Term Paper: Bible Literary Criticism: Higher

Pages: 5 (1435 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] It was believed that the Deuteronomic school "reworked Joshua to Kings" (Malick, 1996).

The priestly document ("P") which deals primarily with issues of genealogies and ritual or cult in Genesis through numbers (Malick, 1996).

Higher criticism is also most notably associated with French scholar Jean Astruc, whose work in the mid 18th century focused on finding the source of the Pentateuch (AllRefer, 2004). German scholars Johann Salomo Semler (1725-91) continued this research, followed by Johan Gottfied Eichhorn, Ferdinand Christian Baur and Julius Wellhausen.

The question of validity related to higher criticism is valid. To proponents of higher criticism, nature and history is a "product of forces within and in process of development" (Reeve, 2004). Since the beginning of time critics of the Pentateuch have attempted to prove that there is and could not be any supernatural interference in the natural course of events, and no injection of power from outside of that which is real palpable (Reeves, 2004).

Higher Criticism can be considered a valuable asset to Biblical science. Its research could in theory shed light on the Scriptures. Higher Criticism involves the study of the literary structure of various aspects of the Bible, particularly in this case the Pentateuch.

In contemporary times Higher Criticism is often identified with "attacks upon the Bible and supernatural character of the Holy Scriptures" (Hague, n.d.). This is because study of the Scriptures involves someone to have a mind open to scholarly debate as well as the supernatural idealisms of faith and belief in God (Hague, n.d.). As one researcher quotes, "for without faith no one can explain the Holy Scriptures, and without scholarship no one can investigate historic origins" (Hague, n.d.).

Higher Criticism may be considered in a positive light as it urges the layman to question the origin and authors of the Pentateuch. It requires believers and non-believers to step up to the pate with both reverence and a scholarly outlook and examine the documents of the Pentateuch with objective cynicism. Even the most perfect literary work should be examined from an objective viewpoint. Higher criticism also encourages discourse of the works of the Pentateuch.

Higher Criticism does not however, take into consideration the strength of spiritual revelation and reverence. Believers of the Pentateuch are less likely to support an inquiry into the historical foundations of the work. Secular standards are necessarily applied to analysis when higher criticism is considered. Yet the Bible in and of itself is not a secular work, rather it is a highly spiritual one. For believers, the philosophic background to the bible in most instances is likely irrelevant.

The Bible is a unique piece of literature, unlike any other ever created during the history of man. For this reason alone, the Bible should not be subjected to ordinary standards of criticism and analyses. It cannot be analyzed merely via technical mechanisms. Rather, critical interpretation of the works contained therein must expand beyond ordinary rules to account for the potential "supernatural" elements.

The problem with Higher Criticism is that it approaches the Bible with a secular mind, and the Bible by nature is the exact antithesis of secular spirit. The Bible is also a unique document unlike any other ever created by man or the "supernatural." As such it should be treated in a unique manner, and perhaps not subject to the same skepticism a secular work might be subject to. Critical interpretation is subject to as much subjectivism as the Bible itself, therefore a majority of arguments might be considered invalid.


AllRefer. (2004). "Higher Criticism, Protestant Christianity." {Online} Available: http://referenc.allrefer.com/encyclopedia/H/highercr.html

Anderson, Robert. "The Bible and Modern Criticism." Hodder and Stoughton, London: 1902

Hague, Canon Dyson. N.d. "Chapter 1: The History of the Higher Criticism." Memorial Church, London: Ontario. {Online}. Available: http://www.eaec.org/bookstore/fundamentals/01.htm

Krentz, E. "The Historical-Critical Method." Old Testament Criticism in the Nineteenth Century (1985).

Machaffie, Barbara Z. "Monument Facts and Higher Critical Fancies: Archaeology and the Popularization of Old Testament Criticism in Nineteenth-Century Britain." Church History, Vol. 50, 1981.

Malick, David. (1996). "Introduction to the Pentateuch." Biblical Studies Org. {Online) Available:


Reeve, J.J. "My Personal Experience with Higher Criticism." Southwestern Theological Seminary." Vol. 1, Chapter XIX. {Online} Available: http://www.xmission.com/~fidelis/volume1/chapter19/reeve.html

Ross, Allen P. "Lecture One: The Literary Analytical Approach." P. 1, from Malick, 1996 [END OF PREVIEW]

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