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Llewellyn Howes1

1Department of Religion Studies, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Correspondence to:
Llewellyn Howes

Postal address:
A Dormus, 281 Acacia Street, Blackheath 2195, South Africa

Received: 21 May 2013
Accepted: 03 Mar. 2014
Published: 08 Aug. 2014

How to cite this article:
Howes, L., 2014, ‘Condemning or liberating the twelve tribes of Israel?: Judging the meaning of κρίνοντες in Q 22:28, 30’, Verbum et Ecclesia 35(1), Art. #872, 11 pages.

Copyright Notice:
© 2014. The Authors. Licensee: AOSIS OpenJournals.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Condemning or liberating the twelve tribes of Israel?: Judging the meaning of κρίνοντες in Q 22:28, 30
In This Original Research...
Open Access
   • Horsley’s influential proposal
The Old Testament roots for κρίνω
The lexical possibilities of κρίνω
Q 22:28, 30
The syntagmatic literary context of Q 22:28, 30
The paradigmatic literary context of κρίνω in Q
   • Competing interests

At the turn of the second millennium AD, Tuckett dubbed Q 22:28–30 an ‘exegetical stepchild’, given that it has traditionally and commonly received very little attention in Q research. This article addresses this shortcoming. Specific attention is devoted to the refutation of Horsley’s influential claim that, in Q 22:28–30, the verb κρίνοντες actually means ‘liberate’ and not ‘judge’. The discoveries made along the way have significant implications not only for our understanding of this specific Q text, but also for our understanding of the Sayings Gospel Q and its people in general. The latter pertains especially to their particular view of the final judgement, as well as their relationship to greater Israel.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article refutes the popular claim that κρίνοντες in Q 22:28–30 actually means ‘liberate’ and not ‘judge’. The latter has implications not only for the interpretation of Q 22:28–30, but also for our understanding of the Sayings Gospel Q, its people, the historical Jesus, and the ancient concept of ‘judgement’.


Horsley’s influential1 proposal
In 1987, Horsley (1987:201–208) challenged the traditional reading of Q 22:28, 30 by suggesting, amongst other things, that the verb κρίνοντες here actually means ‘liberating’, ‘redeeming’ or ‘effecting justice for’, instead of ‘judging’ or ‘ruling’. The implication of this lexical shift is a profound hermeneutical shift in the reading of this Q logion. Instead of declaring that the twelve tribes of Israel will one day be judged by the followers of Jesus, the logion now states that the followers of Jesus will do their part in effecting justice for the twelve tribes of Israel. According to Horsley (1999:105), this saying ‘has been one of the key proof texts that Q proclaims judgement against all Israel’ (cf. also Horsley 1989:49, 1995:39). This may indeed be true, but the opposite is also true. Horsley uses (his rendition of) this logion consistently as a proof text for his own conviction that Q envisages the restoration and renewal of Israel. The following quotations should suffice as verification of the latter claim:2 (1) ‘Even apart from the key text of Matthew 19:28 and parallels, there appears to be solid evidence that the twelve disciples were symbolic of the restoration of the twelve tribes of Israel’ (Horsley 1987:200), (2) ‘Matthew 19:28 and Luke 22:28–30 then provide explicit evidence that Jesus was symbolizing the restoration of Israel in constituting the Twelve’ (Horsley 1987:201), (3) ‘If it had not been stated explicitly earlier in the document, this statement about the twelve tribes [in Q 22:28–30] makes abundantly clear that Q represents Jesus and his followers as engaged in the renewal of the people of Israel’ (Horsley 1992:198) and (4) ‘If anything, based on a more appropriate reading of Q 22:28–30 […], Q envisages a renewal or restoration of Israel’ (Horsley 1995:39).

Two comments should be made in relation to these quotations. Firstly, Horsley’s specific reading of Q 22:28–303 forms part of his larger case that the ministry of the historical Jesus was aimed at the restoration and renewal of Israel (see Horsley 1987:165–284, 1992:175, 198–199, 206–209, 2003:79–104, 2011, esp. 205–211). Naturally, this does not invalidate his proposal, but it does show that he has much at stake in his exegesis of this logion.4 On the other hand, Horsley may indeed be correct that the ministry of Jesus was aimed at the restoration of Israel, but even so, the same does not necessarily apply to his narrower argument that, in Q 22:28–30, κρίνοντες should be understood as ‘liberation’. This article is only interested in this narrower argument, and will therefore focus almost exclusively on the linguistic use of κρίνω in Q. In other words, this article does not pretend to be a comprehensive or systematic analysis of the ‘judgement’ motif in Q, the Jesus tradition, or the ancient world in general.

Secondly, as Horsley (1999:262) later admits, it is unlikely that this Q logion has the twelve disciples in mind. Both Matthew (19:28) and Luke (22:30) mention the ‘twelve tribes of Israel’ (τὰς δώδεκα φυλὰς τοῦ Ἰσραήλ), but only Matthew mentions that there were ‘twelve thrones’ (δώδεκα θρόνους), presumably reserved for the twelve disciples (cf. Reiser 1990:246–247; Jacobson 1992:247). It is highly unlikely that the Q reading spoke of ‘twelve’ thrones (cf. Jacobson 1992:247; Kloppenborg 1996:327, n. 88; Davies & Allison 1997:55; see Fleddermann 2005:868–869; contra Bultmann 1913:36; Reiser 1990:246–247). Not once in the rest of Q is a numerical value attached to the term ‘disciples’ (μαθηταί) (cf. Horsley 1999:262), nor are any of the individual disciples ever named (cf. Lührmann 1969:97). Instead, Q uses the term ‘disciples’ (μαθηταί) in the more inclusive sense of the ‘general followers’ of Jesus (or John) (cf. e.g. Q 6:20, 40; 7:18; 10:2; 14:26, 27; cf. Kloppenborg 1996:327, n. 88). In fact, in our current text, the more universal term ‘followers’ (ἀκολουθήσαντές in Matthew) is used, instead of the somewhat more technical term ‘disciples’ (μαθηταί) (cf. Lührmann 1969:97).5

Horsley supports his understanding of κρίνω in Q 22:28, 30 with three basic arguments. Attention is firstly directed to the article by Herntrich (1965:923–933) in the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, where it is persuasively argued that the Old Testament concept of ‘judgement’ at times connoted and/or denoted God’s (mediated) acts of grace, mercy, liberation and salvation towards Israel (see Horsley 1987:203–205). Secondly, Horsley (1987:205) directs attention to two intertextual examples,6 where a sense of fulfilment is also achieved through the liberation of the twelve tribes of Israel. Thirdly, Horsley (1987:205–206) claims that his version and interpretation of Q 22:28–30 fits the literary context of Q much better, although he only considers two Q texts, namely Q 10:2–16 and Q 7:22.7 In what follows, I will only consider the first and third arguments, hoping to return to the second argument in a future publication.

The Old Testament roots for κρίνω

It is interesting that Horsley directs his readers to the article by Herntrich (1965:923–933), given that it deals specifically with the Old Testament Hebrew term for ‘judgement’ (as opposed to the New Testament Greek term for ‘judgement’ (κρίμα or κρίσις). What is more, the article by Herntrich deals mainly with the Hebrew noun ‘judgement’ , whereas Q 22:30 uses the Greek verb ‘judge’ (κρίνω). Neither in his initial analysis, nor in his subsequent reiterations of the results thereof,8 does Horsley put forward any additional sources of lexicographical or linguistic support. In other words, this article by Herntrich is Horsley’s only form of lexicographical or linguistic support from secondary literature for the claim that κρίνω intends the liberation of Israel in Q 22:28, 30. Moreover, not once does Horsley attempt to understand κρίνω in its own right. It should not be doubted that the Hebrew Scriptures, and their use of , had a significant impact on the Jewish understanding of κρίνω. However, to simply equate the one (a Hebrew noun) with the other (a Greek verb) is plainly fallacious.

As mentioned previously, Herntrich (1965:923–933) argues persuasively that was at times used to express God’s (mediated) acts of grace, mercy, liberation and salvation towards Israel. Nevertheless, in the same article, Herntrich argues just as persuasively for other applications of this Hebrew term. He starts off by dealing with the Hebrew verb . According to Herntrich (1965:923–924), the Old Testament primarily uses to communicate acts of ‘ruling’ and ‘judging’ (cf. also Gregg 2006:33, n. 96). These two meanings overlapped quite extensively in ancient Israel, to the effect that ancient kings were also seen as judges. In any case, Herntrich argues that is used most often to denote the restoration of a broken legal relationship,9 although it is also sometimes merely used to denote the act of reaching a legal decision.10 In the former case, the end result is the establishment of ‘peace’ . In the latter case, the verb is best translated with either ‘judge’ or ‘decide’ (cf. Koehler & Baumgartner 1958 s.v. Holladay 1971 s.v. ). To the extent that ancient kings and rulers were liberators of the people, the verb expressed their acts of establishing justice for the people. According to Herntrich (1965:924), however, the verb could also portray the act of establishing a sphere of dominion over the people. Hence, the verb could denote both the positive and negative sides of both ‘ruling’ and ‘judging’. It could also be used in a neutral sense to convey the natural act of reaching a legal decision (cf. Koehler & Baumgartner 1958 s.v. ;Holladay 1971 s.v. ). It was mostly used in this neutral sense for one of two reasons, which often overlapped; either the outcome was irrelevant to the intentions of the literary context, or the precise outcome was unknown to the author.

In the Old Testament, Yahweh is the ultimate ‘Judge’ and ‘Ruler’ of Israel (see Herntrich 1965:924–926). Theologically, Israel entered into a legal relationship with Yahweh when they agreed to the terms and conditions of the covenant. It is only to be expected, then, that the Hebrew noun would sometimes be used to describe God’s relationship with Israel. It is Yahweh who regulates the legal and social lives of his people. This includes both punishment and reward. Yahweh defends his people during military threats, intervenes for his people during military campaigns, and effects victories for his people. This could be seen as the positive outcome of the judgement of Yahweh, where Yahweh acts as Helper of Israel.11 On the other hand, however, it is Yahweh who punishes his people for their sinfulness by allowing other nations to conquer and govern them (cf. Horsley 1999:248).12 This could be seen as the negative outcome of the judgement of Yahweh. God’s negative judgement of Israel (in the form of severe punishment) exhibits his supremacy as the ultimate Lord and Judge, who is able to summon all existing forces against his own people.13

The judgement of God relates not only to Israel as a whole, but also to groups and individuals within Israel. One such group is the downtrodden and marginalised, commonly in the Old Testament referred to as the ‘poor and needy’, or the ‘widows and orphans’ of Israel. Through his judgement , Yahweh champions the cause of these people.14 The prophets are in agreement that the widows and orphans will finally be vindicated at the future judgement.15 This is the positive side of the judgement of Yahweh. The oppressed are vindicated because they are by their very nature ‘righteous’ (cf. Am 5:12). It is in this context where God’s judgement is most frequently and appropriately understood as ‘grace’, ‘mercy’ and ‘liberation’ (see Herntrich 1965:929–932). Yet the negative side of this very same act of judgement is that the oppressors will one day be punished.16 Herntrich (1965:932) is very clear in stating that ‘the judgment of the wicked is the reverse side of the saving act of God, which is described as

Horsley has this latter category in mind when he interprets Q 22:28, 30 (cf. esp. Horsley 1987:173, 175, 177, 204–205, 1999:98, 105–106, 263). The difference, however, between Q 22:28, 30 and the Old Testament texts is that the literary contexts of each of these latter texts made this understanding of ‘judgement’ as ‘liberation’ obvious (see Fleddermann 1990:7–8). Herntrich’s analysis is a clear illustration of the polyvalence of the Hebrew term ‘judgement’ , which could be a highly positive, highly negative or fairly neutral term, depending on the literary context. If anything, Herntrich illustrates how important literary context becomes when interpreting the Hebrew term ‘judgement’ in any given context. All that Horsley manages to ‘prove’ in his appeal to Herntrich is that the literary context of Q 22:28, 30 should be given serious consideration before jumping to any conclusions about the use of κρίνω there (cf. Fleddermann 1990:8).

Another feature of the term ‘judgement’ is betrayed by Herntrich’s investigation. The judgement of God unfailingly has the effect of drawing a line between the in-group and the out-group. During military campaigns, Israel is always the in-group. God either liberates the in-group through victory or punishes the in-group through defeat. The same is true of groups and individuals within Israel. The poor and needy, for example, constitute the in-group, who will one day receive justice and liberation, whilst their tormentors constitute the out-group, who will receive punishment. In sapiential literature, individuals who do the will of God form part of the in-group, commonly described as ‘the righteous’, whilst the out-group are those who ignore the instructions of God. In other words, whether the word ‘judgement’ is understood to be positive or negative depends on two factors, consistently revealed by the literary context: (1) whether the addressees form part of the in-group or the out-group and (2) whether God wants to punish or reward the group in question. The combination of these two factors determines whether judgement should in that particular case be understood as a negative or a positive act. This explains why the literary context will always be determinative (cf. Fleddermann 1990:8). Whenever the context fails to make both of these factors clear, the term is usually used in the neutral sense, with the outcome of God’s judgement still unclear (cf. Koehler & Baumgartner 1958 s.v. ; Holladay 1971 s.v. ). This applies particularly in cases where the judgement of Israel (and the nations) is described to the effect that ‘only a remnant of the people will be delivered’ (Herntrich 1965:929). Throughout the Old Testament, regardless of whether the judgement of God is understood to be positive, negative or neutral, it is always God who acts as the judging subject.

The lexical possibilities of κρίνω

In the same Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Büchsel (1965:922–923) summarises the linguistic usage of κρίνω. In his appraisal, the most common meaning of this verb in contemporary texts is ‘to decide’, ‘to judge’ and ‘to assess’. From these meanings, it is obvious that the word was used most frequently by contemporary Greek authors in its more neutral sense, describing the act of assessment itself, rather than the outcome thereof. One gets the same idea from Liddell and Scott (1940 s.v. κρίνω), who divides the ancient usages of the word into three distinct semantic fields. The first of these has the following meanings: ‘separate’, ‘put asunder’ and ‘distinguish’. The second is by far the most popular, and has nine different groups of meanings: (1) ‘pick out’ or ‘choose’, (2) ‘decide’, ‘judge (in the neutral sense)’ or ‘form a judgement’, (3) ‘adjudge’, ‘judge (in the neutral sense)’ or ‘give judgement’, (4) ‘judge of’ or ‘estimate’, (5) ‘expound’ or ‘interpret’, (6) ‘decide’ or ‘judge that’, (7) ‘decide in favour of’, ‘prefer’, ‘choose’, or ‘choose between’, (8) ‘determine’ or ‘choose’ and (9) ‘form a judgement’. The third semantic field is the one biblical scholars are most familiar with, having three groups of meaning: (1) ‘question’, (2) ‘bring to trial’, ‘accuse’ or ‘judge (in matters of life and death)’ and (3) ‘pass sentence upon’, ‘condemn’, or ‘judge (in the negative and subjective sense)’. Wholly absent is Horsley’s positive understanding of the verb κρίνω.

In the Septuagint, κρίνω is most often used to translate טפשׁ. As with the latter Hebrew verb, κρίνω could function as a negative, positive or neutral verb, depending on the literary context. It was therefore possible to understand κρίνω in the positive sense of ‘liberate’, although this meaning was extremely rare, and was always made clear by the literary context (cf. e.g. LXX Zech 7:9; cf. Büchsel 1965:923; contra Horsley 1999:263). At times, the Septuagint also used κρίνω when it clearly meant ‘to rule’ (cf. Fleddermann 2005:870). It is obvious that the Septuagint trespassed beyond the Greek verb’s usual semantic borders, transposing some of the semantic meanings of onto κρίνω.

In the New Testament, depending on the literary context, κρίνω is used in the following ways:17 (1) God as the subject of negative, other-worldly judgement in the form of punishment and/or condemnation, whether this relates to the in-group or the out-group,18 (2) God as the subject of neutral, other-worldly judgement, in the sense that some will be rewarded and others be punished, whilst the precise division and outcome is still uncertain,19 (3) the Holy Spirit as the subject of negative, other-worldly judgement,20 (4) the risen Jesus as the subject of neutral, other-worldly judgement,21 (5) believers, or a portion of them, as the subjects of negative, other-worldly judgement,22 (6) believers, or a portion of them, as the subjects of neutral, other-worldly judgement,23 (7) apart from its other-worldly usage, κρίνω is also used in the negative sense to denote personal, moral and/or legal this-worldly judgement by certain persons on other people,24 (8) this-worldly judgement could also be referenced in a neutral sense,25 (9) the legal acts of taking someone to court or of standing trial are specifically indicated by having the verb κρίνω appear in either the passive or middle voices26 (cf. Büchsel 1965:923; Louw & Nida 1993a:555; Howes 2012:270)27 and (10) referring plainly to the neutral act of making or coming to a decision, where the outcome is not important for the context.28

From our survey of the New Testament, it appears that the first, second, seventh and tenth options are the most popular, with options seven and ten clear favourites. Notably, a semantic possibility that is wholly absent from the New Testament is the one proffered by Horsley, where κρίνω is understood in the positive sense of ‘liberation’ (cf. Fleddermann 1990:8). This does not, of course, mean that such an understanding of κρίνω was utterly impossible at the time of the New Testament’s formation. It does, however, mean that the onus rests on the person wanting to argue for this option in a 1st century Christian text. It is a basic rule of semantics that a word generally occurs in its primary meaning, unless the context indicates otherwise (cf. Reiser 1990:248). If the literary context is unclear about the specific application of κρίνω, one would have to assume that the verb was used in either the negative or the neutral sense. In fact, the deliberate indistinctness of the literary context would almost oblige the neutral application. Interestingly, whenever Jesus appears as the subject of κρίνω, his judgement occurs in the neutral sense of option four mentioned previously. It should also be noted that κρίνω never appears as its lexical meaning ‘to rule’ in the New Testament (cf. Kloppenborg Verbin 1996:328, 2000:192; Fleddermann 1990:8, 2005:870; see Reiser 1990:248–249).

Q 22:28, 30

The Critical Edition of Q 22:28, 30 should be accepted (see Tuckett 2000:101–103): ‘... You who have followed me will sit ... on thrones judging (κρίνοντες) the twelve tribes of Israel’ (ὑμεῖς .. οἱ ἀκολουθήσαντές μοι .. καθήσεσθε ἐπὶ θρόν[ους] κρίνοντες τὰς δώδεκα φυλὰς τοῦ Ἰσραήλ) (Robinson, Hoffmann & Kloppenborg 2000:558–561).29 The appearance of the noun ‘thrones’ (θρόνου // θρόνων) justifies both ‘judge’ and ‘rule’ as appropriate translations (cf. Jacobson 1992:147; Kloppenborg 1995:12–13). Davies and Allison (1997:55, n. 119) argue that the participial form of κρίνοντες points to ‘rule’ as the more appropriate translation, seeing as it indicates a continuing process. This argument is grammatically flawed. In Greek, when an adverbial participle appears in the present tense, the reason is most commonly to indicate that the respective actions of the main verb and the participle occur simultaneously (cf. Nunn 1952:75; Conradie et al. 1999:240; see Dana & Mantley 1957:229–230; Summers 1995:97–99).30 Regarding our text, this means that κρίνοντες appears as a participle not to indicate continuous action, but rather for the plain reason that the ‘judging’ or ‘ruling’ actions will take place at the same time as the ‘sitting’ action of the main verb.31 Crucially, the aforementioned semantic rule, according to which the main meaning of a verb remains exclusively relevant whenever the context fails to indicate otherwise, applies in this case as well (see Reiser 1990:248–249). The deliberate silence of Q 22:28, 30 on the matter should be taken as an indication that κρίνω does not here reference (or even allude to) the semantic option ‘rule’. Additional support for this conclusion is the observation by Reiser (1990:249) that the concept of a panel of rulers (Herrscherkollegium) was totally unfamiliar to 1st century Jews, but that there is evidence that panels of judges (Richterkollegien) operated in Judaism at that time.32

The mention of ‘thrones’ (θρόνου // θρόνων) demonstrates that this text has apocalyptic eschatology in mind (cf. Reiser 1990:249; Wink 2002:183; Allison 2010:42; see Howes 2012:281–283, 289–292; contra Horsley 1987:202).33 The latter is further demonstrated by the syntagmatic literary context,34 which deals particularly with this theme of the apocalyptic end (cf. Kloppenborg 1987:164–165, 1996:327; Fleddermann 2005:831). The pertinent mentioning of ‘twelve’ tribes further indicates that all of greater Israel will be involved, not just the small constitution of Israel that subsisted in the 1st century (cf. Reiser 1990:247). This a-temporal inclusivity suggests strongly against a wholly negative judgement of greater Israel. The claim of this saying is presented as a mere statement, albeit a profound statement. Notably missing is the presence of any value judgement or emotional nuance in the saying. It is not revealed whether the judgement in question would represent condemnation, on the negative side, or reward, on the positive side. In fact, by means of deliberate omission, the saying seems to intend a neutral application, in the sense that some will be rewarded and others be punished, whilst the precise division and outcome is still uncertain (cf. Tuckett 2000:113; cf. Valantasis 2005:223).

Despite the saying’s neutrality and generality, it still seems to draw a line between those who have followed Jesus, meaning the Q people, and the remainder of Israel (cf. Fleddermann 1990:8, 2005:869). The former, as part of the in-group, will one day be afforded the privilege of ‘judging’ the rest of Israel (cf. Reiser 1990:249; Kloppenborg 1996:327; cf. Valantasis 2005:223). The latter, as part of the out-group, will one day experience the shame of being ‘judged’ by the Q people. Unlike other contemporary judgement sayings, the division of this logion is not in the first place between those who will be liberated and those who will be condemned, but rather between those who will act as subjects and those who will act as objects of the final judging act (cf. Reiser 1990:249; Fleddermann 1990:7). Q 22:28, 30 was remarkable enough to be committed to memory and written down because it claimed that normal individuals would one day participate as subjects in the procedure of final judgement; an act reserved solely for God in the Old Testament (see the previous).35 It should be noted, however, that Q did not foresee the Q people escaping judgement altogether (see what follows; contra Kloppenborg 1987:165; cf. Valantasis 2005:223; cf. e.g. Q 6:37; 12:9, 1036).37 The saying is not focused on Israel’s ultimate fate, but on that of the Q people (cf. Fleddermann 2005:869; Gregg 2006:33). This is indicated by five factors: (1) the unnecessary, but emphatic, use of ‘you’ (ὑμεῖς) (cf. Fleddermann 1990:7, 2005:869), (2) that this pronoun begins the logion, (3) that this pronoun appears in the second person, as opposed to the third, (4) that the pronoun is immediately thereafter revealed as ‘those who have followed / remained with me’ (οἱ ἀκολουθήσαντές μοι // οἱ διαμεμενηκότες μετʼ ἐμοῦ) and (5) that the latter functions as the syntactical subject of the subsequent verbs.

The syntagmatic literary context of Q 22:28, 30

It is highly likely that Q 22:28, 30 originally followed directly after the parable in Q 19:12–13, 15–24, 26 (cf. Fleddermann 1990:10; Allison 1997:35; Kloppenborg 1996:327; Tuckett 2000:103–104; contra Jacobson 1992:244–245).38 It is also likely that the latter parable originally had a very different application (cf. Kirk 1998:298; Oakman 2008:252; see Jacobson 1992:239–244; Scott 1989:217–234). In any event, as it now stands in Q, the parable has been reapplied as a story about the apocalyptic end (see Kloppenborg 1987a:164–165; Piper 1989:144). The analogy is between a master who ‘settles accounts’ (συναίρει λόγον in Matthew) with his slaves and the final apocalyptic judgement (cf. Piper 1989:148; Fleddermann 2005:860).39 Although it is true that the master, in his role as ‘the master’ (ὁ κύριος), does ‘rule’ over the three slaves in question, the analogy is not with the master’s ‘rule’ in general, but with the specific occasion of his judgement (or ‘settling of accounts’) (cf. Fleddermann 1990:10; Valantasis 2005:220).

The parable’s analogy is not solely applicable to the third slave, but to the whole process of ‘settling accounts’. This is clear from the fact that the application in verse 26 reflects on both the positive and the negative side of the final settlement (cf. Piper 1989:147; see Valantasis 2005:221–222). Accordingly, two slaves were rewarded, whilst a third slave was punished (cf. Fleddermann 2005:862, 869). Verse 26 draws out the analogy: ‘[For] to everyone who has will be given; but the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.’ In my view, considering the rest of Q, the parable specifically draws a line between the Q people and the rest of Israel. Read in conjunction with Q 22:28, 30 (and Q 3:8), the parable application could be paraphrased as such:

Whilst the Q people, who already has the kingdom, will be afforded the additional privilege of judging the rest of Israel at the final judgment, Israel, who currently lacks the kingdom, will also be robbed of their privileged status as ’sons of Abraham’ at the final judgment. (cf. Reiser 1990:249; Valantasis 2005:222; Fleddermann 2005:869; Howes 2012:221–222)40

This latter privilege, with all it entails, will now be conferred upon the Q people. Regardless of whether this specific interpretation of the parable is accepted, it remains apparent that the act of judgement itself is not evaluated either negatively or positively. Focus is rather on the process of judgement, during which both punishment and reward feature (cf. Bultmann 1913:44; Kirk 1998:299; Fleddermann 2005:862). We may therefore speak of a twofold division, with the first occurring between the Q people (as the subjects of judgement) and the rest of Israel (as the objects of judgement) (cf. Fleddermann 1990:7), and the second occurring within greater Israel itself, between those who will be rewarded and those who will be punished at the final judgement (cf. Reiser 1990:247–248).

This pericope41 forms part of a larger block of material that also includes the cluster of logia in Q 17:23–24, 37, 26–27, 30 (cf. Tuckett 2000:103–104). It is impossible to deny the ominous imagery and threatening tone of this sayings-cluster. Yet the recipients of these apocalyptic events are not specifically mentioned (see Valantasis 2005:217–218; contra Catchpole 1993:251). The intent of this complex of logia is not to identify the recipients of final judgement, but rather to describe the specific nature of the apocalyptic end (cf. Jacobson 1992:237; see Fleddermann 2005:831–835; Howes 2012:216–218, 2013:10; Kirk 1998:258–268). Nevertheless, Q 17:26–27, 30 implies the very same division of Q 19, between those receiving punishment and those receiving reward (cf. Kloppenborg 1987:164; Catchpole 1993:250, 251; Kirk 1998:261). This implication is spelled out in Q 17:34–35, where the division cuts across family and ‘professional’ ties (cf. Jacobson 1992:237; Kirk 1998:261; Valantasis 2005:219; see Fleddermann 2005:835–836). If Q 17 is considered in isolation, it is impossible to tell whether this division occurs within greater Israel or between them and the Q people. If Q 17 is read in conjunction with the subsequent material, however, as it should be (cf. Tuckett 2000:104), it becomes obvious that the former type of division is meant. Far from levelling condemnation against greater Israel in toto, these logia, on the one hand, describe the catastrophic nature of the apocalyptic end, and, on the other, imply some type of division within greater Israel (cf. Reiser 1990:247–248; contra Kloppenborg 1995:13).

The paradigmatic literary context of κρίνω in Q

Let us first consider the specific usage of κρίνω in the remainder of Q. The verb is surprisingly scarce. In addition to Q 22:30, it features only in the following Q texts (cf. Tuckett 2000:103; Kloppenborg Verbin 2000:192; Fleddermann 1990:8, 2005:870, esp. n. 574): (1) Q 6:29, where it is used in the legal sense of ‘taking someone to court’ (see Howes 2012:296–270) and (2) Q 6:37, where it occurs twice: firstly, in reference to interpersonal and moral judgement by certain persons on other people and secondly, in deliberately ambiguous reference to either apocalyptic, judicial or moral judgement by either God or other people (cf. Piper 1989:37, 77; Horsley 1999:263; see Howes 2012:234–304, esp. 299–304). Particularly surprising is the detail that, apart from Q 22:30, this verb does not at all feature in Kloppenborg’s ‘judgement layer’. In fact, κρίνω is unexpectedly absent at crucial times in the document, particularly where apocalyptic condemnation is vehemently declared upon an unfortunate recipient (contra Tuckett 2000:103; although cf. also 113).42 Other verbs are consistently preferred for denoting the type of judgement that has God as the subject of condemnation. Although this type of judgement is an undeniable feature of Q, the document prefers not to use κρίνω to describe it. In fact, Q apparently prefers using κατακρίνω to describe negative judgement in the form of severe apocalyptic condemnation by God (cf. Q 11:31–32; cf. Kloppenborg 1995:13).43 The latter observation alone is highly suggestive of the likelihood that κρίνω was used in its more neutral sense in Q 22:28, 30. Given that the inaugural sermon was specifically intended to direct the behaviour of the Q people during their earthly existence (cf. Piper 1989:44; Howes 2012:245), the prohibitions against judgement in Q 6:37–38 (and Q 6:41–42) do not apply to our current investigation, which is primarily aimed at investigating the Q people’s understanding of their own role at the apocalyptic end. The development (or regression, rather) of the Q people from a community who taught against the judgement of others (as reflected in Kloppenborg’s Q¹) to a community who vehemently proclaimed the future judgement of outsiders (as reflected in Kloppenborg’s Q²) is certainly interesting, but nonetheless mostly irrelevant to the current discussion.

It has to be noted that although the verb κρίνω is almost completely absent from Kloppenborg’s main redaction, the nouns ‘judge’ (κριτής) and ‘judgement’ (κρίσις) do occur rather frequently in Q². In Q 10:14, Q 11:31 and Q 11:32, the future apocalyptic judgement is referenced with the phrase ‘at the judgement’ (ἐν τῇ κρίσει). Although each of these logia proclaim condemnation against a group within greater Israel, the term ‘at the judgement’ (ἐν τῇ κρίσει) functions in each instance as a-temporal dative, indicating the ‘point of time’ at which the main event occurs. As such, the phrase refers to the future judgement in toto, during which some will be condemned and others be liberated. It is important in each case to distinguish between the logion itself, which proclaims condemnation against a segment of Israel, and the term ‘at the judgement’ (ἐν τῇ κρίσει), which merely refers to the expected judgement in the neutral sense. In Q 12:59, the noun ‘judge’ refers to an earthly judge, although it is predicted that this judge will most likely condemn the accused. If Q 12:58–59 originally stood in its Lukan context, which is all but certain, this logion referenced the final judgement. If so, the logion focuses on the negative aspect of the apocalyptic judge’s role.

The statement in Q 11:19 is especially significant for our understanding of Q 22:28, 30. After being accused of expelling a demon with the assistance of Beelzebul (Q 11:15), Jesus retaliates by claiming that the sons of his accusers will be their judges (Q 11:19). I have previously argued that ‘the sons’ (οἱ υἱοὶ) refer here to the Q people, amongst whom there were also exorcists (cf. Q 10:9; cf. Jacobson 1982:381; Howes 2012:199; see Valantasis 2005:126–127). In keeping with this view, it seems likely that ‘the crowds’ (οἱ ὄχλοι) represent greater Israel, and that the accusers represent a portion of greater Israel (cf. ‘some’ [τινὲς] in Luke 11:15; cf. Valantasis 2005:125); probably those unwilling to accept (the message of) Jesus. If this reading is accepted, then Q 11:19 makes the exact same claim as Q 22:28, 30, namely that the Q people will one day judge greater Israel, including the impenitent segment of Israel. Two observations are important in this regard. Firstly, the noun κριτής can in this case (as well as in all other cases) only refer to a ‘judge’ – and not to a ‘king’ or a ‘ruler’ of any kind (cf. Liddell & Scott 1940 s.v. κριτής; Newman 1993 s.v. κριτής; Louw & Nida 1993a:556, 1993b s.v. κριτής; Horsley 1987:191).44 When used of a king, the noun refers specifically to his role as ‘judge’. In verse 20, the very construction ‘kingdom of God’ (ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ) indicates that God alone is understood to be the King and Ruler of his empire. Nowhere in Q is Jesus, his followers, the Q people or the Son of Man ever described as fulfilling some type of ruling function in God’s kingdom. Conversely, there are a number of Q texts that allow individuals, groups or entities other than God participation at the last judgement.45 It follows that Q 11:19 could not have had the ‘rulers’ of the future kingdom in mind, or it would have contradicted not only Q 11:20, but also the document as a whole. Instead, κριτής should here be understood in terms of its most common usage in general, and its most apparent application in this specific text, which is not ‘ruler’, but ‘judge’. Secondly, Q 11:19 does not condemn greater Israel. The outcome of the judging act is not disclosed; only the fact that ‘the sons’ will act as subjects thereof. In fact, verse 20 clearly implies that the rest of Israel (including perhaps the accusers themselves) is still in the process of receiving the kingdom (cf. Jacobson 1992:163).

Throughout Q, negative judgement, in the form of condemnation, is specifically levelled against the following Jewish groups: (1) those who do not ‘bear healthy fruit’ (Q 3:9, 17; 13:24–27), (2) certain Galilean towns (Q 10:13–15), (3) ‘this generation’ (Q 11:29–32, 50–51), (4) the Pharisees and scribes (Q 1:39, 41–44, 46–48, 52), (5) those who deny Jesus in public (Q 12:9), (6) those who speak against the Holy Spirit (Q 12:10), (7) (the religious leaders in) Jerusalem (Q 13:34–35) and (8) those who fail to accept Jesus’ invitation, probably to the kingdom (Q 10:10–11; 14:16–18, 21, 23). Conversely, positive judgement, in the form of future46 liberation, is specifically retained for the following Jewish groups: (1) those who ‘bear fruit worthy of repentance’ (Q 3:8, 17), (2) the hungry (Q 6:21), (3) those who weep (Q 6:21), (4) the persecuted (Q 6:22–23), (5) those who confess Jesus in public (Q 12:8), (6) (some of) the Diaspora and/or (some of) the nations (Q 13:28–29) and (7) those who were originally uninvited (Q 14:23). Two or more of the constituent groups probably overlap, but they certainly do not overlap completely.47

It should be accepted with Horsley that Q polemically reviled, and foresaw the future condemnation of, the religious-political-economic-social elite.48 Yet, an overemphasis49 of this aspect of Q’s rhetoric could easily lead to a completely subjective reading of the document as a whole (cf. Bultmann 1913:42). According to Horsley (1987:177, 199, 1999:297), the condemnations of ‘this generation’ (Q 11:31–32) and the woes against the earmarked Galilean towns (Q 10:13–15) reveal a genuine ‘concern for the renewal of the whole [Jewish] society’. Conversely, Horsley views the condemnations and woes against the Jewish elite as true reflections of negative judgement and condemnation.50 One cannot help but wonder why it has to be interpreted this way round. For example, is it not just as possible that Q revealed its heartfelt concern for the (leaders of) Jerusalem when declaring judgement against them; or, conversely, that Q betrayed its apprehension of the Galilean towns when declaring judgement against them? Horsley, it seems to me, subjectively51 chooses when Q’s condemnation of a certain group is meant positively, as an ironic concern for their wellbeing, and when it must be taken at face value, as a declaration of negative judgement. Against this, the Sayings Gospel in toto paints a vivid picture of certain Jewish groups being constantly and consistently condemned (cf. Kloppenborg Verbin 1995:13, 1996:328, 2000:118; Tuckett 2000:103; see Jacobson 1982:375–376). Incidentally, Q just as persistently proclaims liberation and salvation for certain other Jewish groups (cf. Reiser 1990:247–248; Fleddermann 2005:870).

Particularly interesting about the aforementioned classification is that the word ‘Israel’ (Ἰσραήλ) is not once used to describe a group that has been set aside for either liberation or condemnation. Two inferences follow. Firstly, Horsley (1992:191, 1995:38–40, 49) is certainly correct in his appraisal that the term ‘this generation’ (ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη) should not be equated with the whole of Israel (past, present and future), but rather represents some portion, faction or group within greater Israel (see Tuckett 1996:199–201; contra Bultmann 1913:42; Lührmann 1969:93; Kloppenborg Verbin 1987:167, 2000:192–193).52 Whether the latter constitutes the Jewish elite,53 the unrepentant Jews alive during and after the ministry of Jesus,54 or some other group within Israel, cannot be answered here. Secondly, far from either condemning or liberating ‘all of Israel’, Q foresees the apocalyptic liberation of some Jewish groups and the apocalyptic condemnation of other Jewish groups (cf. Reiser 1990:247–248; Casey 2002:102).55 Whilst ‘this generation’ will constitute one of these latter groups, the Q people will act as subjects of the process itself (cf. Kloppenborg Verbin 1987:95, 165, 2000:124). As such, neither Horsley’s ‘liberation’ nor Kloppenborg’s (1995:13) and other scholars’ ‘condemnation’ could solely have been intended by κρίνω in Q 22:28, 30.

These conclusions are supported by one Q text in particular that has greater Israel distinctively in view. According to its narrative introduction, John only addresses ‘the crowds coming to be baptised’ (πολλοὺς ἐρχομένους ἐπὶ τὸ βάπτισμα // τοῖς ἐκπορευομένοις ὄχλοις βαπτισθῆναι) in Q 3:7–9, 16–17 (cf. Valantasis 2005:44). There should be no doubt, however, that this passage was ultimately intended for, and programmatically addressed to, all of Israel, as is incontrovertibly indicated by the phrase ‘we have Abraham as father’ (πατέρα ἔχομεν τὸν Ἀβραάμ) (cf. Kloppenborg 1987:103; Jacobson 1992:83; Catchpole 1993:7–8; Valantasis 2005:45; Fleddermann 1990:9, 2005:232). In this passage, the Baptist clearly divides Israel into two opposing categories (cf. Kloppenborg 1987:102–103; Reiser 1990:247–248; Horsley 1992:206, 1995:40, 1999:87, 261; Kirk 1998:369; see Catchpole 1993:8–12; Fleddermann 1990:9, 2005:228–231; Valantasis 2005:44–48). On the one hand, those who ‘bear fruit worthy of repentance’ (ποιήσατε οὖν καρπὸν ἄξιον τῆς μετανοίας // ποιήσατε οὖν καρποὺς ἀξίους τῆς μετανοίας) will experience a positive outcome at the final judgement, which is here described with the metaphor of wheat being gathered into a granary. On the other hand, those who ‘do not bear healthy fruit’ will experience a negative outcome at the final judgement, which is here elucidated by the parallel metaphors of both chopped-down trees and chaff burning on a fire. The symbol of an axe (ἀξίνη) is particularly appropriate for the pronouncement that Israel will be ‘split in two’ at the final judgement.56 It is certainly significant, as Horsley repeatedly points out,57 that this passage opens the Q discourse, whilst Q 22:28, 30 closes it (cf. also Bultmann 1913:36; Jacobson 1992:81; Kloppenborg 1996:327; Tuckett 2000:105).

In addition to three of the passages already dealt with here,58 Kloppenborg (1995:13) holds up two other passages as evidence that κρίνω should in Q 22:28, 30 be read exclusively in terms of the negative judgement or condemnation of greater Israel (cf. also Fleddermann 1990:8). These are Q 11:31–32 and Q 12:42–46. The first pericope is interesting, given that it imagines marginal (gentile) figures from Israel’s past condemning ‘this generation’ at the final judgement (see Gregg 2006:143–144; Valantasis 2005:138–139). In other words, the Queen of the South and the Ninevite men are envisaged as fulfilling a similar role to that of the Q people at the final judgement (cf. Kloppenborg 1987:128; Jacobson 1992:238; Catchpole 1993:52; Tuckett 2000:103). The Q people will therefore not be alone in one day judging the rest of Israel. This reminds one of Q 13:28–29, where (albeit more central) figures from Israel’s past join contemporary Jews at the apocalyptic banquet (cf. Gregg 2006:231–232). In this latter saying, a division is made between those who will be ‘thrown out [into outer darkness]’ (ἐκβληθήσονται εἰς τὸ σκότος τὸ ἐξώτερον // ἐκβαλλομένους ἔξω), on the one hand, and the patriarchs and the Diaspora and/or nations, on the other (cf. Kloppenborg 1987:227; Horsley 1995:38, 47, 1999:229; Fleddermann 2005:698–699; Gregg 2006:229; Howes 2012:220; see Allison 1997:176–191). Similarly in Q 11:31–32, there is a division between both the groups and the destinies of ‘this generation’, on the one hand, and the Queen of the South and the Ninevite men, on the other (cf. Jnh 3:5 // Q 11:29; cf. Kirk 1998:201; Wink 2002:91; Valantasis 2005:138; Fleddermann 2005:512, 515; see Howes 2012:202–204, 2013:7–8).

The Queen of the South and the Ninevite men are specifically described as ‘condemning’ (κατακρίνω), and not merely ‘judging’ (κρίνω), ‘this generation’ (cf. Tuckett 2000:103; Fleddermann 2005:514). The explanation for this deviation from Q 22:30 lies in the grammatical object of κρίνω. Given that Kloppenborg Verbin (1987:167, 2000:192–193) believes that Q rhetorically equates ‘this generation’ wholly with greater Israel,59 he is forced to read both Q 11:31–32 and Q 22:28, 30 as polemical condemnations of Israel in toto (cf. also Fleddermann 1990:8). If our current position is accepted, however, and ‘this generation’ represents merely one of the groups within Israel, then the lexical change makes utter sense. Whereas Q 11:31–32 announces future condemnation of one Jewish group in particular, Q 22:28, 30 claims that the Q people will judge all of Israel; a process that will inevitably also entail the condemnation of ‘this generation’.60 Even less so than with Q 11:31–32, it is not at all clear that Q 12:42–46 sets aside greater Israel as the recipients of condemnation (cf. Kirk 1998:234; Fleddermann 2005:637; Allison 2010:35; Howes 2012:225). In fact, it is very possible that this parable does not even have Israel in mind at all, but rather anticipates the internal judgement and apocalyptic division of the Q people themselves (cf. Valantasis 2005:170; Gregg 2006:217). What is clear, though, is that this parable portrays the final judgement as a two-sided event, during which the faithful are richly rewarded, whilst the unfaithful are harshly punished (cf. Kirk 1998:234; Fleddermann 1990:9, 2005:635; Gregg 2006:220; see Valantasis 2005:168–171).

The relevance of the parallel Son of Man Sayings in Q 12:8–9 for our current discussion on Q 22:28, 30 is not immediately obvious. In order to fully appreciate its relevance, one needs to have a grip on the document’s overall usage of the expression ‘Son of Man’. I have argued elsewhere that Q uses this expression in two distinctive ways (see Howes 2013). Firstly, the term is at times used by Q’s Jesus as a non-titular and exclusive self-reference to his corporeal, human self.61 Secondly, the term is also used by Q’s Jesus in specific reference to the Son of Man figure in Daniel 7:13, who might or might not have been identified with Jesus himself.62 These two categories overlap in Q 12:8–9, where Q’s Jesus cleverly both invites and obscures the inference that he himself should be identified with the danielic Son of Man figure. The link between Q 12:8–9 and Q 22:28, 30 lies in the extreme likelihood that Q’s Son of Man figure serves as a prototype for the lives and fate of the Q people themselves (see Fleddermann 1990:8–10; Tuckett 2000:107–116). In terms of the aforementioned first Son of Man category, the Q people will share in the hardships and persecution endured by the earthly Jesus.63 In terms of the second category mentioned previously, the Q people will in some way share in the Son of Man’s role at the apocalyptic end (cf. Fleddermann 1990:10; Kirk 1998:297).

In Q 12:8–9, where the two categories overlap, Jesus (in his role as the Son of Man) acts as a very important witness at the final judgement.64 Moreover, Jesus and/or the Son of Man is consistently portrayed in the remainder of Q as an apocalyptic judge (cf. Fleddermann 1990:9).65 In Q 12:8–9, the Son of Man divides between those who ‘speak out for me in public’ and those who ‘deny me in public’ (cf. Piper 1989:58–59; Fleddermann 1990:9; Valantasis 2005:157). Kirk (1998:210) correctly holds that this division applies internally to the Q people themselves (cf. also Valantasis 2005:157).66 The latter is signified by three indications: (1) the context (Q 12:2–12) deals particularly with the Q people’s role in spreading the message of Jesus to their contemporaries (cf. Allison 1997:21; Piper 1989:59, 60; see Fleddermann 2005:583–584; Kirk 1998:206–214), (2) the phrase ‘in public’ (ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων) indicates that these two logia are not about the general acceptance or rejection of Jesus, but rather about the specific act of confessing or denying him in front of the out-group (cf. Kirk 1998:209) and (3) the other appearances of this logion in the New Testament and apostolic fathers similarly has insiders in view (cf. Kloppenborg 1987:215; Kirk 1998:210).67

Interestingly, the only way in which the parallel logia of Q 12:8–9 can logically be reconciled with Q 22:28, 30 is to imagine a dual process at the final judgement (cf. Tuckett 2000:115; Valantasis 2005:223). Firstly, the Q people will be judged by God and the Son of Man as to their commitment to Jesus and his message in the face of opposition and persecution from outside (cf. Gregg 2006:173). Valantasis (2005:157) claims that ‘in typical fashion, [Q 12:8–9] presents the same concept in two forms, positive and negative’. Likewise referring to Q 12:8–9, Fleddermann (1990:9) speaks about ‘the saving and destroying, rewarding and punishing, action of the Son of Man’. Secondly, the (remaining?) Q people will join God and the Son of Man in judging the rest of Israel. The first process acts as prototype for the second.68 Just like the Son of Man judged the Q people themselves, dividing between the faithful, who will be liberated (Q 12:8), and the unfaithful, who will be condemned (Q 12:9), the Q people will judge greater Israel, dividing between the faithful, who will be liberated, and the unfaithful, who will be condemned (cf. Tuckett 2000:112, 114).

Finally, one of the only paradigmatic Q texts used by Horsley (1987:205–206) to support his reading of κρίνοντες in Q 22:28–30 actually supports the opposite view. Horsley is surely correct in his estimation that the so-called ‘mission discourse’ imagines the followers of Jesus continuing his mission to Israel. As this passage makes abundantly clear, there are two sides to the mission; one positive and the other negative (see Horsley 1999:233, 247–249; Valantasis 2005:101–109). The acceptance of the ‘workers’ (ἐργάται) and their message leads to the present, and presumably also the future, liberation of the individuals and groups in question (cf. Q 10:8–9). Conversely, the rejection of the workers and their message causes the present and future rejection of the individuals and groups in question (cf. Q 10:10–12) (cf. Reiser 1990:248). In this way, future judgement becomes a logical extension and continuation of present demarcations by the in-group (cf. Reiser 1990:248, 250). Hence, the separate missions of John, Jesus and the workers all effectuate the same ultimate end result, which is that Israel will be split in two at the final judgement. All in all, if one considers both the syntagmatic and paradigmatic contexts of Q 22:28, 30, it remains almost impossible to read κρίνω in that logion exclusively as either a positive or a negative reference to final judgement.69


For a long time now, it has been standard practice in biblical scholarship to use the word ‘judgement’ narrowly in its negative sense of condemnation. This usage has been unnecessarily delimiting, anachronistic and unhelpful. Horsley should be commended for opening our eyes to the fact that ancient texts did not only understand judgement in the restricted negative sense of ‘condemnation’. To the contrary! Even if only by way of implication, ancient texts always understood judgement to include a positive side as well. It was not the judgement that was by definition either positive or negative, but the outcome of the verdict. As we saw, this outcome depended on two determining factors: (1) whether the addressees formed part of the in-group or the out-group and (2) whether God wanted to punish or reward the group in question.

In the case of Q 22:28, 30, three categorical groups were involved: (1) the inner circle, constituting the Q people, who were separated from greater Israel by the prediction that they would one day act as their judges,70 (2) the second concentric circle, consisting of those within greater Israel (past, present and future) who would receive a positive verdict at the final judgement and (3) the outer concentric circle, consisting of those within greater Israel (past, present and future) who would receive a negative verdict at the final judgement. The latter group includes particularly those who were indifferent and opposed to both the Q people and their message. It goes without saying that negative judgement of the out-group equals eschatological liberation and salvation of the in-group.

The answer to the question posed in the title of the current work is therefore: ‘both’. Q 22:28, 30 foresaw both the condemnation and the liberation of greater Israel at the final judgement. The word κρίνοντες is used in its neutral sense in this text, similar to the sixth category identified previously (cf. 1 Cor 6:2, 3). The remarkable and memorable aspect of this Q saying is not that it anticipated the judgement of Israel (an expectation that was extremely widespread and commonplace in both apocalyptic and sapiential material of the time), but that Q’s Jesus promised the lowly and regular Q people that they would one day be in the driving seat, acting as judges over greater Israel, including her rulers (cf. Reiser 1990:247; Fleddermann 1990:10; see Kirk 1998:296–297; Valantasis 2005:223–224). This coheres perfectly with Q’s general theme of eschatological reversal (cf. Fleddermann 1990:10).71 For Q 22:28, 30, this reversal lies not primarily in the respective apocalyptic fates of liberation and condemnation, but in the fact that those who had previously been persecuted and judged72 will now be afforded the opportunity of being the ones who judge and determine the fate of each individual and group within greater Israel (cf. Reiser 1990:247; Fleddermann 1990:10).


Competing interests
The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationship(s) that may have inappropriately influenced him in writing this article.


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Louw, J.P. & Nida, E.A. (eds.), 1993a, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament based on Semantic Domains: Volume 1 (Domains), United Bible Society, Cape Town.

Louw, J.P. & Nida, E.A. (eds.), 1993b, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament based on Semantic Domains: Volume 2 (Indices), United Bible Society, Cape Town.

Lührmann, D., 1969, Die Redaktion der Logienquelle, Neukirchener Verlag, Neukirchen-Vluyn. (WMANT 33).

Newman, B.M., 1993, Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.

Nunn, H.P.V., 1952, The Elements of New Testament Greek: A Method of Studying the Greek New Testament with Exegesis, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Oakman, D.E., 2008, Jesus and the Peasants, Cascade Books, Eugene, OR.

Piper, R.A., 1989, Wisdom in the Q-Tradition: The Aphoristic Teachings of Jesus, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Reiser, M., 1990, Die Gerichtspredigt Jesu: Eine Untersuchung zur eschatologischen Verkündigung Jesu und ihrem frühjüdischen Hintergrund, Aschendorff, Münster. (NTAbh NF 23).

Robinson, J.M., Hoffmann, P. & Kloppenborg, J.S. (eds.), 2000, The Critical Edition of Q, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, MN. (Hermeneia Series).

Scott, B.B., 1989, Hear Then the Parable: A Commentary on the Parables of Jesus, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, MN.

Summers, R., 1995, Essentials of the New Testament Greek, rev edn., Broadman & Holman, Nashville, TN.

Tuckett, C.M., 1996, Q and the History of Early Christianity: Studies on Q, T&T Clark, Edinburgh.

Tuckett, C.M., 2000, ‘Q 22:28–30’, in D.G. Horrell & C.M. Tuckett (eds.), Christology, Controversy and Community: New Testament Essays in Honour of David R. Catchpole, pp. 99–116, Brill, Leiden, Boston, MA & Köln.

Valantasis, R., 2005, The New Q: A Fresh Translation with Commentary, T&T Clark, New York & London.

Van Aarde, A.G., 2011, ‘Regeneration and Resurrection in Matthew: Peasants In Campo Hearing Time Signals from Scribes’, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 67(3), Art. #1012, 7 pages.

Wink, W., 2002, The Human Being: Jesus and the Enigma of the Son of Man, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, MN.


1.Horsley’s proposed reading of Q 22:28–30 has been adopted by a number of influential historical Jesus, Q and New Testament scholars, including for example Kaylor (1994:187), Davies and Allison (1997:55, esp. n. 119), Allison (1998:142) and Van Aarde (2011:1, n. 3).

2.In each individual case, emphasis was added by me.

3.In this article, I stay true to the numbering of Q as reflected by the secondary authors in question, thereby reproducing ‘Q 22:28–30’ when certain authors do so, but also reproducing ‘Q 22:28, 30’ when other authors do so. Regarding my own references to this text, the latter option is preferred.

4.In this regard, the following quotation from Horsley (1987:206) is very telling: ‘The principal point to be derived from Matthew 19:28 and Luke 22:30, of course, is that, whether in the already-present reality of the kingdom or in the imminent completion of the kingdom’s realization, [the historical] Jesus is concerned with the restoration or renewal of the people of Israel, as symbolized during his ministry in the constitution of the twelve disciples.’

5.If the Lukan wording is followed, then neither ‘disciples’ nor ‘followers’ feature here.

6.That is, Psalms of Solomon 17:28–32 and 1QS 8:1–4.

7.Given the strong, elaborate and adamant case Horsley (1992:175, 176, 180, 181–182, 1995:41) makes for considering literary (and socio-historical) contexts when reading both ancient literature in general and Q specifically, his total disregard for the syntagmatic literary context of Q 22:28, 30, as well as the cursory attention he affords its paradigmatic literary context, are surprising and unfortunate.

8.See especially Horsley (1989:49, 63, n. 14, 111, 128, n. 10, 143, 145, n. 22, 1992:181, 196, 1995:38, 39, 1999:69, 88, 98, 105–108, 243, 263, esp. n. 4, 297, 2003:87).

9.Cf. for example, Genesis 16:5; Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3.

10.Cf. for example, Samuel 24:13.

11.Cf. for example, Judges 11:27; 2 Samuel 18:31; Deuteronomy 33:21.

13.Cf. for example, Isaiah 3:1–26; 5:9–17; 8:5–8; 29:2–8; Jeremiah 4:5–31; 7:30–34; 9:9–11; Ezekiel 5:7–17; 7:1–27; Hosea 5:12–15; 9:6; 10:14; 13:8, 14–16; Amos 5:3, 16–20; 7:1–9; 8:8–14; 9:2; Micah 3:12.

14.Cf. for example, Exodus 23:6; Deuteronomy 10:18; 24:17; 27:19; Job 36:6; Psalm 25:9; 103:6; 140:12; 146:7.

15.Cf. for example, Isaiah 1:17; 10:2; Jeremiah 5:28; 21:12; 22:15; Ezekiel 22:29; Amos 5:11, 15; 8:4–10.

16.Cf. for example, Isaiah 1:28; 3:13–15; 5:15–17.

17.These results cohere with Louw and Nida’s (1993b s.v. κρίνω) estimation of the semantic treatment of κρίνω in the New Testament. They offer the following translation possibilities: ‘decide’, ‘prefer’, ‘evaluate’, ‘hold a view’, ‘make a legal decision’, ‘condemn’ and ‘rule’.

18.Cf. Matthew 7:1 // Luke [Q] 6:37; Matthew 7:2; Luke 19:22 (in the Lukan context); John 3:17, 18; 12:48; Acts 7:7; Romans 2:12; 3:6, 7; 1 Corinthians 5:13; 11:31, 32; 2 Thessalonians 2:12; Hebrews 10:30; 13:4; James 5:9; Revelation 6:10; 16:5; 18:8, 20; 19:2, 11.

19.Cf. John 5:22; 8:50; Acts 17:31; Romans 2:16; 3:4; James 2:12; 1 Peter 1:17; 2:23; 4:5; Revelation 11:18; 20:12, 13.

20.Cf. John 16:11.

21.Cf. John 5:30; Acts 17:31; Romans 2:16; 2 Timothy 4:1.

22.Cf. Romans 2:27.

23.Cf. 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3.

24.Cf. Matthew 7:1 // Luke [Q] 6:37; Matthew 7:2; John 7:24, 51; 8:15, 16, 26; 12:47; Acts 13:27; Romans 2:1, 3; 14:3, 4, 10, 13, 22; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 5:3, 12; Colossians 2:16; James 4:11, 12.

25.Cf. John 7:51; 18:31; Acts 3:13; 16:15; 23:3; 1 Corinthians 6:2; 1 Peter 4:6.

26.Although the appearance of the verb κρίνω in the middle or passive voice does not necessarily mean that it has this meaning specifically in view (cf. e.g. Mt 7:1 // Lk [Q] 6:37; Mt 7:2; Jn 16:11; Rm 2:12; 3:7; 1 Cor 11:31, 32; 2 Th 2:12; Ja 2:12; 5:9).

27.Cf. Matthew 5:40; John 3:18; 16:11; Acts 23:6; 24:21; 25:9, 10, 20; 26:6; 1 Corinthians 6:1, 6.

28.Cf. Luke 7:43; 12:57; Acts 4:19; 13:46; 15:19; 16:4; 20:16; 21:25; 25:25; 26:8; 27:1; Romans 14:5; 1 Corinthians 2:2; 7:37; 10:15, 29; 11:13; 2 Corinthians 2:1; 5:14; Titus 3:12.

29.Cf. the fairly similar reconstructions in for example, Fleddermann (1990:7, 2005:869), Davies and Allison (1997:55), Allison (2000:138) and Valantasis (2005:223).

30.In this regard, it is the English language that is confusing. Unlike most other languages, English uses the same grammatical form and strategy (adding ‘-ing’ to the end of a verb) to indicate not only participle verbs, but also the continuation and/or progression of an action. In Greek, however, the former is indicated by the participle, whilst the latter is indicated by the imperfect tense, as well as some moods of the present tense, excluding, of course, the present participle. Davies and Allison are guilty of allowing the grammatical rules of the receptor language (English) influence their understanding of the source language (Greek).

31.In light of this, one has to wonder whether a better, less confusing translation would not be: ‘... You who have followed me will sit … on thrones whilst you judge (κρίνοντες) the twelve tribes of Israel.’

32.The option ‘rule’ has been eliminated by others as well, albeit for different reasons (cf. e.g. Horsley 1987:203, 341, n. 46; Kloppenborg Verbin 2000:192; Fleddermann 2005:870).

33.Cf. 1 Kings 22:19–22; Job 1:6; Daniel 7:9–10; 1 Enoch 61:8–9; Testament of Abraham 12:4–17; 13:10–14; Qumran Scroll 1QpHab V:3–5.

34.That is, Q 17:23–24, 37, 26–27, 30, 34–35; 19:12–13, 15–24, 26.

35.But also including heavenly figures in certain Jewish apocrypha and pseudepigrapha (see e.g. the Testament of Abraham 12:4–17; 13:10–14).

36.Q 12:42–46 and Q 13:24–27 could be added to these examples, depending on whether or not one agrees with Fleddermann (2005:637, 699) in his estimation that these parables have the in-group exclusively in mind, and therefore predicts both reward and punishment for them (cf. also Fleddermann 2005:832, 834, 835 on Q 3:8; 17:23, 26, 27, 30; cf. Kirk 1998:234 on Q 12:42–46).

37.Q does not elaborate on the practicality hereof. The possibility should not be overlooked that Q foresaw its people being judged by God (and the Son of Man) before being allowed to judge Israel (see what follows).

1. 38.If Q’s concluding logion were preceded by a different passage, the latter has been irretrievably lost.

39.Two factors make this analogy clear: (1) the use of future tense verbs ‘will be given’ (δοθήσεται) and ‘will be taken away’ (ἀρθήσεται) in the parable application of verse 26 (cf. Howes 2012:221) and (2) the placement of the parable near the end of a block of Q material dealing, as we saw, especially with apocalyptic judgement.

40.Cf. also Q 3:9, 17; 6:20, 23, 48–49; 7:9, 28, 35; 10:21–24; 11:19, 20; 13:24–27, 28–29, 30, 34–35; 14:11, 16–19, 21, 23; 17:33; 16:16.

41.That is, Q 19:12–13, 15–24, 26; 22:28, 30.

42.Cf. for example, Q 3:7–9, 17; 7:35; 11:49–51; 12:10, 46, 58–59; 13:27, 28, 35; 17:2, 24, 26–27, 30.

43.If Matthew represents Q (12:56) in this case, it would mean that Q preferred another compound verb, διακρίνω, to indicate ‘judgement’ as a mere decision or determination (in the sense of the New Testament’s category 10 mentioned previously).

44.There is one exception. In LXX Judges, the participle of is literally translated with κριτής (cf. Liddell & Scott 1940 s.v. κριτής). It follows that in the individual case of LXX Judges, κριτής denotes a pre-monarchic-type ruler. It is unlikely, though, that Q (11:19 / 22:28, 30) had these pre-monarchic judges in mind, despite the document’s general fondness of the deuteronomistic theme (contra Davies & Allison 1997:55–56). Firstly, this pericope refers more than once to a ‘kingdom’ (βασιλεία) (cf. Q 11:17, 18, 20), which implies (the reinstatement of) a monarchic-type setting. Secondly, in all the references Q makes to figures from Israel’s past, neither Joshua nor the ‘judges’ of old are ever mentioned.

45.Cf. Q 3:16–17; 7:35; 11:31–32; 12:8-9, 40; 13:35; 17:24, 26–27, 34–35; 22:28, 30.

46.The present realities of corporeal liberation, the kingdom of God and sapiential revelation are promised for the following groups (cf. Horsley 1987:178, 181, 184; see Howes 2012:155–167): (1) the poor (Q 6:20; 7:22), (2) the sick (Q 7:22; 11:14), (3) the insignificant (Q 7:28; 10:21, 23–24) and (4) the ‘crowds’ who happened to witness and experience the earthly ministry of Jesus (Q 11:14, 20; although cf. Q 13:25–27; cf. Fleddermann 2005:506).

47.It is hard to see, for example, how the Galilean towns of Q 10:13–15 and the Jerusalemite representatives of Q 13:34–35 could either comprise the same socio-economic grouping of people, or be condemned for the same (economic-religious-social-political) reasons (cf. Casey 2002:102; contra Kloppenborg Verbin 2000:124).

48.See especially Horsley (1987:173, 175, 177, 207, 285–317, 1989:132, 135, 1992:175, 202, 1999:229, 261–262, 277–291, 2003:87).

49.In fact, Horsley (1995:51) claims that the conflict between the Q people and the Jewish elite represents ‘the principle social conflict evident in Q’.

50.See especially Horsley (1987:173, 177, 285–317, 1989:132, 1992:175, 202, 1995:46–51, 1999:98, 105–106, 277–291, 298–299, 2003:87).

51.Although complete objective enquiry is wholly impossible, one should still strive for objectivity, especially when examining ancient texts.

52.The two occurrences of the word ‘Israel’ in Q (7:9; 22:30) clearly illustrate that the document could, and at times did, use this word specifically when it had greater Israel in mind.

53.À la Horsley (1992:191, 1995:49, 1999:299; Jacobson 1992:169).

54.À la Kloppenborg (1996:327); Valantasis (2005:138); Gregg (2006:144–145).

55.Without offering any investigation, Fleddermann (1990:8) holds up a number of Q texts (i.e. Q 3:7–9; 10:13–15; 11:31–32, 47–51; 13:28–29, 34–35) to illustrate that the document has a decidedly and one-sidedly negative view of greater Israel. The present exegesis of these texts shows otherwise.

56.Compare the ‘sword’ (μάχαιρα in Matthew) of Q 12:51, which has the similar function of ‘dividing things’. Verse 53 even uses the word ‘divide’ (διχάσαι // διαμερισθήσονται) pertinently.

57.Cf. especially Horsley (1992:181, 1999:87, 92, 261–262, 2003:87).

58.That is, Q 3:7–9; Q 17:23–24, 37, 26–27, 30; Q 19:12–27.

59.Kloppenborg’s precise view of ‘this generation’ is not always clear. On a separate occasion, Kloppenborg (1996:327) actually claims that ‘this generation’ refers only to the contemporaries of Jesus.

60.Although the circularity of the following argument cannot be avoided, it has to be stated that this result, in turn, confirms our earlier conclusion that ‘this generation’ should not be equated with greater Israel.

61.That is, Q 6:22; 7:34; 9:58; 11:30; 12:10.

62.That is, Q 12:40; 17:24, 26, 30.

63.Cf. for example, Q 6:22–23, 40; 9:57–58; 10:16; 14:27.

64.That the Son of Man is here described as a witness and not a judge should not be hard pressed, seeing as there was not a precise and rigid distinction between these two roles in ancient courtrooms (cf. Tuckett 2000:109; Valantasis 2005:157).

65.Cf. for example, Q 12:39–40, 42–46; 13:24–27; 17:24, 26, 30; 19:12–13, 15–24, 26. Note that Q 13:24–27 might actually intend God, and not Jesus or the Son of Man, as Judge.

66.If Q 12:8–9 is also directed at those who are on the receiving end of the Q people’s proclamation, meaning greater Israel (as per Kloppenborg 1987:211), then this intent occurs only on a secondary level.

67.Cf. Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; 2 Timothy 2:11–13; Revelation 3:5; 2 Clement 3:2.

68.This notion of a dual separation is supported by the literary context of Q 12:8–9. According to Fleddermann (2005:585), ‘[t]he notion of a hidden or secret revelation [in Q 12:2–3] is a stock idea of apocalyptic, setting up a contrast between those inside who know and those outside who don’t.’ In other words, after initially separating between the Q people and greater Israel in Q 12:2–3, the pericope goes on to draw a second separation within the ranks of the Q people themselves in Q 12:8–9. The point of the former separation, though, is not to keep the revelation secret, but to share it with outsiders.

69.In an endnote, Horsley (1987:341, n. 45) seems to admit that, in the ancient world in general, judgement included both redemption and punishment. Elsewhere, Horsley (e.g. 1992:181, 198) further admits that the same view of judgement is also evinced by the Sayings Gospel Q. Nevertheless, Horsley (1987:203–205, 1992:181, 196) then continues to read Q 22:28–30 exclusively in terms of the former category.

70.This in-group was further subdivided between the faithful followers, who remained strong despite opposition, and the unfaithful remnants, who buckled under pressure.

71.Cf. for example, Q 6:20–23, 7:28; 11:19; 13:18–21, 24–27, 28–29, 30; 14:11, 16–18, 21, 23; 17:33.

72.Cf. for example, Q 6:28, 29–30; 12:4–7, 11–12; 14:27.


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