How to understand the Bible

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Jim1999, Nov 19, 2008.

  1. Jim1999

    Jim1999
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    Several times now the means of understanding the Bible has come up. I would like to enter 4 main points from a text on hermeneutics. It is Grasping God's Word, Zondervan.

    Opens with: "Keep in mind that our goal is to grasp the meaning of the text God has intended. We do not create meaning out of a text; rather, we seek to find the meaning that is already there. However, we recognize we cannot apply the maning for the ancient audience directly to us today because of the river that separates us (culture, time, situation, covenant, etc)................

    1. What did the text mean to the biblical audience?

    2. What are the differences between the biblical audience and us?

    3. What is the theological principle in this text?

    4.How should individual Christians today apply the theological principle in their lives?

    Things like language, location, history and culture does play an important role in understanding the word. To ignore these points is to ignore what is being said.

    To my mind, hermeneutics is the most important subject studied in seminary or Bible College. I am not minimizing theology, Bible study and other such subjects, but without a proper hermeneutic we cannot begin to get the Word right.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  2. Marcia

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    I totally agree with you about the importance of hermeneutics.

    I was taught to think about

    1. What the text meant to the original audience
    2. What the text means in context of the passage around it and the book it's in, and then within the whole Bible itself
    3. What the text is saying to us today
    4. How do we apply the priniciples of it today?

    Too often, people want to go straight to applying the text before understanding numbers 1 and 2 above.

    My hermeneutics prof has a book:
    Objectivity in Biblical Interpretation by Thomas Howe
     
  3. donnA

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    The last time I said something like this here on the BB I was beat over the head with a shovel.
     
  4. Goldie

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    Keys to understanding the Bible:

    1. Scripture always interprets scripture, otherwise known as the "Full Counsel of God" rule - where one looks at all the passages that deal with a given subject, so as to determine what is being said and taught - it equates to looking at the overall context of the entire Bible.
    2. Scripture never contradicts scripture. A lot of people state that the Bible contradicts itself and quote the Book of James and Romans as being a clear contradiction, for example. That is why one has to keep in mind the root (Romans) of a believer's faith, in comparison to the fruit (James) of a believer's faith - one also has to discern between salvation, discipleship and service as well, not to mention church ordinances, etc. You'll find that Lordship Salvationists confuse discipleship and salvation, and Calvinists confuse service and salvation, for instance.
    3. Vague, unclear, problematic passages are interpreted by the clear passages
    and not the other way around.
    4. The New Testament basically confirms the Old Testament and vice versa, the two work in tandem, and one can see this when Paul, et al quoted from the Old Testament.
    5. Of course, one also has to keep in mind timelines, ages (dispensations), covenants, etc.

    Happy interpreting. :wavey:
     
  5. MB

    MB
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    I don't believe that man's interpretation is important at all. I believe God reveals scripture to us when we let Him. I don't have to figure it out because I've found that generally it says what it means. The Bible with the help of God explains it self. When men interpret it or use there logic to understand it they always come away with a distorted view. I read my Bible everyday and God is what makes it understandable for me. I depend on Him for understanding and IMO so should everyone.
    MB
     
  6. Revmitchell

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    It is difficult to determine exactly what you meant by your post. But it does appear you disagree with Jim. That is a shame if I am not wrong. We have to find a balance between hyper-intellectualism and anti-intellectualism. Although we do not want to exclude prayer and fasting in our study.
     
  7. webdog

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    We do not "let God" do anything. Saul (Paul) never let God reveal truth to him, God did it as He wished.
    The Bible tells us to study to show ourselves approved to God for a reason, and Jim and Marcia hit the nail on the head with the proper way to study Scripture.
     
  8. jcjordan

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    Oh my! I agree with you 100% again. You took the words right out of my mouth!
     
  9. J.D.

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    Yes, I agree. I'm very concerned about brother MB living on a hermeneutical island. I wonder how his I-only-need-God philosophy squares with what God Himself said, "and he (God) gave...pastors and teachers...for the edifying of the body of Christ". (Eph 4)
     
  10. J.D.

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    This is good but I wonder about #3. Couldn't it be left off? After all, if you follow #1 (what did it mean to the people it was originally written to), then #4 (how do we apply it today) is all you need. It can't really "mean" something different today than it "meant" when it was originally penned. It's just a matter of making application. See what I mean?
     
  11. Amy.G

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    Please stop with the compliments! We won't be able to live with him! :laugh:
     
  12. Jim1999

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    Some areas of scripture are addressing a specific problem for that time. It may be cultural. Our cultures are different and we need to adjust the message to fit our cultural differences. It is not changing the word, but simply applying the principles because we rightly understand the word.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  13. OldRegular

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    Goldie

    I like yours much better though I am not sure about the last sentence of item #2. Though you do not mention context, which is included in the OP, I believe that context is implied in your points.

    I have used the following in some material I prepared. They are certainly not original with me but I believe they make a couple of points not included in yours and the OP.

    1. The Bible is the record of God’s Special Revelation of Himself to man. As such it is a Spiritual Book. But a spiritual understanding—that is, discerning the reality of God, His ways with His people, His present will, and one's own relationship to Him will not reach us from the text until the veil is removed from our hearts and we are able to share the recorder's own passion for God.

    2. The Bible in its original autographs is innerant and infallible in all that it teaches. This Special Revelation of God to man is complete in the 66 books of the Holy Bible: 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament. The Canon of Scripture is closed.

    3. No meaning may be read into or imposed on Scripture that cannot with certainty be read out of Scripture. Each passage of Scripture must be understood not only in light of its immediate context but in light of the chapter or book in which it appears, in fact in the context of the whole of Scripture. The unity of Scripture is absolute!

    4. It follows then that Scripture nowhere contradicts Scripture; rather, one passage explains another. This sound principle of interpreting Scripture by Scripture is called the Synthesis Principle, the analogy of Scripture, or the analogy of faith.

    5. Obscure passages in Scripture must be understood in light of clearer ones; the implicit is to be interpreted in light of the explicit. Poetry is to be treated as poetry. Historical accounts are to be treated as history. All the forms that are used in the writing of the Bible are to be interpreted according to the normal rules governing those forms. Figures of speech such as: parables; hyperbole; simile; metaphor; symbolism; and, occasionally, allegories must be recognized and interpreted as such.

    6. Words have meaning. Yet the meaning applied to a word must be made in the context in which the word is used.

    7. Though each biblical text may have multiple applications, it has only one correct meaning. This must be understood in light of the added meaning given by the author of the New Testament to the Old Testament understanding.
     
    #13 OldRegular, Nov 20, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2008
  14. Marcia

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    Using logic is fine - logic comes from God. Words are based on logic. Reading this sentence, you are using logic.
     
  15. Marcia

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    Well, I guess I was making a slight distinction between what it means to us today and how to apply it (personally speaking).

    So the passage might mean to us today that we need to not act out on our anger in a sinful way, then I think how I personally apply that in my life. Might be different for you, depending.

    Does that make sense?
     
  16. MB

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    Well you have a right to disagree and keep on disagreeing if you wish. Paul was taught by Jesus Christ and sent to the disciples and they all rejected Him except Barnabus. The man was taught from eye witnesses. You simply don't know what you're talking about. God certainly doesn't reveal anything to those who rebel. We have to be willing to receive it.
    MB
     
  17. MB

    MB
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    Logic is sicence men use to figure things out, and because it is man's, is not perfect. Reading your sentence only takes comprehension which is not Logic. I took your sentence to mean what you wrote I did no science.
    MB
     
  18. MB

    MB
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    Let me explain it to you.
    I think a lot more prayer for understanding would be your answer and not balance of intellectual pride

    MB
     
  19. Jim1999

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    quote: The man was taught from eye witnesses. You simply don't know what you're talking about. God certainly doesn't reveal anything to those who rebel. We have to be willing to receive it.
    -----------------------------------------------

    Yeppers..Jonah rebelled..he didn't want to know God's will........God had him thrown overboard and he was swallowed by a huge fish prepared by God, spit out and finally he decided he better do what God wished..........Some story, but I guess it was just fiction since it doesn't fit the theology of some.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  20. MB

    MB
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    You don't need God do you JD. You can do it all by your self.
    MB
     

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