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How To Read The Bible For All It's Worth

First Friday Podcast with Dr. K. Lynn Lewis, Dr. Scott Stripling, & Dr. Israel Steinmetz


Lewis: Hello, welcome to the Bible seminary podcast First Fridays. Good to have you with us. I'm your host, Dr. Lynn Lewis. I serve as President at The Bible Seminary. And we've also got Dr. Scott Stripling, our Provost and VP of Donor Relations and Dr. Israel Steinmetz is our Graduate Dean and Professor. Our topic today is going to be "How To Read The Bible For All It's Worth". We have a great time today; I'm looking forward to it. I'm going to start us off, I'm going to read something. We love the Bible. that's inherent in our name. And at the beginning of the student catalog, we have this statement, and it's worth reading for our session today.


Our topic today "How To Read The Bible For All It's Worth".

So, we're going to talk about this book today. 66 books and its role in our culture and society. Our topic today, "How To Read The Bible For All It's Worth," is a book by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stewart. We teach Bible Study Methods here at TBS and we use this book as part of that teaching and training. Dr. Steinmetz, Dr. Stripling, good to have y'all with us. Let's dive in. And let's talk about this book, this book we call the Bible, and, how to read it for all it's worth. Dr. Steinmetz, you've been teaching that book, and as part of the courses, anything you want to offer as we get started here.


Steinmetz: Yeah, thanks, Dr. Lewis, it's good to be on the podcast with you today. I have had the opportunity to teach the Bible study methods class using "How To Read The Bible For All It's Worth" and another textbook for the last couple of years here at TBS. And I would say the thing that stands out to me the most is early on in the class, typically the first day, maybe the second day of class, how students will say something along the lines of you know, I've been reading the Bible, I've been interpreting the Bible, I've been applying the Bible, studying the Bible for years, many of them, you know, their entire life, or, you know, 30,40,50 years, some of our older students will be able to say, I've been studying the Bible and I never knew how to study the Bible, before I started learning the actual tools. Or, I've been studying the Bible but despite all the time, it's been superficial. Or, probably the biggest one that comes out most consistently is, so much of what we do for Bible study today and Bible reading today is for immediate application to our lives today. You know, we open the Bible, we read a verse we ask, what does this mean for me today? How do I put this into practice? And the process of Bible study and reading the Bible for all it's worth really introduces students to the fact that what they're holding in their hands is a complex collection of 66 different pieces of literature, over 1500 years, 40 plus authors, ancient civilizations on the other side of the world, speaking different languages with different customs and cultures. They really get a sense of how foreign the word of the Bible is and about the time they start to feel overwhelmed with that we bring them right back to saying, but look how applicable it still is, because this is God's Word. And even if it wasn't written to us, it's written for us and we can continue to learn and lead our lives in accordance with the Scriptures, even though they are so ancient and so different from us in so many ways.


Dr. Stripling, that raises a good point. Stuart addressed this in the book, what they call job genre awareness. And what does that mean? Like Simon just alluded to the habit. Share a little bit from your perspective on this. You're involved in a lot of different cultures and things through archaeology, and we've studied scriptures for many years. What does that mean genre awareness?


Stripling: Well, they are exactly right, this is so important. I also have a master's degree in English. And so, I spent a lot of time studying English literature. And so, I taught genre awareness to my students in dealing with Shakespeare or Hawthorne, or you know, whatever the literature might be. It's even more important when we come to the Bible, because we have a bunch of different genres that all blend together. Sometimes you move directly from narrative into poetic and apocalyptic. So, one of the things that we must ask ourselves is,


Our topic today "How To Read The Bible For All It's Worth".

The reason these approach questions are so critical, is a lot of people may be doing what I used to do as a young Bible reader. I was very interested in being right so I could win arguments. And I wanted to validate my belief system by proof texting. And so, I read a lot and had all my arguments, you know, tightly arranged, but I was trying to manipulate the outcome, rather than I was reading into the text, which we call "eisegesis," instead of reading out of the text, which we call "exegesis." So, when we begin to ask those questions, if it's apocalyptic literature, how do I read that differently from narrative literature? The epistles for example, are didactic. They're very straightforward. Paul tells Timothy, "Until I come again, devote yourself to these things" (do these things don't do these things). Very, very clear. We're reading narrative literature. Now it gets more complex. It was written to them for me, and what steps do I need to go through just because they did something doesn't mean I'm supposed to do the same thing. So, we do get didactic material or teaching instructive material from narrative. But there's a different process through which we go when we're talking about genre.


Lewis: For those people that might not know what genre means, what's a quick example of what you mean by genre?


Stripling: Well, classification. So, we have various types, classifications or genres.


Lewis: So, there's just different types of literature classifications, so can a passage or a book even be more than one genre?


Stripling: Oh, absolutely. (For example) in Exodus, you're reading narrative literature, and then you get to chapter 15, you get the Song of the Sea and now suddenly, we've got poetic literature blended in. So absolutely and so, an alert Bible reader, what we call innocence of it, so I'm approaching scripture, as it for the very first time, I am reading it devotionally, but not just devotionally. I'm also reading it critically and analytically, trying to pick up just like, someone might watch a football game and just enjoy the, you know, when they're scoring touchdowns. But someone else might be analyzing defenses. And are they uncovering too? And is the quarterback going to be doing this or that? So that's the type of Bible reader we want to be we want to analyze, are we shifting into a different genre here, you know, what's going on to them then in there, so that then as Israel said, we can apply it correctly here and now.


Lewis: I was going to say, I remember a scene from (the movie)National Treasure with Nicolas Cage when he puts on these glasses and he's reading a map. And he puts one lens down, and it's a blue lens and he sees something he didn't see before. He puts another lens down and he sees something else. So that might be different genre what you're seeing when you're reading it, yeah, Israel?


Steinmetz: Well, that's a great segue to what came to mind as I was just listening to Scott talk, the reality that what we expect when we open the text goes a long way to controlling how we understand the text, you know, the anticipation we have and, you know, the most immediate one that comes to mind, the most controversial maybe is the book of Revelation, which identifies itself as a complex genre of three types of literature. Just in the first four verses, it calls itself an apocalypse, a prophecy and a letter. So, we have three different genres all blended, which makes it one of the most beautifully complex, but also controversial books of the Bible. But, what we expect when we look at that book, you know, if you go to it expecting a first century critique of the Roman Empire, versus a snapshot of the last generation of humans to live, versus whatever, whatever anticipation you have, that's going to oftentimes control and limit and like those lenses of the glasses, limb, it's going to, it's going to affect the way you read it and understand it. And in many cases, in a, unfortunately, in a negative way, if you don't know what genre of literature it is, or what to look for within that genre of literature, because what we expect from a straightforward letter or to a Christian leader, telling them how to lead in the church is very different from what we should expect from erotic love poetry, like the Song of Songs, or, you know, a creation narrative like the first couple of chapters of Genesis, we have very different types of literature being written that require a different approach. Just like you would approach a newspaper, showing my age here, a newspaper, different from a comic book, from a piece of fiction, to historical fiction to an owner's manual. Now, these are all different genres of literature and writing, and they all must be read differently.


Lewis: So, and the truth is, the Bible is literature. It is a collection of different styles of literature. But also, as John points out, we're reading about the Word of God, the Word of God, primarily being Jesus, but it's the spoken word. It's the word in the flesh. And what we're doing is reading the word that God gives us as different forms of literature. So, it's a reality that extends beyond the words on the page, but we, we come to it as words on the page. So, what are some tips maybe? Or how do we kind of go at it from the literature (it is literature), but how? How does it become more than that?


Stripling: Yeah, that's a great question. There's a text by Leland Ryken, that I have referred to over the years called The Bible as Literature. Higher critics have approached scripture and said, it's just literature. Well, they're kind of right. I mean, it is literature. But it's not just literature. But to be able to understand a simile, a metaphor, hyperbole, personification, point of view, all those things that we would study with any type of literature. It's asking the right questions to get the right answer from the text. So, those are the things the conventions that relate to genre that help us read the Bible for all it's worth. And so, let's say the first thing we ask is genre, maybe the second thing that comes to my mind is using Fenster Stuart's term is, it cannot mean to me here and now, what it could not have possibly meant to them then in there, that that single statement can help Bible readers immensely. And that keeps us from getting off into strange doctrines and seeing, you know, aliens and UFOs. And Nahum, chapter two, and all these things that we've come across, it cannot mean to me here and now, what it could not have possibly meant to them, then in there, he wasn't talking past them to me, he was talking through them to me. So, the hard exegetical work is going in there. The easy part is bringing it here. And now assuming we're willing to obey what it says.


Lewis: Yeah, so that really, that's context. And we were talking about what's the pretext? What's the context? So like, in archaeology, a lot of what you're helping provide in the archaeological world, is helping us understand the contextual environment, the history, what was going on at the time, customs, things that would have meant something to them that we may not even be familiar with. So how does that context really define it? I used to hear that "context is everything." Without context, you've just, you know, there's nothing there really to read. But there's so much in scripture. Sometimes I think that people in the New Testament had a lot easier, because all they had was the Old Testament. And now we're supposed to know, the Old Testament, the interim period, the New Testament, and the 2000 years since all this was written down. So, we got a lot more to cover, like, knowing all the songs in the 20th century versus, you know, back in the 60s when there wasn't as much as today, right?


Stripling: Yeah. So how does that context play in? Israel? You want to take that?


Steinmetz: Well, let me follow up on what you said before Scott. And then if you want to tackle some of that material culture context, I would like to, I don't know if it's pushing back a little bit but add another layer here to this idea of meaning and finding a meaning in the text that goes beyond just the level of literature. But before I throw it back to you, Scott, the phrase that came to mind was, we don't always read the Bible literally. We should read the Bible. Because when we come across a parable in the Bible, we don't want to read that parable literally. We want to read it literarily as a parable. And oftentimes those parables, almost always those parables are within the context of a historical account. The Bible doesn't have just a book of parables. The books with parables are included in the narrative. So, reading literarily, instead of literally, I think is a nice kind of catchphrase for how we approach the Bible. If you can talk a little bit about material culture and that sort of thing in terms of providing context, then I'd love to come back and say one other word about the meaning in the text.


Stripling: Yeah, absolutely. I'll give you one brief example, coins. we excavate lots of coins. They come into the archaeological record around the fifth century BC, we may excavate anywhere from 10 to 20 coins a day, we analyze these we have a numismatist on our staff. We know when it was minted, where it was minted, if it's gold, silver, or bronze. And something that helps us for example, with material culture, when you go to a place like Luke 15, where Jesus starts telling a story about lost things, a lost son, a lost sheep, and then a lost coin. And he says, "Behold, there was a woman who had 10 silver coins." Now, I read that passage for years and never picked up on the word silver, until I started analyzing coins. And I found out that silver coins are extremely rare and extremely valuable. So, like less than 1% of the coins are silver. And it's about two weeks wages typically in a silver coin. So, the woman in this parable, we are immediately the material culture is letting us know something we simply did not know before. And of course, the whole point of the parable is that we are the calling, you know, we are the thing of great value and rarity, and the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost. And I would suggest that everything that you're reading, as you're going through those passages, when it mentions a pottery vessel when it mentions a roof tiles, each one of those, there's a faith lesson involved in that. When you've seen a shattered storage jar, you'll never read Second Corinthians 4 and 5 the same, you know, that we have this treasure of the gospel in jars of clay susceptible to being broken. But guess what? We put them back together. So, what a picture that while we may be shattered, God puts us back together, just like we do with ceramic reconstruction.


Steinmetz: Yeah, and that's the task of stepping back into the world of the Bible. To understand the places the climate, the culture, the language, the background, that would just be taken for granted by the original audience of that text. And so that takes me right back to the comment you made Scott that we can't look for, we can't look for meaning in the text that would be completely foreign to the author to the original author, audience. And I'm with you 99%. And here's the 1% is what makes scripture unique from all other literature is that it's dual authorship, that God is inspiring human writers. And that in the fullness of Christ, there may be things that looking back through the lens of Christ, we see something in the Old Testament they might not have seen. So, Paul will say in Galatians, you know, the scriptures preach the gospel and advanced to Abraham saying, in you all the nations of the earth will be blessed. It's not a different gospel. But it's the gospel, Abraham was able to understand without the full revelation of Christ, that we now see, well, how was the entire Earth blessed, that's through Jesus Christ. But the fact that the gospel was preached to Abraham, that's a powerful thing. Or Paul says, you know, the rock in the wilderness was Christ. They didn't know the rock was Christ, but we're able to see that backward through the lens of Christ. And so, I, I appreciate and share the concern about running off into false doctrine, you know, finding Apache helicopters in Revelation, whatever it might be, these are very real and recurring risks. And so, we do teach, you know, very, very significantly, we got to find out what it meant to them before we start talking about what it means to us. But I think once we've secured what it meant to them, there is something in the interpretive process, where as Christians, we look back through the lens of Christ. And we see how all the Old Testament is building up to Christ, all the New Testament is reflecting on to Christ and forward to his return. And so, there is some I'm leaving a little room for some reading, that maybe was only known to the author of the Divine author, that this is a dual authorship and so it wasn't known to the human author it might have been doing certainly no to the Divine author. And without going outside of what the divine author has revealed to us in the New Testament, we might see more in the Old Testament than we otherwise would. Does that make sense?


Stripling: Oh, yeah, I don't disagree there. Now that's good.


Lewis: I think too, part of the great thing about scripture is God wants us to know the stories. He wants us to know this literature. And part of what I see in the culture and the problems, not just our culture, but cultures throughout history. In fact, we see things in today's news that were going on 4,000 years ago. It is like headlines from Exodus or Genesis or Psalms, and we're reading them in our newspaper today. And I think, part of the reason why should we read the Bible for all it's worth is as we get to know God's Word, we get to know the character of God, the history of God's people, and then there are things applicable to our lives, you know? How do we live? What do we do? How do we handle this situation. And those texts were not written in that way, for that purpose at the time, but they do have interpretive meaning to us to teach and train us and guide us in the ways. And the truth is, if you go back, it's the same sense, throughout history, it's the same solution, Jesus is still the Savior from the beginning to the end. And same problems that we face are like problems they faced. And the stories, the texts, the literature that we read, The Psalms, the songs, the stories of prophets, priests, and kings, and prostitutes, and farmers and all the different stories that we read scripture, they do have relevance to our lives.


And often, I think a lot of times we want to move much more toward the application. What I'm hoping we're doing through The Bible Seminary, and what I think a lot of people really appreciate is, they've never studied the Scripture at this level before. And then with this knowledge, and as they live their life, the Holy Spirit then begins to apply it in new ways because now they know the texts better. And they know they make connections that they never made before between the testaments, between books. And certainly, with the material culture, understanding those things really sheds light on, why were they saying this, and there's so much that we read in the text that they assume everybody knows, we're like, we've never seen the book of Joash, or whatever book they're referencing, and we don't know where that is, even though they know where it is. And, you know, the poles are still not sticking out of the temple curtain today, like they were when Kings was written. Yeah, so there's a lot of things they assume in the writing, that as we find those out, man, it opens a world to us at deeper levels in our current day, as well as understanding the past that we've never seen before. So that's exciting. Yeah.


Stripling: Let me give you an analogy of why we have this problem. It's called distance ideation. We've got time and distance. So, it's almost like listening to one end of a phone conversation. Imagine the potential for misunderstanding if I think you're talking to Wendy but you're talking to someone else. And, you know, I kind of know what the conversation is about. Well, for example, in the New Testament epistles, that's what we have, we simply don't know all the particulars going on in Corinth and all the situations that Paul was addressing. We're in the right neighborhood, right zip code, but maybe not the right neighborhood within that zip code. And we have what I would call a hermeneutical spiral we're attempting, through our study of language and culture and spirituality, to get as close as we can to capturing the original message to the original recipient, so that then we can apply it accurately.


And then here, let me bring up the next big principle. And we can decide, is it cultural? Or is it normative? Is it cultural? Or is it normative? Because I think we've all well, maybe 99% of us, reading through, say, First Corinthians would take passages like about women must be silent in church and about having your head covered your hair cut, there are maybe one or 2000, or one in 10,000, that might take that as literal today. But most of us would not read it that way. We would say that it's cultural. It's not normative. So how do we know when it's one on one? It's the other many times maybe all the time, Scripture interprets scripture, which is a huge hermeneutical principle. So, for example, take slavery. Paul gives commandments about how masters are to treat slaves and slaves are supposed to respond to their master’s authority. Is that cultural isn't normative? Most of us say that's, that's cultural. How do we know that though? Are we just saying that because it's uncomfortable? Well, we know it because Paul told slaves to gain their freedom if they could, he tells them to submit. And if there's a way for you to gain your freedom do so well, then clearly that's not normative, he was dealing with a situation, then in there. So those clues are normally embedded within the text. And I just love to say that scripture interpret Scripture.


Steinmetz: Well, and that example calls to mind this bigger issue you're talking about, not only do we have this massive distance from the biblical audience in time, but we have all these other distances,, too. We have geographic distance, climate distance, political distance, cultural distance. And that's why in the Bible Study Methods class in the primary textbook we use called Grasping God's Word, the authors have an entire step of the interpretive journey that they call "measuring the width of the river to cross." We're going to take the meaning of the text for the ancient town into the contemporary day. One of the things we have to do is be honest and careful about how wide the differences are between us and the original text. And along those lines, something like slavery in the New Testament era, which as you said, Paul is telling slaves get out if you can, he's, he's using every legitimate power of persuasion, he must convince a Christian brother to release and give freedom to a slave that he was holding. But even understanding differences between slavery in the New Testament era and the transatlantic slave trade, for instance, in, in modern times here in the Americas and Europe, that's significant, because we have, we have places in the New Testament, that speak of kidnapping and trading of people stealing of people and selling of people human trafficking, as horrific offenses, and very different talked about in a very different way, than the sort of indentured servitude or household servant culture that Paul was largely speaking to when he encouraged his servants to submit to their masters and essentially work well within their economic condition.


Lewis: We're going to open the opportunity up for some questions. So, we may take some questions before long. So, if you have some you can submit those. So, Scott, you mentioned earlier about the "innocence of eye"? What did you mean by that phrase?


Stripling: "Innocence of eye" means the ability to create an environment where I'm seeing Scripture as if for the very first time. So, I'm bringing my experiences my previous knowledge, all to bear, of course, but then can I compartmentalize that, and ask the Holy Spirit to help me. And let's not underestimate the power of the Spirit, that the Holy Spirit is the great teacher of the church that makes the word come alive, so that it is more than just literature. But I will often pray and say, ask the Lord to give me a sense of what did it mean to them so the Lord can help me to set aside any preconceptions that I might have so that I can take this journey. You never stop taking this journey, you get better at it, so that I take it in there and then bring it here and now. And so that's why I call it a spiral that we go through.


And let me say a word about Israel's last comment, which was so good about the household servant. And this is a little bit about the original languages. We teach the biblical languages at TBS, but we are in no way suggesting that the English reader of the Bible cannot accurately and clearly understand God's Word and God's revelation, you can't. But it's helpful to understand what a translation is and maybe a reliable study Bible to help with some of the cultural issues and language issues. But for those who do study the original languages, then they can then go to another depth of understanding through another lens, perhaps to use your original analogy of National Treasure, they can now see through another lens. And the household servant is what triggered my memory. In Galatians. Paul talks about the law was our master. In English it says, our "schoolmaster," our "tutor," or "governor" (depending on the translation), to bring us to Christ. What none of those really convey is the point of what we get in the original language. The Greek word is παιδᾰγωγός (paidagogos) which, to use Israel's term, was a household person responsible for the education of the children within that household. So, the pater familias (the head of the family) delegates to the paidagogos the responsibility for the children's education and when they get to advanced courses, that he can't teach them. His job is now to take them to the didaskolos (teacher). He transports them back and forth. Well, the paidagogos is the key because everyone in that culture knew what a paidagogos was. So, when Paul says the law was our paidagogos, it comes clear to me, it transports me from, you know, the elementary. Like, as a child I have no rights, I just do what I'm told until I am brought to the didaskolos, which is the great teacher Christ.


Lewis: I'll say one thing I've done through the years, and it wasn't intentional, per se, but it did help me with coming at this with the innocence of the eye, is when I read through scripture, I'll read through in a certain translation, you know, King James Version, or long time ago, Revised Standard Version. But then when I go through again, I'll often get a different version that's not my marked-up version that I've been using for a while. And it forces me to read each passage anew because I don't just read it and think I've understood it. I'm having to look at the words. How do the New Revised Standard Version or the New King James Version say it? And so, I've been doing that. And then certainly, when you get into Greek or Hebrew or Aramaic and you're reading those languages, then you're really diving into the text deeply because it it’s totally a different language. But, I think one way that people can do that is you can look at the text and different versions as you're going through your life. And really, it is a lifetime adventure as we as we do this.


There's a question here: Are you familiar with the books of Kenneth Bailey? I found his work to be insightful reading regarding the cultural context and understanding parables.


Steinmetz: Yeah, just, I come across his name pretty frequently in commentaries and whatnot. Oftentimes, speaking to issues of daily life in the time of Christ, for instance, how shepherds operated or what a what a home or clothing might look like he, he from what I can tell, really specialized in kind of ancient Near Eastern, and then Second Temple Judaism, first century, Greco-Roman cultures, and provides a lot of that cultural background. He adds a lot of color to his commentary. He kind of creates an imaginative world for you when he talks about the world of the Bible. He makes it a lot more picturesque and easier to imagine because he draws in so many of the cultural and historical backgrounds.


Stripling: Yeah, and I think we would all agree that there is some value in older commentaries, because we want to see how things were being interpreted in certain time periods. But when you're looking at good commentaries, you want something that's recent, because archeological data is fresh, it's impacting how we understand things, something post-Dead Sea Scrolls. I mean, if you're looking at commentaries that are pre-1947, you're not getting any benefit of what the Dead Sea Scrolls bring to us. So, these are some of the tools that the Bible reader has within his toolbox as well.


Lewis: Yeah. Nikki , one of our students from Kentucky, wanted to express how much she appreciated Bible Study Methods and Dr. Steinmetz. The discussions and teaching are really helping her gain insight into the words and grasping Scripture as a whole.


It's interesting, I've often thought of Scripture as a grocery store, and each aisle is a book of the Bible. And the more you go shopping in the grocery store, the more you go, the more you know, if your wife says to get whatever, you kind of know where the aisle is and you can kind of go that way. But, it's not just the grocery store, because we're all, you know, at least any of you who cook, and certainly those of us who eat, we're reading other things. You know, we go to the store, we buy the food, but I'm looking up recipes, you know, how can I use this item off the shelf? And well, how can I mix it with something else and come up with a good dish. The Bible is kind of that way. We're studying these individual items on the shelves, all the way down the chapter and book of Genesis, down the book of Matthew, and we'll get familiar with it. And the best thing to do is to get familiar with those foods. But things like Bailey's and taking classes and other commentaries, books, videos, even what we're doing today, begins to shed light on how it all fits together, and how can it be good spiritual food for our lives.


Steinmetz: Yeah, one of the blind spots, I think, that we find so often in particularly modern Protestant circles is almost this blindness to Christian history, as if the Bible fell out of heaven at the time of Jesus's resurrection. And we picked it up the next day. There's two thousand years of Christians reading and reflecting on this book, this collection of books, and we are not the first ones to read it. We're not the first ones to ask the questions. We're not the first ones that come up with good ideas, and certainly not the first ones to have come up with terrible ideas. We benefit from reading the history of the church, the teaching of the Church throughout history across denominations, and then we benefit from the most current, as Scott said, the most current and reliable scholarship that we can get our hands on today.


And commentaries are a mixed bag, I always tell my students, there's two important things to know about the commentaries. The first is you can learn a lot about the Bible from the commentaries. And the second is you can learn a lot about the commentaries from the Bible. So, we must read them in conversation with scripture with each other with the history of the church. But the people who write Bible commentaries have devoted their lives to studying scripture in a way that most of us never will. And we can benefit so much from their research and their teaching. And that's the opposite of the attitude that says, well, I just need me and my Bible and the Holy Spirit, as if that is, in any way a biblical way of approaching God and His Word and the community of faith and our mission.


Stripling: Can I give a shout out to TBS Professor Craig Evans, who is has written several commentaries, including the Mark commentary in the Word Biblical Commentary series. And of course, his books are about this big, and, you know, kudos to people like that, who have developed that skill set, and then, kind of like common grace, we all benefit from it.


Steinmetz: That's so exciting that the Word Biblical Commentary is getting an update. It was one of the best commentary series, and it was starting to get too dated to use in some situations, and it's awesome that it's been redone and updated.


Lewis: We have another question from Greg Sheryl, "Are there differences utilizing the hermeneutical versus Judaic systemic method for interpreting scriptures specifically related to the Old Testament? So, are there different methods and differences for interpretation?


Stripling: Okay, yes, right. Let's take the easy one. There are differences. I wish it was, you know, right in front of me and fresh on my mind. But normally, when you're talking about what Midrash says, so how are the Jewish writers approaching scripture and finding meaning with it, that is typically, you know, different from the historical grammatical approach that we might be taking today. In fact, we look at how the apostle sometimes interpreted Psalms. Now, how did Paul or Peter interpret Psalm 110? And you go, that's what it said, like really haven't had any come up with that. So yeah, our approach is a little bit different. But our place in history is a little bit different, too. And we now have the benefit of their interpretation of that. So, we don't need to reinterpret the passage, we already have the apostle’s perspective on various one. So yeah, Midrash is a little bit different as we think the three of us and maybe we bring Greg into the conversation. And as we're talking through this, it's kind of a yeshiva Midrash type of an idea. We're arriving at truth. We're doing hermeneutics while we're while we're talking. And that's a little different than the process we're talking about.


Steinmetz: Yeah, and in addition to those I think this is just maybe saying the same thing. Scott just said, with a little different word, but that historical critical method that we're talking about, largely today as an approach to scripture, studying the background, studying the literature, trying to understand what it meant for the original audience. That's a method that's really become the most, the most widely used and accepted method in western circles since the 1800s. This is a kind of a product to post enlightenment product of biblical study that's different from the way that a lot of Christians interpreted scripture and read Scripture prior to that. Of course, they read it literally, they read it literary, but there was a lot of allegorical interpretation and spiritualizing of scripture that we tend to frown on today. And so, interpretation continues to evolve. And there's, I believe there's benefits of drawing from each of these different interpretive approaches and trying to find ways that are, that are most useful to the church to live out God's mission in the world. But the biggest difference that I would say in response to Greg's question is the, let's call it Jewish commentary on the Old Testament, that is Jewish commentary on their scriptures. And as Christians, we are looking at the Old Testament through the eyes of the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And so, we as Christians, to read the Bible "Christianly" is to read all of scripture from Genesis to Revelation through the lens of Jesus Christ. And that would be, to me the most significant difference. It's not necessarily a methodological difference. It's a perspectival difference. We approach scripture, as the revelation of Jesus Christ of God, the Triune God, in the person of Christ, and that's from beginning to end. A Jewish person who doesn't accept the Messiahship of Jesus Christ, reflecting on the Jewish scriptures is doing a fundamentally different task.


Lewis: So, we've got time for maybe one more quick question. This is from Lily on YouTube. Do you have a Bible you recommend? Like? Is there a version that if you want to real quickly say that you prefer now?


Stripling: English Bible, I assume? If she means my preferred translation, it would it be the NIV. And if I was put on the spot, I would recommend the NIV Study Bible is a great place to start this. Now for reading and preaching, I'd say NIV. If I'm doing more in-depth study in RSV, or NASB, and best study Bible I know is the Cultural Background Study Bible. I've probably got five that I use, probably overdoing it. But, I literally I'll look at a passage, I'll go look at it in several other study Bibles.


Steinmetz: I like the New American Standard, you know, but its fair to say don't read just one. Yeah.


Lewis: I have been reading the Bible for many years, probably several of my trips through the Bible have been NIV, but also the New King James Version (that's the one we're reading in Public Reading of Scripture). And so, there's advantages in those and then, you know, diving into the Greek and the Hebrew and Aramaic. Lily, our answer might be we like the Bible, and we like some of the different flavors and it's exciting.


Stripling: I gave both Dr. Steinmetz and Dr. Lewis the chance to plug my new study Bible, but they didn't do it. So, I have something. So, later this year Lily, in 2024, I wrote the archaeological supplement for a new study Bible called the Open Study Bible that will be published by Thomas Nelson HarperCollins later this year. So, if you’re looking for a new study Bible, you might check that one out.


Lewis: Yeah, good. On Mondays, I referenced that we do a Public Reading of Scripture. So, we meet here at The Bible Seminary and it's also available online. We do that from 12:00 Noon to 1:00 PM Central Standard Time. And if you're here in the Katy area, you can come and we, we have a great lunch. It's different every week. We sit together, and we hear a little bit about what we're going to do. We read through a psalm, then we get a passage from the Old Testament, usually two or three chapters, and two or three chapters from the New Testament and close with a psalm. And what we're doing is we're listening to a dramatized version of the New King James Version provided to us by the Grace and Mercy Foundation. And it's a great journey. We spend this hour together, really listening to Scripture and reading it together. And we're going to walk through the whole Bible together over, however long it takes, and then we'll do it again. But it's fun, because you're doing it with a group of people, and it’s always great food. So, we invite anybody and everybody to join us for that event.


Dr. Stripling Dr. Steinmetz, I appreciate y'all joining us together today, and appreciate everyone online and listening. Really, the Bible is a great adventure, and a lifetime adventure. And, in fact, it's probably an eternal adventure because at some point we will be standing with the Word Himself and discussing and talking about lots of things. We'd love for everything to be super clear and just all neatly organized, but for whatever reason, God has given it to us in different genres, different pieces, and over a period (of time), and through a lot of different lenses. And the truth is, it's a great adventure, it's fun, it's exciting. At The Bible seminary, we love diving into it. And we appreciate y'all joining us together as we have looked at how to study the Bible for all it's worth. And we hope to see you again. We're going to do this Fridays at 1 PM Central Time. First Fridays (not every Friday, but once a month), the first Friday of every month. I appreciate everybody joining us today for The Bible Seminary podcast on First Fridays.

 

Watch the full episode on The Bible Seminary YouTube Channel.

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