Today’s Critic—Presuppositions, Tools And Methods -- By: Samuel S. Schultz
BETS 3:4 (Fall 1960) p. 87
Tools And Methods
Recent years have witnessed a renewed interest in the Word of God. The “theology of the Word of God” is much more popular than it was in recent decades.
For an evaluation of the Word of God many a theologian, philosopher, minister and in turn the layman is dependent upon the scholar who primarily devotes his intellectual efforts to biblical studies. As the latter expresses his reasoned opinions, involving a judgment of the value or trustworthiness of the Scriptures he becomes known as a critic. Consequently today’s critic has a vitally important role in the attitude toward the Word of God.
Any critic is immediately confronted with the problem of presupposition. In the preface, or the introductory chapter, the author of a volume dealing with the Word of God usually states his position. Should the Bible be regarded as literature, as a cultural tradition, as inerrant scripture, as the record of a religious encounter? All of these and possibly more come into focus when any critic is faced with the written record, the Bible.
Basic among all these questions is the presupposition of the critics regarding the trustworthiness of the Bible. This is the watershed that ultimately divides them into two camps. One group regards the Bible at face value—reliable, trustworthy and inerrant. The other group may presuppose various other positions except the recognition that the Bible is reliable throughout.
Clearly illustrative of the former position is the book by E. J. Young, Introduction to the Old Testament (Eerdmans, 1949), p. 33, “The viewpoint adopted in this present work is that the Old Testament is the very word of the God of truth.” Interpretation throughout is based on this assumption.
The latter viewpoint is vividly set forth in the Introduction to the Old Testament by the late R. H. Pfeiffer of Harvard (Harpers and Bros.), p. 141. He wrote as follows: “Broadly speaking, the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis is adopted as fundamentally sound in the following analysis of the Pentateuch.” This statement represents the key to his interpretation of the Old Testament.
Undoubtedly a more mediating position is represented by W. F. Albright who has frequently used archaeological evidence to verify historical parts of the Scriptures. However, he often disregards scriptural statements, holding them as invalid when they do not agree with his viewpoint. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, illustrates this point vividly: p. 247:
“It will be observed that Albright’s acceptance of the single statement of You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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