Some New Testament introductions ignore the Farrer Theory; others provide minimal, weak or flawed coverage. Somehow, I had never thought to check, until recently, on the coverage in one of the most popular New Testament Introductions of all, John Drane's Introducing the New Testament, now in its third edition at Fortress. As well as checking out the third edition, I found out that I already owned the second edition courtesy of Logos Bible Software. The story of what I found is an interesting one.*
Drane's coverage of the Synoptic Problem broadly supports the Two-Source Theory but has an extra section entitled "New light on old problems", the first subheading of which is "Did Q really exist?" (177-8). As I read through this section, I thought to myself, "This looks familiar." In fact, it was very familiar. The section is derived from a web page that I composed back in 1997 called Ten Reasons to Question Q. Although the section in Drane's book is derived from my web page, it does not mention me and it does not cite the web page.
Drane appears to work in sequence through my ten points, abbreviating and paraphrasing, sometimes adding some extra material. He begins:
There is no hard evidence of its existence. In spite of the confidence with which scholars have reconstructed Q, and even claim to be able to give an account of its own literary history and development, no one has ever seen it. There is not even a fragment of any ancient manuscript of Q, nor is there a single reference to its existence anywhere in ancient literature. Nineteenth-century scholars believed that Papias was referring to Q in his statement that Matthew ‘compiled the logia in the Hebrew language' . . . . (184)This is a version of my points 1 and 2:
1. No-one has ever seen Q
Current literature on Q abounds with editions of Q, investigations into its strata, studies of the communities that were behind it and analyses of their theology. In such circumstances, it is worth allowing ourselves the sober reminder that there is no manuscript of Q in existence. No-one has yet found even a fragment of Q.
2. No-one had ever heard of QDrane's next bullet point begins as follows:
No ancient author appears to have been aware of the existence of Q. One will search in vain for a single reference to it in ancient literature. For a while it was thought that 'the logia' to which Papias referred might be Q. Indeed, this was one of the planks on which the Q hypothesis rested in the nineteenth century. But no reputable scholar now believes this.
There are no other ancient documents that look like Q. Though some Gnostic gospels (especially the Gospel of Thomas) provide a kind of parallel for interest in collecting sayings of Jesus, and though such interest seems inherently likely among his followers, Q is not actually like Thomas in that it contains some narrative material as well. It is therefore difficult to identify a specific genre to which Q might belong (184-5).This appears to be based on my point 3**
3. Q is unparalleled in genreDrane's third bullet point reads:
There is no ancient document that looks like Q. Some have claimed that the Gospel of Thomas provides an analogy since it, like Q, is a 'sayings Gospel'. However, there is no parallel in Thomas for the narrative material that has always been problematic for the Q hypothesis, the Temptation (Matt. 4.1-11 // Luke 4.1-13), the Centurion's Boy (Matt. 8.5-13 // Luke 7.1-11) and the Messengers from John (Matt. 11.2-19 // Luke 7.18-35). Some Q scholars, aware of this difficulty, are currently engaging in a desperate search for a genre for Q.
In a considerable number of passages, Matthew’s and Luke’s texts agree over against Mark’s, in either wording or order. This can generally be explained by the assumption that, at some points, there was overlap between Mark and Q, and that Matthew and Luke preferred the fuller version generally believed to be contained in Q. However, some of these agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark are found in the story of Jesus’ death (compare, for example, Matthew 26:67–68 / Luke 22:63–64 with Mark 14:65), and since every account of the scope of the hypothetical Q has concluded that it did not contain a passion narrative, some scholars want to argue that this phenomenon can more easily be explained on the assumption that Luke used Matthew than by reference to the traditional view that both of them used Q (185).This is a condensed summary of my points 4-7. I will not quote those in full here but will draw attention to some pertinent elements:
But the existence of agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark in these very passages suggests otherwise . . . .
Since the Q hypothesis is founded on Luke's independence of Matthew, agreement like this, agreement against Mark in both wording and order, should not be present. But the force of such major agreements tends not to be felt because of appeal to the phenomenon of 'Mark-Q overlap', both here and elsewhere (e.g. the Temptation; John the Baptist; Beelzebub) . . . .
If one were to find a Minor Agreement between Matthew and Luke in the Passion narrative (Matt. 26-28 // Mark 14-16 // Luke 22-24), then this would be stronger evidence still against the existence of Q, for no-one thinks that Q has a Passion Narrative. The good news is that there are several Minor Agreements in this material, the most striking of which is this: Matt. 26.67-8 // Mark 14.65 // Luke 22.63-4Given the condensing of my points here, there are fewer verbal links in Drane's paraphrase. However, there is a tell-tale sign of "editorial fatigue" in that Drane begins by writing "the story of Jesus' death", presumably with his introductory audience in mind, but he subsequently drifts into my wording "a passion narrative" later in the paragraph.
Speaking of fatigue, Drane's fourth bullet point (the final one in the second edition, 185, penultimate in the 3rd, 179) begins by paraphrasing my point 8 ("The Phenomenon of Fatigue"):
The existence of Q has also been questioned on the basis of considerations related to the way in which ancient authors might have operated. It has been claimed that when a writer is using a source, while the information might be sharpened up and reshaped at the beginning of the day, as tiredness sinks in there will be a tendency to revert to the underlying patterns of whatever source is being used—and that in the case of the so-called Q material, such evidence always shows Luke reverting to Matthew’s forms of expression. For example, in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14–30; Luke 19:11–27) Matthew has three servants, and Luke has ten. But as the story is told, Luke mentions ‘the first’, ‘the second’, and then ‘the other’ servant (19:16, 18, 20), which is easier to understand if Luke knew Matthew than if both of them were using the hypothetical Q.This is how I had phrased this summary of my own argument:
When one writer is copying the work of another, changes are sometimes made at the beginning of an account which are not sustained throughout - the writer lapses into docile reproduction of his / her source. This phenomenon of 'fatigue' is a tell-tale sign of a writer's dependence on a source . . . .
It is revealing that this phenomenon also occurs in double tradition (Q) material, and always in the same direction, in favour of Luke's use of Matthew. Take the Parable of the Talents / Pounds (Matt. 25.14-30 // Luke 19.11-27). Matthew has three servants throughout. Luke, on the other hand, has ten. But as the story progresses, we hear about 'the first' (19.16), 'the second' (19.18) and amazingly, 'the other' (ho heteros, Luke 19.20). Luke has inadvertently betrayed his knowledge of Matthew by drifting into the story-line of his source (see further my 'Fatigue in the Synoptics', NTS 44 (1998), pp. 45-58).As in other places above, Drane uses synonyms where possible, "When a writer is using a source" for "when one writer is copying the work of another", "But as the story is told" for "But as the story progresses", "tiredness" for "fatigue", and so on. Curiously, this excerpt actually illustrates the phenomenon that it is describing, with the wording closer to my wording as the paragraph progresses.
The second half of Drane's fourth bullet-point reads:
Those who wish to dispose of Q also argue that the very notion of gospel writers using sources in this way is a legacy from a previous generation which adopted a ‘scissors and paste’ approach to literature, which can no longer be sustained—and if M and L as separate written sources should be jettisoned, then so should Q.This is a paraphrase of my penultimate point:
9. The Legacy of Scissors-and-Paste ScholarshipThis is a good paraphrase, retaining the sense and structure of my point but rewording with things like "previous generation" for "another age". I must admit that I am not that keen on Drane's use of "dispose of" to replace"dispense with".
Q belongs to another age, an age in which scholars solved every problem by postulating another written source. The evangelists were thought of as 'scissors and paste' men, compilers and not composers, who edited together pieces from several documents. Classically, the bookish B. H. Streeter solved the synoptic problem by assigning a written source to each type of material - triple tradition was from Mark; double tradition was from 'Q'; special Matthew was from 'M' and special Luke was from 'L'. Most scholars have since dispensed with written 'M' and 'L' sources. The time has now come to get up-to-date, and to dispense with Q too.
Drane's piece therefore paraphrases my "ten reasons to question Q" in order, with points 4-7 significantly condensed and point 10 omitted. The paraphrase is well done, with effective use of synonyms and generally good summaries of my points. There are words and phrases in common but overall the verbatim agreement is relatively limited.
It is difficult to know quite how to react to this. On one level, I am surprised that it has taken me until now to spot it given that the passage in question has been in the book since the second edition of 1999. I suppose that I am also pleasantly surprised to see my arguments repeated in a New Testament Introduction, even if it is without acknowledgement. At least some of the key Q sceptical arguments are getting a hearing in an introductory textbook.
Moreover, it would be fair to say also that the genre of introductory textbook does not tend to encourage citation in the same way that scholarly monographs and articles do. However, given the difficulty that we have in universities and colleges in training students to cite their sources, and to attribute arguments to those who made them, I think on balance that I am not happy with what the author has done here.
The basis of the plagiarism tutorials that we provide at Duke University are the imitation of good scholarly procedures, and that includes "failure to cite a source that is not common knowledge". One way to think about this is to imagine if a passage came in like this in a student's work in my New Testament Introduction class. What I would do would be to point out that the student has simply paraphrased a web page without citing the source. The student in question would be unlikely to get a good grade and would probably be referred to the plagiarism tutorials previously mentioned.
I would be interested to hear what others think. Am I being fair to Drane? Is it OK to use scholars' web pages without acknowledgement?
I should conclude by underlining that in this post I just want to sketch out the evidence and to ask the questions. I am not making any accusations. Nevertheless, I do have a suggestion for a moral for the future. If anyone is inclined to plagiarize scholarly work, it is probably not a good idea to plagiarize experts on source criticism.
* Note: there are some slight expansions in the third edition including an extra bullet point (178) that is not derived from my web page. Most of the pages numbers above refer to the second edition.
** Note: Drane is writing in 1999 and so dependent on an earlier version of the website, and it is that earlier (1997) version of the site that I am here quoting. As it happens, this is one of the things that I first noticed when reading Drane -- I recognized the older wording of my site, wording that on this point I subsequently re-worded.