The word criticism merely applies the formation and expression of a judgment or estimate. There are
two types of criticism—lower and higher. Lower criticism is known as textual criticism, which deals
with the text of the Bible with a view to ascertaining its true and original form. Higher criticism begins
where lower criticism ends. Believing that the correct text has been discovered, the higher critic (also
called the historical or literary critic) seeks to discover whether the claims made by the text or about the
text are accurate.
Are its authorship and date correct? Is its message technically reliable? Do these raise more questions?
Introductions and critical commentaries deal with higher criticism. Textual criticism shows up in the
margin of modern translations, e.g., the last phrase of Romans 8:1 in the KJV is relegated to the margin
of modern versions because it does not appear in the early manuscripts. The scholars consider it an
interpolation by a scribe. Mark 16:9-20 is an obvious later addition to the ending of the Gospel. Since
the 17th Century, many earlier and better manuscripts as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls have been
discovered which were unknown to the translators of the KJV in 1611. The English Bible student is at
the mercy of the scholars when it comes to lower criticism. Historically, textual and literary criticism
has produced good and bad results. The NET Bible with 60,932 translators’ notes is an excellent tool
for critical studies. It is a free download at www.Bible.org.