Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Bible is a Book That is Meant to be Understood

This post is the first of a ten-part series on Biblical interpretation.

The Bible is a book. This is painfully obvious. It is a book that is meant to be understood. This should also be painfully obvious.

Throughout the scriptures we read exhortations by writers for the readers and listeners to hear, listen, and pay attention. They are also told to obey. In order for those receiving the instruction to do these things, they must not only understand but be able to understand. This means that the Bible must have been written in such a way that it was/is meant to be comprehended.

In the Old Testament the Israelites are told repeatedly to follow God's law. They are blessed by God for doing so and punished when they disobey. When we look to the New Testament we see Jesus point to the importance of God's law. Christ expects those listening to him to comprehend. He answers their questions when they do not. As we move into the remainder of the New Testament we read writers (Paul, Peter, James, etc.) who have specific instructions and commands. At no point do we sense the writers being purposefully confusing. Their clear goal is to communicate.

The Old Testament originally existed in scroll form (as opposed to codex). The same is true for the New Testament. A few hundred years after Christ scrolls evolved into codices. Regardless of form, the words of the scriptures did not change. They were translated into other languages, especially during the Reformation. Despite this, the meaning did not change.

We ought not treat the Bible as if it is some form of foreign communication that has mysterious meaning. It is a book. We should treat it as such.

Authors write books to be understood. When this does not happen, readers ignore the authors. The writers of the Bible very clearly want to be understood. Their writing conveys this. It was penned in a manner that makes the meaning clear. They intend for those reading and listening to comprehend fully their message.

When we read the Bible we can understand it. We should understand it. The authors meant for this to be the case.

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