Modern biblical scholarship is often presented as analogous to the hard and natural sciences; its histories present the developmental stages as quasi-scientific discoveries. That image of Bible scholars as neutral scientists in pursuit of truth has persisted for too long.

Modern Biblical Criticism as a Tool of Statecraft (1700-1900) by Scott W. Hahn and Jeffrey L. Morrow examines the lesser known history of the development of modern biblical scholarship in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

This volume seeks partially to fulfill Pope Benedict XVI’s request for a thorough critique of modern biblical criticism by exploring the eighteenth and nineteenth century roots of modern biblical scholarship, situating those scholarly developments in their historical, philosophical, theological, and political contexts.

Picking up where Scott W. Hahn and Benjamin Wiker’s Politicizing the Bible: The Roots of Historical Criticism and the Secularization of Scripture 1300-1700 left off, Hahn and Morrow show how biblical scholarship continued along a secularizing trajectory as it found a home in the newly developing Enlightenment universities, where it received government funding.

Modern Biblical Criticism as a Tool of Statecraft (1700-1900) makes clear why the discipline of modern biblical studies is often so hostile to religious and faith commitments today.

Scott W. Hahn is the author (or editor) of over forty books, including Kinship by Covenant and Politicizing the Bible. He is the editor of Letter & Spirit: A Journal of Catholic Biblical Theology. He holds the Fr. Michael Scanlan Chair of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization at the Franciscan University of Steubenville and is the founder and president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology.

Jeffrey L. Morrow, Ph.D., is Professor of Theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology at Seton Hall University. He is also the author of Jesus’ Resurrection: A Jewish Convert Examines the Evidence (2017), Pretensions of Objectivity (2019), and Alfred Loisy and Modern Biblical Studies (2019).

The American Conservative – The Americans Who Politicized the Bible

“The story that Hahn and Morrow continue in this meticulously documented volume is complex and nuanced, but the overall picture is clear: historical criticism of the Bible is not an objective science, but grew up densely intertwined with the politics of the institutions that sponsored it, especially the European nation-state. The authors’ conclusion is neither the postmodern reduction of all truth to politics, nor the rejection of all modern biblical scholarship. It is rather an argument for interpreting the Bible within a more honest framework that recognizes its own theological commitments and does not try to hide bad theology behind a supposedly neutral and secular mask.”
William T. Cavanaugh, DePaul University

“In a masterful way Hahn and Morrow have laid bare the political and philosophical forces at work in biblical criticism in the 18th and 19th centuries. They show that there is nothing neutral about modern biblical criticism—not then and not now. . . . Hahn and Morrow show with overwhelming documentation that a secular, coercive state religion has usurped the authority of the Bible.”
Craig A. Evans, Houston Theological Seminary

“A profound paradox has emerged in contemporary biblical and theological scholarship. On the one hand, contextual/historical work is all the rage. On the other hand, no generation has known or cared less about its exegetical and theological past than does the present generation, outside of a few specialists. Morrow and Hahn invite us to question how this paradox came to be and what purposes it serves.”
Matthew Levering, Mundelein Seminary

Modern Biblical Criticism as a Tool of Statecraft (1700-1900) is a worthy and much-needed continuation of Politicizing the Bible: The Roots of Historical Criticism and the Secularization of Scripture (1300-1700). Hahn and Morrow show in great detail how the study of Scripture has been significantly deformed by the politicizing tendencies (both intentional and unintentional) of many of the most eminent and respected biblical scholars of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—the heyday of historical-critical scholarship.”
Benjamin Wiker, Franciscan University of Steubenville

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Modern Biblical Criticism as a Tool of Statecraft (1700-1900)