Introducing Redaction and the Synoptic Problem
One of the best examples I use in class to discuss redaction within the synoptics is the baptism of Jesus:
- According to Mark, John baptized Jesus.
- According to Matthew, John baptized Jesus only after getting Jesus’ permission.
- According to Luke, it looks like John was in prison when Jesus was baptized.
Reading these passages side-by-side allows me to raise critical questions like the following:
- Why might this have been embarrassing for early Christians?
- Might embarrassment have motivated redaction?
- How do they redact differently?
- What do examples like this tell us about the reliability of ancient literature?
The baptism passages are perfect for raising these questions; the students pretty much see the stakes of these questions immediately.
Does anyone else use alternate selections that are good for introducing the synoptics and/or redaction criticism?