Redaction Criticism And The Evangelical: Matthew 10 A Test Case -- By: Robert E. Morosco
JETS 22:4 (December 1979) p. 323
Redaction Criticism And The Evangelical:
Matthew 10 A Test Case
I. Introductory Remarks
This paper is not a history of redaction criticism, nor is it an analysis of any of the redactional studies that have played such a large role in recent Biblical interpretations. Rather, it is a humble attempt to explore and set down in basic terms what the writer sees as the possible or potential value of redaction criticism for evangelical interpretations of the Bible, especially the synoptic gospels.
As suggested by its title this work is an evaluation, from an evangelical perspective, of the higher critical methodology known as Redaktionsgeschichte—i.e., “the history of the editing of Biblical traditions” or more popularly “Redaction Criticism” (RC). Through redaction analysis the documents of the Bible are examined in order to determine the way in which the Biblical writers may have selected, arranged and shaped the traditions they incorporated in their works in order to communicate a message to their contemporary communities. The redaction critic seeks to gain a sensitivity to the writer-redactor’s own theology and Sitz irn Leben, for it is held that his beliefs and church situation influenced the manner in which he edited his materials. The Biblical author is thought to have been interested in writing and recording traditions for a particular community of God’s people and is believed to have taken this opportunity to instruct his people concerning certain theological ideas as well as to encourage them by suggesting ways to deal with situations facing the community.
The question we need to deal with is this: Is RC a methodology that at best yields only unproven, speculative results about Biblical backgrounds and at worse can actually destroy religious faith? Or is RC a tool that can actually bring insight into the composition and meaning of Biblical texts and can ultimately uncover a practical significance for them in the Church?
With regard to the NT, RC has special relevance to the study of the synoptic gospels. Their advantage for redactional studies is obvious—that is, when the same tradition is found in more than one gospel, one may see how the material has been treated and used by two or even three different Biblical writers facing different situations. We will approach our query into RC using the Commissioning Story (CS) of Matthew 10 as a test case. By focusing on this one synoptic text we will be able to compare Matthew’s treatment of it with Mark’s and Luke’s and thereby make some conclusions about Matthew’s redactional Tendenz.1
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