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On Interpretation of Scripture

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#1
HumbleThinker

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So this is a topic I'm sort of interested in, though got burnt out on discussing it for a while, but now would like to discuss it again with you all here. A very subtle but major mistake I believe many make is to inadvertently replace Scripture with their interpretation of it under the rationale of the "plain reading" of Scripture. More generally though, anyone who dogmatically demands that others HAVE to accept their interpretation of Scripture else "disagree with the Bible," "call God a liar," or other such statements is is making this mistake. I find this mistake most present when talking about matters of science that conflict with one's interpretation of the Bible.

So on the matter of interpretation, literalism is as much a method of interpretation of any non-literal method. It should be noted that "literal" as it is used today is not the same usage as it was in say the days of Augustine, where its meaning was closer to that of authorial intent as opposed to interpreting the Bible via Christiology, a form of typology very popular among many of the Early Church Fathers. Given this, claiming or implying that a literal interpretation of the Bible is the lack of interpreting the Bible and thus revealing what the Bible "truly" not only ignores the basics of linguistics but ignores thousands of years of hermeneutics among Jews and Christians where what we now call the literal interpretation was merely the starting point for understanding Scripture, not the final point. This can be seen in a few brief quotes from Christians throughout the years (I'm a quoteophile so you'll get used to it:
 

Since, then, so rich a variety of highly plausible interpretations can be drawn from those words, consider how foolish it is to rashly assert that Moses intended one particular meaning rather than any of the others. If we engage in hurtful strife as we attempt to expound his words, we offend against the very love for the sake of which he said all those things”
-Saint Augustine; Confessions


"In discussing questions of this kind two rules are to be observed, as Augustine teaches. The first is, to hold to the truth of Scripture without wavering. The second is that since Holy Scripture can be explained in a multiplicity of senses, one should adhere to a particular explanation only in such measure as to be ready to abandon it if it be proved with certainty to be false, lest Holy Scripture be exposed to the ridicule of unbelievers, and obstacles be placed to their believing."
-Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas


"It is necessary for the Bible, in order to be accommodated to the understanding of every man, to speak many things which appear to differ from the absolute truth so far as the bare meaning of the words is concerned."
-Galileo Galilei Letter to Madame Christina of Lorraine


So in sum, we see that there is a long tradition of understanding that Scripture has a multiplicity of meanings, thus saying that the literal interpretation of Scripture is THE meaning is incorrect; it is only A meaning. To try to get around this with claims that you have to take Scripture literally, else all of Scripture is in doubt, is only an expression of a personal fear, not a fear that is or should be held by all. And it only serves to attempt to make a literal understanding appear infallible.

A major example of this that I believe sums up the implicit belief of infallibility that many well-intentioned literalists hold without their understanding (think David's secret/hidden sins that he prayed for God to forgive and take away) is the AiG statement of faith that all their members must adhere to: "By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information." Notice the subtle implication that although "evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people," interpretation of Scripture is not subject to interpretation by fallible people, implying that Scripture is either not interpreted under literalism or that the literal interpretation is made by infallible people. And since even literalists do not agree all the time, if the latter is true, then those who created this statement of faith and sign on to it perceive that THEY are infallible, at least when it comes to interpreting Scripture.

We as Christians are to soldier on in our quest to understand Scripture in light of all of God's actions that are witnessed within and without Scripture, no matter where that may lead us. IMO, having a hard-lined stance that the Bible will only be interpreted literally stops this quest before it is even half-way through, settling for crumbs when we should be heading to the whole feast. Thoughts?

Edited by HumbleThinker, 07 December 2013 - 07:26 AM.


#2
shiloh357

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What the above post fails to recognize the difference between interpretation, meaning and application.   The text only has one interpretation, but that the text can be applied in various ways.  And have different meanings to people who are in different places in their walk with the Lord.

 

Take for example the text of John 3:16:  "For God so love the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosever believes upon Him shall not perish but have eternal life."    I have in my sermon library, multiple sermons on that verse and each of them is different.  One focuses on the Love of God for humanity.  The other emphasizes the gift of eternal life.  Another one focuses on the all inclusivity of "whosoever."   Still another sermon focuses on the Deity of Jesus via His unique Sonship. 

 

From that vantage point, the verse DOES have different meanings, depending on which angle you are focusing on but multiple meanings do NOT mean multiple interpretations.  The verse leaves no room for any other base-line interpretation beyond what the text of John 3:16 plainly says.  You can find multiple meanings in the text, but they are tethered to the one and only literal interpretation that the text allows for.

 

The process of interpretation is objective.  It is a process called exegesis and it depends on the rules for literary analysis called hermeneutics.  They are not subjective rules that can be altered to fit the agenda of the reader.  They are the rules that are commonly employed in both Scripture and secular texts.   The goal of interpretation is to get at what the author intends.  Any text, especially Scripture, must be read in the light of the object the author has in view in order to arrive at the literal interpretation of the text.  The literal interpretation is the interpretation the author suppies and in many cases, such as historical narratives doesn't require extensive exegesis except where cultural issues arise that need clarfication, or if a play on words is employed.

 

The other issue is application.  The Bible refers to the manifold wisdom of the Lord, meaning that God's wisdom as many sides to it.  That means that God can take the same passage and apply to your life in order to meet a particular need you have, but He can take the same passage and apply it to my life to meet a different need that I have.   People often confuse this with interpretation.  

 

The various and sundry applications that can be made from the text in no way diminish or replace the actual interpretation of the text.  Most debates over the text of Scripture center around a misunderstanding on at least the part of one party as to what interpretation of the Bible is really all about.



#3
PrairWarur

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Dear Humble Thinker,

 

I really enjoyed your post and I agree, and especially with the part about love.  Too often, it appears to me, that the love we are to show and share is missing, but this is just my interpretation, and I could be wrong.  I believe, as with faith, love is alike in that we are all given a measure of each and should pray for more.  Then, as we "hunger and thirst" that portion is increased.

 

Dear Shiloh,

 

You, too, made many valid points and I agree.  

 

Thank you, both, for increasing my learning and understanding.

 

Peace to you and yours.

 

In His Service,

PrairWarur



#4
PrairWarur

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As far as my own thoughts about this topic, and others I have seen posted,  this little voice keeps telling me that the Holy Scriptures are for all and not just those who have studied and are learned in these things.  God's Word is for the simple and the educated, and we must be confident in knowing that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth as He is the Spirit of Truth.

 

Sometimes as I am reading various posts, I get lost in what is being said.  I do not understand the terminology used, and it begins to appear that the simple minded people have no hope in seeking out the Lord if they cannot understand the means used by those who are learned and attempting to teach us.

 

Then God reminds me of those who have no bible at all, who cannot read, or those who are not learned enough to understand the means scholars use for interpretation, and it is then that I know God is able to reach us all.

 

It is very interesting to me to read the opinions and teachings of others, but most of the time I do not feel qualified to add my own thoughts and opinions.  I feel to try to do this would only show my ignorance on these matters.  Yet, I know my God, and I know He will lovingly guide those like me who sometimes get lost in all the words posted on a computer screen.

 

It is a good thing to study and the Word tells us to "Study to show thyself approved..."  2 Timothy 2:15  

 

However, in our studies, it appears to me that at times we make it seem so much more difficult that it is.

 

For myself, I pray the Holy Spirit leads me and teaches me.  I am constantly reminded that His Word is written for the uneducated and well as for those who have higher learning.

 

I once knew a woman who was considered a moron.  She was in need of constant physical care and did not have the intellect of a two year old child, yet she knew God's Word and I was amazed at this.  For me this proved one thing, that God alone was able to teach her as no one else could.  Understanding this gave me great hope in knowing that He leads me and will see to my education and understanding of His Word.

 

I close with this Scripture that speaks so dearly to my heart and gives me hope.

 

Amen!  Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

 

Shalom,

PrairWarur

Isaiah 54:13

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 

13 “All your sons will be taught of the Lord;
And the well-being of your sons will be great."

 

 



#5
HumbleThinker

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What the above post fails to recognize the difference between interpretation, meaning and application.   The text only has one interpretation, but that the text can be applied in various ways.  And have different meanings to people who are in different places in their walk with the Lord.
 
Take for example the text of John 3:16:  "For God so love the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosever believes upon Him shall not perish but have eternal life."    I have in my sermon library, multiple sermons on that verse and each of them is different.  One focuses on the Love of God for humanity.  The other emphasizes the gift of eternal life.  Another one focuses on the all inclusivity of "whosoever."   Still another sermon focuses on the Deity of Jesus via His unique Sonship. 
 
From that vantage point, the verse DOES have different meanings, depending on which angle you are focusing on but multiple meanings do NOT mean multiple interpretations.  The verse leaves no room for any other base-line interpretation beyond what the text of John 3:16 plainly says.  You can find multiple meanings in the text, but they are tethered to the one and only literal interpretation that the text allows for.
 
The process of interpretation is objective.  It is a process called exegesis and it depends on the rules for literary analysis called hermeneutics.  They are not subjective rules that can be altered to fit the agenda of the reader.  They are the rules that are commonly employed in both Scripture and secular texts.   The goal of interpretation is to get at what the author intends.  Any text, especially Scripture, must be read in the light of the object the author has in view in order to arrive at the literal interpretation of the text.  The literal interpretation is the interpretation the author suppies and in many cases, such as historical narratives doesn't require extensive exegesis except where cultural issues arise that need clarfication, or if a play on words is employed.
 
The other issue is application.  The Bible refers to the manifold wisdom of the Lord, meaning that God's wisdom as many sides to it.  That means that God can take the same passage and apply to your life in order to meet a particular need you have, but He can take the same passage and apply it to my life to meet a different need that I have.   People often confuse this with interpretation.  
 
The various and sundry applications that can be made from the text in no way diminish or replace the actual interpretation of the text.  Most debates over the text of Scripture center around a misunderstanding on at least the part of one party as to what interpretation of the Bible is really all about.


You cannot derive meaning without interpreting the language used. Texts have multiple possible interpretations for the fact that the authors are not here to tell us the God inspired intent of their words. To claim that the text has only one interpretation is meaningless because we do not know the authors' meaning. Thus to say that a text has one interpretation is to say that there is only one possible interpretation, which is patently false and ignores the entire history of hermeneutics. The Jews for instance, our spiritual ancestors, have long held a four-level manner of interpretation that begins with the literal, then to higher levels such as contextual, and spiritual (ie. spiritual revelation of the meaning of the verse). And while none of the four will contradict when rightly applied, my understanding is that the higher levels inform the lower much more than the lower inform the higher. There are other similar methods of hermeneutics found throughout history, but rarely do they ever mandate one type of interpretation. Even the simple statement "I am blue" has a multiplicity of interpretations. Is all of me physically colored blue? Am I wearing blue clothing? Is part of me? Am I sad? Am I speaking as someone else who is blue? Etc.

Hermeneutics is the methodical determination of what the most probable interpretation is out of many possible interpretations. And from each interpretation, there are many different meanings that can be pulled out as you said above. The meanings coming from the most likely interpretation will in general hold more meaning because of the interpretation's higher probability of being correct. Yet hermeneutics does not simply look at the text, but also the cultural and historical context of each text. When some purport the Bible to make a scientific claim, then our knowledge of God's Creation, which comes from God Himself, must also be brought to bare on the matter.

Even the apparent genre of a text must be scrutinized through hermeneutics and appeals to God's Creation. World War Z, for example, is presented as a 100% historical account of an obviously fictitious zombie apocalypse, yet it can only be determined as such because there is no evidence of a zombie apocalypse and because it is marketed as fiction. But if it was marketed as non-fiction, would that make its story any more true? Clearly not. Even if some people believed that there really was a zombie apocalypse, would that make its story any more true? Clearly not. So just because Genesis can be read as historical on its surface and because some in the past and in the present believe it is historical, that does not make it historical. It's historical contradiction with God's Creation disallows us to take it as historical, else we will be setting God's two greatest works against each other.

In sum, to further quote Galileo, "For that reason it appears that nothing physical which sense-experience sets before our eyes, or which necessary demonstrations prove to us, ought to be called in question (much less condemned) upon the testimony of biblical passages which may have some different meaning beneath their words." When you say talk about "what the text of John 3:16 plainly says." you are talking about interpreting it literal. So unless you are being arbitrary or self-serving, you have at least some semblance of a methodology in determining that the most likely interpretation of the verse lies in a literal interpretation. Those words can be interpreted many ways, but the main question is whether it WHICH of those ways it should be interpreted and WHY.

#6
HumbleThinker

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As far as my own thoughts about this topic, and others I have seen posted,  this little voice keeps telling me that the Holy Scriptures are for all and not just those who have studied and are learned in these things.  God's Word is for the simple and the educated, and we must be confident in knowing that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth as He is the Spirit of Truth.
 
Sometimes as I am reading various posts, I get lost in what is being said.  I do not understand the terminology used, and it begins to appear that the simple minded people have no hope in seeking out the Lord if they cannot understand the means used by those who are learned and attempting to teach us.
 
Then God reminds me of those who have no bible at all, who cannot read, or those who are not learned enough to understand the means scholars use for interpretation, and it is then that I know God is able to reach us all.
 
It is very interesting to me to read the opinions and teachings of others, but most of the time I do not feel qualified to add my own thoughts and opinions.  I feel to try to do this would only show my ignorance on these matters.  Yet, I know my God, and I know He will lovingly guide those like me who sometimes get lost in all the words posted on a computer screen.
 
It is a good thing to study and the Word tells us to "Study to show thyself approved..."  2 Timothy 2:15  
 
However, in our studies, it appears to me that at times we make it seem so much more difficult that it is.
 
For myself, I pray the Holy Spirit leads me and teaches me.  I am constantly reminded that His Word is written for the uneducated and well as for those who have higher learning.
 
I once knew a woman who was considered a moron.  She was in need of constant physical care and did not have the intellect of a two year old child, yet she knew God's Word and I was amazed at this.  For me this proved one thing, that God alone was able to teach her as no one else could.  Understanding this gave me great hope in knowing that He leads me and will see to my education and understanding of His Word.
 
I close with this Scripture that speaks so dearly to my heart and gives me hope.
 
Amen!  Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
 
Shalom,
PrairWarur
Isaiah 54:13
New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 


13 “All your sons will be taught of the Lord;
And the well-being of your sons will be great."


I agree that there certainly is a lot Christians can get out of the Bible that are plain as day and can be observed when applied in one's spiritual life. And I think we will all agree here that the Bible is primarily a spiritual book inspired by God for His spiritual purposes irrespective of how much of it we think is historically accurate. But I think that the farther we get from spiritual claims about what the Bible is saying, the less certain we should be about our claims of what the Bible is saying, particularly if we are laymen in the relevant issues (ie. biblical languages, history, science, etc.). I think it's a very Christian attitude for our certainty to reflect our knowledge, yet even if we are not certain of a claim, we can still try to live it out to test its validity if it is a spiritual claim, or test a historical/scientific claim against the evidence gathered by dedicated historians and scientists, many of whom are Christian or other sort of theist.

In short, you have to pray, have a focus of maintaining a relationship with God, choose a person or people you think are trustworthy to derive knowledge about biblical languages or culture from that you cannot possible obtain on your own, and continually analyze how what these people are saying is affecting your relationship with God. If it's affect it, figure out if the problem is what they are saying or you. If it's not affecting you, figure out if this is because they aren't saying anything that should affect your relationship with God or if you have a wrong mindset is preventing you from seeing that what they are saying is having negative effects on your relationship with God. And fortunately or unfortunately, only you and God can make these determinations. From your brief words, it sounds like you understand this well.

Great verse BTW.

#7
shiloh357

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You cannot derive meaning without interpreting the language used.

 

Yep, that is what I said.  I said that meaning is tethered to the interpretation.

 

 

Texts have multiple possible interpretations for the fact that the authors are not here to tell us the God inspired intent of their words.

 

That is not true. And it shows that you don't undersand hermeneutics.  We ascertain meaning from context.  Bible interpretation uses the same rules as used in any text when we don't have the author available to us.

 

To claim that the text has only one interpretation is meaningless because we do not know the authors' meaning.

 

Not so.  Meaning is always derived from the immediate context as well as historical/cultural context.

 

Hermeneutics is the methodical determination of what the most probable interpretation is out of many possible interpretations

Yes,   Hermeneutics brings us to the interpretation of the text.  When we are engaging in exegesis, we are not interested in a myriad of possible interpretations,  We are trying to lead out THE meaning the author intends.  No one writes a text wanting to be interpreted multiple ways.  They write and communicate to be understood and to have the idea they are communicating to be understood.

 

The Jews for instance, our spiritual ancestors, have long held a four-level manner of interpretation that begins with the literal, then to higher levels such as contextual, and spiritual (ie. spiritual revelation of the meaning of the verse).

 

Yes, I am familiar with PaRDeS.  It is a mystical kabbalistic four level approach.  The kabbalists are all about "four levels" of meditation, or four universes, and all that stuff. That is not hermeneutics in the conventional sense.

 

Even the simple statement "I am blue" has a multiplicity of interpretations. Is all of me physically colored blue? Am I wearing blue clothing? Is part of me? Am I sad? Am I speaking as someone else who is blue? Etc.
 

 

Yes and that is why we employ context to understand the meaning.

 

If someone 3,000 years from now, having no understanding of N American culture finds a plaque that reads, "I love to see old glory paint the wind."   How would they, absent of any means of hermeneutics determine what that means?   Context makes all of the differnce.   The archeologists and his collegues could come up with a  multitude of "interpretations" but without the context, they would not know which one as right.  The objective of exegesis is to get which interpretation is correct.   The notion that we should be happy with any number of possibilities and they are all equally valid defies the whole point of  engaging in the process of interpretation to start with.

 

So just because Genesis can be read as historical on its surface and because some in the past and in the present believe it is historical, that does not make it historical. It's historical contradiction with God's Creation disallows us to take it as historical, else we will be setting God's two greatest works against each other.
 

 

Ah now we get to the REAL point of all of this, LOL

 

Genesis is historical because the author intends for us to take it as historical.  It is written in the style of an historical narrative.  It is historical on that basis.  Now you may doubt that it is an accurate history, but that is a separate issue.  But it is an historical narrative and any attempt by you to claim it is not an historical narrative would be unwarranted and rather laughable.   Even the staunchest atheists recognize it is as being an historical narrative even they don't believe it to be true.  



#8
HumbleThinker

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That is not true. And it shows that you don't undersand hermeneutics.  We ascertain meaning from context.  Bible interpretation uses the same rules as used in any text when we don't have the author available to us.

Which is what I said. But you seem to think that hermeneutics provides 100% certainty. It cannot. I don't see how you can claim that there is 1 definition without at least unconsciously accepting this. Just like natural science, the science of hermeneutics relies on types of logic that cannot provide 100% certainty aka proof, namely inductive and abductive reasoning. It of course utilizes some deductive reasoning as well, but only pure deductive reasoning can provide 100% certainty in terms of reasoning. But deduction has the drawback of having no necessity to represent reality, whereas induction and abduction begin with phenomena experienced in reality.
 
 

Not so.  Meaning is always derived from the immediate context as well as historical/cultural context.

And yet we can arrive at a conclusion different from the author's intent. That chance is always there. There are rather famous examples of popular songs that people wildly misinterpreted despite using the context of the lyrics. Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" and Elton John's "Philadelphia Freedom" come to mind. Further context can demonstrate that these misinterpretations are less likely relative to other interpretations, but only the author's words can dispel them completely. Funny enough though about Philadelphia Freedom, Elton John and the guy who actually wrote it don't agree on what the song is intended to mean.
 
 

Yes,   Hermeneutics brings us to the interpretation of the text.  When we are engaging in exegesis, we are not interested in a myriad of possible interpretations,  We are trying to lead out THE meaning the author intends.  No one writes a text wanting to be interpreted multiple ways.  They write and communicate to be understood and to have the idea they are communicating to be understood.

You may not be, but all the people I've read are. "The interpretation" is indeed the author's intent, but it can never be known with 100% certainty. Therefore it is essentially an ideal to strive for, knowing that the best we can do is continue to narrow down what the most supported interpretation is according the "evidence" if we wish to use that word here. The basis of hermeneutics is that the most supported interpretation by the various contexts is the most likely to be the author's intent. Yet we can never know that intent with 100% certainty, therefore we can never know that we have "the interpretation" with 100% certainty.
 
 
 

Yes, I am familiar with PaRDeS.  It is a mystical kabbalistic four level approach.  The kabbalists are all about "four levels" of meditation, or four universes, and all that stuff. That is not hermeneutics in the conventional sense.

To the best of my understanding PaRDeS, or at least the first three levels, is an accepted form of hermeneutics in mainstream rabbinical Judaism. Where the Kabbalah comes in specifically in the fourth plane, Sod, which indeed is not hermeneutics in the traditional sense. I only mentioned to give the two extremes. Blame it on Montessori training haha.
 
 

Yes and that is why we employ context to understand the meaning.
 
If someone 3,000 years from now, having no understanding of N American culture finds a plaque that reads, "I love to see old glory paint the wind."   How would they, absent of any means of hermeneutics determine what that means?   Context makes all of the differnce.   The archeologists and his collegues could come up with a  multitude of "interpretations" but without the context, they would not know which one as right.  The objective of exegesis is to get which interpretation is correct.   The notion that we should be happy with any number of possibilities and they are all equally valid defies the whole point of  engaging in the process of interpretation to start with.

I think we may be misunderstanding each other. I do not think "we should be happy with any number of possibilities," but recognize that there are many possibilities with varying levels of plausibility that we must pair down using hermeneutics. I believe that mandating that one part MUST be taken literally or MUST be taken some other way betrays this method. And again, just as in natural sciences, we can never by 100% certain that our interpretation is correct. As Thomas Aquinas said, "[s]ince Holy Scripture can be explained in a multiplicity of senses, one should adhere to a particular explanation only in such measure as to be ready to abandon it if it be proved with certainty to be false, lest Holy Scripture be exposed to the ridicule of unbelievers, and obstacles be placed to their believing."
 
 

Ah now we get to the REAL point of all of this, LOL

Well it is the most obvious example, so I thought it would make sense to jump into it from the start.
 
 

Genesis is historical because the author intends for us to take it as historical.

You cannot say that with 100% certainty.
 
 

It is written in the style of an historical narrative.

So are any number of other myths that we do not accept as well as historical fiction. Taking it literally simply because it is written in the style of an historical narrative excludes many other possibilities such as God giving to Moses that which the Hebrews could understand so as not to cloud the spiritual message and that later groups that could actually study the makeup of the earth and the universe were under no obligation to see this as historical to get at the spiritual message. The Bible is a spiritual book for the purpose of saving souls and bringing men to God, so I think it proper hermenutics to always couch our interpretations in the spiritual. This also avoids forcing a contradiction with both the history and science that God's Creation reveals to us, for Creation is as much a context as anything else. One of my assumptions is that God's Creation and Word will never conflict when both are properly understood. And for Genesis, the only way for them to not contradict is to understand that Genesis as a spiritual narrative couched in the historical style that reflects the unscientific cosmology of the times. The fact that it largely mirrors the Babylonian creation myth (but differs at key points) and that it reflects the cosmology of that area at the time Genesis is purported to have been written would support this position. I find these contexts outweighing contexts you can bring to the table that can be used to support the opposing viewpoint.

To add to this a quote by John Calvin in his commentary on Genesis 1 (I believe verse 16):
“Moses wrote in a popular style things which without
instruction, all ordinary persons, endued with common sense, are able to
understand; but astronomers investigate with great labour whatever the
sagacity of the human mind can comprehend. Nevertheless, this study is
not to be reprobated, nor this science to be condemned, because some
frantic persons are wont boldly to reject whatever is unknown to them...Nor did Moses truly wish to withdraw us from this pursuit in omitting such things as are peculiar to the art; but because he was ordained a teacher as well of the unlearned and rude as of the learned, he could not otherwise fulfill his office than by descending to this grosser method of instruction.”"

Sorry if this got too long. A lot of it is repetitious, so I'm sure there is a lot there you can condense.

Edited by HumbleThinker, 07 December 2013 - 03:29 PM.


#9
shiloh357

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Which is what I said. But you seem to think that hermeneutics provides 100% certainty.

Exegesis would be pointless if we cannot ascertain with certainty the interpretation of the text.  And frankly, I don't recognize you as an authority on the subject.  The problem here is that you need for the Bible to unreliable. That's why you are trying to muddy the water where hermeneutics are concerned.

 

Exegesis is the process whereby we employ the rules of hermeneutics to arrive at the correct interpretation of the text.  It is an objective process that relies on objective, impartial rules that work with any given genre.  In fact, people use them every day. It's why we don't read the newspaper the way we read a fictional novel.  We naturally adjust our way of thinking to match the intent of the author.  Exegesis is simply a refinement of everyday thinking.  To say we can't know with complete certainty the intent of the author is simply not true.  We intuitively know how an author means to be understood in other texts on a daily basis.  Otherwise, coherent communication would be impossible.

 

You have an agenda.  You are on a campaign to prove that Genesis 1 cannot be trusted as accurate or true.   So you nothing you have to say about how to interpret that Bible is meaningful, substantive, or important.   Exegesis is objective, but you are not objective.   You are trying to mold the Bible to fit around the parts of it you are prepared to accept as true.

 

Quote

Genesis is historical because the author intends for us to take it as historical.

You cannot say that with 100% certainty.
 

 

Of course I can.  The author has written in the style of an historical narrative to say otherwise is absurd.   There is no evidence to say otherwise.   You may not accept it as a true history, but it is an historical narrative, nonetheless.

 

So are any number of other myths that we do not accept as well as historical fiction.

 

Wrong again.   Historical fiction is far away different than an historical narrative. Historical narratives relate real people, and real events.  It is tells you who did what, wo said what and what events transpired.  Historical fiction, on the other hand,  seeks to make the reader or the viewer part of the story.  It weaves a fictional tale against the back drop history.  In historical fiction the author wants you to feel as if you are having the same experience as the characters, that you are feeling what they feel.  

 

A good comparison would be something like a historical documentary on the story of the Titanic vs. the movie, "Titanic."   The documentary simply relates the facts of history as they happened.  The movie, "Titanic,"  is a tragic love story and it captivated audiences in an amazing way.  I knew people who saw the movie 5 or 6 times because it was so emotionally intense. They identified with the fictional characters as the historical backdrop of the sinking of the ship was taking place around the two main characters.

 

So you really cannot compare history narratives with historical fiction and say they are the same.  They are demonstrably not the same.

 

The Bible is a spiritual book for the purpose of saving souls and bringing men to God, so I think it proper hermenutics to always couch our interpretations in the spiritual.

 

All of the claims of Scripture are rooted in historical and geographic fact.  All of the lines of evidence are in setting of real places, real people and events many of which can be historically documented.   The stories of Jesus' miracles, while they cannot historically verified are embedded texts that were written by authors who took great pains to get the facts straight.  Much of what the Bible contains is confirmed in discoveries made by archeologists in ancient cultures that were contemporaneous with the events described in the Bible and the Bible's integrity in that matter is well established.

 

As I said earlier, your motivation for challenging the accuracy of hermeneutics lies in your need to challenge the Bible's authority relative to its claims about man's origins and the origin of our earth.   So to be honest, I don't see that you can really offer up much of in the way of anything meaningful for me to consider.  You have poisoned well already in this discussion by revealing what your real motivation is in all of this. It isn't about arrving at the truth.  It is about trying mold the Bible around your personal agenda.



#10
HumbleThinker

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Which is what I said. But you seem to think that hermeneutics provides 100% certainty.


 

Exegesis would be pointless if we cannot ascertain with certainty the interpretation of the text.



Why? Science doesn't provide us 100% certainty but you cannot argue with the results. My faith doesn't require me to hermeneutically know with 100% certainty what the correct interpretation of every spot in the Bible is, so you'll have to explain to me why yours seems to. 

 

And frankly, I don't recognize you as an authority on the subject.  The problem here is that you need for the Bible to unreliable. That's why you are trying to muddy the water where hermeneutics are concerned.



Speaking from the other thread about people getting into the minds of others...
 
 

Exegesis is the process whereby we employ the rules of hermeneutics to arrive at the correct interpretation of the text.  It is an objective process that relies on objective, impartial rules that work with any given genre.



Objective does not mean 100% reliable for the sole reason that hermeneutics was devoloped and is practiced by imperfect humans. There is no POSSIBLE way that a method developed and utilized by infallible humans can provide 100% certainty on ANYTHING. Period.

 

Of course I can.  The author has written in the style of an historical narrative to say otherwise is absurd.   There is no evidence to say otherwise.   You may not accept it as a true history, but it is an historical narrative, nonetheless.



You mean other than the part about the talking snake, flaming swords, and God's Creation testifying against its historicity? Even if you could say with 100% certainty that the author intended his audience to take Genesis literally, how do you demonstrate that we should? There are obvious universal truths that cross time, such as the Shema, but they're obvious because they are spiritual in nature and the Bible is primarily a spiritual book serving a spiritual purpose. It's not a science book, and scientific knowledge changes over time, so I see no reason to presume that any scientific claim in it, such as a flat, immobile, young earth, should not be seen only as a reflection of the beliefs of the time.
 
 

Wrong again.   Historical fiction is far away different than an historical narrative. Historical narratives relate real people, and real events.



And you determine that they are real and that those in other historical narratives of creation from other cultures are not or that the characters in historical fiction are not how?

 

All of the claims of Scripture are rooted in historical and geographic fact.  All of the lines of evidence are in setting of real places, real people and events many of which can be historically documented.   The stories of Jesus' miracles, while they cannot historically verified are embedded texts that were written by authors who took great pains to get the facts straight.  Much of what the Bible contains is confirmed in discoveries made by archeologists in ancient cultures that were contemporaneous with the events described in the Bible and the Bible's integrity in that matter is well established.



Only some parts of the Bible have historical evidence for them. Some parts being historically accurate does not make all parts historically accurate, nor do some parts being historically inaccurate make other parts historically inaccurate. For example, there is no evidence for the Jewish Exodus from Egypt, so you cannot claim that the narrative of the Exodus is historically accurate whether it actually happened or not. There is no evidence for the historiocity of the much of anything in the book of Genesis.
 
 

As I said earlier, your motivation for challenging the accuracy of hermeneutics lies in your need to challenge the Bible's authority relative to its claims about man's origins and the origin of our earth.   So to be honest, I don't see that you can really offer up much of in the way of anything meaningful for me to consider.  You have poisoned well already in this discussion by revealing what your real motivation is in all of this. It isn't about arrving at the truth.  It is about trying mold the Bible around your personal agenda.



My "agenda" if it please you to use that word is accuracy: accuracy in reflecting the relative certainty of one's position, accuracy in representing others' positions, accuracy in representing what God's Creation reveals to us, and accuracy in all things. I could care less if you accept my position, but please be accurate in representing your own. It is inaccurate to say there is 100% certainty in your position whether it is correct or not, for hermeneutics by its very design cannot provide 100% certainty. For matters of history or science, whether your position is right or now, please be accurate in representing the evidence or lack there of and what scientists/historians actually define their position to be. Joyously believe something that has no evidence for it as joyously as you believe something that does because if it is clearly important to your faith. Even if you look like the biggest idiot in the world, which I'm only saying for hyperbolic purposes, be joyous. Todd Wood is someone I respect greatly because despite holding to a belief I find completely at odds with God's Creation, a problem that is solely caused by his rigid holding to his own singular interpretation of Scripture, he admits with a free and open conscience that there is no scientific evidence for his position and that there is all the science in the world supporting evolution. So again, accuracy is the only thing that can come close to being said to be my agenda.


Edited by HumbleThinker, 08 December 2013 - 08:41 AM.


#11
shiloh357

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Why? Science doesn't provide us 100% certainty but you cannot argue with the results. My faith doesn't require me to hermeneutically know with 100% certainty what the correct interpretation of every spot in the Bible is, so you'll have to explain to me why yours seems to. 
 

 

God is all about us knowing the truth, not merely believing the truth.   You should read the New Testament and take note of the things it says we can know for 100% certainty.   God's purpose is not served by us never really being completely sure.  Truth is knowable according to Jesus and He doesn't qualify that by saying that we can know the truth up to a point.  In fact we are responsible for knowing the truth. 

 

Your faith isn't rooted in the Bible, as you have made abundantly clear, yet it is the Bible that tells us that we can trust it, because it comes from a God who cannot lie or or be in error.   I can't trust what I can't depend on 100%.

 

Speaking from the other thread about people getting into the minds of others...
 

 

Nope, I am going off what you have already revealed about your lack of faith in the Bible's unreliability and the fact that this thread is ultimately about the Bible being wrong about Genesis 1 and your silly attempt to justify putting no faith in the Bible's recollection of history.  I am not getting into your mind. You have made it very clear what you believe and I am simply working from that.

 

Objective does not mean 100% reliable for the sole reason that hermeneutics was devoloped and is practiced by imperfect humans. There is no POSSIBLE way that a method developed and utilized by infallible humans can provide 100% certainty on ANYTHING. Period.
 

 

I didn't say that is what objective meant.  I am juxtaposing objective against your subjective and selective approach to the Bible.

 

 

You mean other than the part about the talking snake, flaming swords, and God's Creation testifying against its historicity? Even if you could say with 100% certainty that the author intended his audience to take Genesis literally, how do you demonstrate that we should?

 

Okay, I will make the point again. It is a historical narrative because that is the genre of the text.  Claiming it is historical is not the same as claming it is true.  You are confusing things here.  I am making two points that are independent of each other.  Hermeneutically, it is an historical narrative.  Whether or not it is a TRUE history is a separate argument.   Hermeneutics doesn't establish the truthfulness of the text.  Hermeneutics tells me what the author intends me to take from the story.  It is clear from the text that the author intends Genesis 1-11 to understood as an historical narrative.

 

Whether or not I choose to believe the author's recollection of history opens up a completely new area of discussion.  Once we establish what the author intends, we can then discuss the truth value of the author's claims.  In this particular case, sense Genesis 1-3 occurs within the context of a supernatural environment, the presence of cheurvim with flaming swords, the serpent that spoke to Eve, are not unreasonable events.  So it really comes down to a matter of faith in God's word and whether it is reasonable to believe that the events happened as they were described?

 

Let me ask you this:  Do you believe that Adam and Eve "fell" in that when Adam ate of fruit, mankind was separated from God?  Do you believe that event to have even happened at all?  

 

 

There are obvious universal truths that cross time, such as the Shema, but they're obvious because they are spiritual in nature and the Bible is primarily a spiritual book serving a spiritual purpose. It's not a science book, and scientific knowledge changes over time, so I see no reason to presume that any scientific claim in it, such as a flat, immobile, young earth, should not be seen only as a reflection of the beliefs of the time.

The Bible makes no scientific claims.  The Bible exists pre-science. It makes observational terms, just like we do that are not scientifically accurate, but we don't accuse people of having a wrong cosmology.  It is a bit hyprocritical to hold the Bible to level of scientific precision that we don't use ourselves.

 

 

 Only some parts of the Bible have historical evidence for them. Some parts being historically accurate does not make all parts historically accurate, nor do some parts being historically inaccurate make other parts historically inaccurate. For example, there is no evidence for the Jewish Exodus from Egypt, so you cannot claim that the narrative of the Exodus is historically accurate whether it actually happened or not. There is no evidence for the historiocity of the much of anything in the book of Genesis.

 

LOL, did you get that off of some atheist website or Infidels.org?   I honestly feel like I am debating an atheist.  And by the way, you are wrong, but I think sitting here and discussing  the evidence for the Exodus like Tel Armana stele and the Mernepta stele would be wasted on someone like that is on a campaign to pretty much discredit the Bible at every turn.

 

My "agenda" if it please you to use that word is accuracy: accuracy in reflecting the relative certainty of one's position, accuracy in representing others' positions, accuracy in representing what God's Creation reveals to us, and accuracy in all things.

 

You don't care about accuracy.  You care about promoting Evolution at the expense  of  the integrity of Scripture.

 

 

It is inaccurate to say there is 100% certainty in your position whether it is correct or not, for hermeneutics by its very design cannot provide 100% certainty.

 

My faith is not in hermeneutics and I never said that there was 100% certainty in my position, per se.  I am saying that my position is based on the 100% reliability of the Word of God because it comes from a God who cannot lie and who does't err.   I can trust every word He says.  That is where my certainty lies.



#12
HumbleThinker

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God is all about us knowing the truth, not merely believing the truth.   You should read the New Testament and take note of the things it says we can know for 100% certainty.   God's purpose is not served by us never really being completely sure.  Truth is knowable according to Jesus and He doesn't qualify that by saying that we can know the truth up to a point.  In fact we are responsible for knowing the truth. 
 
Your faith isn't rooted in the Bible, as you have made abundantly clear, yet it is the Bible that tells us that we can trust it, because it comes from a God who cannot lie or or be in error.   I can't trust what I can't depend on 100%.


Two points. First, you can be 100% confident in something without 100% certainty. I would hope you are 100% confident in how you view the Bible at least on some aspects. I know I am. I would also hope you are 100% confident in at least some decisions you make in life that you cannot possibly have 100% certainty on. Having absolute confidence in our decisions is how we are able to accept the consequences of them, learn from them, and persevere through any trouble that arises from our actions. Peter, for example, had 100% confidence that he could walk across the water to Christ and was doing it until he lost confidence. The certainty that a man could walk across the water was as low then as it is now and was not affected by his confidence or lack there of. The thing that changed was his confidence in the face of uncertainty. 100% confidence and the power of God allowed him to do the miraculous; doubt caused him to fail.

As for God leading us to the truth, he sure does. But He never said we would have 100% certainty through hermeneutics. I can tell you from experience that it isn't that easy. The problem with certainty is that we fallible beings are the ones who qualify something as 100% certain. And when we do so, we often do not doubt our ability to qualify something as 100% certain, so we fail to test what we receive, allowing us to be deceived. This is a huge reason for 1 John 4:1 that extols us to "test the spirits to see whether they are from God." All knowledge comes from God, but that doesn't negate the limitations of the methods we are using. Hermeneutics is no different in that respect than natural science; that it is aimed towards Scripture doesn't negate its limitations either.
 

I didn't say that is what objective meant.  I am juxtaposing objective against your subjective and selective approach to the Bible.


Your juxtaposition is inaccurate. You are overblowing a difference of perception into a structural difference in approach. We both utilize the same methods. The only thing different are a few of our assumptions (a few of them are the same) and our perception of the certainty given the methods. If my position is subjective, then so is yours. The only difference is that you have place absolute certainty in YOUR SINGULAR interpretation of Scripture while I place relatively high certainty in mine while still recognizing the possibility of other interpretations being correct but that are much less certain in comparison. Certainty does not make something subjective nor does arbitrarily limiting one's self to a singular possibility. Objective processes have methods for the user to correct himself, but inappropriately placing 100% certainty on one's conclusions fosters hubris that gets in the way of correction.
 

Okay, I will make the point again. It is a historical narrative because that is the genre of the text.


And that it one piece of evidence in favor of taking it as historical. But as I've shown, something written in the genre of historical narrative neither means with absolute certainty that it is intended to be taken as an historical narrative, nor does it demonstrate that another audience should. People used to believe in the historical narrative of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree and other tall tales, but that doesn't mean that we should, nor does it negate the underlying point of the story.
 

Claiming it is historical is not the same as claming it is true.  You are confusing things here.  I am making two points that are independent of each other.  Hermeneutically, it is an historical narrative.  Whether or not it is a TRUE history is a separate argument.   Hermeneutics doesn't establish the truthfulness of the text.  Hermeneutics tells me what the author intends me to take from the story.  It is clear from the text that the author intends Genesis 1-11 to understood as an historical narrative.


I agree with you in as far as Genesis is predominantly written in the style of an historical narrative but that it also contains poetic aspects as well. I also agree that something can be written in the historical narrative style without being true. I would also add, which you may or may not agree with, that it also does not necessarily mean it is intended to be taken as true and/or should be taken true by all audiences even if the author intended for the original audience to take it as true.
 

Whether or not I choose to believe the author's recollection of history opens up a completely new area of discussion.  Once we establish what the author intends, we can then discuss the truth value of the author's claims.  In this particular case, sense Genesis 1-3 occurs within the context of a supernatural environment, the presence of cheurvim with flaming swords, the serpent that spoke to Eve, are not unreasonable events.  So it really comes down to a matter of faith in God's word and whether it is reasonable to believe that the events happened as they were described?


I would also add to that final question, which I think is a good one, whether it is NECESSARY to believe that the events happened as they were described. I would venture to guess that you would see this question as a slippery slope. I do not, for the simple reason that I have not found it to affect my relationship with God in the slightest. In some cases, it has even gotten unnecessary mental conceptions out of the way between myself and God.
 

Let me ask you this:  Do you believe that Adam and Eve "fell" in that when Adam ate of fruit, mankind was separated from God?  Do you believe that event to have even happened at all?

  
 
 You're not going to like this answer, but for the agenda of accuracy, I can tell you that I believe that I don't know. I believe with 100% confidence that mankind is fallen in the sense of being separated from God in a way that requires God's grace to reconcile. That is at least the spiritual truth to be grasped from the Genesis account and explicit theological statements in the Bible (ie. men needing to be called first, being saved "by grace through faith," etc.) But I see no reason to necessarily believe or disbelieve in the existence of an Adam and Eve. What is clear from our very blood that contains our life is that the entire human race could not possibly have been descended from two people ~6000 years ago. Genetics would have to have worked completely differently back then, and it's times like these that some bring in miracles of God to explain a discrepancy. Not saying you have or are going to do this, but if you are, I'm just going to point out that there is no justification for it in Scripture, that it is solely to save your own interpretation, and then I'll tune that part of the discussion out.
 
 

The Bible makes no scientific claims.  The Bible exists pre-science. It makes observational terms, just like we do that are not scientifically accurate, but we don't accuse people of having a wrong cosmology.  It is a bit hyprocritical to hold the Bible to level of scientific precision that we don't use ourselves.


I'm glad we agree on that. I know some people try to make the Bible make specific scientific claims, and then deride science for not agreeing with them, so I figured I'd get that out there in the open. But if you don't mind me taking it one step further, do you believe that the Bible, for lack of better phrasing, implies certain scientific positions such as the age of the earth, it's place in the solar system/universe, etc.? My point in asking is that given the all encompassing nature of science solely within the natural realm, anything that happens in the Bible that is not 100% miraculous and that happens in the natural universe is going to leave an effect that it occurred in the natural universe. We have never observed a natural phenomenon that did not leave at least a millisecond of evidence for its occurring, so we can be 100 confident and infinitely close to 100% certain that events in the Bible, particularly major events, would leave certain evidences that may or may nor be currently observed or may or may not be contradicted by our current observations.
 

LOL, did you get that off of some atheist website or Infidels.org?   I honestly feel like I am debating an atheist.  And by the way, you are wrong, but I think sitting here and discussing  the evidence for the Exodus like Tel Armana stele and the Mernepta stele would be wasted on someone like that is on a campaign to pretty much discredit the Bible at every turn.


See, you can be 100% confident in something that is not 100% certain (given that you are using inductive reasoning to make your conclusions) and that is flatly wrong. Thank you for demonstrating my point. What I am, again, is a Christian who wishes to be accurate just like the many MANY Christians who searched for evidence of the Exodus and came up with nothing or came up with something that they later realized did not support their position. The twists of evidence and reason I have seen made to make the Exodus seem even remotely plausible, such as aligning the Exodus with the Hyksos exodus, echo the attempts people have made for centuries to reconcile the census in Luke with both Matthew and what we know of history. So you will forgive me if I am equally skeptical.

That being said, by all means bring up Tel Armana stele and Mernepta stele. In the discussions I have had with others about the historicity of Exodus, none have brought up the former, and only one brought up the later in passing but never went anywhere with it. Though we may want to move it to another thread as our posts (mostly mine) are starting to bloat.
 

You don't care about accuracy.  You care about promoting Evolution at the expense  of  the integrity of Scripture.


And you care about promoting your interpretation over accuracy. Now, did that make you feel better to get that out of your system? And did my empty words accomplish about as much as yours?
 

My faith is not in hermeneutics and I never said that there was 100% certainty in my position, per se.  I am saying that my position is based on the 100% reliability of the Word of God because it comes from a God who cannot lie and who does't err.   I can trust every word He says.  That is where my certainty lies.


And this is your own musings. The Bible does not say that the Bible is 100% accurate, only that it serves its purpose, which it certainly does. You may need to Bible to be 100% reliable in all possible matters for your faith and to make God neither a liar or error, but don't presume that others do. That, again, is not found in the Bible. To do otherwise would be to presume the 100% certainty of your position, which will blind you to any contrary information or position, making it look like an attack either on you, the Bible, or God. My confidence 100% lies in God. I personally find no need for 100% certainty. If you do, fine. I won't try to change the way you live out your faith, and I would appreciate it if you did not try to change mine because to me your position makes God out to be a liar through His Creation completely unnecessarily.

What I will try to change or at least point out is anything you inaccurately represent because it will only serve to hurt your faith and get in the way of anything you try to do that requires you to use this inaccurate representation. It will also help me become more accurate by discussing with you. So I will point out things that by definition cannot provide 100% certainty when you present them as such. Your claims about my position being subjective and that there is only one interpretation, from my perspective, has been telling me for the last few posts that you believe that hermeneutics can lead to a 100% certain conclusion about the understanding of Scripture. But you've twice in this post shifted to talking about God in connection with truth. So do you agree that hermeneutics cannot provide 100% certain results for what "the interpretation" of Scripture is?

Edited by HumbleThinker, 08 December 2013 - 06:29 PM.


#13
Brother Paul

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Since the people who God breathed His words through, whose minds were opened to the scriptures by Jesus Christ, understood conclusion “A” absolutely soundly (the original intrerpretation)…they all (Paul, Peter, John, etc.) taught it to those they themselves trained and appointed to places of leadership, and they also taught the same conclusion they had been taught (Conclusion A)….people like Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Ignatius, and even Mark when he was sent to Alexandria all knew conclusion A because there was no other alternative conclusion. They all held all these conclusions (the same doctrine) in common no matter what Apostle trained them (this is a loud witness to the truth).

The same universally accepted conclusion A continued for generation after generation of leadership for 100s of years. Conclusion B, c, and so on, came after many centuries. Though A preceded B…now today we host the entire alphabet of conclusions...embrace the doctrinal understanding the Apostles taught that the scriptures mean.

 

Now I believe the Bible to be THE word of God and the truth upon which all our doctrines are to be based, just as the early church fathers did (shall I supply many quotes). I find their witness 100% more reliable as to how to interpret and as to what these things mean as theirs was the interpretation given them from the Apostles themselves, or from those who the Apostles themselves taught and appointed.

 

As for faulty translations that is a lark. They read the originals and direct copies of the originals in their own native tongue. This reality can hardly be compared to the hodge-podge of differing versions we now must bear. What I found fascinating is that many passages the bibles based on the so-called critical text exclude or play down are actually quoted by some of the fathers hundreds of years before these heavily edited discarded texts were found.

 

As for relying on scriptures, as I set out some time ago to capture the quotations used by the fathers I found NO doctrine or belief they espoused for 200 years (and more) not founded therein. For example, in Iranaeus Against Heresies, for this purpose only just having finished book four , I have over 12 pages of NT quotations from Mat, Mk, Lk, John, Acts, Rom, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Gal, Philip, Col, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, 1 Peter, James, and Rev, and I haven’t even cracked book 5…and the OT quotes are just as many…so please accept no more lies about how they allegedly did not follow, know, or rely on the scriptures for their doctrinal understandings and positions …they simply disagree with some of the more modern splinter groups and denominations on some things, but I think they got it right and we just refuse to accept what the Apostles taught them the scriptures mean.

 

Just my $,02

In His love

Paul



#14
shiloh357

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Two points. First, you can be 100% confident in something without 100% certainty.

 

When it comes to the truth of God's word, I have 100% certainty and 100% confidence because the Bible comes from a God who cannot lie and doesn't make errors.  So I have 100% certainty and 100% confidence in what He says.  I can rest on what the Bible says with full assurance of faith and no doubts or reservations. 

 

You're not going to like this answer, but for the agenda of accuracy, I can tell you that I believe that I don't know. I believe with 100% confidence that mankind is fallen in the sense of being separated from God in a way that requires God's grace to reconcile.

 

The bottom line is that you really can't bring yourself to believe what the Bible says, so you will simply sit on the fence and neither believe or disbelieve. 

 

 

As for God leading us to the truth, he sure does. But He never said we would have 100% certainty through hermeneutics.

 

Once again, I never said that hermeneutics bring certainty.  You clearly  don'tunderstand much about hermeneutics as your posts continually indicate.  Hermeneutics are not for the purpose of determining the truthfulness of the passage.  Hermeneutics only lead us to understanding the kind of text and the intent of the author, not the truthfulnes sof the author. 

 

The Bible does not say that the Bible is 100% accurate, only that it serves its purpose, which it certainly does.

 

The Bible is 100% accurate and reliable wherein it relates history and doctrine (descriptive and prescriptive scripture).  That does not rule out minor scribal errors, but the point behind inerrancy is that if the Bible says it happened, it happened. 

 

Inerrancy is rooted in the doctrine of inspiration and the character, nature of God.  The Bible is God's book.  He is the author, ulimately.  So He is responsible for everything the book contains, because the Bible says in II Tim. 3:16 that all Scripture is God breathed and in Paul's day that referred to the entire Old Testametn including Genesis 1. 

 

In addition, the Bible says that God cannot lie.  God doesn't goof or make errors with facts, so what the Bible says, coming from God must be 100% factual and true because cannot produce errors.    So when modern science and God disagree, science the product of fallible little men takes a backseat to the word of an all-knowing God who doesn't lie and can't be wrong.

 

You can blather on and on about how i can't possibly know the Bible is 100% true and correct, but the difference between you and me is that I have a real relationship with my Creator, and I know Him far better than you do and I know Him well enough that I can be 100% certain in everything He says.   You dont have that kind of assurance.  Your faith, ultimately, is in science not in God.

 

My confidence and certainty doesn't rely on hermeneutics, but in the inspired, inerrant and immutable Word of God.



#15
HumbleThinker

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When it comes to the truth of God's word, I have 100% certainty and 100% confidence because the Bible comes from a God who cannot lie and doesn't make errors.  So I have 100% certainty and 100% confidence in what He says.  I can rest on what the Bible says with full assurance of faith and no doubts or reservations.


And if that works for you, keep on doing it, though it's not something to boast about, which from my perspective is what you are doing and is what is leading you to compare our two styles of faith that are focused on the same point. Trying to compare them misses the point entirely and pretends that either of us has room to boast about our faith as if it or our salvation can be attributed to us.
 

The bottom line is that you really can't bring yourself to believe what the Bible says, so you will simply sit on the fence and neither believe or disbelieve.


I cannot bring myself to believe your interpretation of the Bible. This is what I was talking about when I said your words give the perception that you think hermeneutics gives a 100% certain interpretation. I can not imagine that one could possibly continually make the mistake of conflating their interpretation with the Bible itself if they thought otherwise. I also cannot image that one could not accept the nuances of another's position unless he thought that way. Only seeing someone else's position through your own bias lens is not a way to accurately understand or represent their position.
 

The Bible is 100% accurate and reliable wherein it relates history and doctrine (descriptive and prescriptive scripture).  That does not rule out minor scribal errors, but the point behind inerrancy is that if the Bible says it happened, it happened.


Where does the Bible say that?
 

Inerrancy is rooted in the doctrine of inspiration and the character, nature of God.  The Bible is God's book.  He is the author, ulimately.  So He is responsible for everything the book contains, because the Bible says in II Tim. 3:16 that all Scripture is God breathed and in Paul's day that referred to the entire Old Testametn including Genesis 1.


Certain forms of inerrancy are. Others aren't. I'd venture to say that most aren't. All the Bible has to do is accomplish its purpose, which is solely spiritual. And we are assured that it does this because the authors' were inspired by God, which the Bible explicitly states. Now we're Christians, so of course we ignore the circular reasoning of that argument, but that is neither here or there. The point is that all else is the musings of man who want to claim that this or that are logically required for the Bible to retain its status as "useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." Nowhere in the Bible does it say it needs to be historically or scientifically accurate to be this. My relationship with God has not been mired one bit by understanding the high probability of the Bible having multiple inaccuracies if one insists on interpreting it as needing to be understood as giving a true history in all its sections.
 

In addition, the Bible says that God cannot lie.


Indeed it does. This includes not lying through his Creation. 
 

God doesn't goof or make errors with facts, so what the Bible says, coming from God must be 100% factual and true because cannot produce errors.    So when modern science and God disagree, science the product of fallible little men takes a backseat to the word of an all-knowing God who doesn't lie and can't be wrong.


And another spot where I can see no other interpretation of your words than that you take hermeneutics to give 100% certain results. Just as science is don't by "fallible little men," hermenutics, the manner of interpreting the Bible, is done by "fallible little men." To make hermeneutics or your interpretation into God or the Bible, which is what you are doing when you equate disagreeing with your interpretation as disagreeing with God or the Bible, is wrong. It is also the same fallacy that AiG uses that implies, whether intentionally or unintentionally, that Christians or certain groups of Christians are magically infallible when interpreting Scripture.
 

You can blather on and on about how i can't possibly know the Bible is 100% true and correct, but the difference between you and me is that I have a real relationship with my Creator, and I know Him far better than you do and I know Him well enough that I can be 100% certain in everything He says.   You dont have that kind of assurance.  Your faith, ultimately, is in science not in God.


And again we are talking past each other. The Bible is true in as far as that it is never false when making a truth claim. It is certain people's interpretations of the Bible that make it make truth claims that it is not explicitly making, and these are almost exclusively scientific/historical in nature despite the fact that the Bible is a spiritual book. So if the bible is only intended to be taken by me as a reflection of the scientific or historic beliefs of a certain people at a certain time, then it's 100% faithfully portraying it. But if it is construed to intend for me to think that the Earth is 6000 years old or that the Exodus actually happened, then it is false on those points.

You statement that my faith is in science is just as inaccurate as if I said your faith was in hermeneutics. God's Creation has precedence in matters of the natural world because that is what it is designed to reveal to us. All knowledge comes from God, therefore we cannot know anything that God has not granted to us. But JUST LIKE HERMENEUTICS, God does not always poof knowledge into our brains but has ordained methods by which we can arrive at knowledge that still has Him as its source. Just like Paul planted the seed, Apollos watered it, and God caused it to grow, humans do the science and hermeneutics, and God causes knowledge to spring forth.

As Thomas Aquinas stated: "In discussing questions of this kind two rules are to be observed, as Augustine teaches. The first is, to hold to the truth of Scripture without wavering. The second is that since Holy Scripture can be explained in a multiplicity of senses, one should adhere to a particular explanation only in such measure as to be ready to abandon it if it be proved with certainty to be false, lest Holy Scripture be exposed to the ridicule of unbelievers, and obstacles be placed to their believing." If one of the greatest Christian theologians of all time can see this, it's good enough for me.

Edited by HumbleThinker, 08 December 2013 - 08:37 PM.


#16
HumbleThinker

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Since the people who God breathed His words through, whose minds were opened to the scriptures by Jesus Christ, understood conclusion “A” absolutely soundly (the original intrerpretation)…they all (Paul, Peter, John, etc.) taught it to those they themselves trained and appointed to places of leadership, and they also taught the same conclusion they had been taught (Conclusion A)….people like Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Ignatius, and even Mark when he was sent to Alexandria all knew conclusion A because there was no other alternative conclusion. They all held all these conclusions (the same doctrine) in common no matter what Apostle trained them (this is a loud witness to the truth).

The same universally accepted conclusion A continued for generation after generation of leadership for 100s of years. Conclusion B, c, and so on, came after many centuries. Though A preceded B…now today we host the entire alphabet of conclusions...embrace the doctrinal understanding the Apostles taught that the scriptures mean.
 
Now I believe the Bible to be THE word of God and the truth upon which all our doctrines are to be based, just as the early church fathers did (shall I supply many quotes). I find their witness 100% more reliable as to how to interpret and as to what these things mean as theirs was the interpretation given them from the Apostles themselves, or from those who the Apostles themselves taught and appointed.
 
As for faulty translations that is a lark. They read the originals and direct copies of the originals in their own native tongue. This reality can hardly be compared to the hodge-podge of differing versions we now must bear. What I found fascinating is that many passages the bibles based on the so-called critical text exclude or play down are actually quoted by some of the fathers hundreds of years before these heavily edited discarded texts were found.
 
As for relying on scriptures, as I set out some time ago to capture the quotations used by the fathers I found NO doctrine or belief they espoused for 200 years (and more) not founded therein. For example, in Iranaeus Against Heresies, for this purpose only just having finished book four , I have over 12 pages of NT quotations from Mat, Mk, Lk, John, Acts, Rom, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Gal, Philip, Col, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, 1 Peter, James, and Rev, and I haven’t even cracked book 5…and the OT quotes are just as many…so please accept no more lies about how they allegedly did not follow, know, or rely on the scriptures for their doctrinal understandings and positions …they simply disagree with some of the more modern splinter groups and denominations on some things, but I think they got it right and we just refuse to accept what the Apostles taught them the scriptures mean.
 
Just my $,02
In His love
Paul


I agree with you that "the interpretation" that we look for when interpreting the Bible is the author's intent, who, because they were inspired, we can be sure was also God's intent. And because God's intentions are spiritual, Jesus came to make fishers of men after all, we know that the Bible is a spiritual book and that the author's intents were spiritual. Now those who directly talked with or even were taught by the author's of the books of the Bible almost assuredly can be said to have been given their intent, though I'm not confident enough to say that they gave the intent of all possible verses in their writings but I guess it is certainly possible.

My only nuance on that would be that there are secondary intents applied to the original audience that we cannot be sure is the same intent God had in mind for us. It's purely my way of poorly articulating what I see in Scripture and how I think reconciles the conflicts between the literal interpretation of some parts of Scripture and reality, not something that is explicitly derived from Scripture. So instead of rambling, I'll just give you an example of what I mean from John Calvin's commentary on Genesis 1:16: "Nor did Moses truly wish to withdraw us from this pursuit in omitting such things as are peculiar to the art [of astronomy]; but because he was ordained a teacher as well of the unlearned and rude as of the learned, he could not otherwise fulfill his office than by descending to this grosser method of instruction. (emphasis mine)”

The Early Church Fathers were certainly amazing, and there is so much more of their stuff that I would love to read, but of course you know they were hardly monolithic on much of any point besides the absolute core beliefs. One of the biggest points they were monolithic on, as you said, was the absolute importance of Scripture. But even they interpreted Scripture. Their writings do not simply consist of "And John said thusly..." or "Luke taught that X verse means Y." Their writings consist of them appealing to Scripture and reason to draw out meaning. Additionally, they also saw the natural world as a revelation of God and His works, so they did not solely rely on the Bible and their learning about authorial intent from the actual authors.

Irenaeus said, ‘He is to Us in This Life Invisible and Incomprehensible, Nevertheless He is Not Unknown; Inasmuch as His Works Do Declare Him.’

Tertullian, a personal favorite of mine even though he was a total jerk: ‘He, as I suppose, who from the beginning of all things has given to man, as primary witnesses for the knowledge of Himself, nature in her (manifold) works’,

There is a long line of great Christian theologians who recognized that God's Creation is another revelation. And if we accept this and we accept that God is not a liar, then these revelations will not conflict when properly understood. The question is, when we perceive that they do (ie. on the matter of the age of the Earth), what yields? The first is obviously us since we are the most fallible kinks in the chain so to speak. But after that, how would you reconcile a perceived conflict between God's Creation and God's Scripture? Both are interpreted by fallible humans with no guarantee of infallibility when interpreting either, so how would you decide?

#17
Brother Paul

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This is a good point Humble. I usually only go to them as a first authoritative witness, especially where we in modern times may hotly differ. Like in the debate over the pre-, mid, post trib, amill, positions. There are good arguments on all sides and most supporters use scripture. So I asked..."What did those taught by the Apostles teach?" I was very surprised, compared this to scriptures, and in the end of it all I changed my view. It turned out their view (and there were a couple of potential dissenters after a couple of hundred years) was totally supported by the scriptures and seemed to be agreed with universally (which indicated all their teachers taught them the same view). The scriptures actually answered the "when" and "who" questions differently, and I had previously been persuaded of a different view. They were dealing with what the scriptures say and I had been taught what they allegedly mean. So thanks...

 

Personal interpretation of scripture (which Peter warns against) depends however on one's hermeneutic principles. My first four are:

 

Pray, trusting the Holy Spirit when you study not our teachers perspectives (tough one for many)

 

"rightly dividing", which we all try our best at, includes, understanding metaphor, simile, a law versus and ordinance or general principle and so on (maybe the actual meaning of the terminology in the Hebrew or Greek)

 

another is not to add to or take away from (which is commanded in a number of places) 

 

And finally I try and explore all the word of God on a subject matter or point (because a text out of context can become a pretext...many false doctrines and even denominations have risen from hanging one's hat on one or only a few scriptures)

 

Are these some of your hermeneutic principles?

 

Thanks

 

Paul

 

Even with these tools we have some differences...



#18
shiloh357

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And if that works for you, keep on doing it, though it's not something to boast about, which from my perspective is what you are doing and is what is leading you to compare our two styles of faith that are focused on the same point. Trying to compare them misses the point entirely and pretends that either of us has room to boast about our faith as if it or our salvation can be attributed to us.
 

 

I am not boasting in my confidence or certainty.  I  am saying that my faith rests on a God who doesn't lie and who doesn't make mistakes and so I can have 100% certainty that every historical event recorded in the Bible is true and correct.   Thus I am not comparing two styles of faith.  I am comparing my complete faith in God's ability to trasnmit His word and your complete and utter lack of faith in God's ability to correctly transmit His Word to us.  You don't have a "style" of faith, because faith doesn't exist in styles or varieties.  You either have faith or you don't.  In our situation here, I have faith and you don't.  Nothing you have said up to this point would convince me that you are even a genuine follower of Jesus.  You may be religionist to some extent, but so far, as I have said before, you have presented the atheist camp's arguments like a seasoned professional. 

 

I cannot bring myself to believe your interpretation of the Bible

 

 

It isn't "my" interpretation of the Bible.   Furthermore, what is really at stake here is that you can't bring yourself to believe the biblical account as written.  The Bible says that Adam and Eve ate of a fruit that God had forbidden them, and they did so as a result of Eve being tempted and decieved by satan who took the form of a serpent in the Garden of Eden.  As a result of that sin, they were banned from the Garden so that they would not eat from the tree of life.  The way to that tree was guarded by cherubim with flaming swords.  

 

That is not an interpretation, that is the historical account that is what you dont believe.   That isn't really something that can be "interpreted."   Historical accounts are simply statements of what happened.  They are not teachings requriing insight or 'interpretation.'   Hermeneutics simply tells me what kind of literature I am reading and what the author is saying.   Hermeneutics doesn't speak to the truthfulness of what is presented.   In this case, you don't accept that this story has any real truth value, that it is nota true historical account.

 

 

This is what I was talking about when I said your words give the perception that you think hermeneutics gives a 100% certain interpretation.

 

You are confusing interpretating a text with determining the truth value of the text.   Hermeneutics tells me with 100% certainty that Genesis 1 is an historical narrative.  The chapter reads like a sequence of events just like any other historical narrative.   Hermeneutics does NOT give me 100% certainty that the story is TRUE.   The truth value I assign to the story is rooted in my faith in an all-knowing God.

 

 

The Bible is 100% accurate and reliable wherein it relates history and doctrine (descriptive and prescriptive scripture).  That does not rule out minor scribal errors, but the point behind inerrancy is that if the Bible says it happened, it happened.

Where does the Bible say that?
 

 

The Bible makes its claim of reliability on the faithfulness of God and His character.  The Bible claims to be wholly inspired by a God who is all-knowing and sinless and doesn't lie and is incapable of error.   The promises the Bible makes can be fully trusted because the God who made those promises doesn't go back on His promises.  He is unchanging, meaning that His word is just as good today as it was 3,000 years ago.  

 

 

 

 

Certain forms of inerrancy are. Others aren't. I'd venture to say that most aren't.

There are no “forms” of inerrancy.  Inerrancy comes in only one form.  You obviously don’t understand theology very well.

 

 

 

All the Bible has to do is accomplish its purpose, which is solely spiritual.

 

The purposes God has for His word are “spiritual” but that doesn’t mean they don’t impact our world and it doesn’t mean that we can divorce that purpose from what the Bible says happened in history.  The Bible’s spiritual claims are rooted in its historical claims.

 

 

 

Nowhere in the Bible does it say it needs to be historically or scientifically accurate to be this.

 

Actually the need for the Bible to be 100% error free in terms of its statements of factuality at all points is part of the doctrine of inspiration.  You really can’t claim the Bible is inspired on the one hand but then selectively limit that to the parts of the Bible you want.  You can’t claim that the Bible is inerrant in this part but the conveniently claim that it doesn’t extend to say, Genesis 1.

 

Usually, I have found that most people selectively apply the doctrine of inerrancy only to the parts of the Bible they are comfortable with accepting.   Somehow God always happens to be wrong or the Bible is wrong only in the parts of Bible that folks don’t want to believe.

 

 

 

Indeed it does. This includes not lying through his Creation. 

And He doesn’t lie through or about His creation.  He said He made it six days.  You say it isn’t true.  You are accusing God of being a liar.

 

Continued on next post



#19
shiloh357

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And another spot where I can see no other interpretation of your words than that you take hermeneutics to give 100% certain results.

Yep.  The process of exegesis would be pointless if the end result is that still can’t tell what the genre is of the text in question.  If it leaves me in the dark, then the process of literary analysis is futile. 

 

 

 

Just as science is don't by "fallible little men," hermenutics, the manner of interpreting the Bible, is done by "fallible little men."

 

The difference is that in science, you are testing for the truth value of an hypothesis.  In literary analysis we are not testing for a truth value, but simply determining what kind of text we are doing.  You really cannot compare the two, as they are completely dissimilar. 

 

And to correct you on another point…  Exegiess is the manner of interpreting the Bible.  Hermeneutics are the rules of literary analysis. We don’t “do” hermeneutics.  We “do” exegesis.   You really don’t have a clue about what you are talking about and really don’t belong in this debate until you do.

 

 

 

But if it is construed to intend for me to think that the Earth is 6000 years old or that the Exodus actually happened, then it is false on those points.

 

The Bible doesn’t give us an age, but it is certainly not 4.5 billion years old.  The Bible claims by inspiration of God that He made it six regular days.   If you disbelieve that claim,  then you are calling God a liar.   If God can’t get it straight, in Genesis 1, why should anyone trust anything else He has to say down the line.  If the first three chapters of Genesis are false then there is no reason to put faith in anything else God has to say, is there? 

 

There really is no place for you to sit on the fence here.  Either you believe the Bible or yoy don’t.  It is not a smorgasboard from which you can pick and choose according to your taste.  God is either 100% true and correct in every word, or He is not worthy of anyone’s faith.
 



#20
HumbleThinker

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This is a good point Humble. I usually only go to them as a first authoritative witness, especially where we in modern times may hotly differ. Like in the debate over the pre-, mid, post trib, amill, positions. There are good arguments on all sides and most supporters use scripture. So I asked..."What did those taught by the Apostles teach?" I was very surprised, compared this to scriptures, and in the end of it all I changed my view. It turned out their view (and there were a couple of potential dissenters after a couple of hundred years) was totally supported by the scriptures and seemed to be agreed with universally (which indicated all their teachers taught them the same view). The scriptures actually answered the "when" and "who" questions differently, and I had previously been persuaded of a different view. They were dealing with what the scriptures say and I had been taught what they allegedly mean. So thanks...
 
Personal interpretation of scripture (which Peter warns against) depends however on one's hermeneutic principles. My first four are:
 
Pray, trusting the Holy Spirit when you study not our teachers perspectives (tough one for many)
 
"rightly dividing", which we all try our best at, includes, understanding metaphor, simile, a law versus and ordinance or general principle and so on (maybe the actual meaning of the terminology in the Hebrew or Greek)
 
another is not to add to or take away from (which is commanded in a number of places) 
 
And finally I try and explore all the word of God on a subject matter or point (because a text out of context can become a pretext...many false doctrines and even denominations have risen from hanging one's hat on one or only a few scriptures)
 
Are these some of your hermeneutic principles?
 
Thanks
 
Paul
 
Even with these tools we have some differences...


Very good principles indeed. My principles are similar, though some focus on different aspects that yours. The more glaring examples of this include:


1)all our understandings must be held provisional, for hermenutics as an inductive process that, like all other inductive processes, is based on analyzing phenomena (in this case instances of words, phrases, etc. translated and in their native language both inside and outside the Bible) and then applying what we learn from these phenomena to Scripture. Nothing in this process can be known for certain, only with varying degrees of certainty. We should have confidence in our interpretations, particularly those we have a high certainty in, but we should remain accurate in our understanding that nothing coming from our works is 100% certain.

2) None of God's works, all of which reveal some aspect of Him and/or His works, will conflict when all are rightly understood. This simply derives from the Biblical principle that God is neither a liar or deceptive and is unchanging. The two most important are obviously Scripture and Creation. And despite all knowledge coming from God, since all that we know of both, save for direct revelation by God, is from fallible processes like science and hermeneutics, conflicts between the two reflect our own fallibitlies, not the fallibitlies of either work of God.

3) The Bible is a spiritual text that requires nothing of us that is not related to the spiritual purpose of God to save our soul's out of love for us so that we would not perish but have everlasting life. Everything else is superfulous. Every "inaccuracy" is simply a reflection of the beliefs of that time and/or beliefs that the people of the time required to best further God's purpose. These aspects either further and assist God's spiritual purpose, or they are irrelevant to it.

4) Language is fluid but physical phenomenon is more concrete. This is probably the most controversial and is perfectly summed up in Galileo's words but is echoed in some of the early church father's words as well. Since it will be better put by him, I'll simply repost it: "It is necessary for the Bible, in order to be accommodated to the understanding of every man, to speak many things which appear to differ from the absolute truth so far as the bare meaning of the words is concerned. But Nature, on the other hand, is inexorable and immutable; she never transgresses the laws imposed upon her, or cares a whit whether her abstruse reasons and methods of operation are understandable to men. For that reason it appears that nothing physical which sense-experience sets before our eyes, or which necessary demonstrations prove to us, ought to be called in question (much less condemned) upon the testimony of biblical passages which may have some different meaning beneath their words." Therefore, Creation takes priority in matters of science and history, all phenomenon in the natural world, which is not the Bible's primary purpose in the first place so in no way affects it.

Edited by HumbleThinker, 09 December 2013 - 08:12 PM.





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