A New Dynamic to Source Criticism

I am often amazed at the number of books written on Biblical literature, where the authors must have gone through numerous drafts and editing cycles themselves, but somehow they do not take that process into consideration enough to apply it to the Biblical book they are writing about. Every book in the Bible, with the possible exception of the smallest of books, had some draft stages and editing cycles. Those who utilize source criticism tend to be satisfied with just knowing that the author used a particular source. Wouldn’t it be better if we not only knew the source but the actual process by which the source was incorporated into the text?

Much is debated in scholarly literature as to what the true definition of an allusion is, and how difficult it is to say that something is an allusion. GLR tells us what an allusion is, because we can see the source that the author is using and how the author tweaks the source for their purposes. The problem, however, comes from how much the author tweaks the text. In each of the draft chapters we can see many examples of John changing the text to suit his needs. This is shown in how he modernizes imagery (such as changing the four chariots into the four horsemen) as well as how he sometimes forms a complete opposite to the original text. It is also shown in ways such as how he changed the imagery of briers, thorns, and thistles representing evil doers (where God will burn them because of their wickedness) to imagery of green grass, representing righteous believers (where they will be burned by the wicked because of their faithfulness).

Since an author has the freedom to change the text of the source document, the term “allusion” is neither sufficient nor accurate enough to express this action. Describing the process as being a parallel formation provides a richer platform in communicating the literary process from the source document. It is easier for a person to link two passages together by means of a parallel, where the text can be in reverse order and form an opposite to the source, rather than be shackled by the proximity of an actual quote.