Want to decide for yourself the state of the discipline? Legaspi’s new essay at Bible and Interpretation lends a hand. It commences
The term “historical criticism” is problematic. On the one hand, it designates a very specific set of practices for ascertaining the date and origin of a text or document—practices closely associated with Renaissance humanism and the study of law, classics, and literature. But when we refer to “historical criticism” in the context of theology and biblical scholarship, we usually mean something else. We use the term “historical criticism” as an umbrella term, one that is synonymous with modern biblical criticism or the dominant mode of academic biblical scholarship in the West over the past two hundred years. The reasons for this are not hard to surmise. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the historical backgrounds of the Bible, whether accessed through philology, textual criticism, archaeology, or source criticism, stood at the center of scholarly efforts to make sense of the Bible. Nevertheless, it is a mistake to identify modern biblical criticism with historical criticism because this equation misrepresents biblical scholarship and derails effective discussion of its connections to non-academic interpretive modes.