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The Nature of Biblical Criticism
Westminster John Knox Press / 2007 / Paperback
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John Barton writes The Nature of Biblical Criticism not to say what Biblical Criticism should be but what it traditionally has been and what it technically is. Despite many claiming that biblical criticism is no long applicable in today's scholarship, Barton begs to differ. He explains that biblical criticism at its core as, "a productive and mature discipline, which sets itself the task of understand the biblical text." This book is to define biblical criticism as a tool that is used by scholars even though they claim to deny its usefulness.
John Barton is Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture, University of Oxford. He is coeditor of The Oxford Bible Commentary and author of Understanding Old Testament Ethics.
Biblical criticism faces increasing hostility on two fronts: from biblical conservatives, who claim it is inherently positivistic and religiously skeptical, and from postmodernists, who see it as driven by the falsities of objectivity and neutrality. In this magisterial overview of the key factors and developments in biblical studies, John Barton demonstrates that these evaluations of biblical criticism fail to do justice to the work that has been done by critical scholars over many generations. Traditional biblical criticism has had as its central concern a semantic interest: a desire to establish the "plain sense" of the biblical text, which in itself requires sensitivity to many literary aspects of texts. Therefore, he argues, biblical criticism already includes many of the methodological approaches now being recommended as alternatives to it and, further, the agenda of biblical studies is far less fragmented than often thought.
John Barton is Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture at the University of Oxford in England. His publications include The Oxford Bible Commentary, The Original Story, Understanding Old Testament Ethics (WJK), and How the Bible Came to Be (WJK).
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