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Bible Interpretation I - Lesson 2

Introduction Continued

    1. Major Approaches to Bible Interpretation
      1. Allegorical
        1. Scripture is spiritualized so that its primary message is taken to be something other than what it plainly says.
        2. This is the approach of religious scholarship
      2. Traditional
        1. Scripture is made to conform to earlier traditional teachings of the accepted church
        2. This is the approach of church hierarchy
      3. Rationalistic
        1. Scripture is treated as any other book (uninspired and error-ridden) and is analyzed for errors more than believed for truth
        2. This is the approach of humanistic scholarship
      4. Literal
        1. Scripture is taken to mean what it says.  Even symbols and types refer to that which is literal.
        2. This is the approach of Bible believers
    2. Importance of Approach
      1. Man cannot find value in the Bible until he understands what it means (Acts 8:30-31)
      2. Mans method of interpretation determines whether or not he understands the Bible
      3. Therefore, without correct interpretation of the Bible, man is blinded from the truth of the word of God
    1. Apostolic Age (0-150AD)
      1. Life span of those who knew the apostles (Judges 2:7)
      2. Literal interpretation was predominate
    2. Early Church Age (150-500AD); three main directions of interpretation developed
      1. Literal
        1. Centered in the school of Antioch
        2. Predominate in Syria and Asia Minor
        3. Continued in the pattern set by the apostles
      2. Allegorical
        1. Centered in the school of Alexandria
        2. Predominate in Egypt and Palestine
        3. Main proponents: Origen and Eusebius
        4. Approach first developed by the Jewish theologian, Philo
      3. Traditional
        1. Centered in the school of Rome
        2. Predominate in Italy and North Africa
        3. Main proponents: Augustine and Jerome; Augustine laid down the rule that the Bible must be interpreted with reference to Church Orthodoxy Farrar
        4. Joined forces with the school of Alexandria to establish the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church
    3. Middle Ages (500-1500AD)
      1. Traditional interpretation as found in Roman Catholicism predominated; Hugo of St. Victor said, Learn first what you should believe, and then go to the Bible to find it there.
      2. Allegorical interpretation used only as it served tradition
      3. Small pockets of Bible believers throughout Europe held to literal interpretation
    4. Reformation (1500-1700AD)
      1. Return to literal interpretation brought revival, evangelism and increased Bible study
      2. Traditional views remained solid in Roman Catholicism and were never completely erased in the Protestant denominations
      3. With the increase of education, the seed was planted for allegoricalism and rationalism
      4. Reformation teaching established the threefold foundation of Bible interpretation
        1. Grammatical interpretation Interpretation must take into account the actual words of the passage including vocabulary, grammar and immediate context
        2. Historical interpretation Scripture must be studied in the context of its relationship to history, geography and customs
        3. Doctrinal interpretation Any doctrinal passage must be studied as it relates to those same doctrines as taught throughout the entire Bible; This involves scriptural comparison, doctrinal development and dispensational differences
    5. Modern Church Age (1700AD to present)
      1. Through scholarship, allegoricalism and rationalism predominate
      2. Traditionalism continues its hold on Roman Catholicism and mainline Protestantism
      3. Literalism becomes more and more uncommon as does Bible study, revivals and solid churches