Thursday, February 25, 2016

Dr Update

After an echocardiogram the result is that my heart is perfectly normal for my age. The palpitations aren't in the dangerous part of the heart so, though scary, they aren't dangerous. They are also too infrequent to bother doing anything about them. 

So all's good for now. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Biblical Literalism

From a reader: "What rules do you use to interpret the Bible? I have an idea in my HEAD of how Biblical literalists approach the text, but why rely on that when I can just ask an actual literalist? :) (Semi-related: is "Biblical literalist" a good label for you? What term, if any, would you prefer?) "

Biblical lieralist is probably good:-) Anyway, I can't think of a better one.

I believe the Bible is absolutely correct in its original texts, taking into account correct understanding of context, colloquialisms, metaphors, history, etc.

For example, there are places in the Bible the speak of the sunrise. We still use this term, though we know that the sun doesn't actually orbit the earth. It just appears to rise every morning due to the rotation of the planet. So accepting the term "sunrise" in the Bible as simply a phrase meaning the same thing we mean when we use it is logical. It doesn't mean I believe the sun circles the earth since the Bible uses "sunrise" as some have accused literalists of believing.

Another example: Song of Solomon 4:16 reads "Awake, north wind! Rise up, south wind! Blow on my garden and spread its fragrance all around. Come into your garden, my love; taste its finest fruits." This is actually a metaphor. It was common in poetry of the time and region to use the word "garden" to represent "genitalia." So to properly understand this verse we need to understand the history, context and poetry of the time (and there is a good reason Jews wouldn't let anyone under 12 read this book!).

Parables taught by Jesus may or may not have been actual biographical stories. It doesn't really matter as the point of those was not to give a history but to teach a lesson. 

Each scripture must be taken in context with the whole Bible, the particular book it is contained in, and history. There are scriptures in Job for example that say that anyone who serves God will be blessed financially and in their health. So if you are broke and sick you have obviously sinned. However, if you look at the context you find the whole book is a discussion on the nature of God and affects of serving Him. Compared with the rest of the Bible we find that these are ideas presented by people without understanding and are soundly refuted by both Job and the rest of the Bible.

And the Word has been handled by fallible humans and so occasional mistakes just happen. In 1631, for example, the typesetters left out the word "not" from Exodus 20:14 so that it read "Thou shalt commit adultery." This edition of the Bible is known as "The Wicked Bible." Most of them were collected an burned :-D

There were a few instances where the interpreters notes were accidentally printed as scripture or where the interpreter changed the text to make it more understandable (to them anyway.). You can find these by comparing KJV with NIV. The NIV and most newer translations left out the comments and just kept the Word, (making some weird numbering problems).

Some interpreters when faced with a choice of definitions chose the wrong one (such as the more modern translations choosing to interpret the Hebrew word tannin as Jackal because its true meaning- dragon- can't be right because dragons were fictional. However, older translations such as KJV have no problem using the word dragon since they had not gone extinct and passed into mythology yet. See dinosaurs and Dragons and What You Haven't been Told About Dinosaurs

And some of the newer translator's personal opinions and biases really caused them to just get it wrong (for example, though I LOVE reading Proverbs in the Message Bible, the author's belief in futurist prophecy interpretation caused him to make some serious mistakes in the minor prophets. He is just flat wrong.)

For these reasons, I believe in comparing different translations to get an overall idea of what the original text meant. I also look up words in the Strong's Concordance to get the original meanings (tannin means dragon, serpent, or sea monster in Hebrew, not Jackal).

I have read the comments of several people who learned biblical Greek and Hebrew so they could better understand the Word. Universally the ones I am familiar with say that the KJV or English Standard are the closest to the original languages, but the overall message is not corrupted in even the newest ones ("Everyone has rebelled against God and deserves to go to Hell. God loved every human being so much He sent His Son to die to pay the price for our sins. If we accept this gift by making God our Boss and quit living in rebellion we will go to Heaven"). 

I grew up with KJV and am most familiar with it, but do recognize that the language is a bit outdated. It is easier sometimes to get the right meaning by reading several different translations, especially the newer ones. If they disagree I go to Strong's and figure out the best I can what the original really meant.

So, I approach the Word as absolute truth, seeking to understand what the original meant and how it applies to my world and my understanding of the universe.  It is the foundation for all my other studies in every subject.