Memory research is interesting exactly because of the way we remember things – even the way we remember the remembrances of the Gospels. I believe that such science can help us even in understanding how the Gospels shaped the early memory of Jesus and were themselves shaped by the early memory of Jesus.
Some aspects of the memory can endure a long time, while others are more fickle. “The memory of a romantic first meal out with a partner may take on a different mood when the relationship falters,” said Tomonori Takeuchi and Richard Morris at the University of Edinburgh, in an article accompanying the study. “In these cases, memory of the place remains accurate, but the positive associations with that place are lost.”
In short, I believe the monumental act of the written Gospel forever changed the historical memory of Jesus, even among those who may have actually known him (although by this time, it would have been very few).
I am in the midst of a lot of outside things at the moment and cannot contribute like I would want to the discussion. However, for background on the current discussion regarding Q, see the poll here as well as Mark Goodacre’s post.
I do not believe the methodology behind Q is measurable nor demonstrable. Rather, it begins with a presupposition based on a previous generation’s lack of concern over writing styles in the ancient world. (in a really simplified version of the Q hypothesis:) It suggests that Matthew and Luke used several sources because their verbiage, when they are in agreement, doesn’t fully agree. But, as some have dared to demonstrate, innovation (adding to, rewording, making use of in some way) was required even when borrowing a previous text.
This is why we can demonstrate the changes Matthew applied to Mark via a lot of articles by Mark Goodacre and by an impressive book on Matthew’s Judaization of Mark by Anne O’Leary. For instance, Matthew could have easily taken Matthew 6.9-15 directly from various parts of Mark. While Sanders and others would allow for undefined sources, I would suggest pointing Matthew’s unique passages, such as the Sermon on the Mount, to Deuteronomy or other important books to his community.
Q cannot be demonstrated except by extrapolation. On the other hand, the Farrer-Goulder and Goodacre theory can be demonstrated by first understanding ancient writing styles and then by showing how Matthew first expanded Mark and then by showing how Luke used both Mark and Matthew. We can discuss, using the same methodology, how John used Mark and Luke as his primary sources if you would like, but I’m afraid that may bog us down at the moment.
While Q was a valid hypothesis was a long time and the work poured into it by Q scholars (learned scholars who must have our respect) it simply is not needed when we have a firmer, and established, pattern of literary development.
WHY dig up solid foundations, why open questions long taken for settled? Much critical and expository work rests squarely on the Q hypothesis, and if the hypothesis loses credit, the nuisance will be great. The books we rely upon to guide our thought about the history of Christ will need to be read with painful and unrelaxing re-interpretation. Nor is it only the effect on past studies that disquiets us. We want an accepted foundation for our present studies, and it seems a grievous thing that we cannot proceed with them until we have re-investigated what was unanimously settled by a previous generation. Is there to be no progress in learning? Now that criticism is a science, are we not to hold any established positions as permanent conquests, from which a fresh generation can make a further advance? Have we always to fight the old battles over again? Minds of high ability and scrupulous integrity were brought to bear on the Q question in the great days of source-criticism. They sifted to the bottom, they counted every syllable, and they agreed in the substance of their findings. Is it likely that we, whose attention is distracted by the questions of our day, can profitably do their work again? And what reason have we to trust our judgement against theirs, if we find ourselves dissenting from their conclusions?
Q does not, in my opinion, qualify itself with the literary innovations and structures of the time. Further, as I pointed out in my book, Matthew would need no other literary source related to Jesus but Mark.