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Harb, G.


Die eschatologische Rede des Spruchevangeliums Q. Redaktions- und traditionsgeschichtliche Studien zu Q 17,23–37.


Leuven u. a.: Peeters Publishers 2014. XVIII, 359 S. = Biblical Tools and Studies, 19. Kart. EUR 84,00. ISBN 978-90-429-3050-6.


Dieter T. Roth

This monograph on the eschatological discourse in Q 17:23–37 is a revision and expansion of G. Harb’s 2012 doctoral dissertation at the Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz written under the supervision of C. Heil. H. divides her discussion into six chapters, and in her introductory chapter (1–58) begins with a helpful overview of the pur-pose and structure of the volume. The goal of the work is to consider the eschatological discourse as part and parcel of Q, its tradi-tion-historical formation and implications for understanding the redactional formation of Q, and the light the study can shed on the dating of Q in general. The introduction also offers a brief discus-sion of issues related to Q, with H. concluding that the two-source theory remains the most persuasive solution to the Synoptic Problem. In addition, she contends that Q was a written text; was composed in Greek; is best referred to as a Spruchevangelium (sayings Gospel); and was written in a rural, Jewish context in the 60s CE. The introduction concludes with a brief overview and summary of the history of research on Q 17.
Chapter 2 (59–122) presents H.’s discussion of the reconstruction of Q 17:23–37, though the results in their entirety, with a German translation, are not presented in their entirety until the first two pages of the volume’s third chapter. The reconstruction presents the same order of the verses found in the Critical Edition of Q, namely Q 17:23–24, 37, 26–27, 34–35 and only differs from the word-ing of the CEQ in a few, minor instances.
Chapter 3, the longest chapter in the volume (123–225), sets forth H.’s discussion and exegesis of the discourse. Here H. argues that the passage is not an apocalypse and should be seen as an eschatological, prophetic warning. Within the context of Q, Q 17:23–24, according to H., clearly refers to Jesus as the Son of Man but does not ascribe a judging role to him. The point in her view, rather, is that his sudden and universally visible coming announces the judgment. For Q 17:37, numerous pages of discussion are devoted to the question of whether ἀετοί (aetoi) is to be understood as »eagles« or »vultures« with H. concluding that the latter is the best interpretation. Thus, the verse conveys that just as vultures quickly and certainly gather around a corpse, so also is the coming Son of Man and the judgment. The comparison with the days of Noah (Q 17:26–27, 30) is seen as once again taking up the suddenness of the judgment, but also invoking the image of the cosmic dimension of the catastrophe. Q 17:34–35 reveals that everyone, men and women, will be affected by the judgment and, in H.’s view, due to the use of a passivum divinum, the discourse once again underscores that Jesus is not presented as the judge in Q 17. At the same time, how-ever, H. here admits that in Q as a whole, Jesus does have a »judging function« (e. g., in Q 3:17; cf. 188–89). The discourse in its entirety, and its emphasis on the certain and sudden coming of the Son of Man that nevertheless cannot be fixed in terms of its time or location, is seen as addressing not only the Q-Gemeinde but also those outside this group. This chapter concludes with a 31-page excursus on »Gendered Couplets in Q,« in which H. discusses a number of verses that have been suggested as presenting a gendered pairing. Ultimately she concludes that only Q 11:31–32 and Q 17:34–35 can truly be identified as »gendered couplets.« Though one may rightly assume that women were part of the group proclaiming the Q message as well as note that in Q every person is individually respon-sible for her or his response to the Q message, H. does not see Q evidencing a conscious use of both sexes in its teaching nor is »fe-maleness« really a theme (225).
In chapter 4 (227–74) the tradition-historical and redactional formation of Q 17:23–37 is considered in dialogue with a variety of redactional models for Q (e. g., those of D. Lührmann, A. D. Jacobson, J. Kloppenborg, M. Sato et al.). H. agrees with Jacobson that a tradition-historical division must be posited between vv. 23 and 24 (230), contending that v. 23 was originally transmitted apart from the discourse. V. 37 is a comment on v. 24 and these two verses were initially brought together with vv. 26–27, 30. Vv. 34–35, like v. 23, or-iginally circulated independently and were later accreted to the core verses. In her view, the »Son of Man« redactional model of P. Hoffmann is the most plausible one for the eschatological discourse and, in all likelihood, v. 23 was added to the discourse during this redaction. That is to say, the entire discourse was added to Q in this redaction and it is at this point that v. 23 was brought together with the other verses. Yet, within Q more broadly, and against Hoffmann’s model, H. views Q 6:22–23 and 12:8–9 as already present in Q prior to this redaction with only the commentary being redactionally added (i. e., vv. 6:23c and 12:10; cf. 273).
Chapter 5 (275–91) considers three attempts to date Q, namely those of G. Theißen, M. Myllykoski, and P. Hoffmann. Rejecting an early date in the 40s or 50s CE (Theißen) as well as a post-70 CE date (Myllykoski), H. suggests that most indicators point to a date in the 60s CE, probably before 66 (291). The concluding chapter 6 (293–305) helpfully summarizes the main conclusions and provides a few suggestions for further reflection upon the eschatology of Q and early Christian eschatology more generally. The volume ends with a bibliography followed by biblical, ancient source, and modern author indices.
Despite numerous helpful insights offered by H., there are potential difficulties confronting any study of Q based on a word level reconstruction. Though H. presents her Q reconstruction with the nuanced recognition that there is a certain circularity involved, some of the wording is uncertain (placed by H. in parentheses), other scholars have come to different conclusions, and the reconstruction is only a hypothetical presentation of the most likely wording of Q (60–61), she nevertheless remains committed to reconstructing an actual, precise Q text. A more fundamental difficulty in attempting to reconstruct the actual wording of Q, how-ever, does not appear to have been noted. Despite H.’s theoretically recognizing that both Matthew and Luke may have altered the wording of Q, in practice there is not a single instance where the reconstruction actually posits this to have occurred as each and every reconstructed word is found in either Matthew or Luke. Even when uncertainty is expressed, the discussion operates on an »either Matthew or Luke« model and only rarely, if ever, with the thought of »neither.« Although this practice is understandable since, unless one resorts to conjecture, it is only words found in Matthew and/or Luke that can be used for Q, given that in the trip-le tradition significant amounts of the wording of Mark cannot be reconstructed from Matthew and Luke in this way, the present reviewer is rather skeptical of word-level approaches to studying Q.
Apart from the fundamental question of how one is to approach studying Q, undoubtedly some will disagree with certain views and exegetical decisions in this volume and come to different conclu-sions concerning, e. g., the extent to which Jesus is depicted as a judge in Q, the assessment of Q as generally skeptical of any titles for Jesus, and especially the advocated redactional model of Q. Nevertheless, H. has provided a valuable study and offered im-portant considerations in terms of the place of the eschatological discourse in understanding Q and the insights it can offer into on­going debates concerning the redaction, date, and theological em­phases of Q.