Header image alt text

Bible Resource Library

A Free Library for Bible Study. Webmaster Pastor David Cox. These Christian Reference books are for free download, pdf, and rar.

Objections to Doctrine of Inspiration

 ~Home~ ~Life Lines~ ~Study Surveys~ ~Bibliology~ ~Tracts & Articles~ ~Our Printed Materials~

I have copied this page because I believe the original is unstable and may be taken down. — David Cox

Original http://www.oocities.org/vcchurch/biblio/highcrit.html

F. Part Six
4. Higher Criticism
J. Barton Payne writes, “At the heart of today’s trend among some conservative Christians to give up belief in the full, inerrant authority of Scripture lies negative criticism” (Inerrancy, Norman L. Geisler, ed.;

Zondervan: Grand Rapids,MI; 1980, Ch.4, p.85). Just as evolution has been with the general population, higher criticism has been the greatest single influence on ministers, through seminary education, to give up the doctrine of inspiration.

First we should define what is meant by higher criticism. Some conservatives (those who believe the Bible is fully inspired) think of it as a bunch of arrogant (“higher”) scholars who think they know more than anyone else criticizing the Bible as though they could correct God’s errors. Although such a disdain for higher criticism is in many cases warranted, this is hardly what the term itself means. Criticism in the common sense of the word does include the aspect of finding fault with something, but another main meaning, as used here, is “the art or act of judging, analyzing, or evaluating, especially of a literary or artistic work.” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary adds, “the scientific investigation of literary documents (as the Bible) in regard to such matters as origin, text, composition, character, or history.” Andrew C. Zenos defines it as “the discovery and verification of the facts regarding the origin, form, and value of literary productions upon the basis of their internal characteristics and contents.” The use of the term “higher” with criticism is used only to distinguish it from lower criticism, which, again, has nothing to do with the quality or attitude of the criticism. Lower criticism is the science of determining the original text of a literary work from the manuscripts of it that have survived. As we have seen in our study of the transmission of Scripture, before the invention of the printing press, works of literature were copied by hand, which gave rise to many variants, most insignificant, but some major, into the text. Lower criticism is another term for textual criticism. It is not “finding fault” with the text or the Bible but the attempt to reconstruct, as nearly as possible, the original text of the work. This is done not just with the Bible, but with all ancient works of literature. Most conservatives accept textual criticism of the Bible (that is, within the limits of true principles), but some do not. They are the “King James only” or “Textus Receptus only” or Byzantine type text only advocates concerning which we have already spoken in the section on transmission. (However, each of these advocates require at least some textual criticism, albeit with a more limited number of manuscripts.) Higher criticism is the art and science of evaluating the origin, authorship, authenticity, character, etc., of a literary work based mainly upon what is called the internal evidence, that is, what appears in the text itself. But consideration in higher criticism is also given to the external evidence, that is, testimony of other witnesses at or near the same time about the same things—history, sociology, language, religion, etc. Because history plays an important role in higher criticism, it is sometimes called “historical criticism.” Because it is the evaluation of literary works, it is sometimes called “literary criticism.” It is often also called “the historical-critical method.”

The Legitimate Use of Higher Criticism
It must be admitted that there is a legitimate use of higher criticism even for those who hold firmly to the doctrine of the inspiration of the Scriptures. Raymond F. Surburg writes:

“After the best possible text has been established by lower or textual criticism the biblical student is then in a position to ask certain questions of a given biblical book: Who wrote it? Why did the author write the book in the form we have it? To whom is it addressed? Under what circumstances was it written? From what time does it come? What sources, if any, did the author use? These are questions dating back to the early Christian centuries that students of the Sacred Scriptures have been asking of each biblical book….Biblical writers sometimes made use of other written sources in writing their books. Thus I and II Chronicles refer to many sources which were ascribed to prophets. Scholars believe that the Books of Samuel and the Books of Kings are two major sources referred to by the author of Chronicles. The Book of Jashar and the Book of the Wars of the Lord are alluded to in other OT books. The author of Kings refers to three different historical sources which may have been court annals.” (How Dependable Is the Bible?, Raymond F. Surburg; J.B. Lippincott:NY; 1972, pp. 22,23)

F.F. Bruce writes:

“Structure, date, and authorship are the three principal concerns of the ‘higher criticism’….The structure of a biblical book is sometimes illuminated by internal evidence. From the narrative of Jer. 36, for example, we learn of the first edition of the collected oracles of Jeremiah, dictated to his secretary Baruch in 604 B.C., containing his spoken ministry of the past twenty-three years. This edition, which consisted of a single copy, was almost immediately destroyed by King Jehoiakim, but it was quickly followed by a second and enlarged edition (Jer. 36:32). Even the second edition was by no means the final one, for Jeremiah continued to prophesy for nearly twenty years after that. We have two extant editions of the posthumous* collection of his oracles, together with some biographical and other historical material—a longer one preserved in the Masoretic [Hebrew] Text and a shorter one in the LXX. Fragmentary Hebrew copies have been found at Qumran representing both the longer and the shorter editions. The structure of many other books of the Bible is not so apparent from the record, and a greater measure of conjecture* is necessary for reconstructing the history of their composition. It is plain, too, from the book of Jeremiah that the author or editor of a prophetical book need not be the prophet himself; in this case the oracles are Jeremiah’s but it is to Baruch, who committed them to writing, that we should probably ascribe the authorship of the narrative sections of the book and the publication of the whole. When a book actually claims to be written by a specific person, that is substantial prima-facie* evidence for its authorship. In some categories of literature, however, such as wisdom books and apocalypses, a name may sometimes (but not invariably) be employed for dramatic purposes or the like….(Two examples in the Apocrypha are Wisdom of Solomon and the apocalyptic 2 Esdras, ascribed respectively to Solomon and Ezra.) Again, in Jewish schools a disciple was apt to ascribe his dicta* to his master, on the ground that ‘whosoever says a thing in the name of him who said it brings salvation to the world’ (Mish. Pirke Aboth vi.6). It is noteworthy that a number of the most important books of the Bible are, strictly speaking, anonymous*; this is so, for example, with the four Gospels and Acts. Their authorship has to be determined as far as possible by a consideration of relevant internal and external evidence….The criteria for dating an ancient work are partly external and partly internal. If a work is quoted or alluded to in a reliably dated document, we conclude that it is earlier than that document. The work may mention persons or events whose date is clearly indicated by other documents; thus some parts of the OT can be dated from their reference to people or incidents mentioned in Mesopotamian or Egyptian historical records. Contemporary Assyrian records enable us to date the oracles of Isaiah at various points within the forty years or so preceding 701 B.C., the year of Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah….As the history of the ancient Near East is reconstructed in ever more precise detail, it becomes increasingly possible to put the various books of the OT into their appropriate historical settings.” (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, G.W. Bromiley, Gen. Ed.; Eerdmans: Grand Rapids,MI; 1992, “Criticism,” Vol.1, pp.818,819)

For the most part, however, the effect of higher criticism has been devastating because it has usually been wielded by rationalistic and skeptic scholars who reject the doctrine of inspiration.

History of Higher Criticism
Morgan Parrit Hayden, writing around 1920, says:

“Historical, or higher, criticism had its origin during the eighteenth century. It was first applied to profane* history and resulted in eliminating the fabulous* accounts from ancient history. George Rawlinson, in Historical Evidences, thus speaks of it:….‘Its results in its own proper and primary field are of the most extensive and remarkable character….By a searching and critical investigation of the mass of materials on which that history rested, and by the application to it of canons embodying the judgments of a sound discretion upon the value of different sorts of evidence, the views of the ancient world formerly entertained have been in ten thousand points either modified or revised—a new antiquity has been raised up out of the old—while much that was unreal in the picture of the past times, which men had formed to themselves has disappeared….’ The principles of historical criticism thus applied to ancient history were soon applied to the Bible. Early in the nineteenth century theological criticism in Germany proceeded to apply the new canons* of historical criticism to the Gospels and the historical books of the Old Testament. To this there would have been no valid objection if the critics had been governed by sound canons of criticism, and had conducted the investigation in a proper manner. But, unfortunately, such was not the case. The pioneers in the field of historical criticism were men of extreme rationalistic views, and they adopted rules not warranted by sound principles of criticism and a really scientific method of inquiry….George Rawlinson further says, ‘The skepticism in which the science originated has clung to it from first to last, and in recent times we have seen not only a greater leaning to the destructive than to the constructive side, but a tendency to push doubt and incredulity beyond due limits, to call in question without cause, and to distrust what is sufficiently established’” (The Higher Criticism,Morgan Parritt Hayden; pp. 9-11).

“Many scholars like to mark the beginning of modern biblical criticism with the work of Richard Simon (1638-1662)….In his [three-volume work, A Critical History of the Old Testament] Simon questioned parts of the Pentateuch as originating with Moses [and]…outlined the principles a critic must follow when carrying out his critical task….Simon’s successor in France was Jean Astruc….In 1753 he published a work on the Pentateuch which in the estimation of many scholars marks the true beginning of Pentateuchal criticism. Noticing that in Genesis God was given different names, Astruc proposed to distinguish sources on the basis of the two names of Yahweh and Elohim.” (Surburg, op.cit., pp.40,41)

Another early higher critic was [Johann] Semler (1725-1791), followed by [Johann] Eichhorn (1752-1827).

“J. G. Eichhorn, a Lutheran professor at the University of Jena, has been called ‘the father of modern higher criticism.’ [He is also the first to use the term ‘higher criticism.’] He embodied the ideas of Herder and Astruc….With him there began the period of the use of the critical method that denied the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch and the reconstruction of many books of the OT according to the ‘scissor and paste method.’” (Ibid., pp.43,44)

Eichhorn “was followed by [Heinrich] Paulus (1761-1851) and [Wilhelm] DeWette (1780-1849), who made large contributions to the subject. Then came [Ferdinand] Baur (1792-1860) the founder of the famous ‘Tubingen School’ of theology, and [David] Strauss (1808-1874), the author of the mythical theory of the Gospels. [He was followed by Rudolph Bultmann, 1884-1976, to whom we referred under miracles].” (Hayden, op.cit., p.11)

“Until the appearance of Julius Wellhausen, OT efforts had centered on the fragmentizing and dissection of the OT books with much of the historical literature declared mythical and unreliable. For the literary critics the books of the OT contained errors, discrepancies and contradictions. The concept of the evolutionary development of religion was applied by Wellhausen to the religion of the OT in his Prolegomena to the History of Israel (1878). He relied heavily on the writings of Graf and Kuenen. According to Weiser, a current OT scholar, the Graf-Kuenen-Wellhausen views have continued to influence OT studies to the present time.

“During the eighteenth century, traditional church dogmas are said to have suffered severe shocks from which the church never recovered. Also during this century rationalism* became prominent mainly through the efforts of Wolff and Kant who made reason the norm as opposed to the mysteries of faith. The attacks of rationalism touched the very center of the Christian faith. The dominant philosophy during the first decades of the nineteenth century was the idealistic* monistic* philosophy of Hegel (1770-1831). Schleiermacher was another philosopher-theologian who subjected Christian doctrine and the Bible to rationalistic interpretation.

“The use of the historical critical method was pposed by conservative theologians like Hengstenberg, Haevernick, Keil and others because its use produced doubt, skepticism and unbelief. That the historical critical method was a neutral method that did not operate with presuppositions that were hostile to the claims of Scripture is not substantiated by facts.

“With the year 1880 there arose a new movement in biblical studies; one that utilized the findings of non-Christian religions and was known as the School of Comparative Religions. Members of this school began to avail themselves of the abundant light shed by archaeological discoveries in Babylon and Egypt. Proponents of this school endeavored to show the cultural, religious and literary dependence of the OT on various nations of the Near East. For a time there was a pronounced tendency to trace everything in the OT as coming from Babylon. Advocates of this theory were known as Panbabylonists. This movement was soon rejected by most OT scholars. The school of comparative religion approached the Old and New Testaments from the viewpoint of evolution and dealt with the religion of Israel and the teachings of Christ and the Apostolic Church as religious movements not different in kind, but only in degree, from other religious manifestations of the near eastern world.

“The beginning of the twentieth century witnessed another critical development which was different from the method of literary criticism in use for at least 150 years. This new methodology arose out of dissatisfaction with the results of OT literary criticism. In the new approach, oral tradition became the starting point. Herman Gunkel is usually credited with sponsorship of this new way of dealing with biblical literature. He and his friend Hugo Gressmann were the two outstanding early leaders of this new interpretive methodology who applied form criticism to the OT. Gunkel and Gressmann insisted that the Bible be treated as an ordinary piece of literature. From a confessional evangelical point of view these men must be classified as opponents to the true Biblical religion….In a new and original manner the concept of myth was applied to the NT by Rudolph Bultmann in 1941 in his famous article ‘The NT and Mythology’….[He claimed] the Gospels must be demythologized….Most of his followers [which are many] are form critical scholars. A number of [his] pupils have departed from the position of their master and since the end of World War II have embarked on a new quest for the ‘historical Jesus,’ supported by a new form of criticism known as redaction* criticism.” (Surburg, op.cit., pp. 42,44-47)

The Aims of Higher Criticism
A.C. Zenos writes:

“[The object of higher criticism] in general is the solution of all questions referring to the origin, the form, and the value of literary productions. That it is desirable to answer such questions wherever they occur no one will dispute. This is as readily conceded by conservatives as it is claimed by radicals in criticism. It is plain that every production, in order to be fully understood, must be studied with as full a knowledge of the facts of its origin and nature as is obtainable. This knowledge is not to be despised in looking at any literary work; least of all in dealing with the Bible….

I. Origin….When, where, and by whom was the product in hand composed?…‘Was the age within which such a product came to light one of great literary activity or the opposite?’….Was the author independent of his environment? Did he act as a molding influence on it, or was he a mere product of it?…In other words the time and place within which any writing is produced are the medium through which it must necessarily pass. It is important to know whether the medium has or has not affected it….[A] knowledge of the personality of the author is of extreme importance….If he is found to be possessed of one temperament we interpret his words one way, and if of another temperament we interpret them in another way….The personal relation of the author to the subjects of which he is treating is another point on which information is always helpful….Has he acquired his information at first hand? and if so, what are the evidences of his having done so? Has he been trained by special experiences to speak as one who knows whereof he affirms? or has he been endowed by nature with genius, with a keen observation or accurate intuition?…The author’s profession or employment, his occupation with, and therefore knowledge of, a special class of facts naturally throws much light on what he says….If an author, e.g., be a priest, all he may say of the ritual and its details will be taken with more confidence than if he were a herdsman; but at the same time his estimate of the importance of the details might be exaggerated, owing to the very fact of his being a priest, and unconsciously magnifying his office….Still another element [concerning origin] is the nature of the source from which this information is derived. The works of many writers can be used as sources regarding their lives and times….[Some say a lot about their personal lives, but some] are totally silent….They let others make claims for them. These claims must be sifted and tested….[A] writer [may] put forth his work anonymously [for a number of good reasons without impairing] his personal integrity and trustworthiness….[If] the name of an author is given to the writing, it becomes a question of the utmost importance at once to ascertain* whether the name is correctly given….If the result of the inquiry be that it is [not],….then the inquiry must be pushed further. The critic must now ask, How comes it about that the writing is ascribed to an author who did not write it?…1. Of the products of antiquity this is not unlikely to be the case often. Methods of publishing were imperfect. It is well known that copyists often took liberties with the most important works; they appended* names to works anonymously published; and these names, once attached to writings, would be perpetuated by passing into all subsequent copies. At other times again copyists confused the name of the real author with the name of some other, and substituted that of the other; and this, being thus associated with the work, came in the course of time to supplant that of the real author….2. …the real author, having regard more to the acceptance of his work than a desire to gain credit for himself for its production, attached to it the name of some other person better known than himself….[‘The principle here is the same as that underlying the custom in our times of securing an introduction by some eminent man to the work of a young and unknown author.’]…3. …the author hides under an assumed name; and this simply from personal predilection* and not with the intention of deceiving….[F]requently this is the case in modern literature….

“Thus far the question of authorship has been considered as one of genuineness….Is the work really the production of the man whose name it bears? Allied to this is the further question of authenticity*. …Does the work accurately represent the author?…1. When there are various copies, recensions*, or editions. One of these probably comes nearer expressing the ideal of the author than any other….2. In the broader sense the authenticity of a writing is the authenticity of current opinion regarding it. When, for instance, an anonymous work is tacitly* and universally ascribed to a given writer, without explicitly claiming to be his work within its text…the question must be asked: Is the ascription authentic?, i.e., Does it proceed from and represent the author at this point? Or if a tradition, either uniform or varying, has represented a writing as the product of a given person, the question may be put: Is the tradition authentic? It then becomes proper to speak of the investigation as the investigation of authenticity and not of genuineness….The question of genuineness does not arise until a claim embedded in the book is suspected of being unfounded….

“But besides the questions of authenticity and genuineness…there is another which the critic must ask; this refers to the integrity or unity of it….an inquiry into the unity or multiplicity involved in the production of [it]. 1. All literary productions are apt to be tampered with by editors….[Some investigations into this, such as corruptions gained in transmission, are the work of lower or textual criticism, while others, such as larger additions, etc., are the work of higher criticism.] Is there more than one author discernible in the writing or not? and if that question should be answered in the affirmative, How many authors, and who were they?…2. …the accidental union of two or more writings originally put forth as distinct and separate….It is very well known that so great was the desire to economize parchment [which was extremely scarce and expensive] that manuscripts of old books were often washed in order that new ones might be written on the same parchment. The same desire led to the inclusion of two or more documents on one roll….3. Compilation. The combination of two or more documents in one may also be made intentionally by a compiler or editor. The simplest form of compilation is the adopting into one’s work or incorporating of passages from other works. An author, undertaking to write on a given subject, finds material in the writings of others, which expresses what he is aiming to put forth. He takes it into his own work, with more or less change, in order to adapt it to his purposes….If [he] fails to give credit to the source…the problem of the integrity of the writing will naturally occur. But the process of compilation may be resorted to for the purpose of harmonizing or reducing to simplicity an apparently multiple mass of literature bearing on any given subject….These compilations may be made with more or less editorial work on the part of the compiler. [A compiler may change his source material so much he may be considered the author of the new production; or he may change it very little and simply connect the source materials together with opening and closing statements of his own, in which case he is usually called aredactor*. This investigation into how the author used sources is called analysis.] Accessory to [all] these questions [above]…are the further questions of the time of origin, and the place of the same. Every effort to answer these questions from data given within any writing, whether it be a book of the Bible, a Vedic* song, or a Homeric poem, is a piece of work in the domain of the Higher Criticism.

“II. Literary Form….In ancient times [unlike today, in which the form, whether novel, poem, drama, etc., appears right on the title page or cover] the reader of a book was left to his own resources to judge of the form of literary productions. Poetry and prose were written alike in consecutive manuscript….It is also extremely probable, if not absolutely certain, that forms of literature used at other times may have become obsolete in our days, just as it is certain, on the other hand, that forms utterly unknown formerly have come into use in modern times….To take a concrete and familiar illustration: the Song of Songs or Song of Solomon nowhere expressly claims to be a narrative of facts. Its title rather intimates that it is a work of the imagination. It has very often been spoken of as a drama. In many essential particulars it [does appear to be a drama, but on the other hand]….it seems to be so constructed as to baffle analysis as a drama. It is not unlikely that it constitutes a distinct form of literature, with laws of composition altogether different from any now known to the literary critic.

“III. Value….Value is a relative term….A writing has value as it fulfills the purpose for which all productions of its class are put forth. The value of a work in the department of history consists in its giving an abundance of historical information, and that accurately or faithfully to the facts. It is of the greatest value when it furnishes the fullest information and is absolutely trustworthy in its every statement of fact; or, in other words, when it is absolutely without error. By as much as it departs from this absolute standard it loses value as history. It does not, however, necessarily lose value in other respects….[A novel may be fiction, but have other purposes such as moral or political or give the historical setting of a certain time.]…

“It must be very plain that these objects [of higher criticism] are legitimate and proper, and that it is extremely important to reach definite results regarding them. Can we now go a step further, and say that, before any use can be made of any literary productions, it is absolutely necessary to obtain definite answers to these questions? This question seems hardly worth asking; and yet, with reference to the books of the Bible, the importance of the knowledge secured by the Higher Criticism has been not infrequently exaggerated into an absolute necessity, as if no proper use of them could be made without it. This position is neither logical nor historical. It is not historical, because it ignores the history of the use of the Bible in the past. Without this critical information the Bible has proved from the beginning, and throughout the ages, not merely a source of comfort, but a means of building character….The Bible commends itself, apart from [either] criticism or the authority of the Church, as a source of religious information and inspiration….

The Methods of Higher Criticism
“The attainment of the objects enumerated in the preceding [subsection] may be sought for in one of two ways; i.e., either through the testimony of competent witnesses, who can give such information as will solve them; or by examining the characteristics of the productions and comparing these with each other. And by characteristics in this connection are meant, first, the phenomena* of the productions as literary works; and, secondly, the statements found in them regarding themselves….It is generally agreed to that the highest value attaches to the testimony of eye-witnesses, and that as soon as such testimony is known to be not that of eye-witnesses, but that of men who have obtained it at second hand, it assumes the character of ‘tradition’; it is open to the doubts and limitations of traditional testimony….

“What are the different classes of phenomena which serve as a basis for forming an estimate of the authorship, date, and historical situation of a writing?…The three methods of the Higher Criticism are: The literary method, which works on and through the literary features of language, style, etc.; the historical method, which deals with historical features; and the theological method, which bases itself on the characteristics of the theology. These three methods are sometimes called arguments for the results to which they lead….

“I. The Literary [Method or] Argument….Its fundamental principle is that an author will be consistent with himself in the use of words, idioms*, phrases, and figures of speech. ‘The style is the man.’ It is well known that every literary man develops peculiarities, sometimes more and sometimes less marked, but always real and perceptible, which betray his personality in his work….This principle is, no doubt, valid, and, wherever it can be used, it is extremely valuable. It is particularly useful in determining questions of authorship and integrity….The special phases of the argument are the use of words, idioms, phrases, and rhetorical* figures, or all the features commonly grouped together under the single term of style….1. …the vocabulary of no two individuals is precisely the same, and each one recurs to his own vocabulary, choosing his own favorite words out of the list of their synonyms….2. …Every language has its stock of grammatical constructions different from the normal and natural, and therefore called idiomatic, i.e., peculiar to that language. And as in the use of the words of a language, so also in the use of its idioms, no two persons have the same skill or follow the same mode of procedure….3. …There is a real difference between the tendencies of different men in the matter of the use of rhetorical figures [such as inverted order in the construction of sentences, frequent parentheses, abrupt transitions, repetition of the same thought in different words in consecutive sentences, repeating the same word in consecutive sentences expressing different thoughts, fondness for hyperbolic* expressions, metaphors, personifications, or frequent use of questions, statistics, ‘pictures,’ etc.]….

“The validity of these considerations can hardly be questioned…[and they] are constantly used even by the most inexperienced in literary matters….[However] If we suppose that there are striking resemblances between the peculiarities of different writings, the identity of whose author is questioned, the next step to be taken is to ask, Are these resemblances sufficient to warrant the inference of identity? or are they such as may be explained on some other and more reasonable ground? Or, if, on the other hand, we suppose that there are differences in one document or in more than one, purporting* to be the works of one author…are these differences such as to drive us to the conclusion that the different parts are works of different authors…? For while differences in the style and language of different writings may arise from difference of authorship, they may also arise from other causes: 1. Difference in time of writing. The style of the same author may be different according to his age [youth, old age, etc.]…His writing only casually and for practical ends may make it impossible for him to acquire literary habits that shall be distinct, and recognizable, and permanent…especially in dealing with productions coming from a primitive and rude age….Change of employment may also induce change in modes of thought and expression….2. …[T]he character of the subject to be treated [whether history, poetry, philosophy, law, medicine, etc.]…[and whether the production is a short one or long one]….3. …[The employment of ] different assistants [secretaries or amanuenses*] by the same author….It will be seen from the above exposition of the grounds and methods of using the literary argument that extreme caution and great skill are the necessary conditions of such use….

“II. The Historical Method. The fundamental principle [here] is that contemporaneous history is naturally reflected and expressed in the writings emanating from any age….[This] argument is built on the unconscious appearance of the traces of the environment….1. The facts and institutions of contemporaneous history are reflected in the literary products of any period. There are two conditions on which this principle can be made exceedingly useful: first, sufficient knowledge of the contemporaneous history and condition of things apart from the literary productions investigated, and second, clear and marked traces of that history in the writings….But these conditions, it is needless to say, are not always present [in which case pronouncements about the work in question are dubious]….2. …An anachronism is a confusion in chronology by which events are misplaced with reference to one another. It may be used in criticism in several ways. For instance, if an event is mentioned or implied in a book or part of a book; that book, or at least that part or section of it in which the mention or implication occurs, must have been produced after the event. On any other theory of the date the allusion to the event is an anachronism. Anachronisms….indicate carelessness, disingenuous- ness, or lack of information on the part of the author. Ordinarily this form of reasoning is valid and useful….An allusion to an event, even in a book of the Bible, is presumptive evidence that the book was written after the event, when the book is apparently a history or an epistle or a psalm. But the principle is inapplicable to allusions to future events in books of predictive prophecy. Its application [in this case] would be [which is common among higher critics] a virtual denial of the supernatural origin of those prophecies, or at least of the possibility of predictive prophecy….3. The third form of the historical argument…consists in using silence [regarding a particular historical event in a writing] as a ground of inference [concerning its date of composition]….[However] silence may mean (1) ignorance of the facts in regard to which the author is silent, or (2) indifference to them, or (3) design to keep back or suppress knowledge of them [which is extremely difficult to prove]….[Therefore, this form of argument must be qualified by this rule:] ‘Arguments from silence are only of force when a strong independent probability can be established that the writers would have used it [the material of which they are silent], or would at least have expressed themselves otherwise than they did, if they had known of it.’…4. The fourth form of the Historical Argument may be designated in general the Argument from Concinnity*….(1) In its simplest form this consists in drawing inferences from confusion or disorder in a literary production….[A]ll contradictions, discrepancies, repetitions, and parallel accounts are taken as evidences of imperfect work….[T]his argument may be used in throwing light on the unity or integrity of a writing. Upon certain conditions it is fair to infer that the contradictions, discrepancies, or confusions found to exist in a writing are the result of the blending of the work of more than one author in the writing. Again, the critic reverts here to the presumption that a writer will not contradict himself….If these contradictions…show marks of differences of style, the suspicion will be strengthened that they are due to the combination of two originally separate documents. The difficulty in using this process of reasoning arises in distinguishing between such repetitions as may be made in any writing for the sake of clearly representing a subject, and such as are due to the process of compilation….(2) The constructive use of the argument form concinnity consists…in the discovery of possible order where there is only apparent confusion….[A] presumption is created that [the confused order] was the original order and that departure from it is due to the disturbing influence of time, accident, and ignorance or incapacity in handling this original order….

“III. The Argument from the Content of Thought [or subject matter]….the “theological argument”…used in the examination of literary works which, like the books of the Bible, are sources of theology….1. An author’s thought is characteristic of him just as his style is….Under ordinary circumstances a man loves to dwell on a circle of ideas. They become his pets, especially if he has himself conceived them in the first place, and not borrowed them from any one else….[I]f they have become convictions, he loves them and broods over them, and comes back to them….[However, just as with the literary argument] The causes which produce variation in the style of one author may produce variation in the system of thought of the same author [such as change in point of view arising from different time, surroundings, topics, occasions, different assistants, etc.]…2. [T]he argument from the development of thought….A more advanced type of thought is distinguishable from a less advanced by certain marked peculiarities….If of two documents that which claims a later date gives the cruder form of a teaching, the natural inference would be, upon this principle, that the claim is not valid….[Generally speaking, there is some truth to this principle; however—] History is full of sudden, unexpected, and unaccountable freaks in development. No theory of evolution has thus far succeeded in explaining all the actual phenomena of this kind….A degenerate generation may shrink from the earlier and larger views and fall back on narrower, reactionary views….[I]n our own century we have had first the Hegelian theory of development. According to this all growth is the resultant of the conflict of opposing forces….The Tubingen school of criticism under the lead of F.C. Baur tried to reconstruct the history of the NT writings, using chiefly this argument….[But] its failure has been a universally acknowledged fact for many years past….Accordingly there has appeared another theory of evolution, more recently….Herbert Spencer has taught that development proceeds from the simple to the complex, from the homogeneous* to the heterogeneous*….[But] it may be said that it cannot safely be used as a key to the original order of the Biblical writings….

“[T]hese three arguments—the literary, the historical, and the theological—….may be used singly or in conjunction with one another….The effect of the combined use of the three….[may result in these possible outcomes: 1. all lines of consideration converge and point to the same result {which is the strongest testimony}….2. the processes lead to different, but not opposing results {which is weaker, calling for suspension of judgment}….{and} 3. the results reached are contradictory and mutually exclusive {which is least certain}].” (The Elements of the Higher Criticism, A.C. Zenos; Funk and Wagnalls:NY; 1895, pp. 14-116)

The Bias of Higher Critics
Just as we have nothing to fear from true science regarding the inspiration of the Scriptures, so we also have nothing to fear from a truly scientific investigation into the origin, dates, authorship, etc. of the books of the Bible, which is genuine higher criticism. It is not science we reject but unscientific theories disguised as science in the case of evolution or subjective theories disguised as scientific in the case of higher criticism. Far too much of higher criticism has been theories advanced either without fact or in many cases despite the facts by critics who have begun with a rationalistic, anti-supernatural, agnostic, even atheistic bias. A few quotes from some of the most reknowned higher critics will substantiate this:

Semler (late 1700’s): “The root of the evil (in theology) is the interchangeable use of the terms ‘Scripture’ and ‘Word of God.’” Kaesemann (1960’s): “[I want to] move away from the incomprehensible…superstition that everywhere in the canon only genuine faith is proclaimed.”…[and] “Scripture…to which one surrenders…uncritically, leads not only to multiplicity of confessions but also to indistinguishability between faith and superstition.” (The End of the Historical-Critical Method,Gerhard Maier; Concordia: St.Louis; 1974)

Strauss (mid-1800’s): “No just perception of the true nature of history is possible without a perception of the inviolability of the chain of finite causes, and of the impossibility of miracles.” (Hayden, op.cit., p.19)

“James Barr (1977) declares that only by postulating a ‘superhuman and inhuman Jesus can evangelicals maintain that He taught ‘eternally correct information.’ For his own part, he regards Jesus’ teaching as ‘time-bound and situation bound,’ so that ‘what he taught was not eternal truth valid for all times and situations, but personal address concerned with the situation of Jesus and his hearers at that time.’…H.H. Farmer (1936): ‘A word may be added concerning the Bible considered as the revelation of God. In the light of the principles set forth in this chapter it is clear that the Bible per se, i.e., considered simply as a written text is not, and never can be, a revelation of God. It becomes revelation only as God speaks through it relevantly to my situation, and it becomes unique revelation only as He speaks through it relevantly to something unique in my situation. It is as mediating Christ the Reconciler to my basic need of reconciliation in my present historical circumstances that the Bible becomes a unique source of God’s revealing word to the soul. But I, or someone, has to bring it into my present situation, make it part of it, before God can speak livingly through it. Thus if we use the term “the Word” in the sense of God’s living speech with the soul, it is true to say that the Bible is not the Word of God, but the Word of God is in
in the Bible, or—in categories of this chapter—the Bible is not the Revelation of God, but the Revelation of God is in the Bible.’” (
Challenges to Inerrancy, Gordon Lewis and Bruce Demarest, eds.; (Moody: Chicago); 1984, pp. 105,112)

“Norman Gottwald (1959): ‘The only presupposition common to all OT critics is the necessity of questioning tradition, examining a religious literature as we would examine any other writings in order to determine authorship, date, sources, and historical background. This at once sounds the death knell for interests of an almost avowed Naturalism. That is, he was a free-thinker, an agnostic; a man who did not believe in the Revelation of the one true and living God….According to Wellhausen, the religion of Israel was a naturalistic evolution from heathendom, an emanation* from an imperfectly monotheistic kind of semi-pagan idolatry. It was simply a human religion. In one word, the formative forces of the Higher Critical movement were rationalistic forces, and the men who were its chief authors and expositors, who ‘on account of purely philological* criticism have acquired an appalling authority,’ were men who had discarded belief in God and Jesus Christ Whom He had sent. The Bible, in their view, was a mere human product. It was a stage in the literary evolution of a religious people. If it was not the resultant of a fortuitous* concourse* of Oriental myths and legendary accretions, and its Jahveh or Jahweh, the excogitation of a Sinaitic clan, it certainly was not the Word of the living God. These then were their views and these were the views that have so dominated modern Christianity and permeated modern ministerial thought in the two great languages (English and German) of the modern world. We cannot say that they were men whose rationalism was the result of their conclusions in the study of the Bible. Nor can we say their conclusions with regard to the Bible were wholly the result of their rationalism. But we can say, on the other hand, that inasmuch as they refused to recognize the Bible as a direct revelation from God, they were free to form hypotheses ad libitum*. And, on the other hand, as they denied the supernatural, the animus* that animated them in the construction of the hypotheses was the desire to construct a theory that would explain away the supernatural. Unbelief was the antecedent*, not the consequence of their criticism. Now there is nothing unkind in this. There is nothing that is uncharitable, or unfair. It is simply a statement of fact which modern authorities most freely admit. When we come to the English-writing Higher Critics, we approach a much more difficult subject. The British-American Higher Critics represent a school of compromise. On the one hand they practically accept the premises of the Continental school with regard to the antiquity, authorship, authenticity, and origins of the OT books. On the other hand, they refuse to go with the German rationalists in altogether denying their inspiration. They still claim to accept the Scriptures as containing a Revelation from God….

“[But] is not a refusal of the higher critical conclusions mere opposition to light and progress and the position of ignorant alarmists and obscurantists*? It is very necessary to have our minds made perfectly clear on this point, and to remove not a little dust of misunderstanding. The desire to receive all the light that the most fearless search for truth by the highest scholarship can yield is the desire of every true believer in the Bible….But it is the duty of every Christian [even the unlearned] who belongs to the noble army of truth-lovers to test all things and to hold fast that which is good….No expert scholarship can settle questions that require a humble heart, a believing mind and a reverent spirit, as well as a knowledge of Hebrew and philology; and no scholarship can be relied upon as expert which is manifestly characterized by a biased judgment, a curious lack of knowledge of human nature, and a still more curious deference to the views of men with a prejudice against the supernatural. No one can read such a suggestive and sometimes even such an inspiring writer as George Adam Smith without a feeling of sorrow that he has allowed this German bias of mind to lead him into such an assumption of infallibility in many of his positions and statements. It is the same with Driver. With a kind of sic volo sic jubeo* ease he introduces assertions and propositions that would really require chapter after chapter, if not even volume after volume, to substantiate. On page after page his ‘must be,’ and ‘could not possibly be,’ and ‘could certainly not,’ extort from the average reader the natural exclamation: ‘But why?’ ‘Why not?’ ‘Wherefore?’ ‘On what grounds?’ ‘For what reason?’ ‘Where are the proofs?’ But of proofs or reason there is not a trace. The reader must be content with the writer’s assertions. It reminds one, in fact, of the ‘we may well suppose,’ and ‘perhaps’ of the Darwinian who offers as the sole proof of the origination of a different species his random supposition!

“[But, isn’t] all the scholarship on one side[?] …The only people who oppose the Higher Critical views are the ignorant, the prejudiced, and the illiterate….In the first place it is not fair to assert that the upholders of what are called the old-fashioned or traditional views of the Bible are opposed to the pursuit of scientific Biblical investigation. It is equally unfair to imagine that their opposition to the views of the Continental school is based upon ignorance and prejudice. What the Conservative school oppose is not Biblical criticism, but Biblical criticism by rationalists. They do not oppose the conclusions of Wellhausen and Kuenen because they are experts and scholars; they oppose them because the Biblical criticism of rationalists and unbelievers can be neither expert nor scientific. A criticism that is characterized by the most arbitrary conclusions from the most spurious* assumptions has no right to the word scientific. And further. Their adhesion to the tradition-al views is not only conscientious but intelligent. They believe that the old-fashioned views are as scholarly as they are Scriptural. It is the fashion in some quarters to cite the imposing list of scholars on the side of the German school, and to sneeringly assert that there is not a scholar to stand up for the old views of the Bible. This is not the case. Hengstenberg of Basle and Berlin, was as profound a scholar as Eichhorn, Vater or De Wette; and Keil or Kurtz, and Zahn and Rupprecht were competent to compete with Reuss and Kuenen….[Wilhelm Moller, Winckler, Sayce, and Margoliouth, rank with anyone.]…Green and Bissell are as able, if not abler, scholars than Robertson Smith and Professor Briggs, and both of these men, as a result of the widest and deepest research, have come to the conclusion that the theories of the Germans are unscientific, unhistorical, and unscholarly.” (The Higher Criticism and the New Theology, R.A. Torrey; Gospel Publishing House:NY; 1911, pp.31-43,59-65)

Findings of Higher Criticism
Practically every book of the Bible has come under the scope of criticism, but from the early years of the movement to the present, the two main foci* of attention has been the Pentateuch in the Old Testament and the Gospels in the New. Briefly we will attempt to give an overview of some of the major features of the results of modern higher criticism. According to Surburg,

Old Testament
The Pentateuch
First, Witter and Astruc (1753) saw 12 different sources in Genesis, two distinguished by the names Yahweh and Elohim, which Eichhorn extended to the whole Pentateuch. De Wette (1805) separated Deuteronomy and said it was written in the 7th C. B.C. Geddes and Vater split everything into many smaller units. Ewald divided it into “E” and “J” sources. Hupfield divided Astruc’s original “E” source into “E1, E2, and E3” along with a renamed “P” source.

“With Julius Wellhausen the Documentary Hypothesis reached its culmination*. In addition to popularizing the acceptance of the four sources in the order of “J” (850 B.C.), “E” (750 B.C.), “D” (621 B.C.), and “P” (450 B.C.), he also promoted the idea of the evolutionary development of religion….[T]he prophetic movement [must have come] before the giving of the Law (“D”) and the existence of the priestly class (“P”). Archaeological discoveries, which Wellhausen ignored, have disproved most of Wellhausen’s positions. The division of the Pentateuch into different documents has led to the same critical principles being applied to other books of the OT. Practically every book of the OT has been assigned to more than one source or author. The Book of Isaiah is said to have at least three or more authors; in fact, critics speak of Isaiah as the product of a school of writers between 750 B.C. and 250 B.C….Jeremiah, to cite another example, is alleged to have at least three different authors, and Zechariah at least four.” (pp.25,26)

[Then Gunkel (late 1800’s)] “became dissatisfied with Wellhausen’s conclusions which had conquered the scholarly world….[He] claimed that there was a long oral tradition behind these written documents which had changed considerably in the course of transmission….that…new situations in life developed and resulted in the reshaping of the oral tradition. …Form criticism…as developed by Gunkel, Gressman and their followers has continued the attack upon the historicity and reliability of many OT books, sections of books and individual chapters of books under the guise of finding in them such literary genre as ‘myth,’ ‘saga,’ folk-tale,’ and ‘legend.’ The insistence of a long period of oral transmission before the main traditions were written and later combined into cycles is a naturalistic device to explain the miraculous in the Scriptures as popular legend and folklore. Super-natural facts, which stand irrefutable and unshaken in the Mosaic documents, impregnable to all other methods of attack, are dissolved like wax in the crucible of the critics by a method purposefully invented to reject the miraculous elements….It is the contention of critical scholars that history in the modern sense is not found in the earlier books of the Bible….[that] ‘history in the modern sense of the word was [then] entirely unknown.’…[T]he ancients, it is claimed, failed to distinguish between what was told (saga) from what ‘actually happened’ (history)…[and the oral stories changed with each generation]. (pp.82-84)…Critical scholars recognize differences between history, genealogy, legend, saga, myth, covenant-command, legal statement, priestly instruction, and romance. Legend, myth and saga are literally forms that were formerly not believed to exist in the OT, but are now found there by critical scholarship….[T]he manner in which OT writers used their materials would indicate that their purpose was religio-pragmatic [to teach a moral or religious lesson, not record history]. (pp. 86,87)…

The Historical Books
“According to the proponents of the form critical method, the books of the Hebrew OT called ‘the Former Prophets,’ namely, Joshua, Judges, I and II Samuel, I and II Kings contain many legends and mythical material….Formerly biblical books like Esther, Ruth, Jonah, Daniel were considered to be writings that reflected accurate historical events. …According to the new literary criticism, both the books of Ruth and Jonah are said to have been written in the fifth century to counteract the warped position of Nehemiah and Ezra who forbade mixed marriages. Ruth and Jonah are said to represent a different attitude toward foreign people than that exhibited by the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah. The Book of Esther is considered fictional in character by the critics, created by a second century writer to account for the celebration of the Purim Feast and as such does not give the true historical occasion for the origin of this festival. The Book of Daniel, whose first six chapters give historical data, is rejected as coming from the sixth century and Daniel is not considered the author. The purpose of the book is propagandistic* in nature, the first of many apocalypses*, designed to encourage the second century B.C. Jews to resist the hellenization* program of Antiochus Epiphanes….Because there are accounts in the Books of Chronicles not found in Samuel and Kings, the historicity and reliability of I and II Chronicles have been questioned….[many claiming] that the author did not report what actually occurred but what should have happened.

Archaeology and OT History
“One of the basic assumptions of current biblical criticism which archaeology does not support is that ages of oral tradition had to precede the writing down of the experiences of the Hebrew nation’s patriarchs and the record of the founding of that nation as depicted in Exodus under the leadership of Moses. The Amarna Age (1400-1360 B.C.) was a highly literary age. Why Moses could not have recorded the experiences that are found in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy (with the exception of chapter 34) is difficult to comprehend when miners were already writing inscriptions at Serabit Kadim around 1750 B.C. A number of different types of script were available in the days of Moses. Moses could have written the book of Genesis utilizing written records handed down by previous generations and as far as his own life was concerned he could write from personal experience. While it is true that the OT does not contain historical writing in the tradition as it has obtained during the past two centuries, that does not justify the stance of modern historical criticism that the statements in the Pentateuch and other historical books are not factual….Archaeology in the last 150 years has rendered a valuable service to the biblical student in that it has proven time after time the accuracy of historical statements. One radical theory after another has been repudiated by the findings of the spade….Various peoples alluded to in Genesis and once regarded by negative critics as legendary have been discovered by archaeology to be the flesh and blood people the Scriptures state they were….Under no circumstances can the critical interpretation of history, often nothing more than allegorization*, be harmonized with the NT [including what Jesus, as well as the apostles, said about it]. (pp.93-97)

The Poetic Books
“The OT contains two basic types of literature: prose and poetry. Each has its own specific characteristics and subdivisions. According to many critical scholars, poetry postdates* in its origin and written form the prose narratives of the OT. However, this is a stance which is not supported by the evidence of Near Eastern literature. Most of the poetic material in the OT is found in the Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Job, parts of Ecclesiastes and large sections of the sixteen prophetical books [plus some in Genesis, Exodus, and Deuteronomy]….The superscriptions* of the psalms ascribe seventy-three to David, two to Solomon, eleven to the Sons of Korah, twelve to Asaph, one to Ethan [collected, therefore, over a long period of time]. No author is mentioned in the case of fifty psalms. The superscriptions, when-ever found, always constitute the first verse in the Hebrew text of a psalm. Eighteen of the Davidic psalms also state the occasion for the writing of the poem. If the authenticity of these superscriptions is accepted, the time of the origin would be established and in the case of the Davidic psalms they would be related to David’s life. On the basis of the superscriptions more than fifty percent of the Psalter would come from the eleventh and tenth centuries respectively, Israel’s golden age. One of the developments of the critical approach to the OT was the rejection of the authenticity and the reliability of the psalm superscriptions. Critical scholars explain them as the first erroneous attempts at literary criticism by Jewish students in the days prior to the translation of the Septuagint. In the early decades of the twentieth century most of the psalms were placed by critical scholars in the postexilic* period, with many psalms assigned to the second century B.C. ranking with Daniel among the latest literary products of Judaism. However, as a result of archaeological discoveries there has been a considerable reversal of scholarly opinion about the date or origin of the psalms. The alphabetic clay tablets found at Ugarit, or Rash Shamra, reveal the fact that poetry was early in use at this ancient city which was destroyed by the Sea People about 1200 B.C. In the Ugaritic alphabetic cuneiform* tablets three major Caananite epics were found: the Baal, Aqhat and Keret epics. They reveal their affinity with Hebrew poetry. In these epics one can find meters, varieties of parallelism, pairs of parallel synonyms, phrases, and what were evidently stock similes, which also occur in biblical poetry. This evidence has now led to a complete reversal for dating the Psalms, so that a scholar like Weiser is willing to recognize premonarchial* psalms….The psalm titles are old, predating* the Septuagint around 200 B.C.; in fact, some of the terms in the superscriptions were no longer understood by the Septuagint translators. …With the discovery of the Rash Shamrah texts of 1929 and following many scholars became convinced that Israelite religion was indebted to the poetic materials found at Ugarit….Thus it is claimed that Psalm 29 was literally taken from Ugaritic….However, it should be stated that while many words and expressions in Psalm 29 are found in Ugaritic poetry, nowhere among the available Ugaritic texts is there a poem similar to Psalm 29! (pp.99-104)

Wisdom Books
“Critical scholarship had adopted erroneous views about the wisdom literature of the OT [Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes] and the place of it in Israel’s religion. Refusing to abide by sound principles of interpretation and motivated by skepticism, critical scholars have refused to accept clear statements of the Bible regarding Solomon’s wisdom and the fact that he gave literary expression of this wisdom in a number of writings. Hence critical scholars conclude that just as Moses became synonymous with the Law and all later laws were ascribed to Moses, so Solomon became the ‘patron saint’* of all succeeding wise men or sages [and he was credited with them]. (p.113)….Incorrectly, critical scholarship has assigned the wisdom literary genre to the latest strata of OT writings. (p.115)….[They assert that] the writers of wisdom materials in the OT must have traveled extensively which broadened their sympathies [and they got their wisdom from heathen sources]. (p.117)….[But] Hebrew wisdom literature did not contain a philosophical wisdom. Hebrew wise men did not resort to dialectic* nor did they express them-selves in abstract* terminology. Their concern was to teach men of live wisely and to find intellectual satisfaction with Yahweh. Much of the content of Hebrew wisdom literature consisted of maxims* of conduct…While similarities are present between Hebrew wisdom literature and parallels found in Egypt, Ugarit, Babylonia and Sumeria, Hebrew wisdom literature is essentially different. Israel’s wisdom literature was determined by its faith in Yahweh, which was responsible for giving it a character all its own….In their clear-sighted practicality the OT wisdom writings are far superior to those pagan texts that the interested reader can find in Pritchard’s Ancient Near Eastern Texts.(p.119,120)

The OT Prophetic Books
“The prophetic books of the Hebrew OT bear the names of specific individuals but these ascriptions are not accepted by higher critics as belonging to these writings. In most cases the prophetic writings are considered works of anonymous writers….Since it is claimed by higher critics that prediction by human beings is impossible [and the prophets were mere political and social reformers and preachers, not inspired], predictive assertions must have been written after their fulfillment….The concept of God communicating thoughts and ideas to His chosen servants is considered untenable*. (pp.127,128)

New Testament
The Gospels
“The message about the crucified and risen Christ was initially proclaimed orally [Matthew 28:18-20]….The materials that were incorporated in the four Gospels were composed for teaching and preaching purposes….The oral gospel which eventually was put into writing in the four Gospels represented a new type of literature. The Gospels are not purely biographies of Jesus, although all that we know about the earthly life of Christ is obtained from them, nor are they sufficiently didactic* to be called essays. The writers of the Gospels wanted to use them to effect faith in Christ Jesus. No type of literature similar to the Gospels is found in the OT or in Hellenistic or Roman literature….The early church believed that the first Gospel was written by Matthew Levi, the tax collector: the second Gospel by Mark, an inhabitant of Jerusalem and a companion of Barnabas and Paul; the third Gospel by Luke, a medical doctor and an associate of Paul; and the fourth Gospel by John, the son of Zebedee. Critical scholarship has challenged all these assertions, but in recent years a tendency is evident to return to the traditional views on the authorship of the four Gospels….Luke provides NT readers with a clue as to how the oral tradition was put into writing. He explains in the opening chapter of his Gospel what motivated him to compose his Gospel (Luke 1:1-4),

namely, to confirm in writing facts that Theophilus had learned orally. Luke spoke of facts which were taken for granted among Christians, and alluded to the existence of numerous attempts to arrange them in orderly narratives….Luke claimed that he had obtained his data from those ‘who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word’ (1:2). (136-138)

The Synoptic Gospels
“Matthew, Mark and Luke have been called the Synoptic Gospels because they have a similar structure regarding the earthly ministry of Christ, and a similar view of His teaching and career. The interesting agreements among the first three Gospels have led to speculation whether their relationships can be traced to a common source. Most of Mark’s Gospel can be found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, but Matthew and Luke have material not found in Mark. …The problems raised by these relationships have been stated by Tenney as follows: ‘If three Gospels are absolutely independent of each other how can one account for the minute verbal agreement in their text? If they are copied from each other, or compiled freely from common sources, how can they be original and authoritative? Are they, then, truly the product of inspired writers, or are they merely combinations of anecdotes* which may or may not be true?’ Many theories have been advanced to account for the similarities as well as the dissimilarities found in the Synoptic writings. The most popular theory is the Two Source Hypothesis which claims that Mark was the basis from which Matthew and Luke procured their main outline. Another hypothetical document called ‘Q’…is alleged to have been used by both Luke and Matthew for the material not obtained from Mark. Canon B.H. Streeter…expanded the two source theory into a Four Source Hypothesis by suggesting that Matthew in addition to Mark and ‘Q’ used a special source he called ‘M,’ while Luke in addition to Mark and ‘Q’ employed a special source called ‘L.’ …[S]cholars have not found either the two source or the four source theories satisfactory. The source ‘Q’ has never been found nor is there a reference to its existence in the literature of the church….

“A new type of literary criticism known as form criticism has [now] come into vogue….Proponents… believe that the Gospels are comprised of different literary types or genres [pronouncement stories, miracle stories, and sayings (subdivided as wisdom words, parables, myths, legends)…[It] aims at examining the oral gospel [and] assumes that the various forms were creations of the Christian community….[It tries] to determine for what purpose, or to meet what need, did the first church preserve, shape, or invent this or that story or saying….If this assumption is correct it would mean that the Gospels tell us more about the church that created the various forms of literary genre in the Gospels, than they tell us about the sayings and deeds of Jesus….Two big questions are asked by form critics: What in the Gospels was uttered by Jesus? What sayings did the early church place into the mouth of Jesus? Form criticism will examine a saying, a miracle, a parable, or any one of the other types of material found by them and then question whether or not Jesus really said or did that which is attributed to Him by the evangelists….Dissatisfaction with the conclusions of literary Gospel criticism spawned form criticism. The latter has now been weighed in the scales of critical evaluation and been found wanting. Out of form criticism has now come redaction* criticism….Each of the advocates [Bornkamm, Conzelmann, and Marxsen] is developing a school of followers….Bornkamm claims that Matthew…was creating theology…and developing his understanding of the church….Conzelmann…contends Luke was not interested in historical accuracy but that he determined facts to suit his theological purpose….Conzelmann did not hesitate to supply the smallest details of Christ’s life, even though they did not have any foundation in fact….One of the major outcomes of form criticism has been the third quest for the historical Jesus. …Even critical scholars have been skeptical of form criticism as a viable and legitimate interpretative methodology….All forms of higher criticism, form and redaction criticism, have been and are approaches which have questioned the reliability of the facts reported in the Gospels. These types of criticism all assumed that the Gospels were not inspired writings in which the Holy Spirit had caused the author to record reliable facts and interpretations about the life of Jesus…. (141-149)

The Epistles
“Of the twenty-seven books comprising the NT canon, twenty-one may be classified as epistles or letters. The epistles, according to the custom of the time, have an introduction in which are found the name of the writer and that of the addressee, either a person or a church. This is followed by a greeting, the body of the letter, a conclusion, and concluding greeting. Hebrews, James and I John deviate from this pattern. Some specific occasion usually prompted the penning of an epistle and the life situation can readily be inferred from it….

Paul’s writings
“In the nineteenth century some severe attacks were made upon the integrity and authenticity of a number of the Pauline letters. According to the critics [of the Tubingen school], that was the century that freed interpretation from the shackles of dogma. …Schmidt…question[ed] the authenticity of I Timothy and 2 Thessalonians…..F.C. Bauer…ascribed only five letters to Paul [Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Philemon, the only books in the NT, he said that were apostolic]….He applied Hegel’s dialectical* principles…..Bruno Bauer went so far as to question the integrity and authenticity of all Pauline writings….In America in the nineteenth century the Tubingen school was not accepted….Despite the repudiation of the Tubingen school’s historical reconstruction, some of its views have continued to be maintained and Bauer’s influence is still evident in this century. (150-154)….[Other areas of dispute concern the origin and date of Paul’s epistles.] The last group of epistles written by Paul were I and II Timothy and Titus [referred to as the Pastoral epistles]. Critical NT scholars have denied Paul as the author of these letters….The arguments advanced against their genuineness are: 1. The language and style are not Pauline; 2. Opposition of the epistles to second century gnosticism; 3. Discrepancies between Acts and the pastorals—Acts relates only one imprisonment at the end of which Paul was put to death; 4. The type of ecclesiastical* organization is too advanced for the first Christian century. All of these negative objections have been satisfactorily answered by the defenders of the Pauline tradition and held by the early church….The prima facie evidence of the Pastorals themselves supports Paul as the writer since his name appears at the beginning of each letter. The autobiographical* references in the Pastoral epistles coincide with the life of Paul between his release from his first Roman imprisonment and his death in 67 A.D. The basic style of evidence regarding the genuineness of documents was stated many years ago by Simon Greenleaf, who wrote: ‘Every document, apparently ancient, coming from the proper repository* or custody, and bearing on its face no evident marks of forgery, the law presumes to be genuine, and devolves* on the opposing part of the burden of proving it otherwise.’…Some scholars believe that the vocabulary presents the greatest difficulty for supporting the Pauline authorship of the Pastorals. Of the 848 word vocabulary, 306 words or more than thirty-six percent are not found in any other of the Pauline letters. In answer to this objection it should be noted that the large percentage of new words may in part be due to the new subject matter introduced in the Pastorals….Paul quotes many ‘faithful sayings’ of the church. It must be remembered that Paul spoke and wrote Greek as his second language which he learned mostly from association. In coming to Rome and remaining there for some years, he has been introduced to a new kind of Greek, influenced by Latin. This is confirmed by the fact that ‘new words’ are found with much greater frequency in those apostolic fathers connected with Rome (i.e. Clement, Hermas, Tatian, Justin) than in the non-Roman fathers. Some of the ‘new words’ also belong to the literary vocabulary of the Koine*. This may be due to Paul’s association with Luke during the years that [these epistles] were composed. There is, therefore, no conclusive evidence to overthrow the internal testimony in the pastoral letters that Paul is their author….

The General Epistles
“The General or Catholic Epistles are usually classed as: James, Hebrews, I and II Peter, I, II, III John and Jude. [Critical scholars date James around 96-100 A.D., but on false assumptions that it was written to combat Pauline justification by faith. I Peter is rejected because is too elegant* Greek for a fisherman, has Pauline teachings, and could not have been written before Peter’s martyrdom in 67 A.D.] These arguments are insufficient to overthrow the clear testimony of the epistle. Both internal and external evidences support the Petrine authorship. No other NT letter has a better attestation*….II Peter is also considered by critical scholars to be an anonymous letter and the last written book in the NT despite the first verse clearly stating that its author was ‘Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ.’ …While it is true some differences in style exist between the two books, yet striking likenesses between I and II Peter are also evident….[Jude] is assigned by critical scholarship to the period between 125-150 A.D….reject[ing] the clear statement of the text [v.1],…’Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James.’ Since James was one of the brothers of Jesus, Jude was likewise one of his brethren. Matt. 13:55 and Mark 6:3 indicate that Jesus had a brother by that name. (156-164)….

John’s Writings
“[S]ince the early part of the nineteenth century the Johannine authorship [of the fourth Gospel] has been questioned; and to this day, it is a subject of dispute which perennially* becomes a topic for debate….At the end of the nineteenth century….J.B. Lightfoot…showed that [it] was penned by a Palestinian Jew and be a person who must have been an eyewitness of the events described….The traditional position of the early Christian church [the Muratorian Fragment, Ireneus, Ptolemaeus] as outlined by [B.F.] Westcott and Lightfoot was rejected by liberal critical scholarship [who affirmed it was a product of Hellenistic mysticism and that it originated in the second century.] (166,167)….[The many minute details of events, geography, history, and Jewish customs] harmonizes in a unique manner with the tradition of the Johannine authorship. (169,170)…The similarity [of words and terms (‘light and darkness,’ ‘children of light,’ ‘walking in the dark,’ etc.) of the Gospel of John and] Qumran writings [which some scholars erroneously suggest as dependence of it upon them] would not rule out or make impossible a date as early as 60 A.D. [seeing that the Qumran sect that hid the scrolls was destroyed in 70 A.D.], which would completely demolish the non-apostolic second century date postulated* by many critical scholars even to this day!…Some scholars contend [on the basis of differences in theology, style, and diction] that the author of the fourth Gospel could not have written the three Epistles [of John], as traditionally held….[But] The arguments for the common authorship of the Gospel and the Epistles is conclusive. Proof rests on the parallel passages (e.g. John 1:1 and I John 1:1), common phrases, such as ‘only-begotten,’ ‘born of God,’ common constructions (common use of conjunctions instead of subordinate* clauses), and common themes as agape, ‘love,’ phos, ‘light,’ zoe, ‘life’ and meno ‘to abide.’ There can be no doubt that the same mind is at work in two different situations….Revelation [also called the Apocalypse] is the only complete book [in the Bible, Isaiah, Joel, Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Daniel containing parts] that can be classified as [belonging to the genre] ‘apocalyptical.’ According to the interpretation of critical scholarship, the Book of Revelation has been influenced by the apocalyptical notions found in the apocalyptical works originating during the inter-testamental period….According to critical scholars, apocalypses are alleged to have been written pseudonymously [including Daniel]….While it is true that some apocalyptic forms of literary genre are found in Revelation, this Johannine book is in a class by itself when compared with inter-testamental apocalypses. The Book of Revelation is not pseudonymous*….John mentions himself in the opening verse….This book claims to be a book of prophecy….[It] is not to be considered a conventional apocalypse….[Justin Martyr (140 A.D.), Ireneus (170 A.D.), the Muratorian Fragment (180 A.D.), Clement of Alexandria (200 A.D.), and others support the Johannine authorship. Dionysius of Alexandria (231-256 A.D.) questioned the Johannine authorship on the grounds that the author unhesitatingly declared his name (unlike the Fourth Gospel), and that the style and vocabulary were much different than that in the Gospel and the three epistles. He concluded that the author was the elder John of Ephesus, not the Apostle John. However, evidence does not warrant the existence of two Johns.] Many modern scholars do not accept the identification of the John of Revelation with the Apostle John, the principal objection being the style of writing of the Apocalypse. The Greek of Revelation is in many respects different from that of the other Johannine writings [including alleged grammatical errors]. …Possibly because of the unique character of the revelations given to John, he used special constructions to emphasize the extraordinary content of that made known to him by Jesus Christ….The so-called grammatical mistakes in Revelation can be logically explained as unidiomatic translations of Hebrew or Aramaic expressions which would have been difficult to render into Greek. The very nature of the visions granted to John makes it difficult to describe them in human language. While it cannot be denied that there are striking differences between Revelation and the other Johannine writings, the striking agreements must also be pointed out. [They have] the same view of man’s predicament* [in darkness in a world under the judgment of God and dominion of the Devil]. …[And they] draw a clear line of distinction between the church and the world, and no compromise between truth and error, between darkness and light, between life and death, will be tolerated.” (Surburg, op.cit., pp.173-178)

The following conclusion by R.K. Harrison concerning higher criticism applies specifically to his discussion of the OT, but most of its points can very well be applied to NT criticism as well:

“It will have become apparent from the foregoing discussion [ours as well as his] that literary criticism has far too long been characterized by purely subjective considerations, and this is one of the grave weaknesses of the method. Part of the problem lies in the fact that its earliest practitioners knew little or nothing about ancient Near Eastern life other than what was implied by biblical or classical traditions. By the time modern archaeological discoveries had begun to unlock the past, the theoretical postulates were so well established that any modification in the light of factual evidence would have been devastating. With the passing of the heyday* of liberal criticism, many of its advocates are experiencing considerable difficulty in accommodating themselves to the demands of the objective evidence, and in certain instances can only maintain nineteenth-century critical positions at the cost of ignoring modern archaeological and other information. Therefore, if literary criticism is to retain credibility and serve as a useful tool for studying the OT, it must abandon the speculative a priori* approach that characterized its origins and pursue further researches according to proper a posteriori* method, as in modern science. This will involve, first, the selection of a problem, and second, the assembling of all the relevant factual material to see if the objective data give any indication of providing a tentative* explanation of the problem. If they do, the suggested answer will have to be submitted to still more rigorous testing by additional data before it can be regarded as a working hypothesis. Only if it survives this process unscathed can the explanation begin to be elevated to the level of a hypothesis. If observed facts militate against or refute the hypothesis, it can either be modified to accommodate the new information, be replaced by a different and more satisfactory explanation, or be retained tentatively till a more comprehensive hypothesis can be formulated. Clearly this kind of inductive generalization precludes nineteenth- and, in some cases, twentieth-century literary-critical activities as the rewriting of Hebrew history to make it conform to an evolutionary schema*, the arbitrary emendation of the Hebrew text, and the ignoring of relevant archaeological and other external data. Scholars must now engage in a proper inductive investigation of problems, using all the appropriate information, instead of merely adopting a less-extreme position regarding classical literary criticism. Only by this means will the exercise of the discipline produce realistic, responsible, and beneficial results.” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary,Frank E. Gaebelein, gen. ed.; Zondervan: Grand Rapids,MI; 1979, “Historical and Literary Criticism of the OT,” R.K. Harrison, Vol. 1, pp.249,250)

As with the other objections or challenges to the doctrine of the inspiration, higher criticism fails, despite over 200 years of intense effort, to demonstrate conclusively that the Bible or any part of it is not true or that it is not what it claims to be—the inspired, inerrant Word of God. The four separate documents that supposedly made up the Pentateuch do not exist, neither do the “Q”, “L,” or “M” documents that supposedly served as sources for the Synoptic Gospels, neither do a thousand other sources or portions of books advanced by various theories. They remain only highly speculative theories. Far too much of higher criticism is, as Torrey said, “unscientific, unhistorical, and unscholarly,” and set forth by men who for the most part are biased against inspiration by rationalism, atheism, agnosticism, unbelief, and skepticism. It is true, as many opponents of modern textual criticism have pointed out, that this same bias exists in many textual as well as higher critics. But with textual criticism, much more is dependent upon hard facts before the scholar—the manuscripts themselves—and not subjective theories, at least much more so than with higher critics. The inspiration of the Scriptures is beyond ordinary investigative means to discover. What is required in order to evaluate the Bible truly is not scholarly literary critical art but an open heart and mind to the Spirit of God. The Bible’s true value and excellence lies not in its literary excellence but its spiritual message.

Leon Stump, Pastor of Victory Christian Center

This Page is an outdated, user-generated website brought to you by an archive.It was mirrored from Geocities at the end of October, 2009.
For any questions concerning this page try to contact the respective author. (To report any malicious content send the URL to oocities(at gmail dot com). For question about the archive visit: OoCities.org.