I’ve been reading the Bible for a long time. Different translations. Several instances.
I’ve come to an unsettling realisation that its interpretation, is shaped by intellect, context, culture, history, language, grammar and comprehension. These factors influenced the writers and impact the readers. A deeper layer is what happens, when those who read the Bible, cannot read well and so, are dependent on third party interpretation.
How does the Holy Spirit operate in the midst of all these, you may ask? Well, it seems our capacity to work with him is also influenced by the same factors. Yet, it is so dangerous to read scripture outside of him.
I wonder what Bible Abraham had. Wait a moment. He had none. Yet, he had a thriving relationship with God. I wonder who ordained Melchizedek as priest? It would seem, that as God was writing his story with Abraham (and his descendants), he was also writing his story with other people like Melchizedek.
In the time of the New Testament Apostles, scripture referred to the Old Testament (and later, some Apostles alluded to the writings of Paul as scripture). And so, when the Apostles spoke of scripture, they were referring to the Old Testament. The New Testament hadn’t been compiled yet. Christian Councils compiled our modern Bible.
If God taught Paul the doctrine of grace, does it mean any Apostle can be given a doctrinal revelation and write his own letters too? If a Church Council adopts those letters 500 years later, will they become part of a Bible?
In the past, we have used history, intellect, reasoning, scholarship, context, culture, language and compassion to re-interpret hitherto taboo subjects in the Bible. In doing so, women can now talk in church, wear jewelry or choose to leave their hair uncovered. Christians now wear jeans and can choose whether to tithe. We have abolished slavery and now promote gender equality. Divorcees can move on with their lives. Does this mean that other things that Christians once considered sacrosanct, can change too?
If the constitution of the Bible is by consensus (by a convened council of church elders), perhaps successive generations will re-imagine scripture.
Personally, when the subject of doctrine (as contained in the Bible) comes up, I often imagine Jesus thinking, “I want to have a personal relationship with humans. But, they insist on religion, denominations, priests and books. I will kukuma keep looking at them.God wants to have a personal relationship with humans, but we insist on religion, denominations, priests and books. Click To Tweet