1. Cape Town
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    03 Jul '06 13:48
    A common claim in these forums is that one particular way of interpreting the Bible is fundamentally better than another and the claimant often thinks that this should be obvious to everyone.
    I would like to show that this is not the case and the use of fancy words (like exegesis) does not in any way make one interpretation superior to another.

    Let us first ask, is it possible for someone who is not a 'true believer' to understand or interpret the Bible?
    If not, then any individual who claims to be a believer can claim that all others with contradictory claims is a not a 'true believer' or lacks the neccessary 'personal relationship' with God or some similar claim. Hence in this case all claims must be viewed as equal.
  2. Cosmos
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    03 Jul '06 13:49
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    A common claim in these forums is that one particular way of interpreting the Bible is fundamentally better than another and the claimant often thinks that this should be obvious to everyone.
    I would like to show that this is not the case and the use of fancy words (like exegesis) does not in any way make one interpretation superior to another.

    Let us ...[text shortened]... ip' with God or some similar claim. Hence in this case all claims must be viewed as equal.
    I am a non-believer, and I correctly interpret the bible to be a crock of carp.
  3. Cape Town
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    03 Jul '06 13:57
    Now lets look at the 'every word is true' claim. If every word in the Bible is true, then we must at a minimum admit that that can only be possible if some translations and interpretations are taken to be incorrect. So either the Bible contains mistakes or some translations of it contain mistakes or some interpretations contain mistakes.
    So is there any reliable way to know what those mistakes are or whether your particular interpretation is the correct one other than via 'divine inspiration' or some such method?
  4. Cape Town
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    03 Jul '06 14:02
    Now lets look at the 'divine inspiration' claim. Is the whole Bible inspired by God, and if so is its purpose to provide information to all people or just those at the time it was written. If it was written by divine inspiration then we would expect that it was written in such a way that translations and various interpretations would still have meaning today, so is it valid to claim that reading it in the origional greek or hebrew etc is more acurate than reading it in English or whatever other translation you choose? Is it important to take into consideration the cultural background of the writer?
  5. Territories Unknown
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    03 Jul '06 15:471 edit
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    A common claim in these forums is that one particular way of interpreting the Bible is fundamentally better than another and the claimant often thinks that this should be obvious to everyone.
    I would like to show that this is not the case and the use of fancy words (like exegesis) does not in any way make one interpretation superior to another.

    Let us ip' with God or some similar claim. Hence in this case all claims must be viewed as equal.
    Let's not let this thread die a lonely death. It is a worthy subject that should receive a response.

    and the claimant often thinks that this should be obvious to everyone.
    Untrue. While it is agreed that there exists a preferred method of biblical intepretation, this is not patently obvious to either neophytes or the willfully uninformed. What is or should be patently obvious to any serious student of historical documents is the necessity of exegetical study.

    is it possible for someone who is not a 'true believer' to understand or interpret the Bible?
    While the unbeliever may obtain gnosis, or basic understanding, of basic spiritual truths, those truths are limited strictly to salvation. Epignosis is only available to the believer who is in fellowship with God, via the filling of the Holy Spirit. As such, spiritual growth (and access to the same) is the monopoly of the believer.

    all others with contradictory claims is a not a 'true believer' or lacks the neccessary 'personal relationship' with God or some similar claim. Hence in this case all claims must be viewed as equal.
    While the filling of the Holy Spirit is a prerequisite to spiritual growth, said spiritual growth is Bible-dependent and thus, objectively verifiable.
  6. Territories Unknown
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    03 Jul '06 15:56
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Now lets look at the 'every word is true' claim. If every word in the Bible is true, then we must at a minimum admit that that can only be possible if some translations and interpretations are taken to be incorrect. So either the Bible contains mistakes or some translations of it contain mistakes or some interpretations contain mistakes.
    So is there any ...[text shortened]... r interpretation is the correct one other than via 'divine inspiration' or some such method?
    So either the Bible contains mistakes or some translations of it contain mistakes or some interpretations contain mistakes.
    You likely already know where I stand on this one.

    So is there any reliable way to know what those mistakes are or whether your particular interpretation is the correct one other than via 'divine inspiration' or some such method?
    Autographs are the only way. After autographs have been verified, next comes the interpretation phase. Generally speaking, Scripture interprets Scripture, but there are occasions when a word appears but once. In those situations, the context and the situation are interpreted in the light of other similar situations.

    I won't pretend that there is complete agreement on all issues spiritual. However many of the disagreements are the result of holding to tradition verses holding to the source. There are also many well-respected theologians who differ from other equally-respected theologians, even after comparing apples with apples. In cases such as these, prayer is my only tool.
  7. Territories Unknown
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    03 Jul '06 16:00
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Now lets look at the 'divine inspiration' claim. Is the whole Bible inspired by God, and if so is its purpose to provide information to all people or just those at the time it was written. If it was written by divine inspiration then we would expect that it was written in such a way that translations and various interpretations would still have meaning to ...[text shortened]... you choose? Is it important to take into consideration the cultural background of the writer?
    If it was written by divine inspiration then we would expect that it was written in such a way that translations and various interpretations would still have meaning today
    God is responsible for giving man the message. Man is responsible for proper handling.

    so is it valid to claim that reading it in the origional greek or hebrew etc is more acurate than reading it in English or whatever other translation you choose?
    I am not required to know the original languages, let alone be adept at the same. But I make damn sure that the one teaching me is an expert in those languages.

    Is it important to take into consideration the cultural background of the writer?
    Absolutely. Exegesis is imperative for studying any historical document, up to and including things written yesterday.
  8. Cape Town
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    04 Jul '06 14:17
    Originally posted by FreakyKBH
    Exegesis is imperative for studying any historical document, up to and including things written yesterday.
    However using it to study the Bible first requires the assumption that it is a 'historical document'. It assumes no divine inspiration in the transcription or translation processes the modern English versions have undergone. It also assumes that it was uniquely addressed to the people and cultures available at the times it was written.
  9. Territories Unknown
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    04 Jul '06 14:33
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    However using it to study the Bible first requires the assumption that it is a 'historical document'. It assumes no divine inspiration in the transcription or translation processes the modern English versions have undergone. It also assumes that it was uniquely addressed to the people and cultures available at the times it was written.
    However using it to study the Bible first requires the assumption that it is a 'historical document'.
    On its face, the Bible claims to be a record, and therefore is automatically qualified as an historical document. Unlike a collection of fables which is specifically complied to impart morals or to guide behavior, various parts of the Bible state its intent to declare the facts of the situation considered.

    It assumes no divine inspiration in the transcription or translation processes the modern English versions have undergone.
    Neither do I.

    It also assumes that it was uniquely addressed to the people and cultures available at the times it was written.
    Precisely why exegetical treatment is so critical to our understanding. This holds true for any item from history: all must be understood in light of the actual events, people, etc., etc..

    The preferred method employs the ICE method:
    Isagogical
    Categorical
    Exegetical

    Without the same, we know not the intended application (if any) for those living in 'current' times.
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    04 Jul '06 19:021 edit
    Whether you believe the Bible is true or not, translating it is like translating any thing else. The most important question you can ask is "What does it mean?" Does it mean the same as the original means?"

    If the answer is no, then the translation needs revised so its meaning is true & accurate to the meaning of the original. This revision can be needed even if the translation is literal. If it is literal but doesn't preserve the meaning of the original, then it’s not accurate.

    In 1 Kings 2:10 literal translations state that David slept with his fathers (ancestors), because that is what the original Hebrew literally says. But that is not what the Hebrew meant. The Hebrew is an idiom that means David died. To translate that David died is not inserting the translator's opinion or his own interpretation, and it is not a paraphrase. It’s the most accurate translation of the original text. Thus, the most important thing is the idea or understanding that is conveyed to the reader.

    One serious problem the church has is it often uses terms and words that are not naturally a part of the language of the people outside the church. Our church dialect disenfranchises those who do not understand or speak our specialized religious language. A similar case would be when we discuss chess using our chess-speak. A non-player understands the words, but doesn’t really know what we are talking about.
  11. Territories Unknown
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    07 Jul '06 15:27
    The thought occured to me, too, after reading some of the antagonists on the forum, how important humility is to the critical analysis process. With a presumption of superiority (whatever the impetus), one's understanding will be limited to topical familiarity, at best.

    "Forest for the trees" is a fitting metaphor for such self-proclaimed 'masters.'
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