It’s not lost on me that some of the methods of biblical studies are confusing for those who are not familiar with them. The videos below (and the quotations form Mark Allan Powell’s How Do Biblical Scholars Study the New Testament?” on Bible Odyssey. I present them below to help give you a better grasp of them. Should you like discussion of other methods in a similar comparative format, let me know and I’ll add them accordingly.
…draws upon the insights of modern literary analysis to determine the particular effects that the biblical stories were expected to have on their readers. Narrative critics pay attention to how the plot of a story is advanced, how characters are developed, how conflict is introduced or resolved, and how rhetorical features like symbolism and irony affect the reader’s perception of what is happening.
analyze the various manuscripts of the New Testament that have been preserved over the centuries, comparing them, dating them, and employing various techniques to determine which are the most reliable. Their goal is to reconstruct what the original manuscripts probably said, noting also variant readings when one or more of the copies that have been made over the years say something different.
attempts to move behind the New Testament texts to suggest hypotheses regarding materials that the biblical authors might have used in composing their documents (for example, Paul quotes from an early Christian liturgy in 1Cor 11:23-26, and Luke indicates he has drawn from some other materials about Jesus in composing his Gospel in Luke 1:1). Source critics try to identify these materials, and sometimes they even attempt to reconstruct them.