Canon criticism is relatively new to biblical criticism. Two major schools exist. One takes the final canon as normative for discovering God’s word to his people. Thus, this final form of the biblical documents should be vigorously analyzed and studied, in order to perceive keys to understanding the sacred texts. Another school of thought stresses the authority of the various canonical stages of these historical documents, as well as their final shape. Thus, the process of canonization itself helps give us insights about the texts as they developed in the various church communities.
The Good Book
The Bible is a great book, the “Good Book.” Every time we go back to it, we find new meanings. There is always the sensus plenior, the fuller meaning. The bible texts have more than one meaning. Reading and rereading our favorite passages exposes us to even a greater understanding of life and the world around us. Some stories of the Bible are so interesting, we like to read them more than once.
How to read the Bible
Be a faithful reader, regularly and with the eyes of faith. Be an active reader, intelligently and critically. Put the texts in context, read from a tradition and a believing community. Read the Bible as a whole, not isolating passages. Understand the background of each book. Try to understand the consensus opinion about texts. Appreciate the major themes and narratives. Be open to God and his word. Be aware of the continuity and discontinuity. Try to translate the Bible to your life situations
Different points of view
The New Testament references the Hebrew Bible that came to be known as the Old Testament. The New Testament books were not referred to until the second century of the common era. Consensus on its contents did not occur until the late fourth century. There is nothing wrong with different points of view or inconsistencies. The first two chapters of Genesis are not contradictory. The synoptic gospels give different versions of the Baptism of Jesus. Most of us just say “so what?” We understand different points of view. The Bible had different authors over a considerable amount of time. The Old Testament took hundreds of years to complete. The New Testament took thirty to sixty years to finish. Very few could write, so that oral tradition dominated in that society. The texts themselves were rewritten, so that we say that the texts we have, with all its corrections, is the one that God wants us to have.