I really like this question.
Unfortunately, my response, in trying to deal with the "modern" in modern biblical analysis, necessarily refers to non-scripture sources.
Time of Apostles:
Genesis 3:17 (Before Apostles)
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
Acts 2: 37-42
37Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
I have often wondered -- why is it for Man's sake that the ground is cursed, that that we shall eat in sorrow all the days of our life? Then I realized -- without pain and suffering -- how would we recognize the separation of God? -- without recognizing the separation from God, how would we accept Christ? -- and without accepting Christ, how would we avoid spending eternity in hell? Thus, indeed for our sake, the ground has been cursed.
Now, what I find beautiful in the time of the apostles -- is that they heard the message -- and were converted. It's as if God had already done great works in their heart .. and all that they lacked was the gospel. They were looking for the truth, they found that the human teachings of their time did not satisfy the cries of the heart, that the human teachings of their time did not explain all that went wrong with the world -- and when they heard the gospel, the recognized it as truth, and accepted it.
Modern Day Criticism
One interesting question to ask is: where does the source of the modern biblical criticism come from? From what framework are we analyzing / criticizing the Bible from?
If we look at public school education in the US. Reading the Bible is banned. Yet, reading all types of classical literature written by non-Christians is acceptable. What does this have to do with modern biblical criticism?
All literature is about human conflicts, human desires, human problems -- attempts at explaining why these human issues happen. In a sense, the "wisdom" of Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Dickens, Hawthorne, are attempts by humans to explain to humans in human opinions how this world works. And when one accepts this worldly "wisdom" it, in the case of unbelievers, "satisfies / explains" away the cursed-ness of the ground, the eating of the bread in sorrow. And thus, it's natural to criticize it from the framework of the human "wisdom" that one has already built.
Furthermore, modern education (at least in the US), tends to teach that there is no absolute truth -- that the opinion of the individual (be it college student, high school or middle school student) is just as important as the greats. One is encouraged to (1) believe that one's own opinion is absolute truth and (2) criticize the works of Shakespeare / Tolstoy / Dickens / ... anywhere it conflicts with internal beliefs.
It's very natural to take this same attitude when reading the Bible.
To actually answer your question of:
"Where does intellectual honesty turn into wicked contempt from a biblical perspective?"
From the foundation of the universe. :-)
For those that were elected, the "bad" part of their questioning was paid for by Christ, the "good" part of their questioning was trying to cement their understanding of God.
For those that were not elected, even their good works are like filthy rags ...