The Source of the Original Gospels
Theologians have also observed for many decades that two of the synoptic gospels (Matthew and Luke) have many points of similarity. In fact, the writings have many dozens of phrases and sentences that are identical. This observation led to the theory that both gospels were based largely on an earlier document called "Q" meaning "Quelle," which is German for "source," and is comprised of three distinct documents:
Q1 described Jesus as a Jewish philosopher-teacher, written circa 50 CE.
Q2 viewed Jesus as a Jewish apocalyptic prophet, written circa 60 CE.
Q3 described Jesus as a near-deity who converses directly with God and Satan, written circa 70 CE during a time of great turmoil in Palestine.
The authors of the Gospels of Matthew (circa 80 CE) and Luke (circa 90 CE) wrote their books using text from Q, Mark and their own unique traditions. The author of the Gospel of Thomas also used portions of Q1 and Q2 in his writing, but seems to have been unaware of Q3. This gospel was widely circulated within the early Christian movement but did not make it into the Christian Scriptures.
What is remarkable about Q1 is that the original Christians appeared to be centered totally on concerns about their relationships with God and with other people, and their preparation for the Kingdom of God on earth. Totally absent from their spiritual life are almost all of the factors that we associate with Christianity today. There is absolutely no mention of (in alphabetic order):
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