Interpretation: methodologies

Methods of analysis of the Bible are in constant flux. Over time, new ideas come to the fore, have their time of being at the forefront and then become part of the ordinary series of techniques.

There is often an arrogance about the technique of the moment. It's practitioners announce that nothing that came before can be of any real value. Time, however, has a habit of putting everything into perspective.


So, what does it mean to us now? Spiritual Criticism - what I want to be doing.
To do Spiritual Criticism, all of the approaches below are a necessary foundation.
"Lower" Criticism

Textual Criticism
"Translation" Criticism

"Higher" Criticism, traditional approaches that dominated what you would have learned 20 years ago.

Form Criticism
Source Criticism
Redaction Criticism
Tradition Criticism

Literary Criticism - if the stereotype of traditional criticism is to atomize the text into fragments, this approach tries to put the text together.

A maze of approaches. Considers characters, their relationships, who knows what at what point in the narrative, what sort of narrator is revealed and what sort of reader is implied. (Many other aspects are used.)

We should also make a place here for:
Canonical Criticism
Rhetorical Criticism

Political approaches - everything's political, but these approaches call attention to the politics of the interpretation and of the interpreters.

Feminist Perspectives (the role of women)
Liberation Theology (the role of class)
World perspectives (especially African and Asian - the role of race)

Social Science Perspectives - these approaches apply the methods of social sciences to examine the culture, economics and religion of the period of the texts Using insights from
Comparative Religion
Political Science
A more comprehensive discussion of each type of interpretation is available from Dr. Catherine Murphy of Santa Clara University. (Up 11/1/06; posted 1/28/06)
Last updated 11/18/06; first posted 10/31/00; © 2006 John P. Nordin