An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

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Lower Criticism

This method of scriptural analysis, most often called text criticism, focuses on the Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic text of a particular portion of scripture. It works from the conclusion that we do not have any original copies of any scriptural material. When one manuscript is not exactly the same as another, it is necessary to find a way to determine which text is closest to the original. Because there are many scriptural manuscripts from different times and places, most of the arguments are based on how and why scribes might be the cause of the differences. The primary principle is the assumption that the text which is hardest to explain is likely to be the earliest. If we can explain why a scribe at a certain time and place might have caused a specific reading, then it is likely that the particular reading is non-original. Many scholarly Hebrew and Greek texts print a revision of the material which the critics have argued is the most original, with the significant manuscript variations listed at the bottom of the page. See Higher Criticism.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.