Talk:Biblical criticism

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Articles for deletion This article was nominated for deletion on October 20, 2006. The result of the discussion was keep.

informal request for comment[edit]

Would people who regularly follow/contribute to this article please look at Yahwism and the talk page, where I express my concerns? Thanks, Slrubenstein | Talk 19:12, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

New structural outline[edit]

This section was no more than a list of names, albeit all linked to articles. So I've added a concise history of OT criticism, with a strong bias to the Pentateuch/Deut. History. I know little about criticism of the remainder of the the OT, and nothing about the NT. Others are welcome to expand and otherwise edit this beginning.PiCo 12:55, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

I've now given this section a new title to reflect the fact that I've given the article a new overall outline, with sections on history of biblical criticism, higher criticism, and lower or textual criticism. Some subsections are also suggested. The links to articles contained in each section (they'd normally be found in a "see also" section at the end of the article) can be integrated into the sections in coming weeks. The aim is to produce a normal prose article, to replace the existing lists of links. PiCo 16:19, 28 September 2007 (UTC)
Extended the History section with a subsection on NT criticism.PiCo 05:46, 29 September 2007 (UTC) In fact I've been quite busy filling in the rest as well - lots of brief sketches of various forms of criticism.PiCo 16:37, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

Robin Lane Fox and the list of major biblical critics[edit]

Why remove my addition of Robin Lane Fox? He has analysed OT and NT Greek and Hebrew documents; his focus is via Greek ancient history. His book is readable, reprinted and he is a don at Oxford. Not good enough for you maybe, but accessible to the rest of us.86.42.213.51 15:22, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

(Made this into a new section). I removed Fox because he hasn't contributed new ways of investigating the bible (i.é., new tools for biblical criticism), nor new insights. I think Fox himself would agree that he's a populariser, rather than a major figure within the discipline. If you feel this isn't so, please feel free to say why. PiCo 15:41, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
He brings historical and textual analysis and very few such books have made 3 editions. He is a populariser and synthesiser of others' theories, and that's useful to wikipedia whose readers are not expert but may want to read the main arguments. I didn't place him in the main text for that very reason.86.42.213.51 16:35, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

I agree with 86.42.213.51. Wikipedia customarily references both popular and scholarly works. Rick Norwood 13:31, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

The picture above the text of Albert Schweitzer is Alfred Nobel[edit]

The picture above the text of Albert Schweitzer is Alfred Nobel. Schweitzer did won the Nobel Peace Prize, but it is confusing to have Nobels picture in this article with Albert Schweitzers name below, and no explonation why. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 84.217.2.175 (talk) 00:10, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

Restoring material on types of biblical criticism[edit]

I have restored some material describing various types of biblical criticism - source criticism, form criticism etc - as I fe3lt these are useful to the reader seeking an overview of the subject. There were also some repetitions and redundancies left over from previous merges with material from other articles, and I tried to cut these down. PiCo (talk) 08:37, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

[The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought][edit]

This article is missing an important point made by other encyclopedias on this topic. The point essentially being that not all biblical criticism scholars have seen this school of thought as hostile to supernatural Christian beliefs. Here's a representative quote from page 298 of [The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought] (with a few added wikilinks):

"That historical criticism is not inherently inimical to Christian belief is shown by the case of William Robertson Smith (1846-94), a member of th4e Free Church of Scotland and a pioneer in establishing the final form of the position first oulined by de Wette and classically stated in 1883 by Julius Wellhausen in his Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels (Prolegomena to the History of Israel). As a convinced evangelical Smith believed that historical criticism was a continuation of the Reformation's recovery of the bible, and a necessary tool to enable intelligent churchgoers to make sense of it. A similar view was powerfully advocated a generation later by the Primitive Methodist biblical scholar A. S. Peake (1865-1929). Both denied strongly that accepting historical criticism involved rejecting the supernatural origins of Christianity. Catholic resistance to historical criticism was overcome by the pioneering work of the French Dominican M.-J. Lagrange, first director (1890) of the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem, and by the Jesuit Augustin Bea, who played a vital part in the publication of the papal encyclical Divino afflante spiritu (1943) sanctioning historical criticism."

"While historical criticism has been influenced by many factors its prime source is the biblical text and the problems it contains for readers with critical awareness. In the hands of non-believers it can be pressed to positions that may be embarrassing to traditional Christian belief. It is not, however, inherently hostile to Christianity but potentially liberating for Christians who wish their faith to be intelligently grounded and intellectually honest."

Sources listed below quoted text in Oxford Companion:

Also here's a reliable source that is in the public domain (okay to cut and paste material from it): The Cambridge Companion to the Bible (1893)

Critic?[edit]

This article calls a person who practices Biblical criticism a Biblical critic. I don't think "critic" is the right word, but I'm not sure what word to replace it with. Commentator? Rick Norwood (talk) 15:15, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

Biblical scholar?
Actually I'm not very happy with some parts of the article. It concentrates too much on history, and too much on a narrow type of criticism - the type concerned with the origin of texts. It might be an idea to revise it to give an overview of what Biblical scholars are trying to do when they study the bible - the investigation of origins is only a smal part of it. PiCo (talk) 03:47, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

I agree. Biblican scholar is a better description than "critic". Rick Norwood (talk) 13:49, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

Catholic and Protestant views[edit]

I deleted a section with this title. Biblical criticism isn't something one has a view on, any more than one has a view on dinosaurs. The two major Catholic documents on biblical criticism deserve a mention, but integrated into the section on the historical development of biblical criticism. I can't see that Protestantism ever had any single view at all, since it's a movement rather than an organisation. (Tho it would be worth mentioning that protestantism's lack of dogma and the llack of any real interest in theology and orthodoxy in Germany created the environment in which a secular study of scripture could thrive)PiCo (talk) 22:32, 22 December 2008 (UTC)

An astute comment, PiCo. Modern Catholic and Protestant dogmatic reactions to biblical criticism may differ in minor respects, but in principle literary criticism of the Bible is a scholastic enterprise that Jews and Christians of all denominations engage in. Or at least they do now. For example, Raymond E. Brown was Catholic, but highly regarded by Protestants for his careful and insightful hypotheses reconstructing a "Johanine community". There are doctrinal differences influencing some assessment of his work, but in the main, Protestants are often willing to entertain the plausibility of some of his historical critical conjectures. From the perspective of a believer like myself, I view much of biblical criticism to be about reading the Bible more carefully and hence discovering much that would otherwise be overlooked. And to be brutally honest, it has sometimes caused "growing pains" where it has overthrown naive assumptions that had no right to have any faith placed in them to begin with.
This article shows promise. Thanks to many people, but especially to you PiCo. Keep up the great work. I'm too busy to contribute atm, but I may enjoy watching. Cheers. Alastair Haines (talk) 12:26, 8 May 2009 (UTC)
This is definitely not true. Even the most modernist Orthodox Jewish sources (Da'at Miqra, Eisentein, Hertz) believe the books to be what they say they are. This is not to say that they do not engage in criticism that does not challenge this principle.Mzk1 (talk) 20:14, 3 April 2011 (UTC)

textual corruption?[edit]

Would some pious polyglot please fix up para 3.3 in the main article? Ta. Hoggnorton (talk) 16:53, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

Why no criticism of criticism?[edit]

Why nothing on criticism of criticism, particularly the documentary hypothesis? And why nothing of that nature from non-Christian sources, in spite of the fact that the higher criticism has long been called "the higher anti-semitism"?Mzk1 (talk) 20:20, 3 April 2011 (UTC)

We could follow it up with a criticism of the criticism of criticism....PiCo (talk) 13:39, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
Oh, I am sorry. You know The Truth(TM), and it cannot be argued with. Sounds like the academic version of replacement theology.Mzk1 (talk) 19:24, 18 July 2011 (UTC)

Multiple Attestation Criticism[edit]

Is this article solely based on biblical study for the "Multiple Attestation Criticism" aspect. In the terms of independent sources, in journalism, science and so forth, including related sources such as Paul of Tarsus (who in any of the narratives never met the physical corporeal Jesus) as a separate Attestation, is a fallacy. In fact, only Josephus would be a true independent source and even that not a first person, as he was reporting on rumor of a local revolutionary named Jesus, with little detail to his life provided. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 98.172.14.132 (talk) 19:20, 3 October 2011 (UTC)


Apologies - I didn't see this entry update when I entered it, so I logged in and made the same essential point. This entry can be ignored or deleted...signed by author. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Harvey Manfrenchensen (talkcontribs) 19:51, 3 October 2011 (UTC)

Multiple Attestation Argument[edit]

I would argue that while a gnostic text might qualify in some perspectives a independent source, the writings of Paul of Tarsus, subject to the same editorial processes throughout history as the four primary gospels, and the "Q" document, the existence of which is purely theoretical, do not qualify as independent sources in any other context than christian biblical studies. For the purposes of scholarly work, outside of christian theological realms, these would not be considered independent, but interdependent. Josephus could be considered a qualifying independent source, but even in his writing there is some (although considered by the christian theological community a fringe discussion) argument as to whether his works were edited to support the evidence of a historical Jesus (see Josephus on Jesus wiki article).

This article is hardly a secular piece, and though that may not be necessary to have the article remain, it should be noted in the opening paragraph, I feel. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Harvey Manfrenchensen (talkcontribs) 19:49, 3 October 2011 (UTC)


List of Biblical Scholars[edit]

The list of notable scholars should be just that - a list of individuals who have contributed notable new insights to biblical criticism from an academic perspective. Inserting the names of intellectuals whose main work was in other fields and whose importance to biblical scholarship is tangential at best or of individuals who were merely interested in the Bible and its "sources" is unhelpful for users attempting to identify the major figures (past and present) in this field and general trends in scholarship. User:6enoch 21:45, 3 January 2012 (EST)

User:6enoch removed Joseph Wheless from the list. I challenge you to read Wheless' works and conclude that his insights are not notable, or that his importance to biblical scholarship is "tangential" or "unhelpful." Geĸrίtzl (talk) 19:26, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Wheless's Forgery in Christianity is certainly an interesting and passionate work, but it is stretching it a bit to call Wheless a 'notable biblical scholar/critic.' His hypotheses were unoriginal even in the 1920s/1930s (see the more comprehensive and influential writings of Bruno Bauer beginning already in the late 1830s) and have had little to no effect on the development of the field. I say this not to pass judgment on the merits of Wheless's arguments, but only to say that the history and development of biblical criticism owes nothing to his efforts and the inclusion of his name in this list is therefore misleading. Notability is, I would suggest, a measure of an individual's pioneering work and subsequent effect on the field. Perhaps adding a paragraph or so on Wheless to the Jesus myth theory page would be more apposite; I notice that there is currently no mention of him there other than in the References section. User:6enoch 17:08, 11 January 2012 (EST)

I would dispute Robert Price's inclusion on this list of 'notable' Biblical scholars when his work isn't very influential in the world of New Testament scholarship and is only listed because he has a Wikipedia page dedicated to him. I would suggest that if we're going to include Price, there are quite a few more scholars that we should include, including Evangelical scholars who should've made the list, but did not. This is to be a list of 'notable' New Testament scholars, not just any scholar that has work in the field. User:stormchaser23 18:12, 07 December 2015 (UTC)

Agree. Price hasn't been all that influential in this field. Google Scholar indicates his two most important works have only 45 and 28 citations respectively. StAnselm (talk) 22:39, 7 December 2015 (UTC)

Vividness of narration?[edit]

This is not an aspect of modern biblical criticism. Origen (the source) was giving his amazing critical skills in the third century! As the article states, biblical criticism originated out of the 17th and 18th centuries. Although Origen's brainwave (that more vividness = better evidence for an eyewitness account) adds to the overall humor of the page, I'm gonna' have to nix it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by UCMyPOV? (talkcontribs) 21:42, 23 July 2012 (UTC)

Problem with article's intro[edit]

The fact that the Bible is made by man is known by Christians and Jews, since almost all of the books of the bible do NOT claim divine origin. However, the lead, along with a sentence in the first section, makes it sound like the Bible is believed to have supernatural origins, which is not true, and therefore it should be changed.Gonzales John (talk) 07:25, 3 April 2015 (UTC)

Many believe the Bible has supernatural origins, and see the job of Biblical scholars to interpret history in light of Biblical truth. On the other hand, Biblical criticism, the subject of this article, takes the opposite view, and tries to interpret the Bible in the light of history. Rick Norwood (talk) 15:44, 3 April 2015 (UTC)

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Merge discussion[edit]

The result of this discussion is no consensus. North America1000 08:28, 6 August 2017 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

The article Biblical studies is redundant with this one, and is the shorter of the two. I suggest that it be merged into this article. Thoughts? Jujutsuan (Please notify with {{re}} | talk | contribs) 12:38, 12 June 2016 (UTC)

Biblical studies is a scientific field, that needs an article. Biblical criticism, as defined in this article, is really criticism of most non-fundamentalistic strains of biblical studies. The criticism-article should be merged into the main article, not the other way around. But since that, because of the length of the text, would give the criticism side undue weight I suppose it is better not to merge. --Modernisten (talk) 10:08, 16 July 2016 (UTC)
But "biblical studies" is defined as "the academic application of a set of diverse disciplines to the study of the Jewish and Christian scriptures, the Bible", whereas "biblical criticism" is defined very similarly as "the scholarly "study and investigation of biblical writings that seeks to make discerning judgments about these writings". It's not "criticism of non-fundamentalist interpretation", as you suggest. Jujutsuan (Please notify with {{re}} talk | contribs) 16:16, 16 July 2016 (UTC)


Having both a Biblical studies page and a Biblical criticism page is redundant. In fact, it may be more appropriate to have Biblical studies redirect to Biblical criticism. I think that a "biblical studies" page should be reserved for the history of the discipline, especially from the Enlightenment to the present, it may read History of Biblical Studies or something to that effect. Biblical criticism is merely a more scientifically nuanced designation for biblical studies, and therefore, more appropriate, in my opinion. Given the variety of "criticisms" within biblical criticism, there is certainly room for the fundamentalists, as the variety gives room for extremes. For example, Daniel B. Wallace is a textual critic and New Testament scholar, yet a fundamentalist. And, Bart D. Ehrman is a textual critic and New Testament scholar, yet he is an atheist.Newtestamentguy (talk) 01:47, 24 September 2016 (UTC) .

Strong keep as is, but fix the redundancy in the intros (however; see last paragraph). @Jujutsuan: It is clear from the structure of the Biblical studies article that Biblical criticism is a distinct subset of Biblical studies, and therefore there is no redundancy, except for certain aspects being emphasized in the intros. B. criticism is grounded in academic and some scientific techniques; B. studies is much more general and includes subtopics that can be discussed briefly and others that can also be discussed briefly but only IF its section has a link at the top to its main article.
The best structure to use for a significantly large subset topic of a much more general topic is the one that we have right now; sections for each subtopic of the general topic with more or less the the same level of treatment of each, except for each larger subtopic having a prominent link to its main article. (I saw this in a WP guideline or in an old discussion on subpages, but I forget where, sorry, and my chronic illness won't let me look it up now or likely get back here, though I'll try.)
There's a reason we don't stuff an entire article's worth of text on the skeleton into the article on the human body. However, if the articles' body text's information and structure is incorrect (which the original post does not claim; it claims the information is redundant), then I suggest setting up new article structures of mainly just headers in your sandbox and getting feedback on the structure before working more on it (to save your time and energy in the long run by catching any structure problems earlier rather than later). If it holds up to reviews you request, go create new article(s) out of that/those structure(s) and bless you for your efforts! ... Bless you anyway, if you like. :) Thanks, —Geekdiva (talk) 05:45, 6 October 2016 (UTC)
Good points have been raised so far. But I think this discussion is missing a broader issue: "Biblical criticism" is insider jargon among biblical scholars. There was a time a century or so ago when it matched the language in other fields: English professors talked about "literary criticism" and historians talked about "historical criticism." Now those phrases like "biblical criticism" are largely confined to biblical scholars which, like them, has become anachronistic in the wider academy. "Biblical studies" names the field in a way comparable to other fields in the humanities today (e.g. religious studies, literary studies, African-American studies). It is therefore the more typical way in which those of us who work in secular universities describe our field, while "biblical criticism" remains common language in theological schools and in discussing the details of critical methodology. So the two articles, even in their different levels of detail, actually reflect rather well the different ways in which the names of this field get used in contemporary academic contexts. I recommend therefore leaving them as they are with all the appropriate cross-references between them. Hbprof (talk) 13:32, 12 November 2016 (UTC)Jim Watts

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

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