These days there is much talk about the inherent limits of historical criticism as a tool of biblical hermeneutics. Historical criticism, it is said reduces the Bible to a collection of ancient texts to be dissected rather than affirming the Bible as the scriptural canon of the church. However, no one is really questioning the total viability of historical criticism as a serious tool of biblical and theological study. It has been chastened, but certainly not denied, cast away, or declared useless.
So, my wonderings on this matter relate to what positive role there is for historical criticism in the task of theological interpretation and the theological enterprise more generally. What function is historical criticism supposed to serve and how does it uniquely fill that function. On thing that comes to mind for me is the way in which historical criticism prevents the objectification or reification of the text in itself as divine authority, a form of bibliolatry. And yet, I don’t see how we really needed historical criticism for this insight, as it is rather a Christological one. So, I’m interested in what people might think, what is the theological role of historical criticism? Do we really need it at all?