21 August 2015

Bible Interpretaion

Chapter 2 outline/notes of Methodical Bible Study by Robert A. Traina


literal figure of speech



A1 Purpose of Interpretation and Function of Interpreter

A2 Major phases of interpretation

B1 Definitive Phase--defining terms, words, phrases

B2 Rational Phase--why these terms, words, and phrases used instead of others

B3 Implicational Phase--besides the obvious meaning are their facets that are not obvious. For example, "And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me" (Matthew 11:6, NKJV) implies that one who is offended at and by Jesus is not going to be blessed.

A3 Specifics

B1 Interpretative Questions

C1 Defined--asking questions. "What does this mean?" "Why did he say this?" "Why did he say it this way?" These are but a few of the type of questions that could be asked.

C2 Types

D1 Who or what is involved in this passage?

D2 How is ________ accomplished?

D3 When does it happen?

D4 Where does this happen?

C3 Some will have a short answer and some will need a much longer answer.

C4 What is happening here? This is the main, underlying question.

C5 Example, "Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You," (John 17:1, NKJV).

D1 What does the word "glorify" mean?

D2 What does it mean for Jesus to be glorified?

D3 How is Jesus to be glorified?

D4 When?

D5 Why Him?

C6 What form is this?

D1 Poetry

D2 Prose

D3 For a fuller list see here, here (a shorter list with an assignment),

C7 What attitude/tone is present (Traina uses the word "atmosphere")?

D1 Happy (Luke 24:41, for example)

D2 Sad (Psalm 3, for example)

D3 Condemning (Psalm 7, for example)

D4 Historical (Ezra 1, for example)

D5 Thanksgiving (Psalm 136, for example)

D6 Teaching (Psalm 1, for example)

C8 Rational/logic/defensive/apologetics, etc.

D1 These different words describe the argument the Bible writer employs to prove his statement. See Hebrews 1, for example, where the author states that Jesus Christ is superior and lists the reasons why.

D2 Sometimes is found in a cascade of "why" questions?

E1 Why did this happen?

E2 Why did they make the choices that they did?

E3 Where is God in this passage?

E4 What does this say, then why does it said it this way, then what does it mean? One could go on with another "why" question that builds on the previous one.

D3 Example Psalm 23

E1 What does "Lord" mean?

E2 Why is this word for God uses instead of another?

E3 Why is God compared to a shepherd?

E4 What are sheep in this passage?

E5 Many other questions come from the rest of the verses.

B2 Interpretative Answers

C1 Subjective

D1 The Bible is a spiritual book and must be understood thusly.

D2 The Bible is a book to be read and studied with common sense. If something is obvious, then it is obvious. Don't try to find some hidden meaning in an obvious passage.

D3 Illustrations by a teacher (Jesus used illustrations a lot) must be understood as illustration. Statements must be taken as statement. We cannot change the plain, obvious sense of a passage into an image. For example see here especially Test question #2. Also see Matthew 16:5-12. The phrase "leaven of the Pharisees" was understand as the yeast that Pharisees use, but Jesus uses it as an illustration, in a figurative sense.

"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." Dr. David L. Cooper

D4 We cannot let our life experiences interpret or have a bearing on our interpretation. We are not to say, "What does this passage mean to you?" We are to say, "What does this passage mean?"

C2 Objective

D1 Language

E1 Our own mother tongue. This deals with translation. Words rarely translate with the exact definition.

E2 Original language.

F1 Reference source such as "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume."

F2 See how the word is used in other passages and how other translations have it.

F3 When it is a compound word, do not place too much weight on the root word. For example ἐπίγνωσις epignosis does mean something different than its root word γνῶσις gnosis.

D2 Tense

E1 This is referring to the Greek tense as present or aorist, for example. For more information on tense, mood, and etc. see here, here, and here

E2 What do these various tenses mean?

E3 What effect do they have on the passage?

D3 Hebrew (aspect. There is no idea of tense in Biblical Hebrew). For information see here, here, and here

D4 Literary forms--simile and so on

D5 Mood--the tone of the writing as happy, warning, praise, etc.

D6 Historical setting

D7 Interpretations of others--Important because if I am the only one to come up with an interpretation since the New Testament was written, then it is most likely to be a false interpretation.

A4 False Kinds of Interpretation--Errors in Interpretation

B1 Fragmentary

C1 Approaches Scriptures as a bunch of isolated texts without any relationship to each other.

C2 Ignores context--especially the greater context

C3 Often happens in preaching where a text is chosen, a topic decided upon, and preached out of context.

B2 Dogmatic

C1 A certain doctrine is a well-established belief to that person.

C2 Any doctrine that does not seem to fit the said belief is ignored or changed.

C3 This is the idea of theology preceding Scriptures, that is, doctrine/theology is more important and of higher authority than the Bible.

B3 Rationalistic

C1 Some incidents in the Bible cannot be true because they cannot be explained with logic.

C2 Miracles are not accepted so are explained away.

C3 The feeding of the 5,000 could not happen the way it is recorded in the Gospels, so it must be every one brought their own sack lunch.

B4 Mythological

C1 Some things in the Bible cannot be explained.

C2 These passages then are considered to be a myth of ignorant people.

C3 Some teach what the Bible teaches about salvation is truth, but not necessarily science and history.

B5 Historical

C1 The Bible is only the historical writings of an ancient people.

C2 It is studied only in that sense.

C3 The spiritual implications and purposes are ignored.

B6 Allegorical

C1 This is often applied to parables, those all passages are open for their imagination.

C2 Sometimes greatly distorted definitions are given for objects in a lesson.

C3 There is only some spiritual truth to be taught.

B7 Literal

C1 Sometimes called wooden literalism.

C2 When the plain sense shows a passage to be an illustration/simile, but the interpreter understands it as literal.

B8 Typological

C1 Scriptures contain types.

C2 An example would be the Israeli sacrifices of Leviticus which point to the ultimate sacrifice of Messiah--Jesus Christ.

C3 Since C2 is true, then all Scripture is forced into this idea. Not much is taken in its plain, normal sense.

B9 Predictive

C1 Some Scriptures are predictive, that is, speaks of future events.

C2 Since some do, we must interpret all Scriptures speaking of the future.

B10 Systematized

C1 A New Testament passage deals with a particular action that we are to do.

C2 Then all the Bible is interpreted in light of that one action.

B11 Cross-reference

C1 Cross references are important to help understand a passage.

C2 But the cross references are not examined in their context.

B12 Encyclopedic

C1 The Bible has answers for many situations that arise in our life.

C2 Thus every single situation that happens to us has an answer in the Bible.

C3 The danger is that passages will be twisted/wrested to force an interpretation not fitting the context.

B13 Literary

C1 The Bible is great literature.

C2 It is nothing more.

B14 interpretation other

C1 Misinterpretation--the wrong interpretation

C2 Sub-interpretation--not getting the FULL interpretation from a Scripture verse/passage.

C3 Super-interpretation--getting more out of a passage than is really there.

C4 Grammatical-historical

C5 Traditional--a passage is not examined for its meaning because it is interpreted already by a denomination or church authority.

C6 The Bible author interprets a passage. This happens in some of the parables of Jesus where he interprets that passage.

A5 Further resources

B1 Bible Interpretation

C1 Bible Interpretation by Cooper Abrams III

C2 Inductive Bible Study

B2 Bible Interpretation Errors

C1 Nine common errors in Bible Interpretation

C2 Common Errors

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