The Bible in Modern Culture: Theology and Historical-Critical Method from Spinoza to Keasemann

The Bible in Modern Culture: Theology and Historical-Critical Method from Spinoza to Keasemann

The Bible in Modern Culture: Theology and Historical-Critical Method from Spinoza to Keasemann

The Bible in Modern Culture: Theology and Historical-Critical Method from Spinoza to Keasemann

Excerpt

Historical-critical study of the Bible is a necessary component of responsible theology. To employ historical-critical method is to subject the putatively factual material and literary structure of the Bible to independent investigation in order to test their truthfulness and to discern their original historical meaning. This independent investigation assumes that the outcome of research will not be predetermined by a guarantee of the Bible’s infallibility. The student of Scripture, using historical-critical method, is placed under the imperative of the historian who must seek the facts no matter where they lead.

The achievements of historical-critical study of the Bible are astounding. We know more now than the church has ever known about the historical backgrounds of both Testaments. Form criticism and tradition criticism have disclosed the process of text formation, and linguistic research has probed the meaning of the biblical vocabulary. We are more aware of the discrete theologies that make up the Bible and the ways they interrelate and differ. The volume of scholarly literature on the Bible, grounded in historical-critical method, is immense and, for the most part, unrestricted by confessional or national boundaries. Bibliographical research in this material operates efficiently at an international level. All major biblical scholars practice some form of historical-critical method. It is assumed widely among theologians. While hermeneutical proposals for doing theology continue to abound and conflict, historical-critical method appears to offer a common basis for dis-

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