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Archive for the ‘interpretation of the bible’ Category

interpreting-the-historical-books-an-exegetical-handbook

Robert B. Chisholm Jr. Interpreting the Historical Books: An Exegetical Handbook.  Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, December 1st,  2006. 231 pp.

This book exceeded my expectation.  I really enjoyed this book on interpreting the historical narratives found in the Old Testament.  Some people might not think of hermeneutics as “fun” but this really was fun to read.  It was also helpful for me too.  I think the book was a rare combination of being meaty and yet insightful into the Scriptures that makes readers excited to want to read the Old Testament.

The book is divided into six chapters.  The first chapter focuses on what is narrative literature with the breakdown on what are the elements of narratives and interpretative principles that are conscious of them.  The second chapter is on the primary themes of the historical books while the third chapter is on the preparing for interpretation.  Chapter four is titled “interpreting narrative texts,” chapter five is “proclaiming narrative text” and chapter six is “From Text to Application: Two Samples.”

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15fgoa

This is a look at another alleged Bible contradiction from the Gospel of Luke as given by the Skeptic Annotated Bible.

Today’s question: Was Jairus’ daughter alive when Jesus was approached?

She was still alive.

And there came a man named Jairus, and he was an [l]official of the synagogue; and he fell at Jesus’ feet, and began to implore Him to come to his house; 42 for he had an [m]only daughter, about twelve years old, and she was dying. But as He went, the crowds were pressing against Him. (Luke 8:41-42)

She was already dead.

While He was saying these things to them, [m]a synagogue [n]official came and [o]bowed down before Him, and said, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay Your hand on her, and she will live.” (Matthew 9:18)

I have looked at three links by Christians responding to this “contradiction” but I wasn’t satisfied.  If we examine the passages carefully one will see that this isn’t necessarily a contradiction.  Let’s take a closer look:

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Barrick

Dr. William Barrick is an Old Testament scholar that I have been much encouraged with (If you don’t know who he is see the short biography below after the videos).  Here’s a description of this conference:

The prophetic books of the Old Testament are some of the more difficult portions of the Bible for believers to understand and apply. They are often skipped in entirety or merely skimmed through. Yet at the same time some of our favorite prophetic passage about Jesus find their place in those books. How are we to understand the prophets? What relevance do they have for contemporary Christians? These, along with other questions will be answered during this seminar. As a focus to show how the principles work in real life, the focus will be the book of Zechariah.

He spoke for a conference called “Prophets in the Life of a Believers” that focuses on prophecy at Word of Grace Church in Battle Ground, WA.  While it took place last fall it was only recently that Dr. Barrick shared this on his website.

Here’s the videos:

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question mark

I found an internet discussion surrounding a post that’s been generating some discussion and I find the post to be filled with a lot of things I want to respond to but don’t know if I have all the time to go through everything.  So I begin with a quote:

There are also times that Paul gave dated instructions in his letters, which we have to admit are not the inerrant words of God (2 Tim 4:13)!

According to this individual if one read 2 Timothy 4:13 we would have to admit that this is an example of a passage in Paul’s epistle that is not the inerrant words of God.  2 Timothy 4:13 is suppose to be an example of a passage that contradict the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.  The case is suppose to be so obvious that “we have to admit are not the inerrant words of God.”

Whenever people engage in doctrinal disputes it is imperative of Christians to think biblically and think through logically the arguments presented.  Sometimes that careful look at a verse require us to avoid rabbit trail and thus this post will narrow it’s scope only to the passage of 2 Timothy 4:13 and the examination of the logic of the immediate argument at hand.  So let’s take a prayerful closer look.

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Matthew vines

This is our third installment in which we look at the problematic precommitments that Matthew Vines has accepted prior to his research for his book God and the Gay Christian in which he argues that “Christians who affirm the full authority of Scripture can also affirm committed, monogamous same-sex relationship” (Page 3).  Here in this post I want to address Vines’ problematic pre-commitment concerning Old Testament laws.

Matthew Vines In His Own Words

On page 11-12 Vines said:

But while I’d once agreed with my parents’ view on homosexuality, I didn’t anymore.  Even before coming to terms with my sexual orientation, I had been studying the Bible’s references to same-sex behavior and discussing the issue with Christian friends.  Some of what I learned seemed to undermine the traditional interpretation of those passages.  For instance, Leviticus prohibits male same-sex relations, but it uses similar language to prohibit the eating of shellfish.  And while Paul did describe same-sex relations as ‘unnatural,’ he also wrote that for men to wear their hair long was contrary to ‘nature.’  Yet Christians no longer regard eating shellfish or men having long hair as sinful.  A more comprehensive exploration of Scripture was in order.”

Note in the above quote that even before Vines came out of the closet as being a homosexual or even before he began researching to write his book, Vines’ own view of the Old Testament has already led him to question whether the Bible prohibit same sex relations.  Although Vines admit that a “more comprehensive exploration of Scripture was in order,” already what he thinks he knows has “undermine the traditional interpretation of those passages”

Then on page 78 Vines gives us some more details of how he started to question the Old Testament laws found in Leviticus (18:22 and 20:13) that prohibits same-sex relationship:

When I was fourteen, I used that verse to ‘prove’ to a friend that gay marriage ws wrong.  Today, I realize I hardly knew anything about what I was saying–the context of that verse in Scripture, for instance, or the place of the Old Testament law for Christians.

It’s no surprise that I was at a loss when my friend responded to me with verses from Leviticus banning the eating of shellfish and wearing mixed fabrics.

Sad to say, though, that’s been the extent of many debates about the BIble and homosexuality in recent years.  One side starts by quoting Leviticus 18:22 (or 20:13, which prescribes the death penalty for males who engage in same-sex relations), and the other side counters with verses about dietary laws and bans on certain combinations of clothing.  We really need to go deeper”

Thus his interaction at the age of 14 with friends on the topic of Old Testament laws has already slanted him towards the view that the Bible does not prohibit same-sex marriage.  We definitely need to go deeper in our refutation of his pre-commitment that slants him towards affirming same-sex relationships.

The Problem with Vines’ view of Old Testament Laws

  • Vines lamented the state of debate between the two sides: “One side starts by quoting Leviticus 18:22 (or 20:13, which prescribes the death penalty for males who engage in same-sex relations), and the other side counters with verses about dietary laws and bans on certain combinations of clothing.”  Ironically this is what Vines himself does when he invokes dietary laws as a defeater to the non-affirming Christians’ interpretation of Leviticus.  He didn’t “go deeper” as he promised in the book but presented the typical gay apologists’ arguments about Old Testament laws.
  • Matthew Vines’ hermeneutics is definitely problematic.  Recall the principle that led him to think same-sex relationship is okay: “Leviticus prohibits male same-sex relations, but it uses similar language to prohibit the eating of shellfish.”  In essence, this is his hermenutical principle:  “Since X  from Leviticus is not applicable for us today, therefore Y should not be either.”
    • But just because Leviticus has laws that prohibit things that later in the New Testament it allows, does that means same-sex relationship fall under the same category of things permissible?
      • Homosexual sins is not in the same category as dietary laws.
      • Also the New Testament did not reverse the teaching of Leviticus against homosexuality, pronouncing that it is now permitted for a man to lie with another man, etc.
    • Matthew Vines’ hermentical principle that “Since X  from Leviticus is not applicable for us today, therefore Y should not be either” is dangerous.
      • Taking Vines’ hermeneutical principle towards Leviticus to its logical conclusion, is it now permitted to see the nudity of family and relatives members?  The same argument Vines use against the prohibition against homosexuality can be used by perverts to argue against Leviticus 18:6-17 (same chapter with the prohibition on male homosexual acts).  Leviticus might prohibit unclothing family members and relatives, but to use Vines’ own words Leviticus also “uses similar language to prohibit the eating of shellfish.”  Thus  shellfishes “undermine the traditional interpretation of those passages” and somehow with Vines leap of logic in the structure of his argument it must mean incestuous uncovering of nakedness is allowed today.
      •  Vines’ form of argument can be used to say it is permissible to commit children sacrifices, bestiality and incest by employing his erroneous hermeneutical principle to dismiss Leviticus 18:21, 18:22, 20:11-12 respectively.  We can go on but readers should get the point with his hermeneutics.
    • Matthew Vines is also inconsistent with his hermeneutical principle that “Since X  from Leviticus is not applicable for us today, therefore Y should not be either.”
      • Again Vines believes in “committed, monogamous same-sex relationship” (Page 3).
      • Part of that commitment means there must not be adultery, which by definition is the violation of a committed monogamous relationship.
      • If Vines is consistent with his interpretative approach it undermines the prohibition of adultery.
      • But Vines won’t go there and probably won’t accept someone who uses his argumentation to allow for adultery.  Thus, he is inconsistent with his own method.
    • Matthew Vines and others might argue that the points above does not apply in light of the New Testament relationship to the Old Testament.  This is our reply:
      • While the New Testament still prohibit adultery, etc., remember the New Testament continue to prohibit homosexual relations as well.  Of course, Vines and company will dispute that, but the Christian response can be found elsewhere in our blog and is beyond the scope of this post.
      • Going to the New Testament does not resolve Vines’ problematic hermeneutics.  That is because he himself applies this kind of argumentation to the New Testament; recall above how Vines was quoted as saying: “And while Paul did describe same-sex relations as ‘unnatural,’ he also wrote that for men to wear their hair long was contrary to ‘nature.'”  Now the problem is further compounded by bringing this interpretative strategy to the New Testament.
  • Ultimately, Vines’ basis of ethics is not the Bible if he can judge which prohibition in Scripture (Old and New Testament) should still stand and which should not.  His standard of ethics needs to be exposed and refuted.  This we have already done in part 1 of this series in which we documented and refuted his humanistic consequentialist’s ethics.

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do-not-judge.001

It seems to be the most quoted Bible verse: Do Not Judge.

Yet it is probably one of most misinterpreted verse in our life and time.

Here’s a good short video:

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Vern PoythressThere is a free PDF of a work by New Testament Scholar Vern Poythress titled “Issues in Hermeneutical Foundations: Selected articles on hermeneutics and biblical interpretation.”  It is a collection of various articles by Poythress that appeared various theological publications.

The PDF is hosted on Westminster Bookstore and available by clicking here.

(HT)

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