Q

If you haven’t spent much of your precious time attending to theories of how the gospels were written, you might not be familiar with the dilemma I’m about to describe.  A brief primer: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were not eyewitnesses of the events described in their gospels.  In fact, each of these books is anonymous—the titles were only added on later.  Despite their New Testament order, Mark was written first and Matthew and Luke borrowed from it rather extensively.  Mark is the shortest gospel and Matthew and Luke also share material that’s not in Mark.  Since John was written much later (and doesn’t have these common stories), scholars proposed many years ago that Matthew and Luke used a source—in German Quelle—that no longer exists.  This is called “the two-source hypothesis.”  As scholars are inordinately fond of abbreviations, Quelle is known as simply Q.  Other than in explanations like this you’ll never see it referred to by its full name.

So here’s the dilemma: many websites don’t allow for a single-letter search.  If you’re wanting to learn about Q, and you know no scholar worth their s (by which I mean salt, of course) who will spell it out, how do you search for it?  The same might be said for J, E, D, and P, who, along with R, put together the Pentateuch, but at least there you can search for phrases involving more than one letter.  You see, scholars existed before the internet and its search parameters.  Books and articles used to be written on paper, and the former had indexes, so looking up your sources—single letter or not—was fairly easily.  With electronic searching, it has become more difficult.  That’s not to say that single-letter searches can’t be coded—they can—but apart from biblical scholars and their alphabet soup of sources, apparently most people don’t want single-letter options.

This is the trouble with specializing in ancient things.  The internet was originally designed for academic and military purposes—serious stuff.  But then, like everything else in the world it became commodified.  Like a once pristine countryside it has billboards plastered everywhere after one’s Gelt.  (Scholars also like to throw in random foreign words to show how smart they are.)  And when it comes to searches, why enable atomistic, single-letter searching when it won’t end up in the sale of something?  In any case, my search did not end successfully.  I eventually gave up.  And in the light of the ever-shining internet, I’ve opted for the one-source hypothesis.

It must be in here somewhere…

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