Hermaneutics, Interpretation of Scripture and General Revelation

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So, lets look at a case where I reject the analysis of those that would stray too far...

Lets look at Joshua 10:13

And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed,
until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies.
Is not this written in the book of Jasher?
So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven,
and hasted not to go down about a whole day.


I have read papers saying things like it just seemed like time stopped. They say that people in the midst of a battle loose track of time, and it seems like the day will never end.

From my viewpoint, that does not respect the scriptures, either in word by word, or in general intent.

If you want to know what I think, I can tell you that all I have is very raw supposes.

The Lord is Lord of time, He could have had affected any of several modifications to the way time passed either locally or globally. I don't know. He could have stopped the sun as the a literal reading says. He is just as able to prevent any unwanted side-effects while He does this.

I just see no reason to say that it was all in the perception of the people.

Another aspect of scientific inquiry that is sometimes done well but othertimes ignored is that it is not bad to say you do not know. But having said that one does not know some specific thing does not mean that you need to accept whatever someone else would have you say.
 
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This is a good example of where scientific analysis of the situation cannot harmonize with the language of scripture. All sorts of speculation, theory and supposition has been put forth to try to find some way to argue that the language of this text cannot possibly mean what it says. The reason this is done is because everything we know through scientific observation of all of the statistical regularities involved in the movements of the sun and the earth contradict what the Bible tells us took place. Since scientific observation confirms that this is an absolute possibility by all the "laws" of physics, then scripture must either be wrong or it does not really mean what it says. Do you see the problem here? As I said earlier, when scientific interpretation comes into conflict with scripture, it will never be scripture that is in error.

The sun standing still is only from the perspective of man. In order for the sun to appear to stand still in the sky, this would require the halting of the earth's rotation. It is the rotation of the earth on its axis at 1037 miles per hour that give us the rising and setting of the sun. To me this really adds to the incredible nature of the event. How do you explain the earth halting its rotational pattern without suffering the impact of the sudden collapse of gravitational forces? If the earth were to suddenly and immediately stop on its axis, everything on the surface of the earth would be flung into space, all land masses would collide resulting in catastrophic global seismic disruption and massive land tsunamis. All gravitational forces on the earth would collapse because it is the rotation of the earth that creates earth' gravity. This was most certainly not a natural event but a supernatural one. What this shows us is that creation is not ultimately governed by natural law. It is governed by the power of God who can suspend the laws of physics that regulate earth's movements and still keep everything in its place. To me, this was one of the most incredible events since the beginning of creation itself. This was an incredible non-natural event that happened just as scripture describes it, and there will nerve be a scientific explanation to satisfy those who attempt to minimalize the language of scripture. One either believes the inspired word of God or he does not. There are no middle grounds upon which to stand.
 
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Feb 10, 2015
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In my prior couple of posts, I have tried to show that a Bible believing Christian can find that the sciences as imperfectly understood as they are can still augment our appreciation of scripture.

Now, I wish to discuss how the knowledge of sciences can be used to select among the possible meanings of scriptural text. I know that many find this completely erroneous, an I understand that feeling. From my perspective, dismissing the witness of creation is as wrong to me as applying the sciences to scripture seems to be to many of my brothers.

But when one looks at all the earth sciences particularly geology, archeology, biology and including astronomy, the Earth is old. Ancient. And it is a single small planet in an immensely older universe.

One component of this discussion is whether the speed of light is constant, since at the currently accepted value of ‘c’ (the symbol commonly used to represent the speed of light) it would take longer than the age of the Earth as accepted by Young Earth creationists for the light to reach us. Often a table will be shown showing historical measurements of c and noting that the value obtained has been changing (sometimes the argument is that it is getting faster, most time the argument is that it is slowing down). What is actually being displayed is that as our abilities of measurement advanced, the error component of the measurement decreased.

Astronomers routinely note novas in this and other galaxies and observe the light pulse as it travels through nebula and measure the speed of light as it passes through. Light passing through a nebula thousands of light years away (which this happened thousands of years ago) matches the current value.

In scientific discipline after discipline, a young earth view requires innumerable largely stand-alone explanations as to why the observed universe differs from what a young Earth would be expected to ‘look’ like. But if one looks at creation in the old earth view, although there are small problems, one field largely supports the next, requiring fewer explanations and those that do come up are often conceptually small.

So, to apply this to understanding the Bible, it is important to examine the text and see how it fits with the evidence around us. When compared to modern languages, including and particularly English, Hebrew particularly ancient Hebrew is a very sparse language (fewer words covering many sets of concepts). One way this is done is to use the same word for several similar concepts. I note that the word (YOM) translated as ‘day’ in Genesis does not always mean a 24 hour day. YOM is often translated simply as ‘time’ and can have the same meaning as ‘epoch’. Limiting our consideration to Genesis, and other scriptural references may not guide us to that understanding, but by considering the evidences in creation itself, it is not beyond the pale to adopt that as the most probable meaning. This does not solve all problems by any means, but at least one can explore the Genesis account further without being cut off at the beginning.

As for other adjustments to the rendering of scripture, I read the flood account as an accurate account from the perspective of Noah and his companions. It was probably a local event. And, for archeology to make any sense at all, the Americas and the Pacific Islands were populated, and those peoples could hardly have learned about the Hebrew God, though the knowledge of right and wrong is universal even if it is not universally followed. It may be just me, but my view of the Gods love for mankind in general would be inconsistent with a global catastrophe. As far as geology, although there were floods recorded in the earth around the world, they neither line up in time, nor does the record suggest that local populations were wiped out.


I know that many will have issues with this, and it is not my intention to cause heated disputes, but I wished to show that there is no reason to war against the sciences, particularly since they are not warring against the Bible.

I close this post with a passage from Astronomer and Christian writer Hugh Ross:


Writing for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, researchers Allen Hammond and Lynn Margulis made this comment about the young-universe view: “Adoption of creationist [that is, young-universe creationist] ‘theory’ requires, at a minimum, the abandonment of essentially all of modern astronomy, much of modern physics, and most of the earth sciences.”70
I’m troubled to think what may happen when the connection between cosmic size and age becomes more widely understood. If taught that a young universe is the Bible’s clear message, many seekers and nonbelievers will conclude, under the barrage of compelling scientific evidence for the universe’s antiquity, that the Bible must be accepted on a purely subjective, nonfactual basis. Thus, they may turn away from considering Christ’s claims. To put it another way, if the church demonstrates itself unreliable in interpreting scientific data, which are subject to objective verification, how can it be trusted to handle biblical statements on spiritual matters that cannot be objectively verified? Demonstrably false science gives people reasons to reject the gospel—reasons to disbelieve rather than reasons to believe.
As for sincere young-earth Christians, the tenets of young-earth creationism dictate that they must shut out science and its facts altogether to preserve their faith. How can they love the Lord our God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength if they must separate their mind from their faith? Such a separation violates the meaning of biblical faith.
This is a good example of where scientific analysis of the situation cannot harmonize with the language of scripture. All sorts of speculation, theory and supposition has been put forth to try to find some way to argue that the language of this text cannot possibly mean what it says. The reason this is done is because everything we know through scientific observation of all of the statistical regularities involved in the movements of the sun and the earth contradict what the Bible tells us took place. Since scientific observation confirms that this is an absolute possibility by all the "laws" of physics, then scripture must either be wrong or it does not really mean what it says. Do you see the problem here? As I said earlier, when scientific interpretation comes into conflict with scripture, it will never be scripture that is in error.

The sun standing still is only from the perspective of man. In order for the sun to appear to stand still in the sky, this would require the halting of the earth's rotation. It is the rotation of the earth on its axis at 1037 miles per hour that give us the rising and setting of the sun. To me this really adds to the incredible nature of the event. How do you explain the earth halting its rotational pattern without suffering the impact of the sudden collapse of gravitational forces? If the earth were to suddenly and immediately stop on its axis, everything on the surface of the earth would be flung into space, all land masses would collide resulting in catastrophic global seismic disruption and massive land tsunamis. All gravitational forces on the earth would collapse because it is the rotation of the earth that creates earth' gravity. This was most certainly not a natural event but a supernatural one. What this shows us is that creation is not ultimately governed by natural law. It is governed by the power of God who can suspend the laws of physics that regulate earth's movements and still keep everything in its place. To me, this was one of the most incredible events since the beginning of creation itself. This was an incredible non-natural event that happened just as scripture describes it, and there will nerve be a scientific explanation to satisfy those who attempt to minimalize the language of scripture. One either believes the inspired word of God or he does not. There are no middle grounds upon which to stand.
The key point in my post regarding this is that I don't know. However, I do maintain that the natural laws are His laws and are designed to express His glory to all. Yes, He can change them or suspend them at will, but I do not believe that is in His nature. It would be changing or suspending or ignoring a basic expression of Himself. Theoretically, each of us could lead a sinless life since all sin involves making a choice based on our own desires when we could choose to follow God. But since sin entered the world, it has not been in our nature and I know that there has only been one sinless man.
 
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Why would you feel the suspension of any determined relation would in any way change the basic expression of God. God is not bound by natural laws. He stands over and above ALL natural determined relations. God placed these determined relations in the natural world to accommodate man, not himself. Every miracle you see in scripture is a suspension of the determined relations. Being able to explain them on the basis of natural process will never be possible. Not because we do not have sufficient knowledge of science, but because they are not products of natural process.
 
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Why would you feel the suspension of any determined relation would in any way change the basic expression of God. God is not bound by natural laws. He stands over and above ALL natural determined relations. God placed these determined relations in the natural world to accommodate man, not himself. Every miracle you see in scripture is a suspension of the determined relations. Being able to explain them on the basis of natural process will never be possible. Not because we do not have sufficient knowledge of science, but because they are not products of natural process.
Romans 1:20 tells us that Gods purpose for natural laws (the things He has made) is to make the His nature and power manifest. You would have it that the miracles represent when He was showing us His power, and doing it by suspending the very laws designed to demonstrate it.
 
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You know, this is not about the sinful nature in each of us nor the deity of Christ nor the virgin birth nor the resurrection. Someone who accepts the atonement of Christ for their personal sin but gets the meaning of YOM wrong can learn the truth when he enters heaven.

One thing about us dilettantes (and I am willing to accept the pejorative connotations of dilettante) is that we are stubborn. Not just steadfast, but far beyond the weight of our flimsy knowledge, we are stubborn. But we don’t always have to be the victor in any real or imagined battle. There was a time a few years ago, when I was attending a small congregation where the pastor was a strict young earth creationist. He was aware of my viewpoint, and I am sure it troubled him. We had a small Bible study in his office in the late afternoon once a week for many months and one of the subjects covered was Genesis. Now, sometimes he got sternly forceful in his position, but although I was stubbornly unwavering, we never got into what I would call an argument. I was always grateful for the time and effort spent trying to mend my stubborn ways.

I recognized his role in determining the teaching of his congregation and I made sure I never voiced objections nor contrary opinions at anytime it could harm his message or that of his congregation.

When I see the way things are going socially, we are becoming more and more polarized. We demonize those with whom we disagree and counter any stance we perceive as wrong with increased insistence on the most exaggerated form of what we would back.

As Christians, we should not fall into that trap and treat our brothers as enemies or as if they must be wrong thinking because they disagree with ourselves.
 
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Romans 1:20 tells us that Gods purpose for natural laws (the things He has made) is to make the His nature and power manifest. You would have it that the miracles represent when He was showing us His power, and doing it by suspending the very laws designed to demonstrate it.
Well, that really is not what Paul is talking about. He says absolutely nothing about natural laws or God subordinating himself to them. God is not constrained by time, physics, or physiology. What Paul says is that creation reveals the invisible attributes of God. These attributes are revealed to us in nature. From scripture, we learn that the nature of God is bi-cameral, in other words, it is represented in two parts. There are those signature traits which make God, God. He is spirit, he is ever-present, immortal, holy, eternal, self-existing, all-powerful, invisible, self-sustaining, all-knowing, unified, and transcendent. There are also those character traits that reveal to us what kind of God he is. These are things that define his moral integrity. For example, because he is God, he is holy (holiness not only defines an intrinsic attribute but also a quality of character). He is good, faithful, patient, righteous, honest, loving, just, fair, forgiving, pure, consistent, merciful, and vengeful. Subordination is not a trait that is part of the character of God. This is not revealed in scripture nor is it seen in nature.
 
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Am sorry but this thread is losing me and I cant really follow it.

But I will pick up one thing is that, when talking about ' natural laws' what laws are you even talking about. Whenever the Bible talks about law its always referring to the laws of Moses. This is the schoolmaster that brings the israelites to Christ.

Also Romans 1:20 if Im reading in context, isnt about any 'natural laws', its about people not believing in Jesus as he was clearly made manifest to them when he came in the flesh. And those that were before Jesus did hear God though the prophets, angels, or burning bush, or directly when God chose to speak with them.
 
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"Natural Laws" is a term man has assigned to a body of rules that he believes operate as the governing forces of the universe. For example, in physics, we have the field of thermodynamics and the law of mass in motion, which is typically referred to as Newton's law of motion. In chemistry we have the law of conservation of matter. To keep it simple, man believes such laws are determinate, fixed, and unalterable. This belief is based on the principle of observable regularity. For example, I know without a doubt that every time I hit my thumb with a hammer it is going to hurt. Why, because every time I have done so in the past, that has been the outcome. The point I was making in earlier posts is that the term "natural law" is actually a misnomer because by definition, a law is something that cannot be broken or ignored without consequences. What scripture shows us is that these forces are not the determinate factors of the universe. The power of God can overturn, manipulate, and suspend them according to his will. Every miracle in the Bible is a testimony to the power of God over and above time, physics, and physiology. These so-called natural laws are not actually laws at all. They are merely a set of determined relations that God has put in place that allow man to function within confines of his natural environment. The bottom line is that God, not "naturel law," is the one who runs the universe and everything in it.
 
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Oh ok those arent natural 'laws' then because otherwise it would be set in stone and God would have given them at mt sinai and not the ones He actually gave.

I would call those natural observations of perhaps cause and effect. But of course in the supernatural realm that does not necesary apply. Its much bigger. For example, 1 + 1 equals 2 , but then Get into exponents and 1 to the power of, and its ...exponential.

I reckon many scientists dont quite grasp that and are just sticking to what they see and the basics. With God, He can do immeasureably more than we can ask or think. He multiplies, and is infinite and eternal whereas with man with our limitedness and finiteness it seems. we can only add or subtract and see things in a linear fashion, because we are timebound and earthbound.
 
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I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this thread.

It started out as my attempt to understand how the interpretation and understanding of the Bible is done, and specifically how it may be enhanced or made more reliable by NOT including the evidences in God’s creation when considering the proper understanding of scripture.

Given the number of believers who I truly respect approach the scriptures in this manner, it seems that the problem is with me.

At a certain point we changed to a discussion of the issue from my position. It was never my intention to change anyone’s view. To let one’s view of the scriptures be changed by what someone writes on a site like this would mean that one’s views are easily threatened and unable to withstand even small challenges. However, I don’t think I made myself clear on several points. But that was my responsibility. It may be more that what I wrote was too far removed from the prevailing standpoint.

I hope that no-one thought that I was motivated by animosity, though I admit a level of frustration. I assure all that my frustration is not directed at anyone other than myself.

Thanks again for all your efforts on my behalf.
 
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I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this thread.

It started out as my attempt to understand how the interpretation and understanding of the Bible is done, and specifically how it may be enhanced or made more reliable by NOT including the evidences in God’s creation when considering the proper understanding of scripture.

Given the number of believers who I truly respect approach the scriptures in this manner, it seems that the problem is with me.

At a certain point we changed to a discussion of the issue from my position. It was never my intention to change anyone’s view. To let one’s view of the scriptures be changed by what someone writes on a site like this would mean that one’s views are easily threatened and unable to withstand even small challenges. However, I don’t think I made myself clear on several points. But that was my responsibility. It may be more that what I wrote was too far removed from the prevailing standpoint.

I hope that no-one thought that I was motivated by animosity, though I admit a level of frustration. I assure all that my frustration is not directed at anyone other than myself.

Thanks again for all your efforts on my behalf.
That is a very good thing to do. I commend you for your ability to "sense" that there may be a disconnect.

I do respect and agree with oldhermit when he said......…….
"God is not bound by natural laws. He stands over and above ALL natural determined relations. God placed these determined relations in the natural world to accommodate man, not himself. Every miracle you see in scripture is a suspension of the determined relations. Being able to explain them on the basis of natural process will never be possible. Not because we do not have sufficient knowledge of science, but because they are not products of natural process."
 
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bobinfaith

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I have a lovely answer, but I am not sure what your question is.
Hello Saul Mine;

Should you have an answer, what do you feel the question is to initiate your response? Please write from your heart. I believe God can use what you share to bless us, for others to minister to.

God bless you, Saul, and your family.
 
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I get very suspicious when I see a word like "hermaneutics", first because it is not in the bible, and second because it tends to be difficult to remember what it means long enough to make up an opinion, and besides that you didn't even spell it correctly. Making up multisyllabic words is a philosopher's pastime, and philosophers are notorious for not caring about being right. We who worship the God of rightness are considered a pain in the flesh by philosophers.

her·me·neu·tics
/ˌhərməˈn(y)o͞odiks/
noun

  1. the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation, especially of the Bible or literary texts.
https://www.google.com/search?q=define+hermaneutics

The graph at the site indicates that the word was almost unkown until about 50 years ago. Why did nobody care about interpretations before that?
 

bobinfaith

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I get very suspicious when I see a word like "hermaneutics", first because it is not in the bible, and second because it tends to be difficult to remember what it means long enough to make up an opinion, and besides that you didn't even spell it correctly. Making up multisyllabic words is a philosopher's pastime, and philosophers are notorious for not caring about being right. We who worship the God of rightness are considered a pain in the flesh by philosophers. The graph at the site indicates that the word was almost unkown until about 50 years ago. Why did nobody care about interpretations before that?
I really do not think you are afraid of big words. They are just words. I think what may make you uneasy are big concepts.
Hello Saul Mine;

Your correction of the spelling of hermeneutics is a good point since this topic has been lengthly. Thank you for pointing this out.

There is a distinction between philosophers and theologians. Philosophers analyze existence of reason, values and knowledge. Theologians study and interpret the Word of God and Truth and this is where hermeneutics comes in. Hermeneutics covers the whole field of interpretation and is beneficial to the believer who studies the Bible.

Devotional reading is not the only kind we should do. Hermeneutics does not take God's Truth away from the Bible, instead it helps the disciple understand the deeper meaning of the ancient text.

God bless you, Saul Mine and your family.

oldhermit,
as a teacher, if I was your student, how would you explain going back to the patristic and early church fathers, why these early church fathers had their theological points of views of interpreting the Bible, only to arrive at the end of the day that the Bible is inerrant? In these times, even the most seasoned theologians and scholars may argue errors in the Bible.

For example, in the book of Ezekiel he pointed out the sins of women who lived in impurity and promiscuity. Scholars went as far as saying Ezekiel was a misogynist (a strong dislike for women.) I find this ridiculous since he was grief stricken over the death of his wife,

Ezekiel 24:15-18,
15 The word of the Lord came to me: 16 “Son of man, behold, I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you at a stroke; yet you shall not mourn or weep, nor shall your tears run down. 17 Sigh, but not aloud; make no mourning for the dead. Bind on your turban, and put your shoes on your feet; do not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men.” 18 So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died. And on the next morning I did as I was commanded.

God bless you, old hermit, and your family.
 
Feb 10, 2015
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I get very suspicious when I see a word like "hermaneutics", first because it is not in the bible, and second because it tends to be difficult to remember what it means long enough to make up an opinion, and besides that you didn't even spell it correctly. Making up multisyllabic words is a philosopher's pastime, and philosophers are notorious for not caring about being right. We who worship the God of rightness are considered a pain in the flesh by philosophers.
This happens quite a lot. In almost every area where one may be an expert a special set of terms develops. Sometimes those terms are specific meanings to everyday terms, sometimes they are newly invented terms for their specific meanings.

I remember a discussion from when I was working nights as a janitor while going to college where a co-worker stated that scientists use too many words to mean the same thing. His specific example was "Force" and "Energy". To him the concepts are close enough to not require two different words. To anyone interested in the sciences, they are very different concepts. I talked to him a bit about the difference between them an a little more about dimensional analysis, and other things that probably meant little to him until the end of our meal period.

The mostly unintended result of this aspect of jargon is that the uninitiated often rightly or wrongly feel intimidated and do not even have the vocabulary that is acceptable to the initiated to ask a proper question.

I feel the same about the words hermeneutics as well as exegesis. My attempt in this thread was to find out a little more about these words, the techniques they require and how they relate to Biblical interpretation. If I understood a little better how and why it is done the way it is done, I may understand my brothers in Christ a little better.

I got several responses about the Bible being its own best commentary, but no help in understanding any danger in applying knowledge from observing God's creation.

This morphed into my explaining my views. From the result, I don't think I presented it in a way that was understood. Its not that it was not met with agreement (I knew coming into the discussion that it would be met with skepticism). It was more that the nature of the comments showed that I had not communicated my position well.

Other comments drew unfounded conclusions on what I believed. I found them hurtful, but that just further indicates how poorly I expressed myself.
 
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