To help explain this critical method, we invited Charlton Heston to BibleDudes. Mr. Heston, sir, could you please explain to us what the famous movie The Ten Commandments (1956) has to do with this amazing method known as Redaction Criticism?
So let it be written, so let it be done! Blood makes poor mortar! The Lord of Hosts will do battle for us! Behold his mighty hand! Thus sayeth the LORD God of Israel —
LET MY PEOPLE GO!
Uh, thanks so much Mr. Heston.
You can like probably go now.
The point we wanted to make is that the movie The Ten Commandments has at least as much to do with the time and place in which it was produced (1956 America) as it does with the time and place in which the story was set (ca. 1250 BCE Egypt). Thus dominant themes of the movie reflect the dominant themes of the mid-1950s in the United States, including civil rights, racial equality, women's liberation, and Middle East politics. Moreover the Cold War's influence is obvious in the final scene when Moses says "Go proclaim liberty throughout all the land" and then strikes a pose identical to the statue of liberty.
Eureka, now I understand! Makeup malfunctions and all those cheesy lines caused Charlton Heston to blush almost as much as he did in Ben Hur, if that's possible. So Charlton Heston is the red actor!
Methuselah, my darling donkey, not even close.
A redactor is an editor who puts text together.
In many ways, Cecil B. DeMille, the director of The Ten Commandments, was a redactor. He combined things written before him with his own ideas to make a final edition that reflected his thoughts and religious, social, and political agendas.
Similarly, redactors of the biblical text edited things written before them, and added their own words, and in the end they compiled a text that reflected their thoughts and agendas.
Like take for example the case of the Deuteronomistic Historian, one of the most Bibleiscious redactors of all. We totally invited our friend Martin Noth here to help explain. Yes way!
Thanks BibleDudes. In the early 1940's I discovered that much of the biblical text in Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings was authored and edited by the same person who composed and edited Deuteronomy. I called this author/editor the Deuteronomist and their work I called the Deuteronomistic History. This person I argued lived and worked in the 6th century BCE during the period of Babylonian exile. The Deuteronomist used written sources, but instead of copying these word-for-word, he interpreted them and added his own spin to make them fit his social, political, and religious agendas. While the Deuteronomistic History included famous stories about earlier people such as Moses, Samson, and King David, I argued that these stories had a great deal of information about the 6th century BCE, the time in which they were redacted.
Oh yeah! So Redaction Criticism seeks to understand the motivation and historical background in which the text was edited, and it tries to understand what motivated the redactor to redact his redaction in the first place.
Oh baloney! Like I'm going to believe that a story about Samson killing Philistines with the jawbone of an ass in Judges 15:16 tells me anything at all about the agenda of some redactor dude in the 6th century!
Actually all of the stories in Judges would bring hope and comfort to Judeans in exile. You see, the Deuteronomist repeatedly wrote in Judges that Israel would sin at times and be conquered and oppressed by a foreign ruler. But if the people sought God's forgiveness, they would battle their enemies, emerge victorious, and prosper in the Promised Land. So even though times were tough during the exile, there was still hope, and God was still with them.
So, stories in Judges, like Samson, even though it's set around 1200-1100 BCE, really have more to do with the 6th century BCE, the time in which the stories were redacted.However, I should remind you that not all scholars agree that the Deuteronomistic Historian wrote only during the exile in the 6th century BCE. As we discussed in the previous section, many follow Frank Cross's argument that there were two editions of the Deuteronomistic History: One during the reign of King Josiah (640-609 BCE), and one during the Babylonian Exile (586-539 BCE).
My darlings, Redaction Criticism also is an amazingly delightful tool for learning about the New Testament. For example, even though all four Gospels focus on the ministry of Jesus, which occurred sometime around the year 30 CE, the Gospels weren't redacted until 30-60 years later.
So like using Redaction Criticism we can totally learn more about the world which motivated some redactor to redact stuff about Jesus. I mean, like after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 CE, that's some pretty heavy duty motivation. Anywho, great job, and in the next section we're gonna do Form Criticism.
Are you going to say bad things about me?