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Lecture 14: Historical Criticism Some Definitions… Bible Criticism Criticism as applied to the Bible simply means the exercise of judgment. Both conservative and and non-conservative scholar practice two forms: Lower criticism deals with the Scripture and attempts to determine what the original text said. Higher Criticism treats the source of Scripture and raise the following questions: who said it, when, where and why was it written. Higher Criticism Higher Criticism is typically divided into two types: (1) Negative (destructive) and (2) Positive (constructive). Negative Criticism, evident in the following 5 methods, typically denies the authenticity of much of the biblical record and usually is associated with an anti-supernatural presupposition: (1) Historical (2) Source (3) Form (4) Tradition (5) Redaction Historical Criticism Historical Criticism is a broad term that covers techniques to (1) date documents and traditions, (2) to verify events reported in these documents, and (3) to use the results in historiography to reconstruct and interpret. Source Criticism Source Criticism attempts to discover and define literary techniques used by biblical writers. It seeks to (1) uncover underlying literary sources, (2) classify types of literature, and (3) answer questions relating to authorship, unity, and date of Old and New Testament materials. Form Criticism Form criticism studies literary forms, such as essays, poems, and myths, since different writings have different forms. Form critics concentrate on the process involved in transmitting what Jesus said and did to the primary sources. Redaction Criticism Redaction critics generally accept the tenets of source and form criticism. They also believe that the Gospel evangelists altered the traditions they received to make their own theological emphases. They viewed the writers not simply as compilers of the church’s oral traditions but as theologians who adapted the material for their own purposes. Literary Criticism This approach analyzes the Scriptures in terms of its literary structure, emphases, and unique internal features. It seeks to understand the Scripture as a piece of literature by examining how the writer wrote (structured) it. This is a widely accepted positive approach among evangelicals.
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