What is rationalistic biblical criticism, and how do we distinguish it from valid historical research?

7 Answers

  • Tom
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Although many of the great proponents of Biblical criticism, such as Wellhausen and Bultmann, have been somewhat of a help to discover the historical development and formulation of the Holy Scriptures, much about their theories were based on a priori assumptions (i.e., Western agnosticism), as we all must have, about their origins; which unfortunately have in their case unduly biased their otherwise rational (cogent) approach to interpreting any credible research with which they had access. Since their day, archeology has uncovered much of what they doubted about regarding the historical validity of the Holy Scriptures (e.g., the existence of the Hittites; see Josh McDowell's "Evidence That Demands a Verdict"). It is why we know today that much of what they theorized was completely wrong. It just goes to show that human reason, nor faith for that matter, can NEVER, and will NEVER be, primary factors in the unveiling of Truth. Rather, it will ALWAYS be either raw data, facts, evidence (i.e., natural revelation of God's creation) and/or special revelation from Above (Holy Scriptures). No, reason and faith are only their benefactors!

    Just as the first answerer, Neil S, said that rationalism, which can lead to validity, "...only provides truth when the premises one begins from are true. To come to such premises requires evidence (and let me add here also revelation, as in the Holy Scriptures), not mere argumentation." This is THE major difference why there actually exists quite a bit of dissonance between the many popular Biblical criticism theories, and the historical research in its raw data form (not necessarily the interpretation) of that which we possess today.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Biblical criticism in its fullest comprehension is the examination of the literary origins and historical values of the books composing the Bible, with the state in which these exist at the present day.


    (Latin, ratio -- reason, the faculty of the mind which forms the ground of calculation, i.e. discursive reason. See APOLOGETICS; ATHEISM; BIBLE; DEISM; EMPIRICISM; ETHICS; BIBLICAL EXEGESIS; FAITH; MATERIALISM; MIRACLE; REVELATION).

    The term is used: (1) in an exact sense, to designate a particular moment in the development of Protestant thought in Germany; (2) in a broader, and more usual, sense to cover the view (in relation to which many schools may be classed as rationalistic) that the human reason, or understanding, is the sole source and final test of all truth. It has further: (3) occasionally been applied to the method of treating revealed truth theologically, by casting it into a reasoned form, and employing philosophical Categories in its elaboration.

    As you can see that rationalistic biblical criticism can be flawed by the thought process of the individual distinguishing the bible.

    While just biblical criticism uses valid historical research to form it's textual guide to truth.

    There are valuable ideals of both studies and are very complex. But both studies are a way of searching for biblical truth and both side can have flawed understandings due to the process in which it follows.

    Good question, this is a question that has quite a study to it with no clear answer. I find it very interesting.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I would say that it's the same as with any straw man.

    You make up a definition that fits whatever kind of hatchet job you've already decided to do.

    I would not think there's an intuitive difference between rationalistic Biblical criticism and valid historical research.

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  • neil s
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Rationalism is a failed genre, based on the idea that reason alone can give us truth. Tarksi and Godel showed this impossible.

    But rationalism is generally logically valid (which is simply a fromal matter). Validity, however, only provides truth when the premises one begins from oare true. To come to such premises requires evidence, not mere argumentation.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I would think it would be constructive criticism using the bible and scholars either to bring to light a falsehood in religion or a truth, maybe somethings that are new with all the research and findings that have been made.

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  • aquino
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    in view that Jesus requested us to "seek for certainty" that's what we are meant to do. i don't comprehend if my zodiac sign has something to do with it, yet i've got a tendency to critically learn, scrutinize & evaluate maximum circumstances, the Bible is my prominent obsession! It hasnt altered my faith interior the unfavorable although, its very helpful. i think that God gave us the bible by means of divine concept to apply as a instruction manual for each human beings to realize enlightenment. i comprehend and can interpret the deep symbology it consists of. I even have faith with all my heart that Jesus' (& all prophets) teachings are immediately from the better ultimate experience of right and incorrect that many call God.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Scripture Alone Disproves "Scripture Alone"

    Gen. to Rev. - Scripture never says that Scripture is the sole infallible authority for God's Word. Scripture also mandates the use of tradition. This fact alone disproves sola Scriptura.

    Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15 - those that preached the Gospel to all creation but did not write the Gospel were not less obedient to Jesus, or their teachings less important.

    Matt. 28:20 - "observe ALL I have commanded," but, as we see in John 20:30; 21:25, not ALL Jesus taught is in Scripture. So there must be things outside of Scripture that we must observe. This disproves "Bible alone" theology.

    Mark 16:15 - Jesus commands the apostles to "preach," not write, and only three apostles wrote. The others who did not write were not less faithful to Jesus, because Jesus gave them no directive to write. There is no evidence in the Bible or elsewhere that Jesus intended the Bible to be sole authority of the Christian faith.

    Luke 1:1-4 - Luke acknowledges that the faithful have already received the teachings of Christ, and is writing his Gospel only so that they "realize the certainty of the teachings you have received." Luke writes to verify the oral tradition they already received.

    John 20:30; 21:25 - Jesus did many other things not written in the Scriptures. These have been preserved through the oral apostolic tradition and they are equally a part of the Deposit of Faith.

    Acts 8:30-31; Heb. 5:12 - these verses show that we need help in interpreting the Scriptures. We cannot interpret them infallibly on our own. We need divinely appointed leadership within the Church to teach us.

    Acts 15:1-14 – Peter resolves the Church’s first doctrinal issue regarding circumcision without referring to Scriptures.

    Acts 17:28 – Paul quotes the writings of the pagan poets when he taught at the Aeropagus. Thus, Paul appeals to sources outside of Scripture to teach about God.

    1 Cor. 5:9-11 - this verse shows that a prior letter written to Corinth is equally authoritative but not part of the New Testament canon. Paul is again appealing to a source outside of Scripture to teach the Corinthians. This disproves Scripture alone.

    1 Cor. 11:2 - Paul commends the faithful to obey apostolic tradition, and not Scripture alone.

    Phil. 4:9 - Paul says that what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do. There is nothing ever about obeying Scripture alone.

    Col. 4:16 - this verse shows that a prior letter written to Laodicea is equally authoritative but not part of the New Testament canon. Paul once again appeals to a source outside of the Bible to teach about the Word of God.

    1 Thess. 2:13 – Paul says, “when you received the word of God, which you heard from us..” How can the Bible be teaching first century Christians that only the Bible is their infallible source of teaching if, at the same time, oral revelation was being given to them as well? Protestants can’t claim that there is one authority (Bible) while allowing two sources of authority (Bible and oral revelation).

    1 Thess. 3:10 - Paul wants to see the Thessalonians face to face and supply what is lacking. His letter is not enough.

    2 Thess. 2:14 - Paul says that God has called us "through our Gospel." What is the fullness of the Gospel?

    2 Thess. 2:15 - the fullness of the Gospel is the apostolic tradition which includes either teaching by word of mouth or by letter. Scripture does not say "letter alone." The Catholic Church has the fullness of the Christian faith through its rich traditions of Scripture, oral tradition and teaching authority (or Magisterium).

    2 Thess 3:6 - Paul instructs us to obey apostolic tradition. There is no instruction in the Scriptures about obeying the Bible alone (the word "Bible" is not even in the Bible).

    1 Tim. 3:14-15 - Paul prefers to speak and not write, and is writing only in the event that he is delayed and cannot be with Timothy.

    2 Tim. 2:2 - Paul says apostolic tradition is passed on to future generations, but he says nothing about all apostolic traditions being eventually committed to the Bible.

    2 Tim. 3:14 - continue in what you have learned and believed knowing from whom you learned it. Again, this refers to tradition which is found outside of the Bible.

    James 4:5 - James even appeals to Scripture outside of the Old Testament canon ("He yearns jealously over the spirit which He has made...")

    2 Peter 1:20 - interpreting Scripture is not a matter of one's own private interpretation. Therefore, it must be a matter of "public" interpretation of the Church. The Divine Word needs a Divine Interpreter. Private judgment leads to divisions, and this is why there are 30,000 different Protestant denominations.

    2 Peter 3:15-16 - Peter says Paul's letters are inspired, but not all his letters are in the New Testament canon. See, for example, 1 Cor. 5:9-10; Col. 4:16. Also, Peter's use of the word "ignorant" means unschooled, which presupposes the requirement of oral apostolic instruction that comes from the Church.

    2 Peter 3:16 - the Scriptures are difficult to understand and can be distorted by the ignorant to their destruction. God did not guarantee the Holy Spirit would lead each of us to infallibly interpret the Scriptures. But this is what Protestants must argue in order to support their doctrine of sola Scriptura. History and countless divisions in Protestantism disprove it.

    1 John 4:1 - again, God instructs us to test all things, test all spirits. Notwithstanding what many Protestants argue, God's Word is not always obvious.

    1 Sam. 3:1-9 - for example, the Lord speaks to Samuel, but Samuel doesn't recognize it is God. The Word of God is not self-attesting.

    1 Kings 13:1-32 - in this story, we see that a man can't discern between God's word (the commandment "don't eat") and a prophet's erroneous word (that God had rescinded his commandment "don't eat"). The words of the Bible, in spite of what many Protestants must argue, are not always clear and understandable. This is why there are 30,000 different Protestant churches and one Holy Catholic Church.

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