Scholarly Tools of Biblical Study


  1. Barton, John. “An Example: Eccclesiastes.” In Reading the Old Testament: Method in Biblical Study, 61–76. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1984. Barton-1984-ReadingOldTestament.pdf


Additions by later authors and editors to change/subvert/moderate uncomfortable meanings.

A “school” of like-minded but different authors who have different emphases, as we might see today in documents written by committees.

Refutations of the words of others or previous errors, as we might use quotation marks or inflection.

Juxtaposition of competing ideas, as we might use “On the one hand... on the other hand...”

Ideas that are mutually exclusive using our definitions and categories that may not have been contradictions to the original authors. (The idea that a person should never contradict oneself or think contradictory thoughts is not universal.)

Methods discussed by Barton

Literary criticism – in the sense of restoring coherent literary structure (assuming “literature” has it)

Form criticism – oral compositions independent until collected by others

Redaction criticism – studies the work of editors in assembling existing material and adding only a little “glue” of their own

Canonical criticism – meaning in the context of other books with expectation of mutual illumination

Other Tools

Text Criticism


Gematria / Numerology, Murphy p. 52