Presentation on theme: " The writers of Scripture were not robots; the Holy Spirit did not dictate Scripture to them, word for word. The writers chose the wording and form."— Presentation transcript:
The writers of Scripture were not robots; the Holy Spirit did not dictate Scripture to them, word for word. The writers chose the wording and form of their writing, all the while remaining true to the message of God. When reading Scripture, first and foremost, be attentive to what God reveals to us about salvation. We also need to understand the literary forms, or writing styles, of each of the Scripture writings to gain insight into the message God wants conveyed.
Understanding literary forms of Scripture can prevent misunderstanding when reading Scripture. The Bible reveals God’s will for humanity through a variety of literary forms. Literary conventions are defining features of a particular literary form, such as starting a poem containing rhyming words. We need to understand the literary conventions of the New Testament writings, especially in the apocalyptic literature, which uses many dramatic symbols to offer people hope in a time of crisis.
People think the New Testament writers reported events just as we would have if we witnessed it ourselves. However, biblical writers were not simply recording past events; rather, they sought to teach the significance of Christ to all people who read their book.
We should not turn to the Bible to answer questions of science. The inspired authors of the Bible were not scientists or reporters; their aim was to teach the truth God wanted conveyed in Scripture. We have to understand the assumptions of the writers’ times. For example, Samaritans people of “impure” Jewish faith since they mixed with Pagans; “pure” Jews hated Samaritans, hence why Jesus told the story of the “Good Samaritan.”
Another example of the Bible being misused is concerning slavery. In the Civil War, people who were pro-slavery quoted Biblical passages that spoke of slavery and how “slaves should be obedient to their master.” The purpose of such lines about slavery was to teach love of others as God loves, and compared that with social structures of the time, such as how a slave should love his master just as God calls us to love one another (and vice versa). St. Paul use the social structure of slavery to teach his audience how to love as God loves; he was not discussing the moral nature of slavery.
St. Paul recognized the Ephesians owned slaves, and as such, addressed the letter in a personal way to make his teachings understandable, much like how Jesus used parables. The author was applying the core teaching of love to the current historical and cultural setting of his day. The author remains silent about the issue of slavery as moral or immoral since that was NOT the topic he was writing about. F.Y.I. Slavery in the Bible was much different that the slavery used in America. Old Testament slavery was based on economic needs; American slavery was based on race.
The process of creating the Old Testament of the Jewish people was very similar to the process of creating the New Testament for Christians. The process began with Abraham around 1850 B.C., with the stories of the Old Testament being passed down and then written down in different books. The teachings of the Old Testament lay the foundation for what is revealed in the New Testament. “The Old Testament prepares for the New and the New Testament fulfills the Old.
Remember when we discussed the idea, “an eye for an eye,” in the Old Testament? People think God allows them to get revenge, yet in reality, when looking at the whole of Scripture, we see that “an eye for an eye” was limiting the Jewish people to punish ONLY the criminal. Love of neighbor was the basis for “an eye for an eye.” In the New Testament, Jesus calls people to a deeper love of enemy by “turning the other cheek.”
Symbolism is used throughout the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments. If we neglect the symbolic language and context of the stories, we will have a problem understanding Scripture. An example of symbolism in the Bible that is heavily overlooked is that of the symbolism of mountains. Old Testament: Moses received the 10 Commandments, or laws of God, on Mount Sinai. New Testament: Jesus further reveals God’s laws by teaching the Beatitudes. As such, a mountain is a symbol of being close to God.
To interpret Scripture with God’s purpose in mind, there are 3 principles guidelines to follow: 1. We must interpret Scripture knowing both Old and New Testament unite and point to God’s plan of salvation in Jesus Christ. 2. We must interpret Scripture in light of the Church’s Tradition, or passing down of the Good News since the time of the Apostles. 3. We must understand that all Church doctrines are based in Scripture and help us understand Scripture, which is known as the Analogy of Faith.
“Senses” of Scripture Type of Interpretation/ “Sense” Definition Literal Sense of ScriptureWhat a Scripture passage actually means based on literary form, history, and culture Spiritual Sense of Scripture o Allegorical o Moral o Anagogical What a Scripture passage symbolically means, in hindsight of Christ’s life and saving actions. This “sense” has been developed through Church Tradition. The spiritual sense, or interpretati on, of Scripture is based in the literal meaning of Scripture.
Literal Sense of Noah & Exodus State of “Death”Passage Through Water State of “New Life”
Spiritual Sense of Noah & Exodus State of “Death” by Adam and Eve disobeying God and loosing “Paradise.” Waters of Baptism State of “New Life” gained after being Baptized with water.
The literal and spiritual meanings of Noah’s Ark and Exodus are examples of Typology, or interpreting God’s word in the Old Testament as prefiguring what would be accomplished in Christ. Typology shows the deep unity between the Old and New Testaments. Other types of spiritual senses of Scripture are: Spiritual Moral, which helps us understand the underlying moral teachings of Scripture Scriptural Anagogical, which helps us apply our own lives to teachings in Scripture.
The Contextualist Approach of interpreting Scripture focuses on the context of Scripture to understand the literal and spiritual senses of the texts. Such an approach uses our knowledge of science and history to understand the literal sense of Scripture. I.e., Pontius Pilates’ fear of losing control over his area of power led to Jesus being crucified. This understanding can also lead us to understanding the spiritual meaning of such texts, such as when Jesus died, He opened the doors for all people to eternal life.
The contextualist approach places the truths of faith, history, and science together without issue. People known as Biblical exegetes are biblical scholars who interpret the meaning of Biblical texts. Their field of study is known as Biblical Exegesis, or the critical interpretation and explanation of a Biblical text. Exegetes interpret the Bible in various ways: historically, literally, spiritually, and even socioculturally, or analyzing Scripture based on societal/ cultural knowledge of the time.
Meditating and contemplating the Bible helps to create a deeper understanding of the stories. Meditation comes from the Latin word meditatio, which literally means “to chew over.” It is important to reflect on Scripture in the proper lights of literary forms, history, culture, and development to fully reveal Jesus Christ to us.