What Is Historical Criticism?

Biblical Historical Criticism


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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