Considering Higher Criticism: The Relationship Of Authenticity To Authority -- By: Christopher B. Cone

Journal: Journal of Dispensational Theology
Volume: JODT 016:47 (Apr 2012)
Article: Considering Higher Criticism: The Relationship Of Authenticity To Authority
Author: Christopher B. Cone

Considering Higher Criticism:
The Relationship Of Authenticity To Authority

Christopher B. Cone

Christopher B. Cone, M.B.S., M.Ed., Th.D., Ph.D., president, professor of Bible and theology, Tyndale Theological Seminary & Biblical Institute; and, pastor, Tyndale Bible Church, Ft. Worth, Texas

John Locke deftly identified the central problem of biblical authority: he explained that if all of holy writ is to be equally considered as inspired of God, then there is much to be questioned regarding the Christian faith;1 however, if it is not to be so considered, then the authority of the text may be questioned and ultimately undermined, and thus the Christian faith is disintegrated.2 Quite a problem indeed that Locke explained. If the text is not authoritative then hermeneutic exercises are quite inconsequential for any purposes other than literary appreciation. Therefore, the authority of the text is central at this point. How then does biblical criticism influence the discussion? Furthermore, what can be said of authority after the text has been submitted to the critical processes?

Louis Wallis keenly summarized the rise of biblical criticism, observing correctly that it did not originate in the minds of German scholars, but instead enjoyed a more eclectic genesis. His comments traced progress from the twelfth to the eighteenth century, and their thoroughness and conciseness warrant their full representation here. He described the rise of biblical criticism as follows:

. . . distinctly foreshadowed by a Spanish Jew, Ibn Ezra, the most eminent biblical scholar of the Middle Ages, far back in the twelfth century A.D. The idea was taken up by the English scholar Hobbes, in his book, Leviathan, published in 1651; by the Frenchman L Peyrere, in his book Pre-Adamites, issued in 1655; and by the Jewish philosopher Spinoza, of Amsterdam, Holland, in Tractatus-Theologico-Politicus, which came out in 1670. In the meanwhile the Frenchman Louis Cappellus in 1650 published his Critica Sacra, demonstrating the imperfect and fallible condition of the Hebrew vowel points. In 1678, Richard Simon, another Frenchman, put forth a

volume entitled Critical History of the Old Testament, showing that the Mosaic Law was compiled and edited centuries after the time of Moses. In 1753 appeared a work by Astruc, a French writer, identifying the so-called Jehovist and Elohist documents in Genesis. In 1800 was published the Critical Remarks of Alexander Geddes, a Scotchman, who denied the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. And although German scholars in the nineteenth century di...

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