Rhetorical (or Literary) Criticism
is an analysis of the literary style and devices used in aparticular pericope (e.g. inclusio, chiasm, parallelism, repetition, etc.), which help make theauthor
s point. Like form criticism, it recognizes that in literature, the whole is greater thanthe sum of its parts. Yet it differs from form criticism in that it takes into account not onlythe finished from of the text but the author and audience as participants in the rhetoricalprocess, that is, the art of persuasion.
Aesthetics and communication theorytakes precedence over theology. It is also often assumed that the text is the product of acommunity (or at least community values/needs) rather than an author.
Itoften ignores the historical meaning of the author by concentrating on the aesthetics of thetext. Moreover, while it shows the logical structure of the text and how it functions, it fallsshort of interpreting the meaning of the text.7.
like rhetorical criticism, dissects the text and its component parts. Onlyrhetorical criticism analyzes each pericope from a literary standpoint while structuralismlooks at its underlying thought patterns and semiotics.
Authors/editorssubconsciously embed thought patterns into their work which we are able to decipher andthus psychoanalyze the author
s intentions. These linguistic codes are open to multipleinterpretations by different readers and communities.
It is so esoteric andcomplex it is not of much practical value. Its assumptions about the psychology of language have not been proved -- it is not as scientific or reliable as its proponents wouldsuggest. While it shows the
of the text and how they function, it fails tointerpret the surface meaning of the text.8.
Social Scientific Criticism
uses psychology, anthropology and sociology, to understandthe social world of the biblical text and thereby interpret the original reason(s) behind suchthings as ritual, laws, customs, etc.
The paradigms drawn up by modern,western psychology, anthropology and sociology are adequate templates for the biblicalworld.
Social scientists disagree about methods and social paradigms, thusthere are disparate interpretations of Biblical texts. Christianity is counter-cultural andmiraculous; thus it seems ill-advised to try to explain its origins or meaning against thebackdrop of ancient society at large. This is especially true since it was a multinational,multi-ethnic phenomenon.9.
is primarily interested in the final form of the canon and how it addressesthe
of a community (as opposed to its development). Meaning is not just in agiven text, but in its context, which is the entire Bible, both its content andcanonical/theological shape.
Meaning and authority reside in the believingcommunity that accepts the text as Scripture more than the author (either human or divine)or the historical events behind the text.
It often ignores the author
s intendedmeaning in lieu of the community
s use of the text. By focusing on the final form of thetext, it ignores the original historical setting as well as its development through history. Ithas yet to contribute significantly to any practical understanding of the Bible in the church.