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HABAKKUK 209,ZEPHANIAH 212,HAGGAI 215,ZECHARIAH 218. MALACHI 222,A GUIDE TO GOOD BIBLE READING,A PERSONAL SEARCH FOR VERIFIABLE TRUTH. Can we know truth Where is it found Can we logically verify it Is there an ultimate authority Are. there absolutes which can guide our lives our world Is there meaning to life Why are we here Where are. we going These questions questions that all rational people contemplate have haunted the human intellect. since the beginning of time Eccl 1 13 18 3 9 11, I can remember my personal search for an integrating center for my life I became a believer in Christ at. a young age based primarily on the witness of significant others in my family As I grew to adulthood. questions about myself and my world also grew Simple cultural and religious clich s did not bring meaning. to the experiences I read about or encountered It was a time of confusion searching longing and often a. feeling of hopelessness in the face of the insensitive hard world in which I lived. Many claimed to have answers to these ultimate questions but after research and reflection I found that their. answers were based upon 1 personal philosophies 2 ancient myths 3 personal experiences or 4. psychological projections I needed some degree of verification some evidence some rationality on which to. base my worldview my integrating center my reason to live. These I found in my study of the Bible I began to search for evidence of its trustworthiness which I found. in 1 the historical reliability of the Bible from archaeology 2 the accuracy of the prophecies of the Old. Testament 3 the unity of the Bible message over the sixteen hundred years of its production and 4 the. personal testimonies of people whose lives had been permanently changed by contact with the Bible. Christianity as a unified system of faith and belief has the ability to deal with complex questions of human life. Not only did this provide a rational framework but the experiential aspect of Biblical faith brought me. emotional joy and stability, I thought that I had found the integrating center for my life the Bible It was a heady experience an. emotional release I can still remember the shock and pain when it began to dawn on me how many different. interpretations of this book were advocated sometimes even within the same churches and schools of thought. Affirming the inspiration and trustworthiness of the Bible was not the end but only the beginning How do I. verify or reject the varied and conflicting interpretations of the many difficult passages in Scripture by those who. were claiming its authority and trustworthiness, This task became my life s goal and pilgrimage of faith I knew that my faith in Christ had brought me great.
peace and joy My mind longed for some absolutes in the midst of the relativity of my culture and the. dogmatism of conflicting religious systems and denominational arrogance In my search for valid approaches. to the interpretation of ancient literature I was surprised to discover my own historical cultural denominational. and experiential biases I had often read the Bible simply to reinforce my own views I used it as a database. to attack others while affirming my own insecurities and inadequacies How painful this realization was to me. Although I can never be totally objective I can become a better reader of the Bible I can limit my biases. by identifying them and acknowledging their presence I am not yet free of them but I have confronted my own. weaknesses The interpreter is often the worst enemy of good Bible reading. Therefore let me list some of the presuppositions I bring to my study of the Bible so that you the reader. may examine them along with me, 1 I believe the Bible is the only inspired self revelation of the one true God Therefore it must be. interpreted in light of the intent of the original divine author through a human writer in a specific. historical setting, 2 I believe the Bible was written for the common man for all men God accommodated Himself to. speak to us clearly within a historical and cultural context God does not hide truth He wants us to. understand Therefore it must be interpreted in light of its day not ours The Bible cannot mean to. us what it never meant to those who first read or heard it It is understandable by the average human. mind and uses normal human communication forms and techniques. 3 I believe the Bible has a unified message and purpose It does not contradict itself though it does. contain difficult and paradoxical passages Thus the best interpreter of the Bible is the Bible itself. 4 I believe that every passage excluding prophesies has one and only one meaning based on the intent. of the original inspired author Although we can never be absolutely certain we know the original. author s intent many indicators point in its direction. a the genre literary type chosen to express the message. b the historical setting and or specific occasion that elicited the writing. c the literary context of the entire book as well as each literary unit. d the textual design outline of the literary units as they relate to the whole message. e the specific grammatical features employed to communicate the message. f the words chosen to present the message, The study of each of these areas becomes the object of our study of a passage Before I explain my. methodology for good Bible reading let me delineate some of the inappropriate methods being used today that. have caused so much diversity of interpretation and that consequently should be avoided. 1 Ignoring the literary context of the books of the Bible and using every sentence clause or even. individual words as statements of truth unrelated to the author s intent or the larger context This is. often called proof texting, 2 Ignoring the historical setting of the books of the Bible by substituting a supposed historical setting that. has little or no support from the text itself, 3 Ignoring the historical setting of the books of the Bible and reading it as the morning hometown.
newspaper written primarily to modern individual Christians. 4 Ignoring the historical setting of the books of the Bible by allegorizing the text into a. philosophical theological message totally unrelated to the first hearers and the original author s intent. 5 Ignoring the original message by substituting one s own system of theology pet doctrine or. contemporary issue unrelated to the original author s purpose and stated message This phenomenon. often follows the initial reading of the Bible as a means of establishing a speaker s authority This is. often referred to as reader response what the text means to me interpretation. At least three related components may be found in all written human communication. The The The,Written Original,Intent Text Recipients. In the past different reading techniques have focused on one of the three components But to truly. affirm the unique inspiration of the Bible a modified diagram is more appropriate. The Holy Manuscript Later,Spirit Variants Believers. The The The,Original Written Original,Intent Text Recipients. In truth all three components must be included in the interpretive process For the purpose of verification. my interpretation focuses on the first two components the original author and the text I am probably reacting. to the abuses I have observed 1 allegorizing or spiritualizing texts and 2 reader response interpretation. what it means to me Abuse may occur at each stage We must always check our motives biases techniques. and applications But how do we check them if there are no boundaries to interpretations no limits no criteria. This is where authorial intent and textual structure provide me with some criteria for limiting the scope of. possible valid interpretations, In light of these inappropriate reading techniques what are some possible approaches to good Bible reading. and interpretation which offer a degree of verification and consistency. At this point I am not discussing the unique techniques of interpreting specific genres but general. hermeneutical principles valid for all types of biblical texts A good book for genre specific approaches is How. To Read The Bible For All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart published by Zondervan. My methodology focuses initially on the reader allowing the Holy Spirit to illumine the Bible through four. personal reading cycles This makes the Spirit the reader and the text primary not secondary This also. protects the reader from being unduly influenced by commentators I have heard it said The Bible throws a. lot of light on commentaries This is not meant to be a depreciating comment about study aids but rather a plea. for an appropriate timing for their use, We must be able from the text itself to support our interpretations Five areas provide at least limited.
verification,1 historical setting,2 literary context. 3 grammatical structures syntax,4 contemporary word usage. 5 relevant parallel passages, We need to be able to provide the reasons and logic behind our interpretations The Bible is our only source. for faith and practice Sadly Christians often disagree about what it teaches or affirms. Four reading cycles are designed to provide the following interpretive insights. 1 The first reading cycle, a Read the book during one sitting Read it again in a different translation hopefully from a different. translation theory,i word for word NKJV NASB NRSV,ii dynamic equivalent TEV JB.
iii paraphrase Living Bible Amplified Bible, b Look for the central purpose of the entire writing Identify its theme. c Isolate if possible a literary unit a chapter a paragraph or a sentence which clearly expresses this. central purpose or theme,d Identify the predominant literary genre. i Old Testament,1 Hebrew narrative,2 Hebrew poetry wisdom literature psalm. 3 Hebrew prophecy prose poetry,4 Law codes,ii New Testament. 1 Narratives Gospels Acts,2 Letters epistles,3 Apocalyptic literature.
2 The second reading cycle, a Read the entire book again seeking to identify major topics or subjects. b Outline the major topics and briefly encapsulate their contents in a declarative. c Check your purpose statement and broad outline with study aids. 3 The third reading cycle, a Read the entire book again seeking to identify the historical setting and specific occasion for the. b List the historical items,i the author,ii the date. iii the recipients,iv the specific reason for writing. v aspects of the cultural setting that relate to the purpose of the writing. c Expand your outline to paragraph level for that part of the biblical book you are interpreting. Always identify and outline the literary unit This may be several chapters or paragraphs This. enables you to follow the original author s logic and textual design. d Check your historical setting by using study aids. 4 The fourth reading cycle, a Read the specific literary unit again in several translations.
b Look for literary or grammatical structures,i repeated phrases. ii repeated grammatical structures,iii contrasting concepts. c List the following items,i significant terms,ii unusual terms. iii important grammatical structures, iv particularly difficult words clauses and sentences. d Look for relevant parallel passages, i look for the clearest teaching passage on your subject using.
a systematic theology books,b reference Bibles,c concordances. ii look for a possible paradoxical pair within your subject many biblical truths are presented. in dialectical pairs many denominational conflicts come from proof texting half of a biblical. tension All of the Bible is inspired and we must seek out its complete message in order to. provide a Scriptural balance to our interpretation. iii look for parallels within the same book same author or same genre the Bible is its own best. interpreter because it has one author the Spirit, e Use study aids to check your observations of historical setting and occasion. i study Bibles,ii Bible encyclopedias handbooks and dictionaries. iii Bible introductions, iv Bible commentaries At this point in your study allow the believing community past and. present to aid and correct your personal study, At this point we turn to application You have paid the price to understand the text in its original setting.
now it must be applied to your life your culture I define biblical authority as understanding what the original. biblical author was saying to his day and applying that truth to our day. Application must follow interpretation of the original author s intent both in time and logic One cannot. apply a Bible passage to his own day until he knows what it was saying to its day A Bible passage cannot mean. what it never meant, Your detailed outline to paragraph level reading cycle 3 will be your guide Application should be made. at paragraph level not word level Words only have meaning in context clauses only have meaning in context. sentences only have meaning in context The only inspired person involved in the interpreti. My methodology focuses initially on the reader allo wing the Holy Spirit to illumine the Bible through four personal reading cycles This makes the Spirit the reader and the text primary not secondary This also protects the reader from being unduly influenced by commentators I have heard it said The Bible throws a

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