58 Facts About Biblical criticism


Biblical criticism is the use of critical analysis to understand and explain the Bible.

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Historical-biblical criticism includes a wide range of approaches and questions within four major methodologies: textual, source, form, and literary criticism.

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Form Biblical criticism identifies short units of text seeking the setting of their origination.

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Redaction Biblical criticism later developed as a derivative of both source and form Biblical criticism.

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Literary Biblical criticism, which emerged in the twentieth century, differed from these earlier methods.

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All together, these various methods of biblical criticism permanently changed how people understood and saw the Bible.

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Biblical criticism critics used the same scientific methods and approaches to history as their secular counterparts and emphasized reason and objectivity.

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Newer forms of biblical criticism are primarily literary: no longer focused on the historical, they attend to the text as it exists now.

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Biblical criticism is often said to have begun when Astruc borrowed methods of textual criticism and applied them to the Bible in search of those original accounts.

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Biblical criticism distinguished between "inward" and "outward" religion: for some people, their religion is their highest inner purpose, while for others, religion is a more exterior practice – a tool to accomplish other purposes more important to the individual, such as political or economic goals.

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George Ricker Berry says the term "higher Biblical criticism", which is sometimes used as an alternate name for historical Biblical criticism, was first used by Eichhorn in his three-volume work Einleitung ins Alte Testament published between 1780 and 1783.

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The importance of textual Biblical criticism means that the term 'lower Biblical criticism' is no longer used much in twenty-first century studies.

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Schweitzer comments that, since Reimarus was a historian and not a theologian or a biblical scholar, he "had not the slightest inkling" that source criticism would provide the solution to the problems of literary consistency that Reimarus had raised.

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Biblical criticism's work showed biblical criticism could serve its own ends, be governed solely by rational criteria, and reject deference to religious tradition.

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Professors Richard Soulen and Kendall Soulen write that biblical criticism reached "full flower" in the nineteenth century, becoming the "major transforming fact of biblical studies in the modern period".

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Michael Joseph Brown points out that biblical criticism operated according to principles grounded in a distinctively European rationalism.

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Biblical criticism's focus on pure reason produced a paradigm shift that profoundly changed Christian theology concerning the Jews.

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Biblical criticism saw Christianity as something that 'superseded' all that came before it.

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The rise of redaction Biblical criticism closed this debate by bringing about a greater emphasis on diversity.

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New Biblical criticism, which developed as an adjunct to literary Biblical criticism, was concerned with the particulars of style.

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Biblical criticism began to apply new literary approaches such as structuralism and rhetorical criticism, which concentrated less on history and more on the texts themselves.

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Textual Biblical criticism involves examination of the text itself and all associated manuscripts with the aim of determining the original text.

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Forerunners of modern textual Biblical criticism can be found in both early Rabbinic Judaism and in the early church.

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Source criticism is the search for the original sources that form the basis of biblical texts.

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In Old Testament studies, source Biblical criticism is generally focused on identifying sources of a single text.

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Biblical criticism did this by identifying repetitions of certain events, such as parts of the flood story that are repeated three times, indicating the possibility of three sources.

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Biblical criticism discovered that the alternation of two different names for God occurs in Genesis and up to Exodus 3 but not in the rest of the Pentateuch, and he found apparent anachronisms: statements seemingly from a later time than that in which Genesis was set.

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Examples of source Biblical criticism include its two most influential and well-known theories, the first concerning the origins of the Pentateuch in the Old Testament ; and the second tracing the sources of the four gospels of the New Testament.

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In New Testament studies, source Biblical criticism has taken a slightly different approach from Old Testament studies by focusing on identifying the common sources of multiple texts instead of looking for the multiple sources of a single set of texts.

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Biblical criticism postulated a hypothetical collection of the sayings of Jesus from an additional source called Q, taken from Quelle, which is German for "source".

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Form Biblical criticism began in the early twentieth century when theologian Karl Ludwig Schmidt observed that Mark's Gospel is composed of short units.

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The period of the twentieth century dominated by form Biblical criticism is marked by Bultmann's extreme skepticism concerning what can be known about the historical Jesus and his sayings.

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Form Biblical criticism had a meteoric rise in the early part of the twentieth century and fell from favor toward its end.

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In 1981 literature scholar Robert Alter contributed to the development of biblical literary criticism by publishing an influential analysis of biblical themes from a literary perspective.

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The 1980s saw the rise of formalism, which focuses on plot, structure, character and themes and the development of reader-response Biblical criticism which focuses on the reader rather than the author.

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Canonical criticism "signaled a major and enduring shift in biblical studies".

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John H Hayes and Carl Holladay say "canonical criticism has several distinguishing features": Canonical criticism is synchronic; it sees all biblical writings as standing together in time instead of focusing on the diachronic questions of the historical approach.

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Canonical Biblical criticism opposes form Biblical criticism's isolation of individual passages from their canonical setting.

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Canonical Biblical criticism emphasizes the relationship between the text and its reader in an effort to reclaim the relationship between the texts and how they were used in the early believing communities.

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Biblical rhetorical criticism makes use of understanding the "forms, genres, structures, stylistic devices and rhetorical techniques" common to the Near Eastern literature of the different ages when the separate books of biblical literature were written.

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Phyllis Trible, a student of Muilenburg, has become one of the leaders of rhetorical criticism and is known for her detailed literary analysis and her feminist critique of biblical interpretation.

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Christopher T Paris says that, "narrative criticism admits the existence of sources and redactions but chooses to focus on the artistic weaving of these materials into a sustained narrative picture".

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Narrative criticism was first used to study the New Testament in the 1970s, with the works of David Rhoads, Jack D Kingsbury, R Alan Culpepper, and Robert C Tannehill.

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The first article labeled narrative Biblical criticism was "Narrative Criticism and the Gospel of Mark, " published in 1982 by Bible scholar David Rhoads.

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Stephen D Moore has written that "as a term, narrative criticism originated within biblical studies", but its method was borrowed from narratology.

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Ken and Richard Soulen say that "biblical criticism has permanently altered the way people understand the Bible".

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Part of the legacy of biblical criticism is that, as it rose, it led to the decline of biblical authority.

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For others biblical criticism "proved to be a failure, due principally to the assumption that diachronic, linear research could master any and all of the questions and problems attendant on interpretation".

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Biblical criticism compares biblical criticism to Job, a prophet who destroyed "self-serving visions for the sake of a more honest crossing from the divine textus to the human one".

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William Robertson Smith is an example of a nineteenth century evangelical who believed historical criticism was a legitimate outgrowth of the Protestant Reformation's focus on the biblical text.

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Biblical criticism saw it as a "necessary tool to enable intelligent churchgoers" to understand the Bible, and was a pioneer in establishing the final form of the supplementary hypothesis of the documentary hypothesis.

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The growing anti-semitism in Germany of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the perception that higher Biblical criticism was an entirely Protestant Christian pursuit, and the sense that many Bible critics were not impartial academics but were proponents of supersessionism, prompted Schechter to describe "Higher Criticism as Higher Anti-semitism".

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Mordechai Breuer, who branches out beyond most Jewish exegesis and explores the implications of historical criticism for multiple subjects, is an example of a twenty-first century Jewish biblical critical scholar.

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Feminist Biblical criticism is an aspect of the feminist theology movement which began in the 1960s and 1970s as part of the feminist movement in the United States.

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Biblical criticism says all Bible readings are contextual, in that readers bring with them their own context: perceptions and experiences harvested from social and cultural situations.

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African-American biblical criticism is based on liberation theology and black theology, and looks for what is potentially liberating in the texts.

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Social scientific criticism is part of the wider trend in biblical criticism to reflect interdisciplinary methods and diversity.

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Postmodern biblical criticism began after the 1940s and 1950s when the term postmodern came into use to signify a rejection of modern conventions.

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