- Judging Q and Saving Jesus: Q's Contribution to the Wisdom-Apocalypticism Debate in Historical Jesus Studies by Llewellyn Howes
Judging Q and Saving Jesus: Q's Contribution to the Wisdom- Apocalypticism Debate in Historical Jesus Studies is a 303-page (before the bibliography) monograph by Llewellyn Howes. For those familiar with the author's publications, this is a highly anticipated release, meeting the expectations that Howes created with his previous work. Carefully and authoritatively argued, Judging Q and Saving Jesus should be on every Q scholar's radar as well as consulted by those who are interested in the NT's use of the term Son of Man and its potential background. While much of the discussion will best be appreciated by specialists, the book also provides an [End Page 592] excellent introduction to the status quaestionis in Q and historical Jesus studies.
One of the key aspects of post-Second World War Q research was its recognition of the document's complex compositional processes, indicating that Q was likely assembled in several diachronic stages. This hypothesis, although demonstrated quite clearly over the course of the closing three decades of the twentieth century, was bound to eventually be put to a rigorous test. In 2015, Judging Q and Saving Jesus found itself in a field of Q studies whose traditional redaction-critical approach was being challenged by narrative-critical investigations that attempted to reconcile the document's contrasting perspectives. Two prominent monographs, Alan Kirk's The Composition of the Sayings Source: Genre, Synchrony, and Wisdom Redaction in Q (1998) and H. T. Fleddermann's Q: A Reconstruction and Commentary (2005), both argued at length that Q was composed synchronically and had no distinguishable redactional stages (another study adopting a similar approach, Dieter T. Roth's Parables in Q, was released in 2018). Judging Q and Saving Jesus counters that trend by turning the spotlight back on the aporiae and clashing timelines in the reconstructed text of Q. In so doing, Howes (69, 71) aligns himself with recent authors such as Sarah E. Rollens, Simon J. Joseph, and Yoseop Ra. The book, therefore, joins a growing response to the exclusively synchronic approach in Q studies, indicating a repudiation of it by the current generation of Q literary critics. Similar to these more recent authors (as well as Kirk and Fleddermann), Howes also maintains Q's written character and attainability of its full text. This remains a necessary aspect of the discussion, given the doubts expressed by some studies regarding the feasibility of Q's word-level reconstruction.
As anyone who has followed the author's prolific output is aware, Howes has occasionally adjusted some of the details in the compositional hypothesis that has dominated the field of Q studies for much of the last three decades. This hypothesis was originally articulated in John S. Kloppenborg's The Formation of Q: Trajectories in Ancient Wisdom Collections (1987) and further expanded in his Excavating Q: The History and Setting of the Sayings Gospel (2000). Still, Howes's adjustments are not of such magnitude as to require a full recalibration of Kloppenborg's baseline theory, which distinguishes between an early sapiential substratum in Q and the later apocalyptic recasting of the document. On the contrary, in Howes's work Kloppenborg's stratigraphy finds one of its most capable champions yet. In chapter two of this monograph, Howes gives a detailed [End Page 593] summary of Kloppenborg's hypothesis (61–68) and defends it against its critics (68–89), recapitulating existing rejoinders and adding new ones. The result is arguably the most comprehensive defence of Kloppenborg's method and stratigraphy in print to date that has not been authored by Kloppenborg himself. Howes's concluding observation—that Kloppenborg's literary arguments, in spite of multiple objections to various other aspects of his theory, have not been invalidated (88–89)—both explains Formation's lasting influence and highlights the challenge facing its critics...