Thursday, September 5, 2013

Understanding the Bible More Deeply: Investigation

As I pointed out in the last article, the Bible wasn’t written in our cultural context. It was written by and to a people long ago with a different culture. They had different practices and routines, different political situations, and different popular philosophies. No doubt as we read the Bible we will encounter many references to things that are unfamiliar to us.

Also, as I pointed out in the previous article, reading the Bible over and over will result in noticing things we didn’t notice before. In early readings of the Bible, we will have a tendency to skip over things that we don’t recognize when they appear in the midst of things we do recognize. As we read through the Bible, it is likely that new things will strike us as something we need to investigate in order to understand the passage better.

Fortunately, we are blessed in these days to have rich resources for investigating these kinds of things. There are Bible handbooks, Bible dictionaries, commentaries, etc. I recommend checking more than one. Different aspects of information might be available in the work of different scholars.

Don’t be alarmed if you find that they don’t agree. You will be able to get a fuller view of uncertainty in scholarship that way. If the observation is related to a theological point of view, you will be able to see why something either supports or undermines your own point of view and you will be able to refine your thinking.

So you grow more deeply in your understanding as you gain more information on what you are reading. You also grow more deeply in your understanding as your own previous beliefs are challenged.

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