But some of the interpretations derived from it are not. There are many cults and Christian groups that use the Bible - claiming their interpretations are correct. Too often, however, the interpretations not only differ dramatically but are clearly contradictory. This does not mean that the Bible is a confusing document.
As a Protestant I cherish the NT teaching on the priesthood of believers—that each Christian has the right to his own interpretation, but also that each Christian has the responsibility to get it right.
It is full of contradictions. Welcome to our postmodern world. How does divine inspiration and human authorship affect biblical interpretation? What does a text mean? What are some general principles of interpretation? How do we interpret the Old Testament? How do we interpret the New Testament? What Does a Text Mean?
The last lesson looked at the topic of inspiration and found that the Bible is both a human book and a divine book. There are certain implications of this for biblical interpretation.
The first is that the human authors had a specific historical audience, context and purpose. These authors used their own language, writing methods, style of writing and literary form of writing.
The divine authorship of the Bible gives it its unity and the ultimate source of all interpretation is from God. The answer to this question is that a text means what the author intended it to mean. If there is only one thing you learn from this lesson this is it.
For a simple example, if you wrote a letter with some statements in it that are a little ambiguous, then what does the letter mean?
Does it mean what you intended it to mean or how the readers interpret it? Of course it means what you intended it to mean. The true meaning of a text resides in the authorial intent of the text.
This leads us to the first primary and fundamental principle of interpreting the Bible. General Principles of Biblical Interpretation Principle 1: To be able to do this some good Bible study tools are needed since we are years or more removed from the biblical authors and their context is very different than ours.
The first tool that any one should get is a good study Bible with notes that explain historical and cultural background information.
Most major Bible translations come in editions with these types of notes but by far the NET Bible with its over 60, notes surpasses them all.
Get the most extensive Study Bible that goes with the translation you use. After this, good evangelical commentaries are essential tools to study the Bible but make sure to look at a couple to get a variety of perspectives. When someone in a Bible study states what the verse means to him, we need to redirect and clarify that the meaning is what the author intended.
After that the question then is how that historical meaning applies to us today. The second principle of biblical interpretation should also be considered foundational.
Interpretations must be done in the context of the passage. What does the following mean? Consider the following sentences: Therefore, context determines meaning!
The nearest context must given the most weight in interpretation. First, there is the near context of the sentence, then the paragraph, then the section and then the book and even author.“There are hundreds of ways of interpreting the Bible--what makes you think that yours is correct?” While it is true that Christians disagree over a number of issues (e.g., the meaning of Genesis , the fulfillment of prophecy, the justifiability of war), there is far more agreement over the cardinal doctrines of Christianity than most people think.
Interpretation Of The Bible In The Life Of The Church. Exegetes may have a distinctive role in the interpretation of the Bible but they do not exercise a monopoly.
This activity within the church has aspects which go beyond the academic analysis of texts. The church, indeed, does not regard the Bible simply as a collection of historical. Bible-believing Christians generally follow a method of interpretation known as the historical-grammatical approach.
That is, we try to find the plain (literal) meaning of the words based on an understanding of the historical and cultural settings in .
"The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church" Presented by the Pontifical Biblical Commission to Pope John Paul II on April 23, (as published in Origins, January 6, ) You now have two choices for reading this document on-line. “There are hundreds of ways of interpreting the Bible--what makes you think that yours is correct?” While it is true that Christians disagree over a number of issues (e.g., the meaning of Genesis , the fulfillment of prophecy, the justifiability of war), there is far more agreement over the cardinal doctrines of Christianity than most people think.
Principle 4: Use the Bible to help interpret itself. Interpret difficult passages with clear ones. This is sometimes called the law of non-contradiction.
Because the Bible is God’s word, and God is true, the Bible will not contradict itself.