Monday, August 03, 2009

the miraculous in Q

I'd like to solicit your help, because I'm quite sure I must not understand what I've just read.

I'm preparing some reading questions from Pheme Perkins's discussion on "The Quest for Sources" (Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels [Grand Rapids and Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2007], 54–125), particularly pp. 54–96. Her discussion is pretty standard (as you would expect from an introduction) in that it is characteristically careful and yet glosses over a number of issues I'm not wanting to gloss over. Following the critical edition of Q, Perkins provides a comprehensive list of sayings (pp. 74–80). Then, in a move reminiscent of Richard Horsley and Jonathan Draper's analysis in Whoever Hears You Hears Me (London and New York: Trinity Press International, 1999), she provides a rudimentary structure of discursive blocks into which many (but not all) the Q material fits.

When I'm open to the Q hypothesis, I'm open to this larger "Collection of Discourses" model of Q rather than the atomistic model of a sayings source. But then Perkins makes a comment I really don't understand. She says,
The only anomalous pericope [among the Q material] is the lone miracle story [i.e., Jesus' healing the centurion's child (Luke 7.1–10)]. Most descriptions of Q skirt the difficulty by describing it as a statement about faith. For example, the editors of the critical edition entitle the section, "The Centurion's Faith in Jesus' Word." Jesus' miracle working does not figure in any of the other sayings of Q or in the later Gos. Thom. Rather than to make the healing of the centurion's son fit by stripping it of that element, one should consider alternate possibilities. (Perkins 2007: 81; my emphasis)

I've italicized the passage that's giving me problems. Is Perkins really saying that, other than Q 7.1–10, Jesus' miracle working (especially his healings and exorcisms) don't appear in Q? What about Q 7.18–23? or Q 11.14–23? Perkins has already listed Luke 7.18–35 as "Jesus on the Baptist, against 'this generation'," but we should remember that Jesus' response to John's disciples referred explicitly and programmatically to his healing of the blind, lame, deaf, and leprous, and his raising of the dead. Similarly, she listed Luke 11.14–51 as "Jesus against his opponents," but that story kicks off by Jesus' exorcising a demon and climaxes with Jesus' statement, "But if I cast out demons by the finger [Matt 12.28 = Spirit] of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." Other references could also be given.

Perkins's discussion is, as I've already said, very careful, so I must be missing her point. I'd appreciate it if someone out there can clue me in to what I'm missing.

[UPDATE: A comment taken out of context but, in light of the previous discussion, nevertheless intriguing: "Q2 knows of, but has no place for, Jesus as healer and exorcist" (Perkins 2007: 96). Is Perkins's but has no place for justifiable?]


Adam L. Bean said...

Sounds like you are reading it right, and that her statement is wrong. Perhaps those one-titles obscured the miracle content in the other passages as she looked them over.

It seems fitting that this post makes exactly ONE on your entire blog with the label "Q" attached.

Rafael said...

Yes, Adam. But I have a considerable number of hypothetical posts, all of which are labelled "Q."

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