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Q, the Earliest Gospel: An Introduction to the Original Stories and Sayings of Jesus Paperback – October 3, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John S. Kloppenborg is Professor of Religion at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is author of Excavating Q: The History and Setting of the Sayings Gospel and coeditor of The Critical Edition of Q.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press (October 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664232221
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664232221
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #333,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author of this book, Professor John S. Kloppenborg, was the co-editor of both "The Critical Edition of Q" and "The Sayings Gospel Q in Greek and English." He is therefore in a unique position not only to introduce this initial collection of sayings and stories of Jesus, but to explain both how this reconstruction was formulated, and its importance to an understanding of the philosophy and character of early Christianity. In the course of this discussion, Professor Kloppenborg is also of course concerned to demonstrate how both Matthew and Luke adapted Document Q to suit their own purposes. For example, the beatitudes which Matthew groups in what we term his "chapter five", using the well-known literary device we call "The Sermon on the Mount", were probably originally gathered in Document Q in various places. From Q, they can be rendered as follows: "Blessed are you poor, for God's reign is for you. Blessed are you who hunger, for you will eat your fill. Blessed are you who mourn, for you will be consoled. Blessed are you when they insult and persecute you, and say every kind of evil against you because of the Son of Man. Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. Many prophets and kings longed to see what you see, but never saw it, and to hear what you hear, but never heard it. [Blessed are the humble]. Everyone exalting himself will be humbled, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord." Notice that this list omits the verse promising "the humble and lowly" that they will "inherit the earth", which, in my opinion, can certainly be regarded as a gloss. All told, this introduction to Q is fascinating, informative and superbly researched. I have only two extremely minor reservations.Read more ›
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I approached this book with caution as I suspected it may be too dry and academic. On the contrary, it is well written, readable, and engaging. Admittedly one must be truly wanting to immerse oneself in the reasons for Q being derived. For me at the beginning I knew that this book contained a good version of derived Q from a respected author and that was key. The approach to derivation and relationship to other Gospels, Didache, James gave me significant fresh insights into the true Jesus I seek. I definately recommend this book.
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I had wanted a book to really explain Q, but one that was written by an academic who thoroughly knew it. Kloppenborg is a Professor of Religion at the University of Toronto who has written extensively on the Gospel of Q, and in this book brings us up to date on what is currently known, as well as what is still unknown on the Gospel of Q. And in this book he does a masterful job of slowly breaking down what is known and what is theory when it comes to this key gospel, which is possibly the earliest document of Christianity and which was directly referenced by the writers of the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, Thomas, and the letters of James.

This book is concise enough to keep moving along, but detailed enough to make you have to reread some lines to make sure you are fully comprehending what he is telling you. Kloppenborg gets into discussions about whether Q was in fact oral tradition that was handed down or was it a written document? He shows different sides of the arguments regarding the influences of Q on the Gospels, and why some of them were written differently even though they came from the same source document. He explains how Q talks about Jesus differently from the Gospel of Mark, and therefore sheds light on Jesus in important ways. Kloppenborg explains how early writers of the Gospels wrote their versions of the Gospel of Q slightly differently, creating interpretations based on their audiences, which was something used by scribes and translators at the that time to try to make their version more accessible to the audience it was being written for. This book is a great book for beginning to grasp what is known, and what is still unknown, as it relates to the Q Gospel. He also explains why it is referred to as a Gospel.
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The text reads a bit like a dissertation, which has its positive and negative impacts. The positive is that the research shows through to provide a thoroughly convincing account of Q and the story behind it. The downside is that it occasionally gets a bit heady and overwhelming with the academia-like sourcing.

I've learned a lot from this book and I highly recommend it to anyone who wishes to learn more about Q and its impact on the Gospels both canonical and non-canonical.
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Format: Paperback
Professor Kloppenborg states that the purpose of this book is "an introduction to the Sayings Gospel Q, treating four basic questions: Why should we think there was a Q? What did Q look like? What difference does Q make? And what happened to Q?" Fair enough. Let's examine the result.

Why should we think there was a Q? is the first chapter and the longest (40 pages). Unfortunately, 40 pages is not sufficient to make a good case for Q much less to give fair time to the alternate theories about why Matthew and Luke differ from Mark in certain ways. Indeed, there is a lack of substantial charts and diagrams to fully flush out the points that Kloppenborg makes, and so he relies on the reader having an expert knowledge of the 4 gospels. Time and time again he'll say something like - "Take, for example, John the Baptist's address to the crowds (Matt. 3:7-10 \\ Luke 3:7-9). The agreement between Matthew and Luke is remarkable..." I, for one, would like to see the passages themselves and make my own judgement as to whether or not the agreement is remarkable. In the entire first chapter, he only provides 3 illustrations of what he is talking about. The rest of the time the reader will be forced to go to the gospels and look at it themselves. Now, in an advanced book this would be acceptable, but in a book that purports to be an introduction, more use should have been made of these types of comparison charts.

In addition, Kloppenborg deals with the gospels as if they were written at a single moment in time. In truth, the gospels were likely composed over centuries, with pieces being added and subtracted all the time. This dynamic writing needs to be addrsssed when we compare the gospels, but Kloppenborg tends to treat them as if they were written once.
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