Intro to the Bible (Study #2) – Interpreting the Bible
For my notes on study 1 click here.
Study 2: Interpreting the Bible
Biblical interpretation is not a matter of ‘what we get from a passage’ but the process of seeking to understand what meaning and implications God intended us to take from the particular passage.
Three basic questions of biblical interpretation (p24):
- What did the author of the text mean?
- How did the text apply to the original readers?
- How is that meaning relevant to us today?
A helpful structure / considerations for engaging with a biblical text:
- Literary & Historical Context
- Literary Context:
- What kind of litarature is it? (Form / Genre)
- Where does the passage fit in the structure of the book – what is the immediate and what is the and broader context? How / where does this come in the author’s development of ideas?
- Are there words with theological significance?
- Historical Context:
- In what situation, or for which situation was the passage originally written?
- Meaning and Purpose in the original context:
- Literary Context:
- Biblical Context
- Where does this passage fit in the Bible’s overall ‘big picture’ message / salvation history (the metanarrative)
- Which other passages help to understand this passage?Th
- Meaning and Purpose in the biblical context:
“we discern God’s purpose in our passage by placing it firstly in its literary and historical context and secondl in its overal biblical context” (p32)
- Application (or implications)
- What applications were intended by the original author and how should the people have responded in those days?
- What application can we see for ourselves and how should we respond?
“there are similarities and differences in applying [a] passage to the original reader and to today’s reader. But underlying these is the common theme of God’s salvation and the understanding of how this has taken place in our world.” (p.34)