Micael Barber reports, of course neutral as always, on the situation.
By form-criticism let me explain what I mean. The form-critical model to which I am referring to holds that the following should be taken as irrefutable historical fact and as foundational for research:Not a second too early.
1. Before the sayings of Jesus were incorporated into the Gospels they circulated for a long time through oral tradition which was essentially transmitted anonymously, without authoritative tradents.
2. These sayings were passed along independently of each other.
3. The Jesus tradition was passed along only in small units.
4. Over time elements which were not traceable to the historical Jesus crept into the tradition. For example, the utterances of Christian prophets who spoke “in the name of the Risen Jesus” who accepted as coming truly from the Lord. In fact, the early church was not careful to distinguish what went back to the historical Jesus and so the Jesus tradition was expanded to include large portions of non-historical elements.
5. Many of these non-historical sayings were introduced to help address the needs of the church. For example, sayings were accepted into the tradition which helped answered critical questions facing the church. In essence, when the church wondered, “What would Jesus have said about x?”, a saying was kindly obliged by someone such as a Christian prophet who could speak for the Lord.
6. The elements of the Jesus tradition―which of course now included features that were not authentic―came to be crystallized in various forms: e.g., parables, pronouncement stories, individual sayings, miracle stories, etc.
7. By carefully analyzing the Gospels one can “get behind the text” and happily answer all of the following questions:
―What were the original forms in which the sayings of Jesus were circulated?
―How were these sayings used in the early church at this oral stage?
―Which elements came from Jesus and which came from the early Church?
Keep in mind, for form-criticism to really be carried out the above presuppositions cannot simply be loosely held. This is either what happened or not. To question the basic assertions of the form-critical model is to be unable to use it.
Now, it took about a hundred years but most scholars are now recognizing how ridiculous the schema is.