. The scanty writings of the Apostolic Fathers, so called, have very few allusions to the New Testament, and breathe the atmosphere of the primitive oral tradition. The author of the "Didache" was well acquainted with Matthew. The first Epistle of Clement has strong affinity with Paul. The shorter Epistles of Ignatius show the influence of John's Christology.30 Polycarp (d. a.d. 155 in extreme old age), a personal pupil of John, used the First Epistle of John, and thus furnishes an indirect testimony to the Gospel, since both these 'books must stand or fall together.31

32John 1:40-43; from which it has also been inferred that he knew the fourth Gospel. There is some reason to suppose that the disputed section on the woman taken in adultery was recorded by him in illustration of John 8:15; for, according to Eusebius, he mentioned a similar story in his lost work.3334

Here from the footnotes where he lines up the quotations. Quotations of Ignatius drawing upon the 4G..


"Comp. (FN 1065) such expressions as "I desire bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ ... and I desire as drink His blood, which is love imperishable," Ad Rom., ch. 7, with John 6:47 sqq.; "living water," Ad Rom. 7, with John 4:10, 11; "being Himself the Door of the Father," Ad Philad., 9, with John 10:9; [the Spirit] "knows whence it cometh and whither it goeth," Ad Philad., 7, with John 3:8. I quoted from the text of Zahn. See the able art. of Lightfoot in "Contemp. Rev." for February, 1875, and his S. Ignatius, 1885.

[here quotes Polycarp](FN1066)

31 Polyc., Ad Phil., ch. 7: "Every one that doth not confess that Jesus Christ hath come in the flesh is Antichrist; and whosoever doth not confess the mystery of the cross is of the devil." Comp. 1 John 4:3. On the testimony of Polycarp see Lightfoot in the "Contemp. Rev." for May, 1875. Westcott, p. xxx, says: "A testimony to one" (the Gospel or the first Ep.) "is necessarily by inference a testimony to the other."Eusebius32 According to Eusebius, III. 39. See Lightfoot in the "Contemp. Rev." for August and October, 1875.

33 Eusebius, H. E., III. 39, closes his account of Papias with the notice: "He has likewise set forth another narrative [in his Exposition of the Lord's Oracles] concerning a woman who was maliciously accused before the Lord touching many sins, which is contained in the Gospel according to the Hebrews."

Here From Justin Martyr The quotation is not literal but from memory, like most of his quotations: Justin, Apol., I. 61: "For Christ also said, Except ye be born again [ajnagennhqh'te, comp. 1 Pet. 3:23], ye shall in no wise enter [eijsevlqh'te, but comp. the same word In John 8:5 and 7] into the kingdom of heaven (the phrase of Matthew]. Now that it is impossible for those who have once been born to re-enter the wombs of those that bare them is manifest to all." John 3:3, 4: "Jesus answered and said to him [Nicodemus], Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born anew [or from above, gennhqh'/ a[nwqen], he cannot see [ijdei'n 3: 5, enter into] the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Much account has been made by the Tübingen critics of the slight differences in the quotation (ajnagennhqh'te for gennhqh'/ a[nwqen, eijselqei'n for ijdei'n and basileiva tw'n oujranw'n for ba". tou' qeou') to disprove the connection, or, as this is impossible, to prove the dependence of John on Justin! But Dr. Abbot, a most accurate and conscientious scholar, who moreover as a Unitarian cannot be charged with an orthodox bias, has produced many parallel cases of free quotations of the same passage not only from patristic writers, but even from modem divines, including no less than nine quotations of the passage by Jeremy Taylor, only two of which are alike. I think he has conclusively proven his case for every reasonable mind. See his invaluable monograph on The Authorship of the Fourth Gospel, pp. 28 sqq. and 91 sqq. Comp. also Weiss, Leben Jesu, I. 83, who sees in Justin Martyr not only "an unquestionable allusion to the Nicodemus story of the fourth Gospel," but other isolated reminiscences.

Doherty tries to deride the whole Orthodox chain of testimony by undermining the authority of Papias. Papias is a crucial link because he's one of only two early second century writers who knew eye witnesses to Jesus ministry..

Doherty:"Eusebius reports that in a now-lost work written around 125, bishop Papias mentioned two pieces of writing by "Matthew" and "Mark." But even these cannot be equated with the canonical Gospels, for Papias called the former "sayings of the Lord in Hebrew," and the description of the latter also sounds as if it was not a narrative work."

Why can't these works to which Eusebius refers, the "logia" mentioned by Papias, and the work by Mark, be equated with the Gospels of Matthew and Mark? The piece mentioned by Mark is said to be his gospel. The piece by Matthew may not be his Gospel because it is said to have been written in "his native language" (either Aramaic or Hebrew). The Gospel of Matthew was written in Greek and scholars say it was not translated from another language. On the other hand, Papias says all translated as best they could. There are arguments that Matthew uses loan words and translation words.. Another reason it can't be the Gospel is because it is called "the logia" or writings or sayings. This would seem to indicate it was not a narrative Gospel. In the Gospel section of Doxa I argue that this is probably a Matthew saying source that stands behind the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew put in the sayings and someone else reworked it into a narrative in Greek. See my page on Gospel behind the Gospels, and also my page on Matthew. I show that the Hebrew saying source to which Papias alludes probably stands beyond the Gospel of Matthew. There's no way to prove that assertion of course, but it is entirely Possible. Doherty's theory is no less speculation and is just as circumstantial as mine. Doherty is also making the mistake of thinking that the Gospels have to be written by the name sakes to have historical significance or authority. See my essay on community as author to dispel this myth.

"Moreover, it would seem that Papias had not possessed these documents himself, for he simply relays information about them that was given to him by "the elder." He makes no comment of his own on such documents (in fact, he continues to disparage written sources about the Lord), while Eusebius and other later commentators who quote from his writings are silent about him discussing anything from the "Mark" and "Matthew" he mentions. All that Papias can tell us (relayed through Eusebius) is that certain collections of sayings and anecdotes (probably miracle stories) were circulating in his time, a not uncommon thing; the ones he speaks of were being attributed to a Jesus figure and reputed to be compiled by legendary followers of him."

Of course, he totally ignores the fact that Papias says he has heard these people speak himself. He is not just quoting rumors, he actually heard the witnesses. He speaks of Arietion and the Elder John in present tense, he is in contact with them now. But Doherty goes on:

"What is most telling, on the other hand, is that even a quarter of the way into the second century, a bishop of Asia Minor writing a book called The Sayings of the Lord Interpreted did not possess a copy of a single written Gospel, nor included sayings of Jesus which are identified with those Gospels.

Of course we don't know that he doesn't quote them, because we don't have his five books. For all we know four those books might be chock full of Gospel quotations. Moreover, Doherty seems to imply that Papias comes to us only from Eusebius. That is certainly not true. A lot of what we know of Papias comes from Irenaeus, and even more from many other sources, some discovered in the middle ages. St. Jerome is one of these other sources. See my page on the testimony of Apostolic fathers to historical Jesus. This also brings us to a second category, that of extra canonical literature and the testimony of that literature to the canonical Gospels.

Pre Marcan Redaction

As we can see Doherty is quite wrong about the status and use of the Gospels among the Apostolic fathers. In addition to this problem, he also underestimates the early date and use for the same material in previous form, such as the pre Marcan redaction (PMR), early versions of Mark, the Q source and the like. In this category we can start with the Pauline corpus which demonstrates a wide use of the Gospel material, to such an extent that Koster theorizes that Paul had his own saying source that contained Q material and PMR material.

Koster, Crosson, Cameron and other textual critics have found PMR to constitute an independent source, barrowed by the canonical sources but not dependent upon them. They trace this to AD 50, and that is where the writing of Egerton 2 is placed. This involves the use of anther kind of literature, writings from outside the Bible, Gnostic ms and fragments of "other Gospels." There are three main sources that Doherty uses to indicate another church tradition, one without Jesus in the beginning, and without the cross and the empty tomb. These three sources include: Q, which is a hypothetical source derived from sayings in the "synoptic Gospels" (Matt, Mark and Luke) but supposedly representing another source which we no longer have. I will deal with Q latter, as it is the lynch pin of Doherty's argument. Also there is "The Unknown Gospel of Papyrus Egerton 2 (E2) and the Gospel of Thomas (GThom).

Peter Kirby summarizes the facts about E2:

"The Egerton Gospel is also known as Papyrus Egerton 2. It is known from an ancient manuscript that is rivaled only by the John Rylands fragment p52 in its antiquity. Ron Cameron states in his introduction in The Other Gospels, "On paleographical grounds the papyrus has been assigned a date in the first half of the second century C.E. This makes it one of the two earliest preserved papyrus witnesses to the gospel tradition."

E2, Q, and Thomas all date to middle of the first century for their initial writing of their primary material. Egerton 2 demonstrates many canonical parallels:

Parallels between Egerton 2 and Canonicals

Debate over Credentials (l. 1-24)

John 5:39, 5:45, 9:29, (John 3:2, 5:46-47, 7:27-28, 8:14, 10:25, 12:31)

Attempt to Seize Jesus (l. 25-34) [Further Violence Against Jesus (l. 89-94)]

John 7:30, 7:44, 8:20, 8:59, 10:30-31, 10:39, Luke 4:30

The Healing of the Leper (l. 35-47)

Mt 8:2-4, Mk 1:40-44, Lk 5:12-14, 17:12-19, (John 5:14, 8:11)

Debate with False Questioners (l. 50-66)

Mt 22:15-22, Mk 12:13-17, Lk 20:20-26, (Mt 15:7-9, Mk 7:6-7, Lk 6:46, John 3:2)

Miraculous Fruit (l. 67-82)

No exact parallels, but words and reminiscences.

The ancient use of Q material

Helmut Koester comments on the provenance of Q (Ancient Christian Gospels, p. 164):

"Even the sayings used for the original composition of Q were known and used elsewhere at an early date: they were known to Paul, were used in Corinth by his opponents, employed perhaps in eastern Syria for the composition of the Gospel of Thomas, and quoted by 1 Clement in Rome at the end of the 1st century. The document itself, in its final redacted form, was used for the composition of two gospel writings, Matthew and Luke, which both originated in the Greek-speaking church outside of Palestine."

Udo Schnelle writes about the dating of Q (The History and Theology of the New Testament Writings, p. 186):

The Sayings Source was composed before the destruction of the temple, since the sayings against Jerusalem and the temple in Luke 13.34-35Q do not presuppose any military events. A more precise determination of the time of composition must remain hypothetical, but a few indications point to the period between 40 and 50 CE: (1) Bearers of the sayings tradition, which possibly extends all the way back to pre-Easter times, included both wandering preachers of the Jesus movement as well as local congregations. Thus the conditions in which the Sayings Source originated included both continuity with the beginnings and with the developing congregational structures across the region. (2) The Sayings Source presupposes persecution of the young congregations by Palestinian Jews (cf. Luke 6.22-23 Q; Luke 11.49-51 Q; Luke 12.4-5 Q; 12.11-12 Q). About 50 CE Paul mentions in 1 Thess. 2.14-16 a persecution of Christians in Judea that had already taken place. The execution of James the son of Zebedee by Agrippa I (cf. Acts 12.2) occurred around 44 CE. (3) The positive references to Gentiles in Q (cf. Luke 10.13-15Q; Luke 11.29-31Q; Matt. 8.5-13 Q; Matt. 5.47 Q; Matt. 22.1-10 Q) indicate that the Gentile mission had begun, which is probably to be located in the period between 40 and 50 CE.

Thus the material in Egerton 2, Q, and Thomas (some of which overlaps between Q and Thomas) was existing at a very early date. The problem is the Doherty assumption that it constitutes a separate and therefore earlier tradition and was taken over by canonical sources latter and pressed into service for the cross and tomb crowd, but originally is found independently of any group that assumed Jesus was crucified or risen. He also argues that much of the saying source material originated among cynics and stoics and wasn't even Christian at all. We will deal with these assertions on the next page. At this point is important to observe that the Cross and Tomb were just as ancient and present in the PMR as Koster observes based upon Diatesseronic readings and textual criticism. Doherty has no leverage from which he can demonstrate that the non Cross/tomb groups were any older or that their stories came first.

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