Sociological Criticism

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Sociological criticism broadens the horizon in the study of the New Testament. Though it is a relatively newer method, its significant influence and contributions encourage former methods. It is a component or rather acts as an enhancement to historical critical methods. This method had emerged as a pragmatic methodological enterprise. Since 1970 the use of the social sciences has played an increasingly prominent role in Gospel studies. “Early efforts concentrated on applying specific sociological theories to biblical studies, but more recent research has drawn from a wider range of social-scientific disciplines and sub-disciplines, including anthropology, peasant studies, political science, economics and Mediterranean sociology.” It furthers…show more content…
The Chicago School (1906-1966) especially in the works of S. J. Case and S. Matthew, “devoted its attention to the social setting of early Christianity and the social mind that formed theology.” However, it was Ernest DeWitt Burton (1856-1925) who actually initiated the application of sociological methods in New Testament studies, because the work of Case and Mathews largely ignored the conditions of life reflected in the texts. Gerd Theissen has distinguished three phases in the history of origin of sociological exegesis in Germany which began as early as in the era of liberal theology (ca. 1870-1920), dialectical theology (1920-1970), and renewal period (1970 to present time). Though the early part of the century witnessed the subject being discussed extensively, it was mostly neglected between the two World…show more content…
J. Case’s The Social Origin of Christianity (1923) and The Social Triumph of the Ancient Church (1934) and Fredrick Grant’s The Economic Background of the Gospel (1926) are most notable. C. S. Rodd rightly pointed out, that their “research into the social history of the Early Church has produced the more solid and many ways more satisfactory results.” Other scholar such as Martin Hengel, in his Judaism and Hellenism (1973), Property and Riches in the Early Church (1974) and in his other works showed his interests and concern for political and economic history, in relation to the origin of the church. In this line, other works like, E. A. Judge’s The Social Pattern of Christian Groups in the First Century (1960), Abraham J. Malharbe’s Social Aspects of Early Christianity (1977), and Robert Grant’s Early Christianity and Society (1977) made significant
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