How to Read the Bible

This was a part of a bible study for understanding the gift of tongues. I think it made more sense it give this section its own spot. Here I will outline some prominent and less prominent tools for understanding scripture. This is known as hermeneutics by theologians. Hermeneutics is the the study on how we should interpret the bible.  ______________________________________________________________

Exegesis: The goal of Biblical exegesis is to explore the meaning of the original text which then leads to discovering its significance or relevance to modern times.

Historical Context: Deu 22:11, “Do not wear clothes made of both wool and linen” Israel kept mixing up with foreign idols and this command was given to help keep Israel pure for God. Another possibility is that clothes made of two material were a luxury and showed someone caring more about how they dressed than the poor. If we understand Deu 22:11 in either of these contexts then it becomes clear how it applies to us today.

General Context: an easy example is Pslam 14:1 says, “God does not exist” in context though “The fools says in his heart, God does not exist” Therefore, if you take a verse out of its immediate context it may be misunderstood.

Literary Genre: Psalm 109:9, “Let his (a wicked person) children be fatherless and his wife a widow. Let his children wander as beggars…” The book Psalms is a book of poetry thus should not be understood as prescriptive but descriptive. Prescriptive scripture is any scripture which would command you to do an action. While a descriptive passage shows how things did happen, not necessarily, what should have happened.

– Original Language: Greek for the New Testament: When Jesus said, “Love your enemy” the Greek word for love in this passage is agape which means that Jesus is commanding a godlike love for your enemies and not a friendship style love. (You can check the Greek word by using google)

Eisegesis: The opposite of exegesis (to draw out) is to do eisegesis (to draw in),  his or her own purely subjective interpretations in to the text, unsupported by the text. In other words, instead of asking “What did this passage mean to the original audience, we skip that and ask, “What does the text mean to me?” This can be good or bad. Any time we do an eisegesis we must be careful that it is still biblical. ______________________________________________

Descriptive: (it describes the situation in the passage/what happened then).

Prescriptive (prescribes what we ought to do today/what we must do now).

Ex:  Mark 16: 17-18: “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues;  they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”  This a descriptive verse. _________________________________________________________

Unity: When passage(s) is taken to advance a view it should not contradict other passage(s).  Psalm34:15 speaks of God having eyes and ears, whereas John 4:24 says God is a spirit. We can reconcile them when we recognize that in Psalm 34:15 the author is using a figure of speech and is not asserting that God has literal, physical eyes and ears. He is asserting, rather, that God watches over His people and hears their cries for help; whereas in John 4:24 Jesus is asserting that God is not a physical being, therefore, the physical location of His worshipers is not what is most important to Him.1

Explanatory Power: If a particular view can explain more of the data; passages, unity, sometimes personal experiences*, then that view should be preferred over any view that does not have as much explanatory power.

Simplicity: If the explanatory power are equivalent then the simpler view is preferred.

Clarity: Use the passages that are the most clear to give insight into unclear passages.



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