We take “critical” in “pre-critical” and “post-critical” to mean, Enlightenment. Taken as such we understand there to be a difference, indeed a significant difference, in the way textual criticism was carried out before the Enlightenment and after the Enlightenment. One main difference between the two is embodied in this quote from Kurt Aland.
“We can appreciate better the struggle for freedom from the dominance of the Textus Receptus when we remember that in this period it was regarded even to the last detail the inspired and infallible word of God himself.”Kurt Aland, The Text of the New Testament, 11.
Our specific attention falls to the statement, “the struggle for freedom from the dominance of the Textus Receptus.” This could be put another way, “the struggle for freedom from the dominance of the current Protestant Bible in Greek.”
Prior to the Enlightenment one is hard pressed to find the Protestant orthodox seeking to be freed from the Greek NT of their day. In fact, you will find quite the reverse. But by the mid-1800’s such freedom becomes part and parcel of the post-Enlightenment text-critical enterprise.
In order to shed light on this potent and catastrophic shift in text-critical emphasis and aim, Bryan Ross of Grace Life Bible Church has recently interacted with the writing of Westcott and Hort touching on their disposition toward the TR.
So next time someone tries to convince you that the textual criticism before the Enlightenment is the same or almost the same as the textual criticism after the Enlightenment remind them that the former did their work with the assumption that the Church had God’s words and the latter regarded the Church’s Bible as vile and villainous and as such something to be freed from which is a sentiment that carries on into the modern day as evidenced in the words of Kurt Aland.