The Historical-Critical Method: A Guide for the Perplexed by David R. Law

By David R. Law

Historical serious research is the most manner within which the Bible (both the Hebrew Bible/Old testomony and the hot testomony) has been tested and skim by way of students within the final century.

The time period refers to more than a few methodologies which learn the origins of biblical texts, with regards to different contemporaneous texts, to shape serious techniques and to questions of authorship, viewers and authenticty. the purpose is to get as just about the ‘original textual content' and its ‘original which means' as attainable. for a few years old serious process has been the cornerstone upon which biblical scholarship is outfitted, at the same time smooth reviews study different theoretical methods to examining the textual content in heritage, culture, and from assorted viewers views the historic serious procedure nonetheless offers the the most important place to begin for college students and students.

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Indd 25 1/27/2012 4:23:05 PM 26 THE HISTORICAL–CRITICAL METHOD Another group of scholars traces the origins of historical criticism still further back, namely to the Renaissance. 7 For Barton, ‘the intellectual pedigree’ of biblical criticism is also to be found in the Renaissance rather than the Enlightenment. ’8 It is thus mistaken to identify the origins of the historical–critical method exclusively with the Enlightenment period. Its roots lie much deeper and both the Reformation and above all the Renaissance laid the foundations which would make possible the development of the historical– critical method in the modern period.

Although the dominance of the allegorical method retarded the development of historical criticism, there were some hints of historical approaches to biblical interpretation in the early Church. Firstly, despite the dominance of allegorical interpretation, there was also awareness of the danger of it not doing justice to the reality of the text. 17 Secondly, the need to decide on the status of disputed writings led some early Church Fathers to address issues that we would today associate with historical criticism.

What is known to be possible in the present is made the criterion for what is likely to have happened in the past. If texts report events which are now considered to be improbable or even impossible, then they should not be regarded as historical accounts and the interpreter should look for other explanations such as, for example, that the text reflects a now outmoded world view or is a literary embellishment. The consequence of making the present the criterion for understanding the past is that natural explanations are preferred over supernatural explanations.

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