We read the Bible, with writings going back to the Bronze Age, through the lens of our modern experience, understanding and knowledge, often without considering that we need to adjust our lens to understand what we are reading.
I do believe that the Bible is Scripture, conveying an accurate understanding of a timeless, changeless, faithful God, but it is written through the eyes of men who lived at particular times in history in particular cultural and historical contexts. It was written by about 40 men, to be more specific, over a period of about 1500 years with the last writing penned about 1900 years ago.
While Paul tells us that Scripture is inspired by God (“God-breathed”), he means that Scripture was “translated”, written out and conveyed through the vessel of people. I don’t mean to get into the subject of inerrancy or whether the Bible must be read literally in all respects. The way God communicated through people in the Bible is different from the claim that Mohammad made, for instance, in regard to the Quran: that he took down the dictation word for word from Allah.
The Bible does not claim to be a word-for-word communication from God (as if God speaks in Hebrew or Aramaic or Greek). God inspired what was written, but He didn’t dictate it.
I find this at once remarkable and hopeful. Continue reading “Reading the Bible in Context”