Form criticism applies the insights gained from the study of ancient folklore to identify and classify units of scripture which supposedly assumed distinctive forms during their period of oral, pre-literary transmission. Redaction criticism assumes the ‘results’ of form criticism but seeks to bring out how a writer could have edited (or redacted) the sources so that we are able to grasp his personal theological viewpoint. For example, we gain insights into the mind of an author X (e.g. Luke or the Matthean community) by observing how he uses [embellishes] a source document Y (Gospel of Mark), by making significant changes to the source document (e.g. additions or omissions in usage of source materials, changing words or phrases, supplying connecting ‘seams’, and reordering of sequence of events) to create a distinctive narrative framework of the life of Jesus with theological emphasis relevant to the needs of his intended readers.
Many critical scholars have concluded that the final form of the various units of the stories (pericopes/ pericopae) are strung together to form the four canonical gospels, the book of Genesis and the later chapters of the book of Isaiah are describing not so much the original historical reality of the stories, as providing insights into the social religious context of the author’s community (sitz im lebem). However, critics of form and redaction criticism contend that the ‘results’ of these criticism reflect more of the ingenuity of the critics than the actual historical processes in the formation of the biblical materials. Continue reading “Nonspeculative Redaction Criticism”
Appropriation and Constructive Use of Historical Critical Method in Biblical Studies
To read part 1 – The Promise and Perils of Historical Critical Method in Biblical Studies LINK
Some readers may conclude that we have been unduly alarmist in our discussion of the impact of historical criticism which have proven detrimental to the faith of some evangelical scholars. It would be good to recapitulate our concerns by referring to a recently published book – Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism ed., Christopher Hays and Christopher Ansberry which presents the current state of the historical critical method in evangelical scholarship. The authors are self-confessed evangelical scholars teaching at two venerable evangelical institutions and their book carries endorsements by several established evangelical scholars.
Reading the book confirms the concern that adoption of historical criticism could result in a shift towards liberal teachings: 1) denial of the historical Adam and Eve, 2) doubts about the reliability of the Biblical account of the founding of the nation of Israel, 3) the book of Deuteronomy was not written in the time of Moses. It was a produced much later at the time of King Hezekiah. The various books of prophecy were not written by the purported prophets but by some anonymous groups of followers who codified an ongoing collective tradition. Since it is impossible to identify the actual writers, it would be more accurate to describe these writings as pseuepigraphy, 4) New Testament criticism shows the events narrated in the gospels do not accurately reflect the original context as later anonymous authors took the liberty to redact and collate the texts to serve their own theological purposes. Finally, 5) the Book of Acts is demonstrably not historically reliable as critics conclude that there are discrepancies in historical details and theology between the Paul of the Book of Acts and the Paul of the Pauline Epistles. Continue reading “Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism Part 2”
The Promise and Perils of Historical Critical Method in Biblical Studies
How is it that access to modern tools of learning which evidently has help many Christians deepen their understanding of the Bible results in some losing their confidence in its historical reliability? It seems we have a classic case of the paradox of knowledge of good and evil which brings blessings and curses in a fallen world. Wonder drugs work miraculous cure but if taken excessively, would poison the body. Atomic energy generates massive electric power but it can also be used for weapons of mass destruction. Historical criticism which enhances our understanding of ancient scripture can also destroy faith – if it is applied without regard for the object of its investigation, the Bible with its self-attested divine authority. In this article I shall examine the process, promise and perils of the historical critical method for the study of the Bible.
Christians today can access many tools of modern knowledge to study Bible. Obscure words are clarified using Greek and Hebrew lexicons, strange ancient customs are explained by Bible encyclopedia and puzzling passages are illuminated in Bible commentaries. Understanding of the Bible becomes more concrete with new knowledge gleaned from recent archaeological excavations.
Leaders in the Malaysian evangelical churches in Malaysia welcome these tools as they will spur vigor and enthusiasm in systematic study of the Bible. After all, the evangelical churches have traditionally prided themselves as a Bible-centred movement. However, there is concern that some scholars have cast doubts on the evangelical doctrine of verbal plenary inspiration and infallibility of the Scripture as they deem the doctrine to be inconsistent with modern scientific study of the Bible that is promoted vigorously in the Western liberal academia. Continue reading “Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism Part 1”
Link to: The Logic of Christ and the Bible (Part 1)
The Classical Argument in Proving the Bible as the Trustworthy Word of God.
1. The Bible is basically a reliable and trustworthy historical document.
2. On the basis of this reliable document we have sufficient evidence to believe confidently that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
3. Jesus as the Son of God is an infallible authority.
4. Jesus Christ teaches the Bible is more than generally trustworthy; it is the very Word of God.
5. Conclusion – on the basis of the infallible authority of Jesus Christ, Christians believe the Bible is utterly trustworthy, i.e. infallible Word of God. Continue reading “The Logic of Christ and the Bible (Part 2) – From Reliable Historical Document to Trustworthy Word of God”
Link to Part 2 – The Classical Argument in Proving the Bible as the Trustworthy Word of God
The Bible as a Reliable Historical Document
Critics of Christianity often assert that we cannot trust present copies of the Bible as they do not accurately reflect the original text (autograph). This criticism is echoed by Dan Brown in his popular fiction, The Da Vinci Code:
The Bible did not arrive by fax from heaven…The Bible is the product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times, and it has evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book. [Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code (New York: Doubleday 2003), 231].
Dan Brown’s criticism is a deliberate distortion of history. In truth, there is an abundance of early Bible manuscripts. Continue reading “The Logic of Christ and the Bible (Part 1) – The Bible as a Reliable Historical Document and Trustworthy Word of God.”
Kitab Salat as-Sawai (1514) was the First Printed Arabic (Not Jawi Malay) Book
In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned that the earliest Malay printed prayer book was the Kitab Salat as-Sawai which was printed in 1514. I was wrong. Why? Continue reading “Kitab Salat as-Sawai (1514) was the First Printed Arabic (Not Jawi Malay) Book”
An Official Explanation from Indonesian Bible Society LINK (English Version)
Why are the terms “Allah” and “TUHAN” used in our Bible?
Penjelasan Rasmi Daripada Lembaga Alkitab Indonesia LINK (Malay Version): Versi Melayu Berikut Di bawah
The Indonesian Bible Society, which speaks for 25 million Malay/Indonesian Christians should be the most authoritative reference on translation of the Malay Bible! Continue reading “Why Use Allah and Tuhan? Official Explanation from Indonesian Bible Society”
Why It is Not Possible to Substitute Allah with Tuhan in Bible Translation
Muslims in other parts of the world (Arabs, Persians, North Africans, Pakistanis and Indonesians) have no objection and are not worried about getting confused when Christians use the word Allah. In contrast, some Malaysian Muslims claim to be confused; a strange phenomenon indeed. This observation lends credence to the suggestion that the Allah issue is an artificial Malay issue and not a genuine Muslim issue. The truth is that the current orchestrated protests against the recent High Court decision to allow the Catholic Herald (and Christians) to use the word Allah must be seen as cynical manipulations by Malay politicians to gain votes from their community. Continue reading “Allah and Tuhan in Bible Translation”
TRANSLATING THE NAMES OF GOD: Recent experience from Indonesia and Malaysia
Note – This is partial reproduction of the original article. Reproduced with permission from the author
The Situation in Malaysia
The situation in Malaysia in regard to the use of the divine names is different to that in Indonesia in one important respect, which has more to do with politics than with language. It is that some years ago some states and the federal government prohibited the use of the name Allah by non-Muslims.
It is partly fear of this that has led some organisations to make changes in the rendering of the names of God in Malay and Indonesian, in both their own writing and in quoting of Scripture. (Each time the word Allah “God” occurs, it has been consistently changed to Tuhan “Lord”, with the result that there is no difference between the renderings of the two Hebrew names YHWH and Elohim.)
Continue reading “Translating the Names of God”