Bird comments on page 45.
I have to confess that I was originally skeptical about the prospect of notebooks being used to preserve Jesus’ teachings. It struck me as a rather convenient way of preserving Jesus’ words, and we do not actually have any surviving notebooks containing Jesus’ words. I once regarded with incredulity Paul Barnett’s claim: “In our view, Jesus’ disciples must have begun memorizing Jesus teachings, and perhaps even writing them down, while he was still with them.” But my initial reservations have been assuaged.
I have to confess also that I too was incredulous about notebooks being used to record Jesus teachings and their reference in writing the Gospels. I first came across this notion in Why Four Gospels, by David Alan Black. I am not convinced by Bird’s proposal that notebooks were used by the early disciples to memorize his teachings and indeed in the following pages, he quickly moves on from this initial statement without actually showing how the disciples themselves used these methods for memorizing His teachings.
He certainly makes a strong case using societal examples that notes were taken and the teachings of the Apostles were most likely recorded by some of his listeners. Though we do have to acknowledge that some of the disciples of Jesus did have the capability of note taking – taking Zachariah the tax collector as an example.
I suspect the Synoptic Gospels were written by scribes recording the preaching and teaching of the Apostles to the early church. That the so called Q document was not a written document – but instead, was the actual Apostles themselves. There is little dispute that the Gospels as we have them contain editorial marks / comments from their authors. I find it telling that the Gospels are written from the perspective of an outsider and not as a first person insider. Eg Matthew 5:1-2 records Jesus turning from the crowd towards his disciples to teach them – which point to the Gospels being a subsequent written account of the Apostolic teachings.