Scrutinizing the Case for Q: Ancient Compositional Practices

The Jesus Memoirs

For the view that the Two Source Theory accords with how ancient writers used their sources in the Graeco-Roman world, see Robert Allen Derrenbacker, Ancient Compositional Practices and the Synoptic Problem (BETL 186; Leuven: Peeters, 2005; cf. his PhD thesis at the University of Toronto) and F. Gerald Downing, “Disagreements of Each Evangelist with the Minor Close Agreements of the Other Two” ETL 80 (2004): 445–469. In working with scrolls, they insist that it was impractical to check more than one at a time or randomly move backwards and forwards through a scroll. Thus, ancient writers preferred to work with one source at a time rather than attempt complex harmonizations of multiple sources at the micro-level. The theory works best with how Luke alternates between citing Mark and Q in whole blocks (Q material in Luke 6:20-8:3; 9:1-18:14). It is more difficult to explain the ways Luke and Matthew conflate…

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