What is biblical criticism? Part I

What is Biblical Criticism?

If you read a book on biblical criticism, you are likely going to be confronted with a large number of terms which describe various types of biblical criticism. For example, I just finished reading To Each its Own Meaning, which dedicates one chapter each to different types of criticism. Here are the chapter titles: source criticism, form criticism, tradtion-historical criticism, redaction criticism, social-scientific criticism, canonical criticism, rhetorical criticism, structural criticism, narrative criticism, reader-response criticism, poststructuralist criticism, feminist criticism, and socioeconomic criticism. That’s a lot of criticism! As I read the book I started looking for commonalities; why can so many things be called criticism? I think they all share three basic assumptions regarding epistemology, univocality/multivocality, and methodology.
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Mormon Anxieties

A week or so ago some state had some vote about marriage, or so I have heard. It was discussed ad nauseum in the bloggernaccle, if I remember correctly. In all honesty, as a mostly libertarian, I couldn’t have cared less about the whole thing, especially since I no longer live in said state. What I did find interesting was the whole discussion in the ‘nacle and in church, which I think revealed something very important about us Mormons: our fundamental anxieties.
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Translation Styles and Book of Mormon Apologetics and Exegesis

For the past couple of days I have been reading An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon. Like most books or papers on the Book of Mormon I have read, it lacks a theory of Book of Mormon translation and suffers because of this lack. I would like to propose a rule for all future efforts at Book of Mormon apologetics, archaeology, or exegesis. The rule is that before you do anything you have to lay out your theory/explanation of the translation style used in translating the Book of Mormon. This means that before you attempt to explain something about the text you have to explain what kind of text you are working with.
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Where we fail: Mormon pedagogy and Fowler’s Stages of Faith, Part Three

The main distinguishing feature of Stage 4, Individuative-Reflective faith, is the capacity and need for critical reflection. The critical reflection is directed both at the self and at a faith tradition. Religious symbols are no longer taken to be ontological realities, but are transformed into conceptual meanings. It is a stage of demythologizing. Finally it is a stage of tension between one’s subjective feelings and the pursuit of objectivity.
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Where we succeed: Mormon Pedagogy and Fowler’s Stages of Faith, Part Two

I think that we Mormons help people transitioning from Fowler’s stage 2 to Fowler’s stage 3 remarkably well. I think saying we are in the top 5 or 10% here would not be exaggerating. For those who are not familiar with Fowler’s stages I’ll give a brief summary of stages 2, 3, and the transition in between, followed by why we as Mormons do so well.
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Mormon Pedagogy and Fowler’s Stages of Faith, Part One

Over at By Common Consent there is an article on Mormon pedagogy. The article is actually just a quote from Kevin Christensen, and the salient part is just Kevin Christensen quoting Louis Midgely. Anyway, the substance of the quote is that church pedagogy tends towards ignoring the scriptures and just using the scriptures as a way to “divert attention away from the message and meaning in the text under consideration, and back towards what we already know.” The purpose of teaching this way is to inculcate orthodoxy, if the scriptures conveniently teach orthodoxy, great! If they don’t, one can just use them as a diversion to orthodoxy. In either case you don’t have to gets your hands dirty with the messiness of texts and can just pretend that what you think and are taught is what has always been thought and taught. Up to a point this is a simple and satisfying view of the scriptures. That is until it isn’t.
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Back to Allegory?

When we moderns read any scripture we tend to read it only one way. We read it as history that is supposed to have some sort of theologically edifying meaning to us. This style of reading fits so well with our modes of thinking that it just seems the blatantly obvious way to read scripture. What could be more obvious than reading a book about the past, which we assert is true, as history?
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