I'm grateful to Baylor University Press for sending over a copy of Richard Hays's magnum opus, Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels. I'm eagerly anticipating reading it fully and have made a start. One of the things that struck me in the "Introduction" was his overview of his working assumption about the sources for the Evangelists. Here it is:
"I share the consensus position of the majority of New Testament scholars that the Gospel of Mark is the earliest of the four canonical Gospels and that both Matthew and Luke drew upon Mark as a source. I do not, however, place any weight on the hypothesis that Matthew and Luke independently made use of a hypothetical common source, designated as 'Q.' There is no extant manuscript of such a source, nor is there any reference to it in the surviving documents of earliest Christianity. It seems to be equally probable--indeed more probable--that Luke knew Matthew and that the verbal agreements between these two Gospels can be explained in this fashion rather than through positing a hypothetical Q source." (Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels, 13)
Hays's opinion on Q, especially as reflected in the italicized portion, is actually just about mine. I don't feel that I have a dog in this fight, really, but address the matter briefly in my current book project. I'm agnostic on Q, leaning toward Q atheism. If there is a Q, that's fine. But we don't have any real evidence of one. (Yes, yes, I know. Q supporters will point to Matthew and Luke as evidence, but for me, this is somewhat assuming the argument.) There's no manuscript evidence, and no testimony among the post-apostolic and patristic tradition. In contrast, before we found a manuscript of the Gospel of Thomas, we knew there was one circulating in the early Church; before we found a manuscript (or something that could be a manuscript) of the Gospel of Peter, we knew there was one circulating in the early Church; and etc. etc. for the Gospel of Judas, et al. I think this is more significant than is often thought, and in my mind is more significant than the fact that previous generations of scholars took Q as a consensus position. I'm also convinced that Q makes the most sense on the basis of a particular theory of the transmission of the Jesus tradition, and I don't think that transmission theory is correct.
Now I don't think those little observations are going to change anyone's opinion on Q and I'm sure Q supporters will have a ready response that might show up in the comments. BUT, what struck me was how Hays makes these claims and supports them with a single footnote after that last sentence, where he directs readers to one book and one book only: Mark Goodacre, The Case against Q, published originally in 2002. Some while back I asked on this blog whether Mark Goodacre is still in the minority on Q. I know Mark actually is not necessarily a fan of people using him to dismiss the Q theory too easily because he is afraid that it sometimes lets them off the hook from doing the actual work on the Synoptic tradition that is necessary. But here in this major publication of Hays (Goodacre's colleague at Duke) is further evidence that Mark's position is not quite the minority position that it was when he first took up the mantle of Goulder and Farrer. We should probably add that this is the second recent major publication on the Gospels in the early Church that has rejected the Q hypothesis, the other being Francis Watson's Gospel Writing. I have no doubt that the Q supporters are currently typing away a response, but it's hard to deny that there's a trend moving in this direction.