Hmmm…. Well, blogs seem like a great tool for ministry, I think I’ll try to use said tool…. but where to start…. hmmm…. Well, I’m not a very emotional or sympathetic person so short life stories would come off either fake or pretentious…. I should turn to my element then – hermeneutics and exegesis (the how to and the study of the Bible). A Bible blog! Overdone, sure, but could be fun and even helpful (as long as God’s in it, that is)! But…. where to start A Bible blog? …. I know! Lots of people have problems with how to read and understand the Bible, so let’s start there!
First lesson in hermeneutics (how to read the Bible): CONTEXT! You see, context is the thing that makes that last paragraph make sense. You see if you did not pick up on the fact that I was talking to myself, that this is a blog, or that I’m writing in first person then that last paragraph was just a string of randomly placed words, easy to mistake for something it was not – like a description of two other peoples’ conversation about starting a blog. The Bible also was written by people (inspired by God) with certain presumptions of an understood context.
THE BIBLE WAS ALSO WRITTEN BY PEOPLE (inspired by God) WITH CERTAIN PRESUMPTIONS OF AN UNDERSTOOD CONTEXT.
So, let’s start with these presumptions. I would like to make the claim that everyone comes to the Bible with certain presumptions about the text, whether that its 100% true and literal (complete inerrancy is the technical term) or if they presume that its just a big fairy-tale. I do not believe it possible to put our presumptions down when reading, but I do believe we can and should accept our presumptions and critically think about how they might be influencing how we read and understand the Bible. That being said, the people writing the Bible had presumptions about who they were writing to which effected how they wrote their works to their audiences.
EVERYONE COMES TO THE BIBLE WITH CERTAIN PRESUMPTIONS ABOUT THE TEXT….
The Bible actually tells the story of a man killing his virgin daughter as part of a deal with God, the Bible also speaks of people being too righteous, also tells women not to speak in church, also says that figs are evil. People often use stuff like this out of context to make the Bible say what they want it to say, like the whole thing where Jesus tells us not to judge, well that’s….
I’m hoping to briefly show how context can completely change how some of these things are read. Let’s start with Luke 6, where Christ says not to judge. In this chapter, preceding Christ’s words on judgement, are His words on humility and loving your enemy. And right after His command not to judge, Christ states “the standard you will use will be the standard used for you.” Other places in the Bible tell the believers to judge by someone’s fruits and that if we cannot judge now then in heaven we will not be able to judge. The Bible clearly expects true Christians to be judges, but to judge in love and in humility. But we must take the passage in context of itself and in context to the rest of the Bible, in order to come to this conclusion, which is the correct conclusion.
Ecclesiastes 7 says not to be overly righteous. This is not an invitation to help us in avoiding perfection and righteousness (that would be silly, even ludicrous) but instead this is an invitation not to overdo oneself. One must understand that the author has written this work to show how all human efforts come to a fail and how life is not fair. Also, one must read the whole passage to see that the author specifically asks the one who is “righteous overmuch” why he should die before his time, thus accomplishing less righteous deeds in the end.
The story in Judges 11, where a man kills his daughter is another tricky one. The daughter even accepts her fate and throws one last party “for I am still a virgin”…. The context of this story is understood in the theme of the book. The theme of the book is how the Israelites continued to make deals with God and not take them seriously, thus why God ultimately must judge the Israelites. This father made a deal with God that if he won the war, then he would kill the first thing he saw when he returned home as a sacrifice to God…. God allowed him to do all this, for the man did not listen to God and did not take his deal seriously. God never commanded this action of the man; He simply allowed it.
There’s plenty of other examples in the Bible as well, but hopefully the point already stands. Think about hearing someone say “kiss me!” and how the context of who says it changes the idea completely…. could be a mom saying it to her child, or it could be one lover to another…. So, before you go reading or studying your Bible, remember to look up the context of what you’re reading and hopefully that’ll help us all in our understanding of God’s Word / the best and most influential piece of literature ever written!
I’ll try to post again soon on more How To Read Your Bible stuff in the next couple weeks, looking at Objects v. Subjects next! Go ahead and review that creation story for a head’s up on some of the action!
Tell me what y’all think about all this context stuff and maybe what you think the meaning of the creation story is too! Comment below!