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Category Archive for: ‘Knowing Scripture’

Tools & Translations

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS There are some basic and notable differences between translations that ought to be recognized.  There are three basic approaches: 1. Formal equivalence. The first method seeks to follow the Greek (or Hebrew) text as closely as possible in a word-by-word pattern.  The strength is found in verbal accuracy. The weakness is its cumbersome and awkward literary style.  (Examples:  …

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Culture and the Bible – Part II

PRINCIPLE AND CUSTOM Unless we conclude that all of Scripture is principle and thus binding on all people of all ages, or that all Scripture is local custom with no relevance beyond its immediate historical context, we have to wrestle with some guidelines to determine the difference. Assume the extreme that everything is principle in Scripture. Jesus says, “Carry no …

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Culture and the Bible

CULTURAL CONDITIONING AND THE BIBLE An ecclesiastical controversy in the 1960s illustrates the problem of culture. In 1967 the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. adopted a new confession with the following statement concerning the Bible: The Scriptures, given under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, are nevertheless the words of men, conditioned by the language, thought forms, and literary …

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Is the Bible a Divine or Human Book?

When Herman Melville wrote his novel Redburn, he told the story of a young man who went to sea for the first time. When he left for England, Redburn’s father gave him a very old map of the city of Liverpool. After the arduous voyage, Redburn entered Liverpool confident that his father’s map would guide him through the city. But …

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Practical Rules for Interpretation: Rule 11

Rule 11  – Interpret the Scriptures with a Spirit of Humility “It’s remarkable that men should be so arrogant and secure when there are so many, indeed countless, evidences around to suggest that we ought to be humble. . . . Yet our hearts are hard as steel and pay no attention to such evidence.” – Martin Luther While we …

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Practical Rules for Interpretation: Rule 10

Rule 10  – Be Careful with Predictive Prophecy The handling of predictive prophecy is one of the most abused forms of biblical interpretation.  Interpretations range from the skeptical, naturalistic method which eliminates predictive prophecy to the wild, bizarre method that sees in every event a “clear fulfillment” of a biblical prophecy. Higher criticism has often worked on the assumption that …

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Practical Rules for Interpretation: Rules 8-9

Rule 8  – Observe the Difference between the Spirit and the Letter of the Law The reputation of the Pharisees in the New Testament is legendary.  They were scrupulous in keeping the letter of the law by ignoring the spirit of it.  There were a variety of legalists in New Testament times.   Then, and always, there are people who distort …

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Practical Rules for Interpretation: Rules 6-7

Rule 6 – Note the Presence of Parallelisms in the Bible Parallelisms are one of the fascinating characteristics of Hebrew literature.  The literary form is very common in Near Eastern language and is relatively easy to recognize. Hebrew poetry, like other poetry, often has a particular meter.  Metric form, however, is hard to preserve when translating the literature.  Parallelism is …

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Practical Rules for Interpretation: Rules 4-5

Rule 4 – The Implicit is to be Interpreted by the Explicit In language, there is a difference between things that are implicit (things that seem to be stated) and things that are explicit (things that are clearly stated) Some people make huge mistakes by making leaps from what seems to be the case in a certain verse.  For instance, …

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Practical Rules for Interpretation: Rules 1-3

Rule 1:  The Bible Is to Be Read Like Any Other Book 1.  The principle is the sensus literalis.  The Bible is uniquely inspired and infallible but grammar is still grammar.  Form of literature is still form of literature.  The Holy Spirit doesn’t inspire nouns to be changed into verbs, poetry into historical narrative, etc. 2.  There is a difference …

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