Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Lord, Come Quickly -- For the Sake of the Exegetes!

When I was younger, i had a hard time praying for the Lord's soon return because i thought of it in terms of the final judgement. Why would i want my final exam to come any sooner than it absolutely has to?

Over the years, I've basically reversed my position 100%. Not only have i become more secure in my salvation, but I've also done a lot more work in Bible study. The thing that motivates me now is realizing how complicated Biblical interpretation is now, and the thought that it can only get more complicated in the future.

We are nearly 2000 years removed from the most recent segments of scripture, and probably twice that for the oldest parts. The cultural context of the various books of the Bible is often crucial to understanding what the various writers were trying to say. However, the vast majority of us have no idea what that cultural context was like. Yeah, a lot of us pastors read books and commentaries that attempt to explain it, but ultimately we're just trusting someone else to tell us something that we can't verify for ourselves. There's not a whole lot we can do to be sure that the things these scholars are telling us in their books isn't just bunk.

I'm not saying that we should all throw up our hands in despair and say we can't understand what the Bible says because it's too old. We can still understand the Bible well enough. But it's getting tricky, and the fact that many scholars can't be trusted to let the Bible say what it intends to say doesn't help anything.

So now I'm hoping the Lord doesn't wait to much longer, because I'm not sure how much longer accurate Bible interpretation will be able to survive.


Brian Cooper said...

Interesting thoughts. I've felt that way before. I think that biblical interpretation has come a long way in the past several centuries. Most of church history has been anti-semitic, so after WW2 and Israel becoming a nation, we have finally begun to view the Jewishness of scripture for what it is an not a curse. So much ground has been broken and I believe we are getting closer and closer because the new method is the inductive approach. Before we used to rely on other people's work and try to build off of what they came up with. Now we study the original sources such as Josephus, Plutarch, Epictetus, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. So much can be learned from the immediate context that was never considered before. This has been my passion for teaching and trying to share the truth with so many.
Then i hear off the wall interpretations of certain texts and I think... "Come Lord Jesus, Come!" :)

Joy said...

Thanks Brian. I'm not surprised that a seminarian has a better perspective on this than I do, and i'm glad that it's an encouraging one. Let me know when you publish your first commentary :)