higher criticism

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higher criticism,

name given to a type of biblical criticism distinguished from textual or lower criticism. It seeks to interpret text of the Bible free from confessional and dogmatic theology. Higher criticism sought to apply the Bible to the same principles of science and historical method applied to secular works. It was largely dependent upon the study of internal evidence, although available data from linguistics and archaeology were also incorporated. The primary questions concerned the determination of the authenticity and likely chronological order of different sources of a text, as well as the identity and authorial intent of the writers. Higher criticism began most notably with the French scholar Jean Astruc's work (mid-18th cent.) on the sources of the Pentateuch. It was continued by German scholars such as Johann Salomo Semler (1725–91), Johann Gottfried Eichhorn (1752–1827), Ferdinand Christian Baur (1792–1860), and Julius Wellhausen (1844–1918). Not only did these scholars dispute one another's findings, they were bitterly attacked by others, who felt their criticisms discredited Christianity. Higher criticism has been increasingly abandoned for other methodologies, such as narrative criticism and canonical criticism, and the term itself has largely fallen into disuse.


See E. Krentz, The Historical-Critical Method (1975); J. Rogerson, Old Testament Criticism in the Nineteenth Century (1985); H. G. Reventlow, The Authority of the Bible and the Rise of the Modern World (1985).

References in periodicals archive ?
of Virginia Press, 2011], Charles LaPorte defines the Higher Criticism succinctly as "the revolutionary practice of studying the Christian scriptures as the collected poetry and mythology of an ancient, primitive people" (p.
He argues that Browning associates hagiography with Catholicism and that "many mid-century Protestants viewed Catholicism as the mirror reflection of the higher criticism.
This aspect of the Higher Criticism was, at its core, evangelism by textual means: it treated contributions from various eras as distinguishable but as having a fundamentally unvarying message.
This is to say that the Higher Criticism interpolated stadial history into Biblical texts themselves, and pointed to the differences in style, vocabulary, and historical reference among various portions of the text as evidence of the unity of the basic belief structure that it represented.
Matthew Leitch, Deuteronomy: The Key to the Higher Criticism of the Old Testament (London: The Religious Tract Society, [1905]), 6-7.
Other Examples by Leitch include, "The Present Drift of the Higher Criticism of the Gospel," Witness, 29 October 1897, 3, and "Principles of the Higher Criticism of the Old Testament in Their Application to the New Testament," Witness, 8 April 1898, 3.
If Lessing is the main figure on the higher criticism here (see Volume II for J.
In reflecting on the issue of "how to believe" in Browning, Loesberg contends that critics have become increasingly aware of the legacy of the higher criticism and yet "have refused to accept how completely this meant that his justification for belief wound up reproducing the Higher Critical position about the historical reality of Christianity, with the addition of an epistemologically daring and dangerous justification of willed belief in an object accepted as possibly fictional" (p.
Indeed, by the 1890s Green stood virtually alone as a major scholar opposing the higher criticism, much as his friend Dawson stood alone among scientists in defending the Bible against Darwin.
Review of The Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch, by W.
shortly after reading the Higher Criticism of David Friedrich Strauss, when he was racked by doubts about the historicity of the Gospels and while contemplating the resignation of his position at Oriel College, Oxford.
24) This is a second-order meaning that is indebted to (and consistent with) the Higher Criticism that had come to see exegetical history and the historical canonization of scripture with a materialistic confidence but a philosophical skepticism.