Sunday, 11 October 2015
Torah and Canon: 2nd Edition,
James A. Sanders, Cascade Books, 2005, page ixdnl
James Sanders represent something of an enigma. He espouses Canonical Criticism, a method of studying the Scriptures paying particular attention to the way in which the canon of Scripture was formed and in turn formed the communities that valued and transmitted Scripture. He is nevertheless, a firm believer in late composition of the texts, placing most of the Torah between the time of the kings and the return from (if not just past) Exile.
In the introduction to the first edition of his book "Torah and Canon", originally written in 1972 not as a book but as an article for an encyclopedia, we find a statement about Form Criticism:
Form criticism is an attempt to make precise observations about the kinds of literature out of which the various units of the Bible are composed. It pressed biblical literary criticism well beyond earlier questions of authorship and composition into prior questions about the smaller literary units which the arliest authors used, and by which the early believing communities (early Israel and arky church) passed on the traditions about themselves, andabout what they considered important to their identity as believing communities. Form criticism has enabled biblical scholarship to press back behind early Israel and eraly church to some of the myths, sagas, aphorisms, proverbs and legends which those communities adapted from their surroundings for their own particular cultic traditions and needs.