David Law: Historical “Criticism” Is An Approach, Not an Attitude

David R. Law, The Historical-Critical Method: A Guide for the Perplexed (London: Continuum, 2012), 8.

The terms ‘criticism’ and ‘critical’ have negative connotations in everyday speech. ‘To be critical’ or ‘to criticize’ normally means to find fault with someone or something. This is not intended to be the meaning the term has when applied to the study of the Bible…. The term ‘critical does not mean that the scholar is hostile to towards the Bible and is hell-bent on picking holes in it. Nor is ‘criticism’ synonymous with ‘scepticism’ or ‘unbelief.’ The terms ‘criticism’ and ‘critical’ do not refer to the personal disposition and motives of the scholars towards the Bible, but to the approach he or she is employing to make sense of the text…. ‘Criticism’ denotes the application of reason to the Bible, irrespective of where this may take the human being and a refusal to allow the understanding of the Bible to be dictated by tradition, the Church, the academy or any other supposed authority.

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