One thing I’ve noticed while reading Moltmann’s writings is that it isn’t uncommon to see him draw upon diverse fields of study such as psychology or evolutionary biology. While this demonstrates his predilection for interdisciplinarity, he nevertheless has a blatant penchant for being quite selective in what he uses, as it seems like he utilizes other fields of study only if it benefits his theological aim. An example of this is seen when he invokes redaction criticism in regards to the purported last words of Jesus on the cross in the gospels. For instance, Moltmann says:
Obviously, the later tradition was offended by Mark’s interpretation and reproduced Jesus’ dying cry with more pious words. Various Western texts contain the version: “My God, with what do you reproach me?” and Luke has replaced the expression of Jesus’ abandonment by words from the Jewish evening prayer from Ps. 31:5: “Into thy hands I commend my spirit.” For theological reasons, John said: “It is finished” (John 19:30). We may, I think, assume that Mark’s difficult version comes closest to the historical reality.
That quote is from an essay by Moltmann, “The Crucified God: God and the Trinity Today”, which is found in a few publications.
The cry of dereliction by Jesus in Mark’s Gospel is the quintessential Moltmannian moment in the Bible, so it is no wonder that Moltmann prefers it as his choice of Jesus’ final words on the cross; after all, not only does it speak to Moltmann’s personal experience in war, which is what the entire edifice of his theology arises from, but it also is representative of human suffering, thus serving the universal and ecumenical scope of Moltmann’s theology.
Markan priority is essentially an axiomatic truth in New Testament studies and so Moltmann cannot necessarily be faulted for simply being concurrent with mainstream scholarship. Yet it seems peculiar that in all my readings of Moltmann I’ve never seen him come across as being terribly concerned about sorting through redactional layers in the Gospels to arrive at a historical core. This makes me think his resorting to the Markan account of Jesus’ last words is moreso due to a theologically-motivated hermeneutic than a historical-critical examination of the Gospel traditions.
I think that instead of just flippantly dismissing the traditions offered by the other canonical gospels concerning the last words of the crucified Christ, it would be of greater benefit for Moltmann’s readers if he were conversant with these alternate Gospel traditions, as employing them all together would perhaps communicate a greater regard for their integrity and value to the biblical witness, not to mention giving more credence to his endeavor of ecumenicism.