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8.1 Introduction

In the period between the death of Jesus and the writing of the four Gospels included in the New Testament, the first followers of Jesus wrote another Gospel. This book contained only the teaching and Sayings of Jesus, the founder of their movement, and not a dramatic story of his person, his life as the Christ, and his destiny. For a reason or another this book was lost, or forgotten, at the end of the first century AD. It can be that, with time, the people or the circumstances changed, or it was their memory and imagination of Jesus that changed. Stories about Jesus’ life began to be written and became very popular. Of course it makes a difference if the founder of a movement is remembered for his teaching or for the story of his life, deeds and destiny.

For his first followers Jesus was the founder of their movement, and they were mainly interested in his doctrine. Later on, as the movement spread across the Roman Empire, people became more interested in his life story and soon many myths were in circulation. Some thought of him as a Sage, others saw him as a Prophet or, even, as an exorcist. The myth that reached us was created in Northern Syria and Asia Minor where Jesus’ death was interpreted as a martyrdom (crucifixion) followed by his bodily resurrection. He became known as the Christ, the Lord, the Son of God, and a Divine Being.

The narrative Gospels were written in the later part of the first century. Mark was the first in the 70s, followed by Matthew in the 80s, John during the 90s, and finally Luke at the beginning of the second century AD. All these Gospels highlight Jesus’ trial, crucifixion, death and resurrection. According to these Gospels, Jesus came in conflict with the Roman rulers because he was described as the Son of God. Jesus’ first followers could not have imagined such a story and they did not need such a myth to live according to his teaching; their “saying” Gospel was enough to maintain their faith in Him. Even after the narrative Gospels became so popular, the “saying” Gospel was still used by many believers. However the narrative Gospels prevailed and, little by little, the people forgot the “saying” Gospel.

Matthew and Luke used parts of this book in their own Gospel. The scholars were able to reconstruct the lost document, that they called Q (from Quelle, or source in German), by comparing these two Gospels. The reading of Q allows us to discover the live and the history of the first followers of Jesus between the time of Jesus’ death and the writing of the narrative Gospels that, later, became the official version of the history of the early Christianity. It is obvious that the people of Q were not Christians. They were Jewish people who did not see Jesus as the Messiah or Christ. They did not believe that his death was a divine, tragic or saving event or that he resurrected from the dead. They saw him as a teacher; they did not worship him or honour him as a God; they did not keep his memory alive through hymns, prayers and rituals, and they did not form a cult in his name as the one that emerged among the latter Christians.

This discovery is contrary to the traditional concept of Jesus in the narrative Gospels. There, he is described as a Jewish Messiah who came to reform Judaism, who challenged the teaching of the High Priests, who told the people to repent, and who instructed his disciples to convert the whole world to Christianity. In Q there is no select group of disciples, no intent to reform the Jewish religion or politics, no martyrdom, no saving of the world, and no mention of a Church in Jerusalem. Obviously these first followers of Jesus did not behave as they should according to the narrative Gospels. It could be that they did not follow Jesus’ teaching correctly, and that the narrative Gospels are right. But if they were the real followers of Jesus, then the story of the early Christian Church must be re-written.