I just uploaded the latest episode of the podcast. Wasn’t sure I’d get to it this weekend with all the “last minute” MEMRA stuff, but I did. I expanded my “Heiser’s Laws for Bible Study” essay into an introduction for a series on learning how to move beyond merely reading the Bible toward actual study.
I should add that this podcast series will be unique to the podcast; the material won’t appear on the blog any time soon.
I’m buzzing already, and looking forward to this series. I have a question, in light of proper bible study:
I’m reading Ehrman’s, Did Jesus Exist? He builds a strong case for the existence for Jesus and other important biblically related issues. I find it a great evangelism tool against certain skeptics that I know who are interested in truth but wary of the history surrounding christianity.
On the other hand, Ehrman takes the time to point out the inaccuracies of certain portions of the new testament and questions many of its authors. I understand what you are saying about proper exegesis and word studies vs. patterns in the text, but what can I do with some of these claims that Ehrman makes?
You’d have to read responses to Ehrman, as well as discussion of other scholars on the items he discusses. You’ll find divergence of opinion, to say the least. Just because Ehrman says it doesn’t make it so. A lot of these sorts of discussions hinge on how the issue is framed, and how one defines “inaccuracy” (we consider all sorts of things in life to be true that, if put under a microscope, would be “inaccurate” in that more stringent context — so context matters). If a little girl says “God made my baby brother,” in the ultimate philosophical context, she’s right (if you believe in a creator, regardless of which view of creationism you take). If viewed in the immediate context, she’s wrong, since we know where babies come from and how they are conceived. Context / framing is what matters.
I have listened to the first podcast and am greatly looking forward to this series. Regarding your comments about historical context I am in full agreement. The Bible was not written during the Reformation, for instance. Also, I agree that we cannot wedge Scripture into our historic theological systems. So what, then, is the correct way to read people like Luther, Calvin, Augustine, etc? They, too, have read and studied the text of Scripture and have some good things to say though I cannot accept their theological systems lock, stock, and barrel.
Reformation theologians (read: any theologians) do not present an either-or proposition. One should always do one’s own work in the text as far as one can, with the original context in view, and THEN go to theologians. They *will* have exegetical insights (the major reformers were not ignorant of biblical languages, though they were limited; most church fathers had no Hebrew at all; some of them had Greek), and their work can be judged if preceded by exegesis. In other words, read them with an informed eye, not as though they were new conduits of inspiration or inspired exegesis.
Listened to part 1 of this series this morning and enjoyed it. I had just finished reading a post on another thread (Modern Critical Thinking & 2 Tim 2:15) about how little toleration most people have when it comes to the inherent “flexibility” of the text and how it can be interpreted. Given the fact that John said “Beloved, now we are CHILDREN, ….”, and Paul even included himself when he said that “WE See in a mirror DIMLY (enigmatically?), it is amazing how little people will allow other perspectives into consideration. One area that was mentioned as an example was whether theistic evolution should be allowed as a valid explanation for creation.
After listening to this podcast, I started to wonder how we can allow a “theistic evolution” paradigm or context to be used in interpreting or explaining the biblical text when none of the biblical writers spoke from that point of view. As you said in one of your replies on the other thread, the question of evolution is a new one for us modern folk, not something the ancient writers had to deal with. Evolution was not part of the context that the biblical writers or other ancient writers had in mind when they wrote. We aren’t told how they would explain God “forming man from the dust of the ground”, but the idea of the great sea creatures or fish “mutating” into birds, then into land animals, and finally into humans doesn’t seem to be part of that.
The first creation account in Genesis has the water “bringing forth” sea life, and the earth “bringing forth” vegetation and animals, but man was not “brought forth” from either category, but “made”, although it was from the same material as the land animals. In the second creation account, the only “working material” mentioned for any of the living things in the creation account is the ground, and man is mentioned first in this order, not last. (maybe the reason that the second account has man being created first is because it is a “toledoth” and the firstborn has the right of inheritance?)
I haven’t read a lot on the subject, but after reading on one the other thread about the founder of “fundamentalism” allowing for theistic evolution, I will try to find time to read the link to his writing on the subject, and maybe others. But one reason I just thought of as I was typing this as to why “bible believers” may have a hard time with accepting evolution could be because it teaches transformation through survival and being deserving of it through “fitness”, whereas the bible teaches transformation through faith, which finds it’s ultimate test in being faced with death.
Thank You for your work in getting people involved with studying the texts and contexts.
I would agree that science isn’t the correct hermeneutic for interpreting the Bible. And that cuts both ways. A literalist creationist perspective isn’t the right hermeneutic either since, as I have blogged before, there are a number of verses that describe a non-scientific worldview. The better question is whether the message communicated by the writer (e.g., that creation was caused by some external force, and that force is God) is consistent with science. I think we all know that there are many serious scientists who are Christians and feel quite comfortable that the faith and science are compatible.