Redaction Criticism of the Bible

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Craigbythesea, Feb 13, 2006.

  1. Craigbythesea

    Craigbythesea
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    Until recent decades, redaction criticism of the Bible, and even form criticism of the Bible in general, were considered by theological conservatives to be off limits. Therefore conservative seminaries did not teach these fields of study and their students did not pursue them. To moderate and liberal Bible scholars, however, these fields of Biblical study were considered to be not only important fields of Biblical study, but necessary fields of Biblical study if one is to achieve an accurate understanding of the message of the Bible.

    And several decades earlier, historical criticism and literary criticism of the Bible were considered by theological conservative to be off limits. Therefore conservative seminaries did not teach them and their students did not study them. The painful consequence of this is that conservative Bible scholars are still seriously lagging behind and young seminary students who wish to catch up find it necessary to spend a great deal of time reading the works of liberal scholars. Adding to this the pressures of learning Greek and Hebrew and other academic pressures; social, family and church pressures; and trials and tribulations of life, we find many seminary students being overwhelmed and dropping out of school or, even worse, caving in to some very damaging liberal views.

    For this reason, I believe that it essential that seminaries make every effort to hire professors who are academically qualified in the contemporary fields of Biblical studies even if the professors’ views are somewhat liberal, and then to deal with the liberal views in open discussion between the students and the faculty with guidance from the administrators of the seminaries.

    I am posting this in the General Baptist Discussion forum rather than the Baptist Colleges/Seminaries forum because this is an issue that should be important to all Baptists and I would like input from those who don’t read the posts in the Baptist Colleges/Seminaries forum.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Gold Dragon

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    I would say redaction criticism, form criticism, historical criticism and other author-centered methodologies for hermeneutics and theology currently take a back seat to more text-centered and reader-centered methodologies like literary criticism, narrative criticsm and reader-response criticism which are more concerned about the final form of the text. I believe this applies to both liberal and conservative theologians.

    I encourage the historical study of interpretation and theology to understand methodologies like redaction criticism, but I believe there is little value to its study outside of understanding its contribution to how we interpret the bible today.

    [ February 13, 2006, 05:18 PM: Message edited by: Gold Dragon ]
     
  3. bapmom

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    I believe the answer to this question depends on whether your college is trying to turn out Christian Apologists or Biblically-sound pastors. The Bible college I attended did indeed offer an Apologetics course, in which we learned how to defend Biblical conservatism, and what we would be defending against (I was the only girl in the class....it was a great class, too.)

    However, the best way to differentiate between a fake and the real thing is to handle the real thing extensively, even exclusively at first. So in our training of preachers to go out and teach others the Bible, why would we (as conservatives) waste valuable class time on liberal teachings, except for in a cursory manner so that they can recognize them for what they are? I most certainly would not recommend that a conservative school should hire a liberal teacher, just based on the fact that the point of Bible college is not to turn out great debaters, but to turn out Biblically sound preachers.
     
  4. Plain Old Bill

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    I would tend to agree pretty much with Gold Dragon on this. It would be important to know something about higher critical thinking such as redaction,form and historical critisism but only enough for recognition so as not to be blind sided and caught flat footed in a discussion.
     
  5. Plain Old Bill

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    criticism...see I can spell, I just can't type.
     
  6. Craigbythesea

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    I can see that I had better post a link to an article where my readers can learn the definition of redaction criticism and the other terms used to name the various fields of study employed in Biblical Criticism:

    http://www.bibletexts.com/glossary/biblical-criticism.htm
     
  7. Gold Dragon

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    I can see that I had better post a link to an article where my readers can learn the definition of redaction criticism and the other terms used to name the various fields of study employed in Biblical Criticism:

    http://www.bibletexts.com/glossary/biblical-criticism.htm
    </font>[/QUOTE]Yes, I'm aware that those methodologies are interested in understanding the formation of the text from the view of the original authors.

    My point is that these author-centric methodologies are now less significant in biblical studies than more text-centered views of the bible that came out of literary criticism (which is mentioned in the article) and reader-centered views of the bible.

    A lot has happened in the field of biblical studies since that article was written 20 years ago.
     
  8. OldRegular

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    This reminds me of a joke which I will take the liberty to modify slightly to fit this thread:

    Question: What is the difference between God and a doctor [theologian]?

    Answer: God doesn't think he is a doctor [theologian].
     
  9. Craigbythesea

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    Where did you get this idea from? Redaction criticism is a very important tool for distinguishing the theology of the original writers from the theology of the redactors, especially in the gospels. For example, the phrase, “except for immorality” in Matt. 19:9. Is this a redaction, and if it is, by whom, why, and when, and what other influence might that redactor have had on Matthew’s gospel as we have it today? The current trend in New Testament criticism is to find more and more suspected redactions in the New Testament, and making the determination of what parts of the text are original and what parts are a later redaction involves very complex studies.

    My point in this thread is that there is an information gap between moderate and liberal scholars as compared to conservative scholars because not enough of our seminaries are teaching even the fundamentals of redaction criticism. The obvious consequence is that their graduates leave the seminary assuming that the New Testament Greek text can be determined by textual criticism alone, which, of course, it can’t. Such students look at the text of Matt. 19:9, see that the textual support for the phrase, “except for immorality” is almost 100%, and therefore simply assume that Jesus spoke those words when, in fact, there is very substantial doubt that He did. And, of course, this is not just a matter of technical concern, but a matter of great significance to both moral and practical theology. And this is only one of many hundreds of examples in the New Testament that I believe pastors and teachers of the New Testament need to be aware of and take into consideration in their preaching and teaching, as well as their own personal lives.

    And most certainly, when they are confronted by others with evidence of a redaction in a particular verse, they should at least understand the principle of redaction criticism and not be caught so far off guard that they appear to be incompetent and lose their credibility.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Gold Dragon

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    I would agree with this. But challenge the actual value of teaching these fundamentals.

    I would disagree and say that redaction criticism while it may be current in some circles, is old-hat with questionable value in many other circles of biblical criticism. I'm not talking about anti-intellectual conservatives but liberals and conservatives who actually have studied and used redaction criticism and found it wanting for various reasons.

    Santa-Clara U : Religious Studies Dept: Narrative Criticism
    Wikipedia : Reader response criticism
    University of Alberta : Journal of Hebrew Studies : Text - Reader - Author Towards a Theory of Exegesis: Some European Viewpoints
     
  11. Craigbythesea

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    Gold Dragon,

    My perspective is quite different, but I very much appreciate you sharing yours with us.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. blackbird

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    The main goal of the SBC Conservative resurgence is to put as much distance between the Liberal professors and the Conservatives as possible.
     
  13. Humblesmith

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    Well, my "philosophy of hermeneutics" class will be coming up in about a year.....check back with me then. But my first gut reaction is that we don't want to go down the trail with Alice and The Wabbit. We have enough imaginative speculation going on in pulpits without adding to it with guesses about redactions.

    See the works of Eta Linnemann.
     
  14. Gold Dragon

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    Here is a book review of a book by Randolph Tate - Biblical Interpretation : An Integrated Approach that looks into the relationship of author, text and reader centered approaches with a proposal for their integration.

     
  15. Craigbythesea

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    How is the conservative professor going to know whether or not there are redactions in the Bible unless he first learns at least the principles of redaction criticism? Is he simply supposed to tell his students that there are no redactions in the Bible because that’s what his mama taught him? To teach that there are no redactions in the Bible is to teach a doctrine of men rather than a doctrine of God because the Bible is silent on this subject. And how can a conservative professor evaluate the evidence for or against a redaction in any given passage of scripture if he has spent his whole life distanced from the liberals who have studied and who are familiar with the evidence for and against the redaction.

    I believe that it is quite obvious that the SBC crowd is afraid to have its members learn what the liberals have learned about the Bible. After all, if they were familiar with the evidence, they just might change their mind! Some people are conservative in their theology because they have prayerfully and carefully studied both sides; and some people are conservative in their theology because that’s what they learned from there mama as she was rocking them the cradle to put them to sleep.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Gold Dragon

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    I would say that this hypothetical conservative professor may have studied redaction criticism, the evidence supportive of redacted portions of the bible and still come to the conclusion that the presence or absence of redaction has little to no impact on his hermeneutics and theology. The reason being that by faith, he may believe these redacted portions to be part of God's inspirational process of providing scriptures for humans.

    One of the underlying assumptions of redaction crticism is that redaction and the motivations behind it are negative in impact on the text. Hence redaction critics see the importance of identifying redaction to approach a "purer" form of the text. Part of this is a direct result of seeing the impact of redaction in textual criticism like the textus receptus.

    However, many including myself challenge that assumption and while they think it is important to be aware of redaction criticism and evidence for it, they focus their attention on the final form of the text.
     
  17. Humblesmith

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    Am I correct in that one of the criticisms from conservatives is that our current biases will impact what we see as a redaction, and what we don't? Isn't this what the Jesus Seminar has taken to a ridiculous degree?

    People like Bultmann went off the deep end into highly speculative areas, allowing personal presuppositions to bias his work. What is the difference betwen him and "proper" redactionism?
     
  18. Gold Dragon

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    I would say that the goal of many author-centered approaches to the bible like redaction criticism and historical cricitism is to remove biases to obtain an objective view (or meta-narrative) of the text.

    I believe that is an impossible task. Recognizing the bias we bring to the text is an important part of author-centered approaches to the text. However, they often believe their critical work can remove all these biases but ironically they ultimately do the opposite and reveal even more clearly the biases of the critic.

    Reader-centered approaches to the text recognize the biases a reader and critic brings to the text and does not see it as something that needs removal but instead views it as a critical part of the interpretive process.

    I don't know what proper redactionism is. But conservative redactionism comes about from conservative biases while liberal redactionism comes about from liberal biases.
     
  19. Craigbythesea

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    Here is a book review of a book by Randolph Tate - Biblical Interpretation : An Integrated Approach that looks into the relationship of author, text and reader centered approaches with a proposal for their integration.

    </font>[/QUOTE]Gold Dragon,

    Thank you for sharing this book review with us. I am sure that you are aware that W. Randolph Tate is a Pentecostal Professor of Humanities at a small (1616 students) Pentecostal (Assemblies of God) university where he has been teaching since 1985. He earned his B.A. from Georgia Southern College; his M.Div. from the same school where he now teaches, Evangel University, and his Ph.D. from Florida State University. None of these three schools teach any of the fields of Biblical criticism that have to do with establishing the most likely original text of either the Old Testament or the New Testament and it is highly unlike that Dr. Tate has any formal education whatsoever in redaction criticism. This is NOT a reflection upon current treads in Biblical criticism, but a reflection upon the philosophy of one Pentecostal denomination.

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Gold Dragon

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    Evangel University : Theology

    I don't know what courses were available when Tate was a student and while there are not courses specifically dedicated to redaction criticism, I wouldn't be surprised if it was a major part of the hermeneutics and theology streams, especially during the time he was a student.

    Being from the Pentecostal or Assemblies of God traditions does not change my view of his work.
     

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