The Evangelical And Redaction Criticism: Critique And Methodology -- By: Grant R. Osborne

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 22:4 (Dec 1979)
Article: The Evangelical And Redaction Criticism: Critique And Methodology
Author: Grant R. Osborne


The Evangelical And Redaction Criticism:
Critique And Methodology

Grant R. Osborne*

In previous issues of this journal this writer has published two articles that attempted a positive reappraisal of redaction-critical methodology for the evangelical. The first1 sought to come to grips with the synoptic problem—i. e., the differences in wording and content between the evangelists. As a test case I chose the great commission of Matt 28:16–20, especially the triadic baptismal formula of v 19. The reason for this choice was the fact that it was one of the few logia Jesu with parallels in the rest of the NT and therefore had an external control. The second article2 attempted to grapple with the critical side of redactional research: tradition criticism. In it I sought to critique the negative presuppositions of the radical critics and to determine both the positive value of the discipline and the controls that the NT itself places on the use of the tools.

Redaction criticism has come to the forefront of evangelical debates on inerrancy. The reason for this is obvious. The synoptic problem (with John) must ever be at the center of any attempt to grapple with the historical accuracy of the Bible. Apart from the Kings-Chronicles corpus no other portion of Scripture presents more than one perspective on a single historical period. Any consideration of a high bibliology has to come to grips with the different ways the evangelists use the same portion of Scripture—e. g., the missions discourse where Mark has “except a staff… (and) sandals” (6:8) while Matthew and Luke say, “Do not purchase … sandals or a staff” (Matt 10:10; Luke 9:3; 10:4).

I. Evangelical Dialogue

1. Negative Appraisals. Many evangelicals argue forcefully that any use of criticism at all is a grave danger, for it inevitably involves the acceptance of the negative presuppositions of the higher critics as well as the concomitant dissolution of the authority of Scripture. Harold Lindsell in The Battle for the Bible3 seeks to show that a surrender to the historical-critical method inevitably erodes adherence to the inerrancy of Scripture. He illustrates this with successive case studies of the Missouri Synod split, the Southern Baptist debate and “The Strange Case of Fuller Theological Seminary.” In each case a growing open...

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