Bible Interpretation: How To

What is wrong with the the common notion that the “firmament’, the “windows of heaven”, the ‘pillars of the earth”, the “four corner of the earth”, etc, constitute phenomonological language that accomodated ANE cosmology?

The answer to this lies in understanding the proper approach to scripture, besides taking note of the big caution flag that this very recent “discovery” of what Genesis really meant to the ancient Hebrews did not happen until after modern denials of Creation came up with new “science so called”.

Here follow guidelines for those who need it for “interpreting” Bible verses, especially the interpretation of figures of speech like those mentioned in the above list.

“Phenomenological language” is a bit different concept, but one may call it one example of a figure of speech.

Considerations for understanding the Bible.

(1).STRAIGHTFORWARD SENSE OF THE SECTION OF SCRIPTURE.

That means if the literal meaning makes semantical and grammatical sense as is, then there is no need to tamper with it, just believe.

Sometimes the literal meaning of one isolated word is semantically ridiculous, like talking about the “four corners of the earth”. In such cases, the word is part of a “figure of speech”. The individual words used in a figure of speech have no meaning, because they are part of what is conceptually the same thing as a “compound word”.

What some people call “phenomenological language” is really a figure of speech. Saying the sun is “on the horizon” does not mean it is physically located on one of the points of the physical land that we can see from a given point, it means that’s the way we see it. By they way, I prefer the term “positional” for this particular example.

But if there is no compelling reason –especially in context– to say it is only phenomenological or positional, then it’s not.

If Acts 1:9 says Jesus was “taken up” and “a cloud received him out of their sight” then that’s what happened.
If Exodus 20:11 says “in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is”, then that is what happened.
If it says a great fish swallowed Jonah, then you don’t need a yardstick to measure the fish.

(2).IMMEDIATE CONTEXT IN SCRIPTURE.

Immediate context trumps anything from outside context for interpreting anything about which there is some question. But it is an invalid question anyway if it comes from doubt, or a desire to escape the straightforward meaning of a word or verse.

A word in scripture has its own meaning, and the immediate context clarifies it further.

For example, if you don’t know exactly what a cubit is, you can know from the immediate contexts that mention Goliath, that he was abnormally huge, and that nine feet is a much more reasonable measure than is six feet.

(3).SURROUNDING CONTEXT IN THE SCRIPTURE.

Further help for those who are still confused is provided by context found a step beyond immediate.

For example, there are attempts to cast doubt on the virgin birth by making Mary a “young woman” instead are laughable when you consider she asked how could this be “for I know not a man?” Try substituting “young woman” for “virgin” in the Isaiah prophecy for a really good belly laugh. Imagine the Lord telling the prophet that he will give you a sign, that a young woman shall conceive and bear a son. What a sign!

Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

In the case of Genesis, it does nobody any good to look elsewhere for the meaning of the word “day”. The immediate context says it was “the evening and the morning”. The days are numbered as first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth. The days are not only numbered but clearly given as consecutive ordinal numbers, one following the other.

For Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, it does no good either to try to divide them out. The first verse certainly can stand on its own by itself as a magnificent proclamation of God being the Creator, but it’s snuggled up to the rest of Genesis scripture that follows.

Keep in mind that although the KJB is accepted by tens of thousands as inspired word of God (call it re-inspired if you want to), it seems like nobody considers either the paragraph markings or the verse and chapter organization as inspired. They are convenient for referring to particular sections of scripture, but the first two verses of Genesis are part of the integrated narrative that begins the chapter.

Also, anything else would be irrelevant. In any case the only reason to try to twist it into supporting an earlier creation of some sort has no corroboration from context in any way. The idea only came about to accomodate the millions of years that evolutionists were adding on the age of the earth. This also is shot down by the fact that there was no light until God said “Let there –be– light”, and so such an idea shoots itself in the foot.

(4).THE CONTEXT OF THE WHOLE BIBLE.

This is where relevant references from elsewhere teach us. It is true that some sections of scripture may not be too clear to someone, so cross-referencing can help. It is also true that we can all too easily and all too often take a chapter or a verse in some way, but then we find that the way we took it is not at all what the Bible says on the subject everywhere else, so we have to go back to that verse.

Peter said this about some of Paul’s writings:

2 Peter 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

So some scriptures can lead you away if you want them to. So don’t!

(5).ENGLISH DICTIONARY. (With great caution)
Great caution because if the dictionary is not a dedicated devoted follower of Christ with spiritual discernment and guard up against deceit, one can be fooled into getting the wrong definition out of a set, and even there, the misapplication can be wrong.

In general if you are merely trying to let the Bible tell you what it says, instead of trying to figure out how to fit it to yourself, you will find the truth of it.

I said English dictionary because this writing is in English, and because the KJB is the gold standard of scripture today. The KJB is written in English and the major factor in the stabilization of the language.

For example, some creationists seem to have a hurdle with the the word “firmament”. The word firmament is a proper English word, like so many that were imported into the English language from Biblical sources long before the KJB was translated. I have seen the claim that a word that was in common use already for 70 years still does not count as a proper word to use for “translation”, as if no self-respecting United Nations interpreter today would use the word “tsunami” when translating from Japanese.

Most of the time where modern critics find fault with “difficult words” in the English of the KJB, it is merely a justification for a versions preference. But some will not know the meaning, and will still be unsure with context, but all they really need is a dictionary.

(5a).BEWARE OF GREEKS BEARING GIFTS.

One of my best friends is of Greek descent (cue laughter), but he would agree, I wot. Beware of Greek and Hebrew dictionaries, especially Biblical dictionaries today. Most of them are based on the work of one Gerard Kittel, a “Christian scholar” who was the “Christian spiritual adviser” to Adolf Hitler.

In part because of the blasphemies in his work, we now have modern versions using the word “race” where it should be using the word “seed”.

Like the verse which becomes literally racist in the NIV, Ezra 9:2: They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.”

That verse should read:

Ezra 9:2 “For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of [those] lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.”

(6).REPETITION AND REDUNDANCY.

If you are tempted to override a section of scripture with some extraneous doctrine because “respectable Christians” say it means something else, but this particular scripture incorporates a repetition of the matter, this is an emphasis on the clear meaning of it.

(7)..AVOID DOCTRINES OF THE UNGODLY.

Beware of the surrounding pagan doctrines creeping in to your view of the Bible. God’s chosen people have lived apart from the world around them, in the world but not of it. Therefore if a tribe nearby to the peoples of the Bible held a doctrine, it might be good reason to think the Hebrews believed differently. Certainly their ideas of creation, cosmology, origins were different.

Not every idea of some particular ungodly thinker is bad, they do get some things right of course. But they cannot trump the clear meaning of a word, as reinforced by immediate context, and by more distant context, and by relevant declarations elsewhere in scripture.

(8).THE BIBLE IS TRUE.
(It is a non-fiction book of books).

This may seem like it goes without saying for a Bible believer. But it helps understand some scriptures when extraneous “interpretations” are trying to say it means something other than what it says.

The Bible is written as a statement of what happened, and of what the world is now, and how things work in the real world, and prophecies of what shall be.

Analogies, fables, fairy tales, symbolic stories, these are so identified.

For example, the heads of the ten-headed beast in Revelation are identified clearly there and in Daniel as representing ten kings, and the seven mountains upon “on which the woman sitteth” of Revelation 17 and 18 are clearly identified specifically as seven kings.

Note only that five are already fallen (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece), and one is (Rome), and the other is not yet come (The Empire of the Beast, or Antichrist).

—trutherator

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