Over on Hypotyposeis, Kloppenborg Nixes an Oral Q, Stephen Carlson draws attention to a new article: John S. Kloppenborg, “Variation in the Reproduction of the Double Tradition and an Oral Q?”, ETL 83 (2007): 53-80. As it happens, I have just read the same article myself and I was mighty impressed with it. Kloppenborg's primary targets are James D. G. Dunn and Terence Mournet, though there is surprisingly no reference to Jimmy Dunn's huge Jesus Remembered. What particularly impressed me about the article was its focus on a feature that is not often remarked upon in Synoptic studies, viz. the remarkable degree of verbatim agreement in some double tradition passages, drawing attention to the relative paucity of parallels to this high proportion of agreement among similar kinds of documents. Because of our familiarity with the Synoptics, we often assume that this kind of agreement among dependent texts is the norm, and not unusual.
Perhaps given Kloppenborg's own extensive work on the Synoptic Problem, and given the article's focus specifically on Q, it is churlish of me to make the following remark, but I will make it all the same. A lot of the data gathered here is of interest and relevance more broadly in studies of the Synoptic Problem, and I find it a bit disappointing that the double tradition material is discussed solely in relation to the Q hypothesis, without any mention of competing theories. The issue is particularly focused in relation to verbatim agreement in the double tradition, where one is looking at the coincidence of independent close copying of a hypothetical document by both Matthew and Luke. In other words, it is even more remarkable that Matthew and Luke agree so closely in this double tradition material if they are both doing this independently of one another in relation to another entity (unseen by us). Kloppenborg is right to problematize the high proportion of verbatim agreement in double tradition material with respect to theories about an oral Q; I would like to take it a stage further and problematize the high proportion of verbatim agreement in double tradition material with respect to a written Q.
Those comments, though, require some further teasing out, and I hope to publish on the issue in due course. (I discussed this a bit in my paper in Baltimore in March, and I'll be touching on it in my paper at the SBL Annual Meeting Q Section (abstract here, see number 1). In this blog post, I just wanted to register my opinion on what a fine and valuable article this is, compulsory reading for those researching the Synoptic Gospels.