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Form Criticism


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As applied especially to the Bible, the attempt to discover the origin and trace the history of particular passages by analysis of their structural forms. It entails three distinct processes: (1) the analysis of the material into their separate units, the form of which is held to have been generally fixed in the process of transmission from mouth to mouth; (2) the recovery of the earlier history of these forms; and (3) the ascertainment of the historical setting which determined the various forms.The method was developed in connection with the OT but its most notable use has been upon the oral traditions behind the Synoptic Gospels. The main classes of form which emerge are: (1) Paradigms (i.e. models for preachers). These are short stories culminating in a saying of Jesus; (2) Miracle Stories; (3) Sayings; and (4) Historical Narratives and Legends (i.e. narrative material). It is widely agreed that the needs of the Church helped to mould the traditions about Jesus; more controversial is the claim that they were created in this context or that their use in the Church can be inferred from their literary form.

(1) the analysis of the material into their separate units, the form of which is held to have been generally fixed in the process of transmission from mouth to mouth; (2) the recovery of the earlier history of these forms; and (3) the ascertainment of the historical setting which determined the various forms.

(1) Paradigms (i.e. models for preachers). These are short stories culminating in a saying of Jesus; (2) Miracle Stories; (3) Sayings; and (4) Historical Narratives and Legends (i.e. narrative material).

Subjects: Biblical Studies.


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