Doherty part 6: From Group Leader to Cosmic Christ

Finally, Doherty brings up the lack of suffering in Q sayings:

But the most telling feature of the Q Jesus has proven to be the most perplexing, for he seems to bear no relationship to Paul's. Scholars continue to puzzle over the fact that Q contains no concept of a suffering Jesus, a divinity who has undergone death and resurrection as a redeeming act. Q can make the killing of the prophets a central theme (e.g., Luke 11:49-51) and yet never refer to Jesus' own crucifixion! Its parables contain no hint of the murder of the Son of God.

Yet it is not sure that Q doesn't refer to Jesus' suffering or death. Suffering and death are implied all over Q as David Seely ("Jesus Death in Q") tells us (see page 4). Death is frame by cynical view point that reflects the current events through the lives of the prophets of the past. That would be a good reason why the Q saying source does not refer one.

(Doherty goes on) "About the resurrection, Q breathes not a whisper. Jesus makes no prophecies of his own death and rising, as he does in other parts of the Gospels. Note that in a Q passage in Luke 17, the evangelist has to insert into Jesus' mouth a prophecy of his own death (verse 25); it is not in Matthew's use of the same passage" (24:23f).

Of course these scholars make an arbitrary assumption that the saying is placed in Jesus' mouth just Matt didn't use it. The idea that there is no resurrection in Q is not in line with the view of James M. Robinson, who is certainly a much more renown Q scholar than is Doherty:

The Real Jesus of the Sayings "Q" Gospel

by James M. Robinson

James M. Robinson is the Arthur J. Letts Professor of Religion and Director of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity at the Claremont Graduate School and Co-chair of the International Q Project.

Religion online

Although the Sayings Gospel has no passion narrative or resurrection stories, this omission does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that the Q people knew nothing of Jesus' fate or had never thought about where it left them. It is hardly probable that his death was not quickly rumored among his followers, even into the most obscure corners of Galilee. But then, after his death, was not the only sensible thing to do, to give up the whole thing as some tragic miscalculation, a terrible failure? Jesus had assured them, "the Father from heaven gives good things to those who ask him," and yet his last word according to Mark was "My God, My God, why have you left me in the lurch?" (Mark 15:34). What was there left to proclaim?

The emergence of the Sayings Gospel was, to put it quite pointedly, itself the miracle at Easter! Rudolf Bultmann formulated a famous, or infamous saying to the effect that Jesus rose into the kerygma. But perhaps we would do better to say: Jesus rose into his own word. The resurrection was attested, in substance at least, in the Q community, in that his word was again to be heard, not as a melancholy recollection of the failed dream of a noble, but terribly naive, person, but rather as the still valid, and constantly renewed, trust in the heavenly Father, who, as in heaven, will rule also on earth.

There are a few sayings in Q that are best understood in terms of such a "resurrection" faith. "What I say to you in the darkness, speak out in the light; and what you hear whispered into your ear, preach from the rooftops" (Q 12:3/Matt. 10:27). This sounds as if Jesus had rather secretively only whispered his message and left the spreading of the good word to his disciples. We would have expected it to be just the reverse. Surely Jesus said it better, louder, and clearer than anyone! But perhaps such a saying reflects the recollection that his message was suppressed by force and thus obscured but then became all the brighter and louder as it was nevertheless revalidated and reproclaimed.

Q is that material which is shared by Matthew and Luke and not by Mark. But the tomb and the cross are in all four Gospels, so ex hypothesis we must regard them as not in Q. The fact is they may well have been part of Q. They are by definition not Q simply because they are shared by all four Gospels. Since we don't have a copy of Q there's no way to know. At this point scholars weed out connections between early Q and Messiahood by arbitrary and circular means. Speaking of that, Doherty has gone a long way on sheer conjecture about the contents of a document the existence of which we can't even begin to verify. Now I'm a liberal and I'm a good sport Q wise. I think there probably was a Q document, in fact I'm inclined to think it was Matthew's "Logia."

Doherty continues:

Most startling of all, the Jesus of Q has no obvious significance for salvation. Apart from the benefits accruing from the teachings themselves, scholars admit that there is no soteriology in Q, certainly nothing about an atoning death for sin. The "Son who knows the Father" (Luke 10:22, a late saying recast from an earlier Wisdom saying) functions as a mediator of God's revelation—simply personifying what the Q community itself does. The Gospel of Thomas is similarly devoid of any reference to Jesus' death and resurrection.

Funny he should mention the Gospel of Thomas. Soteriological implications are all over Q and they are not hard to find. But be that as it may, Thomas is looked to as a backing for Q in many ways, it supposedly implies that the saying source was a prior form of the narrative Gospel, and it uses many Q sayings. But in Thomas there are clear statements of Soteriological value, and of the deity of Christ:

saying no.28: Jesus said, "I took my stand in the midst of the world, and in flesh I appeared to them. I found them all drunk, and I did not find any of them thirsty. My soul ached for the children of humanity, because they are blind in their hearts and do not see, for they came into the world empty, and they also seek to depart from the world empty. But meanwhile they are drunk. When they shake off their wine, then they will change their ways."

In terms of Q's soeteriology, or alleged lack thereof, Doherty has simplified the issues. It is not true that Q has no Soeteriology, it more the case that the Soteriology of Q is not Pauline and is very Jewish, very law oriented, so says John Kloppenborg, the scholar who first began the emphasis on Q's lack of a cross or a tomb (see Formation of Q 1987). In terms of Soeteriology we know that the early church was confused. Jesus was not a system builder, he was concerned with modeling behavior and with impressing upon people how to live a godly life. God drafted Paul to be the first systematic Christian theologian, that's why he wrote so much of the NT. So it was Paul who sorted out what it all meant and how all the pieces fit and there's nothing wrong with that. As Christians we should just accept that God chose to do it that way. But the issue in terms of Q is how much of Q do we have? Do we have all the pieces in Matt and Luke? Kloppenborg argues that we do because Matt uses all of Mark so why wouldn't he use all of Q. But he can only rest on that answer if we can be sure that Matt always used every source the same way; Mark was a narrative and Q a saying list.

Dennis Ingolfsland

Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society,
Jun 2003

Kloppenborg's stratification of Q
and its significance for
historical Jesus studies

The second reason Kloppenborg cites for believing that virtually all of Q can be recovered is Kilpatrick's argument that the disappearance of Q was explicable only on the assumption that it was almost completely absorbed in Matthew and Luke.27 Some have objected, however, that by this logic Mark might have been expected to disappear also, since virtually all of Mark is included in Matthew. In Excavating Q, Kloppenborg responds to this objection by citing Luhrmann who proposed that Mark's survival and Q's disappearance are simply accidents of history in that Mark's Gospel happened to be carried to Egypt where it was copied and Q was not. Moreover, responding to Dunn who argued that Q may have disappeared for theological reasons, Kloppenborg writes, "In fact we do not know why Q disappeared."28

Kloppenborg is right, of course, but he seems unaware that in arguing that Q's disappearance may have been an accident of history and by admitting that we frankly do not know why Q disappeared, he has contradicted one of his own primary reasons for assuming that we know the extent of Q, that is, that the disappearance of Q "was explicable only on the assumption that it was almost completely absorbed in Matthew and Luke."29 Therefore, the main reasons Kloppenborg proposes for assuming that virtually all of Q can be reconstructed have been successfully refuted by his own arguments.
At this stage he returns to his bread and butter, spinning moonbeams about Paul.

How is this radical divergence between Paul and Q explained? It shows, say the scholars, the differing responses by different circles to the man Jesus of Nazareth. But they founder when they try to rationalize how such a strange phenomenon could have been possible. Besides, the documents reveal many more "responses" than just two. We are to believe that early Christianity was wildly schizophrenic. First Paul and other epistle writers abandoned all interest in the earthly life and identity of Jesus, turning him into a cosmic Christ who created the world and redeemed it by his death and resurrection. The Q community, along with that of the Gospel of Thomas, on the other hand, decided to ignore that death and resurrection and preserve the earthly teaching Jesus, a preacher of the coming end of the world.

Doherty contradicted by Koester, again

Of course that little fantasy is dispelled by my list, which I take from Helmutt Koester, that shows Paul's deep dependence upon Gospel sayings. It's a total myth to assume that he never quotes a Q saying. Yes Doherty tries to say that Paul never quotes Q, but the man he uses as an authority, Helmutt Koester, says Paul quotes Q quite a bit and that Q was widespread.

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."

Koster latter theorizes that Paul had the Q saying source with him and this is what he calls "my Gospel." It's equally foolish to assume that he doesn't mention the cross or resurrection. Of course because he doesn't anticipate Doherty 2000 years latter and say "O by the way, this was in real flesh and blood on earth in history" then he couldn't have believed it? That's where Doherty wins his fan base, by appealing to the Christ haters who want to destroy Christianity and the mythers who care nothing for facts of reality. By appealing to those who love to fill the cracks in knowledge with their dreams.

Just a small part of the list linked to above:
The last supper (1 Cor 11:23ff)
Confessed his Messiahship before Pilate (1 Tim 6:13)
Died for peoples' sins (Rom 4:25, 1 Tim 2:6)
He was killed (1 Cor 15:3, Phil 2:8)
Buried (1 Cor 15:4)
Empty tomb is implied (1 Cor 15:4)
Jesus was raised from the dead (2 Tim 2:8)
Resurrected Jesus appeared to people (1 Cor 15:4ff)
James, a former skeptics, witnessed this (1 Cor 15:7)
as did Paul (1 Cor 15:8-9)
This was reported at an early date (1 Cor 15:4-8)
He ascended to heaven, glorified and exalted (1 Tim 3:16, Phil 2:6f)
Disciples were transformed by this (1 Tim 3:16)
Disciples made the Gospel center of preaching (1 Cor 15:1-4)
Resurrection was chief validation of message

see this chart looking a lot more like a chart here (scroll to chart)

We see that Paul does quote Q and he does refer to crucifixion, resurrection, and even soteriology. He makes all sorts of references which Doherty denies, to Jesus blood line, his life on earth, alludes to the empty tomb, to his crucifixion to his Messiahship. On the next page I will examine more closely Doherty's allegations about the contents of Q and Pauline theology vis, alleged Gnosticism. I will argue that the theology is very Jewish not Gnostic.


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