Critical Analysis Paper

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  • Topic: Bible, Biblical criticism, Biblical studies
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  • Published : April 15, 2013
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Form Criticism Analysis Paper

Form Criticism

First off, in the most general sense, Form Criticism is defined as an “integrative pattern analysis”. This means that the analysis technique combines all the pieces of a text, including the language in which it is written in, what makes up the piece of writing (or its components), and lastly how the specific piece of writing being analyzed functions within the text. Form criticism often comes up repetitively in a text and not just at one specific occurrence, hence the pattern portion of the definition. The patterns that occur in one genre of text often come up again in the same genre of writing, yet the two articles could be two completely different texts, for example the Bible and a modern day historical situation that was written about. Form Criticism opposes the outlook that thinks of reality as something that consists of different and unrelated things. We can at the definitions of the two main components making up form criticism of pattern and form, to get an idea of what the analysis technique does. An early philosopher, Plato, believed pattern was something that doesn’t have an observable and impure reflection of its original form. Another ancient philosopher Aristotle had a different view of this. He defined it as an object which takes the same shape as another object containing the same features and characteristics of the original object. Based on Aristotle’s viewpoint, we can make a connection relating Plato’s definition of pattern and Aristotle’s definition of form to one another. Patterns are things that are grouped together that have a tendency to repeat themselves. Now, if we add Aristotle’s definition of form, we have a grouping of objects which contain the same characteristics. Henceforth, we can combine these definitions of the two words to reach a definition of how form criticism functions. Form criticism acts to find groups of similar, sometimes repetitive, group of objects, or subjects, which have the potential to repeat itself in a pattern like manner and shape to form a message, genre, setting, or intention of the text. Now, when taking the time to analyze Biblical texts using form criticism as a textual analysis technique, one should remember the concept looks for textual evidence containing these elements: form, genre, setting, and intention. When looking at the table of contents of a Bible, form criticism can already be seen. It is simply seen in the order with which the books are arranged. Each of the books is placed in an order, this is a pattern form one Bible to the next. Bibles do vary from one practice to another but you still see commonalities within each practice. This is just an example of form criticism in its absolute, most general, sense. One commonality between all Christian practices though is within the first five books of the Bible. The first five are always placed in the order of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and lastly Deuteronomy.3 This is too is, in the most simplest of terms, a very broad and general example of the critical analysis technique of form criticism.3 In the Bible, the most common place we tend to see form criticism used is with laws and proverbs3, this is because we often see these things repeated numerous times either in the same book or else throughout the Bible as a whole. An example of this would be the Covenant that God made with Abraham. First it starts with God and Abraham and Abraham is promised land, a blessing, and nation. Here God will bring Abraham to a piece of land that is going to be Abraham’s for generations to come, he will be blessed which means Abraham’s family will be a family of God and favored amongst the people, and lastly he is promised a nation for which would be all of God’s people. This Covenant is repeated with Abraham’s son Isaac, and his son Jacob. We also see reference to the Covenant pulled up multiple more times within the Bible, such as in the Neviim, or smaller...
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