Friday, June 03, 2016

The limits of historical criticism

Historical criticism contributes a consciousness to the difference in contexts that creates questions. The key is not to allow that socio- historically derived knowledge of difference to become absolute, a possibility foiled to a degree by the text itself. Working on the assumption of an absolute difference in context between present and past, and further assuming the “real,” singular meaning of a text was located in that past, historical criticism often tried to bypass the text as it is received in the church through reconstructions of the text’s development. But by respecting the literal sense of the text, the language on the page is taken seriously in its own right, and the theological context of interpretation is preserved, since it is the church that hands down its Scripture through history. For this reason, the canonical, final form of Scripture is taken at face value. From a theological perspective this is actually the approach that best respects its otherness, for it is in this mode that the Bible is read as Christian Scripture.— Reading the Way to Heaven, page 127

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