Multiple meanings?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Deacon, Apr 15, 2015.

  1. Deacon

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    Texts of Scripture do not have a single meaning limited to the intent of the original author.
    In accord with Jewish and Christian traditions, we affirm that Scripture has multiple complex senses given by God, the author of the whole drama

    The authors and editors of the canonical texts repeatedly gave new contexts and senses to earlier traditions, thereby initiating the process of discerning multiple senses within the text.
    The medieval “fourfold sense” is a helpful reminder of Scripture’s multivalence.

    The church’s traditions of biblical interpretation offer models and guidance about how the fuller sense of Scripture should be understood.
    This does not entail a rejection of historical investigation of biblical texts.
    Indeed, historical investigations have ongoing importance in helping us to understand Scripture’s literal sense and in stimulating the church to undertake new imaginative readings of the texts.

    Ellen F. Davis and Richard B. Hays (ed), The Art of Reading Scripture. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 2003. p. 3
     
    #1 Deacon, Apr 15, 2015
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  2. quantumfaith

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    I recall fondly, my OT Prof speaking of "duble entendres" (SP).
     
  3. Darrell C

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    I think it has to be recognized that there are what I call "multiple applications," but I do not embrace a view there are multiple meanings, not in the sense that some do, meaning, we pass a verse around a sunday school class and everyone relates what it means to them. Scripture has a definite purpose in it's intent and it is up to us to harmonize our understanding with that intent.

    Multiple applications might mean that the Promise of Messiah did not exclude multiple applications which were not revealed, all applications are directly related to the same meaning in the eternal Redemptive sense. While we might apply prophecy in a general sense, that does not exclude an ultimate sense of fulfillment, such as understanding that there are many antichrists throughout history, but only one Antichrist ultimately, that will fulfill prophecy that is specific to that individual.

    This is, I feel, a dangerously secular viewpoint. The Author is God, and His intent has been consistent from the first jot written, to the last tittle. While we can obviously present examples which we might apply to different situations or cultures, ultimately we are going to find the direct intent of any teaching. For example, one might want to adopt "Train up a child in the way they should go" to their own particular lifestyle of knowledge, but ultimately educating children about God is going to be the root intent.

    Maybe I am misreading this, but I am opposed to a view that expands the intent of Scripture to the whim of the student/reader. I think we are obligated to search out God's intent in every teaching He has given us.


    God bless.
     
  4. Yeshua1

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    Would say that our goal should be to determine what the intended message of that time was to those given the message from God, but also that there can be multiple principles to us even though the direct application may not been met for us...

    And do see a principle of dual fulfillment many times in prophecy, as there would be a direct application to situation right there, but also a greater/larger fulfillment later on...

    Such as Isaiah prophesying that a birth of a child would be a witness unto them, which many hold was his own son, but that would also be applied to much great one to come in fulfilling that, Jesus!
    The "trick" is to allow the holy spirit himself to discern to us in the scriptures what would be present/future applications of a prophecy, as he already did that for us when many times He had the Apostles take OT quotes and apply them to Christ...
     
  5. rsr

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    "Interpretation is one, application is many."

    Deacon, I cannot find any virtue in "imaginative readings of the text." Taken to its extreme, you end up with the allegorical school or Hal Lindsey.

    Yes, it is true that the writers of the New Testament appropriated texts for their own purposes that sometimes had nothing to do with the original intent. (Yeshua has mentioned the prophesy in Isaiah as the prime example. "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt." is another (Hosea 11:1, Matthew 2:15). There are many others.)

    However, I leave such exegesis to the writers of scripture, not to modern interpreters (yes, including evangelicals) who would bend scripture for their own purposes.
     
  6. robustheologian

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    Exactly. Scripture always has one meaning. That was like the golden rule when I took biblical hermeneutics.
     
  7. Revmitchell

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    I would be interested in seeing an example of this from scripture.
     
  8. Deacon

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    Midrash is an ancient way of interpreting schirpture that expands or re-interprets it in a different way than the original author would have intended.

    Throughout the NT, its authors freely used Midrash, “multiple meanings”, to support their belief in Christ.

    Matthew’s (2:15) use of Hosea 11:1 (“out of Egypt I have called my son”) is an example of a NT author using Midrash as an interpretive method.

    The early Christian disciples continued this practice; later it was condemned as too loose way to interpret scripture... understandably!

    On the BaptistBoard, there is a poster who is slowly going through Joshua 6 in a “devotional” way that might be compared to Midrash.

    Rob
     
    #8 Deacon, Apr 17, 2015
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  9. Revmitchell

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    I am concerned in the way this was worded. When one says "not the authors original intent" that leaves God out of the mix and then in fact discredits the interpretation. When we speak of original intent God must always be included. Failure to do that is a complete failure to understand the nature of scripture.
     
  10. Darrell C

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    I always start with the immediate intent, and try to place that in the larger context of Redemptive History. The immediate intent, for example, for the rich young ruler was to follow Christ. The larger implication is that an earthly focus must be forgone for an eternal. We don't read into it that we should sell all we have to follow Christ literally, but that we do not let earthly concerns interfere with following Christ.


    If this is a question then yes, I do see numerous fulfillments of prophecy, all reaching into the future to the ultimate fulfillment. The best example is Christ, you providing one example of that. When He came the first time, Christ did save His people from sin, but that does not negate the fact that when He returns to establish the Promised Kingdom, "all Israel will be saved," because that Kingdom allows only for the believing to enter. Which is another example: Christ taught that men must be born again to enter the Kingdom, and when we are saved we are translated into the Kingdom of the Son. That does not negate the fact that there will be an earthly Kingdom, or an Eternal. All three require regeneration to enter, discounting the offspring of believers who will be born into the Millennial Kingdom.


    I think this applies.

    I see at least two discernments taught in Scripture. The first being the gift given in the salvation experience to certain believers, the second being the discernment all believers have available to them through study of God's Word. I view discernment to be saint oriented, rather than Spirit oriented. He teaches, rather than "discerning for us," meaning, we play a role in that. What we don't play a role in is enlightenment and illumination, whether pre or post-salvation. We can discern that which He reveals, first through the change of our condition from natural (in which state we have no ability to discern spiritual things) to spiritual, and secondly, again, through the instruction we gain from our Teacher, Who also uses other believers in this process.

    And that is a primary reason we have the Word of God, that we might know Him and His will for our lives better.

    When I spend much time in the Word and speaking with people about Christ and the Word, my walk is much closer, I believe. When circumstances are such that I cannot, I see a difference in my walk. There is an energizing we receive when we are fervent in study, and I believe it is because we allow the Spirit of God to minister to us. Not all believers will have a focus on study, and I think there are among us those specifically gifted in areas of the Word, but, I think that number would increase if more believers sought after that discernment that is available to all of us.

    God bless.
     
  11. Darrell C

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    When I say application I am not referring to a subjective application that allows the reader or student to make a verse or passage or teaching mold to their personal use. I refer more to something such as teaching concerning the Abomination of Desolation, where I see an immediate fulfillment in that day concerning Antiochus Epiphanes, and yet a future application to the Abomination of Desolation spoken of by Christ, which had not yet, in His day, occurred.


    Not sure this is relevant to anything I said, but will comment: I have never actually read or heard anything by Lindsey, only what others have said, and assume he taught a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.

    I also am a firm Pre-Tribulation Rapturist and will say there is nothing allegorical or imaginative about the Doctrine. Not embracing a Pre-Trib Rapture is usually by those who deny the Millennial Kingdom, and while I don't see this as a point which I feel I have to break fellowship with my fellow believers, I do feel the A-Mil view is perhaps the worst position a student can take.

    All Prophecy has always, and always will be...fulfilled. It is because some make allegory of Prophecy that a Pre-Trib view is rejected. One has to symbolize Prophecy and see prophecy fulfilled in a less than thorough fashion to embrace this view.

    So from my view, it is not the Pre-Trib Rapturist engaging in "imaginative reading," but the A-Mil, Mid, and Post-Trib believers.

    But it's a great study, and if we seriously engage our antagonists and understand better why they take the view they do, we might understand that their views, though we disagree with them, are not the views of those completely unfamiliar with Scripture. Sometimes even doctrines we think ridiculous have more basis than w previously thought.


    Not sure I would say this example can be said to have nothing to do with the original intent.

    We see the types of Christ in the Old Testament in Israel herself and without question Christ came out of Egypt.


    And the difference between exegetical approach and an approach that departs from sound principles can usually be discerned. A talk show host had a guest once that had told them their "life verse," and the host asked "Well, how did you find your life verse?"

    "I just opened Scripture, plopped my finger down, and where my finger landed that was it."

    "I want a life verse," the host said, "someone give me a Bible." So he opened the pages of Scripture to a random point, plopped his finger down, and then read, "The Lord has need of him."

    "The Lord has need of me, the Lord has need of me!" the host exclaimed in great joy. Then, the co-host, the host's wife, interjected..."But wait...this is speaking about a donkey!"

    Not everyone engages in this kind of hocus pocus, but when we fall into the error of reading into Scripture what is not there, we might as well be doing this.

    Scripture is not a riddle-book we have to have a magic decoder ring to understand.

    The simple truth is that God gave us His Word for the very purpose that men might know Him and His will for their life, and all it takes is a little diligence on the part of the student to understand it. A Spirit-filled believer will understand Scripture better than the most knowledgeable secular scholar could ever hope to. It amazes me that some view Scripture as something other than it is, a straightforward message from God to the individual. Why we would think God, who understands better than we our infirmities, would complicate the message He has given us...is beyond me.


    God bless.
     
  12. Yeshua1

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    The Kingdom is indeed a great subject/topic to study, as jesus did NOT state that God would never give it to the nation of Isreal on this earth, but that not at this time and epoch, as we are now in the so called church Age...

    Amazing how so many rea into that the notion that God has now the church replace Isreal, is spiritual isreal etc, when jesus never stated that as the truth!
     
  13. Van

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    When I was taught how to study scripture, I too was taught God had one and only one intended message, and therefore when two scholars offer two very different ideas about what a passage says, at least one and perhaps both are wrong.

    I do not quibble with the observation that NT writers, under inspiration, present a different message based on an OT text. Nor with the idea that some prophesy has an immediate fulfillment (applicable to the audience at that time) and an end times fulfillment.

    But as a Minimalist, I remain convinced speculation is the mother of mistaken doctrine, and we should work hard to try and discern what is the least God is saying. Therefore we would not take anything from scripture, yet also do our best to not add anything to scripture.
     
  14. kyredneck

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    Is it for the oxen that God careth? 1 Cor 9:9
     

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