Biblical Criticism

What does it mean to say that
Scripture REVEALS God?
Propositional Revelation
You need:
1 red card
4 blue cards
3 purple cards
8 blue cards
3 orange cards
A treasury tag
An information sheet
Newspaper reports that cover the same story
Today’s lesson is successful if:
• You can understand why different
people interpret the Bible in
different ways
• You can explain the history of
Biblical Criticism since the Middle
• You understand the reasons why
there are different types of
Biblical Criticism
Key Questions
• Religious believers believe that scripture
reveals something about God. How can we
use Human words to describe the ineffable?
• If God is timeless, how can we understand him
using human words? How could the grammar
of God work?
• How have the different newspapers in front of
you interpreted the story in Ukraine? Why?
• How might the news be presented in Ukraine?
In Russia? In China? Or perhaps other
countries bordering Russia?
The Bible is not just one book
• The Bible is split into different sections. What
are they?
• How many books of the Bible are there?
• What different types of book are there?
The Bible has different types of
Much was never meant to be interpreted literally
Think back to the story of Genesis. When did
we begin to think that the account for the
creation of the world was not strictly ‘true’?
As far back as 200 CE Origen suggested that the
Genesis account was not be meant to be read
The Middle Ages
In the Middle Ages, scripture was not taken as literally as
other times. They developed a subtle four-fold technique to
bring out the full meaning of the text:
1. Literal sense (on historical accounts)
2. Allegorical sense (to establish spiritual meaning)
3. Tropological sense (brings out pastoral and moral
4. Anagogical sense (dealing with eschatology and the
heavenly realms)
They created many commentaries and glossaries of the Bible
What is this?
When translated into
Mongolian, our word
house MEANS the same
thing. However, a persons
understanding of it would
be completely different.
16th Century
The reformers wanted to look at the
original text to find its original meaning.
They thought that the Bible had been
corrupted by the Catholic Church.
Erasmus of Rotterdam - we need to
look beyond what the words mean to
see what the words were meant by the
person who said or wrote them.
Martin Luther – wanted everyone to
use close textual reading
John Calvin – looked at the Bible as the
‘whole word of God’
19th Century
Huge Developments in Biblical Criticism:
1) Higher Criticism
2) Historical Criticism
3) Literary Criticism
4) Source Criticism
5) Form Criticism
6) Tradition(al) Criticism
7) Redaction Criticism
8) Textual Criticism
Choose 1 of the newspaper articles
How would each look at the article?
1) Higher Criticism
2) Historical Criticism
3) Literary Criticism
4) Source Criticism
5) Form Criticism
6) Tradition(al) Criticism
7) Redaction Criticism
8) Textual Criticism
20th Century
Literal/Fundamentalists – the Bible is the
inerrant word of God
Conservatives – Scripture IS the word of God,
but accepts Biblical scholarship
Liberals – take a very open approach to
scripture. Bultmann would fit in here. Rudolf
Bultmann – demythologising
Test Each Other…
• Tomorrow, we shall consider - what are the
advantages of interpreting the Bible in
different ways?
Lesson 2: Problems with Biblical
Test each other on the Literary
Criticism Terms
• Tried to combine faith with reason.
Karl Barth
• Rejected this… Why?
Karl Barth (1886 – 1968)
• Knowledge of God can only be found in Christianity
• The Old Testament is open to testing to check how it
relates to the New Testament (it is superior to the OLD)
• In Church Dogmatics:
– God reveals to humans when he wants, not when man
– Divine revelation is not the same as human insight
– Ordinary language is inadequate to convey revelation
– Revelation is a personal disclosure of God’s being and
– Revelation is conveyed through the witness of the Bible
– Revelation is only given in Jesus Christ
Propositional Revelation
Non-propositional Revelation
• God directly revealing truths about his nature
• The idea that God does not reveal facts or
truths to people: instead the religious believer
acts in human history through human
Propositional Revelation: Moses
• Believed by some to have
received a THEOPHANY when
he received the copy of the
first five books of the law and
the two stone tablets with
the 10 commandments. It is
thought to have contained
NO errors (inerrant).
• How would this have been
viewed by the different
interpretations from
yesterdays lesson?
Problems with MOSES
• Eternal, non-physical, transcendent being that
exists outside spatio-temporal universe.
• How can Moses have free will
• How can he SEE/HEAR a non physical being?
Propositional Revelation:
Was scripture DICTATED?
• Henry Morris (YEC)
held the view that
humans have simply
copied the text by
divine dictation
• Still has problems of
Evaluate Propositional Revelation
How can it be sure that propositional revelation
is from God?
How can an eternal God act in a spatio-temporal
The scribe has no free will and has to write and
If scripture reveals facts about God, it is still
limited by human language.
More modern approach to scripture:
Non Propositional Revelation
• God has revealed himself to the writers via religious experiences
that are ineffable. However the writers try to put their experiences
into words
• Friedrich Schleiermacher believed that the biblical texts came about
as writers reflected on their religious experiences. Faith is
• Buber (I-THOU) relationship
Scriptures inspired…
• Just like a child who is
inspired by an excellent
footballer, the writer has
had an experience of
the Divine that informs
their writing. This
overcomes the problem
of interactionism
William James
& Swinburne
Evaluating Non-Propositional
• There is no direct knowledge of God revealed
as the revelation is a result of human
understanding and interpretation of events
• The content needs interpreting and may not
lead to God
• There is no absolute certainty about what is
being revealed.
Why would someone who accepts the
non-propositional approach to the
Bible need to hold that there are some
propositional truths in the Bible?
If there was no propositional truth in the Bible why
would religious believers act on the teachings?
Unless the believer accepts that scripture is inspired
by God then all the teachings are just irrelevant.
Essay: Due Monday
To what extent can God
reveal himself through
sacred writings?
You can check the OCR website for the
Markscheme AND examiners report for this
essay title. January 2011
Plenary Plan
• What 5 POINTS would you like to make in the
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