It is worth saying again: “The Q Fragments is not a Christian book.”
I have received a number of “likes” and “follows” for this website that are from people who obviously think my book is a religious or Christian tract. They have evidently not read the book itself, or the description of it carefully. It may be that I need to rewrite the description to be absolutely clear on what The Q Fragments is, and is not.
It is not a religious book. It is does not treat religion, whether that be Christian or Judaism, as anything other than a long lived superstition that originated in the paleolithic and iron ages of human evolution and has unfortunately survived until the present day. It is not a praise to any god or supernatural entity. It is something else entirely.
It is a story of what probably would happen should incontrovertible, that is, real, substantive and rational, evidence be discovered that proves Jesus of Nazareth was in fact a mortal human being, like the rest of us, who, through circumstance, was tortured and killed by the Roman occupiers of Judea around the year 35 CE. The story begins with the discovery of clues that will lead to finding this evidence, how the search was made and what the searchers found. That evidence leads the story to the first century CE in Judea where the story unfolds of what happened to Jesus and those who knew him.
The plot also explains, in a human, rather ordinary, way how the circumstances of his death, the disbelief of his death by his followers and the disappearance of his body could have led to the fantastic and contradictory stories fashioned later for some of his followers’ purposes and personal gain.
We know some facts. The majority of the “Jesus stories”, now termed the Gospels, were eventually, and after long and bitter argument, not included in the official Church canon. The ones that were included – Mark, Matthew, Luke and John – were composed by people who were not there at the time of the events they pretend to chronicle, and most of the authors were born after the time they write about. Other ‘gospels’ not recognized by the Church say much different things than the official four gospels do. Perhaps the oldest, The Gospel of Thomas, says nothing about Jesus’ miraculous birth, miracles, death or resurrection. It is perhaps the oldest of them all. Gospels of Peter, Judas and Mary, for example, were deemed heretical and excluded from the official accounts since they have a very different understanding of what happened and why.
We know that of the ‘final four’ canonical gospels, Mark is the earliest, and that our earliest actual document of Mark, copied and changed countless times from an ‘original’ story, dates from the early 4th century. Three hundred years after the events it recounts. We also know some things about Mark.
The original Mark had no resurrection story. The end comes when the women find an empty tomb, and flee, afraid. Some scholars believe the real, first ending of Mark happens with the Centurion claiming Jesus is the son of God. No tomb. No women fleeing. The final parts of Mark were tacked on by someone else hundreds of years later.
We also know that the authors of Luke and Matthew borrowed heavily from Mark for their stories, copying some passages verbatim, changing others and adding their own words here and there. They also took stories from another source, or sources, not used by the author of Mark. This source, or sources, is called the Q source. Hence the allusion in the title of my book to “Q”.
We know that all of the prophesies in the New Testament canon that claim to support the idea that Jesus was divine and that his coming was foretold were retrojected by the later authors working back from Old Testament books to find sayings and prophesies that fit their purposes. The four canonical gospels are ridden with error and contradictions that cannot be reconciled and should be seen for what they are – made up stories to prove a point.
A few examples: After Jesus’ birth, the family either fled to Egypt, or returned to Nazareth. Jesus died on a Thursday, or a Friday. Jesus suffered agony in the garden the night before he was killed, or he meekly accepted his fate. For a totally confused recounting of the events at the resurrection and afterwards, read all three gospels. They are all significantly different. And irreconcilable. (I recommend you see the works of Dr. Bart Ehrman, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Jesus Interrupted and Misquoting Jesus are two good places to start.)
In summary, we have absolutely no direct evidence of Jesus’ existence, and none at all of the claims made for his divinity and mission outside of the four, official Church stories. Legend and myth, while interesting, do not survive evidence and reason. Who believes that the sun orbits the earth? Who still believes in and worships Poseidon as god of the seas? The tooth fairy? Santa? The Easter Bunny? Why not? Because evidence and reason tells us they aren’t true.
The Q Fragments is based on the notion that evidence that cannot be denied or wished away, will come to light that proves the man Jesus from Nazareth was not God, or part of a three part God that is only One (surely, this should raise your suspicions to a dangerous level) but a simple Jewish peasant with powers of persuasion and a belief that humans should act rightly, here and now, a radical belief at the time that got him in trouble and eventually killed. The story told today was made up by people who had a personal interest in their story being accepted as gospel.
The narrative tale of The Q Fragments is one way of telling the story of how such evidence might be discovered, and what might have really happened to that unfortunate Judean peasant that eventually turned him into a fantastic, supernatural being.