School of Higher criticism, how smart were these guys anyhow?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Plain Old Bill, Apr 13, 2007.

  1. Plain Old Bill

    Plain Old Bill
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    In the school of higher criticism it is claimed that J and P plus up to 22 redactors wrote the first 5 books of the Bible. Yet they do not come up with ONE single name of who any of these people were.
    In addtition according to Gleason Archer these critics were not that familiar with middle eastern customs or writing styles.These men are still being listened to today by some(even some conservatives).Lacking this knowledge and it is even suggested some of these scholars lacked proper language skills, how can we give any creedance to these men or think of them as Bible scholars?
     
  2. preachinjesus

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    to be fair the redactors didn't exactly sign their names in the Pentateuch.

    I'm not a fan of some forms of higher critical studies, I think it is an insanely Cartesian Modern approach to try to "prove" Scripture to the modern-scientific mindset yet ends up, somewhat, discreditting Scripture. I don't think higher criticism will have much to say beyond mainline scholarly circles (which really isn't anywhere near traditional evangelical pews and chairs.) I think evangelical theologians have soundly responded to these issues over the past several decades.

    I'd like to hear what they believe are "proper langauge skills" because they might have a point. We've come a long way in our knowledge of higher critical archeological claims and textual criticism (part due to the sheer tennacity of the higher critics' claims) and shown the traditional evangelical claims of Scripture are fairly robust and acceptable.

    Also, the JEDP thing is on the outskirts of contemporary theology these days. There are some other, more progressive views that are coming to the forefront (note: not endorsing them just mentioning them.)

    good thread topic :thumbs:
     
  3. Ed Edwards

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    Any suggestion where we might start looking at facts
    about this area of discussion?
     
  4. Rippon

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    B.B. Warfield's writings would be a good place to begin . He dealt with the higher critics ( mainly German ) a great deal of the time . Warfield went into fine detail outlining their errors . They just ignored him rather than tackling the Lion of Princeton .
     
  5. Pastor Larry

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    Gleason Archer's Old Testament Introduction is a wonderful resource on this as well.
     
  6. gb93433

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    As with any movement there are often some great things that come out of it and others which are poor.

    Out of that movement came some things such as how to interpret wisdom literature but some others are ridiculous. However we see the same things today in other areas. On the other side is a legalism and ridiculous literalism that makes no sense at any time.

    If I understand scripture right I see Jesus as so often coming right down the middle of all the mess and being shot at by both parties.
     
    #6 gb93433, Apr 13, 2007
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  7. John of Japan

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    Right on, Brother Bill! There is no historical evidence for the redactors whatsoever. All of the "evidence" is theoretical, based on perceived style differences (but every book has style changes from section to section) and the critics' desire to discredit the Word of God.

    The classic defending the Pentateuch is The Five Books of Moses, by O. T. Allis, a genius who was fluent in ALL the ancient languages (Hebrew, Latin, Greek, Aramaic, Egyptian, etc.). Any good modern, conservative commentary will easily debunk the higher critics' theories: The Expositor's Bible Commentary (my favorite), Leupold's Exposition of Isaiah, etc.
     
  8. John of Japan

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    Please name one, single good thing, anything which honored God, which came out of higher criticism.
     
  9. gb93433

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    Read post #6
     
  10. John of Japan

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    Are you sure you know what higher criticism is? Maybe you're thinking of literary criticism or something. Higher criticism doesn't teach us how to interpret wisdom literature at all.

    Wikipedia--"Higher criticism, also known as historical criticism, is a branch of literary analysis that attempts to investigate the origins of a text, especially the text of the Bible. Higher criticism, in particular, focuses on the sources of a document and tries to determine the authorship, date and place of composition of the text. This term is used in contrast with lower criticism, known as textual criticism, which is the endeavour to establish the original version of a text."
     
    #10 John of Japan, Apr 14, 2007
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  11. Gold Dragon

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    Without getting into JEDP and the Documentary Hypothesis, the basic idea of biblical redaction (multiple human editors for a single book) does have some pretty clear evidence in some books of the bible.

    Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) is a site that does not support redaction criticism but has an article that recognizes that redaction is commonly found in scripture (Deuteronomy, Psalms, Chronicles, etc.)

    Opposition to redaction criticism is due to the problem it poses to the concept of biblical inerrancy and the inspiration of original manuscripts when taken a little further like in the case of Documentary Hypothesis.

    Tradition also has difficulty with naming the author of the book of Hebrews, Job and many others.
     
    #11 Gold Dragon, Apr 14, 2007
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  12. kiwimac

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    You appear to be suggesting that the Higher Critics were not Christian. I sincerely hope you are not judging another's salvation.
     
  13. gb93433

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    Higher criticism includes many types of criticism. I took a whole course on the stuff. It includes redaction, source, textual, form, historical, grammatical, literary, and canonical, etc.

    My point was that some of the same people involved in higher crticism were also some of the same people who taught us how to interpret wisdom literature.
     
  14. John of Japan

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    Look again. I judged their theories, not their salvation.
     
  15. John of Japan

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    Bill's OP was specifically about the original higher critics and their theories of redaction. If we go through the whole ball of wax this thread will take forever! :smilewinkgrin:

    I think it is a different matter to say that higher criticism was profitable than to say that the same people who taught it also taught some profitable things.
     
  16. John of Japan

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    Hi, Gold Dragon! Long time no see. :wavey:

    The CARM article says, "Some evidence offered to support biblical redaction...." Then it says at the end of that paragraph, "There are other alleged evidences but these will suffice." In other words, according to the website, the evidence offered does not at all prove JEDP or other such theories.

    The originators of redaction criticism specifically targeted the Pentateuch and Isaiah, so if we have to deal with the OP then we must discuss JEDP and Isaiah.
    Exactly right. Redaction criticism is diametrically opposed to verbal plenary inspiration, particularly in the Pentateuch and Isaiah.

    "It is characteristic of this method that it is divisive and destructive of the unity and harmony of Scripture.... A book which is full of contradictory statements cannot speak with the authority of truth and cannot be in a unique and special sense the Word of the God of truth" (The Five Books of Moses, by O. T. Allis, p. 11).
    The difference is that Hebrews and Job, just to stick with those two, have traditionally only one author, though the author is unknown. There is no evidence that either was redacted. (I've never even read of a redaction critic who believed they were--but I've got a lot to learn.)

    On the other hand, the JEDP writers and Deutero-Isaiah were invented out of whole cloth just to fit the theories. We have authors with names for Isaiah and the Pentateuch. It stands to reason that if there were more than one author the Jewish scholars would have some record of his name.
     
  17. gb93433

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    I would say that most of higher criticism was not profitable but I still believe a very few things came out of it that were.
     
  18. Gold Dragon

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    Hi JoJ. I've relocated around the world and am doing full time studies so my visits to BB have been rare.

    Just to clarify, I'm not a supporter of the Documentary Hypothesis or higher criticism. I'm simply trying to present reasons for why some people do support DH and others do not.

    I understood the "but these will suffice" to mean that the list of evidence for biblical redaction is long and making a comprehensive list is not the intent of the article.

    I'm not really interested in either defending or opposing JEDP/DH or those who originated the theories. I just wanted to present evidence for and against redaction so that folks can make their own decisions based on the evidence.

    Defending or opposing verbal plenary inspiration isn't that important to me either. I believe the bible is God's authoritative, trustworthy and inspired word to humans. The scientific way He inspired it is not the most important thing, but that I believe it is inspired by faith.

    I don't believe that redaction or the Documentary Hypothesis suggest that the bible is contradictory. Of course, I don't think understanding redaction or DH is too important for studying the bible. But at one time in biblical scholarship, it was all the rage and that theoretical contribution can be acknowledged even as current biblical scholarship recognizes its limitations and moves on from it.

    I don't feel my faith in the inspiration of scripture is threatened at all by the possiblity of biblical redaction or DH.

    My point wasn't that those books are written by multiple authors, but that the inability to name authors or redactors is a limition of both redaction critics and Tradition.

    They have their theories. I applaud them for coming up with theories based on evidence and presenting them to the world for criticism. We can look at the evidence and come to our own conclusions. I would say current biblical scholarship has done just that and found things wanting about JEDP.

    That is how scientific fields work. Looking at evidence, coming up with theories, publishing for scientific criticism, listening to criticism, coming up with new theories based on criticism/new evidence .... etc.
     
  19. John of Japan

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    I'm sure you're having a great time. If you are where I think you are, I'd love to be there! :thumbs:
    I'm glad to know that.
    I certainly agree that it has to be by faith. I personally wouldn't use the word "scientific" in describing God's method of inspiration. In the terms of Francis Schaeffer (echoing Aquinas), it is a matter of grace breaking through into nature. The inspiration of Scripture was a miracle, just as the incarnation of Christ was, and science is simply not equipped to discuss miracles.
    My faith is not threatened either by redaction or DH. However, I believe that these theories have threatened the faith of many. What made my grandfather a Fundamentalist was an event that happened while he was in grad school at the U. of Chicago. A lecture including some higher criticism destroyed the faith of a friend who had grown up on the mission field. The young man came out of the lecture and said, "If all of that is true, the Bible can't be." Another famous example is Chuck Templeton, an evangelist friend of Billy Graham in his younger years, whose faith was destroyed by the higher criticism he learned when he attended Yale, I believe it was.

    Your faith is fine, my faith is fine, but a weak almost-Christian might have his fledgling faith destroyed by theories that deny the integrity of the Word of God. Therefore I believe we have a duty to oppose such theories.

    Note that to believe JEDP and Deutero-Isaiah it is necessary to believe there are errors in the Bible. First of all, the NT quotes the Pentateuch over and over, from many different sections of the books, always attributing the quotes to Moses. The Gospels take it for granted that Moses wrote the Pentateuch. Christ Himself over and over quoted the Pentateuch and attributed it to Moses (Matt. 8:4, 19:8, 23:2, etc.). So if the JEDP theory is right, then the NT is mistaken.

    Christ also quoted from both halves of Isaiah, meaning he attributed the whole book to Isaiah. To say that there might be a Deutero-Isaiah then is to say that Jesus Christ Himself was not infallible.

    Now, I don't say that every advocate of redaction criticism realizes these implications. In fact, going along with the OP, the originators of the thories may not have realized these implications. But they should have. It is sloppy scholarship not to have investigated more thoroughly the 1st century thinking on the matter, in particular NT thinking. Many extra-Biblical sources such as Josephus, for that matter, attribute the Pentateuch to Moses and Isaiah to Isaiah. This is why I say these two theories (whatever the facts may be about Psalms, etc.) were invented out of whole cloth. There is no historical evidence for them--none.
    Point taken.
    I don't consider higher criticism or lower criticism, either one, to be science any more than archaeology is. They are all very subjective scholarly disciplines. To be science, a discipline must be able to verify a theory by observation and experimentation. It is impossible to observe the Bible being written, and it is impossible to experiment about how it is written. (There may be an exception to this in lower criticism, where Dr. James Price has done some work evaluating text families with computer programs.) :type:
     
  20. John of Japan

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    I'd love to know what. :(
     

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