The Hermeneutics Of Evangelical Redaction Criticism -- By: Robert L. Thomas

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 29:4 (Dec 1986)
Article: The Hermeneutics Of Evangelical Redaction Criticism
Author: Robert L. Thomas


The Hermeneutics Of Evangelical Redaction Criticism

Robert L. Thomas*

The question before us is whether “evangelical redaction criticism” is a legitimate expression. To be sure, some evangelicals avow that it is not.1 They assert that it is self-contradictory. Others are just as adamant in defending the propriety of the expression.2

Reasons for the great disparity between these two viewpoints are twofold. On one hand, “redaction criticism” is not clearly defined. Some see connotations arising from the discipline’s historical origination and development.3 If such a framework is part of the signification, it is impossible to exclude the radical presuppositions of redaction critics like Bornkamm, Marxsen and Conzelmann.4 These positions are clearly inimical to an evangelical stance. Yet there are those who plead that redaction criticism can exist apart from the associations of its historical roots.5 Their arguments indicate that the discipline itself is atheological and need not carry the implications attached to it by its originators.

The other reason for the great divergence in viewpoints about “evangelical redaction criticism” lies in differences of opinion about the meaning of the term “evangelical.” For some associated with the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy an evangelical is one who can subscribe to the “Chicago Statement”

*Robert Thomas is professor of New Testament language and literature at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California.

of 1978.6 To others, however, an evangelical is any person who is more conservative in his beliefs than someone else, whoever that someone else may be. Such a person prefers to talk about Biblical authority rather than Biblical inerrancy.7

This paper is not intended to resolve what is perhaps an insoluble debate over semantics or to support a particular definition of either “redaction criticism” or “evangelical” but to examine certain hermeneutical principles being implemented under the title of “evangelical redaction criticism.” These will be compared with the standard of the grammatico-historical method of exegesis and evaluated in that light.8

While several articles about the discipline authored by evangelicals ha...

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