Jesus' Directions for the Future: A Source and Redaction-History Study of the Use of the Eschatological Traditions in Paul and in the Synoptic Accounts of Jesus' Last Eschatological Discourse. By Allan J. McNicol. New Gospel Studies 9. Macon: Mercer University, 1996, xiii + 219 pp., $35.00.
McNicol has written a detailed study of the processes by which the eschatological traditions attributed to Jesus were used both by Paul and the synoptic writers to give directions concerning the future to the earliest Christian communities. He assumes (but does not attempt to prove) the Neo-Griesbach hypothesis, i.e. Matthew's account is earliest, followed by Luke, then Mark, who used both Matthew and Luke as sources. Thus the discussion begins with the Thessalonian correspondence and moves through Matthew's, Luke's and Mark's versions of Jesus' last eschatological discourse (LED). Two other assumptions should be mentioned: McNicol rejects the form-critical model that attributes the origin of the eschatological sayings to early Christian preaching and catechesis. Rather, he holds that the LED is based on units of tradition that go back to Jesus himself: Finally, he views 2 Thessalonians as pseudepigraphic, perhaps written by Timothy in the late 60s.
Comparing the themes of the Thessalonian correspondence with the gospels, McNicol identifies several Jesus traditions used by Paul/Timothy and the gospel writers, especially Matthew, as well as other traditions unique to Matthew and Luke. But their vocabularies are distinct enough to suggest a "common Jesus tradition" rather than direct literary dependence.
This technical study certainly belongs in college and seminary libraries, in terms of the contributions it makes to the discussion of the LED and the synoptic problem, not to mention the refreshing challenge to the form-critical view of the origin of the gospel traditions. …