555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

3. What Is Higher Criticism?




The ordinary study or criticism is directed to finding out the meaning of the passages, their correct translation and their significance and bearing on doctrines. The higher critics go above and back of all that, applying to the books of the Bible the same tests and methods of examination as are applied to other ancient books. They try to find out who were really the authors of the books and when they were written and whether any changes have been made in them since they were written. This latter question they try to solve by a close examination of the text. When they find, for example, such an expression as "There was no king in Israel in those days" (Judges 17:6), they conclude that that sentence was inserted as explanatory, by some one who edited the book after the contemporaneous historian had finished it Or to take an example of a different kind: There is a statement in Psalm 51 :16 that God desires not sacrifice, while in the nineteenth verse it is said that he will be pleased with sacrifice. The explanation the higher critics give is that probably the latter verse was added later, by some priest who did not wish the people to cease bringing sacrifices. The best scholars of the present day believe that many of the conclusions reached by the higher critics are erroneous, and that others are mere guesses for which there is not sufficient evidence.