The Source

Concerning the “Q”…

“Q” comes from the German word “quelle” which means “the source.” Scholars such as James Robinson and Burton Mack have studied the origins of Christianity and have now identified the original sayings of Jesus. They have determined that Mark was actually the first written narative of Jesus’ life. His plot reveals knowledge of both the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, which means it was written after 70 A.D., more than a generation after Jesus’ death. Mark presents Jesus as marching into Jerusalem and taking on the Temple authorities who play a part in his demise. He uses Jesus as a symbol of the Temple’s coming destruction.

 Some time later, nearly two generations after Jesus’ death, Matthew and Luke borrow most of Mark’s plot concerning Jesus’ life. Both, especially Matthew, use another unnamed source to record the sayings of Jesus, sayings which have no special connection to his life’s history. When their accounts are compared and when Mark’s historical plot is removed from their stories, Jesus’ sayings become quite apparent. The “Q” stands out as being the main unnamed source used by Matthew and Luke.

 The “Q” was the primary spoken source of Jesus’ sayings, all in the local Aramaic tongue. During the 40-50 years following his death the “Q” followers passed his sayings on to inhabitants of small Gallilean villages. Perhaps they were finally written in Greek later by the local scribes, but if so, they became lost after Mark’s, Matthew’s, and Luke’s stories of Jesus’ life became more important in the early churches than Jesus’ simple teaching concerning the presence of the kingdom of God and its effect on all humanity.

 Little by little the churches wove a web of doctrines concerning Jesus and his life and death which soon overshadowed what he actually taught. By 100 A.D. the writer John (not the disciple) added his ideas about Jesus as the Son of God from the beginning of time. Still later, he offered his vision of Jesus’ return to judge all humankind. 300 to 400 years later, church leaders gathered in councils to write their creeds and confessions about Jesus, what they thought he had done, and who they thought he really was. It is important to note that none of their creeds and confessions mention anything of his teachings found in his sayings.

 However, the “Q” followers were not interested in portraying Jesus’ history or his life, but only in passing on his sayings and living them. His original sayings spoke only of “the kingdom of God” as it is already found on earth among humans of all races, creeds, and cultures. Simply, it is humans doing the humane thing to other humans, especially to those in need. Love, kindness, acceptance, forgiveness, generosity, caring, living in peace with each other. Jesus called himself a “son of humanity” and he went about doing humane things to any and to all. His good news was that God’s kingdom had arrived and was evident in people doing humane things for each other. No payback. Only paying forward without any expectation of anything in return. Endless forgiveness and acceptance. No threats of punishment. Only love, just as God loves all, accepts all, and forgives all.

 Jesus message was new indeed! It was a clarion call to become part of God’s kingdom, a part of God’s reality where God’s justice means forgiveness, where God’s judgement means acceptance, where righteousness means trusting and sharing God’s love for all, where God is humanity’s one and only Creator and Provider, a loving Father. There is no threat of nor any fear of punishment or payback in this kingdom. Jesus knew that “God desires mercy, not sacrifice.”

 Unfortunately, the New Testament writers embellished his life’s history to turn it into a “sacrifice” and a “payment.” They also incorporated a Persian/Judean apocalyptic message. This combined message gathered a larger audience than trying to pass on and follow Jesus’ simple teachings of God’s kingdom. Besides, the message of forgiveness and acceptance as found in Jesus’ stories such as the Prodigal Son…well, just like the Prodigal’s brothers who thought the Father’s treatment was unfair and unjust by their standards, Jesus’ good news message pissed off too many people! Worse, such a message gave church leaders no authority over the people.

 Jesus’ simple prayer to our Father-God is included in the “Q.”

“When you pray to God, say:

Father, may your name be holy among us.

May your your kingdom spread among us.

Give us our daily bread.

Pardon our debts, for we ourselves pardon everyone indebted to us.

Keep us safe from injustice.” [unjust trials]

 God lives among us, not somewhere in the sky. We honor His image by honoring our neighbor even as we honor ourselves. Forgiveness and acceptance are the the keys of God’s justice and judgement; and His kingdom is already growing among humans as we pass our forgiveness and acceptance on to each other even as we forgive and accept ourselves for what we are. God’s kingdom is not some futuristic dreamland! And injustice is the enemy most feared within humanity just as Jesus experienced it from the church and from civil authorities.

 There is no apocalyptic message in Jesus’ sayings.

Henry (Hank) Hasse ~ August 12, 2010

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Published in: on August 12, 2010 at 10:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

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