But is this really the trouble with Q? I am puzzled by Dan's focus on scholars who are uninterested in the Synoptic Problem and Q. Those who have not invested time in studying the problem are unlikely to want to engage seriously with the implications of the hypothesis. In my own experience, the same set of scholars, the so-called "lazy" believers in Q, are equally unwilling to invest time in engaging with Q sceptical scholarship like my own.
It is never easy in scholarship to find yourself in a position where you are telling other people that they should be interested in what you are studying. Engaging other scholars' interest is always tough, and it is especially tough in areas like the study of the Synoptic Problem, which requires a lot of hard work and a degree of technical expertise.
There is always the option, though, of seeking out dialogue partners among those who are already interested in the problem. Dan alludes to those who do not accept the existence of Q but he does not mention them by name, much less engage them directly. Regular readers of this blog will know that one of my memes relates to the Farrer Theory getting ignored in scholarship, but I am usually in those contexts talking about introductory-level works, textbooks and the like. It is, however, something that happens in the higher-level work too.
The problem is that there is a major alternative to the Q hypothesis and critical engagement with it can help to clarify and focus the bigger picture questions that Dan mentions here, about the degree of diversity in early Christianity, in particular the question of the role played by Jesus' death. Dan talks about engaging with people who may help with refining the Q hypothesis, but a healthy hypothesis is also one that engages with those who are attempting to refute it.
Let me offer one example of how this works. Dan talks about taking seriously Q's silence about the salvific death of Jesus, the resurrection and the term "Christ". Arguments about silence are often worth hearing and in the case of a text like the Gospel of Thomas, its silence on these same features is indeed worth some serious thought. There is a difference in the case of Q, however, that makes any study of its silence problematic. Given that the document is reconstructed on the basis of Matthew's and Luke's double tradition, there is always the possibility that it is not Q that is silent on the matters in question but that Matthew and Luke are silent in their witness to Q's contents.
Dan talks about what he regards as similar difficulties in reflecting on Matthew, noting that there are many things we do not know about Matthew, its author, whether he wrote other materials and so on. But we do have textual witnesses to Matthew that are pretty clear about the scope, parameters and wording of the work, the very things that are absent in the case of Q. Indeed, the absence of any kind of textual witness to Q is one of the things that invites us to consider the alternative, that the kind of close verbatim agreement that Dan discusses may be evidence not for a lost document but for a direct link between Matthew and Luke.
In other words, the hypothetical nature of Q is indeed relevant in this discussion. Dan is right that the hypothetical nature of Q should not be used as an excuse for a refusal to think. The real issue, though, is that Q's hypothetical nature is an invitation always to think about live alternatives. To imagine a world without Q is surely one of the best ways of testing a model where Q is central.
To put it another way, what are the chances that Dan's essay will be noticed by those who are his targets? At least the Q sceptics are willing to have the conversation.