Redaction Criticism- Methodology Essay

  • Created by: AMC
  • Created on: 05-12-16 13:37

2013 May

Redaction Criticism

Redaction criticism, from the German ‘Redaktions geschicte’ meaning ‘editing history’, seeks to find out the author’s motivation for writing by ‘editing’ their work. G.R. Osbourne regards the process as involving two stages, ‘the study of the individual passages within a Gospel (individual analysis) and the study of the Gospel as a whole (holistic analysis)’. The aim of the redaction critic is to investigate the author/evangelist’s personal interests and views and how they used their sources to develop their own unique theological outlook.

Redaction criticism was started in 1948 by Bornkamm who stated that the evangelists were by no means mere collectors and handers on of tradition, but also interpreters of it.’ Later developed in 1953 by Conzelman who is renowned for his study of Luke’s Gospel, he claimed that Luke imposed a theory of salvation history onto his gospel material.

Carson, Moo and Morris identify four basic elements in the work of redaction critics. The first element of which is distinguishing between tradition (the sources used) and redaction (the work of the evangelists). The other elements are several areas of editorial work and the redaction critic then considers the setting in the life of the evangelist and his community.

The first basic element described that we must be fully aware of the sources used before we can discover how the material was edited. It is particularly difficult to do this in the case of Mark’s Gospel as it cannot be said for certain which sources he used. However, in the case of Luke, it is evident that Mark, Q and L were used.

Banks implies that ‘the aim of the redaction critic is to clarify the author’s personal views.’ The second element, that of editorial work being investigated details the inclusion and exclusion of material, the arrangement of material and how it is woven together. The Gospels are compared illustrating the similarities and differences. Luke appears to combine the material from Mark and Q in his rendition of the Temptations. However, the author may add his own material to the sources, for example, Luke’s reference to prayer inserted into Mark’s transfiguration. Luke does not have an interest in


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