Form criticism is a modern method of biblical interpretation based upon the understanding that the Bible contains a variety of types of literature, from poetry to proverbs to accounts of events to sermons. The form that a narrative takes has significant importance in how it is interpreted by form critics. one popular form identified in the New Testament, for example, is the healing story.
   Form criticism invites the comparison of different examples of texts that have the same or similar form, to compare their differences and likenesses. This study encourages the search for possible older stories upon which the biblical stories might be based. The introduction of form criticism is largely attributed to German biblical scholar Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976).
   in the late 20th century, form criticism became popular among Protestant Bible scholars who were already familiar with textual criticism. As is the case with other types of biblical criticism,
   Evangelical and Fundamentalist Protestants have tended to reject form criticism as an attack upon the sacredness of the Bible.
   Further reading:
   ■ Rudolf Bultmann, Form Criticism: A New Method of New Testament Research, trans. by Frederick C. Grant (Chicago: Willett, Clark, 1934)
   ■ E. T. Guttgemans, Candid Questions Concerning Gospel Form Criticism: A Methodological Sketch of the Fundamental Problematics of Form and Redaction Criticism (Pittsburgh, Pa.: Pickwick, 1979)
   ■ Edgar V. McKnight, What Is Form Criticism?, in Guides to Biblical Scholarship, ed. by Dan o. Via, Jr. (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1969)
   ■ W. A. Maier, Form Criticism Reexam-ined (st. Louis: Concordia, 1973).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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