The Bible was the first anthology

The Bible
- Old Testament and New Testament - [ 1 ]

1. The Bible

1.0 The Bible - general

The word "Bible" is derived from the Greek term "ta biblia" and means "the books".

The Bible is the best-selling book in the western world. In 2000, 63 million scriptures were distributed worldwide, including 48.4 million Bibles and New Testaments. [ 5 ]

The Bible consists of the Old Testament (A.T.) and the New Testament (N. T.). Both wills form the basis of the Christian faith.

The Old Testament of Protestant Christianity is identical in its scope with a Hebrew Bible, the holy scriptures of Judaism. It comprises 39 books, all of which are written in Hebrew with the exception of some parts of the Book of Daniel.

While the Protestant Church only recognizes the 39 books of the Hebrew Bible as canonical, the Catholic Church assigns another seven books the status of the inspired Word of God. These are the "Apocrypha" from the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the "Septuagint". The Catholic Church itself calls these additions the "deutero-canonical books".

The Bible of Judaism consists of three clearly separated parts: the Torah (Law Book, also called Books of Moses), den Nebiim (Prophets, which are divided into earlier and later prophets) and the Ketubim (Writings), which also contain the Psalms, the wise books and various other literary works. The Old Testament of Christianity arranges the books according to their literary genre: the Pentateuch, which corresponds to the Torah, the poetic or wise books, and the prophetic books.

The New Testament consists of the four Gospels; the Acts of the Apostles, which describes the beginnings of Christianity; the epistles or letters, of Paul and others; as well as an apocalypse or the revelation of John. With some books such as B. Hebrews, it is about theological treatises.

The term Old testament is derived from the Latin word for federal government or agreement. It has been used since the time of Paul and early Christianity, as now Christians in their scriptures between the "Old covenant"that God had made with the people of Israel, and the "New Covenant"who was created by Jesus Christ (Hebrews 8: 7). Since the early church adhered to the continuity of history and divine action, it included the written evidence of both the old and the new covenant in the Christian Bible.

1.2 The literary form of the Bible

From a literary point of view, the Old Testament is an anthology; H. a collection of many different books.

Old Testament literary genres include short stories, poems, prophecies, laws, and apocalypses. Certain literary forms such as B. Letters that play a very important role in the New Testament were not included in the Old Testament. Most of the books of the prophets contain stories and poems in addition to prophecies.

Many Old Testament books are historical narratives - albeit with a religious background and the aim of showing God's work in history at certain events. Examples of such works are the Deuteronomic historical narratives (Deuteronomy up to 2 kings), the Tetrateuch (Book of Genesis to Numbers), the historical narratives of the chroniclers (1st and 2nd books of the Chronicle, Ezra and Nehemiah) and the story of David's line of succession ( 2 Samuel, 9-20; 1 Kings 1-2). The authors of the books recorded historical events and people involved in the event in great detail and occasionally interpreted the course of events taking into account human motives.

Other books that contain stories are e.g. the books Ruth, Jonas and Esther. Several didactic traditions are contained in the books of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy) and in some Apocrypha: Tobias, Judith, Susanna as well as Bel and the dragon.

Like the majority of the other stories, the book of Genesis also consists of a large number of individual stories, some of which may originally have been retold orally.

The stories of the Patriarchs in Genesis 11-50 are called the Fathers' Stories because they tell the story of the spiritual fathers of the people of Israel. These reports are based on historical reliable records.

The poetic books of the Old Testament include the Psalms, the Book of Job, the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes (Kohelet), the Song of Songs, the Deuterocanonical Books, the Apocrypha, Jesus Sirach and the Prayer Manasseh.

Hebrew poetry has two basic characteristics. One characteristic is the use of the so-called "parallelism membrorum" (Latin: parallelism of the limbs). The statements made in one line are confirmed in another line in the same or similar words, such as B. in Psalm 6: 1: "Oh Lord, do not punish me in your anger, nor chastise me in your anger."

The other important feature of Hebrew poetry is a distinctive rhythm based on the number of accents in each line. One of the meter measures used is the "qina" or "lamentation", in which the first line has three accented syllables and the second line has two.

An early form of worship was lyrical (sung) poetry. Most, if not all, of these songs are in the Book of Psalms. Many are hymns or songs of praise in honor of God.

Wise poetry includes collections of wise proverbs and short poems such as those in the Book of Proverbs, as well as longer works such as the book of Job, Ecclesiastes Solomon, and Jesus Sirach. The shorter pieces are Proverbs, Proverbs, and Admonitions, which are generally only two lines long. Proverbs 1-9 contain a collection of poems on the nature of wisdom; In contrast, the Book of Job is a long poetic composition in the form of a dialogue.

The topics of Proverbs range from practical advice on how to live a good and successful life to thoughts on the relationship between the path of the wise and obedience to God's law.

The prophetic books usually contain three different literary forms: narratives, prayers, and prophetic speeches. The narratives are mostly stories or accounts of prophetic acts that are either ascribed to the prophets themselves or told by another person. They tell of visions and the appearance of the prophets; they also contain historical narratives and commentaries. The book of Jonas is actually a story about a prophet and contains only one line in which the prophet himself addresses the reader (Jonas 3: 4). The prayers contain hymns and petitions like the Lamentations of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 15: 10-21).

The most common literary form of the prophetic books is speech, because the core of prophetic action is the proclamation of God's word relating to the imminent future. The most famous of such speeches are the prophecies of punishment or salvation. Both of these forms, like most prophetic discourse, are derived from formulas such as B. "Thus saith the Lord," which mark the words as revealed by God. The prophecies of salvation herald an imminent intervention by God to save Israel. Other speeches are prophecies against foreign peoples, lamentations in which the sins of the people are enumerated, and admonitions or warnings. See prophecy.

Legal texts are so well represented in the Hebrew Bible that Judaism called the first five books the Torah (law), a term that early Christians later used to refer to the entire Old Testament. Legal writings are mainly contained in the books Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. The fifth book of Moses was called Deuteronomy (second law) by its Greek translators, although it mainly reports on the deeds of Moses ‘.

As the Bible narrates, the will of God was proclaimed to Israel through Moses when the covenant between God and the people of Israel was made on Mount Sinai. As a result, all laws, with the exception of those of Deuteronomy, are in Exodus 20 to Numbers 10, since the events on Mount Sinai are reported at this point.

Scholars distinguish two main types of Hebrew law, the apodictic and the casuistic. The apodictic, i.e. incontrovertible law is mainly, but not exclusively, represented by the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20, 1-21; 34, 14-26; Deuteronomy 5, 6-21). These laws, which usually appear in collections of five or more laws, are short and clear statements of what behavior God wants people to do. They are either (affirmative) commandments or (negative) prohibitions. On the other hand, the casuistic laws, i.e. laws relating to individual cases, each consist of two parts. In the first part a condition is mentioned (“if someone steals a cattle or a sheep and slaughters or sells it”), in the second part the legal consequences follow (“this is how he should represent five cattle for one cattle and four sheep for one sheep”) ; Exodus 22, 1). The casuistic laws correspond in their form and often also in content to the laws of the code of the Babylonian king Hammurabi and other ancient legal codes.

The Apocalypse as a separate genus came in Israel during the time of the Babylonian exile of the Israelites from 586 to 538 BC. on. An apocalypse or revelation contains the disclosure of future events. Symbols and images are used, which in turn have to be explained and interpreted. Apocalyptic writings generally reflect the author's historical assessment of his own epoch as a time when the forces of evil unite to enter into a final battle with God; after this battle, in which God will win, a new age will dawn.

Daniel is the only apocalyptic book in the Old Testament, with the first half (chapters 1-6) initially depicting a series of historical stories. Parts of other books are similar in many ways to the genus of the Apocalypse (Isaiah 24-27; Zacharias 9-14; and some parts of Ezekiel). In the Apocrypha (2 Ezra) there is also an apocalypse. In Jewish literature of the last two centuries BC Numerous other apocalyptic works were written in the 4th century AD and in the first century AD, but they were not included in the canon. Such works are z. B. Enoch, in which the sons of light fight against the sons of darkness, as well as the apocalypse of Moses ‘.

1.3 The making of the Bible

The books of the Old Testament were by no means all written at the same time and in the same place. Rather, they were created and collected over a period of centuries.

How long a possible oral precedence of the written fixation of the biblical texts can no longer be traced today.

First of all, for a long time God's communion with man was cultivated through oral language. In the age of the patriarchs, God spoke directly to men like Adan, Noah, Abraham, and Joseph. In time it became necessary to record the revelations and will of God for future generations.

The first author mentioned in the Bible is fashion. He lives about 1500 years BC. In the first books of the Bible, Moses is referred to as the author six times:

    1. The annihilation of Amalek (Exodus 17:14)
    2. The words of the covenant at Sinai (Exodus 2: 4).
    3. The Ten Commandments (Exodus 34, 28-28)
    4. The migration of the children of Israel through the desert. (Numbers 33: 2)
    5. The Book of the Law. that was canceled in the ark (Deuteronomy 31: 9 + 24)
    6. The song of Moses from Deuteronomy 32: 1-43

Also, in the Jewish tradition, Moses is believed to be the author of the first five books of the Bible, also known as Pentateuch are designated. Other writers of the Bible and Jesus Christ himself confirm this view (Joshua 8:31; Judges 3: 4; Malachi 3:22; Luke 24:44; John 7:19).

Even in the Middle Ages, however, Jewish scholars questioned the authorship of Moses ‘: Deuteronomy, the last book of the Pentateuch, reports on the death of Moses‘. Therefore, Moses could not be the author of this book himself.

The wise poetry of the Old Testament can be dated to the time around Solomon on the basis of internal information. Solomon himself wrote the book of Proverbs and the preacher. David is a major writer of the Psalms because he was a gifted singer and composer. About 70 of the 150 psalms come directly from him.

The Book of Psalms became the hymns and prayer book of Israel's second temple, but many of the songs are arguably older than this.

The prophetic books were written by the people for whom they are named.

1.4 Translations of the Bible - Translations of the Old Testament

In the 3rd century BC, the Old Testament writings were translated into Greek. This process began beyond Palestine because Jewish communities in Egypt and elsewhere needed scriptures in the language of their culture. The additional books in this Bible, including Supplements to older books, for the most part originated in these Jewish communities outside Palestine. At the end of the 1st century AD, when the earliest Christian scriptures were collected and distributed, two versions of the Jewish Bible already existed: the Hebrew Bible and the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint; LXX).

When Martin Luther translated the Bible into German, he discovered what others, especially Hieronymus, had already known, that the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew. He removed all books from his Old Testament that were not in the Jewish Bible and called them Apocrypha. This step was an attempt to return to the first and thus most original text and canon possible, and so oppose the authority of the church with the authority of the older version of the Bible.

All contemporary translators of the Bible use the oldest text as a basis, as this is closest to the original. However, there are no originals or original copies; instead, the hundreds of different manuscripts contain numerous alternative versions.

The most important and most reliable Hebrew scriptures are the texts of the so-called "Masora", the Jewish scribes who had made it their business to copy the Bible true to the original and to pass it on (see Masora). These scholars, who worked from the first centuries after the birth of Christ into the Middle Ages, also provided the texts with punctuation marks, vowels (the Hebrew original only contains consonants) and various notes. The Standard Hebrew Bible in use today is a reproduction of a Masoretic text written in 1088. The manuscript is in the collection of the Saint Petersburg Public Library. Another Masoretic manuscript, the Aleppo Codex from the first half of the 10th century AD, is the basis for a republication of the text which is currently being prepared at the Hebrew University of Israel. The Aleppo Code is the oldest manuscript in the entire Hebrew Bible.

However, there are also older Hebrew manuscripts, Masoretic and other texts from individual books. In the 19th century, texts dating back to the 6th century were discovered in the "Genizah" (manuscript storage room) of the Cairo synagogue. Numerous manuscripts and fragments, many from the time before the birth of Christ, were found at the Dead Sea after 1947 (see Qumran scrolls). Although many of the most important manuscripts were written relatively late, the Masoretic texts in particular retain a tradition that dates back at least a hundred years before the Christian era or more.

The most valuable versions of the Hebrew Bible are the translations into Greek. These are originally complete copies of the Christian Bible, which can be dated back to the 4th and 5th centuries. The most important manuscripts are the Codex Vaticanusstanding in the library of the Vatican who Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Alexandrinus (both owned by the British Museum).

The main Greek version is the Septuagint (Greek: seventy, hence the abbreviation LXX), which owes its name to the legend that the Torah was written in the 3rd century BC. Is said to have been translated by 72 scholars. This legend is probably true in several ways: the first Greek translation contained only the Torah, and it was written in Alexandria in the 3rd century BC. Later the rest of the books of the Hebrew Bible were also translated, but by different scribes with different points of view.

There were numerous other Greek translations; most of them, however, only exist in fragments or in quotations from the Church Fathers and others.These translations include, for example, the versions of Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion and Lucian. In the 3rd century the Christian theologian Origen investigated the problems that arose in connection with these different versions and he made a Hexapla, a synoptic comparison of the Hebrew text, the transcription of the Hebrew text into Greek, the versions of Aquila and Symmachus, the Septuagint and the version of the Theodotion, which stand side by side in six parallel columns.

Other versions are e.g. B. the peschitta, or Vetus Syrawhich may have started as early as the 1st century AD; the Old Latin version of Vetus Latina, which was translated not from Hebrew but in the 2nd century on the basis of the Septuagint; and the VulgateTranslated from Hebrew into Latin by Jerome at the end of the 4th century AD.

The Aramaic Targums. As Aramaic gradually replaced the Hebrew language as the everyday language, this also made it necessary to translate the Hebrew Bible.

2. The Old Testament - Contents

The history of Israel was organized in the Old Testament into a number of central events and periods: the exodus from Egypt (Exodus, including the stories from the patriarchs to the conquest of Canaan); this was followed by the monarchy, the Babylonian exile, the return to Palestine and the restoration of the old religious institutions.

As with the other small peoples of the eastern Mediterranean, the fate of Israel depended on the great powers Egypt, Assyria and Babylonia; the small nations could only lead an independent life when the situation in the countries deteriorated or when they fought among themselves.

A wealth of information on the history of the Middle East has been available since the 3rd millennium BC. BC also survived in extra-biblical reports. In addition there are the detailed reports of the OT since the time of the Partiarches. The archaeological finds show us how reliably the biblical reports have delivered the current events.

An analysis of the biblical accounts and careful use of the archaeological material showed that the Exodus from Egypt was around 1450 BC. must have taken place. The path of the excerpt is described in the OT, but the individual locations can no longer be determined with one hundred percent accuracy today.

Joshua 1-12 and 1 Judges 1-2 report the arrival of the people of Israel in the land of Canaan from different perspectives. The stories tell of the conquest of the land of Canaan by the Israelites under the leadership of Joshua from around 1400 BC. Several centuries passed before the whole country was conquered.

The monarchy came during the 11th century BC. BC, especially at the time when the country was torn by internal struggles and at the same time threatened from outside. Some advocated the more traditional form of charismatic leadership in times of crisis; others wanted a stable monarchy. The monarchy prevailed because of the external threat posed by the militarily superior Philistines who had occupied five cities in the coastal plain. Saul united the tribes and created a monarchy, but was killed along with his son Jonathan in a battle against the Philistines.

Thereupon David became king, first only in the south, then over the entire people. Only David put an end to the threat from the Philistines forever and established a great empire whose influence extended from Syria to the border of Egypt. During his reign, Israel became a rich country. David's successor was his son Solomon, who set up a court modeled on other oriental kings. He built a palace and a great temple in Jerusalem, wasting the land's resources.

After Solomon's death, the tribes of the north rebelled under his son Jeroboam. The two nations, Israel in the north and Judah in the south, were never reunited and fought from then on. The house of David continued to rule in Judah until the Babylonians conquered the land (597 and 586 BC); Meanwhile, several kings and dynasties ruled Israel. The time of the divided monarchy was marked by repeated external threats from the Assyrians, the Arameans and the Babylonians. 722-721 BC BC Israel and its capital Samaria had to surrender to the Assyrian army. The Israelites were abducted and strangers settled on their territory. Judah, for his part, suffered twice from the humiliation of the Babylonians: during the conquest of Jerusalem in 597 BC. and during its destruction in 586 BC.

In 538 BC, when the Persian King Cyrus established the Persian Empire, the people of Israel were released from exile. In the period after the exile, the old institutions were re-established and the temple rebuilt under the leadership of the prophets Ezra and Nehemiah. Judah became a province of the Persian Empire and the people enjoyed relative autonomy, especially in religious matters.

3. The New Testament

3.1 The New Testament - general

The New Testament consists of 27 different scriptures, written between 40 [ 2 ] and 70 AD [ 3 ] (some suspect around 90 AD) and address questions about the basis and practice of faith in Christian communities across the Mediterranean.

Today there are around 5,000 complete manuscripts of the New Testament, preserved in parts or fragments. However, none of these documents is an autograph, i.e. an original written by the author himself.

The oldest manuscript is very likely a fragment of the Gospel of St. Mark (Mk 6.52-53), the date of which was written around AD 40-50. is appreciated. It was found in the 7th cave of Qumran (7Q5) in the 20th century. [ 4 ]

Until then, a fragment of the Gospel of John was considered to be the oldest manuscript (p52), dating from around 125 AD. is dated.

If you take into account the spatial and temporal differences in the creation of these manuscripts, as well as the different writing methods and materials used in the preparation of these manuscripts, it is extremely astonishing how much the individual writings are similar. Nevertheless, there are deviations such as omissions and additions as well as different expressions.

The 27 books of the New Testament are only a fraction of the literary output of the Christian communities during the first three centuries. The basic types of New Testament documents (gospel, letter, apocalypse) were often imitated, with over 50 gospels in circulation at the time. Many of these non-canonical Christian scriptures form the see Apocrypha of the New Testament.

Knowledge of the literature of that period improved considerably when a library of the Gnostics was discovered in Naj Hammadi in 1945 (see Gnostics). This collection, written in the Coptic language, has been translated and published. Of particular interest is, inter alia, the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, which contains a total of 114 proverbs that Jesus is said to have uttered himself in conversations with Thomas, one of the apostles.

The first to attempt to establish a canon was an apostate Christian named Marcion, who lived around AD 150. compiled a list including The Gospel of Luke and ten of Paul's letters.

Around 200 AD 20 of the 27 books of the Old Testament were recognized as general. Here and there there were local preferences, and there were also differences between the Eastern and Western churches, with the Letter of James, the Letter to the Hebrews, 2nd Letter of John, Letter of Jude, 2nd Letter of Peter and the Revelation of John were most controversial.

The 39th celebratory letter of Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria, written in 367 AD. was sent to all churches under his jurisdiction, removed any ambiguity as to the content of the New Testament canon. In this celebratory letter, preserved in a collection of messages that Athanasius wrote each year during Lent, he cited as canonical those 27 books that still make up the content of the New Testament today, although he listed them in a different order.

These New Testament books are, in their final order,

    the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark,
    Luke and John),
    the Acts of the Apostles,
    Letter to the Romans,
    1st and 2nd letters to the Corinthians,
    1st and 2nd letters to Thessalonians,
    1st and 2nd Timothy,
    Epistle of Titus,
    Philemon letter,
    1st and 2nd letter of Peter,
    1st, 2nd, 3rd letter of John,
    Letter of Jude and
    the revelation of john.

The rapid spread of Christianity beyond the borders of the Greek-speaking world made translations into other languages ​​necessary, e.g. B. Syrian, Old Latin, Coptic, Armenian, Georgian, Ethiopian and Arabic. Syriac and Latin versions existed as early as the 2nd century, and Coptic as well in the 3rd century. The translations were written in local dialects and contained only selected parts of the New Testament.

In the 4th and 5th centuries there was an effort to replace these regional versions with ones that were more of a common standard and were generally accepted. In 382 Pope Damasus I commissioned Jerome with the creation of a Latin Bible. This as "Vulgate" well-known Bible replaced the various Old Latin versions. In the 5th century, the Syrian peshitta emerged, which took the place of the Syrian texts used until then. Over time, the old versions disappeared and were replaced by new ones.

3.2 The text genres of the New Testament

The New Testament writings can be divided into four genres: Gospels, Historiography, Epistles, and Apocalypse. Early Christianity, however, knew only the gospel of these four forms.

A gospel is a kind of biography of the life of Jesus. The words and deeds of Jesus Christ are presented in chronological order. The climax of the Gospels is the account of the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the "Synoptics" (Greek: "syn" together; "optanomai" = to appear, to be seen), because they report, so to speak, in a common vision about the life of Jesus. All three gospels are very similar in structure. Theology has dealt intensively with the genesis of the synoptic gospels and put forward a wide variety of theses.

An example of a historical narrative in the New Testament is the Acts of the Apostles, written by the evangelist Luke. In a coherent narrative, it reports the emergence of the Christian church and its missionary expansion in the 1st century.

The epistle or the letter was a common literary form in the Greco-Roman world, which consisted of the signature, the address, a greeting, an eulogy or thanksgiving, a message and a farewell greeting. Paul used this form to keep in touch with the churches that had been founded by him. This form of letters soon became generally accepted in the Christian community. Many letters, however, are more like speeches, admonitions, or treatises that have been put into the form of epistles.

The apocalyptic writing of the New Testament is the Revelation of John. The literary genre of the Apocalypse describes the state of the world in very visionary, symbolic and pessimistic images, whereby the only element of hope is seen in the invisible behind the visible. Just wages and retribution characterize the visions of the end of the world. Some suspect that the Revelation was written during the persecution of Christians under the Roman emperor Domitian, who ruled from 81 to 96 AD. ruled. Individual theologians also date the revelation before the year 70 AD.

Within these four basic literary types there are many different forms such as poems, hymns, confessional formulas, sayings, miracle stories, beatitudes, diatribes, lists of duties, parables.

In the past, Bible scholars have studied the parable, which has long been considered a form of allegory, in the Scriptures. Towards the end of the 19th century, the German biblical scholar Adolph Jülicher gave the interpretation of parables a new direction.

3.3 The historical framework of the New Testament

Thanks to the various and precise dates, the historical framework in which the NT reports took place can be easily reconstructed.

It follows from the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles that Jesus began his wandering as a preacher in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius (Luke 3: 1), i.e. around 28 AD. All four Gospels agree that Jesus was crucified when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea (AD 26-36). Assuming that Jesus' public activity extended over a period of about three and a half years, he preached between AD 28 and 31. Many theologians represent the year AD 30. as the year of Jesus' death.

After Jesus' ministry as an itinerant preacher described in the four Gospels, the leadership of the spiritual renewal movement that he had started was taken over by the twelve apostles he had chosen to be his apostles. Three of these apostles are portrayed in the Acts of the Apostles as leaders of the Christian community: James, who lived before 44 AD. was killed by Herod Agrippa. John his brother (John 21: 20-24); Peter, the early leader of the Church of Jerusalem: He also went on some missionary trips and, according to tradition, suffered around AD 65. martyrdom in Rome.

In addition to these three personalities, the New Testament also knows James, Jesus' brother. He was also a leader of the Jerusalem Church. He was probably born in AD 61. killed.

A short time after AD 66, when the revolt of the Jews against Roman rule began in Jerusalem, the Christians left the city of Jerusalem because of the prophetic words of Jesus. They therefore survived the Jewish uprising in the course of which Jerusalem in AD 70. was destroyed by the Roman general Titus and his army.

The account in Acts of the Apostles focuses on Paul who became a Christian near Damascus around AD 32. Paul's letters mark his journey as a missionary through Syria, Asia Minor, Macedonia, Greece and to Rome. It is believed that Paul died there around AD 64.

Paul's letters and the Acts of the Apostles give the reader an insight into the life of the early Christian communities and their relationship to the larger cultures in which they were embedded.

4. The period after the 1st century

The early rabbis of Palestine and Babylon (AD 200-500), whose conversations are recorded in the Talmud (Hebrew: instruction), a collection of Jewish traditions, strove for the consistency of the Bible and for correspondence between the Bible and the Jewish religion. They achieved this through a demonstration of evidence that appears arbitrary if one takes today's standards of text interpretation as a basis (Mishnah).

In the Hellenistic world, the Jewish scholar Philo of Alexandria tried to reconcile the Old Testament with the worldview of Greek philosophy and science. Philo used the allegory (allegory), a method of interpretation in which the literal meaning of a text took a back seat to the deeper divine interpretation. The divine meaning was only understandable to the initiated.

Many Church Fathers followed this approach, believing that the true spirit of the Old Testament was revealed in the New Testament. Early Christian exegetes of the Old Testament then tended to treat the Old Testament as a Christian book, but only to the extent that it anticipated what would later be fulfilled in Christianity and in the Church. (New Testament Apocrypha).

Even today, some Christian commentators look at the Old Testament from the point of view of its importance for the Christian church; B. also the 2nd Vatican Council in a decree on Holy Scripture.

Among the Christians, it was Augustine who, in his commentary on the meaning of Genesis (De Genesi ad Litteram, 401-415), noted a discrepancy between the worldview of his time and that of the biblical authors and, as a result, saw the need to be critical of the biblical view examine. In the East, the scholar Theodor von Mopsuestia made a distinction between the "prophetic spirit", i.e. H. the immediate enlightenment from which much of the Bible would have emerged; and a “spirit of wisdom” which certain biblical authors such as B. would have influenced the author of the book of preachers. In Theodor's opinion, these only present views and considerations that come from people and not from God.

5.Biblical criticism and finding the text (= textual criticism)

Since Judaism and Christianity always understood religion as historical, i.e. that they were based on historical events, the Bible, in contrast to the literature of other religions such as e.g. B. Hinduism and Islam have always been subject to scholarly criticism. Knowing that the writings of the Old and New Testaments were composed by humans, it was also considered legitimate to subject them to human evaluation.

However, the biblical criticism in our contemporary sense did not arise until the Age of Enlightenment. The philosophers Thomas Hobbes and Baruch Spinoza and the French scholar Richard Simon were among the first Bible critics in the 17th century. The biblical criticism of the Enlightenment, in turn, went back to the Reformation, which reintroduced the study of the Bible and developed new critical methods.

Every translation already represents a certain interpretation of the text, since the translator's prior understanding is included in the translation. Even the critics in the pre-Christian era had translations available, and they therefore resorted to the earliest possible text versions in order to discover the original meaning of the texts. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Reformers looked for early sources in order to produce a translation of the Bible that came closest to the meaning of the biblical authors. Their investigations, as well as texts that were discovered in the 18th century, formed the basis of the text-critical method.

Determining the original text is the task of the so-called “lower” criticism, whereby “external” and “internal” criteria must be taken into account when opening up the meaning of a text. External criteria are the nature of the manuscript such as B. Material, age and font. Biblical texts are generally not available as original texts by an author, but in versions that were only created a few centuries after they were first written.

The existing manuscripts of the Old Testament date from Christian times, whereby the old, preserved versions (the Greek Septuagint [LXX] and the Latin Vulgate) and the premasoretic fragments suggest that the original Hebrew text was conscientiously passed on. The New Testament is one of the best-attested texts that has ever been handed down. Complete and nearly complete manuscripts date from the 4th century, and numerous fragments that still exist were copied just a century after the original version. Although the manuscripts contain an abundance of deviating formulations, the meaning of the text was largely unaffected, as 90 percent of the deviations only concern minor details, such as: B. replacing a term with a synonym.

Ultimately, however, the textual criticism must base its judgments on the internal criteria that form the basis for the reliability of a manuscript. These are common sense standards by which one version is considered to be more original than the other. The rule here is that, for example, a shorter version is preferred to a longer one, on the assumption that a copyist will expand rather than compress a text. Since the scribes tended to resolve contradictions in the text, it can be assumed that the more difficult of two different readings is the more original.

In the 18th and 19th centuries the so-called “higher” criticism of biblical research emerged. However, this provoked a violent backlash from those who saw in it an attack on the truth of the Scriptures. Although today there is still an opposition to historical-critical criticism, biblical scholarship sees higher criticism as the only method to open up the meaning of the Bible (evangelicalism, fundamentalism).

The historical-critical method means researching the reliability and credibility of a text. She provides z. B. Questions about authorship, the sources on which the author relied, and the changes that a text has undergone as a result of its transmission.

The historical-critical method believes that some statements in the Bible are not to be taken literally and that various works are not from the authors to whom they have traditionally been ascribed.

Another discipline of the historical-critical method is the "criticism of form". She examines the historical situation in which a text was written and asks about its place in life, i. H. according to the function that the text fulfilled. This method was first applied to the Old Testament by the German scholar Hermann Gunkel. He interpreted the stories of Genesis as etiological narratives and interpreted Genesis 9: 10-27 as an explanation for why the Canaanites were subjects of the Israelites. In his opinion, other stories were used to explain names, such as B. Genesis 25,6, in which the origin of the name of "Jacob" is described. He also kept passages such as Genesis 28: 10-19 for explanations of cult legends of holy places such as "Bethel".

The same methods were used in New Testament exegesis to study the genesis of the Gospels. In doing so, they thought they recognized that the individual stories of the Gospels consist of independent narratives that can be divided into stories of controversy, proclamation or miracles.

Another aspect of the historical-critical method is "editorial criticism". This deals with the role of the editors who edited a text over a certain period of time. The editorial-critical research was convinced that the five books of Moses, the Prophets, the Psalms and the Proverbs of Solomon in the Old Testament are not the work of individual, but of different authors, which were edited by later authors.

She thought she could apply the same to the Gospels. She believes, therefore, that the gospels were written by a particular school, church, group, or by individuals who worked for particular groups and adapted the traditions to meet the needs of that group.

Structuralism, a more recent development in literary criticism, does not ask about the historical origin of a text, but deals with the revised and completed version of a text. He also examines the correspondence of the Bible with the scriptures of other cultures in which similar motifs can be found. Structuralism assumes a similar basic psychological structure of the human psyche and therefore assumes that a text has a meaning that goes beyond the intention of its author.



[1] We found this document on the Internet. The original source can no longer be found.
We have removed the ballast critical of the Bible from this article and slightly revised the text in some places.

[2] Carsten Peter Thiede, The oldest Gospel manuscript?, Wuppertal: R. Brockhaus, 1992, 3rd expanded edition.

[3] John A.T. Robinson, When did the New Testament come about?, Wuppertal: R. Brockhaus, 1986

[4] Ferdinand Rohrhirsch, Mark in Qumran?, Wuppertal: R. Brockhaus, 1990

[ 5 ] Idea spectrum, No. 15, April 11, 2001, p. 1


| at the beginning of the text |
Copyright (C) 2001 V.1.2 by All rights reserved.
This paper is intended for personal use only.
Home | Downloads | Webmaster | Posted on 07/20/2001; last change: 01/10/2007