Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Getting the meaning

Biblical scholar Ben Withington has an interesting (and long) article about biblical meaning. Here is his summary:

  1. Biblical texts have meanings
  2. we need help to understand them
  3. historical criticism is not the bogeyman, it is a good Sherlock Holmsian process that helps us understand the meaning of these texts
  4. we should not listen to those who suggest ‘meaning is in the eye of the behold’ or in the ‘act’ of the reader’, if by ‘meaning’ we mean the plain Biblical sense of the text, not what I would like to find in there
  5. historical criticism is in many ways the best hedge against misunderstanding and misinterpreting the text, and we should be glad for that if we care about the truth of the Word God, and desire to handle it prayerfully and carefully.

Note: when he uses "historical criticism" he does not mean being critical of the biblical texts, but studying them with a discerning eye to get to the meaning.< /b>

But Ben makes strong points about uncovering the meaning of a text rather than simply asking, "what does this mean to you?" which implies too much about the importance of the reader and not enough about the intent of God through the author.

Read what he has to say. Click here.

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