The Historical Critical Method

2024 words 9 pages
The New Testament is now well over 1900 years old and for nearly the same period of time people have struggled for the right interpretation of that what was written in these 27 books and letters. How should one handle a book that is "God's Word"?
Before looking at the pro and contra of historical-critical exegesis it is necessary to define this method. One of the many textbooks teaching the historical-critical method "Methodenlehre zum Neuen Testament" by Wilhelm Egger method gives us this definition, "Diese Methoden lesen den Text vor allem unter diachronem Aspekt, also unter dem Aspekt der Entstehung des Textes, und sehen vor allem in der Rekonstruktion der Entstehungsgeschichte einen Weg zum Sinn des Textes."# The finding of meaning in
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If we understand the inspiration of Scripture as the historical process from the first oral tradition to the last change made until, at least, the canonization of the Bible, then source criticism has it's place in the quest to retrace this historical process. The only thing that a Biblical scholar should refrain from is the evaluation of Biblical sources, however young or insignificant they may seem.
The last major problem of historical-critical analysis is its practicability. This is not quite as obvious for scholars but for any layperson trying to use this method of biblical it becomes clear rather quickly that the method is exceedingly complicated and unmanageable. Maier writes, " …up to the present the higher-critical methodizers could not achieve what in the present political sphere is designated as a ‘base'. Why? Because the results were too complicated, too obtuse."# The number of steps needed to obtain any results and the necessity of knowing ancient Greek are only two of the hurdles on the way to a proper historical-critical analysis of the Bible. Through these facts we find a tension between the historical-critical method used by scholars and upheld in sophisticated circles and the world of unlearned peasants to whom Jesus preached and who wrote the Biblical texts in the first place. If this revelation is open for all to see, as Jesus' preaching was intended for all to hear and understand, then the results of a method, which takes such pride


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