Bible interpretation

Nevertheless, a thoughtful person might object by asking the following question: how is it then possible that we’re stuck with so many different interpretations of the Bible? I think this is a legitimate question and I will give you my personal opinion about this problem. Let’s hope you’ll interpret me correctly.

First, it should be clear that the Bible is not a straightforward scientific textbook, but rather a coherent collection of very different types of literature, ranging from sagas and historical biographies to hymns and prophesies, written by various authors over quite a long period, rather comparable to a small library section than to one book. Moreover, it is not a work of art, in which you can perceive anything you’d like, nor a novel that unfolds in your imaginary thoughts.

Second, interpretation or hermeneutics (i.e. the scientific term) is not a game of finding the most convenient meaning behind the words. This is, however, what some people often tend to do, rather than letting the text speak for itself, they interpret it in such a way that meets their personal concerns. Consequently, different interpretations as such are mostly the result of conflicting interests, different traditions, culturally shaped thoughts, personal preferences and probably even sheer ignorance, but not the result of the ambiguity of the Biblical text or author.

Finally, as we have concluded above that objective interpretations are possible, correct interpretations of Bible passages or historical texts in general are possible too. The assumption that this is would not be true for the Bible is without any reasonable foundation. Why could we interpret each other correctly, but not a message from God? I believe we are able to understand the meaning of a Bible passage correctly for the very reason that we are able to make sense out of each other. However, this does not mean that we will always discover the correct meaning.

In fact, how can we at all approximate to the correct meaning? Perhaps, the interpretation method is flawed! Well, this is a question of methodology and let’s dig into it on the next page right away.

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COPYRIGHT © 2009 Life put in perspective by Harry Buckley. All rights reserved.

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