Questioning Q: A Multidimensional Critique
Biblical Theology Bulletin, Spring, 2006 by John S. Kloppenborg
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The review is an encouraging one, e.g. "Each of the essays is carefully and thoughtfully argued and deserves a prominent place on reading lists on the synoptic problem" and "On the whole, however, Questioning Q is an excellent example of balanced and thoughtful synoptic scholarship." Kloppenborg is most critical about N. T. Wright's foreword, described as "the only blemish on an otherwise valuable volume," which "invents a silly 'myth'--the combination of heresy and American pop culture--which, he claims, has gripped scholars who write on Q." Kloppenborg goes through each essay in turn, summarises and makes a brief comment. I will leave my fellow contributors to make their own comments (here, should they wish) and will limit my own thoughts to what Kloppenborg says about my own piece, "When is a Text not a Text? The Quasi Text-Critical Approach of the International Q Project":
More disappointing is Mark Goodacre's critique of the models adopted by the International Q Project for reconstructing Q. Goodacre rightly notes that two models are in use: an (earlier) papyrological' model, which imagined "minimal Q" as a tattered papyrus that Matthew and Luke each restored, and restored differently; and a "text-critical" model, which understands the task of reconstructing Q on the analog of text criticism, reconstructing a now-lost Urtext that accounts for later manuscript developments. Goodacre objects to the text-critical model, arguing that a source critical model ought to have been adopted. But Goodacre misunderstands what the models are: they are metaphors, not descriptions of the IQP's procedures, which required the organization of huge bodies of data (scholarly opinion on the reconstruction of Q since 1863), using the analogy of critical editions of the New Testament, which organize manuscript variations around variation points. Goodacre's real objection is that the IQP should have written a book entitled "The Sources of Luke."The comment is a little surprising given that I repeatedly use the word "analogy" to describe what is going on (ad nauseam on 119-20) and never construe the models as "descriptions of the IQP's procedures". One of the key points is to ask what the most appropriate analogies for the enterprise are, and I am attempting to argue that the dominant use of these text-critical models leads the IQP to construe their work in a particular way, which causes them (ironically) to ignore key textual evidence, to avoid engagement with competing source theories and to use a rhetoric more appropriate dealing with extant texts. It is a question of one's choice of natural dialogue partners.
But speaking of dialogue partners, I should add that Kloppenborg exemplifies the best in synoptic scholarship in always listening to and engaging intelligently with opponents, and producing some incisive and helpful critique.