Biblical Studies: Introduction

I'm a Bible Scholar, a Scriptural caller,
I got a lot of books but not a lot of dollar.
Things from antiquity you know they be ravin',
I throw around words like sitz-im-leben,
A bazillion languages are cloggin' my head,
All of my heroes have been a long time dead.
Come on along now, all the Bibledudes' buddies,
Cuz Yo! We gonna rap BIBLICAL STUDIES!

Uhhhh, is this the place looking for biblical studs? I can lift heavy objects, and the Philistine ladies find my muscles and locks irresistible.

Sorry Samson. While you are undoubtedly a biblical stud, this is the section of BibleDudes devoted to the most exciting of all academic disciplines: biblical studies. It's where scholars eruditely employ fascinating methods of biblical criticism to better understand the Bible.

I've got some biblical criticisms of my own. The plot got totally confusing after Methuselah begot Lamech, and I found that 10 Commandments stuff overly didactic to the point that it was preachy. And that whole wanderings in the desert story, it was a little dry. Lastly, two hooves down for Chronicles--man that book is more boring than a Tuesday night in Aleppo.


I'm afraid you don't fully understand the term "Criticism." It comes from the Greek word krino, meaning "to judge" or "to discern." In this context it doesn't mean approval or disapproval, but rather, it applies to methodologies used by scholars to examine and explore the biblical text. You see, university courses that examine the Bible try to treat it objectively and analytically in order to find out as much as we can about the Bible and the context in which it was written.

Bible scholars sort of act like detectives, and try to reveal as much as they can about a text. To help them, they examine the Bible through the contextual magnifying glass of critical methods, and try to discern things like when it was written, what life was like during that time, why the biblical author wrote the story, what the passage meant to the author, their intended audience, and compare the passage to similar literary genres in antiquity. Here are the awesome critical methods we'll be exploring in this section:

Critical Methods
Historical Criticism
Archaeological Criticism
Literary Criticism
Textual Criticism
Source Criticism
Redaction Criticism
Form Criticism
Feminist Criticism
African American Criticism

There are other approaches, and new methods seem to be popping up all the time. But these are the most prevalent, so let's take a closer look at these critical methods in the following sections.