The Nature of Scripture and Revelation

How should scripture be interpreted? Is it all infallible and absolutely true? Is it all literal, or is it all metaphorical? Or is it somewhere in between?

My personal feeling is that scripture is a little bit of all that, but I'm trying to iron it all out, so any input you have is very very welcome.

There's a radio station in the Bay Area (where I live) that has an adverstisement for their home Bible study course, and they say bluntly that scripture should interpret scripture.

I can hang with that. But then they go on to say that, accordingly, we don't need to consider the initial intentions, meanings, cultures, or circumstances surrounding the Bible. Something there sounds a little fishy to me. I don't see the Bible making that claim for itself--though in II Timothy, Paul says that all scripture is indeed profitable for many things. Why, if the Bible is infallible, would we need to make the ADDITIONAL claim ON BEHALF of the Bible that it is indeed infallible--would an infallible book not make that claim for itself?

So how should we, as followers of Jesus, approach scripture? Sometimes, I think I see Jesus revering the scriptures he had, the Law of Moses--like during his wilderness temptations. Other times, though, it seems like he dismisses the Mosaic Law--particularly those scriptures regarding the Sabbath, the purity scriptures, and the scripture on divorce. Lots of people I know like to say that because Jesus was God he could do whatever he wanted in regard to the Word--but if God never changes, why did He change his eternal Word?

And, if we must then conclude that the law is just a temporary expression of an eternal Word, and then apply it to the New Testament canon, we have something of a loose standard for interpreting scripture. So, uh, that's where I'm at--how SHOULD we approach interpreting the Bible?

talmid's picture

Law is a very technical matter, whether Hebraic or any other...

Please forgive me but I don't have the time to answer all of the points that you have raised. On this one point though let me respond. The law demands that if a woman is caught in an adulterous affair that BOTH parties (male and female) be brought before the priests. There must be TWO RELIABLE WITNESSES to accuse them. All of the facts of the matter are discussed and the witnesses are interviewed before any case is adjudicated. Now let's look at the scripture you cite:

Joh 8:2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
Joh 8:3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
Joh 8:4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
Joh 8:5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
Joh 8:6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
Joh 8:7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

Two things...
First, the Pharisees were attempting to trap Him so that He would break the law.
Second, it was the custom of the Priests and Sages in those days to write in the dust of the Temple floor the scriptures that pertains to the accused crime so that all could see that justice was being applied according to the law.

I am sure that sooner or later, everyone caught on that not all the legal requirements had been met. Therefore, He put the Pharisees in the position of breaking the law should they attempt to stone her and made everyone present aware of that fact.

Joh 8:8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
I am pretty sure that this is where He would have written the scripture detailing THEIR punishment if they broke the law by stoning the woman. Now look at the result:
Joh 8:9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
Joh 8:10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
Joh 8:11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Our Lord kept the law perfectly here. And the law was never intended to be used to beat each other over the head with, but to reveal sin so that we could avoid sin. And when we did sin, so that we could repent and live! I am pretty sure I can show you the same theme with every scripture you have cited. If you will give me a little time, I will post on some of the other points you have raised.

I hope this blesses you.