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Burton L. Mack is a book about the Q document by Burton Mack.

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The Lost Gospel by Burton L. Mack develops the hypothesis of the "Q" source for the common material of Luke and Matthew not found in Mark. Mack develops the thesis that this was the earliest writing about Jesus, developed over decades by a community which he describes with unwavering confidence. Following John S. Kloppenborg, he believes that there are three major layers to it, each of which coincides with a stage in this community's life. The layers are significantly structured - the earliest material is spaced out and bracketed by later material, the later material showing awareness of the earlier sayings, but not vice versa.

The earliest layer, called Q1, is composed of sayings attributed to Jesus and addressing the audience directly. These are mostly instructions on how to behave. The main teachings are to live in poverty, to lend without expecting anything in return, to love your enemies, not to judge, and not to worry, since God will provide what you need. Mack posits that Q1 itself can be broken into two historical stages, the first being simple maxims containing the core of the teachings, and the later stage being developments by the community giving illustrations and arguments for these maxims. Mack suggests that at this time Jesus was seen simply as a teacher by the community which produced the text, with many similarities to a sage in the Cynic tradition.

The next major development, Q2, comprises the major portion of the Q document as reconstructed by Mack. In this layer the figure of John is introduced (he is not called a baptist in the Q document), as is the eschatological theme of judgement at the end of time, and also opposition to outsiders - the Pharisees and scribes are criticised. Mack sees in this layer an increased anxiety on the part of the community, a need to define itself against others, and also intimation that the community itself was causing tension - there is reference to father turning against son, brother turning against brother etc.

The final layer, Q3, is very scant and thought by Mack to have been written after the Roman-Jewish war from 66-73AD. Passages added at this time include the temptations of Jesus, and a lament for Jerusalem. The remainder consists of stern warnings and threats to keep the law - the first reference to Gehenna (hell fire) occurs at this stage. The severity of the language and the paucity of material compared with the earlier stages is thought to reflect the losses suffered by the community during the war.

It is noteworthy that the Gospel of Thomas contains substantial portions of the Q1 and Q2 material, except for the mention of a final judgement, and nothing from Q3. This, together with the increased anxiety and need to self-define as a group at the Q2 stage, might indicate a time-frame for a doctrinal split with the Thomas community.


Many remark that the book contains primarily conjecture, with little substantial evidence, being a popular book, and not primarily for the scholarly community.[citation needed] Some also, though incorrectly, argue against his Cynic-like Jesus by claiming that there is little evidence for dependence on Cynics for Q's thinking.[citation needed] Mack never posits genetic dependence on Cynics, instead using them as an analogy for their belief system and social role.




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