Assumptions of the Historical Critical Traditions

The historical critical method is not neutral but carries with it specific theological presuppositions:

Theological assumptions

1. Development is decline

--the development of Church doctrine represents a decline from what Jesus originally represented

2. The role of the spirit is only recognized in the apostolic and/or scriptural stages

3. Christianity was not originally organized hierarchically, so the hierarchical structure is a falsification of Christianity

4. The Spirit is always preferable to the Letter (spiritual/material)

5. Problem to be solved: the first Christians were apocalyptic Jews

--purity vs. "the primitive"

Historical-Critical assumptions

1. History is the instrument of the either/or, that separates the authentic from the counterfeit, the original from the copy, the pristine primitive from the corrupted development:

"It is always either/or rather than both/and: not the ways in which Jesus' sayings gained greater clarity or significance through their transmission and literary deployment, but only how they were distorted and obscured; not the ways in which Paul's perceptions were deepened by Ephesians, but only how they were dimmed." -- Luke Timothy Johnson, "So what's Catholic about it? The State of Catholic Biblical Scholarship", Commonweal, January 1998

2. Historical study is the best way to recover authenticity.

The Organic Model Paradigm

1.  There is no need to suppress the evidence the historical method has uncovered or to be defensive about it.

2.  The development of Christianity into the patristic age can be viewed as an organic development out of the earlier age rather than as a corruption or decline.

3.  The study of the New Testament should be preoccupied not only with the New Testament historical era, but with the era that the New Testament world produced.

4.  Study of the New Testament should take into  account the reading practices of the Christian communities.

5. "The Bible is the Church's book." --Frederick C. Grant