Redaction Criticism

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  • Redaction Criticism and the New Testament
    • What is Redaction Criticism?
      • Attempts to discern the different theological emphasis of the evangelist by looking at the way they edit (redact) their gospel
      • It sees the gospels as a coherent piece of work of one author/redactor with their own unique theology
      • "By looking carefully at the individual comments of the evangelists... it is possible to discover how each writer understood and interpreted (as well as edited) the tradition he received" - Smalley
    • Method
      • Takes place over 2 stages
        • 1. An examination of the redaction in comparison to what is already known of the evangelist's source material
          • In Mark, Jesus says "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?"
          • In Matthew, Jesus says "Why are you afraid, you of little faith?
        • 2. An exploration of how the evangelist treats all the traditions at their disposal
      • Powell argues there ate presuppositions which redaction criticism works from
        • The gospel writers were not eye witnesses, they relied on oral and written reports
        • The gospel writers relied on written materials and the oral tradition
        • The gospel writers were not just 'scissor and paste' collectors, they wanted to tell coherent stories and would edit sources in order to make a narrative
        • The writers were not disinterested reporters, they were evangelists
    • Implications for the New Testament reader
      • Drawbacks
        • we must be careful in regard to the presuppositions regarding the early church
        • the presupposition that composition equates to invention in the mind of the evangelist can be problematic
        • "redaction critics are at times too subtle and subjective in their approach to the gospels" - Smalley
      • Benefits
        • it treats the gospels as a whole and allows us to examine the actual contributions of the evangelists
        • Reader gains the fullest possible picture of the person of Jesus
        • It allows to understand how the evangelists interacted with their source material


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