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Principles of Studying the Bible

Discussion in 'Bibliology & Hermeneutics' started by Josephus, May 22, 2002.

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  1. Josephus

    Josephus <b>Co-Founder Christian Forums</b> Supporter

    +256
    Messianic
    The Five Principles to Studying the Bible:
    from: http://www.ptm.org/98PT/SepOct/HHlights.htm

    Easy Acronym: LIGHTS

    1. Literal
    2. Ilummination
    3. Grammatical
    4. Historical
    5. Teaching
    6. Scriptual Harmony


    1. Literal Principle
    This means we should interpret the Word of God in its most normal and natural sense.


    2. Illumination Principle
    The Holy Spirit within a believer gives insights that can only be spiritually discerned. The Holy Spirit helps us exegete (draw out of) rather than eisegete (read into) Scripture. He illumines only what is in the text; illumination does not go beyond the text.

    "The Spirit of truth provides insights for the mind and illumination for the heart."


    3. Grammatical Principle
    Scripture is to be interpreted in accord with typical rules of grammar, including syntax and style.


    4. Historical Principle
    The biblical text is best understood when one is familiar with the customs, culture and historical context of biblical times.


    5.Teaching Principle
    As we seek to rightly interpret God's Word, we would do well to consult those whom God has uniquely gifted as teachers in the church (cf. Titus 2:1-15) and who guard against wolves in sheep's clothing that will not spare the flock (Acts 20:29).


    6. Scriptual Harmony Principle
    Individual passages of Scripture must always harmonize with Scripture as a whole. One text can never be interpreted to conflict with other passages. If a particular passage can be interpreted in several ways, the only choice is that interpretation which harmonizes with the rest of Scripture. God does not contradict himself.
     
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  2. Josephus

    Josephus <b>Co-Founder Christian Forums</b> Supporter

    +256
    Messianic
    I should also mention the main source for my study is the one and only bible of it's kind:

    The Greek & Hebrew Interlinear Bible
    by Sovereign Grace Publishers
    http://www.sovgracepub.com/bibles/interlinear1vol.htm

    When people ask me what version of the bible I use, I just tell them: The Hebrew Old Testament, and the Greek New Testament. All translations of the bible are based off of these two works; so I highly encourage serious bible studyers to buy this bible - the only one of its kind (since there is only one original languages bible!). You can translate portions yourself, or read the literal English included in the columns. To see an example of this bible, a photographic version of the Book of Genesis is included online here:

    http://www.sovgracepub.com/bibles/interlinearpages/page1.htm

    Keep in mind that Hebrew is read from right to left. :)

    The power of this bible is that Strongs Concordance numbers number every word of the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts for easy referecing for a particular meaning of a word. This is a book that most bible translators use when they develop modernized versions of the bible in other languages.
     
  3. ThrdJohn13

    ThrdJohn13 New Member

    37
    +0
    I'm sorry, but I humbly&nbsp;think I need to disagree.

    An important book to read before considering the use of some of these aids is D.A. Carson's "Exegetical Fallacies" which makes these following points and others glaringly clear.

    I've studied Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic for a while. All of my seminary professors (and I have to agree with them) strongly discourage the use of the interlinears and key-word study Bibles (one of them in the first Greek class of a semester told everyone if they had an interlinear not to use it,&nbsp;and throw it in the trash. Another prof said that if you don't know the difference between a "dagesh lene" and a "dagesh forte" then you shouldn't preach from the Old Testament). I used to use a key-word Bible for a while (and considered the interlinears too) before I learned the languages, and in hindsight&nbsp;I'm pretty convinced&nbsp;that it was a dangerous mistake (I made many interpretational errors as a result of my ignorance of the language in light of the information provided, which was also, incidentally, suspect for various reasons. In essence, it was just "too easy".). The profs discourage the use of them not&nbsp;just because they inhibit the study of the languages, but they're greater interpretational liabilities than reliable study aids; especially if the user does not have a proficiency in the original languages -- in which case, using such aids can lead to serious exegetical errors and misunderstandings about the original languages and the definitions of words just as what happened to me; whereas a better suggestion would probably be to just trust the original translation team (which certainly does have such a proficiency). In other words, they invite a person to know enough to be dangerous enough to start his or her own cult. If the person does have the proficiency, he or she really ought to be reading a critical Greek testament and Hebrew Bible with the aid of reference grammars and lexicons anyway. Consequently, one can see how the Strongs concordance and Vines dictionaries would also become a problem as well. I may change my mind later, but at this point I'd really prefer it if those aids weren't available&nbsp;in print.

    In my opinion, if you're not ready to seriously study the original languages, read more than one good English translation (NIV, ESV, NAS, NKJV, NRSV, etc. not BBE or the Message), and pick up some good Bible commentaries, and maybe some good theology books (depending on the author of course).

    -J
     
  4. Jephunneh

    Jephunneh Active Member

    703
    +0
    Ten Things That Will Help You In Your Personal Bible Studies

    Get a King James Bible



    Develop a Regular Reading Habit

    Bible study is great, but don't forget to spend some time each day simply reading the Bible. The Christian needs to feel at home in the "Bible environment". By reading it regularly, you'll become familiar with it's vocabulary, it's characters, special memory verses, it's precious promises, valuable lessons, and doctrinal truths. The more familiar you become with God's word the more you'll enjoy it.


    Take Your Bible With You

    God's word is your spiritual food and your weapon, so why leave home without it?

    Pray for Wisdom and Understanding

    The Author of the Bible is STILL ALIVE, so He can help you understand it (James 1:5; I John 2:27; I Kings 3:5-12). When is the last time you asked the Lord for understanding?


    Keep Your Sins Confessed

    Keep yourself clean (I John 1:9) so that God can pour His truth into a clean vessel, a vessel that is fit for the Master's use. God is not particularly interested in teaching His word to someone with a wicked heart (Psa. 66:18; Eze. 14:1-9). I believe it was John Bunyan who said that the Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.


    Always Believe What You Read

    To question God's word is satanic (Gen. 3:1), so don't ever question it. Just believe it by faith. If you can't understand it, then at least believe it.


    Make It A Habit to Mark Your Bible

    You aren't growing any younger, so your memory isn't growing any better. Start marking your Bible by underlining or circling special words and verses. Write important notes and references in the margins. A few years from now you'll be very glad you did. Just ask anyone who does it.

    What should you mark it with? I've tried these special pens that aren't supposed to bleed through the paper, and I personally do not care for them. I use a fine point, black, ball point pen and dry highlight markers. For special notes, I use other color ball points, but they're all fine point and I never press hard. Never use felt tips or roller balls.


    Start Your Own Library

    Get a good concordance, such as Strong's or Young's. This will allow you to look up any word in the Bible in all of the places where it is found. If you have a computer, get a good program like QuickVerse, which has a Strong's concordance along with a Bible dictionary, an atlas, and several other options.

    Dispensational Truth by Clarence Larkin has been one of the best general study books for several decades. His other works are also very good.



    An Old Scofield reference Bible is very helpful (1909 or 1917 edition).

    The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge is a jewel, as it contains thousands of helpful Scripture references. It is also available as an option in QuickVerse software packages.




    Thank God for Everything You Learn

    We really are unworthy to sit at the feet of our Saviour and learn, yet He commands us to do so. We should count it an honor and privilege! When you learn a new truth, no matter how small, always THANK Him! (I Ths. 5:18; Rom. 1:21).


    Apply What You Learn

    James 1:22 tells us to DO the word, not just hear it. A sponge that only soaks up water will become sour! Don't be a sour Christian. God teaches us the word because He desires to use us in His service. He feeds us that we might be healthy and strong to fight His battles. Don't be a draft dodger. Apply what you learn as you learn. Get your basic training and then get on the battlefield!
     
  5. Aikido7

    Aikido7 New Member

    69
    +0
    What we see playing out in this thread is the inevitable result of Martin Luther's Reformation in the 1500s. One of Luther's key acts was to wrest the Bible away from the province of priests and make it available through translation to the common people.

    It's a little too much to expect a lot of biblical literacy when we've only had some 500 years to be familiar with Scripture.

    Attempting to force "individual passages of Scripture... to harmonize with Scripture as a whole" barely disquises the screws of the Inquisition or the fiat of a heresy trial.

    All of this, unfortunately, is a normal outgrowth of the "every knee will bend and every tongue will confess" method of teaching which owes more to the Crusades and Constantine than it does to the enigmatic rabbi of Galilee.

    Jesus orally taught in parables and demonstrated the Kingdom of God with healings and exorcisms (except in John). He demonstrated the divine and did not attempt to force it.

    The LITERAL apporach is fraught with complexities: since the Bible is a collection of books written in different times, in different styles and by different writers, one can only justify a literalistic position by withdrawal or obstinance. ILLUMINATION is trickey, for the message one may draw out of Scripture would be different for Billy Graham, David Koresh or Jerry Falwell. Or you and me. GRAMMATICAL and HISTORICAL are the province of scholars and hopefully a growing acquaintance with what mainline exegetes have known for centuries will serve the cause of biblical literacy. These days TEACHING seems to be done by pulling out any marginally relevant verse from its context to apply it to everything from abortion rights to how to make money in real estate.

    And, as I mentioned above, any attempt to force SCRIPTURAL HARMONY demonstrates the low tolerance for ambiguity most believers have. Black and white is so much easier. There is a good reason why the parables and aphorisms of Jesus are not dwelt upon much in today's
    churches.

    I remember a bumpersticker years ago which proclaimed "God Said It, I Believe It and That Settles It!" Of course there's no answer to that,
    nor should one attempt to try one, but it is worth noting the previous addition to this thread that "To question God's word is satanic (Gen.3-1) so don't even question it." I am just surprised to read this on a website called "Christian FORUMS where Christians of every stripe gather to question and discern the great mandates of our faith!

    Like the Essenes of the first century, people like this have retreated to their own desert and their end-time paranoia. Because the Essenes withdrew from the world, they ultimately lost their place in it....
     
  6. Rick Otto

    Rick Otto The Dude Abides

    +6,497
    Christian
    Married
    US-Others
    Thanks for the info & links Josephus.
    I think its important to have this information available.
    The risks of misinterpretation are better than the risk of no interpretation.

    I believe it is antichrist to horde the word and declare the masses to ignorant to be trusted with it.
     
  7. Matthew

    Matthew Member

    154
    +0
    Having studied Hebrew for a while, (not Greek) I have to agree with your professors. Keyword studies are dangerous without more knowledge of the language.

    Having had the same experience, and seeing others do this on the forums, I am convinced that learning the languages prior to using a Hebrew/Greek Bible is a must.

    To repeat what you said: If you don't know the original, use a translation!
     
  8. Matthew

    Matthew Member

    154
    +0
    That is not what Josephus said. He said that if there are (say) 2 interpretations of a particular scripture, and the first one contradicts another scripture, the second interpretation is correct. This rule is not to be applied first.

    There is nothing in here about heresy trials, the crusades, or the inquisition!

    He did not say that one takes everything in the Bible literally. (That is why the word plainly or naturally would have been better in the acronym.)

    That is not illumination. Further this principle was poorly defined. The Holy Spirit merely draws our attention to what is already in the text, He doesn't provide us with new information!
     
  9. Aikido7

    Aikido7 New Member

    69
    +0
    Josephus said what I redacted in "quotation marks. " Everything else in the post is the meaning I took from what he said. There is nothing about "crusades."

    I first noticed this acronym from "the Bible Answer Man" some time ago, so maybe I have been unfair to assume it was from Josephus.
     
  10. pawz

    pawz Newbie

    9
    +0
    Christian
    hello people, hello again, this is my first post on here. Can I say what a good contrast this Christian Forum displays compared to another which I have just come from. There so many folk were bickering and being hostile - it did not seem Christian at all to me. Here the responses, what few I have seen so far, are measured, civil refreshingly without the pettiness and rancour which sullied the other. Wonderful! :)

    Now Mr Josephus, I would like to agree with you about having study aids such as an interlinear bible ( the one you mentioned is not the only one of its kind though). While I feel sure the other folk who say you need to know the original languages have a valid point, that does not mean us ordinary mortals should be denied the privilege of reading Scripture in its original languages. No English translation can completely convey all the original meanings and forces and moods and intents. You are dependent upon the best efforts of the translator and perhaps his or her biases as well. I am not very far advanced in my study of Hebrew or Greek ( and I do not feel I need to speak the languages anyway, but, yes indeed, seek to have an accurate grasp of what it is I am reading), and I recognise there are huge areas especially in the Hebrew that I need to master before I can confidently believe that I have drawn all out of a word or phrase that the good Lord put in - so what do I do? I repair to the views of those experts in the oriental languages who do have the knowledge I still lack, and let them explain to me&nbsp;just what is being conveyed in that particular instance if I am in doubt. I have books by Strong, Young, Wigram, Green, Newberry,Thayer, Gesenius, Rashti,&nbsp; Hebrew and Greek text books, etc, and there is plenty of help on the web to be had.
     
  11. Romans828

    Romans828 New Member

    50
    +0
    I would like to agree with everything that Gracie said.&nbsp; Further, I strongly disagree that one must KNOW Hebrew, Aramic, and Greek in order to properly be able to interpret what scripture means.&nbsp; This, as I see it, takes the Word out of the hands of the common man and places it into the hands of those who state that only they have the wisdom to translate as a result of knowing these languages.

    &nbsp;

    I have been teaching inductive method of bible study for years now and I, as a general rule, can go toe to toe on most discussions ...and I do NOT know biblical languages.&nbsp; It disturbs me to think that people feel that valuable tools such as interliner bibles, word study dictionaries, and the such are "dangerous" tools.&nbsp;
     
  12. Aikido7

    Aikido7 New Member

    69
    +0
    Much of the prejudice against "the mind" developed as a natural result of the innate skepticism of "the common man" over and against the "high falutin' " pronouncements of the preisthood. Luther's revolutionary translation of the Bible into the common tongue helped develop this skepticism, but much of the conflict today survives as a simple class war.

    The organic, country-dwelling farmer has always possessed a healthy suspicion of the "city slicker" and his "modern" ways. This dichotomy is played out in politics with the conservative (country) people at odds with the liberal urbanites. In Bible studies, this involves the Baptist doctrine of "the priesthood of the believer"--in which each individual is free to construct his or her own "theology." This has taken root in a fundamentalist vein because of America's idolotry of the individual above all. However, in direct conflict with St. Paul's admonishions to respect authority and be obedient to goverment, the early history of the American colonists and their overthrow of the British government proves otherwise.

    There are many believers who hold that ANYTHING from the mind or the intellect must be, ipso facto, demonic and immoral. This point is the subject of an interesting book by Mark Knoll called "The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind." Noll, a first-rate evangelist himself, has that amazing quality to pay attention to the planks and timbers within his own eyes first before he comments on the sawdust specks in his brother's eyes.
    But beyond that it is a scholarly book and I recommend it.

    I am fond of recalling that it doesn't make one any less of a Christian to be ignorant of biblical scholarship (remember Mother Teresa!). It is also true that a knowledge of context, language forms and translation promotes biblical literacy and can actually profoundly deepen Christian faith.
     
  13. Matthew

    Matthew Member

    154
    +0
    No one is saying that you should know them. A good translation or a few of them is all that you really need. Knowing the originals can be helpful, but it is not necessary.

    They are dangerous. It may disturb you, but you don't know the original languages, and neither does Grace. Therefore, when you use such tools, it can be useful, but most often you will infer too much or something that is not there without realizing it. If you wish to know more about how the original languages, pick up a commentary or scholarly work.
     
  14. Romans828

    Romans828 New Member

    50
    +0
    Hello Matthew:

    I hope you have having a good day in the Lord.

    I would like to state that yet again I disagree. I have read some of the wackiest commentaries that have been extremely far off. I do not necessarily believe that "scholars" are better skilled to comment. Further, many of the commentaries out there are popular, yet the commentators did not necessary study biblical languages. Again I state that the scriptures are meant for interpretation for all, not just those who know the original biblical languages. Stating that scripture cannot be interpreted by all is taking the bible out of the common man's hands.
     
  15. Matthew

    Matthew Member

    154
    +0
    I would like to make it quite clear that I did not say that the common man cannot interpret scripture! The common man does not need original languages to interpret scripture! You are agreeing with me on this, not disagreeing.

    Further, scholars are better skilled to comment because they know more. The writers of scholarly commentaries do know original languages for the most part. If they do not know original languages, they are not scholarly commentaries. And I agree that there are "wacky" commentaries. That is why you should use your best judgement when picking them.
     
  16. Romans828

    Romans828 New Member

    50
    +0
    Hello Matthew:

    Forgive me...&nbsp; I thought we were disagreeing.&nbsp; Turns out we were completely agreeing.&nbsp; Sometimes, words over the computer just aren't clear enough.&nbsp; Anyway...have a great Christmas!!!
     
  17. Matthew

    Matthew Member

    154
    +0
    Thanks for the apology, hope you have a good Christmas too.
     
  18. Josephus

    Josephus <b>Co-Founder Christian Forums</b> Supporter

    +256
    Messianic
    In response to those that mentioned disagreements, I'd like to mention that hermaneutics is simply the exercise of common sense when reading a literary non-fiction work. However that common sense is defined, determines your interpretation; so therefore I've posted some general guidelines in common sense. Others have come up with their own guidelines to hermaneutics and I'm not here to debate them. These are my own, and of course, also The Bible Answerman's.

    I believe anyone can learn Hebrew and Greek just fine, with the interlinear bible I mentioned above, AND a Strong's concordance. Granted, Strong's is only based on Hebrew and Greek words used in the KJV english translation; the meanings are still the same since for those Hebrew and Greek words, and the concordance is helpful in it's purpose to provide a dictionary of those words.

    What I was referring to in the Interlinear bible I mentioned, was the powerful way it prints both the Hebrew or Greek word, directly translates it below the printed Hebrew or Greek word, and also prints a literal translation in english in a seperate column - a translation put together by 'informed' scholars of the very same type some of you claim we should trust.

    With this bible, applying the principles mentioned can be helpful in avoiding error. Granted, no hermaneutic can make you totally avoid error because error is not totally dependent on hermaneutic, but also on human mistakes and imagination.

    I'll reword the principles in my own words to respond to the one who posted about why they don't work.

    First of all, I don't see how the Literal approach is fraught with complexitities. Take a literal story to be a story, and a literal account of a real event as a literal account of a real event. This principle is only as complex as the one who intends to make it so.

    The ILLUMINATION principle is not about finding something other than what the text itself says. All princples in this hermaneutic structure have to be in harmony with each other, so therefore, whatever you believe is the truth of a scripture that the Holy Spirit shows you, MUST in fact harmonize with all other principles that make that scripture so. If there is a problem with this, then the only other issue that can be debated is on some unrelated topic called "personal scriptural relevancy" - better known to the layman as God using the bible to communicate directly to you in a subjective situation (i.e. praying for an answer to go forward or stay at home, and then immediately reading a scripture that talks about a man staying at home - thus giving you a subjective answer relevant only to you).

    GRAMMAR and HISTORICAL backgrounds of biblical texts is NOT in the real of scholars. There are MANY helps available to the public and general layman to find out the truth of grammatical sayings, and historical contexts, that it does NOT require a scholar to understand scripture as it is written in the Interlinear bible I mentioned.

    SCRIPTURAL HARMONY is required. It IS required. Without it, we have the Koran, or Bagahva Gita - fiction with allowable contradictions. I personally believe God, whom the very definition of UNITY comes from, left his mark on the very work he authored. If the bible can't be unified within and throughout itself, then you DO have error. As important as harmony with other scripture, so too is it important to have a harmony of ALL of these princples in this study help. This hermaneutic only works if one starts with one princple but ALSO follows through using all the other principles, not leaving a single one out.

    As a layman Christian with no seminary, I see all the help I need in studying the word for myself. I personally use several bibles, several translations, but the one bible I ALWAYS refer back to is... the Interlinear with Greek and Hebrew words, with which I can look up in any Hebrew or Greek dictionary, and not just a Strong's concordance.

    I should mention, that over the three years I've used my Interlinear bible, I'm now able to read familiar passages in Greek, with Greek understanding; as well as the&nbsp;Hebrew in the old testament - all without having to look at the english version.&nbsp; As a result of this, I too have found some literally translated words to be a bit off, as I've come to know them more,&nbsp;but they don't fundamentally alter the meaning of the scripture I do find them in.&nbsp; Such is the case of many english translations.&nbsp; There is no such thing as a perfect bible other than the original language bible itself - which is included in my Interlinear bible I posted on page 1; and the reason I made mention of it here in this thread. :)
     
  19. EPHRIAM777

    EPHRIAM777 A REAL NICE GUY..!

    448
    +2
    Originally posted by Josephus [/i]
    The Five Principles to Studying the Bible:
    from:

    Easy Acronym: LIGHTS

    1. Literal
    2. Ilummination
    3. Grammatical
    4. Historical
    5. Teaching
    6. Scriptual Harmony


    1. Literal Principle
    This means we should interpret the Word of God in its most normal and natural sense.


    2. Illumination Principle
    The Holy Spirit within a believer gives insights that can only be spiritually discerned. The Holy Spirit helps us exegete (draw out of) rather than eisegete (read into) Scripture. He illumines only what is in the text; illumination does not go beyond the text.

    "The Spirit of truth provides insights for the mind and illumination for the heart."


    3. Grammatical Principle
    Scripture is to be interpreted in accord with typical rules of grammar, including syntax and style.


    4. Historical Principle
    The biblical text is best understood when one is familiar with the customs, culture and historical context of biblical times.


    5.Teaching Principle
    As we seek to rightly interpret God's Word, we would do well to consult those whom God has uniquely gifted as teachers in the church (cf. Titus 2:1-15) and who guard against wolves in sheep's clothing that will not spare the flock (Acts 20:29).


    6. Scriptual Harmony Principle
    Individual passages of Scripture must always harmonize with Scripture as a whole. One text can never be interpreted to conflict with other passages. If a particular passage can be interpreted in several ways, the only choice is that interpretation which harmonizes with the rest of Scripture. God does not contradict himself.




    Eph replies...

    Ryan...although from a "sterile clinical" standpoint this would be true...!

    God has a differnt slant on it....!

    Basically....God sends YOU a Pastor-Teacher...EPH 4:11:13...and that individual teaches you Gods word...We are to "check that person" and what HE teaches..ACTS 17:11...( so our role in this is not passive )...

    With God leading...those other points you alluded to in your post...are axiomatic...!

    But God has a right way and a wrong way to learn and grow IN his word...!

    ...A person can attend seminary and achieve their degree quickly but THAT doesn't mean their a Pastor or...called by God..!

    ...I for example..can go live in China..I can learn to speak Chinese....eat chinese food....dress like the chinese do...But I'll never BE Chinese because I'm an Irish American...It's something you MUST be born into...in order to BE one...!

    The point is people can learn all the right words...and even WIN all the scripture quoting contests in town....That doesn't do ya any good...unless the Lord is behind it...!
     
  20. EPHRIAM777

    EPHRIAM777 A REAL NICE GUY..!

    448
    +2
     
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