مدرسة " تاريخ الأشكال الأدبية / The School of " Form Criticism "


Hasan Hanafi



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حنفي, حسن; Hanafi, Hasan

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Research Article

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Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

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[The study of the Scriptures as a historical document is one of the achievements of European thought. It began as «source criticism» and has culminated in «literary criticism.» This latter had its roots in traditional «textual criticism.» Recently there has developed a new school of «form criticism,» founded in Germany by two eminent Biblical scholars, R. Bultmann (Geschichte der synoptischen Tradition, 1921) and M. Dibilius (Formgeschichte des Evangeliums, 1919). When the well-known theory of two sources, Mark (the second Gospel) and Logia (sayings), and thus the entire hypothesis of written documents, proved insufficient to explain the formation of the synoptic tradition, another hypothesis was offered, that there existed an oral tradition behind the written documents. This hypothesis had already been used by H. Gunkel in his study of Genesis. According to this theory, the Gospels are made up of small units, each expressing a life-situation, and each having a literary form. The early community lived its faith by word of mouth before transforming it into written documents. This occurred in the common milieu of Hellenistic and Rabbinic literature and developed according to the needs of the community, especially through preaching. The Gospels are composed of these small and independent units used as sermons in preaching and then bound artificially with each other. Whereas Dibilius recognized five literary forms: paradigm, novel, legend, sayings and myth, Bultmann distinguished between two major groups: saying and narrative (direct and indirect speech). The sayings include apothegm, Lord sayings, legal and ethical and community regulations, I sayings and parables. The narratives include miracle narratives, historical, and legendary narratives, The conclusion which followed was that one could know nothing concerning the «Jesus of history» but only concerning the «Jesus of faith.». The school continued to develop in line with its major premises, with some scholars attempting to minimize the highly inventive role of the early community and thereby open the way to a more «objective» history.]

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