Q Gospel (hypothetical biblical writings; existence unconfirmed; 8th century BCE-11th century CE)


The Q Gospel
A diagram depicting a hypothesis of Matthew and Luke's inspiration from Mark and the Q Gospels.
A diagram depicting a hypothesis of Matthew and Luke's inspiration from Mark and the Q Gospels.
Status Existence Unconfirmed

The Q Gospel is a potential source document for various books of the new testament, containing a collection of unmitigated sayings and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Its existence is alleged by various scholars of Christian Theology including B. H. Streeter, based on similarities between New Testament gospels such as Matthew and Luke, which contain minor variations on many quotes supposed to have been said by Jesus and therefore are alleged to have used as their source the same now-missing document. The theory further states that there is are two sources to the three Synoptic Gospels, a biography (Gospel of Mark) and a book of sayings (Q). The book of sayings would explain the similarities between Matthew and Luke that cannot be explained by Mark.

Possible Explanations

Mark and Q

The first explanation is that Q was a book of sayings and teachings attributed to Jesus. This book would have counteracted the reliance on actual events that Mark had. Matthew and Luke, in turn, would have written these teachings with slight variations after taking them from a primary source, like students writing essays based on the same source material.

Just one of numerous examples would be Jesus's 'discourse on judgmentalism':

"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."

Matthew 7:1-2

"Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven"

Luke 6:37

This explanation is problematic, however, as the extant proto-Gospel materials share very little with Matthew and Luke, and even with each other. Early Christian writings varied wildly in their interpretations of the life and teachings of Jesus. Only Matthew, Mark, and Luke share any meaningful amount of text, narrative, and interpretation.

Matthew and Luke

Another explanation is that these books i.e. Matthew and Luke, copied one from the other, as it is generally considered to be the case that the Gospel of Mark was also used as a source by these two later-written gospels. However, by cross-sourcing quotes and references from these two books, biblical scholars tend to agree that neither Matthew or Luke is dependent on the other in the way that they are both dependent on Mark.

Q is Non-Canon

Another possible explanation is that Q is a non-canonical "Gospel of the Hebrews". [1] This short Gospel consists primarily of sayings attributed to Jesus. The Gospel of the Hebrews is listed second among Jerome's chronology of Christian writings, immediately after Mark. However, this is problematic, as there aren't many similarities between it and Matthew and Luke.

Q+Mark+Matthew=Luke

There is also a Three-Source Hypothesis, which suggests that Q is actually a proto-Gospel that was quoted in the works of Papias, another early Christian scholar, that is often confused for being an abridged version of Matthew. [2] This hypothesis further suggests that Luke was written much later than is generally accepted and took material from Q, Mark, and Matthew.

Four Sources

There is also a Four-Source Hypothesis[3], which suggests that suggests that a Q Gospel is not enough to explain discrepancies between Matthew and Luke. The idea is that Matthew and Luke not only drew material from Mark and Q, but also from a proto-Matthew (possibly supported by the writings of Papias), and a proto-Luke.

An alternative to this hypothesis[4] is that each of the three Synoptic Gospels are largely independent of each other, but draw common elements from either an Ur-Gospel or oral sources, depending on the age of the Gospels.

Probability of Recovery

It is highly unlikely that any written version of the original Q Gospel will be unearthed, especially since, as a set of teachings, it may have existed mostly or solely as part of the oral tradition, passed down by followers only verbally as many religious texts continue to be in parts of the world even to this day. This would further explain the discrepancies between the quotes in different gospels.

However, finds of this magnitude can occur, even centuries or millennia after the fact. The most notable example being the 972 'Dead Sea Scrolls', found stored in jars in a cave in Gaza in the 1940s, which included the earliest known written versions of many biblical texts as well as many (30% of the identified texts) previously unknown extra-biblical writings which cross-referenced or confirmed certain facts and dates in the canonical Bible.

Many of the dead sea scrolls were found in very poor condition, and some have still yet to be identified. [5]

Notable Stories Attributed to the Q Gospel

  • The Beatitudes
  • Love your enemies
  • Golden Rule
  • Judge not, lest ye be judged
  • The Test of a Good Person
  • The Parable of the Wise and the Foolish Builders
  • The Parable of the Lost Sheep
  • The Parable of the Wedding Feast
  • The Parable of the Talents
  • The Parable of the Leaven
  • The Parable of the blind leading the blind
  • The Lord's Prayer
  • Expounding of the Law
  • The Birds of Heaven and The Lilies in the Field

References

  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. [3]
  4. [4]
  5. [5]

Comments


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Anonymous user #1

18 months ago
Score 6++
It's amazing to me how all of the pages on this website dealing with lost cartoons and video games have numerous comments and extensive discussion on them, but this one has none. This is one of the few things on this website that would actually be worth finding. Finding this in some form would alter the course of human history. Any thoughts as to where to begin looking for something like this?
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Anonymous user #2

18 months ago
Score 6++
It's important to remember that the existence of Q has been speculated for quite some time, and due to the prevalence of the oral tradition in the early days of Christianity, it's entirely likely that Q was not a written source but a person.
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Anonymous user #3

16 months ago
Score 3++

If the Lost Media Wiki is looking for historical media, too, here are some I've found in my research the past couple years:

- Matthew's original gospel in Hebrew. Completely lost to time, at least for right now. Matthew's gospel that we know today was translated from Greek, but according to Papias [of Hierapolis], Ephraem Syrus, and Irenaeus (possibly other people as well?) Matthew also wrote a Hebrew gospel.

- The (mostly lost) writings of Thallus, a Greek historian. He apparently wrote three entire volumes of history, but only fragments survive (in other people's works that refer to Thallus.) He's seemingly best known for a fragment where he claimed the darkness during the Crucifixion was an eclipse, an explanation that was later disproved.

- Phlegon's "Chronicles", a text that mentioned Jesus, and "Olympiads", a text that also referred to an "eclipse". Like Thallus' writings, it seems the only surviving fragments of these two texts are taken from other historical figures who quoted/talked about them in their own writings.


I don't know how to make Wiki pages, but anyone interested in researching these documents shouldn't have too hard of a time - a simple Google search should bring up all the info you need. Soli Deo Gloria!
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Anonymous user #4

14 months ago
Score 2++

If we started to get into ancient history, there are untold numbers of ancient Greek plays and philosophical texts which are lost forever. The extant literature from the ancient civilisations represents the smallest shred of the whole. You can thank the loss of the Library of Alexandria for a lot of that.

Not to mention that the vast majority of music from throughout human history is lost, since the practice of writing down music didn't catch on significantly until a few centuries ago. Same goes for dance routines. Early ballet sequences were never recorded, so they're gone forever, too.
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Halcyon

1 months ago
Score 0++

But people decide to search for filipino dubs of Hamtaro (Random example) instead of historic documents.

Each on their own, i suppose.
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Raincrafter

13 months ago
Score 3++
This sounds quite important, now going to edit the article and hope that this gets found.
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Anon

12 months ago
Score 6++
Out of every single piece of lost media in existence, this HAS to be the most important one.
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Dash Master 48

12 months ago
Score 2++
Why?
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Anon

7 months ago
Score 4++
It would change history
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Anonymous user #5

12 months ago
Score 2++
on a site where we search for lost for TV nickelodeon films this is much different and even ties into history
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Jsgobble

6 months ago
Score 1++
new dead sea scrolls cave was discovered last february
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Mysteryguy01

2 months ago
Score -1++
this is gonna sound really stupid, but can someone explain to me the historic importance of this?
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Gorillaz27

2 months ago
Score 1++
Oh, you know, only important sources from the most important figure of the Christian faith, no big deal.
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Anonymous user #6

1 months ago
Score 0++
Not only will these change history, but it will also change some of the views of many religious folk will change, as some of these quotes can change the interpretation of these sayings, which can alter how people behave when following these.
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Anonymous user #7

1 days 8 hours 8 minutes ago
Score 0++
There's more focus on lost video games and cartoons because that's something a bunch of randos on the internet actually have hope of finding. People have been searching for the Q Gospel for literal centuries, we ain't gonna be the ones to make the breakthrough.
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