Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Redaction Criticism and Luke

Redaction criticism[i] is the study of the theological perspective of a biblical text evident in its collection, arrangement, editing and modification of sources. H. Conzelmann undertook the first and still best known redaction-critical study of the Gospel of Luke. His 1952 article "Zur Lukasanalyse" was later expanded into a book (ET The Theology of St. Luke). Since Conzelmann, Lucan scholars have had to address the question of whether Luke was a historian or theologian.

Since Conzelmann concluded that Luke does not connect forgiveness of sins with the death of Jesus,[ii] it is remarkable that scholars have not asked the question why is it that Luke does not have this theological theme. Bart D. Ehrman[iii] has explained why the Revised Standard Version with Lk. 22:19b-20 omitted should be the preferred reading. Thus the conclusion reached by Conzelmann stands.

Identifying most excellent Theophilus as the High Priest permits us to focus upon what in reality was the most important question facing the followers of Jesus in the Second Temple post resurrection era. Each Jewish follower of Jesus had to answer the question, what do we do with the High Priest? As each follower and each community formulated their answer, each NT writer following Luke likewise answered the question. Traces of those deliberations can be seen throughout the NT. The unknown author to the Epistle to Hebrews provided the ultimate answer. We no longer recognize what a problem this question was to the first followers of Jesus.

[i] The term Redaction Criticism (Redaktionsgeschichte) was coined by W. Marxen, Mark the Evangelist, 1956, 21.
[ii]. Hans Conzelmann, The Theology of St. Luke, (London 1960), 201.
[iii]. The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, (New York and Oxford, 1993), 197-209.


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