Historical criticism developed among European Protestant scholars, especially in Germany, and became the dominant methodology for studying the Bible by the late 19th century. By the mid-20th century, it had been embraced by many Jewish and Roman Catholic scholars, and it continues to be used by a majority of scholars alongside other interpretive strategies.
Historical critics seek first of all to be critical, in the way that reviewers try to evaluate a book, film, or a concert without prejudgment. In the study of the Bible, such an approach means understanding the Bible as a collection of works in many genres written by individuals in particular times and in particular places over many centuries. To interpret the Bible as a historical critic, then, is to look at it not as inspired and inerrant, but on its own terms as the words of various named and unnamed authors.
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