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Re: [XTalk] Narrative vs. redaction criticism re: Peter's confession

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  • Mark Goodacre
    ... A large part of the answer is that a narrative-critical approach is uninterested in what the writer adds to any alleged source -- it begins from the
    Message 1 of 4 , Jan 16, 2001
      On 15 Jan 2001, at 11:35, Bob Schacht wrote:

      > Thanks; perhaps you can help me understand in this case how the
      > results of narrative criticism would be different from redaction
      > criticism. From the point of view of narrative criticism, why would
      > the writer add both a positive and a negative spin to the same
      > incident? How would that improve "the internal narrative cohesion" of
      > the passage (Mt 16:13-23)? Instead of lessening the tension between
      > the poles in Mark's narrative (Mk 8:27-33), Matthew seems to increase
      > it, so that it seems less cohesive instead of more cohesive.

      A large part of the answer is that a narrative-critical approach is
      uninterested in what the writer "adds" to any alleged source -- it
      begins from the attempt to work out what the narrative in front of us
      actually says. The point of my appeal to the approach in this
      context is that it helps us not to place, to use my earlier phrase,
      "undue stress" on the more positive part of Matt. 16. Yes, we look
      carefully at how that functions within the narrative, but we also look
      to other elements that, as it happens, Matthew shares with Mark --
      but for narrative-critics the fact that Matthew may or may not share
      given material with Mark is irrelevant.

      On the whole, narrative-criticism pronounces itself firmly
      uninterested in the questions that concern source and redaction-
      critics. My own perspective attempts to encourage discussion
      between these different approaches, so that narrative-criticism can
      act as a control on some of the excesses of redaction-criticism.
      There is also a vice versa -- redaction-criticism can help us to avoid
      the obsession inherent in the standard forms of narrative-criticism
      for looking at one gospel and only one gospel at a time, but that's
      another story.

      > If we look at this as a microcosm of the larger narrative intent, then
      > wouldn't we have to say that Matthew has a profound ambivalence about
      > Peter, and he wants his readers/listeners to share that ambivalence?

      Indeed -- and that's the kind of area where narrative-criticism can
      help -- we begin to appreciate the profound ambivalence that is
      present in Matthew without the redaction critic's undue stress
      solely on one of Matthew's famous additions to Mark, "Blessed are
      you . . ." Actually, I like the term "profound ambivalence" a lot for
      Matthew's attitude to Peter. I wonder if we might be able to get
      some agreement on that term from Stephen and Tom? The
      interesting thing is that it reflects typical first C. attitudes to Peter --
      from the Corinthian community (some of whom were siding with
      Peter and some of whom were siding with Paul) to John, who also,
      one might argue, has a profound ambivalence to Peter. Even Luke,
      the most positive, can't find anything much for him to do in the
      second half of Acts and concedes in chapter 15 that James and
      not Peter was running the show.

      > But Matthew also adds (please forgive the reversion to redaction
      > criticism) vs. 19, which, by awarding the keys of heaven to Peter,
      > which seems to add to the confusion, rather than clarify it.

      But do you reckon that this could reflect the genuine difficulties the
      early Church was having with interpreting the role of Peter? On the
      one hand you have the strong traditions of the Lord's singling out of
      Peter in the inner group + the key resurrection appearance (1 Cor.
      15.5). On the other hand, you have the fact that Peter was not, in
      the end, the leader of the Jerusalem church. James was, and even
      Luke has to admit this. All in all, a profound ambivalence in most
      of our sources is what we might expect on the basis of this
      complex character.


      Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
      Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
      University of Birmingham fax: +44 121 414 6866
      Birmingham B15 2TT
      United Kingdom

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