Biblical Criticism

Biblical Criticism, including Form Criticism, Tradition Criticism, Higher Criticism, etc.

 

Definitions:

Biblical criticism is an umbrella term covering various techniques used mainly by mainline and liberal Christian theologians to study the meaning of Biblical passages. It uses general historical principles, and is based primarily on reason rather than revelation or faith.

Form criticism is an analysis of literary documents, particularly the Bible, to discover earlier oral traditions (stories, legends, myths, etc.) upon which they were based.

Tradition criticism is an analysis of the Bible, concentrating on how religious traditions have grown and changed over the time span during which the text was written.

Higher criticism is "the study of the sources and literary methods employed by the biblical authors."

Lower criticism is "the discipline and study of the actual wording" of the Bible; a quest for textual purity and understanding

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  • So we are basically talking constructive and destructive criticism. I suppose that internal purpose and intent is the key to discerning the difference. Or is the impact on the body of Christ the standard we need apply? Right now, related to this, I am trying to determine when heresy is not heresy. It is not as simple as I thought at first - is anything? I have heard of structural criticism, but the person defining it didn't seem to know what it was... I actually prefer tewrms such as investigation, analysis, and the like. The term criticism always gives me the impression that it is an activity wherein the participants know the correct answer (or think they do) and thus criticise everything that is "wrong". I know, however, that this is not the case. But it is an instinctive respone when reading the terms. It just feels like the proper term should be "student of the Bible" instead of some form of criticism... Then, as you did indicate, there is faith based examination and then there is pure intilectual investigation and that of a hidden agenda. It is unfortunate that the non-Christian, young Christian, and early student of Bible study can be influenced by any or all of them - creating loss instead of victory. But again, that depends on what the goal is. I have pearned not to always trust my "instinct" and definitely not everything I was taught growing up. In each case, there are excdeptions. I still remember the deep wound one of my first college professors inflicted to my faith - a wound that came not from the sword of truth, but from the lash of doubt and confusion. It was the "there is no right answer" type of perspective. We already know what the wrong attitude or motivation can do. The hardest thing is knowing the right answer...
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