In response to a commenter I did some more investigating into the Q source as it relates to Jesus’ acceptance of gay and lesbian believers in Luke 17. I discovered something very interesting.
As I have described elsewhere, the Q Hypothesis states that Matthew and Luke had two sources from which they worked, the Gospel of Mark and Q. It is not known whether Q was a written source or an oral tradition, although it seems that scholars who subscribe to the Q Hypothesis believe more and more that it was a written document.
John Kloppenborg is the recognized authority on the Q Hypothesis. According to his understanding, the lightning and the eagles actually were side-by-side in the Q source. Kloppenborg accepts the vultures/corpse rendering of verse 37, which I disagree with, but the important thing here is that the Zeus-Ganymede symbols appear together in Q. In Kloppenborg’s reconstruction of Q, these Roman religious symbols of same-sex relationships appear at the beginning of the Q Apocalypse.
For as the lightning streaks out from Sunrise and flashes as far as Sunset, so will be the Son of man on his day. Wherever the σωμα is, there the αετοι will gather.
A paraphrase referencing the second coming of Christ would run something like this: “When Christ returns he will be as visible as lightning flashing across the sky, and where he is, the eagles–the elect–will flock to his side.” The lightning and the eagles were also the recognizable logos of the chief Roman god and his intimate male companion.
What we need to avoid is the idea that a passage of Scripture has one, single meaning, or a single function that excludes all other functions. For example, two familiar Messianic prophecies come to mind: “Out of Egypt have I called my son” and “And a young woman shall be with child.” While both of these are concern the prophesied Messiah, each prophecy had a double function, each one also had concrete referents and fulfillments in the history of Israel. Similarly, promises made to Israel are often legitimately appropriated by Christian believers today. Again, the Kingdom of God has a double sense of being present in the here and now, but also awaiting a future fulfillment. Without denying the historical Hagar, Paul himself saw another layer of meaning in her story.
Similar to these multiple meanings and applications, the Zeus and Ganymede symbolism has a double function. First, it describes the second coming of Christ, and second, it points to the central theme of Luke’s Small Apocalypse: that the celibacy of gay and lesbian believers is not a criteria for judgment when Christ returns.
Kloppenborg’s reconstruction of the Q reading is not essential to my thesis. Whether the lightning and the eagles were side-by-side at the beginning of this pericope or were separately present at the very beginning (v 23) and the very end (v 37) in a non-Q understanding, their place in communicating to us the same-sex theme is, to me, unmistakeable. And according to Koppelborg’s reconstruction of Q, Zeus and Ganymede really can be uttered in the same breath.