Redaction Criticism of the Gospels


In a previous post I explained why scholars have long held to “Markan Priority,” the view that Mark was the first Gospel written and that Matthew and Luke both used it for constructing their own narratives.   One great pay-off for this conclusion (it really is significant) is that it is possible, given this result, to see how Matthew and Luke have each *modified* Mark in the stories they received from him.  This approach is called “redaction criticism.”  A “redactor” is ...

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The Next Step: Redaction Criticism

In this breezy overview of New Testament scholarship that I’ve been giving, from roughly the 18th century till today (!) I have talked about textual criticism (establishing what the authors of the New Testament originally wrote based on the surviving manuscripts), source criticism (determining what the written sources of the New Testament were – especially the Gospels, and most especially the Synoptic Gospels), Life of Jesus research (up to Albert Schweitzer’s day), and finally form criticism (the interest in establishing ...

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More on John from a Redactional Perspective

In the previous post I started to give the evidence that the Gospel of John is based on previously existing sources (probably written – that it ultimately goes back to oral sources goes without saying) (even though I just said it). The argument for sources is a cumulative one, and in my judgment this third one clinches the deal. Again, from my textbook:


The two preceding arguments may not seem all that persuasive by themselves. The third kind of evidence, ...

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John from a Redactional Perspective

In my previous post I asked whether many of you were getting tired of this discussion of methods of analysis, in relationship to the Gospel of John. Almost everyone who replied wanted me to continue, and so I do! I move on to the question of whether redaction criticism can be useful for studying the Fourth Gospel. This will take two posts. Again, I am drawing from my textbook, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction….


The ...

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How To Study the Gospels

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 ...

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Differences in the Gospels and Redaction Criticism

In my previous two posts I stressed that knowing that there are differences, even discrepancies, among the Gospels does not need to be considered in a purely negative light. There are very serious positive pay-offs. These differences/discrepancies open up possibilities for interpretation, because they (in theory) prevent a person from importing a meaning into a text that is difficult to sustain from the words of the text itself. When John says that Jesus died on the day before the Passover ...

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Jesus Going to His Death in Luke

In previous posts I have given some of the reasons for thinking that Luke did not write the account of Jesus “sweating blood” in his prayer before his arrest. A lot more could obviously be said, but anyone who wants more can just look up the discussion in my book The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture. For the purposes of the blog, two BIG questions remain: why does Luke change Mark’s portrayal of Jesus going to his death so ...

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Problems with the NRSV (Part 5)

Trust me. I will eventually get back to the question of my relationship with Bruce Metzger. I keep getting sidetracked. But the tracks on the side are interesting. At least I *think* they are!!


In my last post I pointed out that the famous passage of the so-called “bloody sweat” in Luke 22:43-44 is thought by some scholars not to have been original to the Gospel of Luke. I count myself in that number. One of my very first scholarly ...

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