The science of detecting what is wrong with the text and either looking for a better and more accurate manuscript, or suggesting a better reading by means of trained guesswork. It aims at establishing the "corrected" text - the best and most accurate possible.
What are the challenges of Textual Criticism?
o Ancient Hebrew lacked vowels
o Complications posted by manuscript transmission – copying by scribes
§ Some lines may be skipped
§ Dittography or “writing twice”
§ Confusion of words that sound alike
§ Sloppy handwriting
§ Running words together or dividing single words
§ Intentional additions or changes
"Categories" of interpretation
eisegesis – reading into the text what one wishes to see
exegesis – reading from the text
Three major “families” of text traditions by the time of Jesus: Babylonian; Palestinian; Egyptian
“Interpreters” who put vowels into the text, and thus “fixed the words in a definitive form. However, they lived a thousand years or more after the major writing of the Hebrew Scriptures, and many words has changed their meaning and grammatical shape over the centuries. Such later generations simply did not understand the proper meaning of a passage.
the standard Hebrew text that resulted from the decisions of early rabbis (1st century AD) who selected one text for each part of the Bible in order to end the confusion of having variety of copies of the Hebrew Old Testament
Ancient translations of the Old Testament
Septuagint (Greek): used by New Testament authors and early Christians
Vulgate (Latin): solidified by St. Jerome
Targum (Aramaic): was not a strict translation
What are several literary tools of Higher Criticism?
Source Criticism (Literary Criticism)
Tradition History Criticism
Definition of Higher Criticism
The interpretation of the corrected text. It is the process of getting behind the finished Bible to the older layers of thought.
It stresses the earliest literary sources and studies the problem of whether there are written documents behind our present text.
It streesses the earliest oral units, sees literary forms as the building blocks of an oral society, and attempts to uncover the setting in life to which each type of story, tradition, or communication belongs.
What are the questions asked by form critics?
Who is speaking?
Who is the audience?
What is being said?
Where is it said?
What is the purpose?
What are the steps in Form Criticism?
1. Defining the unit. (paragraph, headings)
2. Naming the form used. (genre: lament, letter, saga, etc.)
3. Describing its setting in life. (social context)
4. Identifying its purpose. (function)
Tradition History Criticism (Transmission History)
It traces the use and reuse of biblical materials from their earliest forms and settings in the life of Israel down through all the stages of being written and rewritten. It also stresses the adaptations and re-workings of the text and pays attention to the role of scribes, wisemen, priests, prophets, and editors in handing down the literary units.
It (1) accents the wholeness and unity of many chapters and books, (2) appreciates the rhetorical effect of devices such as repetition, dramatic force, stylistic beauty, and (3) stresses harmony and value of the finished work.