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Understanding the Bible - Part 2

posted Mar 29, 2012, 10:02 AM by Unknown user
Last week, we began a new series on how to understand & interpret the Bible. A couple of key points were the following:
  1. Few things are more important in the Christian life than being able to correctly interpret the Scriptures. 
  2. We must remember that the Bible is both a human book and a divine book. What we believe about the Bible is foundational to understanding it.  
There are two basic steps in the interpretative process.

We must first understand what the author of the Biblical text intended to say to his original readers. The word for this is exegesis, which is the science and art of discovering what a Biblical passage originally meant.

Unfortunately, this critical first step is often neglected in our rush to get to the second step, which is to try to discover what the Biblical text means to me/us today. However, it is impossible to truly know what a text means to me/us unless we first understand what it meant to the original readers. Simply put, what it MEANS must flow out of what it MEANT.

A theologian explains:

“The fundamental task of Biblical study is to understand what the docu- ments meant in their original historical setting. The only alternative is to let texts mean whatever we want them to mean, to use them as vehicles for our projections and prejudices, and to renounce the very possibility of communication across the boundaries of time and space.”

We must constantly be on our guard against the perpetual temptation of making “what a passage says to me/us” the ruling factor. The fact is: we sit UNDER Scripture, not OVER it.

Next article: How to determine what the text meant to the original hearers/readers. 

With appreciation, 
Pastor Dan
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