Biblical scholarship today uses various academic tools in order to explore more deeply the meaning and understanding of Sacred Scripture. The historical -critical method uses the discipline of history to help place in context the events of a particular time and the teachings that evolved from that epoch of history. It is extremely helpful, for example, to understand the relationship between Jews and Samaritans in order to appreciate Luke's popular and famous parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37).
Literary and form criticism use the academic tools associated with literature to analyze Biblical texts. What writing forms and patterns are evident in a particular text? What do forms, such as poetry, prose, or prayers, say about the literature under examination? It was through such analysis and similar questions that experts came to the conclusion that the Pentateuch was not the work of Moses but rather a compilation of three different literary traditions from different periods of Jewish history.
Redaction criticism seeks to find the original text and, therefore, the original intent of the author(s) in Sacred Scripture. Over the centuries, through copying errors, misinterpretations, and other human fault, intentional or unintentional, the text that exists today could easily have been distorted from the original. Like peeling away the layers of an onion until you reach the core, so redaction criticism seeks to get to the core or original thought of the writer. This could open a completely new vista of meaning for a particular passage or a whole book of the Bible.