I’ve been speaking about the importance of the differences of the Gospels. So far I’ve argued that these show that each Gospel has to be read for the message that *it* is trying to convey; no one should assume that the message of one Gospel is the message of another, that the portraits of Jesus are the same among all the Gospels, that none of the differences matter for much of anything because they can all be reconciled. That is to miss out on a real opportunity of determining the message of each of these authors. I think that’s important. These are important books. Whether you’re a Christian or not, no one can much doubt that the New Testament is the most important book, historically and culturally, in the history of Western Civilization. Knowing what it’s authors have to say really matters. And if you wear blinders when trying to interpret these books, you’ll simply see what you’re programed to see. And that’s not good.
In my last post I argued that one of the values of seeing the differences is specific to the Synoptic Gospels, that if Mark in fact was the source (one of the sources) for Matthew and Luke, then you can compare – very carefully, in minute detail, as well as in big ways – the changes that one of the later Gospels made in its source, and thereby come to know what the author thought was particularly important. This is redaction criticism, one of the methods that I teach my students.
Redaction criticism is only one of the methods that I use with the Gospels (and the other books of the NT) in my introductory class. Maybe I’ll devote a few posts to just this issue – some of the methods used to study these books.
FOR THE REST OF THIS POST, JOIN NOW. If you don’t belong yet, GET WITH THE PROGRAM!!!