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HISTORICAL CRITICISM, also known as THE HISTORICAL-CRITICAL METHOD or HIGHER CRITICISM, is a branch of literary criticism that investigates the origins of ancient texts in order to understand "the world behind the text". While often discussed in terms of Jewish and Christian writings from ancient times, historical criticism has also been applied to other religious writings from various parts of the world and periods of history.
The primary goal of historical criticism is to discover the text's primitive or original meaning in its original historical context and its literal sense or sensus literalis historicus. The secondary goal seeks to establish a reconstruction of the historical situation of the author and recipients of the text. This may be accomplished by reconstructing the true nature of the events which the text describes. An ancient text may also serve as a document, record or source for reconstructing the ancient past which may also serve as a chief interest to the historical critic. In regard to Semitic biblical interpretation, the historical critic would be able to interpret the literature of Israel as well as the history of Israel.
In 18th century Biblical criticism , the term "higher criticism" was commonly used in mainstream scholarship in contrast with "lower criticism ". In the 21st century, historical criticism is the more commonly used term for higher criticism, while textual criticism is more common than the loose expression "lower criticism".
Historical criticism began in the 17th century and gained popular recognition in the 19th and 20th centuries. The perspective of the early historical critic was rooted in Protestant reformation ideology, inasmuch as their approach to biblical studies was free from the influence of traditional interpretation. Where historical investigation was unavailable, historical criticism rested on philosophical and theological interpretation. With each passing century, historical criticism became refined into various methodologies used today: source criticism , form criticism , redaction criticism , tradition criticism , canonical criticism , and related methodologies.
* 1 Methods
* 1.1 Application
* 1.2 Methodologies
* 2 History * 3 See also * 4 Footnotes * 5 References * 6 External links
Historical-critical methods are the specific procedures used to examine the text’s historical origins, such as: the time, the place in which the text was written, its sources, the events, dates, persons, places, things, and customs that are mentioned or implied in the text.
Application of the historical critical method, in biblical studies ,
investigates the books of the Hebrew
In regard to the
Diagram of the Documentary Hypothesis .
* includes most of Leviticus
† includes most of Deuteronomy
‡ "Deuteronomic history": Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1"> Source criticism : diagram of the two-source hypothesis , an explanation for the relationship of the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
Form criticism breaks the
Main article: Redaction criticism
Redaction criticism studies "the collection, arrangement, editing and modification of sources", and is frequently used to reconstruct the community and purposes of the authors of the text.
Pioneers of historical criticism as applied to the
The phrase "higher criticism" became popular in Europe from the mid-18th century to the early 20th century to describe the work of such scholars as Jean Astruc (1684-1766), Johann Salomo Semler (1725–91), Johann Gottfried Eichhorn (1752–1827), Ferdinand Christian Baur (1792–1860), and Julius Wellhausen (1844–1918). In academic circles today, this is the body of work properly considered "higher criticism", though the phrase is sometimes applied to earlier or later work using similar methods.
"Higher criticism" originally referred to the work of German biblical
scholars of the
Tübingen School . After the ground-breaking work on
New Testament by Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834), the next
generation – which included scholars such as David Friedrich Strauss
(1808–74) and Ludwig Feuerbach (1804–72) – in the mid-19th
century analyzed the historical records of the Middle East from
These ideas influenced thought in
John Barton argues that the term "historical-critical method" conflates two nonidentical distinctions, and prefers the term "Biblical criticism": Historical study ... can be either critical or noncritical; and critical study can be historical or nonhistorical. This suggests that the term "historical-critical method" is an awkward hybrid and might better be avoided.
* Biblical criticism * Biblical genres * Close reading * Diplomatics * Documentary hypothesis * Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy * Historical-grammatical method * Journal of Higher Criticism * Textual criticism (lower criticism) * Synoptic problem
* ^ A B Soulen, Richard N.; Soulen, R. Kendall (2001). Handbook of
biblical criticism (3rd ed., rev. and expanded. ed.). Louisville, Ky.:
Westminster John Knox Press. p. 78. ISBN 0-664-22314-1 .
* ^ A B C D Soulen, Richard N. (2001). Handbook of Biblical
Criticism. John Knox. p. 79.
* ^ Hahn, general editor, Scott (2009). Catholic