An informal summary by William Arnal of John Kloppenborg's theories of the stratification

of Q

The first thing I should say re. stratification of Q is that the best

way to get a handle on it is to read Kloppenborg's Formation of Q, which is

THE basic and original argument for the layering of Q which has been so

eagerly embraced by Crossan, the Jesus Seminar, Mack, etc. It takes

Kloppenborg a whole book to lay out a detailed argument which, even then,

isn't accepted by everyone Two other things: First, Kloppenborg's

interest in stratifying Q arose from his desire to locate Q's GENRE --

it had nothing to do with the historical Jesus.

Second, Kloppenborg is NOT the first to attempt to find layers of

tradition in Q -- it has been done, in various and sundry ways, by

Siegfried Schultz (only available in German) and Arland Jacobson. What

distinguished Kloppenborg from these efforts was the application of a

REDACTION-critical methodology, rather than a tradition-historical one.

That is, for instance, Schultz assumed that "hellenistic" elements were

later than "Paelstinian" ones in Q's theology, and so attempted to

cvollect together the tendencies of each stratum on this assumption.

Jacobson assumed, for instance, that the use of the LXX, or the polemic

against John the Baptist was late, and so traced the history of individual

pericopes on this basis. Kloppenborg, by contrast, following the

redaction-critical approach undertaken by Dieter Luhrmann (also only

available in German), attempted to discern the organizing principles

behind the collection and shaping of the Q material on literary grounds.

He felt this could be done because the original wording and -- more

importantly -- order of Q can still be discerned behind Matthew and Luke.

He deliberately wrote out of consideration any any pericopes whose

original placement or sequence in Q could no longer be determined with any

measure of confidence.

Working from these assumptions, he believed that

one could determine redactional interests in Q in three basic ways: 1.the

isolation of late alterations, form critically, to indivdiual pericopes

and the coordination of these alterations into patterns. That is, if

several pericopes throughout Q all have, as their latest alterations,

forms which promote theme "x", we might assume that theme "x" was a

principle behind some late stage of the document's redaction; if several

pericopes have theme "y" as a secondary alteration, but have "z" as an

even later alteration, we might assume that "y" was either a redactional

interest of an early stage or a theme present in the oral tradition, which

was subsequently emended or redacted in accordance with theme "z"; if "z"

and "x" are compatible, or appear together in such alteration, we might

assume they represent the same redactional hand; and, e.g., if theme "k"

appears as a late addition to one pericope, but not to any others, we

cannnot confidently assign the alteration to the hand of a redactor. 2.The

principles by which originally independent units are juxtaposed can be

treated in the same way. If it turns out that theme "x" is promoted by the

juxtaposition of large blocks of material, that suggests and confirms that

it is a late and redactional theme imposed on the document as a whole; on

the other hand, if theme "y" is promoted by the juxtaposition within

blocks of smaller units, which are then joined together in larger blocks

which do not promote theme "y" but rather theme "z", this suggests and

confirms that "y" is an early interest supplanted redactionally by "z". 3.

Conclusions arrived at in this way can be supported by the comparsion of Q

material with parallel material in independent sources (primarily Mark,

John, and Thomas). A theme judged to be redactional should distinguish Q

material from parallels in these other sources, whereas themes deemed

traditional might and probably should also appear in the other versions.

The first theme that Kloppenborg attempts to isolate is the "the

pronouncement of judgement," here following Luhrmann. From an analysis of

the sort described above, he arrives at the conclusion that ONE

redactional interest of Q is the pronouncement of judgment against "this

generation," i.e., a deuteronomistic conception that Wisdom has called

this generation (Israel) to repentance through the activities of the

prophets, John the Baptist, and Jesus, but these messengers have been

persecuted and rejected, and so now Wisdom abandons Israel to judgement

(in this case, apocalyptic judgment). Those who heeded Wisdom's ultimate

call through Jesus will, however, be saved, especially since it is Jesus

himself who will serve as the arbiter of this ultimate conflagration. The

evidence for this perspective as a REDACTIONAL theme comes from the

analysis, pericope by pericope, of the principles behind the formation of

each single block of material which most obviosuly manifests this theme;

including: John's preaching, the block on Jesus' and John's relationship,

the controversies and woes against the Pharisees in the latter half of

chapter 11, some material in chapter 12, and the little apocalypse in

chapter 17 (I'm citing by Lukan location). Material in which this theme is

not obviously and predominantly present is ignored for the moment. Now,

each of these large blocks of material can be show to have been assembled

precisely in order to highlight the deuteronomistic perspective already

described, and not, it appears, for any other reason.

Thus, e.g., John the

Baptist's preaching consists of at least three and probably four

independent units: 3:7b-8a, 9, which uses the tree and fruit metaphor;

3:8b, which speaks of children of Abraham by way of refutation of claims

to ethnic privilege; 3:16, paralleled in Mark, which speaks of baptism

with holy spirit by the coming one, and 3:17, which threatens judgment

from this figure, using another agricultural metaphor. What links all of

these slightly different conceptions? Under what thematic rubric are they

drawn together? The urgency of repentance in the face of judgement. The

first unit, on its own, is a simple exhortation to be good; the second is

a rejection of national privilege (a rather different theme); the third,

as Mark's use of it shows, is an effort to identify Jesus as the one

predicted by John; and the fourth proposes punishment for some

indeterminate offense. The combination of all four has the effect, then,

of promoting the idea that the offense is the failure to repent as John

demanded, that national privilege cannot be used to escape this necessity,

that Jesus is the one who will dole out the punishment, and that this

punishment is of a future, apocalyptic variety. The whole is greater than

the summ of the parts, and given that this whole is the same whole

promoted, in much the same way, by the other units, suggests that this is

one of the overarching redactional themes of the document. Another

example: the block from 7:1-35 (more or less), which combines a variety of

disparate material: the healing of the centurion's boy (7:1-10); the

various comments made by Jesus about John in 7:19-35. Even within the

latter, there is FAR too much variety and inconsistency to imagine that a

straightforward assessment of John is at issue: John is simultaneously

derided and promoted, he is "more than a prophet" and simultaneously less

than the least in the kingdom, and simultaneously Jesus' apparent equal as

a "child of wisdom."

Whence these contradictory assessments of John? And

then, what on earth is the miracle story in 7:1-10 doing here?

Kloppenborg's answer is that the principle which binds the whole together

is the deuteronomistic polemic which also characterizes the other units.

Jesus' statement in 7:22 suggests a theme of Jesus' eschatological

identity, but the addition of v.23 makes that identification more

threatening in character. As its independent appearance in Thomas argues,

7:24-26 originally was oriented to the theme of criticism of the rich; its

addition to the foregoing material, as well as its appearance on Jesus'

lips as a harangue to the crowd serves to cast John as rejected and

misunderstood by the people, and has Jesus castigating them for this (in

much the same way John himself castigated them in 3:8). Vv.27 and 28

appear to have been motivated by an interest in John's status vis-a-vis

Jesus, and are attached to the end of v.26 on this basis, offering

slightly corrected versions of John's status: 1. more than a prophet

(v.26b) --> 2. yet excluded from kingdom (v.28, to correct such a high

view of John) --> 3. yet the one predicted by Malachi (v.27, which

assumes and reinforces a rather exalted role for Jesus, and at teh same

time mediates between the two opposing assessments of John, offering a

reason why he could be more than a prophet and simultaneously excluded

from the kingdom -- he is a forerunner). Thne point is that all of this

activity has occured (probably in the oral tradition) prior to the

incorporation of the block vv.24-28 into this larger section of Q. How do

we know? a)because these interventions occur WITHIN a block of material

distinct from that which preceeds it (i.e., 7:19-23) and follows it

(i.e., 7:31-35), and b) because the literary interaction of these glosses

is with each other, and not with any of the surrounding material. In

other words, vv.27-28 were already there when the block 7:24-28 was

combined with 7:18-23, and 7:18-23 had experienced a late addition (v.23)

which served to orient its main theme to polemics, the same theme

fostered by the juxtaposition of 7:18-23 with 7:24-28. Moreover, 7:31-35,

which has still another perspective on Jesus' and John's relationship

(they are peers, acting independently, but for the same cause), is quite

obviosuly polemical, castigating this generation for foolishly failing to

respond to either Jesus or John -- its appearance at the end of this

block serves to orient the whole mass toward the polemical theme.

Finally, the otherwise unaccountable appearance at the start of this

sequence of the healing of the Centurion's boy makes when we note that

the story ends with the statement, "Even in Israel I have not found such

faith," a statement which does not appear in independent versions of the

story, and which changes the thrust of the story from an account of

Jesus' wonderful healing abilities to a criticism of those who do not

accept him (cf. the Beelzebul controversy, for the same phenomenon in Q).

Thus the relationship between this and the following material is to found

in the theme of Isreal's inadequate response to Jesus. The examples


After isolating this theme as an overarching redactional interest in Q,

Kloppenborg moves to those blocks of material in which this constellation

of themes does not seem to be present. The most striking examples

include: the great sermon in ch.6; the sayings on prayer at the start of

ch.11; the material on anxiety in ch.12 (cf. chs. 9-10). Kloppenborg

analyzes these blocks in the same terms as he has looked at the others:

to determine the principles by which they were composed and the

redactional interests and intentions apparently underlying that

composition. The great sermon is perhaps the easiest example. Here we

have an extended speech treating of a variety of subjects --

discipleship and obedience, judgment of others, responses to violence,

social marginalization (the beatitudes in particular). Each such theme is

developed in its own way and possibly has a significant oral prehistory

prior to its incorporation in Q. Thus, e.g., 6:39 (and 40???) are joined

to 6:41-42 on the principle that both deal with the metaphor of sight and

the eye, although each makes a rather different point. The first concerns

leadership, the second concerns judgment. They come together, however, on

the basis of invoking blindness. 6:40 interprets 6:39 in terms of

discipleship; again, 6:45 interprets 6:43-44 in terms of teaching and

speech. It looks as though a secondary sub-theme within this material is

an emphasis on teacher-student relationships and leadership roles.

Anyway, the entirety of the unit, by virtue of individual interventions

such as those described, as well as by virtue of its compilation as a

single unit, with its programmatic introduction (the beatitudes, 6:20ff.)

and its parabolic conclusion (the house built on sand), presents a fairly

coherent single perspective: that of an effort to use examples from

nature and typical human behaviour as well as extended logical

argumentation, to argue for a counter-cultural (or anti-cultural) ethos of

direct reliance on God, of the flouting of normal conventions, and so

forth. Not only is this theme apparent in the composition of this block,

it is shared with all of the other blocks in which the theme of judgment

is absent (with the exception of temptation narrative, which constitutes

the final addition to Q, according to Kloppenborg, and which is not

important right now).

So we are left with two apparently self-sufficient types of

material: that which uses wisdom form to argue a counter-cultural message

of direct reliance on God, and which does NOT appear interested in

deuteronomistic polemic at all; and that which focuses on deuteronomistic

polemic, but which does not appear that interested either in the wisdom

*idiom* or in the naturalistic message of unediated access to divine

providence. This impression is fostered by formal considerations. The

wisdom-like material employs wisdom-like FORMS: clusters of aphorisms and

imperatives with motive-clauses, highly structured into extended

arguments. The polemical material employs loosely thematically organized

narrative forms known as chreia. We might be left with the impression,

then, that Q is actually TWO separate documents, but for two

considerations. The first is that Matthew and Luke agree in several

places on the sequence of Q material across this thematic divide. That

is, the order of the material in Matthew and Luke suggests that these

types of material had already been combined by the time they accessed Q.

Second, and much more important for the purposes of relative dating of

these strata, the two themes do not, on closer examination, turn out to

be completely independent of one another after all. Certain blocks of the

wisdom-like material, although they appear, as a whole to have been

composed with these wisdom-like thematic and formal principles as a

basis, have been GLOSSED, i.e., added to, with material obviously

deuteronomistic in perspective. That is, theme "y", although overarching,

repeated, and clearly at least one organizing principle, has been

redacted or added to, albeit lightly, from perspective "z", which

corresponds thematically to the overall redaction of the

deuteronomistic/polemical material. The best example of this phenomenon

is Q 6:23b: "for so their fathers did to the prophets," a deuteronomistic

addition to a sequence of beatitudes which had been collected, and

juxtaposed with 6:27-33 etc., on the basis of their inversion of accepted

standards of behaviour (particularly, how to react to enemies and

ill-treatment with affection and non-violence), and not on the basis of

condemnation in prophetic terms. So 6:23b is later than the rest of the

block, but fits perfectly with the themes of 3:7-9, 16-17; 7:1-10, 19-28,

31-35, etc. This phenomenon does not occur in reverse; that is, we have

no later wisdom-like interpolations into polemical blocks. This suggests

that the deuteronomistic redaction was added to and was subsequent to the

wisdom-like one.

Kloppenborg sees the Temptation narrative as essentially

unique in Q. All of the other material whose original order in Q can be

discerned and is therefore amenable to redactional analysis fits fairly

easily into one of the two major redactional groupings he finds in Q:

either the inversionary wisdom stuff, or the polemical-deuteronomistic

stuff. The Temptation narrative does not appear to serve either interest.

Moreover, it stands on its own in a way much other the other material does

not: it essentially makes its point on its own, without meaningfully

standing in thematic juxtaposition with the surrounding material. Even

more strikingly, in terms of form it is unique in Q, standing as the only

true narrative in the document (7:1-10 and 11:14 are narratival, but still

conclude with a pithy saying and so are fairly typical of the

apophthegmatic form of the rest of Q2). Other distinctive features:

mythic motif; explicit biblical quotations (only elsewhere at 7:27); title

"son of God" (only "son" at 10:22); different understanding of miracles

(here they are deeds of Jesus rather than events of the kingdom);

characterization of devil as "diabolos." These lead him to the

conclusion that the story is late interpolation to Q. Kloppenborg then

tries on various hypotheses about the redactional significance the story,

and concludes that it represents a "testing story" which serves to

establish the character of the sage, as appears in other ancient

literature. In his view, this represents the first step Q takes in the

generic direction of biography, a process completed finally with Q's

incorporation into Matthew and Luke.

So "Q3" is just that single pericope, which serves to establish

Jesus as a sage in preparation for his teaching as contained in the rest

of Q. In a more recent paper ("Nomos and Ethos in Q" in Gospel Origins

and Christian Beginnings), Kloppenborg adds the suggestion that Q 11:42b

("this you should have done...") and 16:17 were glosses added by the hand

responsible for the addition of the temptation narrative. The reasoning

behind this is Q2's failure to be much interested in legal matters,

obedience to Torah, etc.; its criticism of the Pharisees is constituted

by ridicule, not by disputing their particular understanding of the Law.

So 16:17 glorifies the Law in a way we would not expect from either Q1 or

Q2, and 11:42b betrays an exegetical concern matched in the Temptation


by William Arnal