Historical, Theological, and Literary Critical Theories – 02

In contrast to diachronic approaches, synchronic approaches focus on the final form of the text:

  1. Rhetorical criticism: focus on how something is said.
  2. Canonical criticism (associated with Brevard Childs): What is the theological significance of a text? What was the role of the text within the community of God’s people?
  3. Structural criticism (aka “structuralism”)
  4. Ideological criticism (aka “reader-response): there are three actors that bring a text to life (the author, the text itself, and the reader); the reader is responsible for the final interpretation of a text; there is not just one meaning to a text.

Biblical history is selective. It is intended to support the purpose of the text. It is factual but not necessarily chronological. and it is always theological, with God its central character.

Redemptive-historical (aka “biblical-theological”) hermeneutics: How does a concept develop through time? All roads lead to Christ, but you can trace any concept this way (e.g., land). This shouldn’t be confused with biblical theology, which asks what a book says about a particular topic, in contrast to systematic theology, which asks what the Bible says about a particular topic.


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