Interpretation of historical text and literature

(Dylan Flow Ang) #1

Hi, I would like to know how should we as christians interpret the bible, and how do we know if our interpretation is the right interpretation if all denominations and cults sincerely believe their own interpretations are right. And also, if we can’t travel back time to the era when the authors wrote the biblical books, how can we know 100% what the intended message the authors meant. Thank you.

(SeanO) #2

@Dylan_Flow_Ang That is a great question. I think there are a few points to consider when answering this question:

1 - The core message of the Bible is clear - there is nothing confusing or culturally contingent about it. Jesus came to save sinners through His death and resurrection. That is crystal clear and not subject any valid cultural reinterpretation.
2 - We can be confident that the Bible we have today is the same text penned by the original authors because we have overwhelming manuscript evidence - tens of thousands from diverse languages and continents
3 - While we do not know everything about ancient culture, we do know a fair bit. There are Christian scholars who spend their lives studying ancient culture. So we can have a good idea of what the Scriptures meant to their original audience.

One basic principle of Bible study is to ‘interpret the unclear passages in light of the clear passages’ or to simply allow the unclear passages to be unclear. Peter says that Paul’s letters are not always easy to understand and that some people distort his meaning by not emphasizing the clear parts of his message.

2 Peter 3:16 - He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

So if something is hard to understand, that is okay. That is why we have Pastors and good commentaries written by faithful scholars. And if it is still unclear to the scholars, which a few passages are, that’s okay too. That does not change the fact that the central message of the Bible is crystal clear: God has made a way for our salvation through His Son Jesus and empowers us by the Holy Spirit to live in obedience to Him as we love Him first and love others as ourselves.

Here are some resources you might find helpful. Christ grant you wisdom :slight_smile:

(Jimmy Sellers) #3

I have struggled with this very question for a number of years. I now subscribe to the position that the Bible was written for us but not to us.
To be clear scripture is God breathed and sufficient to save in it plain reading but to understand all the culturally nuances you will need other resources.
Here are a couple of resources that I found very useful.

And my latest find.