Number 122 of the Society for New Testament Monograph Series, this volume is comprised of a preface, six chapters, a select bibliography and two indices. It follows Casey's monograph, Aramaic Sources of Mark's Gospel (SNTS.MS 102. Cambridge, 1998). The introductory chapter (pp. 1-50) reviews Q research critically in three stages from Holtzmann (Leipzig, 1863) through Kloppenborg Verbin, Excavating Q. The History and Setting of the Sayings Gospel (Minneapolis and Edinburgh, 2000). Casey concludes that Q scholarship had reached a "regrettably bureaucratised state" (50), and that "the Aramaic dimension of Q has never been properly examined." He proposes a new start supported by the recent discovery and 1994 publication of the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls. His earlier study argued that Mark's Gospel includes Aramaic sources that "have been literally translated into Greek," and that these sources can be partly reconstructed (1). In opposition to those who claim that Q was a Greek document, he agrees that our evidence for Q is found in Greek, and that some Q material came to the evangelists in the same Greek form but not as a complete document (40 ff). In his view such an hypothesis ignores Aramaic evidence, examples that reveal a common Aramaic Q source translated differently by the evangelists or their successors, e.g. Mt. 12:22-32//Lk. 11:14-23; 12:10 (146 ff).
Convinced that a better understanding of the sources will enhance the understanding of the historical Jesus who taught in Aramaic (53-60), and that it will affirm the original Second Temple Jewish setting of sayings and narratives collected in an early Christian context (41), Casey articulates in Chapter Two eight methodological principles for reconstructing Aramaic sources of sayings and narratives in the Synoptic Gospels. Chapters Three through Five apply the method.
Chapter Three reconstructs the Aramaic source of Matthew 23:23-36//Luke 11:39-51, (healing on the Sabbath, tithing, etc.) and argues that the Aramaic material was translated twice. Matthew preserves the original Aramaic source and Jewish context as he translates for Jewish Christians. Luke edits heavily to adapt to a Gentile Christian audience mistranslating details of Jewish observance. For example, Jesus' accusation that Jews were attending to details of tithing rather than observing more significant aspects of the Law has greater significance for Matthew' community than for Gentiles of the early church whom Luke addresses. Casey's interpretation of details of tithing is especially insightful. He reconstructs the series of woes to form an interpretive whole that illustrates the "depth of the controversy between Jesus and his orthodox opponents," which leads to the murder of John the Baptist and of Jesus. He argues moreover that this reconstruction reveals Luke's editing of an Aramaic source. Casey defends his use of "orthodox" against his critics-notably Dunn (94)— to identify ancient Jews as those who apply the Law to the whole of life, and expand regulations in detail (66); sinners are those who do not keep the whole Law (141).
Casey analyzes John the Baptist narratives (Matthew 11:2-19//Luke 7:18-35) in Chapter Four with a preliminary interpretation of Mark 1:14, arguing persuasively that John's prediction of Jesus' coming reflects a rewritten text and that Jesus' ministry began before John's ended (108-11). He believes that some of Jesus' comments on John belong to the period before John's death, that Jesus identified John as the Elijah figure of Malachi 3 (121,7), that Jesus' ministry seemed to fulfill John's expectation of an Eschatological Prophet although not in all details (114). In his judgment, Matthew preserves the Aramaic Q source whereas Luke edits it considerably (e.g. 125); he argues further for a common Greek translation of the source (111,44). He reminds the reader that the Aramaic Q source preceded first century christological development of a Davidic Messiah and Johannine pre-existence incarnation theology.
Chapter Five analyzes "overlapping" sources regarding exorcisms (Mark 3:20-30; Matthew 12:22-32; Luke 11:14-23; 12:10), which characterize Jesus' ministry and reflect primitive tradition. Some are unique to Mark (e.g. Mark 3:20-1), others reflect a common Q Source, some edited twice but translated once (149, 55,56). Successful exorcisms attest the power of God at work in Jesus, an experience of God's kingdom in the present moment; those who speak against him can be forgiven, but those who speak against the Spirit of Holiness—God acting in Jesus—cannot be forgiven. (177) A chapter of Conclusions summarizes the preceding chapters. It argues, moreover, against interpreting Q as a single document, assuming a Q community, and portraying Jesus as a Cynic philosopher. Such misconceptions arise in part from scholars failing to see that Q reflects a particular culture, an Aramaic speaking culture. Casey concludes that reconstructing original Aramaic sources is "one essential tool in the quest to recover the Jesus of history...and part of the whole process of recovering the original meaning of Jesus' sayings in their original contexts (188-9). Affirming the models employed by Barrett and Taylor, and rejecting the "impossible model" used by recent scholars, Casey proposes the model of a Jewish Jesus immersed in Judaism to facilitate our understanding of Jesus and of the split between Judaism and Christianity (190).
Casey's work is both engaging and appealing. He acknowledges that parts of his reconstructed source are "no more than decent guesses" (115). Yet he considers the reconstructions highly probable, and useful to distinguish a Sitz im Leben in the life of Jesus from one in the early Church (144). His presentation of a Jewish Jesus has a lot of appeal. While the habitual use of Aramaic and Greek orthography may discourage the general reader, the reconstructions are printed in English in their entirety.