Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Reading Scripture: Being at Home in its Ancient Context

I have been thinking a lot lately on how we read, interpret and understand scripture. I have heard people say that the application of the scripture is the most important aspect when it is communicated. People just want to know how it applies today. Don't get me wrong, I do see the importance of application. Teaching or preaching without application to the world in which we live simply renders an uncompleted task.

I have been reading Peter Enn's 'Inspiration and Incarnation' and find the book very helpful touching on how we are to read, interpret and understand scripture. One important aspect for us to weigh is the cultural context and background surrounding a certain book. For this lets discuss Genesis.

It seems people would normally touch the topic of interpreting this book in terms of historicity, whether the book details historical fact which in turn is largely a modern concept imposed on the text. Another way people have interpreted Genesis is to prove it scientifically, that is whether the things written can be scientifically proven. This is also a modern leaning of trying to understand the book.

So how is someone to determine how one reads Genesis with 'proper' understanding without leaning of modern inclinations of understanding the book? One suggestion that I would deem faithful to this ancient text is to know how the ancient people have understood it. Lets face it, the ancient writers would not have thought how their writings would sound reasonable to people in the 20th Century. Far be it.

This is why reading Genesis in its context and trying to understand the book like how the ancients would have understood them would be the most closest thing we can do to understand what God would wan to communicate to us in the book.

What do you think? Do you find that reading and ancient text (in our case the OT) more edifying through the lenses of the ancient people and the seeking application based on that stance?

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Hopeful Theo

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I'm a student of Theology (currently and will always be one). I'm a student of culture and a student of music as well. I guess you could say life is a never ending journey of learning. Because of that we never stop being students. Just a little something about this blog: Deconstructing The Monkey is all about being a safe space for emerging conversations