Judging Q and saving Jesus: Q’s contribution to the wisdom-apocalypticism debate in historical Jesus studies

Llewellyn Howes


The monograph Judging Q and saving Jesus is characterised by careful textual analysis, showing a piercing critical eye in its impressive engagement with the secondary literature, and sharp and insightful critique. The target audience are specialists in the field of research on the Sayings Source Q (the hypothetical source of certain sayings of Jesus common to Matthew and Luke), historical Jesus, and early Christian theology. The book takes the stance that the hypothetical document Q can be reconstructed with sufficient precision and that this enables biblical scholars to study with confidence its genre and its thematic and ideological profile. The genre issue is central to the book overall structure and the alternative proposals are discussed at length and with sophistication. The author’s inference is that Q’s macrogenre is sapiential with occasional insertions of apocalyptic microstructures and motifs. This finding embodies progress in Historical Jesus studies. An opposing trend has been to label Jesus an apocalypticist, so that the great ‘either-or’ of contemporary Jesus scholarship has been ‘either eschatological or not’, an alternative that dates back to Albert Schweitzer. The author finds that generally, and even when used apocalyptically, the term Son of Man tends to support arguments best understood as sapiential in outlook. This is consistent with the sapiential genre of the document as a whole. This finding is supported by the close and careful exegesis of Q 6:37−38 (on not judging). He reconstructs the original wording of this saying ‘on not judging’ and explores the idea of ‘weighing’ in judgment (psychostasia), determining in the end that the saying is entirely sapiential. 

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   - Open Access Publishing in European Networks, OAPEN



  • Chapter 1: A focused overview of the quest for Jesus
  • Chapter 2: Q as document
  • Chapter 3: Eschatological judgment and the Son of Man
  • Chapter 4: ‘Do not judge!’ (μὴ κρίνετε) in Q 6:37–38
  • Chapter 5: The Sayings Gospel Q and the historical Jesus


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