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Old 02-03-2001, 12:32 AM   #1
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Post To what degree can the Bible be understood

Because there has been some discussion relating to how understandable the Bible is in a number of other threads, I take this opportunity to dialogue about it.

As most Jewish religious literature is, there are many levels of lessons purposely built into the text. There are surface level truths. There truths discerned from a closer look. There are truths found only when careful analysis is done on a book's structure. This is besides all of the culturally bound up language that puts us at a disadvantage. There is a Jewish saying, "turn it over, turn it over, for everything is in it." The Jews constructed their scripture this way to promote piety, devotion, and rigorous study to that which they though brought life and stability. We, therefore, have as much of the Bible as we want. If God choose to wrap the words of His prophets and apostles in a garb that takes discipline to discover, that is wisdom, not foolishness.


The problem arises when we seek to place more meaning than the original authors intended. Only that which is expressly taught can be purport to be God's word, and not every bit of teaching that one supposedly teaches out of it. Inferences and extrapolations are weak standards of interpretation. Most here who come against the Bible, come against only what they have found through these means. Can our morally relative culture critique a morally standard culture that is removed by thousands of years? Discussions with others based on what the Bible is purporting, rather than what it does not, would make for much more interesting conversation.

For example: Is Jesus the Christ, Were the Jews wrong, Are the new directions Jesus took the kingdom theology of the Jews valid, What about Jesus' "new" definition of Messiah, Does Jesus qualify as the second Moses, Does He fit so neatly into OT prophecy, Was he actually raised, Did Jewish oral law deserve its condemnation, Why did He write off His generation? And those are just NT issues.

It seems that most skeptics have passed over these questions with the assumption that "of course the Christians are going to make their own scripture cohesive in doctrine" You'd be surprised. The skeptics would do well to be skeptics here rather than in history or archeology, which support the credibility of the Bible. The skeptic would find much more material here with which to work.

I realize that an evaluation of the Bible's theology does not command belief and obedience, but it does compel it to a certain degree. If we are going to disagree, let us at least disagree on what the Bible really teaches, and not on what it does not.
 
Old 02-03-2001, 11:03 AM   #2
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It seems to me, if you are going to deeply study the bible and look for these "below the surface" meanings, and metaphorical teachings, you'll just be reading your own thoughts into the text.

What use is that? I could probably do the same thing with Shakespeare.

-Nick
 
Old 02-04-2001, 07:41 AM   #3
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[This message has been edited by Chas2 (edited February 05, 2001).]
 
Old 02-04-2001, 10:38 AM   #4
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Josephus:
Because there has been some discussion relating to how understandable the Bible is in a number of other threads, I take this opportunity to dialogue about it.

As most Jewish religious literature is, there are many levels of lessons purposely built into the text. There are surface level truths. There truths discerned from a closer look. There are truths found only when careful analysis is done on a book's structure. This is besides all of the culturally bound up language that puts us at a disadvantage.


A piece of literature can teach an ethical lesson without depicting actual history. Some have said that is what the Genesis myths do. As a skeptic, I have no problem with this view.
However, problems develop when certain individuals attempt to prove that the JC Bible, from cover to cover, depicts history. Certainly, it may contain historical places, people, and, to a lesser extent, events. But, the question is this: Who gets to decide which events are historical and which are not? I think critical historians are the best scholars to determine the answer.

Josephus: There is a Jewish saying, "turn it over, turn it over, for everything is in it." The Jews constructed their scripture this way to promote piety, devotion, and rigorous study to that which they though brought life and stability. We, therefore, have as much of the Bible as we want.

True enough. People can rigorously study any piece of literature as much as they want.

Josephus: If God choose to wrap the words of His prophets and apostles in a garb that takes discipline to discover, that is wisdom, not foolishness.

I disagree completely. First of all, the JC Bible was written by and for human beings. A god had nothing to do with it. Second, the reason the JC Bible is difficult in places and absurd in others demonstrates its human composition. That is a cold hard fact; that is neither wisdom nor foolishness.


Josephus: The problem arises when we seek to place more meaning than the original authors intended.

The only way a reader can determine what the writers intended is to read the text. If the text depicts difficulties or absurdities, then the writer (or editor) bears responsibility, not the reader.

Josephus: Only that which is expressly taught can be purport to be God's word, and not every bit of teaching that one supposedly teaches out of it.

None of the JC Bible is "God's word." Every letter, word, sentence, and paragraph were written and inspired by human beings.

Josephus: Inferences and extrapolations are weak standards of interpretation. Most here who come against the Bible, come against only what they have found through these means.

The best any person can do is read the text and derive as much meaning as is possible.


Josephus: Can our morally relative culture critique a morally standard culture that is removed by thousands of years?

Maybe, maybe not. The text of the JC Bible is all readers have. Critical scholars can approximate the milieu in which the various texts were written, but interpretation should ultimately derive from the words in the Bible.

Josephus: Discussions with others based on what the Bible is purporting, rather than what it does not, would make for much more interesting conversation.

When in doubt, read what the writer wrote.

Josephus: For example: Is Jesus the Christ, Were the Jews wrong, Are the new directions Jesus took the kingdom theology of the Jews valid, What about Jesus' "new" definition of Messiah, Does Jesus qualify as the second Moses, Does He fit so neatly into OT prophecy, Was he actually raised, Did Jewish oral law deserve its condemnation, Why did He write off His generation? And those are just NT issues.

With the exception of one, all are legitimate questions. Jesus was not "raised." Dead people do not come back to life.

Josephus: It seems that most skeptics have passed over these questions with the assumption that "of course the Christians are going to make their own scripture cohesive in doctrine" You'd be surprised.

Is it possible for a Christian to argue without Christian bias? How so?

Josephus: The skeptics would do well to be skeptics here rather than in history or archeology, which support the credibility of the Bible. The skeptic would find much more material here with which to work.

The fact is this: Some places, people and events depicted in the JC Bible have been verified by historians and archeologists; however, some have not. Much of the OT is mythical; some of the NT is.

Josephus: I realize that an evaluation of the Bible's theology does not command belief and obedience, but it does compel it to a certain degree. If we are going to disagree, let us at least disagree on what the Bible really teaches, and not on what it does not.

1. The JC Bible is a collection of religious works. Contrary to what some may believe, there is no common message among them. There are numerous messages, some absurd.

2. If certain individuals state the JC Bible teaches something it does not, then it should be the right of another to challenge said statement.

 
 

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