Why We Study the Bible According to the Traditional View (The Covenant & the Cross #5)

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Soren Kierkegaard. He said: “When you read God’s Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, ‘It is talking to me, and about me.'”

Today, we are going to continue our overview of some topics that will help us as we study the Bible throughout future episodes.

Our topic for today is titled: “Why We Study the Bible According to the Traditional View” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Michael A. Harbin

The two basic schools of thought regarding the Bible begin with drastically different assumptions. The traditional school assumes that the Bible is a historical document to be taken at face value. Scholars who follow this approach recognize that there are items in the Bible that are difficult to understand or believe. However, because the Bible has been shown correct so often, these scholars prefer to take a “wait-and-see” attitude regarding controversial areas. The modern school, on the other hand, assumes that the Bible is essentially pious fiction to be accepted only when supported by modern science, despite the fact that this assumption is constantly being shattered by archaeology.

We will follow the first view because I consider that in scholarly work it is more honest to allow the text to have its say until proven wrong, especially when it has been proven correct so often. As we go along, I will illustrate the historicity of the Bible in a variety of ways, although I will also point out areas where questions still remain. For example, I will show how the Old Testament and New Testament characters fit within their historical time frames. I will provide key anchors to other events in the Ancient Near East and the Mediterranean area, including some we can calculate down to the very day. Also, we will show how the biblical records fit closely with the written evidence from other areas of the region. As a result, I will be able to demonstrate that the Bible is a unified document portraying actual historical events.

On our next broadcast, we will look at “The Value and Limitations of Archaeology.”

Advertisements

How Should I Interpret the Bible? The Traditional View of God (The Covenant & the Cross #4)

We always like to start out with the Word of God, and today’s Bible verse is Psalm 119:18 which reads: “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Miles Coverdale. He said: “It will greatly help you to understand scripture if you note – not only what is spoken and written, but of whom and to whom, with what words, at what time, where, to what intent, with what circumstances, considering what goes before and what follows.”

Today, we are going to continue our overview of some topics that will help us as we study the Bible throughout future episodes.

Our topic for today is titled: “How Should I Interpret the Bible? The Traditional View of God” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Michael A. Harbin.

In contrast to the modern school, the traditional approach takes the view that God, by His nature, may intervene in space-time history on occasion, and in fact is recorded as having done so. Further, the traditional view maintains that a number of subordinate or lesser spiritual beings have also appeared or intervened in space-time history. Some of these lesser beings are fallen angels who oppose God (thus the issue of evil), a concept the liberal school in general does not seem to understand or at least does not accept.

Likewise, the traditional view argues that supernormal events or miracles are to be viewed critically (by definition, they are not normal). As a number of writers have pointed out, the question of whether miracles can occur or not is a philosophical one. Because of their very nature, science cannot prove that miracles do not exist — or that they do. The basis of science is replication, while miracles are by definition nonreplicative and thus fall under the category of historical-legal proof. Science demonstrates what normality is. That is, it tells us what should occur, not what historically has occurred. In other words, just as the scientific method cannot prove whether the infamous O.J. Simpson was innocent or guilty, it also cannot prove whether a miracle occurred.

On our next broadcast, we will look at “Why We Study the Bible According to the Traditional View.”

How Should I Interpret the Bible? The Development from the Modern View (The Covenant & the Cross #3)

We always like to start out with the Word of God, and today’s Bible verse is Psalms 119:11 which reads: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from R.C. Sproul. He said: “We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.”

Today, we are going to continue our overview of some topics that will help us as we study the Bible throughout future episodes.

Our topic for today is titled: “How Should I Interpret the Bible? The Development from the Modern View” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing: A Historical Survey of the Old and New Testaments” by Michael A. Harbin.

While there have been people who questioned the authority of the Bible and the authorship of individual biblical books, the modern view gained dominance in the 1800s after several scholars developed new theories about how the Old Testament was composed. These theories were brought together by Julius Wellhausen in his foundational work, “Prolegomena to the History of Ancient Israel” in 1878. Very quickly, certain influential scholars adopted Wellhausen’s theory for the Old Testament and then subsequently applied his principles to find multiple sources in the New Testament.

The process began with the Pentateuch. Scholars have long struggled with certain problematic issues in these books. The relationship of Genesis 1 and 2 (which we will look at later) is a key example. Looking at issues of style, vocabulary, and subject matter, Wellhausen and others concluded that despite the claims of the Bible and other evidence to the contrary, the five books we have today are a product of several writers over centuries. Because of archaeological discoveries that have challenged Wellhausen’s assumptions (such as when writing was invented), this premise more recently has been modified to include underlying oral traditions put together centuries after the books claim to have been written. Wellhausen’s theory is also called the Documentary Hypothesis, or the JEDP theory (named after the four basic hypothetical documents or sources seen in the text). The theory argues that these different sources were gathered into the collection we have today between the times of King Josiah and Ezra (i.e., somewhere around 650 – 450 BC). After Wellhausen’s argument about the origins of the Pentateuch won general acceptance, the same principles of multiple sources were applied to the rest of the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Even before Wellhausen published his work, archaeology had begun challenging many of his assumptions, most of which have been abandoned even by a majority of modern scholars (except for a couple of basic philosophical presuppositions). However, the Documentary Hypothesis, with some modifications, is still widely accepted despite the fact that there is no concrete evidence of the sources proposed and that the process creates more problems than it solves. The key operating principle that Wellhausen used was that God is either limited or restricted, and miracles are impossible. Thus, Wellhausen and his school of thought began with deistic ideas. Deism taught that God could not (or at least most emphatically would not) intervene in space-time history. This is at best an unprovable assumption. However, the entire theory rests on it.

On our next broadcast, we will look at “The Traditional View of God.”

How Should I Interpret the Bible? The Modern View (The Covenant & the Cross #2)

We always like to start out with the Word of God, and today’s Bible verse is 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which reads: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Charles H. Spurgeon. He said, “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.”

Today, we are going to continue our overview of some topics that will help us as we study the Bible throughout future episodes.

Our topic for today is titled: “How Should I Interpret the Bible? The Modern View” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing: A Historical Survey of the Old and New Testaments” by Michael A. Harbin.

In distinction to the traditional view, the second school of interpretation is often called the modern view, also known as the liberal or critical view (the latter term is unhelpful because it could imply that the traditional view does not analyze issues critically). The modern view approaches the biblical documents as suspect at best. While these documents claim to be history, they are assumed to be late forgeries until conclusively proven otherwise. This view gained dominance in scholarly circles during the latter part of the nineteenth century. Its supporters continue to label the bulk of the Bible as “myth,” though their position on certain matters has often changed as a result of corroborating evidence. The real issue underlying the thinking of these scholars is a set of philosophical assumptions rather than conflicting evidence. In general, these conjectures reflect a spirit of naturalism, which can be simplistically reduced to the idea that miracles cannot happen. The miraculous accounts that appear in the Bible must therefore be regarded as, at best, “embellishments” of the text.

These two views actually represent a rather wide spectrum of interpretive thought. There is also a problem in using labels not only because doing so immediately seems to attach emotional nuances to the discussion, but also because individuals will differ on particular issues while agreeing on broader principles. Therefore, I will use these labels merely for convenience’ sake, recognizing the risk of oversimplification. They should be understood as reflecting general trends.

On our next broadcast, we will look at what is called “The Modern View” of interpreting the Bible.

How Should I Interpret the Bible? The Traditional View (The Covenant & the Cross #1)

We always like to start out with the Word of God, and today’s Bible verse is 2 Timothy 2:15 which reads: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from D.L. Moody. He said, “The Bible was not given for our information but for our transformation.”

Today and for the next few broadcasts, as we begin our journey through the Bible, we are going to cover a few topics by way of overview that will help us throughout future episodes.

Our topic for today is titled: “How Should I Interpret the Bible? The Traditional View” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing: A Historical Survey of the Old and New Testaments” by Michael A. Harbin. Continue reading