Project Description

The Two Document Hypothesis sustains that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke had not only used the older Gospel of Mark but also the so called “Sayings Source” abbreviated as “Q” (for the German “Quelle” = source). The Sayings Source is not preserved in any extant manuscript. Its existence has been deduced and its content reconstructed out of the parallel passages in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke after subtracting the common material that they share with the Gospel of Mark. The study of the Sayings Source Q is linked to two major topics of New Testament studies: First, the knowledge about old Jesus-traditions, and second, the question of the “parting of the ways” between Jews and Christians. Q has preserved old Jesus-traditions of Palestinian (most probably Galilean) followers of Jesus, who had not broken with their Jewish roots.

In 2000 the Critical Edition of Q (CEQ) was published, offering not only the most probable reconstruction but naming also all the different possible reconstructions for each verse of Q. These possibilities are called variation units. They are marked with numbers in the text itself and listed as footnotes at the end of the text. Based on the variation units of the CEQ, the ongoing project Documenta Q (supervised by Prof. C. Heil, University Graz/Austria) presents the complete literature spanning over the last three centuries (C19th to C21st, i.e. since the upcoming of the Q-hypothesis until present) that has been written to each of these variation units. In total, the Documenta Q Series comprises 32 monographic volumes. One of these volumes is the here presented project: Q 16:13.16-18: God or Mammon – Since John the Kingdom of God – No Serif of the Law to Fall – Divorce-Logion (short: Documenta Q 16).

Besides the scholarly value of documenting the research on these four verses in the last three centuries, the here named topics are strikingly crucial in our quest for the “historical” Jesus: In Q 16:13 Jesus criticises human greediness – typical for Jesus’ advocacy for the poor. In Q 16:16 he announces the beginning of the Kingdom of God – which stands in accordance with Jesus’ eschatological expectations, his hope for a God that intervenes, in favour of a better world. Q 16:17 insists on the eternal validity of the Jewish Law – a valuable hint that neither Jesus nor the authors of Q had broken with their Jewish roots. Finally, in Q 16:18 we find Jesus’ rejection of dismissing one’s wife. This reconstruction helps us to understand that Jesus campaigned for the rights of helpless divorced women. Thus, our project, while documenting research history, also sheds light on the intentions of the “historical” Jesus and helps us understand that beginning Christianity was deeply embedded in its Jewish matrix.