Historical Criticism

Historical bible criticism attempts to establish the historical milieu of a document.  This involves many things and various disciplines, such as linguistics, sociology, anthropology, and comparative literature studies of various kinds.  Certainly, it is important to establish the time, place, events, persons, general milieu, and sources.  All of this is necessary in order to help the reader understand this literary document.  The contemporary experience of reality should help to establish the meaning and significance of ancient texts, even though these ancient texts had a worldview different from that of the modern world.

Textual criticism

Textual criticism is the study of the variants in the original Hebrew or Greek texts.  This textual criticism attempts to establish the original wording of the biblical texts.  There is an attempt to establish the possible formation and transmission of the texts themselves.  All the original manuscripts of the Bible have been lost.  Thus, the goal of textual criticism is to recover the best critical text possible, given the circumstances of today.  Most modern translations are based on various Hebrew and Greek critical texts.  These ancient texts were copied by hand with some possible human errors.  Many kinds of copying errors have been categorized and classified.  Textual criticism is known as lower criticism, because it is the foundation for all of the other kinds of critical study.