Tackling Difficult Texts
Inevitably in reading Scriptures we will come across passages that are difficult to understand/interpret.
-How do we handle these passages?
This is pertinent as we begin to discuss Gender Roles and the Bible in the KVC
-Some of the gender passages are difficult to understand
-We want to ensure that before we discuss the passages we have a healthy hermeneutical lens
-Hermeneutics is theory and methodology of interpretation, especially the interpretation of biblical texts, wisdom literature, as well as philosophical texts
Branch of Philosophy
-Greek & Latin -
Exegesis - Taking meaning out of passage (ex = out)
Eisigesis - Reading meaning into passage (eis = into)
Hermeneutical Differences have ALWAYS existed!
-The Saducees only believed in the books of the Torah
-Pharisees believed in TaNaK + the oral tradition of the elders
-Greek word “eido” = to know by perception
Contrast “gnosis” = know
-They knew the Scripture but the way they perceived it was off!
Early Christian Church
-Circumcision - hermeneutical question
-Meat sacrificed to idols - hermeneutical question
Three Levels of Doctrine:
Some are about core issues
Some are about important issues
Some are about peripheral issues
We want good hermeneutics!
-But we all have biases! - Tradition, upbringing, opinion, culture, etc.
When it comes to difficult texts…
-How do we avoid “eisigesis-ing”???
-How do employ good hermeneutics?
All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
Two Ways Humility Comes Out…
1. Admit Limitations
-Honesty…If this has been a question for 2000 years why do we really think we will 100% nail it?
2. Admit Biases
-We must have the humility to admit biases!
-Spiritualizing of Bible study - “Just pray and God will make it clear”
Historical Contextual Hermeneutic
What would this have meant to the author?
What would this have meant to the original audience?
“Now as it was then”
-Scripture can’t mean to us what it didn’t mean then
Jeremiah 29:1 - Original audience
Jeremiah 29:10 - Original purpose
Genres of Literature
Bible Project Video
7 Genres of Biblical Literature
This is happening before our very eyes!
Contrast the reader-response method
-Mistakes are made when poetry is treated like prose
Against you, you only, have I sinned (not true) and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Deuteronomy 24:16 - Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin.
Ezekiel 18:20 - The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.
We have to look at verses in the context of the greater Bible story
-Harmonize the passages addressing similar topics
You have to take a broad look at the passages, their context and then harmonize them
-There are tensions and hard to understand things
-They can’t be held in opposition to each other
-You don’t know 100% that your view is correct!
-Otherwise there wouldn’t be differing opinions among orthodox believers
The needs of other people over our own
Romans 14:1-4, 13-15, 19-22
-Strive for exegesis
-In Core Teachings…Unity, in All Else…Charity
Kanawha Valley Church
1565 Smith Road, Charleston, WV 25314
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