The Christian Old Testament

I have completed two Old Testament courses at Western Seminary, altogether surveying Genesis through Song of Songs. The video lectures were done by Dr. Tim Mackie, with live seminars conducted by Dr. Josh Mathews and Dr. Chris Bruno.

Through these courses, my understanding and appreciation of the Old Testament has grown. Some Christians claim the church should “unhitch” itself from the Old Testament. Such a claim is foolish, and it reveals a profound misunderstanding of what the church is, and what the Old Testament teaches. The Old Testament is foundational to understanding the gospel and New Covenant life.

Here are some of my notes on how we should view the Old Testament:

  • 2 Timothy 3:16 says that all Scripture is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. Therefore, any difficulty we have in finding application in some parts of the Old Testament (Leviticus or Numbers, for example) is not a problem of the Old Testament Scripture; the problem is with us.
  • The entire Old Testament is about Jesus Christ.
  • When Jesus rebuked the disciples on the Emmaus road (Luke 24:25-27), the rebuke was for not believing what was already there in the Old Testament. Jesus wasn’t taking them through the Scriptures and revealing new meaning in light of his resurrection.
  • The Old Testament should be read as Christian Scripture, as opposed to strictly Jewish Scripture.
  • Old Testament does not equal Old Covenant. The Old Testament is all about the New Covenant and the anticipation for it.
  • When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, he refers to Old Testament Israelites as “our fathers” (1 Cor. 10:1). Therefore, there’s continuity between Israel and the church.
  • The Old Testament should be read how the New Testament authors read it. They saw the messianic connections.
  • New Testament authors revealed a greater significance to what the Old Testament authors wrote, but there’s continuity with the Old Testament authors’ intent. Today, the Old Testament authors would say of the New Testament writing: “that’s consistent with what I thought, but it turned out even greater than I expected!”

 

Posted in Western Seminary | Leave a comment

12 Principles of Prayer

Here are twelve principles of prayer gathered from summarizing the twelve chapters in D.A. Carson’s book, Praying With Paul. Consider these principles when practicing the spiritual discipline of prayer:

  1. Wise planning, using a system that works for you, will ensure you devote yourself to frequent and meaningful prayer (Luke 5:16).
  2. We must look for signs of grace in the lives of other Christians, and thank God for them (1 Thess. 1:3-10).
  3. We must pray for signs of grace in the lives of other Christians, to the glory of Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 1:11-12).
  4. Because we love God, we must love others and pray for them (1 John 4:19-21).
  5. Both in our praying and in our immediate, personal service, we strive to make up what is lacking in others’ faith (1 Thess. 2:17-3:13).
  6. Studying Scripture will help us identify how to pray, what to pray for, and why we should pray for these things. For example, we should pray unceasingly that others we know (and don’t know) will be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, so that they may bear fruit and please the Lord (Col. 1:9-14).
  7. Persevere in prayer by depending on God, repenting from sin, desiring forgiveness from God, accepting God’s grace, and submitting to God (Luke 18:1-8).
  8. Pray that your love (and the love of others) will increase in knowledge and insight in order to discern and do what is best in Christ, for his name’s sake (Phil. 1:9-11).
  9. As you pray, remember that God is sovereign, yet that doesn’t diminish human responsibility (Phil. 2:12-13). So plead with him!
  10. Be attentive to reports of progress of the gospel, and pray that others will know God better, and be given insight to grasp crucial truths about Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:15-23).
  11. Pray others will be given power through the Holy Spirit, so that Christ would take root, and so that they would understand the dimensions of God’s love, to the glory of God (Eph. 3:14-21).
  12. Since you have tasted the blessings of the gospel, eagerly pray for the ministry of other Christian leaders, including their safety and effectiveness, so that the gospel can continue to advance (Rom. 15:14-33).
Posted in Western Seminary | Leave a comment

Why Spiritual Disciplines?

My third course through Western Seminary was Practicing Prayer and Other Key Spiritual Disciplines, which was a study of the various biblical spiritual disciplines. The video lectures and live seminar was conducted by Dr. Rob Wiggins, with additional video lectures from Dr. Gerry Breshears and author Dennis Fuqua.

One goal of the class was to develop a theological conviction for practicing the spiritual disciplines. The most helpful view of the spiritual disciplines was to think of it as training. After all, all the Christians I admire display godly character because they train for it.

Train Yourself

Training in godliness is important. In 1 Timothy 4:7-10, Paul says:

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

When we have our hope set on the living God, we have our hope set on his promises to the believer. We believe Paul when he says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” This means if you have faith in Christ, and abide in him, you are no longer condemned and enslaved to sin, rather you have a new heart, new desires, and you are committed to righteousness. Romans 8:29 says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” We are becoming more like Jesus Christ, in whom the Spirit of God was pleased to dwell. We too have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us (Ephesians 1:13, Romans 8:9), and according to Romans 8:5, “. . . those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” Our faith in Christ which seals us with the Holy Spirit, and makes us a new creation, is the basis, power, and motivation to put our minds on things of the Spirit.

Putting our minds on things of the Spirit is training in godliness. The different ways we train in godliness is where the spiritual disciplines come in. These disciplines are the practices and habits that God uses to put our minds on things of the Spirit, and thereby transforms us. They bridge our righteous position in Christ with righteous living, so that we are new creation inside and out.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Therefore, all spiritual disciplines that we train in should come from principles, examples, and descriptions found in scripture. Brian Hedges, who wrote Christ Formed in You, considers meditation on scripture and prayer to be the two most foundational disciplines (193). I certainly agree with that, but there are other important disciplines as well, including learning, gathering to worship, discipleship, serving, giving, and fasting. There is freedom in which disciplines you practice and how you practice them.

The disciplines are difficult to practice, but the Holy Spirit will move you to do them. That’s the power of Christ. Just remember that the spiritual disciplines are the not the end goal, but rather a means to an end. The end goal is righteousness, for Christ dwells in the believer.

Posted in Western Seminary | 1 Comment

Thoughts on The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi was the highest grossing film of 2017, making over $1 billion in ticket sales worldwide. And that’s despite a mid-December release date. The highly anticipated film turned out to be a polarizing one for fans of the franchise. The director and writer of the film, Rian Johnson, took some big risks with the story set up in The Force Awakens, and Star Wars lore in general. Many didn’t like the pay off. But for me, TLJ had some layers to it which I appreciated. Unlike TFA, which was a solid but safe entry, TLJ dug deep into the characters. It made me ponder quite a bit about the human condition, which Star Wars hasn’t explored in any satisfying way since Return of the Jedi.

Star Wars has always reflected broad religious themes of good and evil, spirituality, and redemption. I think the TLJ follows suit and even ventures into some biblical themes without even knowing it. Warning: Spoilers below.

The Force Awakens in a “Nobody”

In Star Wars, it was always the force itself that determined who would have control of it’s power. One could not choose to possess the force. While there was always an undetermined number of people who had access to the force, the Star Wars narrative centered on the Skywalker family, as the force was especially strong in their line. It started with Anakin Skywalker, who was presumed to be created by the force, became a powerful Jedi, and an even more powerful Sith Lord. He had two children, Luke and Leia, with the narrative following Luke’s journey into a Jedi Knight. Leia had a son, Ben Solo, who became the powerful dark side user, Kylo Ren. When the force awakened powerfully in Rey, many speculated that she was the son of Luke, or that she had some connection to the Skywalkers.

TLJ showed us that Rey was actually just a girl from a junkyard planet, yet the force was strong in her. While the narrative will continue to follow a Skywalker (Kylo Ren/Ben Solo), our main hero is not a Skywalker at all, but still has the spirit of a true Jedi. The movie ends with the revelation that the force is awakening in others, just as it appears in who we affectionately call “Broom Kid.” Just like Rey, the force can awaken in anyone.

This reminds me of the Bible’s narrative in which God chose Abraham and made a covenant with him. God promised to make him a great nation and bless the world through him (Genesis 12:1-3). The Bible’s story centers on the decedents of Abraham, and climaxes with Jesus Christ who blessed the world as the messianic seed of Abraham. The Bible’s story concludes with the hope of the gospel, where anyone who believes in Jesus has access to the Holy Spirit, whether Jew or Gentile. The Skywalkers are like the Abrahamic line, and Rey could represent the Gentile who believes in Christ.

In TLJ, Rey feared that she had no special lineage, and thus no significant destiny. Kylo Ren tried to entice her to the dark side by telling Rey to believe her fears. He said she is indeed no one with no place in the story, but he could make her someone of significance by his side. Like a true Jedi, she wisely avoided the temptation.

We tend to believe the same lie, that we are no one and have no significance in the story of history. But the truth is that God knows us intimately (Psalm 139:1-4), and those who have faith were chosen by God before the foundation of the world to be his children (Ephesians 1:3-6). There is no reason to give in to the enticement of the sinner.

Relativism is the Path to the Dark Side

Many fans wondered if TLJ would explore a grey side of the force, where Luke embraced the dark side, as well as the light. Thankfully, TLJ maintains the mythos that the dark side of the force is to be completely resisted by the Jedi. This is closer to the Bible that consistently teaches there is no benefit from mixing darkness and light, or unrighteousness and righteousness (2 Corinthians 6:14).

TLJ does include one character who is supposed to embody a mixture of good and evil. He does whatever works for him. He represents relativism. The thief and code breaker that Finn and Rose meet on Canto Bight is DJ (which stands for Don’t Join). He says to Finn, “Good guys, bad guys, made-up words. It’s all machine partner. Live free, don’t join.” This was supposed to be a challenge to Finn who was uncommitted to the good intentions of the Resistance, and overly focused on what he cared about most—the safety of his friend Rey.

As it turns out, it wasn’t much of a challenge to Finn, and it therefore ends up being a weak plot point. Part of the problem is that there’s nothing appealing about a person who lives by relativism. One who does comes off as completely selfish, rather than enlightened. Johnson seemed to consider this when writing the DJ/Finn storyline:

Especially today, when we are bombarded by so much information and so many points of view, it’s so easy to say there are no good guys and there are no bad guys. Everything is just shades of gray. It’s seductive, because there’s some truth to it. But using that as an excuse to live selfishly is something that we all struggle against, day to day. Through DJ, Finn finds that nobody’s purely perfect or purely evil, but there are still things worth fighting for. There are things that are right and there are things that are wrong. This is not an entirely post-truth world [laughs]. There are truths that are worth standing up for. (The Art of Star Wars The Last Jedi, 143)

Johnson is right. This is not a post-truth world. It never will be. What he probably doesn’t get is that it is God who determines what is good and what is evil. If you reject that and choose any form of relativism, it will always lead to selfishness.

Not the Legend We Expected

Luke Skywalker comes across to me as a Christ-figure in TLJ. He (along with much of the fandom) expected he would rebuild the Jedi Order, which he tried to do. He was messianic in the sense of restoring the Jedi Order as ideological protectors of peace and justice in the galaxy. Luke even mentioned he had 12 followers, with one that would fail and betray him.

But in a very un-Christ-like manner, Luke contemplated murdering Ben Solo to prevent his works of evil. Everything fell apart after that moment of weakness. Ben Solo attacked Luke and destroyed the Jedi temple. Luke went into hiding on a remote island with the intention of dying there. He was more like Elijah in that sense.

Elijah fled into the wilderness wanting to die after realizing Israel would not repent of their idolatry. He saw himself as a failure, no better than the generations before him (1 Kings 19).

Elijah didn’t get to redeem himself, but Luke was able to move beyond his failure. In a Christ-like manner, Luke offers his own life for the sake of others. His final act as a Jedi would allow the remnant of the Resistance to escape the First Order and allow the rebellion to be reborn.

Luke’s portrayal in TLJ stirred up some controversy among fans. Many wanted to see Luke do exactly what he thought would be ridiculous—they wanted to see him walk out with a laser sword and take down the whole First Order. That’s the picture they had of a Jedi legend, and many couldn’t accept that the legend would die the way he did. Even Mark Hamill, who portrayed Luke, had a hard time accepting Johnson’s vision for Luke. That’s a fascinating reaction to me, as Jesus’ disciples had a similar preconception of their messiah. They expected Jesus to rule with power and restore Israel to glory. Instead, Jesus taught that he would suffer many things, die, and rise three days later. In response to this, Peter rebuked Jesus, to which Jesus responded, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Mark 8:31-33). Peter was wrong to doubt Jesus’ role as a sacrifice. I wonder if fans should be doubting Luke’s role in Johnson’s Star Wars story.

I think Star Wars: The Last Jedi can be an interesting film when you see it as a story that reflects elements of the greatest story ever told throughout the whole Bible. May the force be with you!

Posted in Film | Leave a comment

A Biblical Theology of the Sabbath

My second course through Western Seminary was Understanding Biblical Theology, which was a study of the whole story of the Bible. The video lectures and live seminar was conducted by Dr. Todd Miles with additional video lectures from Dr. Michael Lawrence.

The method of the class was to understand the overarching story that spans over the entire Bible, the covenants that provide the structure for the Bible’s story (Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and New), and trace concepts and themes as they develop along this story.

One theme I decided to explore was the Sabbath. I knew it would be challenging for me, as I don’t fully grasp how or why the Sabbath observance changes as we go from Old to New Testament. It ended up being so challenging that by the end of this assignment, I  had to consider the Christian Sabbath view, which I usually rejected. I previously held that the church doesn’t observe any Sabbath day of rest, as the Sabbath command was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and we rest from our labors by trusting in Christ. I could benefit from further study on this topic, but I am now considering the view that the church was observing the Sabbath day of rest on Sunday, instead of Saturday, for the purpose of delighting in God through reflection of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Here’s some key points from my study:

  • God participated in a proto-Sabbath in Genesis 2:2-3 by resting on the seventh day in light of the six days of the creation. It’s presumed mankind would also have enjoyed a Sabbath rest for all eternity if not for sin.
  • Israel was commanded to imitate and trust God by practicing a Sabbath day of rest in light of God’s provision of manna while they were in the wilderness (Exodus 16:22-30).
  • In Exodus 20:8-11, and Deuteronomy 5:12-15, a Sabbath day of rest was codified in the Mosaic law, and to be observed in all circumstances. Israel was to reflect on a God who creates (as he did in Genesis) and saves (as he did in Egypt).
  • In Isaiah 58:13-14, Isaiah equates honoring the Sabbath with delighting in the Lord. Thus the Old Testament pattern of Sabbath observance was to rest and delight in God in light of his mighty works. It’s embedded in the God’s moral law that would be written on the hearts of man under the New Covenant.
  • In the New Testament, Jesus clearly valued the importance of honoring the spirit of the Sabbath law (Matthew 12:12, Mark 2:27, John 5:17). This is consistent with Jesus’ teaching on any of the Ten Commandments.
  • Paul seemed to teach observing the Sabbath was no longer required (Colossians 2:16, Romans 14:1-12). It can be argued he was referring to Jewish Sabbath observance (seventh-day rest). The first century church didn’t seem to practice a seventh-day Sabbath rest. What they did do was gather and worship on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:1-2), most likely because this was the day the Lord was resurrected and appeared to his disciples. Perhaps this was the way to honor the fourth commandment under the New covenant.
  • The OT pattern of Sabbath observance included rest from work, reflection on God’s mighty works (creation, Egypt, manna), a convocation (Leviticus 23:3), singing Psalms (Psalm 92), and the reading of Holy Scripture. The NT gathering on Sundays were (and still are), frankly, the same thing, only heightened by the work of the cross.
  • The gospel of Jesus Christ did more than change the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. It ensured all believers will experience a Sabbath rest for all eternity in God’s new creation (Hebrews 4:9-10). For now though, the church shall persevere through rest and worship of the Lord on Sundays, in reflection of the resurrection.

The point of the assignment wasn’t to defend a particular view of the Sabbath, but to see how themes develop over a progressive revelation. For me, this was the smoothest way to describe the development of the Sabbath over the course of scripture.

Posted in Western Seminary | 3 Comments

An Apostolic Hermeneutic

Can we interpret the Bible like the apostles did?

This question came up in my Hermeneutics class, and in the second course I have taken, Understanding Biblical Theology. Both Dr. Patrick Schreiner and Dr. Todd Miles would answer in the affirmative. Before we get to why, let’s look at an example of how a New Testament author interpreted the Old Testament.

Take Matthew 2:14-15:

And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

This is a reference to Hosea 11:1, which says:

 When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.

In Hosea, the author is clearly thinking of Israel. In Matthew, the author says that Jesus fulfills what was written in Hosea. So Matthew takes the words of the prophet Hosea, and the historical event of the exodus, and says that it is all fulfilled in Jesus. The question is, can we do stuff like that? Can we take phrases and historical events from the Bible and say its fulfillment is in Jesus, or the consummation? Some would say no, because Matthew was an inspired author of the Bible, and we are not inspired. They would say the apostleship was a special office, and we are not apostles. Therefore, we are restricted to a historical-grammatical hermeneutic.

It’s true, we are not apostles, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a similar view of Scripture as they did. Here are some reasons why we can and should exercise a hermeneutic like the apostles:

  • Our hermeneutic has to come from the Bible. Authors of the Bible, and people in the Bible, interpreted Scripture with a Christocentric hermeneutic, rather than a strictly historical-grammatical hermeneutic. Doing the latter would be an extra-biblical practice.
  • God is the author of the whole Bible.  This means the original authors may have intended one meaning, but by divine design, there are purposes for the text, and implications from the meaning of the text, that the original authors may not have been aware of. An apostolic hermeneutic comes from a vantage point of being able to see some of the Christological fulfillments, anti-types, and allusions.
  • All of the Old Testament was about Christ. Jesus explained as much to his followers on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:27) and to the apostles (Luke 24:44-45). The work of Christ was promised throughout the Old Testament (Romans 1:1-2). Jesus is, after all, the true Israel based on the passage above (Matthew 2:14-15). It is therefore necessary to view the events of the Old Testament in relation to Christ.
  • There is more Christ in the Old Testament than the apostles explicitly reveal. Miles called Old Testament allusions to Christ “Christological Easter Eggs” and made the point that the Christological Easter Eggs we find in the New Testament, revealed by the apostles, are probably not the only ones in existence.
  • The inspired authors of Scripture weren’t necessarily given a deeper understanding of the Old Testament that we no longer have access to. Miles believes the apostles were paying attention to Jesus post-resurrection, and we see some of the fruit of that in the New Testament writings. As they interpreted the Old Testament and their contemporary events, they remembered the teachings of Jesus, and came to understand how Christ fulfilled the Old Testament texts. We may not have been face to face with Jesus on the Emmaus road, but we certainly can understand that Jesus fulfills Scripture.
  • No one is claiming that any one’s Christocentric hermeneutic is inerrant. The biblical writings that came from the apostle’s hermeneutic were inerrant. But that doesn’t mean the hermeneutic itself was inerrant. If we use their hermeneutic today, it doesn’t mean we are claiming to be inerrant or inspired. We are simply claiming to use the same kind of wisdom God historically worked through. After all, I don’t think God works through bad hermeneutics. And we do have the Holy Spirit to guide us, so by God’s grace, we can discover the full breadth of purposes of the Old Testament.

How to actually use an apostolic hermeneutic, and what guard rails should be in place, is for another discussion, and beyond the scope of what I wanted to point out in this post. I simply want to affirm the pursuit of an apostolic hermeneutic.

Posted in Western Seminary | Leave a comment

Hermeneutical Axioms

My first course through Western Seminary was Hermeneutics, which is the study of the interpretation of scripture. All of my seminary study will be based on the bible, so it makes sense to start with a solid foundation on how to interpret it. The video lectures were conducted by Dr. Todd Miles, with a live seminar with Dr. Patrick Schreiner.

Hermeneutics is the science and art of interpreting the bible. It’s a science because there are organized rules you must follow when interpreting the bible. But it’s also an art because it’s a contested science. You are dealing with literature. You are dealing with stories and poems with divinely inspired authors. It takes practice and a deft touch to interpret this scripture skillfully.

Over the course, Miles provided 27 axioms to guide our study. I think it will suffice to share the first 13. These are very helpful to remember as you read the bible. Keep in mind, these are just my interpretations of his axioms.

Axiom #1: Your hermeneutics will flow directly from your convictions on inspiration.

A proper biblical hermeneutic is dependent on the belief that all the words of scripture are the very words of God (2 Timothy 3:16) yet the words also belong to the human authors, as they were moved along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21). This hermeneutic of dual-inspiration requires that you seek out what the human authors are trying to say (considering their historical and cultural context), while also trying to seek out what God is saying (considering he is the author of everything from Genesis to Revelation).

Axiom #2: Hermeneutics is, first and foremost, a theological endeavor.

As you study the bible, you must constantly consider the truths about who God is, and who we are, in order to interpret correctly. God being perfect and holy, helps us understand how his word is inerrant. We being finite creatures must work hard to discover meaning found in the text. God being a God who speaks authoritatively, and we being his subjects who must listen, helps motivate our diligent study.

Axiom #3: The Bible is God’s speech to us where God engages us.

When you read the bible, you are not just reading facts about the life and the world, but you are actually engaging with God. When you engage with God’s speech, it accomplishes what it was intended to accomplish. What God says to us will change you. If Timothy says that scripture can make you wise for salvation, then scripture will save you.

Axiom #4: One of the first questions of interpretation is: “What is God doing in this text?”

Sometimes God is giving you assurance. Sometimes he’s making promises, or giving commandments. Sometimes he’s teaching, or giving hope. Sometimes he’s trying to evoke praise in you. Don’t just analyze scripture. Let it move you.

Axiom #5: Hermeneutics is intuitive and not complicated. We are not Gnostics!

You really can interpret the bible and discover it’s meaning, not unlike how you can understand anything you read. God is a master communicator, and we were made in his image. There are no deep secrets to interpreting the bible.

Axiom #6: Faithful Bible interpreters must be fervent Bible readers.

In order to understand the smaller parts of the bible (especially the harder parts), you have to understand the whole. The more you read the whole of the bible, the more you will understand the context of the parts.

Axiom #7: The three most important things in hermeneutics are context, context, and context.

Context determines the meaning of the text. Ignoring context would be strange. No one likes to be taken out of context, and there’s no reason to do so with the biblical authors. If you feel your out-of-context interpretation is from the Lord, it is NOT from the Lord. God is a good communicator who understands context, and he inspired the authors in their context.

Axiom #8: There is a progress to revelation and redemptive history. Pay attention to it!

The whole bible contains a story with a definite and unfolding plot line. It is not a collection of abstract stories and teachings.  Each has its place in the canon and redemptive history. You have to understand what plot points and revelations come before and after the text you are reading.

Axiom #9: We cannot interpret the Bible correctly unless we understand the story of Scripture as a whole.

Just as understanding the whole will help you understand the parts, the parts will help you understand the whole. You have to know what the whole story of the bible is. Miles would say the bible’s story is God’s demonstration of his glory through the redemption of his people, that he might dwell with them, and the restoration of his Kingdom, that his rule might be acknowledged by all.

Axiom #10: For the interpretation of any biblical text to be valid, it must be consistent with the historical-cultural context.

As with any piece of writing, your interpretation of it must account for the context of the original author and audience. They lived in a different time using different languages from you. If your interpretation makes no sense to the original audience, then your interpretation is wrong.

Axiom #11: The first and best place to look for the historical-cultural context is in Scripture itself.

Much of the historical and cultural setting required to understand the meaning of the text is found in scripture itself.  The bible authors (and God himself) were good writers. Scripture is inerrant, including the historical and cultural facts embedded in it.

Axiom #12: Words have meanings, not meaning. But they have meaning in context.

Every word has a semantic range with a variety of meanings, and the context narrows that range to one meaning. The sentence is the smallest unit of meaning. Words are just the building blocks of meaning. Keep in mind, the meaning of words can change over the course of history.

Axiom #13: A genre is a type of literature with the rules that govern its interpretation.

There are different rules to consider when reading different genres, which are literary forms. These genres include narrative, law, poetry, proverb, prophecy, apocalyptic, discourse, and parable. You will miss the point of the text if you read all of the bible like a textbook.

Much of biblical interpretation is common sense. It’s also hard work, as we are dealing with ancient texts written over thousands of years. But, all that hard work is still rooted in common sense. With that said, Christian interpretation requires that the Holy Spirit move you to believe right things about God. So always start by praying.

Posted in Western Seminary | Leave a comment