Archive for December, 2013

Q = Quelle in pre-1880 German geography books

A bit of fun here. Students of the NT will be aware of the discussion about the origin of the siglum ‘Q’ to describe the putative source (Quelle) of the double tradition in the synoptic gospels, the material common to Matthew and Luke but not shared with Mark. Mark Goodacre has a nice post briefly summarising Frans Neirynck’s conclusions that the term Q originated in Eduard Simons’s 1880 book, Hat der dritte Evangelist den kanonischen Matthäus benutzt (Bonn: Universitäts-Buchdruckerei von Carl Georgi), who used ‘Q.’ as an abbreviation for Quelle. Then from the 1890s onward it was used without the dot.

But the use of Q as an abbreviation for Quelle is common in the decades before the 1880s, even though it does not appear to have been applied to the double tradition in this way. Rather, it occurs especially in geography books as an abbreviation for a well, spring or source (Quelle).

A few examples:

Carl Kreil, Magnetische und geographische Ortsbestimmungen im österreichischen Kaiserstaate, vol. 3 (1850), p. 26:

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Friedrich Wilhelm Walther, Topische Geographie von Bayern (1844), p. xxiii:

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Johann Georg Heinrich Hassel, Geographisch-statistisches Handwörterbuch, vol. 1 (1817), p. 461:

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Christian Gottfried Daniel Stein and Ferdinand Hörschelmann, Handbuch der Geographie und Statistik für die gebildeten Stände, vol. 1 (1833), p. ii:

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L. Wilhelm Meineke, Allgemeines Lehrbuch der Geographie von Europa (1824), p. 2:

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And on it goes. So might it be the case that Simons is actually borrowing a well-established abbreviation from the field of geography and applying it to the synoptic gospels?


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Theology as Science in Nineteenth Century Germany

One of my colleagues here in Oxford, Johannes Zachhuber, has recently published an important book, entitled Theology as Science in Nineteenth Century Germany, on the ways in which theology was conceptualised as an academic discipline in 19th century German circles, above all in the thought of Ferdinand Christian Baur and Albrecht Ritschl. The book is remarkably lucid, insightful, tightly argued and displays a close and sensitive reading of an impressive number of difficult texts. The results cohere well in a unified thesis chronicling the rise and fall of scientific theology in a fusion of historical and idealist programmes. A book well worth reading and pondering, whose results are important not least for the changing fortunes of the New Testament in academic study.

But don’t just take my word for it. Last month a panel in Oxford, comprised of Graham Ward, Michael Bentley, Sondra Hausner and I discussed the book, with a response from Johannes, hosted by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities. You can listen to that exchange here.

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The Early Reception of the Gospel of Mark

Here’s an idea for an edited volume on the reception of Mark. I’m trying to get away from editing for a while, but that doesn’t stop me from doing a bit of dreaming. Someone could certainly take this up and do something with it!

The Early Reception of the Gospel of Mark


An authoritative collection of studies by leading scholars offering a comprehensive assessment of the reception of the Gospel of Mark from its origins to the earliest extant commentaries in the fifth century.


With the uproar occasioned by the recent claim to have discovered a potentially first century manuscript of Mark and the ongoing discussion of the so-called ‘Secret Gospel of Mark’, together with the booming interest in the history of interpretation, the time has come to reconsider the early reception of the earliest canonical gospel. While New Testament specialists are aware that the reception of Mark is slender in some ways in comparison to Matthew and John, that Mark was received into the four-gospel canon suggests that its impact was never negligible. Major studies of the reception of Mark[1] certainly have not exhausted the question, and though there are some good studies of individual aspects of Mark’s history of impact,[2] many of these are now dated and would bear revisiting in light of recent scholarship. This proposed group of specialized essays bridges the fields of New Testament and early Christian studies by examining the intra-canonical impact of Mark first of all (Part I), before then moving on to consider the way in which significant early Christian authors interpreted the gospel (Part II) and the influence it exerted in a variety of early Christian contexts, including the scribal, liturgical and artistic practices of early Christian communities (Part III).



1. Looking for Mark in the Early Centuries: Methodological Reflections.

Part I: Canonical Reception

2. Matthew as reader of Mark.

3. Luke as reader of Mark.

4. John as reader of Mark.

5. The Reception of Mark in the Longer Ending.

Part II: Early Christian Authors

6. Mark in Papias and the Apostolic Fathers.

7. Mark and the Apocryphal Gospels.

8. Justin Martyr.

9. Clement of Alexandria.

10. Irenaeus.

11. Tertullian.

12. Origen.

13. Eusebius.

14. Jerome.

15. Augustine.

Part III: Early Christian Contexts

16. The Early Manuscripts.

17. The Early Versions.

18. Early Gospel Harmonies.

19. Commentaries and the Catena in Marcum.

20. Early Christian Liturgical traditions.

21. Early Christian art.

[1] Sean P. Kealy, Mark’s Gospel: A History of Interpretation (Ramsey, NJ: Paulist, 1982); C. Clifton Black, Mark: Images of an Apostolic Interpreter (Columbia/Edinburgh: University of South Carolina Press/T&T Clark, 1994); Brenda Deen Schildgen, Power and Prejudice: The Reception of the Gospel of Mark (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1999).

[2] E.g., F. Neirynck, “The Apocryphal Gospels and the Gospel of Mark,” in J.-M. Severin, ed., New Testament in Early Christianity: la réception des écrits néotestamentaires dans le christianisme primitif (Leuven: Leuven Univsity Press/Peeters, 1989), 123-75.