What Is Social-Scientific Criticism?

By John H. Elliott | Go to book overview

1
What is
Social-Scientific Criticism?

Let us begin with a definition. Social-scientific criticism of the Bible is that phase of the exegetical task which analyzes the social and cultural dimensions of the text and of its environmental context through die utilization of the perspectives, theory, models, and research of the social sciences. As a component of the historical-critical method of exegesis, social-scientific criticism investigates biblical texts as meaningful configurations of language intended to communicate between composers and audiences. In this process it studies (1) not only the social aspects of the form and content of texts but also the conditioning factors and intended consequences of the communication process; (2) the correlation of the text’s linguistic, literary, theological (ideological), and social dimensions; and (3) the manner in which this textual communication was both a reflection of and a response to a specific social and cultural context—that is, how it was designed to serve as an effective vehicle of social interaction and an instrument of social as well as literary and theological consequence.

This definition indicates, first, that social-scientific criticism is a subdiscipline of exegesis and is inseparably related to the other operations of the exegetical enterprise: textual criticism, literary criticism, narrative criticism, historical criticism, tradition criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, rhetorical criticism, and theological criticism. Socialscientific criticism complements these other modes of critical analysis, all of which are designed to analyze specific features of the biblical texts.

Inasmuch as biblical texts entail a diversity of dimensions, various subdisciplines have been developed over time to focus specific attention on these various aspects. Thus textual criticism analyzes the Bible as a collection of texts and textual witnesses with individual and collective histories

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What Is Social-Scientific Criticism?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Introduction- Two Scenarios 1
  • 1 - What Is Social-Scientific Criticism? 7
  • 2 - Why the Need for Social-Scientific Criticism? 9
  • 3 - The Recent Emergence of Social-Scientific Criticism 17
  • 4 - The Method in Operation- Presuppositions 36
  • 5 - The Method in Operation- Procedures 60
  • 6 - Critical Assessments 87
  • 7 - Achievements and Contributions 101
  • Appendix 1 107
  • Appendix 2 110
  • Appendix 3 122
  • Appendix 4 124
  • Glossary 127
  • Abbreviations 136
  • Bibliographies 138
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