Source and Form Criticism of the Bible

The bible is perceived as a historical text; however there is no historical evidence that proves biblical events ever occurred. This is why critical analysis of the bible is essential in the understanding of the events that occurred in the bible. As form criticism plans out the “life setting” of the text, it helps to develop an understanding of where the text came from.

Whereas source criticism helps to decipher fact from fiction in the events that occurred, by viewing two different sources of the same text and deciding which one is true and which isn’t.Both types of criticisms are helpful by trying to understand the biblical content of the Bible and where it originated. By raising questions such as, are the stories that are told in the bible just parables or did they actually happen? Come the understanding of biblical studies. Form criticism is a translation of the word Formgeschichte, which literally means “history of form.

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” Gunkel noticed that many stories in the bible were often causation and why things are the way they are.For example, in there Genesis 35 Jacob meets God at Bethel in a dream, and this story explained why the later Israelites made there pilgrimage to the cult centre at there site of Bethel. Gunkel recognised that each type of genre had its introductory formula. This is where the Sitz im Leben or “life setting” becomes recognised, as a scene emerges from a specific setting in the life of people, through this a genre gives insight into the life situation in which it arises.

Hence Gunkel originated questions to ask when analysing a biblical text.The questions a Form critic should ask themselves (according to Gunkel) are, “Who is speaking? Who are the listeners? What is the setting on the stage at the time? What Effect is aimed at? ” (Soulen, R. N. Handbook of Biblical criticism, 3rd ed.

Minneapolis: John Knox, 2001, page 61-63). An example of form criticism is in 2 Samuel 12:1-4 where it is a prose with a genre known as a parable. It could have a life setting to be retold at coronation ceremonies to remind the king to be humble.The surrounding texts present the parable to be presented as a story of legal dispute with a moral sense of value, it could be told as a sermon to prevent people from being greedy.

In relation to Form criticism, source criticism seeks to answer questions of biblical text to help differentiate the situations in and behind the text. However, the questions that a source critic may ask differ from a form critic. Source criticism takes into consideration the sources being used and also the repetitions/ inconsistencies of the passage. As source criticism reviews two variations of texts and observes the factors that originate the text.

By observing two different texts such as Genesis 12:10-20 and Genesis 20:1-18, there are some similarities in the accounts (mentioned as a “Double tradition of Sarah in the Harem”). Source critics seek to analyse the biblical texts and deciphering which is correct and which account actually happened or did they both happen? In these two stories, the place names have been changed, and the name of the king, perhaps indicating that the same story was passed down in two different locations, one near the Negev town of Gerar, and the other in Egypt.However, the authors in the second account (Genesis 20:1-18) have theological interest about the moral implications of Abraham’s acts and create an extended apology for his actions. This account therefore reveals that it is attributed to the Elohist source (Elohist (E) is one of four sources of the Torah described by the Documentary Hypothesis), while in Genesis 12:10-20 emphasises on god’s help to Abraham, which assigns it to the Yahwist source (Yahwist (J) one of the four major sources of the Torah postulated by the Documentary Hypothesis).

Boadt, Lawrence. Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction, Paulist Press, 1984 pg. 82) Many people believe that Moses wrote the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew bible (Pentateuch).Although there is nothing in the bible that states that Moses wrote every word from Genesis through to Deuteronomy.

This belief was developed during Second Temple Judaism (515 BCE – 70BC) based on a misunderstanding of the word “Torah. ” In the Hebrew bible it states in Deuteronomy 31:9 that “Moses wrote this Torah. Although the Hebrew word “Torah” means “law” or “instruction” “, and the term is used frequently to refer to specific laws in the Bible. Form criticism is being used in the clause of the text where the question arises that if Moses wrote the Bible one might expect Moses to use first person, so passages such as Deut 31:9 indicate another author’s presents.

Form criticism aids in this argument in developing a “life setting” of the situation for the intentions of the text.In assisting the concept that the “law” being referred to in Deut 31:9 was intended for the Israelites. Source criticism will also argue that Moses couldn’t have possibly written about Deut 34: 5-12, the verse that talks about Moses death. Hence the author of Deuteronomy 31 only implied that Moses wrote the preceding laws and instructions found in Deuteronomy 12-28, a section known as the Deuteronomic Law Code.

The tradition of Moses being the Torah’s author became ingrained by the first century CE.Thus in the New Testament Jesus spoke of the “law of Moses” when referring to Lev 12:3 (John 7:23), and Jesus cited “the book of Moses” when he quoted Exod 3:6 (Mark 12:26). From then on, it was official Church doctrine that Moses wrote the first five books of the Torah. As Form criticism reviews the languages used and the types of genres displayed, it outlines a structure for the passage, in Gen 12:6 and 13:7 suggests that the “Torah” must have been written after Moses, at a time when the Canaanites no longer possessed that land.

Through the location and development of the Pentateuch, source criticism manifests why the sources were placed in that order and what would happen if they were changed around? Hence if Genesis was written after Deuteronomy, it was placed in that order for a reason. The language and theological outlook of the book of Deuteronomy is different from the sources making up of Genesis through Numbers. Therefore the language used in Deuteronomy 12-28 and the historical and theological context suggests a date of composition after Moses’ day.So the “Torah” that Moses wrote according to Deut 31:9 was only 16 chapters as opposed to five books, and using Source Criticism and observing other texts comes the discovery that 16 chapters of laws as they are now recorded were not completed until centuries after Moses.

(Website: Bible Dudes: Source/ Form Criticism, http://bibledudes. com/biblical-studies/source. php BibleDudes(c), 2002) In comparison, source criticism and form criticism can aid one another in developing a thesis for an interpretation of a text.By comprehending the meaning behind a text, one must examine the location of the text and why it has been placed where it was placed.

The significance behind the text makes sense within its location. Although both types of criticism have differences in the way in which they analyse a text. Source criticism views where the author got the sources and the intention of the sources being involved in the text. Whereas form criticism comprehends the surrounding elements of a text (Life setting) and develops an understanding of the audience in which the text was intended.

In Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 there are two different types of sources for the readings of the Shema. The contrast between the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version) and NJPS (New Jewish Publication Society) where verse 6:6-7 differ from each other. The point of source criticism is to analyse the readings to determine which of the two sources being used in the text is the most eligible of being the original translation. The NRSV bible reads “keeps these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.

Recite them to your children. ” Whereas the NJPS bible reads, “Take to heart these instructions which I charge you this day.Impress them upon your children. ” As these texts differ from each other they have a similar meaning although the author in the NJPS version sounds a lot more forceful, using words such as “charge” and “impress,” also the use of the word “instructions” is more of a description showing how something is to be done, whereas as a “commandment” is more of a doctrine that is taught.

By instigation further research, the NRSV is similar to the JPS Old Testament, KJV with strong’s numbers, Hebrew names version and the Third Millennium Bible.This analysis therefore makes the NRSV a more reliable resource then the NJPS version. (Website: Instaverse, the bible at your fingertips. Study light.

Copyright (c) 2001-2009, StudyLight. orghttp://www. studylight. org/desk/? l=en&query=Deuteronomy+6%3A4+-+9&section=0&translation=jps&oq=De%25206%3A4-9&new=1&nb=de&ng=6&ncc=6) In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, form criticism is very helpful in establishing the origination of the text; the Shema is an affirmation of Judaism and a declaration of faith in one God.

It is an Israelite pray and serves as a confession of faith in God. The point of the Shema is to acknowledge that the Lord is the only God and that there is no other god, he is “the Lord alone. ” The Shema could be said out of respect for God as a reinforcement of believes, it could be said at church or at a community setting. Source criticism looks at the arrangement of where the text is positioned and why the author has used this source.

The source is intended to have significance in the aspect that it develops an insight of meaning behind the text.The author of the text shows a presentation through the form of a prayer to have respect and honour for the Lord and to have belief for God and an obligation to recite that belief through the Shema. There is metaphoric language used towards the end of the passage “Emblem on your forehead,” the metaphor has a meaning emphasis the passage to enforce that people should have strong belief in God. Therefore in this aspect source criticism is complementing form criticism.

(Bromiley, George W; International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: K-P. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1994 pg.

0)There are numerous sets of doublets of similar stories in the Old Testament; source criticism is used to help establish which one is true, while form criticism also can aid in establishing which text is true by reviewing the surrounding elements of the text, to determine who the story was intended for. There are two creation accounts in Gen 1 and Gen 2, and what would happen if the arrangement of the creation story if the order were changed. In the Bible there are many feministic perceptions of women being of insignificant or inferior in comparison to the man.Whilst observing the story of creation found in Genesis 2, where an account is given of the origins of men and women, the woman occupies an inferior position from the moment of creation.

This can be shown by the sources produced in the surrounding texts, the signs of the woman having a lesser stance in the passage is revealed through the facts that the woman is created last of all creatures; the woman is made from the rib of the man; the woman is made to be the helper of the man. Also through the idea the woman is perceived as manipulative (Eve ‘manipulated’ Adam to eat from the tree of knowledge) gives the woman a lower role in the bible.This is shown through the fact that no bible stories/accounts are written by women, hence leaving the Bible more male dominant. A source critic will analyse the purpose of the author’s account, instead of accounting to woman to be Adam’s partner and companion the author makes Eve seem to be the reason and blame why Adam and eve got thrown out of paradise.

Although from a form critic’s perspective they will analyse where the story being told is fact or fiction, in deciphering whether the account is a story or parable (was it just a story or did they actually happen? .Adam and Eve could have been told as a parable to remind people of the temptations the devil can bring. There are two sets of facts in the flood story in Gen 6~8 (compare the number of animals in the ark, the length of the flood and the origin of flood). The story of the giving of the Ten Commandments is told twice (Exod 20, Deut 5), what is the purpose of the stories being told twice, one may be a retelling of the story, to reinforce belief.

Twice a place is named Beersheba (Gen 21:31, 26:33) and twice Jacob is named “Israel” (Gen 32:28, 35:10).In order to discover which of these uncertified duplicate texts is the original text, form criticism must be undertaken by viewing the surroundings of the text and making sense of the arrangement of how they originated (life setting) and therefore determine the function. What is the purpose of telling the story in that order? Perhaps there are two authors recounting the same incident or perhaps to reinforce Israelite belief. Or could the stories be told twice differently because they were intended to address different types of audiences? (Chapter seven: Source criticism pg.

70 CD-ROM)In conclusion, source criticism and form criticism are used to complement each other in the formation of the bible. Although there are differences in the two types of criticism, they both aim to assist one another in the development of a thesis. In this case to help establish whether Moses actually wrote the Pentateuch as mentioned in Deut 31:9. By taking into account aspects of the situation such as the formation of the five books, source criticism analysed why they were placed in that specified order.

Whereas form criticism reviewed the way in which the text was written and presented (who the intended audience was? . In this manner therefore suggest that the types of criticisms have two contrasting factors. Form criticism takes into value the genre of the text and once the form is discovered one can assume where the text derived from and also the function of the text and what it was used for. In this formulation the “life setting” of the text can be discovered.

In this aspect Deuteronomy in Chapters 12-28 is presented to the Israelites to remind them of there Lord and Creator, the setting of the text is used as a commandment in people’s lives.In this manner both form and source criticism aided one another in the aspect of determining what the specific text is actually implying and also the authors purpose in establishing the text. Therefore source criticism and form criticism are crucial in the formation of the Bible in determining the authors’ perspective and the aspects in which those perspectives were derived. Hence both types of criticisms compliment one another in the analysis of the bible whilst trying to decide where a source was formed and why such sources were used.

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Source and Form Criticism of the Bible. (2018, Jan 04). Retrieved from