Scholars theorize that the word-for-word similarities between Matthew, Luke, and Mark are too great to be coincidental. A possible lost fourth document (named ‘Q’) might explain the similarities if it were:
- Written in Greek.
- Written before Matthew and Luke (and possibly Mark.)
- Circulating about the time the Synoptic Gospels were composed (i.e., between 65 and 95 AD).
- Consistent with the sayings of Jesus as put forth in the Synoptic Gospels.
An entire scholarship industry has cropped up to find, reconstruct, or explain Q. The International Q project put together scores of scholars to sift through the similarities and differences between Matthew and Luke to establish the wording and order of this possible common source (which they believe to be ~4500 words.) The project has produced 12 volumes, so far, with 19 more in the works. When finished, the series will be 11,000 pages and cost ~$2700.
But, what if the solution were much simpler than most scholars currently suspect?
Matthew Conflator Hypothesis (MCH)
Alan Garrow put forth the MCH in a paper presented at King’s College which is summarized in five brief videos on his website. Alan observes that “Streeter made two logical mistakes, often repeated in subsequent discussion. When these errors are corrected, however, Streeter’s ‘other’ solution emerges: the Matthew Conflator Hypothesis (MCH)” … From which “a very different understanding of ‘Q’ emerges … and with it the possibility that examples may, after all, be extant.”
The Didache is Q?
“This video shows the remarkable correlation between Didache 1.2-5a and the places where Matthew deviates from the text of Luke. This suggests that Matthew conflated the Luke and Didache 1.2-5a together. This means, in short, that both Luke and Matthew made direct use of this group of sayings in the Didache … and so an extant instance of ‘Q’ is identified.”
“This is a conclusion with far-reaching implications for the study of the Gospels and Christian origins.”