October 5, 2011
Form Criticism, Redaction Criticism
• Form criticism was important for determining how units of texts were originally used.
• Together, source and form criticism portrayed the biblical text as a mosaic of individual segments
• The redaction critics restored some kind of unity, if not uniformity, by insisting there were detectable
reasons for why the biblical materials achieved their final form.
• E.g. The Torah makes no sense without Joshua or even without the former prophets (Joshua,
Judges, Books of Samuel and Kings) (See comments on Von Rad and Noth NOAB, 2225). In fact
there is an overarching unity linking Deuteronomy to these books which came to be know by scholars
as the Deuteronomistic History.
• In the New Testament, scholars saw that the gospels “were creative literary works, with distinctive
theologies and themes” (NOAB, 2225).
• Not only does redaction criticism restore a degree of unity to these texts it also revives their authors
as authors rather than as “cut -and-pasters.”
• Redaction criticism allows that the biblical authors used various sources and “forms” but focuses on
how those sources were put together to present a particular perspective.
• This is clearly seen in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke).
Mat 3:7But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Luke 3:7John said to the crowds coming out to be
Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you
to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping
from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves,
repentance. 9And do not think you can say to 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you that out
yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.
that out of these stones God can raise up children for 9The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every
Abraham. 10The axe is already at the root of the trees, tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down
and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be and thrown into the fire. " 10"What should we do then?"
cut down and thrown into the fire . the crowd asked. 11John answered, "The man with two
tunics should share with him who has none, and the one
who has food should do the same." 12Tax collectors
also came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what
should we do?" 13"Don't collect any mo re than you are
required to," he told them. 14Then some soldiers asked
him, "And what should we do? “ He replie