A shadow on the heart of the Earth
Joined: 23 Feb 2009
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Location: Near where Broken Social Scene is gonna play on October 15th, 2010
8940 White Gold Dollars
|Posted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 9:39 am Post subject: A theory of how to read the Bible [1.75]
|Not , this is not a devotional post haha. However, if your knee-jerk reaction to the title thread is to want to say, "Why would you read the Bible? It's an old, outdated book," or something like that, please don't waste so much of my time haha.
But also keep in mind: I do believe in the Trinity and therefore, more particularly, here, that the Spirit did play a role in the existence of the Bible. NOT as the absolutely unique Word of God, but as part of what one day will be this thing, so to speak.
Waiving the question of the canon, the first question to ask, here, is: how literally or allegorically are we to take the text? Devout literalists will operate on the assumption that a passage ought to be taken literally unless stated otherwise in the document itself. This is reasonable as a means to avoid cherry-picking, in a sense, I guess, but lends itself to reducing the general credibility of the book. Contrariwise, an overly figurative analysis reduces the historical significance of the overall document. (If you know Van Til's work, I'm invoking [gasp!] some of his line of thought, here.) That is, if you gloss Christ-the-Logos as primarily something of an esoteric abstraction that just happened to be tenuously affiliated with the words and deeds of a certain concrete individual man in time, you rob both(!) God the Son and the Son of God of their special aesthetic value (as it were) in the scheme.
It would be nice, then, to have a principled way of interpreting the whole book in balance between the two standards described above.
Now, on the assumption that we learn of the Incarnation from the Bible first, the following is rather circular, and not necessarily in a licit way. But let's suppose we use the general fact of the Bible as general evidence for the Incarnation, not because it speaks of this directly, but because it, plus the tradition of teaching in the Church (which, keep in mind, existed before the evangelical and epistolary documents came to be), testifies that there was a man Who was resurrected from the dead under independently identifiable historical circumstances. On the assumption that Anselm's a priori argument for an Incarnation goes through (and I believe it does), we are in a position to use the concept of the Incarnation itself as the principle of interpretation for the book.
How? By mapping the division between literal and allegorical meaning onto the duality of natures in the Son. In other words, the part of the Bible that talks about the human life of the Son is to be taken most literally. Out from this, like rays from the sun(!) so to say, the meaning of the text becomes more and more allegorical, until all the way back in Genesis and all the way forward in Revelation, virtually everything is to be taken figuratively.
Approached in this way, I think the book can be understood as both generally internally coherent as well as meaningful in a concrete historical fashion.