Questions & Answers
Problems of Interpretation
Our problems of interpretation are simple: we have been trying to figure out what it MEANS instead of determining what it SAYS. This may sound like semantics, but I assure you that it is not. It is the difference of APPROACH. I would venture to say that you've sensed it from time to time. It has hit you each time you were aware of how precarious an interpretation sat within its context, and if you were teaching it you hoped that no one would ask you what that NEXT verse meant. You may have felt it as you realized that your interpretation only stood within the framework built from OUTSIDE verses, and not at all upon the context.
Now, until you begin putting yourself into the shoes of both the writer of the letter AND those of the recipients then you will be forcing your situations and perspectives into the words of the Bible instead of the other way around. In other words, if you really want to know what it means to YOU then find out what it meant to THEM. Then, you discover that you FIRST must see what it SAID to them. When you know what something says the meaning ends up taking care of itself.
Why isn't this how most teach the Bible?
Because it takes way too long.
Because we would have to say too often, "I don't know".
Because it would involve constant ridicule and attack from the "qualified" perspective.
Because we want to hear what we want to hear.
Because what we really want to do is to validate our own views and opinions.
Because we are afraid that we will lose that "personal" understanding.
Because we will be rejected by most.
Because we would find ourselves on the outside.
Because we enjoy the respect of being considered an "authority".