B Does Q Provide the

The major developments since the 1970s consensus have been the stratification of Q and the greater significance accorded to the Gospel of Thomas. As already noted, Kloppenborg has disentangled a primary sapiential layer in Q composed of six 'wisdom and concluded that a second apocalyptic layer, made up of five judgment speeches (Q2), was worked into the texture of Q1.393 The fact that seems to accord so well with the non-apocalyptic character of Thomas strengthened Koester's conviction that Thomas not only contains early material but was itself composed very early. More to the point here, the mutual come' emphasis reflected the teaching of the early communities ('The Beginnings of Christian Theology' [1960], New Testament Questions of Today [London: SCM, 1969] 82-107 [here 101102]); and we have already noted the Jesus Seminar's antipathy to an 'eschatological Jesus' (chapter 4 n. 174 above). Koester, however, points out that the age of Augustus was an age of 'realized eschatology' ('Jesus the Victim' 10-13), thus undermining the principal argument for 'realized eschatology' as the most distinctive feature of Jesus' message on the criterion of dissimilarity.

391. Ladd's distinction between present 'fulfilment' and future 'consummation' well expressed the consensus position (Jesus and the Kingdom). Typical of the existentialist perspective of the Bultmann school is H. Conzelmann, An Outline of the Theology of the New Testament (London: SCM, 1969): 'The contradiction between the "present" and the future sayings is only an apparent one. The two have the same significance for human existence: man's attitude of the moment towards the coming kingdom' (114). Manson's argument {Teaching 117-30) that the coming of the kingdom in Jesus' ministry is to be identified with one or other of the turning points in that ministry, most probably Peter's confession (Mark 8.27-30), is a variation of the older idea of two clear stages in Jesus' ministry, which Schweitzer developed in his own way (§4.5a above).

392. E.g., Schürmann, Gottes Reich 143; Stuhlmacher, Biblische Theologie 1.72; Gnilka, Jesus ofNazareth 135, 146, 149; Meier, Marginal Jew 2.450-54; Theissen and Merz, Historical Jesus 275. Crossan criticizes Meier for being 'honestly unable to combine what are not only divergent but even opposing strata of the Jesus tradition' (Birth 145-46), as though the interpreter's 'inabilities' should be a determinative factor in assessment of data. It is always a puzzle how commentators can be so sure of the irreconcilability of elements which Q and the Synoptic Evangelists were content to put side by side.

confirmation afforded by Q1 and Thomas to each other became the basis for the argument of the Jesus Seminar and Crossan that the earliest layer of the Jesus tradition was itself sapiential and From which point it is but a step to conclude that Jesus' own preaching had the same character. That is to say, Jesus' preaching of the kingdom of God did not envisage any divine intervention into history, any 'apocalyptic' coming of the kingdom. The note particularly of judgment on 'this generation' entered the Jesus tradition, either through the influence of disciples of the Baptist joining the Jesus movement394 or as a result of the failure of the early church's mission to Israel.

This is an impressively coherent argument. But it contains several flaws. (1) As Kloppenborg has been the first to insist, the compositional history of Q does not determine the date or origin of the material drawn in to Q at the different stages in its composition.396 Even if we are still able to distinguish later from earlier composition — and I remain unpersuaded that we have adequate criteria for such a task in a document whose text, content, and length remain so uncertain — it need only mean that brought together one strand of the Jesus tradition.397 Q1, we might say, was simply an extension of the practice, of which we have seen numerous examples in §§12.4-5, of grouping together material of similar character and emphasis within the much more diverse range of the Jesus tradition.

(2) The argument trades uncomfortably on the 'one document per community' hypothesis — as though Q1 constituted proof in itself that any community knowing and using it knew of and used no other Jesus tradition, or, alternatively, was opposed to another community which had (only) the other emphasis.398

(3) Despite Koester's best efforts, his argument that Thomas bears witness to an early stage in the Jesus tradition cannot escape the charge of petitioprincipii (question-begging).399 We have noted above several

394. Funk, Honest to Jesus 168: the disciples of John who followed Jesus 'had not understood the subtleties of Jesus' position'.

396. See particularly Kloppenborg, 'Sayings Gospel Q' 323 n. 70, 337.

397. In this case the widespread appearance of the motif ofjudgment on 'this generation' within the Synoptic tradition (Matt. 11.16/Luke 7.31; Matt. 12.41-42/Luke 11.31-32; Matt. 23.36/Luke 11.51; Mark 8.12, 38; Matt. 12.45; Luke 11.30, 50; 17.25; see also Meier, Marginal Jew 2.209 n. 134) and its relative absence elsewhere in the NT suggest a motif recalled as characteristic of Jesus' teaching and consequently included in retellings of the Jesus tradition (see also above, §§7.4c and 12.4e). 'It is characteristic of the "this genea" terminology in the New Testament that it is almost entirely to be found only in the Synoptic Gospels and there exclusively on the lips of Jesus. It is thus firmly established in the early Christian traditions as an expression used by Jesus and related to his preaching' (E. Lovestam, Jesus and 'This Generation': A New Testament Study [CBNT 25; Stockholm: Almquist and Wiksell, 1995] 102).

399. See further the frequent references to Koester in §§7.6 and 8 above.

instances where it can be equally or more persuasively argued that Thomas has de-eschatologized the tradition which it has drawn upon.400

(4) The argument also trades, with equal discomfort, on the literary paradigm of tradition transmission, as though one could reach not only the earliest but even the original form by simple process of subtracting redaction from the later versions. But if my appeal to recognize the distinctive character of the oral traditioning process has any merit, we will have to acknowledge also both a continuity of tradition from the start and the unlikelihood of major new emphases being interjected which conflicted in serious measure with the established tradition.

(5) Too little weight has been given to the lack of support for the corollary hypotheses on which the coherence of the argument depends. The opposition between Jesus and John is overstated; the sequence discussed above (§ 12.5c), as well as the affirmation that the gospel began with John indicate a more positive relation between them and that the break with John was not necessarily a denial of John's message.401 The only disciples of John that we know to have joined Jesus did so at the very beginning (§ 11.2b); there is no other evidence of disciples of John joining the Jesus movement later and bringing in John's apocalyptic preaching as something different (if that was what distinguished the two, one would presumably join Jesus only in order to leave behind John's preaching!). And as noted above, it makes more sense to read the judgment pronounced on the Galilean towns in the context of Jesus' known Galilean ministry rather than in the context of an early church mission of which we have no other evidence.

All in all, the arguments based on the conjunction are insuffi cient to break the earlier consensus. The weight, spread, and consistency of the twofold emphasis in Jesus' proclamation of the kingdom cannot so readily be nullified. Jesus was remembered as speaking of both the kingdom's future coming and its impact already in the present. The earlier tradents, no more than the Evangelists, evidently found no difficulty or inconsistency in recalling both emphases as integral to Jesus' message. That fact should be allowed to guide reconstructions of Jesus' preaching more fully than has usually been the case.

Can the issue be handled more sophisticatedly than by simply excising one or the other emphasis? For the presence of both emphases in the Jesus tradition does still pose something of a riddle to the modern interpreter. To us, if not to the first tradents, a claim that the kingdom is both yet to come and already active in the present does seem to pose difficulties of conceptualisation. How could Jesus have held and taught both emphases? What understanding of 'the kingdom of

400. See also Allison, Jesus ofNazareth 126-27, citing particularly GTh 35, 41 and 103, but referring also to GTh 10,16, and 91.

401. Crossan, e.g., argues that Jesus broke with John over the Baptist's apocalyptic message {Historical Jesus 259).

God' is involved? The most promising way to handle such questions is probably to pose again the three key questions outlined above (§12.3).

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