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Editorial Fatigue and the Existence of Q

  • Tobias Hägerland (a1)


This article challenges Mark Goodacre's contention that the distribution of editorial fatigue in Matthew and Luke points not only to Markan priority but also to Luke's dependence on Matthew. Goodacre's argument is criticised through questioning the assumptions that Matthew's handling of Q would have been analogous to his handling of Mark and to Luke's handling of Q, as well as the claim that no instances of editorial fatigue can be detected in Matthew's handling of the double tradition. The conclusion is that the argument from editorial fatigue cannot be used to establish that the existence of Q is improbable.



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1 Peabody, D. B., ed., One Gospel from Two: Mark's Use of Matthew and Luke. A Demonstration by the Research Team of the International Institute for Gospel Studies (Harrisburg: Trinity International, 2002). See also Peabody, D. B., ‘The Two Gospel Hypothesis’, The Synoptic Problem: Four Views (ed. Porter, S. E. and Dyer, B. R.; Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2016) 6788.

2 Goodacre, M., The Synoptic Problem: A Way through the Maze (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 2001) 155.

3 See Foster, P., ‘Is It Possible to Dispense with Q?’, NovT 45 (2003) 313–37, at 328–32; Burkett, D., Rethinking the Gospel Sources, vol. ii: The Unity and Plurality of Q (SBLECL 1; Atlanta: SBL, 2009) 10, 217–20; Poirier, J. C., ‘Delbert Burkett's Defense of Q’, Marcan Priority without Q: Explorations in the Farrer Hypothesis (ed. Poirier, J. C. and Peterson, J.; LNTS 455; New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015) 191225, at 200–4.

4 Styler, G. M., ‘Excursus iv: The Priority of Mark’, in Moule, C. F. D., The Birth of the New Testament (London: A & C Black, 1980 3; 1st edn 1962) 285316, at 292.

5 Goulder, M. D., Midrash and Lection in Matthew (London: SPCK, 1974) 35. See also Goulder, M. D., Luke: A New Paradigm (JSNTS 20; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1989) 109–10.

6 Goodacre, M., ‘Fatigue in the Synoptics’, NTS 44 (1998) 4558, at 46. See also Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem, 71–2; Goodacre, M., The Case against Q: Studies in Markan Priority and the Synoptic Problem (Harrisburg: Trinity International, 2002) 40–3; Goodacre, M., Thomas and the Gospels: The Making of an Apocryphal Text (London: SPCK, 2012) 115; Goodacre, M., ‘The Farrer Hypothesis’, The Synoptic Problem: Four Views, 4766, at 50.

7 See Styler, ‘Priority of Mark’, 296.

8 Goodacre, ‘Fatigue’, 49–51; Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem, 74–5; Goodacre, The Case against Q, 42–3; Goodacre, ‘Farrer Hypothesis’, 51.

9 Goodacre, ‘Fatigue’, 47–8; Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem, 72–3; Goodacre, The Case against Q, 41–2.

10 Styler, ‘Priority of Mark’, 293–4; Goulder, Midrash, 35; Goodacre, ‘Fatigue’, 46–7; Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem, 73–4; Goodacre, The Case against Q, 42; Goodacre, ‘Farrer Hypothesis’, 50–1.

11 See Peabody, One Gospel from Two, 159.

12 See Peabody, One Gospel from Two, 126.

13 Goodacre, ‘Fatigue’, 54.

14 See Goodacre, ‘Fatigue’, 56. Cf. also Wittkowsky, V., ‘Luke Uses/Rewrites Matthew: A Survey of the Nineteenth-Century Research’, Luke's Literary Creativity (ed. Nielsen, J. Tang and Müller, M.; LNTS 550; London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016) 325, at 19, who suggests that the occasional use in the Sermon on the Plain of ‘reward’ (μισθός, Luke 6.23, 35) rather than ‘grace’ (χάρις, 6.32–4) may have resulted from editorial fatigue. As μισθός is used already in 6.23, this is not an example of fatigue by Goodacre's definition, which requires the lapse into the source's wording to occur towards the end of the pericope.

15 Goodacre, ‘Fatigue’, 56; Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem, 155. Cf. the criticism in Foster, ‘Is It Possible to Dispense with Q?’, 329.

16 Goodacre, ‘Fatigue’, 55–6; Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem, 154–5; Goodacre, ‘Farrer Hypothesis’, 57.

17 Garrow, A., ‘Streeter's “Other” Synoptic Solution: The Matthew Conflator Hypothesis’, NTS 62 (2016) 207–26; Garrow, A., ‘An Extant Instance of “Q”’, NTS 62 (2016) 398417.

18 A. Garrow, ‘What Does Mark Goodacre Think?’, The Problem Page, 11 March 2016, online at

19 See Shin, H. W., Textual Criticism and the Synoptic Problem in Historical Jesus Research: The Search for Valid Criteria (CBET 36; Leuven: Peeters, 2004) 107–8 for discussion of the principle.

20 Goodacre, ‘Fatigue’, 57–8.

21 Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem, 155.

22 Burkett, The Unity and Plurality of Q, 217.

23 Poirier, ‘Delbert Burkett's Defense of Q’, 201.

24 See Hultgren, S., Narrative Elements in the Double Tradition: A Study of their Place within the Framework of the Gospel Narrative (BZNW 113; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2002).

25 Goodacre, ‘Fatigue’, 46 (emphasis added).

26 Burkett, The Unity and Plurality of Q, 219–20. This is also the process envisaged in Robinson, J. M., Hoffmann, P. and Kloppenborg, J. S., The Critical Edition of Q: Synopsis including the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Mark and Thomas with English, German, and French Translations of Q and Thomas (Leuven: Peeters, 2000) 196–7.

27 Burkett, The Unity and Plurality of Q, 218.

28 Poirier, ‘Delbert Burkett's Defense of Q’, 202.

29 Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem, 109–10.

30 Cf. Goodacre, ‘Fatigue’, 46.

31 Burkett, The Unity and Plurality of Q, 218–20.

32 Poirier, ‘Delbert Burkett's Defense of Q’, 203 (emphasis original).

33 Goodacre, ‘Fatigue’, 54–5; Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem, 155; Goodacre, M., ‘Taking our Leave of Mark–Q Overlaps: Major Agreements and the Farrer Theory’, Gospel Interpretation and the Q-Hypothesis (ed. Müller, M. and Omerzu, H.; LNTS 573; London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2018) 201–22, at 218–19.

34 Foster, ‘Is It Possible to Dispense with Q?’, 329–30; Burkett, The Unity and Plurality of Q, 218–19.

35 Goodacre, ‘Fatigue’, 66.

36 Foster, ‘Is It Possible to Dispense with Q?’, 330–2.

37 Poirier, ‘Delbert Burkett's Defense of Q’, 202.

38 MacEwen, R. K., Matthean Posteriority: An Exploration of Matthew's Use of Mark and Luke as a Solution to the Synoptic Problem (LNTS 501; London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015) 43.

39 MacEwen, Matthean Posteriority, 44–5.

40 Davies, W. D. and Allison, D. C., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew (3 vols.; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1988–97) i.304, cf. i.312.

41 In an email sent to me on 20 June 2017, Prof. Goodacre pointed out that ‘the “brood of vipers” invective is much more appropriate with Matthew's audience (where it occurs again in 12.34 and 23.33 …) than with Luke's’. I agree that the ‘brood of vipers’ theme is more characteristically Matthean than Lukan in the sense that it recurs in Matthew (see also Goodacre, ‘Taking our Leave of Mark–Q Overlaps’, 220). A hypothetical reader of Luke (or Q) without any knowledge of Matthew, however, would hardly see anything strange or inconsequential about the sole use of the expression in the context of John's preaching.

42 See Dennert, B. C., John the Baptist and the Jewish Setting of Matthew (WUNT ii/403; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015) 158–60 on baptism ‘in holy spirit and fire’.

43 Pickup, M., ‘Matthew's and Mark's Pharisees’, In Quest of the Historical Pharisees (ed. Neusner, J. and Chilton, B. D.; Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2007) 67112, at 97.

44 Marshall, M., The Portrayals of the Pharisees in the Gospels and Acts (FRLANT 254; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015) 108 n. 99.

45 Davies and Allison, Matthew, i.304. On the concept of ‘inconcinnity’, which is roughly equivalent to what Goodacre defines more precisely as ‘fatigue’, see i.106–8.

46 Wink, W., John the Baptist in the Gospel Tradition (SNTSMS 7; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968) 34; Ernst, J., Johannes der Täufer: Interpretation – Geschichte – Wirkungsgeschichte (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1989) 158–9; Taylor, J. E., The Immerser: John the Baptist within Second Temple Judaism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997) 198–9; cf. Webb, R. L., John the Baptizer and Prophet: A Socio-Historical Study (SNTS 62; JSheffield: JSOT, 1991) 176–8, who argues that Matthew added only the Pharisees.


Editorial Fatigue and the Existence of Q

  • Tobias Hägerland (a1)


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