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Redaction Criticism (was: Ron Price's Methodology)

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  • Ron Price
    ... Andrew, As you must surely know, I used the term Matthew to refer to the author of the document known today as Matthew s gospel , and Jesus to refer
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 27, 2002
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      Andrew Lloyd wrote:

      >thanks for your reasoning which addresses my original question but
      >doesn't close off my problems with Redaction Criticism. The basic
      >problem of this technique, a technique you regard as "the most
      >important NT critical technique", is exactly one of controls.
      >What's "Matthew" here in your example? What's "Jesus"? Unless you
      >have some independent way of establishing these parameters all
      >you've got is "Ron's Matthew" and "Ron's Jesus", a bout of shadow
      >boxing.

      Andrew,

      As you must surely know, I used the term "Matthew" to refer to the
      author of the document known today as "Matthew's gospel", and "Jesus" to
      refer to the historical person sometimes known as 'Jesus of Nazareth'.
      There is no ambiguity here.
      If I say: "Matthew frequently and explicitly presented Jesus' ministry
      as the fulfilment of scripture", there is still very little ambiguity.
      We have three *synoptic* gospels, and the control here is the other two
      synoptic gospels. In other words the "frequency" is relative to any
      similar presentations in Mark and Luke. It is easy to verify my
      statement by looking up the word "fulfil" in a concordance. It is a
      small step from this to assert that Matthew *liked* presenting the
      gospel story as the fulfilment of the scriptures. The skeptical
      enquirer, together with the Redaction critic, will be suspicious of such
      presentations, in case the author was tempted to invent some connections
      between the scriptures and Jesus in order to support his case for Jesus
      as the fulfilment of the Jewish law.

      > If Matthew takes up Jesus' words and presents them in a way,
      >or a vocabulary, of his choosing that, I think we might agree, is
      >Matthean redaction. But arguably its also pertinent to a historical
      >presentation of Jesus. What use is Redaction Criticism here? You
      >seem, rather, to be making things easier for yourself by seeing
      >redaction in a more clear-cut light as the creation of sayings de
      >novo. What is your critical basis for this judgment?

      It was to simplify my argument that I presented redaction as a clear
      cut black and white issue. In practice it is not, for there are often
      various shades of grey. A pericope can contain a kernel of history
      embellished by tradition or by the redactor. Thus for instance I would
      argue that the story of the anointing at Bethany in Mark contains a
      kernel of historical truth (Jesus was anointed as Messiah) embellished
      by a fictional setting (the house of Simon the leper, the argument about
      the poor, the woman and Jesus' commendation of her).

      > At the end
      >of the day I see Redaction Criticism as assigning sayings we have no
      >real controls over to people who are our own rhetorical creations
      >and then regarding it as something empirical.

      Is Crossan a rhetorical creation? Is Alexander the Great? Why is Jesus
      of Nazareth any different?

      > This, when run
      >together to create a person and their views, is more usually
      >called "telling a story", however.

      I always thought a good historian wrote about history.
      All I am trying to do is to penetrate through the fog of evangelistic
      literature to find the history behind it. The task may be difficult, not
      least because it requires clarity and honesty to avoid importing one's
      own preferences. Many fail to achieve this. But it's not impossible.

      > No longer in the world of "fact",
      >such activity is more properly in the world of "narrative" (which
      >may contain fact but is not itself fact). So I don't wish to
      >invalidate Redaction Criticism in itself ...

      You could have fooled me!

      > ... but I do wish to question
      >the things claimed for its results and the mode of its operation.

      If you really don't wish to invalidate it, yet you do wish to
      criticize it, perhaps you would explain exactly how you think we should
      modify its application to make it more useful or more accurate,
      whichever you think is needed.

      Ron Price

      Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

      e-mail: ron.price@...

      Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
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