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Biblical Criticism - Essay Example

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Biblical criticism is the general term referring to the scholarly investigation and study of biblical scriptures seeking to base grounds for discerning judgment concerning the writings. The discipline studies compositional, historical, and textual questions concerning the Old and New Testaments…
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Biblical Criticism
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Biblical Criticism

Biblical criticism is the general term referring to the scholarly investigation and study of biblical scriptures seeking to base grounds for discerning judgment concerning the writings. The discipline studies compositional, historical, and textual questions concerning the Old and New Testaments. In the preceding century, biblical criticism was divided into higher and lower criticism. Higher criticism concerns the study of the history and composition of biblical passages, while lower criticism concerns with closer examination of biblical texts to determine their correct or original meaning (Frigge 15). This paper seeks to discuss the forms of criticism in five ways: source, form, narrative (textual), historical and redaction. Initially, the scholars of the bible tried to harmonize the scriptures and gospels, an argument evident from the harmonization of the two narratives. Instead of harmonizing the gospels, Griesbach established parallel synoptic. The result was an ensuing question regarding the accountability of the difference and similarities of the two gospels. This led to source criticism, with scholars trying to pin down the relationship between the sources and the synoptic gospels. Griesbach put forth an argument that Matthew was written before Mark citing the Jewish contents as the basis of the argument, but many scholars opposed the argument arguing that the book of Mark abbreviates Matthew (Frigge 68). The theory of Griesbach follows that of St Augustine, a Matthean priority proponent. On the other hand, modern scholars uphold the Markan priority and the source or framework being Mark. According to Taylor, Mark is more probable to be the source, as Luke is a quarry of stone for expanding an already existing establishment. Nevertheless, the proposal did not accurately account for the similarities between Luke and Matthew, which eventfully do not appear in Mark. H. J. Holtzmann put another source criticism theory forth in 1863. The two-source theory, Mark Source ‘Q’ Luke Matthew, suggested that Matthew and Luke used marks to denote sources, and another common source ‘Q’. B. H. Streeter based his four-source theory on Holtzmann’s theory, with the additional argument that Matthew and Luke had some original contents in them. The four source include Mark, source ‘Q’, special M (unique material by Matthew), and special L (material unique to Luke). These theories however do not solve the mystery in its entirety. Occasionally, Matthew and Luke tend to agree with each other but against Mark. The explanations to these may be theological, traditional, or probably a different interpretation of ‘Q’ differently by Mark. Another possible argument is that one (most likely Luke) was more dependent, unlike Mark. There are also scholarly questions regarding the omission of some parts of Mark in Matthew and Luke, like the account of Jesus walking on water. Some scholars in theology, like Russell, believe that the omissions are not surprising. According to them, there is a possibility that each evangelist did some omission to best suit their Christological and theological needs and perspectives (Frigge 93). Another major setback in source criticism is the lack of evidence for source ‘Q’. A majority of theology specialists agree that Luke was using Matthew, as there is more Luke in Matthew than the other way round. Nonetheless, there is still the question concerning the reasons why Luke left the additions made by Matthew to Mark. At this point, the only possible conclusion is that there were different interpretations of the same source. However, existence and contents of Paul’ ... Read More
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