Sunday, September 14, 2008

Biblical Criticism Continued

Continuing from a previous note: ---here is a handout of a brief overview of Biblical Criticism that I prepared for a Small Group I participated in:


-What is Biblical Criticism?

*Biblical Criticism is the study of how the Bible was transmitted orally, at first and the process of how the Scriptures were collected into text form.

*Biblical Criticism is divided into two distinct categories: “Higher” Criticism and “Lower” Criticism/Textual Criticism.


*There are three major branches of Higher Criticism: Form Criticism or Literary Criticism, Source or Source Redaction Criticism and Historical Criticism.

-Form Critics main concern is dividing out the distinct literary forms of the Bible. I provided you all with a photocopy of pg. 46 of W. Barnes Tatum’s “In Quest Of Jesus” that diagrams a representative sampling of Form Criticism applied to the Gospels.

-Source (Redaction) Criticism is the study of the “oral” or “textual” sources of a book or several books of the Bible and how the sources were edited by a ‘redactor’ into one single source/narrative. Representative of this is the Documentary Hypothesis in regards to Torah criticism and the different theories of explaining the Synoptic Problem in regards to Gospel criticism.
*On pg. 3, in the Documentary Hypothesis hand-out, there is a chart diagramming the theorized sources of the Torah.
*The Wikipedia article explains the Synoptic Problem and the different theories explaining it. You’ll find a Div. Student’s paper, underneath that, explaining the importance of the Synoptic Problem, in Biblical interpretation.

-The third and most controversial branch of Higher Criticism is Historical Criticism. Historical Critics seek to distinguish Jesus, in His historical context, apart from theological proposition. There have been 4 major quests to discover the historical-sociological Jesus---the most recent one undertaken by the “Jesus Seminar.”


*Lower Criticism is Textual Criticism. Textual Criticism is the study of all the collected Biblical Manuscripts and the process of collating them into one single Hebrew or Greek Text for the Bible translation process.

*Textual Critics main concerns are smoothing out “Scribal errors” found in the manuscripts and deducing the best possible rendering that is closest to the “Original Autographs”---since we don’t have the “Original Autographs,” all we have to go on is copies of copies as well as early Bible translations and Early Church writings.

*As newer manuscripts come to light and are accounted for---newer editions of the Hebrew/Greek/Aramaic Old Testament or Greek New Testament must be produced. In example, the current Greek New Testament is in the 4th edition for the United Bible Societies’ critical Greek text and the 27th edition for the Nestle/Aland critical Greek text. Both Greek texts are the same, but have different notations of textual variants. Also, a Textual Commentary is published alongside each new edition of the critical Greek text to further explain why the textual critic chose what they did.

*The Greek text hasn’t changed since 1986, but the notations of variants have---as scholars have yet to finish studying all the “Dead Sea Scroll” findings.

*Included in the Textual Criticism hand-out are:
-a photocopy of pg. 49 of Roy Robinson’s “The Thoughtful Guide To The Bible,” which has an illustration of the three parts of a critical Greek text. The photocopy may be fuzzy, but the first text bubble reads: Greek Text Selected By Textual Critics; the second bubble reads: Textual Variants Rejected By The Critics With MS (manuscript) Evidence Indicated; and the third bubble reads: Other Bible References For Comparison.

-Underneath the illustration is a sample page from the 4th edition UBS Greek text for clarity.

-Next are two charts explaining the types of unintentional and intentional scribal errors isolated by textual critics from pgs. 225-226 of Paul D. Wegner’s book, “The Journey From Texts To Translations: The Origin And Development Of The Bible.” The two charts are scribal errors in the New Testament, but the same types of errors are in the Old Testament as well.

-Underneath that is pg. 325 or Appendix 3 from Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life,” which explains the usefulness (for those who can’t read the ‘Original’ languages) of using several different translations.

-Finally, I included a photocopy of pgs. 80-83 of Craig R. Koester’s “A Beginner’s Guide To Reading The Bible,” which explains the difficulties of Bible translation.

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