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Literal interpretation

Discussion in 'Exploring Christianity' started by Tellyontellyon, Jun 6, 2020.

  1. Tellyontellyon

    Tellyontellyon Member

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    Jesus taught a lot in parables. And in other parts of the Bible important messages seem to be sent in dreams that sometimes need translation... though in other parts of the Bible messages seem very direct any literal.
    Parables and symbolic language seems to be one way in which God communicates.

    Are there any parts of the Bible that you find difficult to understand?

    Are there parts that are symbolic but are prone to being taken literally?

    I've been reading bits of Revelations. Some of it is clearly very symbolic and the text even explains some of the symbology and what it means. But other parts are not explained so it's difficult to understand.

    Numbers seem important...

    Why are numbers so important?
     
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  2. d taylor

    d taylor Well-Known Member

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    Dr David L Cooper.
    When The Plain Sense of Scripture Makes Common Sense, Seek no Other Sense; Therefore, Take Every Word at its Primary, Ordinary, Usual, Literal Meaning Unless the Facts of the Immediate Context, Studied in the Light of Related Passages and Axiomatic and Fundamental Truths Indicate Clearly Otherwise.

    You might want to study the writing at this website, look under the Bible Study section.
    Rules of Interpretation,
    Biblical Research Monthly
    Jr. Messianic Series
    Israel's Hymnal
    Expounding the Word
    Tracts and Booklets

    Biblical Research Studies Group
     
  3. Tone

    Tone Star Fish Radiant Supporter

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    These are really great questions and they are not easy to answer even after I have been studying (doing too) Christianity and the Bible for many years.

    I find many parts of the Bible difficult to understand and there are many resources to aid in shedding some light on them:

    9 Research Tools for Bible Study - Bible Study Tips

    Of course, we also believe that we are guided and given deeper understanding by the Holy Spirit:

    John 16
    "12I still have much to tell you, but you cannot yet bear to hear it. 13However, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak what He hears, and He will declare to you what is to come. 14He will glorify Me by taking from what is Mine and disclosing it to you."

    Many believe and argue over which parts should be taken literally and/or symbolically. The creation account beginning in Genesis 1:1 and many things described in the book of Revelation are cases in point.

    There is also the idea of things being sealed until a certain time, so that no one will be able to interpret it until the fullness of time:

    Bible Verses About Sealed - 26 passages - King James Version (KJV)

    Numbers are important because the Creator has established them as such as He purposely placed them in Scripture. I believe that they are powers, perhaps even spiritual powers in the heavenly places that serve to order things according to His Perfect Purpose.


    You may find these articles helpful:

    The Complete Guide to Understanding Bible Numerology

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peshat#:~:text=Peshat (also P'[bless and do not curse][bless and do not curse][bless and do not curse][bless and do not curse],,methods known together as PaRDeS.

    Exegesis - Wikipedia

    Shalom my friend, May Abba Yah continue to draw you into His Word. Amen.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2020
  4. John Helpher

    John Helpher John 3:16

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    Can you give an example?
     
  5. Tellyontellyon

    Tellyontellyon Member

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    World created in 7 days.
    12 apostles.
    Jesus raised after 3 days
    Feeding 5000 and 4000, 12 baskets.
    12 tribes of Israel.
    7 good years, 7 years famine.
    The trinity.
    The number of the beast.
    10 commandments.
    Etc.
    Etc.
     
  6. John Helpher

    John Helpher John 3:16

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    Would you say there is any context in which math could be considered a language, and if so what context?
     
  7. Tone

    Tone Star Fish Radiant Supporter

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    Perhaps the tongues of angels.
     
  8. seeking.IAM

    seeking.IAM Episcopalian Supporter

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    I think you are not alone with struggling to understand Revelations. I also think among those who say they understand it, there is disagreement such that they do not share the same understanding, which can only mean some of them don't understand it either. Revelation was one of the last books accepted into the Christian Biblical Canon, and there were those who argued it should not be included. I advise someone who wants to learn about Christianity to start with the gospels, and save Revelations until much later.
     
  9. ViaCrucis

    ViaCrucis Evangelical Catholic of the Augsburg Confession

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    Numbers then, just like now, can have symbolic significance. There are thirteen stripes on the US flag because of the original thirteen colonies. It's not mystical, but it has a symbolic meaning given the context.

    In a similar way numbers had symbolic significance in the context of the cultures and communities which used them. For example the number twelve was significant, because of the twelve patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel--which is the significance of Jesus choosing twelve apostles. As such, in the Revelation the number twelve carries this significance: twelve tribes, twelve apostles; so there are twenty-four elders around God's throne, there are twelve foundations and twelve gates for the New Jerusalem. When John sees the great multitude sealed by God, it is 144,000, 12x12x1000. John sees seven candlesticks, the seven churches to whom the Revelation was addressed. And so forth.

    The number seven has often been understood to be symbolic of divine or heavenly things, because in the ancient near east--including Jewish thought--there were seven heavens. In the non-canonical book of Enoch the eponymous Enoch is taken up and shown the "third heaven" which is where the Garden of Eden/Paradise is; St. Paul echoes this when he mentions that he knew of a man who was taken up into the third heaven to the Paradise of God and shown wonders.

    Big numbers are often used as short hand for "many" or "all" or "a lot". In the Psalms we read that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the use of a thousand is to indicate a great many--indeed, all cattle on all the hills belong to God. In Isaiah the vision of the future world says that a man of a hundred years old is to be counted as very young. In the Revelation Jesus' reign is described as a thousand years, some Christians take this literally, but most Christians have since ancient times (with some notable exceptions) understood this to be an indefinite period (the indefinite period of time between Christ's first and second comings, where He reigns even right now from heaven). Even in the above mentioned example of the 144,000 it is a multiplication by a thousand to indicate "a great many".

    When it comes to reading the Bible, and whether something is literal or not-literal, there are always going to be debates and disagreements. But for myself I make it an effort to look at things like this:
    The Bible isn't, properly speaking, a book, but a collection of books. And thus the Bible should be seen as analogous to a library. In a library there are many books, and indeed many kinds of books--from history, to science, to science fiction, fantasy, how-to guides, biographies--and how we approach any given book means understanding what kind of book it is. We don't read the The Hobbit the same way we read a biography of King Henry VIII. And the Bible is full of different books from different genres. For example, the Revelation is an example of an ancient literary genre known as apocalypse, and there is a whole slew of ancient Jewish and Christian and pseudo-Christian apocalypses from antiquity, the Bible only contains two: Daniel and the Revelation of St. John. Understanding what an apocalypse is, and what sorts of tropes that genre of literature employs helps us better understand what we are reading when we read the text. The same is true for the rest of the Bible.

    That, of course, isn't the whole of it, but it's an important place to start, and an important question to be asking when reading the Bible. We don't read the Psalms the same way we read the New Testament Epistles, they are very different kinds of texts.

    Getting back to the Revelation, if you find it difficult to understand, you're not alone. It is the most debated book in the Bible, and historically one of the most disputed. I would, in fact, refuse to believe anyone who claims they completely understand it and what it means fully and in every detail.

    -CryptoLutheran
     
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