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November 17, 2011

Scholar? No, Not So Much

by Brendan

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I’d been doing a scholarly study of religion since the 1980’s.  I read Elaine Pagel’s book “The Gnostic Gospels,” and Thomas Sheehan’s book “The First Coming.”  Both Pagels and Sheehan are university professors and scholars in New Testament.   So I read through a number of their sources–including the 19th century German scholars who devised the Three-Document Hypothesis for the origin of the Gospels (Bultmann, Harnack).

In short, the Three-Document Hypothesis says that Mark is the firstt Gospel, with Luke and Matthew using a lot of Mark; BUT where Luke and Matthew diverged from Mark, the German scholars hypothesized another source, which they named “Q” (“quelle,” or source). Since they worked, the “Q” source has been both somewhat discovered and subsequently assembled (from its appearance in Matthew and Luke).

It’s more complex, but there it is in brief.  I did a good bit of reading, but one cannot really be a scholar of the New Testament without reading Greek and Hebrew, which I cannot — so I have to stand on the shoulders of real scholars.  Nor do I read German, so I must read the German scholars in translation.

Oh, well.  Sigh.  We do the best we can.

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