Church Education Resource Ministries
There are many components to NT Criticism. Some of the most important are Higher Criticism, Lower Criticism, Source Criticism, Form Criticism, and Redaction Criticism. The 1st I will start with will be Higher Criticism.
focuses on the process in the formation of the NT Canon. It asks the
question "How it happened?" This criticism tends to focus on the who,
what, when, where and why. The provenance, authorship, date, genres,
and literary components, are what is looked at in Higher Criticism.
There are branches of Higher Criticism which are Source, Form, and
A major player in Source Criticism is GE Lessing. Source critics look at the written available evidence, and ask and investigate what the apostles used in formation of the NT. The synoptic problem was an issue with Source Criticism. This is a branch of Higher Criticism.
This looks more at the oral traditions and sayings of the period. The words and sayings of Jesus circulated in small independent units and the job of the form critic is to investigate these sayings and decide what the evangelists used as they wrote the NT Canon. There are many types of forms and some of these are.
- Pronouncement stories
But there are problems with forms, being that the Jewish people would sometimes misrepresent or add detail's to the forms that should not have been there. Therefore the form critic has a big job in deciding what was used in the formation of the canon and what the evangelists used.
These critics look at and divide the Theological Contributions of the authors into units. This criticism focuses primarily on the theological views of the authors, and divides the sources up accordingly to theological views. However given that there can be problems to this type of criticism. One major problem is that this type of criticism will assume that changes in tradition, in an author, means changes in theology, which is not always true. This is very often a problem with Redaction Criticism.
Lower Criticism is much different than higher criticism since it asks what the MSS evidence says. This type of criticism is synonymous with textual Criticism. A Lower critic will focus only on the available evidence, and decide what is being said, and what the original intentions of the authors were. Skills in the original languages, is a must for a lower critic, and it is known that all translations are a product of Lower Criticism. The formal translations such as the KJV, NKJV, ESV and NASB represent a better representation of the original wording and meanings of the authors. So basically Lower Criticism asks the question as to what the original authors meant, and Higher Criticism asks how, the NT Canon was formed.
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