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Inspiration And Exegesis


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#1 Evangelion

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 03:53 AM

This thread is a spin-off from the Sickness/Demons debate. :argue: It concerns the record of Scripture, the process by which that record has reached us, the extent to which God has directed that process and the implications that this has for our interpretation of His Word. :book:

I'd like to establish the context by posting a few exchanges between Grace and myself. This will help people to understand where I'm coming from. :bye:
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#2 Evangelion

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 03:57 AM

I've just had a look at another thread where Cool Spot defined inerrancy etc.

Fort said that Christadelphians believed in this one:

Complete Inerrancy - The Bible is fully true in all it teaches or affirms.  This extends to the areas of both history and science.  It does not hold that the bible has a primary purpose to present exact information concerning history and science. 

Therefore the use of popular expressions, approximations, and phenomenal language is acknowledged and is believed to fulfill the requirement of truthfulness.  Apparent discrepancies, therefore, can and must be harmonised. 


Yet we say that demons are called demons in New Testament times because science and medicine were not understood properly. This seems to be a contradiction of complete inerrancy..... :unsure:


Grace, I'd like to return to this for a moment, if I may. You will see that I have highlighted the areas of particular interest.

There appears to be some tension in this definition (perhaps even a minor contradiction) but it seems to come right in the end.

On the one hand, it goes for complete inerrancy in every way, whilst simultaneously wishing to escape the burden of "exactness." It also says that "popular expressions, approximations and phenomenal language" is used to "fulfill the requirement of truthfulness." :huh:

What exactly it means by this, is unclear. But by my reading, it appears to be saying:





  • The Bible is inerrant in all matters of history and science. (This would be very difficult to prove. At some point, the exegete would be forced to admit that certain statements cannot be taken literally but must be interpreted through the lens of modern science.)






  • Notwithstanding this, the Bible is under no obligation to provide exact truths concerning history and science. (Point to ponder: if it's not exact, can it still be inerrant? Food for thought.)






  • The "language of the day" is accepted as a legitimate conduit for the presentation of these inerrant (yet inexact) statements concerning history and science, even though it is acknowledged that this will necessarily result in apparent discrepancies which must be reconciled somehow.
So far as I can see, this definition actually supports the Christadelphian view on daimonion and "evil/unclean" spirits rather well. :)

In fact, insofar as it leaves room for "inexactness" and "the language of the day", it is really not so different from another model which Cool Spot presented:

Limited Inerrancy - The bible is inerrant only in its salvific doctrinal teachings.  The Bible was not intended to teach science or history, nor did God reveal matters of history or science to the writers.  In these areas the Bible reflects the understanding of its culture and may therefore contain errors.


'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#3 Evangelion

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 03:59 AM

And which of the two do you think are right?


To tell you the truth, m8, I think they're both a bit dodgy. Each tends towards oversimplification in a particular area. They're too restrictive. :gagged:

This one...

Complete Inerrancy - The Bible is fully true in all it teaches or affirms.  This extends to the areas of both history and science.  It does not hold that the bible has a primary purpose to present exact information concerning history and science. 

Therefore the use of popular expressions, approximations, and phenomenal language is acknowledged and is believed to fulfill the requirement of truthfulness.  Apparent discrepancies, therefore, can and must be harmonised.


...suffers from the problems I've already identified.

But this one...

Limited Inerrancy - The bible is inerrant only in its salvific doctrinal teachings.  The Bible was not intended to teach science or history, nor did God reveal matters of history or science to the writers.  In these areas the Bible reflects the understanding of its culture and may therefore contain errors.


...excludes the possibility that God revealed matters of history or science to the writers - which I definitely believe He did! :secret:

For "history', see the prophetic narratives and the histories written by men who composed their work many centuries after the event. For "science", see passages like Job 25:7; "He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing."

I would rather combine the two definitions. :parakaleo:

Thus:

The bible does not have a primary purpose to present exact information concerning history and science, nor was it intended to teach history or science. Notwithstanding this, the bible is inerrant in its salvific doctrinal teachings, in matters of history and in most matters of science. Its history has been largely vindicated by modern research.



While God certainly revealed matters of history to the writers, their scientific knowledge is for the most part their own - reflecting the understanding of its culture - and may therefore contain errors.



The use of popular expressions, approximations, idioms and phenomenal language is acknowledged, being used in two ways:



1. To convey salvific truths and matters of verifiable fact.



2. To desribe the world of the Bible as its authors saw it.



Apparent discrepancies exist and can for the most part be harmonised without sacrificing a literal reading of the text.
[/list]How does that sound? :popcorn:
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#4 Evangelion

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 04:05 AM

By way of variety, I offer you Adanac's contribution:

Not everything everyone says in the Bible is inspired.  E.g. when Rabshekah spoke against Hezekiah they weren't the inspired words of God.

When the serpent said "you shall not surely die" they were right the opposite of the inspired word of God. But they are still words recorded in the Bible.  That means inspiration is to do with recording what needs to be recorded according to the will of God and not that every single word is God's own thought.

We have to use our discretion: when a prophet speaks in the name of God then we are reading God's own words.  But when Bildad gives his two cents worth to Job we are not reading the words of God, but it was divinely recorded for our admonition.


:book:
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#5 Evangelion

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 04:08 AM

As far as I'm concerned, inspiration simply means that God directed the Bible writers to write what they did - but not to the extent of specifying every single word. :typing: They were still permitted to express their own views on certain subjects. :director:

With this in mind, I would like to endorse Adanac's points (above) with the following examples from Scripture:

I Corinthians 7:5-6, 10-15, 25.

Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.



[...]



And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

And the woman which hath a husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.



[...]



Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.
[/list]This gives us plenty of scope for finding the personal opinions and views of the NT writers all through the NT without contradicting the principles of Biblical inerrancy and divine inspiration. :)
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#6 Evangelion

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 04:08 AM

So far, so good. :) Now we must consider the implications of such a view.

According to Grace (Hah! "According to Grace!" :rofl1:) whose penetrating questions have prompted this discussion, the main issues are these:

1. How do we pick and choose which things are individual ideas, and which are God's views? You've shown some examples from Paul, and I think that they are fairly clear cut. I guess what makes me uncomfortable with the 'partial inerrancy' view is that it then leaves open the option to say "Well, that just reflected the views of the time, and times have changed". My frame of reference would be things like women speaking in the ecclesia, and hats, etc.



2. Doesn't that kind of support what Cool Spot was saying at the very beginning of this thread? That the story of the Garden of Eden simply reflected the beliefs of the time, and that now we have science, we would understand the beginnings of life to be much more complex?



3. I take it then (given that the Bible is inerrant on salvific matters) that if people believe in demons, we wouldn't consider it to be a salvific error, as the Bible is written by some individuals who held this view? So therefore, if we don't consider it a salvific error, why do we make it a matter of fellowship?
[/list]Grace, before we enter the next round, do you have anything further to add? Have I presented an accurate summary of your position? :bye:
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#7 mji2

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 05:47 AM

Can I throw something in here?

Re. Paul's judgements or opinions (eg 1 Cor 7):
He is an Apostle; does this give his judgement authority?
Does binding and loosing on earth come in here?
He has the spirit of God (or at least thinks he does - ch7 last sentence) - a factor?

The nature of the issues being dealt in these judgements means several right answers are available (rather than one right answer, any other answer wrong)? eg. Paul (an apostle with the spirit of God) gives what he considers the best right answer but does not exclude other right answers in the Virgins question.

In the process he is showing us how to exercise our spirit with the spirit of God?

Am I going :topic: ?

#8 Evangelion

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 05:57 AM

Can I throw something in here?


Sure. :tomato:

Re. Paul's judgements or opinions (eg 1 Cor 7):

He is an Apostle; does this give his judgement authority?


Yep. :yep:

Does binding and loosing on earth come in here?


Yep - but only where Paul confirms that he is speaking by inspiration. :fortigurn:

He has the spirit of God (or at least thinks he does - ch7 last sentence) - a factor?


Yep. (But see above.) :book:

The nature of the issues being dealt in these judgements means several right answers are available (rather than one right answer, any other answer wrong)?  eg. Paul (an apostle with the spirit of God) gives what he considers the best right answer but does not exclude other right answers in the Virgins question.


Yep. :hadassah:

In the process he is showing us how to exercise our spirit with the spirit of God?


Yep. :harp:

Am I going :topic: ?


Nope. :disagree:
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#9 tarkus

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 06:38 AM

"Well, that just reflected the views of the time, and times have changed".
...
That the story of the Garden of Eden simply reflected the beliefs of the time
...
the Bible is written by some individuals who held this view

Yes, the biblical message reflects the views of the times it was written.

But that statement can mean either of two things.

1. The biblical message consists of (sometimes incorrect) contemporary beliefs.

Wrong.

2. The biblical message was conveyed in a way that allowed a contemporary audience to grasp its meaning.

Right.

Twentyfirst century man would just love a description of the origins of life, the universe and everything (oh, sorry, wrong thread) that was expressed in an objective "scientific" manner. But it is hard to see why a scroll written in that style would have been diligently preserved and copied by people living several thousand years ago. It wouldn't have caught on easily!

Option 1 allows its adherents to dispense with vast portions of the text.

Option 2 gives its adherents some leeway in departing from a fully literal interpretation of every statement found in the text.

Regards
T

Edited by tarkus, 03 October 2003 - 06:39 AM.


#10 mji2

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 07:14 AM

1. The biblical message consists of (sometimes incorrect) contemporary beliefs.

Wrong.

2. The biblical message was conveyed in a way that allowed a contemporary audience to grasp its meaning.

Right.


Where does The Rich Man and Lazarus fit into this? Does the parable reflect an incorrect contemparory belief?

Are you saying in 2. that the spirit-given biblical message was conveyed sometimes using incorrect beliefs?

#11 itinerant_*

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 07:19 AM

Are you differentiating between the biblical message and the text or are you treating them as synonyms?

Please clarify.

#12 Fortigurn

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 07:21 AM

Where does The Rich Man and Lazarus fit into this? Does the parable reflect an incorrect contemparory belief?

Are you saying in 2. that the spirit-given biblical message was conveyed sometimes using incorrect beliefs?

I would say most certainly. The entire point of the parable of Lazarus is that the Pharisees would find it so offensive because it totally usurped both their worldview, and their view of the afterlife.

It inverted their entire soteriology.

#13 tarkus

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 07:30 AM

Are you differentiating between the biblical message and the text or are you treating them as synonyms?

Please clarify.

OK.

What I meant by the biblical message is something which is expressible in any language.

What I meant by the biblical text was writing recorded in specific languages at specific times in specific cultures.

They are not synonyms (though obviously in those specific cultures and languages they are very close).

Clear?

T

#14 Evangelion

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 07:37 AM

:whistle:
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#15 itinerant_*

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 07:39 AM

So this option which you reject

1. The biblical message consists of (sometimes incorrect) contemporary beliefs.


actually means

The ideas expressed in the original text consists of (sometimes incorrect) contemporary beliefs


Which from time to time it manifestly does as per the example above.

#16 Evangelion

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 07:50 AM

:popcorn:
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#17 tarkus

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 07:50 AM

So this option which you reject

1. The biblical message consists of (sometimes incorrect) contemporary beliefs.


actually means

The ideas expressed in the original text consists of (sometimes incorrect) contemporary beliefs

Which from time to time it manifestly does as per the example above.

"the fool has said in his heart, 'there is no God'".

'there is no God' - manifestly part of the biblical text; but is it part of the biblical message?

The speeches of Job's friends - manifestly part of the biblical text; what do you think of them?

the parable of the rich man and Lazarus - yes, part of the biblical text, but not a part which is to be interpreted literally.

T

Edited by tarkus, 03 October 2003 - 07:53 AM.


#18 Evangelion

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 07:53 AM

:book:
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#19 itinerant_*

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 07:59 AM

Well thats exactly why I asked you to clarify what you meant by biblical message.

Clearly if it's defined as the inerrant bits, the message is inerrant.

#20 tarkus

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Posted 03 October 2003 - 08:02 AM

Clearly if it's defined as the inerrant bits, the message is inerrant.

That's not what I did. Have another look. :book:

Regards
T




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