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Featured Bible literalism.

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by dms1972, Jun 29, 2020.

  1. dms1972

    dms1972 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'd like to ask about this, because i'd like to know how to understand the Bible particularly the first chapters of Genesis. How did christians approach these chapters in the past - eg. Luther, Calvin, St. Thomas, St. Augustine etc. If there are parts of the Bible that are not to be taken literally, how does one know which parts are not to be taken literally, and which parts are?
     
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  2. Tra Phull

    Tra Phull Day Tribber

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    On the one hand, be taught by the Holy Ghost - on the other hand, discuss with others on messageboards whether the sun stood still or Samson actually killed a THOUSAND Phillistines before putting the jawbone back down.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  3. Carl Emerson

    Carl Emerson Well-Known Member

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    Does the Creator of the Universe not have the authority to produce whatever effect He chooses given He established the physical laws - are we not in our unbelief elevating these laws above Him?
     
  4. eleos1954

    eleos1954 God is Love Supporter

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    The canonical principle

    The canonical principle refers to the fact that the information needed to understand the Bible is found in the canon of Scripture itself; i.e., Scripture is its own interpreter.

    The literal interpretation principle

    A basic principle in biblical interpretation is to understand words and sentences in their literal sense, unless figures of speech or idiomatic expressions are used.

    When you open/study the Word of God ... ALWAYS ask for the Holy Spirit to lead you in truth and understanding ... ALWAYS

    The unity of Scripture principle

    Since all Scripture is inspired by the same Spirit and all of it is the Word of God, there is a fundamental unity and harmony among its parts (Matt. 5:17; Rom. 3:10-18). This means that Scripture is consistent. Although the different writers, at times, emphasize different aspects of the same topic or event, they do not contradict one another. For example: each of the Gospel writers under inspiration records different facets of Christ’s life, yet each is needed to obtain a full and balanced picture of the life and work of Christ (John 20:30, 31).

    Often it is very helpful to go into the original Hebrew and/or Greek .... often clarifies things

    Here is a place where you can access the Hebrew/Greek Lexicon and easily do this

    One can search His entire word .... look at other translations

    A wonderful bible study tool

    www.biblehub.com

    also, sometimes studying topically is beneficial .... here is a place where you can easily to this.

    What Does the Bible Say About Creation?

    at the top you can change to a different topic

    ******


    The Bible teaches that both the habitats and the life forms of our planet were created by God in six literal, consecutive, 24-hour days. God celebrated this activity by resting on, blessing, and making holy the seventh day.

    Example:

    Genesis. 1:1-2:3

    According to Genesis 1:1-2:3, how long did God take to create our present world and the various life forms that live on it? What clues do these verses give us that imply literal, 24-hour days?

    The Hebrew word for day is yom. It is true that on occasion yom can mean an indefinite period of time (just like the word day in English). Some scholars have used this to propose that the six days of Creation were vast periods of time. They often cite passages like Psalm 90:4 in support of their position.

    However, the common usage of yom is for the 24-hour day. A basic rule in translation is for the common meaning to be utilized unless the context provides a clear indicator or sign that a different meaning is intended.

    Such signs are missing in Genesis 1, and there are several indicators that point directly to a literal, 24-hour day. One is the way that the days are designated by ordinal numbers ("day one" "day two," etc.). This is done only when a 24-hour day is intended. Another is that the days are set off by the expression "and there was evening, and there was morning"(NIV).

    Again, this is done in Hebrew only when a literal 24-hour day is meant. There are several more technical arguments involving grammar and syntax that also support the 24-hour-day meaning for the word day. Most scholars believe that the writer indeed meant to convey the idea of a literal 24-hour day. However, many of them still do not accept what the text says, because it contradicts their understandings as put forth with evolutionary theory.

    Although it is interesting to look at various theologies put forth ... such as Luther, Calvin ... Thomas ... Augustine etc .... they will vary and sometimes significantly so and can cause confusion ... It is Gods word ... He is the only one who can interpret it. We all to endeavor to understand it and put forth our understandings .... consider them ... however verify any and all teachings regardless where they come from with His Holy Word for yourself.

    Acts 17:11
    New Living Translation
    And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.

    If verses appear to be contradictory ... keep searching His entire word .... and most times the continuity taking scripture as a whole ... will become evident.

    Go to the link provided (above) .... it is a wonderful tool to help one study and a great time saver.

    May the Lord bless you as you study His Word .... AMEN!
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  5. dms1972

    dms1972 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Doesn't really answer my question. The question is how to read Genesis, what is it, some read it as a literal account of creation, and therefore say the earth is young (about 6000 years old) others see it as a myth, poetry. What was the purpose of it being included in the Bible, so we could know the age of the earth, or some other reason?

    Even if God could do it all in six twenty four days, that doesn't tell us whether he did or not, or that day is to be taken literally in Genesis 1. Could God be capable of doing it in six days but have done it by a longer process?

    Charles Darwin came up with a theory that for some is a plausible explantion that showed how life could have evolved and because he had convinced himself, he was therefore able to convince others. But again showing that something could have happened that way, is not showing that it did in fact happen that way.

    Reflections on Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker | Dallas Willard

    I am just showing that could have doesn't equate to did actually.

    Its not what i am asking, I want to know the about the significance of the Genesis account. Because I feel like I am missing it by reading it literally.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  6. Carl Emerson

    Carl Emerson Well-Known Member

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    I was responding to TP...
     
  7. com7fy8

    com7fy8 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Where it says in an historical context that God or Jesus or a human did something, I take that to be literal. It was possible with God.

    Now, may be there are some scriptures which use a metaphorical image to represent what actually happened. But if I read a thing of historical report, I first am ready to believe it says what it means.

    However, we do have images used to represent realities.

    For one example >

    "But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him." (1 Corinthians 6:17)

    To me, this means a person who trusts in Christ for salvation becomes spiritually joined with Jesus inside oneself . . . so the person is "one spirit with Him" . . . in actual union.

    Now, of course, ones might not accept how we can be so personal with God, that each of us is "one spirit with" God Himself in us. And so, they might claim "joined" means more like getting into a club - - with no real union with anyone.

    But according to my Greek source, "joined" can mean "glued". Now you do not become glued to a club. In the case of 1 Corinthians 6:17, this is talking about a reality of being a Christian, and the image of being "glued" can help make clear what is involved in joining with Jesus . . . whether it is distant or it is intimate and personal inside each of us.

    And I find how other imagery in God's word does not mean something is not true or did not happen, but the imagery can help us to know what the reality is.

    For example > the Bible says Jesus is the Lamb of God, plus the LORD is our Rock. Ok, so these are images, but they can help us to know realities of who and how Jesus is, and how He is so good for us.
     
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  8. Tolworth John

    Tolworth John Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It is very, very simple. What is your final source of authority?

    Is everything determined by what science says?
    Is everything determined by what some popular figure in the media says?
    Is everything determined by what God says?
    How do you know what God says, is it through the Bible or by your ' feelings ' etc ?

    If miracles in the Bible are understood by being interpreted and not as real events, then how do you understand Jesus's prediction of, his death and resurrection. If they are a symbolic, metaphor or metric/spiritual understanding and not literal what is Paul talking about in 2 Cor 15:14 etc.

    As I said it is very simple either God can create in 6 days, flood the world, send 10 plagues, heal the sick, raise the dead, stop the sun, float axe heads etc etc then he can also send his Son to save us.
    If he cannot do this things then how do you know Christianity is true?
     
  9. TexFire316

    TexFire316 Come as a child, with no agenda

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    The Bible was designed so that a 4th grader can read it and understand it. Problem is, there are now colleges and seminarys that teach our future religious leaders how to bend the Bible to church doctrines while collecting a paycheck to pay their student loans.

    Just so happens, the Authur is ready and willing to teach you Himself. All you have to do is go slow, and ask Him. :)
     
  10. Radagast

    Radagast comes and goes Supporter

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    You are asking for a summary of 2,000 years of Christian writing? Seriously?

    But here is Augustine on the Days of Creation (City of God, Book XI, Chapter 7):

    We see, indeed, that our ordinary days have no evening but by the setting, and no morning but by the rising, of the sun; but the first three days of all were passed without sun, since it is reported to have been made on the fourth day. And first of all, indeed, light was made by the word of God, and God, we read, separated it from the darkness, and called the light Day, and the darkness Night; but what kind of light that was, and by what periodic movement it made evening and morning, is beyond the reach of our senses; neither can we understand how it was, and yet must unhesitatingly believe it.

    For either it was some material light, whether proceeding from the upper parts of the
    world, far removed from our sight, or from the spot where the sun was afterwards kindled; or under the name of light the holy city was signified, composed of holy angels and blessed spirits, the city of which the apostle says, “Jerusalem which is above is our eternal mother in heaven” (Galatians 4:26); and in another place, “For ye are all the children of the light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:5).
     
  11. Radagast

    Radagast comes and goes Supporter

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    You really must start using the quote feature.

    Prevents all kinds of misunderstandings, and ensures that people are notified of your responses.
     
  12. Carl Emerson

    Carl Emerson Well-Known Member

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    Yes I do but not consistent enough as you say...
     
  13. Hawkins

    Hawkins Member Supporter

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    You can just read them all literally. It is supposed to be a cross-generation correctness for the information to convey. It is so written literally because it is the only way humans from ancient time till now can carry forward the information while keeping them intact. It is a testimony of both God and the first lineage humans, in the form being able to be conveyed by the incapable humans from generation to generation. You can thus assume the correctness by taking them literally. This is the very first layer of what is said and conveyed.

    Based on the literally meaning there are very rich information contained, including some critical prophecies and a good summary of human behavior. You may need some guidance (from Church, other Christians as well as the HS) in order to read more than the basic layer.
     
  14. dms1972

    dms1972 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I see that Martin Luther in his Genesis commentary took the literal meaning.

    However I am finding contemporary theologians who certainly are not liberal such as Donald G Bloesch, saying:

    "We need to affirm Scripture as the unnerring rule for faith and practice (Calvin) but we must avoid the hermenutics of biblical literalism, which leads us into both scientific creationism with its young earth theory and dispensationalism - based on the literal fullfilment of all biblical prophesy." (Christian Foundations: Holy Scripture p37)

     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
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  15. eleos1954

    eleos1954 God is Love Supporter

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    such as what? we have Genesis and we also other information throughout His word that gives us additional details about creation.

    The context is His entire Word.
     
  16. dms1972

    dms1972 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    No I wasn't quite asking for a summary of 2000 years of christian teaching, but was asking about a few of the more well known theologians to see how they approached it. Thanks for your information on Augustine.
     
  17. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    The OP asked about history. I've been reading books on the history of Scripture interpretation recently, because of this exact question.

    For most of church history (until the 16th Cent), Christians believed that the Bible was completely true, but used a variety of approaches to interpretation, ranging from literal to symbolic. Passages that were unedifying were understood symbolically. However I think most Christians thought the creation accounts were reasonably literal. Certainly they thought there was an actual Adam, who really sinned.

    There's a nice quote from Augustine that suggests some flexibility in interpretation, to accommodate science. But probably not enough to allow for the current biological understanding, in which there can't have been a literal single pair of humans.

    The first signs of the recent scientific challenges occurred in the 16th Cent with Galileo. The Church during the medieval period accepted an approach that I'd call "two books." The idea was that we know about the world through two books, the Bible and nature. If you read what was said during Galileo's time, Catholic leaders said that if it became clear that the earth went around the sun, in the end the Church would have to accept it. This was the time when Calvin wrote. His commentary on Genesis is interesting. He noted a couple of ways in which a literal reading would differ from what astronomers would say. His explanation was that Moses (who he thought was the author) described things as a normal person of his time would understand, because his purpose was not to teach astronomy. He referred to that as "accommodation," that God accommodated the way in which he gave his revelation to what people were prepared to understand. Calvin maintained that the Bible comes directly from God (although the human authors had a significant role), and was completely true, but the idea of accommodation opens a hole large enough to drive a truck through. I think Calvin makes it clear that he would defer to astronomers on the scientific realities.

    But it's one thing to say phrases about the sun rising aren't meant literally and another to say that the Fall never happened. It's hard to guess what Calvin would have said. The Catholic tradition has normally accepted science, although sometimes with significant delays, but there are recent official statements that seem to maintain a literal Adam. It's a bit unclear how much flexibility there is in that idea; many Catholics scholars are willing to admit that it's not true. The Reformed tradition (i.e. the heirs of Calvin) has split over Genesis. I think a majority are actually in the mainline churches, and accept mainstream science and history, but there is a substantial group that does not. CF's Reformed and Presbyterian forums are dominated by that group.

    The lack of an actual Fall is a really big deal theologically. Even Christians who are otherwise inclined to interpret Scripture to match science have not faced up to the consequences. I think we can say that mankind is fallen even if the specific event in Gen 3 didn't happen, but the natural consequence of an evolutionary view is that people are designed to learn from experience, and that mistakes -- even moral ones -- are part of our original design. I think if you follow this out, there are significant theological consequences.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
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  18. Radagast

    Radagast comes and goes Supporter

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  19. 1213

    1213 Disciple of Jesus

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    I think Bible explains what it means. If something is a metaphor, it is told in the Bible.
     
  20. Radagast

    Radagast comes and goes Supporter

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    The "two books" doctrine was of course first articulated by Tertullian in Against Marcion (I, XVIII): "We maintain that God must first be known from nature, and afterwards authenticated by instruction: from nature by His works; by instruction, through His revealed announcements."
     
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