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What is the Bible? Why do we say it's God's Word? How did we get it? What makes it so special?
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How has interpretation of the Bible changed?

Postby Kamistra » Sun Aug 09, 2020 9:42 pm

My cousin asked me how the Bible was interpreted throughout the years. I told her that I don’t have the answer but just go on my faith that the Father, son and Holy Spirit do exist and that nothing has changed in the Bible since my parents raised me. Do you have an answer to that?

Re: How has interpretation of the Bible changed?

Postby jimwalton » Sun Aug 09, 2020 9:45 pm

Glad to answer, but the question is pretty general. What does your cousin mean by it?

In general, there hasn’t been much change in how the Bible was interpreted throughout the years. We have the teachings of the church fathers (2nd century AD), commentators like Tertullian, Jerome, and Augustine (5 c.). The writings of the monks, scholars like Martin Luther, John Calvin, Zwingli, and on and on this list goes. We interpret the Bible basically the same as they did. We use their writings when we study.

Modern archaeology has added to our base of knowledge, giving us information none of them had, but those discoveries have refined our thought, not changed it. We still interpret the Bible the same way everyone in history has.

Even in modern times (since your parents raised you), despite the fact that there are always forces trying to change how we interpret the Bible, the true students of the Bible and the scholars don’t cater to that. The Bible is still as it always was.

But it depends what your cousin means by her question. With a little more explanation, I could answer more accurately.
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Re: How has interpretation of the Bible changed?

Postby Kamistra » Sun Aug 09, 2020 10:18 pm

She is questioning how we can trust the Bible is legit. She asked how do we really know who wrote it. How do we know it’s accurate. Asked me, how do we know people haven’t changed it to fit the times right now! Big questions! Like how do I know?? I’m not expert! I don’t even feel like I’m any kind of guru! I just trusted my parents and the church and it comforts me to believe in God! Hasn’t to be something bigger than me! I just blindly trust! I’ve also had some spiritual awakenings and I’ve seen things in dreams and things in life happen before my eyes! I can’t explain them! I just trust from all of this! I don’t have her answers!! All I can honestly say to her is I trust and believe! So, I don’t really know how to break her answer down any further! Honestly when my dad passed I experienced so much that I can’t explain that really convinced me further. But that’s not an answer to the average everyday person!!

Re: How has interpretation of the Bible changed?

Postby jimwalton » Sat Jun 17, 2023 7:14 am

The Bible is legit, for sure. Let’s break down her questions (and accusations), even though I’m sure you’re giving them to me as generalities rather than necessarily her specific questions.

> How do we know who wrote it?

Much scholarly effort is devoted to the authorship question. Most of Paul’s letters are beyond doubt (most of the New Testament). The authors of the Gospels are embattled territory, but I’ve studies the issue of the authors thoroughly, and I have concluded that the case for the traditional authors is the strongest case. As far as the NT books like James, Peter, and Jude, we go by tradition and style and early attestation, and the authors are most likely James, Peter, and Jude. The authors of the NT are fairly certain.

The Old Testament is a different story. Many question the authorship of Moses for the first five books, and again, this is highly debated. There is very good reason to consider Moses the authority behind the books if not the actual author. Most of the history books of the OT are anonymous—we never did know the authors and never will. But it doesn’t matter who wrote them.

As for the books of the prophets, we can be fairly certain they were written by the prophets they’re identified with. But each book would have to be discussed on its own.

The bottom line is that the authors of the books are strongly evidenced as being written by the people they’re attributed to.

> How do we know it’s accurate?

The Bible is subject to the same tests of truth as anything else: Does it reflect reality? What corroborates what’s written? Does it make sense? Does it match with what we know of history? Does it match with what we know about the ancient cultures, with the science of the era, with what archaeology has found. Over and over the answers show us that the Bible is accurate. People doubt the miracles, but there’s no way of corroborating those. But if it’s accurate in every other instance, do we have reason to doubt the miracles? I say no. Nothing has ever been discovered by historians or archaeologists to disprove anything in the Bible.

> how do we know people haven’t changed it to fit the times right now!

Because we have thousands upon thousands of ancient manuscripts that we can compare to each other and with what we have now. Compared to any other ancient work, it’s almost embarrassing how many documents and manuscripts we have of the Bible. That’s how we know it hasn’t been changed to fit the times right now.

Keep asking, and I’ll keep answering. Glad to be of help in this conversation with your cousin. The Bible is well-established and quite defensible. People just need to ask, as your cousin is doing, rather than make false assumptions and believe the lies, as so many do instead.
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Re: How has interpretation of the Bible changed?

Postby Scape211 » Sat Sep 30, 2023 5:31 pm

To add to the idea of accuracy/changing content over time, those manuscripts mentioned had a method of circulation from what I understand. Some temples had copies of some scripture and other temples had others. So they would have a way of keeping and circulating them. And since they had so many, read them orally to crowds often, and had strict laws on how the manuscripts were copied, it would be easy to tell if any were altered. It was a strong method of 'idiot proofing' the context of the scriptures and with so many of those manuscripts available (as Jim already said) we can be confident in the content we have of them not only due to volume but also due to their practice of keeping them.

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