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?

More thought

Talmid, I was thinking more about what you said, and I think I need to concede at least a little bit. The law really was the Jewish civil code, as well as religious code. Hard to imagine Jesus walking around stabbing people. That's my way of saying that the Law must have been more to Jesus than a collection of petty rules (which Gentiles tend to think) designed to formalize God. So Jesus must have kept the "civil code" parts of the law. Though I have heard that not all of the law was rated at the same level of importance.

I keep coming back to that "Nothing you eat defiles you." That does seem to stand in strong contradiction to the Deuteronic code. And his (Jesus') followers had no problem extending that approach to the Gentiles in Acts (Hey, welcome to the club; just don't murder, fornicate, or eat a couple of things we hate...) How could we say that Jesus advocated total obedience to the Jewish law? Am I missing something?

"Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." John 5.39-40