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How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth

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Presentation on theme: "How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth"— Presentation transcript:

1 How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth
By Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart

2 Chapter 1: Introduction The Need to Interpret
Why Interpret the Bible? Just obey what it says! “Do everything without grumbling or arguing” (Php 2:14) Interpretation is not a matter of being “unique” The aim of interpretation: To get at the “plain meaning” of the text, yet this is not as simple as it may seem Requires analyzing the nature of the reader and the nature of the text The Reader as an Interpreter Readers bring their own understanding through which they interpret A modern reader’s understanding of the word “flesh” (Ro 13:14 NKJV) Biblical scholars differ regarding baptism, speaking in tongues, et al. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Appalachians, Health and Wealth gospel (3 Jn 2)

3 Chapter 1: Introduction The Need to Interpret
The Nature of Scripture The Bible is both human and divine Not just a human book like the works of Cicero and Milton Not just a list of “the sayings of Chairman God” We should see its eternal relevance and historical particularity God uses nearly all forms of human communication narrative history, genealogies, chronicles, laws of all kinds, poetry of all kinds, proverbs, prophetic oracles, riddles, drama, biographical sketches, parables, letters, sermons, and apocalypses God’s word is expressed in a particular vocabulary and conditioned by the cultural context into which it was spoken God’s word to us is first of all God’s word to the original hearers To interpret God’s word accurately requires both Exegesis (then and there) and Hermeneutics (here and now)

4 Chapter 1: Introduction The Need to Interpret
The First Task: Exegesis The careful, systematic study of Scripture to understand its original meaning This should be the first step in studying any text When consulting “experts” is necessary, choose good ones The camel going through the eye of a needle Learning to do Exegesis Read carefully and ask the right questions of the text The Historical Context Time and culture of author and readers The occasion and purpose of each Biblical book The Literary Context Understand words in their sentences, sentences in paragraphs

5 Chapter 1: Introduction The Need to Interpret
The Questions of Content Meaning of words, grammatical relationships Consulting a commentary is the last thing you should do (28) The Tools A good translation, Bible dictionary, commentary The Second Task: Hermeneutics Controlled by good Exegesis (3 Jn 2) This is the emphasis of the rest of the book

6 Chapter 2: The Basic Tool: A Good Translation
We read the Bible in English, which has been translated from Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek Translations differ, sometimes considerably in terms of meaning As an example, consider 1 Corinthians 7:36 NKJV—”If any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin” NASB/U—”If any man thinks he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin daughter” TNIV—”If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to” NEB—”If a man has a partner in celibacy and feels that he is not behaving properly toward her” Use one major translation for consistency and refer to several others for study To make the best choice we should know something of the science of translation

7 Chapter 2: The Basic Tool: A Good Translation
The Science of Translation Translators make two choices: textual (actual wording of the original text) linguistic (one’s theory of translation) The Question of Text Translators want to use the oldest, most reliable text No “original” exists for any book of the Bible What exists are thousands of copies produced by hand Not all of the copies are exactly alike Textual criticism attempts to discover the original meaning of the original text 1 Corinthians 13:3—changing one letter in the original Greek word “hardship” or “flames” KJV was translated from latter manuscripts and contains more textual variants than others The authors do not recommend the KJV or the NKJV for study The Questions of Language Original language, receptor language, and historical distance Formal equivalence, functional equivalence, free translation Theory of translation: Where does the emphasis lie?

8 Chapter 2: The Basic Tool: A Good Translation
Formal Equivalence (Literal) Functional Equivalence (Dynamic) KJV NASB RSV NKJV NASU NRSV ESV NIV NAB GNB JB TNIV NJB REB NLT FREE: NEB, LB, Message

9 Chapter 2: The Basic Tool: A Good Translation
Some Problem Areas Weights, Measures, Money Euphemisms Vocabulary Wordplays Grammar and Syntax Matters of Gender On Choosing a Translation

10 Chapter 3: The Epistles: Learning to Think Contextually
The rest of the book discusses various Biblical genres and how to interpret accordingly The Nature of the Epistles All the New Testament except the Gospels, Acts, Rev Epistles vs. Letters Six part form: writer, recipient, greeting, prayer, body, end Occasional documents, first century period Not theological treatises or summaries of Peter and Paul Task theology

11 Chapter 3: The Epistles: Learning to Think Contextually
The Historical Context What was going on that led Paul to write? How did he learn of their situation? What relationship do they have? What attitudes are reflected by him and them? Find out as much as possible about Corinth and its people (It was young, cosmopolitan, wealthy, artistic, religious) Read (aloud) the whole letter through in one sitting After reconstructing the problem and understanding the context, then make an outline of the letter based on its contents

12 Chapter 3: The Epistles: Learning to Think Contextually
Further research the precise nature or each of the problems mentioned in the letter The problem of divisions in the church (1-4) Read chapters 1-4 twice, in different versions Identify recipients and problem as precisely as possible Note especially key words and repeated phrases Discover source of conflict between Paul and philosophers and between the gospel and human wisdom The Literary Context Trace the argument in 1:10-4:21 paragraph by paragraph and summarize the logical development in sentences Paul corrects both their understanding of the gospel and of Christian leaders and points them to God himself One More Time (Applies a similar approach to Philippians 1:27-2:18) The Problem Passages

13 Chapter 4: The Epistles: The Hermeneutical Questions
How does the exegesis apply to us? This is what the hermeneutic approach tries to make clear The biggest hermeneutical challenge is to distinguish what is culturally relative and what is eternally valid Our Common Hermeneutics We do this automatically (carry my cloak; join in suffering) The Basic Rule A text cannot mean what it never could have meant to its author or his or her readers The Second Rule Whenever we share common particulars with the first-century hearers, God’s word to us is the same as his word to them The Problem of Extended Application Applications beyond what is immediate can easily become mere interpretative opinions The Problem of Particulars that Are not Comparable Discern the principle from the particulars Apply the principle to genuinely comparable situations The Problem of Cultural Relativity The Problem of Task Theology

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