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Religious Studies Department, SCU
  Redaction Criticism

Redaction criticism is the study of the theological perspective of a biblical text evident in its collection, arrangement, editing and modification of sources.*  A redactorís editorial activity is easiest to discern when we have several parallel versions of the same story, as we do in the four gospels.  The redaction critic examines such parallel texts to determine what material is shared amongst them, what material is unique to each, and how each author shapes the material for his/her own community.  Insofar as we can discern this shaping activity, we can begin to reconstruct the life and perspective of each authorial community.

To examine a text as a redaction critic would, follow this procedure:
  1. Compare your text against the other gospel accounts of the same event.  The standard tool used for this comparison is a synopsis or parallel arrangement of the gospels.  The English language version is B. H. Throckmorton, Jr., ed., Gospel Parallels: A Synopsis of the First Three Gospels, 5th ed.) available in Orradre.
    1. Isolate shared material - notice what words, phrases and stories are shared and by whom they are shared/not shared.  Make a list of the similarities and differences.

    2. Isolate unique material - notice what words, phrases and stories are unique to this gospel author.  Make a separate list of those.
  2. Account for the similarities and differences you have found.
    1. Review background materials - Study the material in a good study Bible (for example, the Catholic Study Bible) or biblical commentary on the current theory of gospel composition, the Two-Source Hypothesis.  Also, study an introduction to each gospel to get a sense of the authorial communities behind each gospel.

    2. Assess the data on your gospel passage - review the material your gospel shares with other gospels, and assess this against the Two Source Hypothesis (what is based on Mark, and what on Q?).  Review the unique material and arrangement of material in your gospel and assess this against what you know of your evangelistís background and community.

    3. Summarize your evangelistís theological and ecclesiological perspective - what is your evangelistís view of God and Christ, especially insofar as this differs from the other gospels?  What is your evangelistís view of the disciples? Are any particular disciples singled out for praise or correction?  What might this indicate about authority structures in the authorís community?

Aland, Kurt, ed.  Synopsis of the Four Gospels, English edition.  New York: United Bible Societies, 1982.
Funk, Robert W.  New Gospel Parallels.  Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985.
Throckmorton, Burton H, ed.  Gospel Parallels, 3d ed.  New York: Nelson, 1967.
Gospel Synopses - Compare the gospel accounts through synopses of the five gospels (Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, Thomas), the four canonical gospels, the three synoptic gospels, or any single gospel.
Perrin, Norman.  What is Redaction Criticism?, Guides to Biblical Scholarship, New Testament Series.  Philadelphia: Fortress, 1969.
Bovon, François.  "Tracing the Trajectory of Luke 13,22-30 back to Q: A Study in Lukan Redaction."  In From Quest to Q: Festschrift for James M. Robinson (ed. Jon Ageirsson, Kristin De Troyer and Marvin W. Meyer; Leuven: Peeters, 2000).
Kingsbury, Jack Dean.  The Parables of Jesus in Matthew 13: A Study in Redaction-criticism.  London: S.P.C.K., 1969.
Nelson, Richard D.  The Double Redaction of the Deuteronomistic History.  Sheffield: JSOT/Department of Biblical Studies, University of Sheffield, 1981.
Neyrey, Jerome.  The Passion According to Luke: A Redaction Study of Luke's Soteriology.  New York: Paulist Press, 1985.
Peabody, David Barrett.  Mark as Composer.  Leuven/ Macon, Georgia: Peeters/Mercer University Press, 1987.
Telford, William R.  The Barren Temple and the Withered Tree: A Redaction-critical Analysis of the Cursing of the Fig-tree Pericope in Mark's Gospel and Its Relation to the Cleansing of the Temple Tradition.  Sheffield: JSOT, 1980.
Williamson, H. G. M.  The Book called Isaiah: Deutero-Isaiah's Role in Composition and Redaction.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
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