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.

Redaction criticism

The study of how the manuscript editions of the texts have changed is called redaction criticism.  This is the examination of these literary biblical document to discover how the biblical authors have formed and linked the materials together.  How did they edit these texts to establish their meaning and significance?

Form Criticism

The German theologian Hermann Gunkel (1862-1932) first developed Formgechichte in an attempt to establish fixed literary patterns.  These patterns then could go behind the present text to help establish the meaning and significance of the literary pattern in its original context.  However, the meaning of form criticism has become fluid.  The study of the biblical texts using form criticism has revealed a marvelous multiplicity of literary styles, forms, and methods used in the Bible.

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.

Joakim (Dan 13:1-13:1)

“There was a man

Living in Babylon

Whose name was Joakim.”

This chapter 13 story only appears in the Greek Septuagint version of the Book of Daniel. Thus, this story of Susanna and Daniel is sometimes called apocryphal literature. It probably should be at the beginning of this work, since it presents Daniel as a young man, but it is usually placed here at the end. This story is about the wife of Joakim, a Jewish man living in exile in Babylon. The name Joakim means that the Lord will establish him.

The new decree (Dan 6:7-6:9)

“All the presidents

Of the kingdom,

The prefects,

The satraps,

The counselors,

The governors,

All agreed.

The king

Should establish

An ordinance.

He should enforce

An interdict.

‘Whoever prays

To anyone,

Divine,

Or human,

For thirty days,

Except to you,

O king!

Shall be cast

Into a den of lions.

Now,

O king!

Establish the interdict!

Sign the document!

Thus,

It cannot be changed,

According to the law

Of the Medes,

Of the Persians.

It cannot be revoked.’

Therefore,

King Darius signed

The document.

He signed

The interdict.”

Thus, the two other presidents of the kingdom, with the prefects, the satraps, the counselors, and the governors all agreed that the king should establish an ordinance to be enforced as an interdict. This ordinance would say that anyone who prayed to any divine or human for the next 30 days, except to the king himself, should be cast into a den of lions. Then the king established this interdict and signed the document that could not be changed, according to the laws of Medes and Persia. This is somewhat reminiscent of the story of the king in Book of Esther, chapters 3-4 and 8-9, against the Jews.

Remember the covenant (Ezek 16:61-16:63)

“‘Then you will remember

Your ways.

You will be ashamed

When I take

Your sisters,

Both your elder

As well as your younger.

I will give them

To you

As daughters,

But not on account

Of my covenant

With you.

I will establish

My covenant

With you.

You shall know

That I am Yahweh.

Thus you may remember.

Thus you may be confounded.

Never open

Your mouth again

Because of your shame!

I will forgive you

All that you have done.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh told Jerusalem that she would remember her wicked ways. She should be ashamed. Yahweh was going to give her younger and older sister, Samaria and Sodom, as daughters to her, but not because of a covenant. Yahweh was going to establish his covenant with Jerusalem. She would know that he was Yahweh. She would remember that and be confounded. Jerusalem was never again to open her mouth because of her shame. Yahweh was going to forgive her for all that she had done.