Presuppositions and Results
Form criticism is the method of classifying literature by literary pattern to determine its original form and historical context in order to interpret its meaning accurately. The Gospels were not written to be objective biographies. They omit large portions of the life of Jesus, they include accounts of miraculous events and they have a purpose to demonstrate that Jesus is both God and human.
I. Presuppositions OF FORM CRITICISM(part 2)
A. Presupposition #5 - The material of the tradition has no biographical, chronological, or geographical value.
B. Presupposition #6 - The original form of the tradition may be recovered and its history traced, before being written down, by discovering the laws of tradition.
C. Presupposition #7 - The eyewitnesses had little influence over the tradition.
II. Arguments Against Radical Form Criticism
A. One would expect that the church would have produced material addressing some of the great problems they faced early on.
B. We should not minimize the ability of first-century believers to memorize.
C. Eyewitnesses had a preserving effect upon the traditions.
D. Leadership was centralized in Jerusalem.
E. We find a high view of tradition in the New Testament.
F. The church is faithful in passing on material.
III. Results of Form Criticism
A. The Gospels are not objective, historical biographies of the life of Jesus.
1. Gospels are the truth, but they are not neutral, otherwise they wouldn't be evangelists.
2. Not historical in the sense of the word that they deal with the miraculous.
3. Not biographical since they omit large portions of Jesus' life.
B. The Gospels were preserved for their religious value.
C. Because these are not objective biographies, rather these are predominantly independent stories, this helps us understand the work of the Evangelist better.