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Scripture Interpretation

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Zaida, interesting point about the general (3,000 to 6) Biblical theme.

 

Fundamentalism, I think, is a reaction to a rapidly changing world by those who are uncomfortable with change.

 

George,

God does not change, people do. This goes for His Word as well.

 

Doug

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George,

God does not change, people do. This goes for His Word as well.

 

Doug

 

Doug,

 

Presumably when you say "His Word" you are referring to the Bible. If so, I don't agree: It changes according to version and language in which it is expressed not to mention the context in which it is interpreted.

 

If you are referring to the Bible, I would be interested in which version you consider to be the precise correct one? And, what is your basis for determining that this is the correct one?

 

Also, I would be interested in whose interpretation it is that you consider the correct one and what the basis for this determination is?

 

George

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George,

 

Your point about the Bible is exactly why Barth believes the Bible, a material thing written by human hands, cannot be the Word. But I'm getting waaay off topic, though I'd love to get into more info on God & time at some point. It's a fascinating but deeply abstract topic I'd (of course) like to know more about.

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If you are referring to the Bible, I would be interested in which version you consider to be the precise correct one? And, what is your basis for determining that this is the correct one?

 

Also, I would be interested in whose interpretation it is that you consider the correct one and what the basis for this determination is?

 

George,

Most will say KJV is considered the most accurate as it was painstakingly written, where possible from the original languages used for the original text. That is Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. That is my understanding. As such, I agree this is likely the most accurate version. Not to say I don't use other versions, most often NIV, but I usually compare other texts to KJV to see or verify if the spirit of the Word is kept intact, just put to words in an easier to understand way.

 

Proper interpretation comes from the Holy Spirit. There is a saying, which I believe to be true, "Apart from the Holy Spirit, much of the Bible is hidden from the wisest".

 

Does this help?

 

Doug

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Doug,

 

"Does that help?"

 

It is does help but doesn't completely answer my question. You don't give a good justification why we should accept the KJV as the "most accurate version."

 

Secondly, when you use the quantifier 'most' you are conceding that there is no inerrant version of the Bible available. The question then is, how flawed is it?

 

FWIW, objective scholars (not preachers or theologians) generally agree that the KJV is, in fact, a highly flawed translation. I have never read a scholarly defense of the KJV for its accuracy. The English one used in academia is the NRSV.

 

George

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Hi Doug,

 

I am partial to the KJV also and am familiar with the saying proper interpretation comes with the Holy spirit as an answer. Of course that always as an argument fails miserably when numerous people using the KJV claiming to have that spirit all come to different conclusions. Would you agree?

Joseph

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Doug,

 

In addition to the issue of which Bible version is the least flawed word of God, we should first establish that the Bible itself is the exclusive word of God.

 

By what objective tests do we rule out all other holy scriptures such as the Qur'an? Then, can we apply the same tests to prove the authenticity of the Bible?

 

George

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Thanks to the mods for making this a separate thread. I don't have to add right now, but I can confirm George's point that the NSRV is the standard among most academics, including theologians.

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Joseph,

 

I think the appeal of the KJV is essentially twofold. First, it is familiar to those of us who grew up with it. Second, by preserving some of antiquated language (thee, thou and the like), it separates itself from the mundane, everyday language we speak and has become sacred language.

 

George

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Yes George and i certainly didn't mean to infer that it is the most accurate version but only that i am partial to it. i found it the hardest to read and understand and therefore it helped me to be more reliant on other than its words if that makes any sense.

Joseph

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It is does help but doesn't completely answer my question. You don't give a good justification why we should accept the KJV as the "most accurate version."

 

Secondly, when you use the quantifier 'most' you are conceding that there is no inerrant version of the Bible available. The question then is, how flawed is it?

 

George,

let's review my first sentence again. I said "Most will say KJV is considered the most accurate as it was painstakingly written, where possible from the original languages used for the original text. That is Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic."

 

Is there not ample justification in that the text for KJV was painstakingly translated from the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic?

 

Second, your focus on the word 'most' is incorrect. I am saying that the opinion of most is KJV is the most accurate translation, not hinting at any possibility of 'flaws' as written in the original languages.

 

Doug

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Hi Doug,

 

I am partial to the KJV also and am familiar with the saying proper interpretation comes with the Holy spirit as an answer. Of course that always as an argument fails miserably when numerous people using the KJV claiming to have that spirit all come to different conclusions. Would you agree?

 

Joseph,

You are correct. I can't argue that point!

 

Doug

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Guest billmc

I think the appeal of the KJV is essentially twofold. First, it is familiar to those of us who grew up with it. Second, by preserving some of antiquated language (thee, thou and the like), it separates itself from the mundane, everyday language we speak and has become sacred language.

 

I, too, grew up with the KJV. My first "favorite Bible" was the Thompson Chain Reference KJV that I received as a present when I went off to Bible college. So most of the scripture that I have memorized comes out in the KJV unless I translate it in my head first. :D

 

For many Christians, yes, the KJV has become "sacred language" to them. I understand that. And yet, knowing something about the Bible, though we consider it to be inspired, it was written, not in elevated "tongues of angels," but in the common language of the culture.

 

Even today, when I hear a theologian or pastor speak with an anglican English accent, he or she sounds more "loftly" to me, more educated, more "godly." So it is with the KJV. Despite how godly it sounds to me with all the thee's, thou's, and 'est(due to my upbringing), I also take textual criticism seriously and know that the translation itself had an agenda that was not entirely pure and that it has some issues.

 

But perhaps what concerns me most, George, is the notion, as you have pointed out, that the KJV in our culture supports the dualist framework of sacred/secular, or heavenly/mundane. Though certain parts of the Bible seem to support this dualism, it seems to me that the general thrust of the Bible story is the coming together of heaven and earth, that everything is, in some sense, sacred because it all comes from the One. One of the few beautiful metaphors in the book of Revelation is heaven coming to earth, the erradication of dualism, the actualizing of oneness, that all of creation is, as God intended, holy. So I am a bit wary of the agenda of some translators to keep this notion of dualism going by insisting that the Bible *must* sound more sacred or holy to us than all of our other books or scriptures. Tyndale was burned at the stake for wanting to translate the Bible out of the "sacred language" of Latin into the vulgar English of the day.

 

So I find it somewhat odd that some people want to stand on the "sacredness" of the scriptures while, at the same time, killing or persecuting humans who even the Bible itself speaks as being more God-breathed than the scriptures. IMO, if the scriptures need to be more mundane in order for people to discover their oneness with God through Christ, I'm all for it.

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I am saying that the opinion of most is KJV is the most accurate translation, not hinting at any possibility of 'flaws' as written in the original languages.

 

Doug

 

Doug,

 

I really don't want to be argumentative, but I am not clear on what you are asserting, or at least the basis for the assertion.

 

Are you proposing that the texts in the original languages from which KJV is translated are inerrant and the translation is mostly correct? If so, which particular original texts are the inerrant ones?

 

Bart Ehrman (a NT scholar) has said that there are more variations in NT manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament itself. With all these variations, how do we decide which are inerrant and on what basis?

 

Then, there are all the variations of OT texts such as the Masoretic texts, the Septuagint, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Samaritan Torah. Which of these are inerrant and how do we make that determination? (FWIW, the translators of the KJV were not even aware of the Dead Sea Scrolls.)

 

George

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So I find it somewhat odd that some people want to stand on the "sacredness" of the scriptures while, at the same time, killing or persecuting humans who even the Bible itself speaks as being more God-breathed than the scriptures. IMO, if the scriptures need to be more mundane in order for people to discover their oneness with God through Christ, I'm all for it.

Bill,

 

Lots of good thoughts.

 

I think there is a basic impulse to maintain a difference between the sacred and the mundane that is hard, if even possible, to overcome. This differentiation is also exhibited in other ways such as in our dress and demeanor when in church not to mention the architecture and decor in many churches with steeples, stain glass windows, candles, priestly robes and the like (which are very uncharacteristic of the settings in which Jesus preached).

 

This is not unique to Christianity, I think most religions create sacred space and many have sacred language as well. This is true of Islam in which the Arabic of the Qur'an is very different from the colloquial speech or even formal written texts. Modern Israeli Hebrew is quite different from biblical Hebrew. I am not aware of a vernacular Hebrew version of the OT (Rabbi Benjamin?). I think the same is true of eastern religions as well, but I don't know enough about them to comment.

 

George

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I am saying that the opinion of most is KJV is the most accurate translation....

 

Not so. Just ask any Bible scholar of any faith in any non-fundamentalist university. For that matter, there are many fundamentalist Christian Bible scholars who disagree with you, as well.

 

Rabbi Benjamin

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Modern Israeli Hebrew is quite different from biblical Hebrew. I am not aware of a vernacular Hebrew version of the OT (Rabbi Benjamin?).

 

Modern Israeli Hebrew is based upon Biblical Hebrew. The shorashim (roots of words) are the same, it's just that Modern Hebrew has a lot of words for things that didn't exist in Biblical times, like cars and elevators. A Biblical Hebrew scholar who doesn't speak Modern Hebrew can generally figure out the meaning of a modern Hebrew word by looking at the shoresh (the root) of the word; someone who speaks Modern Hebrew fluently but has never studied Biblical Hebrew can still read and understand the OT in Biblical Hebrew, it just sounds a bit like Beowulf to him.

 

Given the above, Jews read the OT in the original Masoretic Biblical Hebrew. No one, not even Israelis, as far as I know, translate the OT into the vernacular Modern Hebrew.

 

There is a JPS (Jewish Publication Society) English tranlation that unlearned American Jews use, though.

 

Rabbi Benjamin

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Given the above, Jews read the OT in the original Masoretic Biblical Hebrew. No one, not even Israelis, as far as I know, translate the OT into the vernacular Modern Hebrew.

 

Rabbi Benjamin

 

Rabbi,

 

Are you aware of any Yiddish or Ladino translations of the Hebrew Scriptures that have been used in synagogue services (other than for study)?

 

(I would point out that the syntax of Modern Israeli Hebrew is quite different from Biblical Hebrew - in fact one linguist claimed that Modern Israeli Hebrew is a Germanic language with a Hebrew lexicon - this proposal was not well received)

 

Shalom,

 

George

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Guest billmc

Modern Israeli Hebrew is based upon Biblical Hebrew. The shorashim (roots of words) are the same, it's just that Modern Hebrew has a lot of words for things that didn't exist in Biblical times, like cars and elevators.

 

Rabbi, I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your presence here on this BB and that I am learning a great deal from your posts. My background is Christian and though my parents tried to, umm, make me "Jewish" when I was about 3 years old, I screamed so loud that they decided to leave me a Gentile. :lol:

 

It's just my opinion, but I have felt for a long time now that Christianity took a wrong turn as a religion when it left its Jewish roots and embraced the Greek thinking of the second century and following. This doesn't mean that Greek thinking has nothing to offer, but it seems to me that Jesus taught as a Jew, not as a Greek "god-come-down-to-earth", and I think we Christians would do well to allow Jesus to have his Jewish voice back.

 

Thanks again.

 

Regards,

BillMc

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Doug,

 

I really don't want to be argumentative, but I am not clear on what you are asserting, or at least the basis for the assertion.

 

Are you proposing that the texts in the original languages from which KJV is translated are inerrant and the translation is mostly correct? If so, which particular original texts are the inerrant ones?

 

Bart Ehrman (a NT scholar) has said that there are more variations in NT manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament itself. With all these variations, how do we decide which are inerrant and on what basis?

 

Then, there are all the variations of OT texts such as the Masoretic texts, the Septuagint, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Samaritan Torah. Which of these are inerrant and how do we make that determination? (FWIW, the translators of the KJV were not even aware of the Dead Sea Scrolls.)

 

George,

You ask some very thought provoking questions. I'll break this down into two parts, OT and NT

 

We know much of the OT, at least through Isaiah, was already in written form by Jesus' day. The Bible records in the NT about use of scrolls for teaching and Jesus taught from Isaiah in one instance.

 

NT is not so clear. Except for the 4 gospels, nearly every other book in the NT was a letter from someone to someone or some group. ie the Pauline letters. These would have been in some written form. Same for Revelation that was written by John the apostle on the island of Patmos. Safe to say that most, if not all the NT had been written by 100AD.

 

Now, about the dead sea scrolls. Funny thing...Though the Dead Sea Scrolls were not known for the book(s) (or more correctly the parts of various book(s)) during the time of the writing of the Bible; the Dead Sea Scrolls, as I understand, showed the same writings in the Bible that matched up to that which was translated from the Dead Sea Scrolls were stunningly accurate.

 

Does this prove the point that scripture was God breathed and inspired by God? Some may say yes and, on the surface, one may not be able to reach any other conclusion but I leave it be and accept it for what it is. The Word of God.

 

Doug

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Does this prove the point that scripture was God breathed and inspired by God? Some may say yes and, on the surface, one may not be able to reach any other conclusion but I leave it be and accept it for what it is. The Word of God.

 

Doug

Doug,

 

A couple of points. First, there are a number of differences between the various Bible sources. There is nothing that suggests a major difference - no eleventh commandment, no new creation story or the like. But, I think, "stunningly accurate" is a mischaracterization. There are numerous differences and enough to suggest caution when citing specific verses or words as authoritative.

 

Does any of this prove that "scripture was God breathed and inspired by God." No, it neither proves nor refutes this idea.

 

I asked you earlier about what method you would use to falsify the inspiration of other holy scriptures if, in fact, you deny that other scriptures like the Qur'an or the Book of Mormon are the inspired word of God. Then, if this same method is applied to the Bible, does this "prove" its inspiration? You have not yet responded to this. I hope you will.

 

George

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