“Text Criticism” is an academic discipline devoted to the study of ancient writings. Text criticism is best known as the study of handwritten manuscripts from before the age of printing. In particular, the most studied and most controversial work in the world of text criticism is the New Testament.
Text criticism got its start when translators noticed differences between manuscripts. Translators would compare manuscripts and find instances where they would have to choose between manuscripts for passages with differences.
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Religionsgeschichtliche Schule is a term that has dominated the study of Christianity in academic circles for 150 years. It is translated from the German as “History of Religions School.” In this case it means ‘school of thought’ rather than a physical place, and is a reference to a group of influential scholars. They are important because most of their core ideas are still going strong on the internet and are currently taught in the Religious Studies Departments of many universities.
A number of bad ideas got their start with the religionsgeschichtliche Schule, including “Pagan origins” of Bible stories and the idea that the divinity of Jesus developed late in the history of the Christian movement.
A colloquium was held at the University of Edinburgh a few weeks ago, titled “Varieties of Theism in Antiquity,” and amounted to a series of new scholarly papers presented by a group of academics who celebrate the countervailing views that have debunked the ideas of the original religionsgeschichtliche Schule.
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