In our Bibles, we have the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. For centuries, scholars have debated which of these came first and whether one evangelist borrowed from another.
More recently, some scholars have talked about a document called “Q.” Maybe you’ve heard of it. But what is it and is it a threat to your faith?
Let’s find out.
What is the Q Gospel?
The Q Gospel is a hypothetical document. Scholars posit its existence to explain why there are similar passages between Matthew and Luke that are absent in Mark.
Why is this important? Matthew, Mark, and Luke contain many of the same stories about Jesus, so it’s curious that Mark omits some of them.
The dominant hypothesis within mainstream secular New Testament scholarship is this: Mark writes his gospel very early on. Another unknown person writes a document called “Q,” which contains many teachings of Jesus. Matthew and Luke come along and use Mark, Q, and their own writings to compose their gospels, but they don’t use each other’s material.
Not all scholars accept this hypothesis. They say Luke used Matthew’s material and Q didn’t exist.
Does the Q Gospel theory pose a danger to the faith?
Not necessarily. Scripture scholar F.F. Bruce suggests that Q was an early form of the Gospel of Matthew or a lost collection of sayings penned by Matthew. According to this hypothesis, Mark writes his Gospel first and Matthew produces Q. Later, Matthew — or one of his followers — takes his early writings, Mark’s material, and new Matthean material to produce the Gospel of Matthew.
This position is compatible with Catholicism. Do note, however, that some scholars use other versions of the Q hypothesis to discredit the Church’s traditional understanding of Scripture. They posit that anything not found in Mark or Q is made up.
Just be cautious when you encounter a scholar supporting the Q hypothesis. Make sure their position doesn’t undermine the divine inspiration of Scripture.