Saturday, April 26, 2008

biblical criticism

Title page of Richard Simon’s “Critical History” (1685), an early work of biblical criticism.Biblical criticism is a form of Historical Criticism that seeks to analyze the Bible through asking certain questions of the text, such as: Who wrote it? When was it written? To whom was it written? Why was it written? What was the historical, geographical, and cultural setting of the text? How well preserved is the original text? How unified is the text? What sources were used by the author? How was the text transmitted over time? What is the text's genre and from what sociologial setting is it derived? When and how did it come to become part of the Bible?

Biblical criticism is "the study and investigation of biblical writings that seeks to make discerning and discriminating judgments about these writings." It asks when and where a particular text originated, how, why, by whom, for whom, and in what circumstances it was produced, what influences were at work in its production, what sources were used in its composition, and the message it was intended to convey. It also addresses the physical text, including the meaning of the words and the way in which they are used, its preservation, history, and integrity. Biblical criticism draws upon a wide range of scholarly disciplines, including linguistics, archaeology, anthropology, folklore, oral tradition studies, and historical and religious studies.

Biblical criticism, defined as the treatment of biblical texts as natural rather than supernatural artifacts, grew out of the rationalism of the 17th and 18th centuries. It can be broadly divided between the higher Criticism (the term is perhaps a little old-fashioned today), which is the study of biblical texts to discover their composition, history, and meaning, and textual criticism, which is the close examination of the text to establish variant and original readings. Contemporary criticism has seen the rise of new perspectives which draw on literary and multidisciplinary sociological approaches to address the meaning(s) of texts and the wider world in which they were conceived.


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