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Schools of Biblical Criticism

Will Wood discusses various approaches to higher criticism, including source, form, and redaction criticism. This conversation dives into a topic that was covered briefly in an episode on the authorship of Isaiah.

Biblical higher criticism demonstrates several presuppositions that are contrary to orthodox understandings of history and the Bible. For example, predictive prophecy cannot exist. As a result, there is no a priori reason in their view for the Bible to have been written in the form we now possess.

Source criticism seeks to investigate how the various Bible books came into being through the use of disparate sources.

Form criticism does not look for written precursors to biblical texts but to oral precursors. Form critics believe earlier Israelite society was pre-literate. Therefore, sources that supposedly came to comprise the Bible were passed down through different oral forms, or getungen, which help to access the sitz im leben, or setting in life of the community.

Tradition-historical criticism uses methods from both source and form criticism. It distinguishes between traditium, which is the particular tradition content passed down, and traditio, which is the process of transmission.

Redaction criticism asks how the biblical books were brought into the full text we have today. Redaction critics are not merely concerned with oral or written sources, but with the activity of a type of editor, who brought them together.


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The Authorship of Isaiah

The New Testament cites the book of Isaiah more than any other Old Testament book. Scripture itself treats the book as a literary work by a single author. In this episode, Will Wood, discusses critical approaches to this prophecy that tend to view the book of Isaiah as a composite work of many different people and even different groups. All the while, we will come to see that the question of authorship is not self-contained; it raises significant issues regarding fundamental matters of the faith.

Will Wood is Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia.


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The Role of Ephraim in Judges

On this episode, we open to the book of Judges with our guest, William Wood. Mr. Wood is a PhD student in Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA. He challenges the conventional wisdom that the author of Judges exhibits an anti-Ephraimite stance exclusively. Will joined us previously to speak about Ephesians 6:10–17 and a Biblical Theology of Clothing. Download the Judges and Ephraim chart mentioned in the episode.

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Ephesians 6:10–17 and a Biblical Theology of Clothing

Will Wood develops a biblical theology of clothing, drawing a thread [pun somewhat intended] through the Old Testament to Paul’s discussion of the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10–17.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:10–17, ESV)

Will is a PhD student in Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and recently delivered a lecture titled, “Clothed in the Image of the Resurrected and Ascended Christ: A Biblical-Theological Analysis of Eph. 6:10–17.” He writes:

Ephesians 6:10–17 culminates a Biblical-Theological trajectory of being clothed (or, more particularly to the postlapsarian context, re-clothed) in the image of God, with a particular referent to the new-creational image of the resurrected and ascended Christ in our already-not yet eschatological context of conflict with the Satanic forces. The main point of this passage, then, is that you would be able to withstand Satanic opposition by means of being clothed in the Spirit-given armor of the resurrected and ascended Christ.

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