RECONSTRUCTING Q

Q: Sayings Source or Narrative Gospel?

This website is devoted to the research into Q by David B. Sloan, Ph.D. For the last 150 years, most Gospels scholars have been convinced that when Matthew and Luke wrote their gospels they used Mark's Gospel as a source, but they did not use each other's gospel. When Matthew and Luke share material that they did not derive from Mark, they are dependent upon a now-lost source, which scholars have named Q. Since most of the non-Markan material Matthew and Luke share is sayings of Jesus, this source has been assumed to be a collection of sayings or speeches of Jesus. Dr. Sloan argues that there are three problems with current ideas about Q:

  1. Q was much more extensive than the double tradition. The Statistics page shows that Matthew and Luke have a tendency to abbreviate their sources. This means that the current tendency to limit Q to the double tradition (Matthew's and Luke's shared material) is problematic. If we tried to reconstruct Mark by looking only at the portions of Mark that both Matthew and Luke preserved, we would end up with only 53% of Mark's Gospel! The situation is no better when we consider merely the sayings of Jesus in Mark. Matthew used material from Q to supplement Mark's Gospel but did not intend to preserve Q in his gospel, which means that there is likely a whole lot of Q material that is found in Luke alone. For more on this, see Dr. Sloan's SBL presentation on the Lukan travel narrative and his Q conference presentation, Maximalist Q.
  2. Q was a narrative gospel. Because Matthew mostly uses Q material to fill out his five discourses of Jesus, Q has been viewed as a collection of sayings of Jesus. But Q clearly contained narrative episodes (the temptation of Jesus, the healing of a centurion's servant, an inquiry by John's disciples, interactions with potential followers of Jesus, an exorcism, etc.). Dr. Sloan argues that about 80% of the words in Q were words of Jesus, but that Q itself was a narrative gospel. On the evidence for this, see Dr. Sloan's EGLBS presentation, "Q as a Narrative Gospel." Be sure also to see Dr. Sloan's SBL presentation on the passion narrative in Q.
  3. Q is referenced several times in the church fathers as "the Gospel according to the Hebrews." This gospel that was so important that Matthew and Luke both used it as a source did not disappear in a day or even in a century. It is the gospel that was used by Jewish Christians until the almost complete disappearance of Jewish Christianity in the seventh century. Dr. Sloan has not yet written a defense of this thesis (coming in SBL 2017?), but his EGLBS presentation on Luke 3-4 argued that Q began as Luke 3 begins, which is the way Epiphanius says the gospel of the Ebionites (which they claimed to be the original Gospel of Matthew) began. The Contents page on this site includes material from this gospel.

About this Site

There are a number of handy tools here that can be accessed through the menu at the top of any page:

  1. a defense of the existence of Q;
  2. a statistics page that analyzes Matthew's and Luke's use of Mark, showing their tendency toward abbreviation;
  3. a synopsis of the Gospels given in Mark's order;
  4. a synopsis of passages included in the Critical Edition of Q (later to be replaced with a synopsis of every passage that Dr. Sloan includes in Q);
  5. a list of all of the passages Dr. Sloan includes in Q (later to be given in more detail, with grades for each inclusion);
  6. a concordance that categorizes results into triple tradition, double tradition, and Sondergut results; and
  7. a bibliography with over 1,000 works on Q that can be searched by topic, author, Scripture passage, or date.

About the Author

David B. Sloan has a Ph.D. in Theological Studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and currently teaches for John Carroll University, Malone University, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has published a couple articles and a dictionary entry on Q and is currently writing a monograph arguing that Q was a narrative gospel. He can be contacted at and has a personal website at www.DavidBSloan.com.