Amy has an awesome post[A Case against Q] (on the use of historical-critical scholarship in catechetical texts. [Sorry, because of the inaccessibility of blogspot and typepad, I'm using proxy servers and can't post comments there, or provide the permalink].
No, she's not making a scholarly case against the Q hypothesis, or arguing for Matthean priority (a la William Farmer) but is talking about the corrosive effects of an overemphasis of historical-critical scholarship in modern Catholic rel. ed. books.
Here's the comment I wanted to leave there: (If someone sees this soon and would like to put it up there for me, that would be great)
Great post Amy! When the General Directory for Catechesis came out (the one from the Vatican, in, 1997 I think it was), I read through it eagerly, and one of the things that struck me was this: the goal of all catechesis is union with Jesus Christ. I thought about what I'd seen, and it was quite clear: nope, this isn't happening in the parishes I'm familiar with.Here's another article from (Protestant) biblical scholar, Richard Hays, on a hermeneutics of suspicion vs. one of trust. "Salvation by trust? Reading the bible faithfully."
My first exposure to the historical-critical method was in a parish in Pune (India) where a Jesuit (then in his diaconate) was giving a class to the parish on scripture study. It was an overview of the historical-critical method. He used materials from the Jesus Seminar freely -- at that time (I was taking classes to prepare for baptism that year) it was all very thrilling, even more so that the old ladies were getting shocked. What I remember clearly thinking was, "Oh! Well, if this is true, then I guess nothing (in the Gospels) is realiable!"
It did instill a love for Scripture study in me, and I discovered more traditional ways of studying (and praying) the Word of God later ...
Years later (and after an MA in NT studies), I completely agree that an overemphasis, an almost gleeful,"we're going to debunk everything you know" overemphasis on the historical-critical method has been part of the problem ... it's whole thrust seems to be, "The Church believed this for a such a long time, but now, we know the real story."
"I don't care if Paul didn't write it -- it's in the Bible, and for a Christian that's what ought to matter, I recall telling a startled prof in class one day! :)"
Much more fruitful would be to actually get people/students/parishioners to read the Scriptures, to imbibe them, to seep in them. I am always envious of the converts from Protestant denominations who know their Scriptures backwards and diagonally. That kind of familiarity ought to be the goal ... while discovering other ways of reading scripture, such as Lectio Divina. "Ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ" right?
Q can come later, in a grad-school course, if someone so chooses to go that route.
All this said, I don't think it is at all possible to just ignore critical scholarship. It's achieved a lot, and, within the proper constraints, can enrich one's faith. I am a fan of Luke Johnson's approach and I find his intro to the NT a great introductory book for serious (critical) study.
[As a complete tangent: do y'all think critical scholarship of the nature Christians are now accustomed to dealing with, would be a welcome development with respect to the origins of the Qu'ran?]
[I want to develop that last thought (on Islam) a tad: one of the reasons critical scholarship arose is a desire by its early practitioners (von Reimarus, for instance, who's credited with getting the ball rolling, though some -- such as Luke Johnson -- would go back further, to Luther and the whole idea of sola scriptura) to discredit traditional Christianity. Would it be incorrect to say that in pre-critical times, a Christian approach to Scipture would not be unlike what is the case in Islam with respect to the Qu'ran? Certainly at the popular level, and even otherwise? I don't know for sure, but I wonder. So, wouldn't some critical scholarship that examines the origins of the Qu'ran (and the Hadith) be welcome? Taken to an extreme, I guess, this is the argument of the secularizers. Christianity has been "tamed" by being secularized. Islam ought to be tamed in the same way, and critical scholarship is one of the tools to achieve this end.