Why the Q Hypothesis Works

Mark 1: 21-39 presents Jesus going to Simon Peter's house and curing Peter's mother-in-law. She has a fever which Jesus "cures'. She then gets up and serves them. That evening people brought the demon possessed and sick to the house. The whole city gathers about the door.

Jesus heals many of the cases and told them to keep quite. And the following morning before daylight he went out to a private place and prayed. he is interrupted by Peter and the rest telling him that the crowds were looking for him. He gets the new followers to go the the next towns in Galilee preaching and exorcizing demons.

When we look at Matthew and Luke the story changes. Matthew 8:14 -27 has been rewritten by its author:

1) Matthew as throughout the Gospel intensifies the situation to make it ore outstanding. Here instead of Jesus curing many of those brought. Matthew now says he cures all of who was brought to him.

2) Matthew adds an Old Testament quote to claim that the event was a fulfilment of prophecy, " He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases (Isaiah 53:4)." The Jewish interpretation is that this applies to the whole of Israel. Here we see it taken to create the Suffering Servant as a prophecy of the messiah (Origen, Contra Celsus).

3) Here the events will change dramatically. Instead of Jesus going to bed and getting up early in the morning to pray he commands his new followers to get a boat to cross the lake. This is a fabrication by Matthew. It acts as a "seam" to stitch a passage from Q into his reworking of the text of Mark.

Matthew 8:
9 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.
This is followed by the next seam in which Jesus gets into the boat and Jesus calms the storm. With this addition we see that Jesus no longer sleeps or prays early the next day. This addition of the "Would-be Follower" changes the original story of Mark. This is at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus according to Matthew.

When we compare the section in Luke 4:38-41 we see Luke also intensifies the event:

1) all of the people are cured by laying on of hands. The demons coming out testify that Jesus "is the Son of God." He rebukes the demons to be silent rather than the people as in Mark.

2) As in Mark Jesus come the next morning goes out to a private place to pray.

3) But Luke 9:57-62 still has the Would-be Followers passage. He uses it from Q at the end of the ministry of Jesus. The event is made to occur while going through Samaria on the way to Jerusalem where he will die.

As an atheistic Bible study we can show to Christians that their scripture is not inerrant since the events are changed by the editing of Mark by Matthew and Luke. We can show that a sayings source that had no contextual setting was given context by inserting its collection of Jesus sayings into Mark. Mark thus becomes a convenient context.

This also demonstrates that there is nothing historical in these presentations. This approach throughout the Synoptic Gospels shows an early Mark that has an all too human Jesus who does not know who touches his robe, who gets angry with people and insults several who seek his help. He has a human temper.

Matthew removes all of this. Jesus becomes a heavenly emissary with perfect knowledge and super human powers. Luke shows him to be a divine agent similar to Matthew's restructuring. We can see the progress in a temporal manner from Q an early sayings source of a human Jewish teacher to Mark as a man adopted by God in a Gentile view. Jesus is seen as an Enochican heavenly messenger in Matthew. And finally he becomes a Gentile demi-god in Luke. John will make him a pre-existent property of God, Logos, His Wisdom and Reason.

Q becomes the only source of primary attention for a historical Jesus. It shows a human being who is not a sacrifice for salvation as in the later Gospels. It is his teachings that are the source of salvation for the original hearers who were Jewish Palestinans.

Written by Tommy G. Baker