Religion Magazine

6 Things to Remember When Reading the Bible

By Sjbedard @sjbedard

Many of the problems that come up in matters of faith are the result of misreading the Bible. There are some simple things for us to remember that will make things much easier for us.

1. The Bible is inspired by God but written by people. The Bible did not drop out of heaven. Christians do not see the Bible the way Muslims see the Qur’an. We must take into account the personalities, styles and circumstances of the human authors.

2. The Bible is made up of different genres. We should not try and read history the way we read poetry the way we read an apocalypse. We need to take these genres seriously and not force a book to say something that it is not trying to say.

3. The Bible is an ancient book. We must interpret the Bible according to its cultural context. That is not an excuse to reject doctrines we don’t like. But it is an acknowledgement that it was not written as a 21st century western book.

4. The Gospels give us a reliable understanding of who Jesus is. Even without the doctrines of inspiration and infallibility (not that we should reject them), the Gospels are good historical sources that tell us who Jesus is, what he said and what he did.

5. The Old Testament is relevant for Christians. Just because Christians are followers of Jesus, does not mean that we reject the Old Testament. Both Jesus and Paul repeatedly quoted the Old Testament. The Old Testament was the only Bible they had.

6. Never read a verse out of context. Christians are notorious for picking a verse and holding onto it as their promise. We need to take that verse and interpret it in the context of the surrounding verses, in the context of that book and in the context of the entire Bible. Don’t build an entire theological system on one verse taken out of context.

This is not a comprehensive list, but starting with these will help Christians to have a healthier understanding of the Bible.

  • Hermeneutics

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