- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (April 8, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060653752
- ISBN-13: 978-0060653750
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 68 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #621,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins Paperback – April 8, 1994
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"A masterful analysis of the entire Q tradition.... Its scope is large and its argument compelling." -- Bible Review
"Serious discussion of Q, a collection of Jesus' sayings, has taken place mostly in academic circles. There is nothing substandard about Mack's scholarship, but this treatment has the added advantage of being accessible to average readers. Mack's thesis is that Q is the best record available for the first forty years of the various Jesus movements." -- Booklist
From the Publisher
The first book to give the full account of the lost gospel of Jesus' original followers, revealing him to be a Jewish Socrates who was mythologized into the New Testament Christ.
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For another opinion about Q, I turned to Wikipedia. I know a lot of people don't like Wikipedia. They don't like it for the same reason I like it. It is secular and doesn't give Christianity (or any other historical data) any privileged exemption from modern historical and scientific analysis. The following three paragraphs are primarily Wiki, with some of my comments. I urge anyone interested to just google it and read it entirely - much more than 3 paragraphs. I didn't put quotes around it because I did paraphrase it a little.
The Q source is a hypothetical written collection of sayings of Jesus defined as the "common" material found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke but not in their other written source, the Gospel of Mark. (Actually, if I'm not mistaken, Mack does include a few sayings from Q in Mark.)
Although some of the Amazon reviewers state Mack's ready acceptance of "Q" has been discredited, Q is one of the foundations of modern (liberal) gospel scholarship. Around the turn of the century, B. H. Streeter formulated a widely accepted view of Q: that it was a written document (not an oral tradition) composed in Greek; that almost all of its contents appear in Matthew, in Luke, or in both; and that Luke more often preserves the original order of the text than Matthew. In the two-source hypothesis, (the two sources being Mark and Q), Matthew and Luke both used Mark and Q as sources. Some scholars have postulated that Q is actually a plurality of sources, some written and some oral. Others have attempted to determine the stages in which Q was composed. This would include our author.
The existence of Q has been questioned by others. The omission of what should have been a highly treasured dominical document from all the early Church catalogs and from mention by the fathers of the early Church, might be seen as a great conundrum of modern Biblical scholarship. However, copying Q might have been seen as unnecessary as it was preserved in the gospels that were considered canonical. Hence it was preferable to copy Gospels of Matthew and Luke, where the sayings of Jesus from Q were rephrased by the authors; to fit their own situations and their understanding of what Jesus had really meant. Despite challenges, the two source hypothesis retains wide support, unlike what some reviewers suggest.
Back to me, entirely: I agree that humans are capable of inventing patterns out of thin air - that's the core of conspiracy theories. This particular one is thicker air - a lot of evidence to work with. I would love it if a copy of "Q" somehow materialized, but I'm not holding my breath.
Author Burton Mack argues for layers of redaction of the text, so he has a problem in how to present it: shall he try to reconstruct as best he can the document Matthew and Luke would have had in front of them? or shall he show the layers, so that readers can see how concise the original, uninterpolated Q is?
He does both. He presents the text, restored as well as can be, with the layers in different typefaces, and gives the reader the whole of Q in its original.
His reconstructing is done by following the orders that quotations from the text appear in Matthew and Luke.
Once he has thoroughly familiarized the reader with Q, and with contemporaneous documents (the Dead Sea Scrolls, et al.), he discusses Q in a literary context: why it is what it is, a collection of sayings, and not the sort of historical biography we in the 21st century would like to have.
He also discusses society at the time, to put Jesus of Nazareth into a context as well, to explain why people who may not have considered him messiah might still have collected his sayings. The community of Q was probably Jewish, as nothing in Q contradicts any Jewish practice, and were probably not Christians as we understand this idea today.
If you have never read any literature about Christianity outside the Bible, this book will shake loose all your assumptions. But if you have read other books on very early Christianity, or the gospels as literature, or studied redaction in the gospels, and know of the Q document in theory, and the priority of Mark, there is nothing here that will alarm you.
However, there is much here to fascinate, to enjoy, to enthrall. Mack's picture of ancient Judah is skillfully drawn. The new information here (and there is lots) is firmly argued, and just makes sense. Many of your long held questions will be answered.
His writing is accessible; this book is written for readers, not for journal peer reviewers. Anyone with even a passing interest in the subject should be delighted with it.