Redaction criticism

The study of how the manuscript editions of the texts have changed is called redaction criticism.  This is the examination of these literary biblical document to discover how the biblical authors have formed and linked the materials together.  How did they edit these texts to establish their meaning and significance?

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Primitive Christian Communities

The early followers of Jesus were his Jewish apostles and disciples.  They formed a close-knit community.  As they ventured out of Jerusalem after the death and resurrection of Jesus, they formed other small groups of Christian communities.  During the first century of Christianity, we often refer to these Christians as the Primitive Christian Communities, not really a church yet, but described in the Acts of the Apostles.  As far as we know, these Jewish followers of Jesus prayed in the Temple and the synagogues.  They shared their stories about Jesus and his followers with other Jewish groups.  Out of this oral community will come the written documents of the New Testament.

 

The foolish idol makers (Jer 51:17-51:19)

“Everyone is stupid.

Everyone is

Without knowledge.

Goldsmiths

Are put to shame

By their idols.

Their images

Are false.

There is no breath

In them.

They are worthless,

A work of delusion.

At the time

Of their punishment,

They shall perish.

Not like these,

Is Yahweh,

The portion of Jacob.

He is the one

Who formed all things.

Israel is

The tribe

Of his inheritance.

Yahweh of hosts

Is his name.”

Once again, Yahweh, via Jeremiah, chides the foolish idol makers. These image makers are stupid without any knowledge. These goldsmiths are put to shame because their images are false, a worthless work of delusion without any breathe. They will all perish on the day of punishment. Yahweh, on the other hand, is not like these idols or idol makers. He is the portion of Jacob with his tribe of Israel as his inheritance. Yahweh of hosts is the name of the one who has formed all things.

The power of God (Jer 33:2-33:3)

“Thus says Yahweh.

Who made the earth.

Yahweh formed it

To establish it.

Yahweh is his name.

‘Call to me!

I will answer you!

I will tell you great things.

I will tell you hidden things

That you have not known.’”

Yahweh has made the earth, as he formed it and established it. There is no doubt that Yahweh was his name. Because Yahweh is so powerful, he wants them to call to him, since he was going to answer them. He would tell them great and hidden things that they did not know about.

Yahweh’s call to Jeremiah (Jer 1:4-1:5)

“Now the word of Yahweh

Came to me saying.

‘Before I formed you in the womb,

I knew you.

Before you were born,

I consecrated you.

I appointed you

A prophet to the nations.’”

The word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah. Yahweh told him that he was predestined to be a prophet before he was even formed in the womb. Yahweh knew him already. Before he was born, he was consecrated as a prophet. Yahweh has appointed him to be a prophet for all the nations.

Salvation for the children of Abraham (Isa 51:1-51:3)

“Listen to me!

You that pursue deliverance!

You that seek Yahweh!

Look to the rock

From which you were hewn!

Look to the quarry

From which you were dug!

Look to Abraham your father!

Look to Sarah who bore you!

He was but one when I called him.

I blessed him.

I made him many.

Yahweh will comfort Zion.

He will comfort all her waste places.

He will make her wilderness

Like Eden.

He will make her desert

Like the garden of Yahweh.

Joy will be found in her.

Gladness will be found in her.

Thanksgiving will be found in her.

The voice of song will be found in her.”

Second Isaiah says that the rock of salvation is Yahweh. If they were pursuing righteousness, they were seeking the Lord, Yahweh. They had to remember where they came from. Here it is not dust, but a rock quarry that they came from. The rock from this quarry was formed to make them. They had to remember not only Abraham but also Sarah, one of the few times that she is mentioned outside of Genesis. Yahweh blessed Abraham so that he had many descendants. Now Yahweh was going to comfort their offspring at Zion. The desert and the wilderness were going to become like the Garden of Eden, the garden of Yahweh. There would be nothing there except joy, gladness, thanksgiving, and hymn singing in this new Garden of Eden.

The power of Yahweh (Isa 44:24-44:28)

“Thus says Yahweh,

Your Redeemer!

He formed you in the womb.

‘I am Yahweh!

I made all things!

I alone stretched out the heavens!

I by myself spread out the earth!

Who was with me?

Who frustrates the omens of liars?

Who makes fools of diviners?

Who turns back the wise?

Who makes their knowledge foolish?

Who confirms the word of his servant?

Who fulfills the predictions of his messengers?

Who says of Jerusalem?

‘It shall be inhabited.’

Who says of the cities of Judah?

‘They shall be rebuilt.

I will raise up their ruins.’

Who says to the deep?

‘Be dry!

I will dry up your rivers.’

Who says of Cyrus?

‘He is my shepherd.

He shall carry out my purpose.’

Who says of Jerusalem?

‘It shall be rebuilt.’

Who says of the temple?

‘Your foundations shall be laid.’”

Second Isaiah ends this chapter the way it began, stressing the redeeming power of Yahweh among the Israelites who had been formed by Yahweh in their mother’s womb. Yahweh has stretched out the heavens and spread out the earth by himself. He has frustrated liars. He has made fools of false prophets. He has made the wise people look foolish with all their knowledge. However, he has fulfilled his word to his servants and the predictions of his messengers. He said that Jerusalem would be inhabited and the cities of Judah would be rebuilt from their ruins. He dried up the rivers. He also made Cyrus his shepherd, a very strong term for this Persian leader from 559-530 BCE. Cyrus was to carry out Yahweh’s purposes as the destroyer mentioned at the beginning of this chapter. Jerusalem would be rebuilt with the foundations of the temple laid out.