History of the Bible - The Enlightenment and the Historical-Critical Method
In the last two discussions we explored the 18th-20th century search for ancient manuscripts and the related quest for a critical text of the Bible.
Both of these were part of a bigger framework of thinking that was going on - namely the last major paradigm shift that hit the Bible. We are talking about the Enlightenment.
Now - in some ways the Enlightenment might be thought of as the Renaissance, but with a much sharper edge, or the Renaissance on steroids. Several things had been happening that tended to accelerate this push toward much more rationalist and scientific thinking and further away from a more faith based or revelation based way of thinking that had dominated in medieval times.
As the Bible has lived through all of the 3000 or so years we have covered in this study, it has more than once come under stress but also became at different times more important in western cultures.
But the Enlightenment has challenged the Bible more than any time in history. And we are going to explore that today.
The Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Enlightenment or the Age of Reason was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th century, the "Century of Philosophy".
Enlightenment philosophers of the period widely circulated their ideas through meetings at scientific academies, Masonic lodges, literary salons, coffee houses and in printed books and pamphlets.
The Enlightenment included a range of ideas centered on reason as the primary source of authority and legitimacy and came to advance ideals like liberty, progress, tolerance, fraternity, constitutional government and separation of church and state In France, the central doctrines of the Enlightenment philosophers were individual liberty and religious tolerance, in opposition to an absolute monarchy and the fixed dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church. The Enlightenment was marked by an emphasis on the scientific method and reductionism, along with increased questioning of religious orthodoxy