Question: When I was about 15 the Jesuits taught us the first three gospels are called synoptic gospels because they had the same source Q. Would you say Luke had a different source then, so is not synoptic, given your explanations? I am not really fussed about sources or who is original author etc. but was curious even when you explained St Luke a few years ago.

Answer: My explanation is based on what is called “multi-source hypothesis”. “The Multi-source hypothesis is a proposed solution to the synoptic problem, holding that Matthew, Mark, and Luke are not directly interdependent but have each drawn from a distinct combination of earlier documents. It encompasses a family of theories differing in the particulars of the nature and relationships of these earlier documents. An early form of the theory was proposed by Marsh over two centuries ago. More recently, Boismard proposed a structurally similar theory, which was further developed by Rolland and Burkett. According to these theories, the common material among the three synoptic gospels ultimately derives from a proto-gospel somewhat like Mark. This proto-gospel underwent two independent revisions, A and B. Mark was formed by recombining these two revisions. Matthew built upon A and Luke upon B. Both Matthew and Luke also drew from a common source Q, as well as other source sources for their unique material.” (Wiki)

I am not an expert in this field. I studied exegesis as any student inTheology would do. For the time being, I just follow Boismard and see that some slight modifications were made by him throughout his life. The essence stays. Who is Boismard? “Claude (Marie-Émile) Boismard (December 14, 1916 – April 23, 2004). He was a member of Dominican Order, and was one of the most important French biblical scholars. He was educated in Rome, he was professor of the New Testament. As part of the École Biblique, in Jerusalem, he was one of the translators who created the Jerusalem Bible. He created a new hypothesis concerned to the Synoptic problem, the question of Acts, the two texts of the Book of Revelation, and about origin of the Codex Bezae.” (See Wiki) Boismard is a great exegete, author with others of a monumental exegetical work on the four Gospels:

Synopse des quatre évangiles en français avec parallèles des apocryphes et des Pères, vol. I, Textes, avec P. Benoit, Paris, Éd. du Cerf, 1965.

– Synopse des quatre évangiles en français, vol. II, Commentaire, avec P. Benoit, A. Lamouille et P. Sandevoir, Paris, Éd. du Cerf, 1972.

– Synopse des quatre évangiles en français, vol. III, L’évangile de Jean, avec A. Lamouille et G. Rochais, Paris, Éd. du Cerf, 1977.

Boismard’s multi-source explanation of the origin of the synoptical gospels is slightly more complex than the one above. Here is his drawing:

As you can see, we have roughly three stages in the history of the redaction of the Gospels. At a first stage you have 4 documents: Q, A, B and C (Q is repeated). In the second stage, we have an intermediate phase for Mt and Mk. (Mc in French). Slightly below you have Proto-Luke (Lc in French) and a bit after John (Jn). The third stage has the final (Ult.) redactions (réd.) of the four Gospels as we have them today.

So, to go back to your question and if we focus exclusively on the genesis of the formation of the Final Luke (Ult. réd. Lc) as Boismard finds, we see that it in the intermediate stage, Luke receives from “Mark intermediate”, and from a “Proto-Luke”. If we go up to the first generation, the “Mark intermediate” has three sources, “A”, “B” and “C”. “Proto Luke” on the other hand has four sources: “Mt Intermediate”, “B” and “C” (which feed Mark Intermediate) and “Q”.

Of course, seen like this it looks crowded and very complex. But some sources are major sources (quantity wise) and others are minor. Plus the differences between the “intermediate” versions and the final, often are slim, but of course they are enough to explain many things which are not answered by the too simplistic Q source theory (single of double).

Note: The Q source theory is not conceived to explain everything or offer a wholesome initial text. It is rather understood to offer a series of sayings (loggias).

Luke has unique passages that none of the two other synoptic gospels have: chapters 1 and 2, chapters 9 through to 19 and also chapter 24 has the Emmaus account of the Resurrection. So, how can one say that Q, as a unique source, or initial source, can explain everything? how can it explain Luke? Impossible. It would be unfair to the Q Theory and too simplistic.

Question: Is it possible to have a conversation with an Exegete on Boismard’s opinion?

Answer: Of course, it is possible. But each exegete follows the theory which suits him or convince him or her most. (see here the article on the synoptic gospels) Exegesis in the 1970s was very “dogmatic”. I don’t think that there was room for conversation. Exegesis was like a science, i.e. it had like an infallibility attached to it – despite the fact that we had various methods, i.e. various schools.

Plus, it had something in it which was “perverse”, premises or hypothesis which were totally seducing but also not totally “catholic”. The main premise was: what was the original text, the closest to what Jesus said? So, they were like in a hunt for the historic objective literal words. They wanted to deduce from the actual text what Jesus did really say. The hunt for the ipsissima verba. In doing so – in hunting for Jesus’ words only – everybody implicitly and “dogmatically” excluded any other addition in the texts. Laudable attitude. Legitimate desire but it unconsciously realised a deep modification in our understanding of God’s intention in the process of biblical inspiration. Was it God intention to give us a “chemically pure” Jesus words, i.e. a dictation of what Jesus actually said or did He want to offer us the “Apostles Witness” (“But when the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.” (John 15:26-27)?. This dimension of the Gospels being a witness of the Apostles and Disciples exploded for many decades in a false debate around the difference between two types of information and realities we can find in the Gospels: “the historical Jesus” and “the Jesus of faith” (the Jesus of the Community or of this or that writer, what he beleives and says about Jesus).  In doing so, the clear evident conviction was: who cares about “the Jesus of faith”, i.e. it is subjective, we can’t trust it, we can’t rely on it, it has no value, it is invented, i.e. “false”. To see things this way is in fact perverse. But then, nobody thought in a different way or outside of the box. Everybody was hunting for the original objective initial words of Jesus (the initial teaching of Jesus, his own words, his “ipsissima verba”).

This opposition between the historical Jesus and the Jesus of faith was equivalent to declaring officially that there is no possibility of having in the NT Revelation the two poles of equal value: subject-object of faith, the beleiver and Jesus. Only one had a value, the other none. While in fact, having the subject and the object of faith is paradoxically core in God’s intention. He is opening a way for us, a place for the reader within the Witness of the Hagiographer, the author of this or that text. He shows us in the person of the Hagiographer how to believe. This is why He didn’t write himself the Gospel, it was of absolute necessity to have the witness of the Apostles. Otherwise, the Gospel would have been only the account of what Jesus did! No, the Gospel is the account given by a witness, united to Jesus and moved by the Holy Spirit, giving us in the same time his experience, the experience of Jesus follower. Our understanding of the Gospel is in a way “monophysite” if we expect only Jesus’ Word, “chemically, purely” extracted. This would be an artificial disincarnate Gospel. Not God’s intention, not following fully the logic of the Incarnation: creating a space for us to become His dwelling place. “He dwelt among us”, He pitched His tent in us… therefore we were able to see his Glory. This is the Gospel. The writer is a witness in the same time.

You understand now why the Q text was so psychologically an unshakable premise: it was the dogmatic assumption that Q only is trustable. It meant: the voice of the witness should be silenced. Only Jesus’ voice is needed: Q, i.e. his sayings as they were uttered. This attitude “exterminated” any trace of witnessing. In fact, it was equivalent of destroying for ever the real NT, its purpose and intention, its full content. It was like saying: leave the writer aside, we want Jesus. Where is Jesus? What did he really say?

Nobody thought that, on the contrary, it was Jesus’ objective intention to open a place for us. “you will bear witness of me” in the Holy Spirit. The objectivity of the inspiration of the “Jesus of the faith”, as they called it, was totally invisible to them. I speak in the past tense (“was”), but I should be using the present-tense because this is what Exegesis is till now.

Many orthodox Catholics wanted to reconcile “the historic Jesus” with “the Jesus of faith”, by trying to show that it is the same. The others stayed deaf. So it was harsh and the Church suffered a lot. She is still suffering. She lost her faith in the Scriptures, at least among Exegetes and many Theologians. The Resurrection became the invention of the Apostles. i.e. non trustable. Desperate attempt by them. The Gospels, especially John, is now considered to be written by a community exposing its Faith, not by the Apostole. If you think otherwise, you are naive and ignorant.

You see what “faith” means here. It means non-objective, non-historical, not Jesus. Invented. Subjective.

It is an extremely perverse and false use of science and an attempt in the name of science to destroy and exterminate the faith in the Scriptures. So, poor you if you believe in these inconsistent invented texts. You see? It is diabolic. It suffocates the place itself created by Jesus for each one of us: the believer in the Gospels. It is a mono-faith. No “believer” – “believed.in” (fides qua / fides quo). Only “believed.in” (fides quo). This created an irreducible antagonism between faith and historical fact. Very German enlightment. A perverse total application of Kant’s philosophy on Scriptures. All done unconsciously. Many followed. – Many? – Almost all fell into the diabolical trap. The devil was simply destroying the Incarnation’s main purpose: to create a House for us. Utter subtle perversity. But we all fell into it and drank from this devilish water.

The “Quelle’s Quest” real face is something so solidly anchored in the human soul. It is like a devilish presence in us. Unshakable false belief. So strongly anchored in us… and invading all attempt from Jesus to enter in us.

In a way, we may say that the quest for a “Quelle” and the existence of Mary are enemies, are antagonistic. It desincarnate our faith. It makes it artificial and abstract. The spirit who doesn’t confess the incarnation is from the devil (see 1 John 4:2-3). This quest is like an angel of darkness clothed with light. False artificial light. A farce.

Pope Benedict in his two volume book on Jesus attempts to resolve the problem. His belongs to a long chain of persons, starting with Blondel, to solve the false problem of the alledged discrepancy between the historic Jesus and the Jesus of Faith.

Remember what Gregory Solari Publisher said when he read my book on LD. The quote is on the back of some the initial volumes of the book I used to print. A catharsis of modern Exegesis. You teach how to drink of the Well.

Strangely Quelle and Well are related. Perversion of the angel of darkness (2 Cor 11:14).

I have to confess that replying to your question made me realise even more, today, after so many years, how perverse is the psychologically deeply rooted intent to find Jesus’ word, as a “chemically pure” product, purified from all human “slag”, how it is deeply perverse. We all drank it. We all ate from the apple. We lost our innocence.

When Gregory Solari, Cathoic Publisher, read my book on Lectio Divina, he said: “I do not believe that a similar book exists on lectio divina. […] your book is a catharsis for modern intelligence and at the same time a teaching that frees the reader from the “psyche” and its illusions. […] The most terrible thing today is that souls are so thirsty for God, a thirst to meet him in prayer and to be touched by him. […] We can read ample descriptions about the “border of the well”, but in fact what we need is to quench the thirst. What is special about this book is that it teaches the reader how to get water out of the well.” G. Solari

He meant : a catharsis for modern exegesis.

The Place of the Parables in the Gospels

Through all the above we can see to which extent the discourse in Parables is an essential development in Jesus’ Teaching. Why? Because he shows us that our reception of his Words, i.e. the way we receive them, i.e. our exegesis, is an integral part of his teaching. So instead of saying: when we read the Scriptures our goal is to find what Jesus really said (i.e. disentangled from what the Apostles thought of Jesus’ teaching, i.e. their witness), we should ask ourselves: how do we receive His words as transmitted by the Apostles. The difference is huge.

In the Parables Jesus and the Holy Spirit through the Apostles are saying to us: we are one, please now pay attention to the way you listen to us.

In fact, all parables are meant to open our eyes to the bi-polar dimension of the contents of Jesus’ Teaching. Seed and Soil. Two poles. The key parable which unlocks the meaning of all the Parables (Mk 4:13) is the grand parable of the Sower. In it the focus of Jesus’ Teaching shifts toward the human subject, the Soil. In fact he is analysing the act of Faith in the Word of God. He opens in us a new awareness regarding our capacity to listen to his words, he leads us to a shift of attention.

“How do we listen?” “How do we receive Jesus’ Words?” This too is integral part of Jesus’ Teaching. This means that the method of exegesis we should use is part of Jesus’ Teaching. The historic Jesus (i.e. what He really said) and the Jesus of Faith (the way we receive Him, the Faith of the Apostles, Mary’s Faith) are both part of his Teaching.

The method of teaching in Parables is meant to open a way in us and a place, a new awareness of ourselves, that we exist, that in His eyes we have a value and that our way of receiving Him, His Words, is of vital and decisive importance: his words in us are supposed to bear fruits.

We understand that the sudden shift here from non-fruitful reception (the first three soils) to The Fruitful Reception of His Words (The Good Soil, i.e. Mary) is the core of this new development and enlargement in His Teaching.

He teaches us how His Words become incarnate in us. In Mary who is in us.

The mono quest of a mono message (the quest for a Q) should become aware of the fact that this way there is no incarnation possible and that it aborts all attempts of incarnation of His Words in us.

Faith is bi-polar: subject-object. Jesus and Disciple. Jesus and Mary. “Jesus’ Words” and “a soil”. “Jesus” and “us”. “Jesus” and “his dwelling place”. Real faith implies In-carnation. Marriage between the Divine and the human. Marriage between God and his dwelling place (us) created originally to be his Place, in his image and likeness.

The discourse in Parables – and more specifically the Parable of the Sower – read correctly and without erring refer to Mary as the Perfect Disciple and the Mother of True Disciple engendered in her, in her image.

You can easily see how the version of the Parable of the Sower become marian when we move from Mattew-Mark’s version to Luke’s version. We understand the development, its direction and why. We are going toward a greater incarnation, a needed marianisation of our being. Purification and transformation are undergoing, gaining back the lost likeness of God in us.