635

now… i know ‘holy’ means set apart for god… i know ‘bible’ means book… and i believe ‘holy bible’ is simply a way of letting us all know which book it is. ie. as a collection of books it has no other name. it’s a book about what many regard to be ‘holy’ things… cool.  there are many who would go further and say the text ‘is’ holy… inerrant in any way… they take ‘holy to mean ‘literal’ in instances i may not. phrases like ‘the word of god’ are used a lot…  it seems to me, at best, the bible may be argued to contain the word of god as perceived by men. so… what do we think?

by the way… hope the cartoon makes you smile. it’s almost the weekend! :-)

holybible

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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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126 Responses to 635

  1. Sparrow says:

    It did! It did make me smile:) In face it made me laugh… Thanks

  2. jonbirch says:

    you’re welcome sparrow! nice name! :-)

  3. becky says:

    I’ve lost track of the number of fundies who told me the KJV is the only word of God – when I ask them why Jesus spoke like Shakespeare, I sense they didn’t know the Bard one bit. Now what’s really fun after you do that is ask how they enjoyed the pagan elements of their wedding – they think you mean Satan. Ahhh – fun with fundies. :*)

  4. ED... says:

    Let’s keep an open mind.
    Open, but not gaping…

    I’d say that from my own reading of the bible, it’s a better book than any other I’ve read. It’s got more applicable and esoteric truth in it than any other book I’ve ever encountered.

    If it is wrong about anything, I’ve never been able to see what that might be.

    If it is insufficiently clear about something, then the fault has (so far) been with my understanding of the issues rather than with the texts.

    As I read the bible, I find that I understand more of it, and have more of it to understand.

    I find that when I take its messages seriously, my life gets uncomfortable, and improves.

    I’ve never been able to reconcile acting against its instruction with my conscience.

    I’ve found no other place so full of hope, love, peace and joy.

    As a historian, I’m staggered by the faithfulness of its witness, in terms of codicological excellence, and textual transmission.

    As a man, I’ve discovered in it clues to the meaning of my existence, which contradict and confound other competing voices.

    If a person can say that this book isn’t holy, I don’t know what they’d mean by “holy”.

    I have had cause, time and again, to be glad that Jesus implicitly mandated the writing down of his teachings in his great commission.

    I am so glad to discover that Jesus took the texts of the old testament seriously, and treated them as though they have divine authority.

    What are the unholiest debates that churchy people engage in? They are the ones where versions of the bible are castigated and defended for their stylistic qualities, in preference to the substance of their scholarship, measured in terms of faithfulness to the text.

    If as much energy was expended on reading even the “worst” versions of the bible as is wasted on advocating only the use of the “best” version, the world would be a better place.

  5. Forrest says:

    My attitude is this:
    To be the most strictly technical about it the truly Correct Version of the bible is the one Jesus gave the Apostles when he signed them onto his team.
    (wait a minute, Jesus didn’t give the Apostles a bible, you say)
    (think about it, I say)

    Ohhh baby! That one is understood here. Kathy’s mom and stepfather are KJV only fundies and her stepdad will tell you bluntly the NIV will lead you to directly hell with its perversions of the word of God.

    As for me I have: KJV from school days; “The Way” Living Bible(Catholic version) from school days; NIV; an NIV (Lutheran version); The Amplified Bible; and there’s an RSV floating around the house somewhere. Kathy has KJV, NKJV, NIV.

    The best version of the bible, and most certainly the one to shop for, is the one which teaches that Christ was crucified and resurrected for the forgiveness of your sins and all ya got to do is ask him to that fer ya.

    Now, back to the top –
    Jesus Christ is The Word which brings salvation.
    The Bible is NOT The Word which brings salvation.
    The Bible is words about The Word.

    Getting sucked into this “Correct” versions of the bible thing is to make a book telling about The Word greater than the man who actually IS The Word.
    That is idolatry.
    Idolatry is sin.

  6. jonbirch says:

    idolatry is indeed sin. well said forrest. :-)

    ed… but more importantly, did the cartoon make you smile? :-)

  7. JohnFOM says:

    Since you ask ‘what do we think’ I’ve decided to come out of lurking and comment.

    In my theology, that is the theology I have cobbled together over the years, the bible is ‘God breathed’ (God has breathed a sort of life into it that makes it useful far beyond the times it was written, see Skeptics Annotated Bible for errors of fact in it), is useful for teaching, is innerrent in it’s purpose (to convey a story of God and his creation, see Skeptics Annotated Bible for errors of fact in it). It is, in short, a word of God.

    Note that I said A word of God, not THE word of God. That’s not to say that I hold other scriptures as equal, but that there was/is one ‘word of God’ that deserves the definate article, and thats the ‘logos’ in John’s gospel, the one who became flesh, Jesus himself. (I so hate it when the bible is called THE word of God).

    Versions, I use all sorts of versions depending on audience and purpose. If they tell the story in a meaningful and understandable way, they are all holy.

    Literal? Aye, I think Dante proposed you must understand the literal and by understanding the literal you then have a path to other hermaneutic understandings (I might be mis-remembering that it was Dante though). It’s a Both/And situation, not Either/Or.

    Thus is my graphology/bibliology/whatever-ye-want-to-call-it-ology.

    Well you asked :P

    Thanks for the cartoon. They all elicit a grin.

  8. Forrest says:

    Yes Jon, and I’m still smiling :-)
    about that.
    Am a bit :-/ about weather monday for getting Kathy from here in Boonville, MO, to Columbia, MO for hip replacement surgery.
    Is 26 to 30 miles between here and there – a very long way in snow and sleet as possible:
    http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?CityName=Boonville&state=MO&site=EAX&textField1=38.9642&textField2=-92.7478&e=0

  9. jonbirch says:

    man… will be thinking of you forrest. all the very best to you both. :-)

    johnfom… cheers!.. and welcome! :-)

  10. Fred says:

    I once saw a bumper sticker that read “If it ain’t King James, it ain’t Bible.”

  11. vibesboston says:

    Totally smiling! Thinking of preachers I’ve heard tell me that other interpretations of the bible will “rob me, my family and my church of holiness and life”.

    I kinda wish I had thrown my bible at them. Or plugged in my amplified bible and blown their hair back with “devil’s music”.

    Love the artwork. It always evokes in me emotion and pause for reflection. Keep it up!

  12. chad m says:

    king james of course. if it was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me…

  13. Jessica Denise says:

    My preacher uncle and I have “debates” over some topic in the Bible and this is one that we had over Christmas break. :-) Good times.

  14. The one I read of course.

  15. Been lurking for a long while, finally decided to post.

    Most importantly, yes it made me smile :-)

    As written in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 I look on the bible as being a “useful” tool to help me live a christian life and try and get closer to God and I belive it is Holy (ie special not nothing more) it isn’t God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit.

    I hope you don’t mind me putting this link up but I think “Why Bible-believing Methodists Shouldn’t Eat Black Pudding” is a great book on the subject and a free full text eBook can be found here. http://theconnexion.net/wp/?p=3636

  16. Pingback: What thinkest thou? « Better Bibles Blog

  17. dennis says:

    I dont see how any of them can be holy, they are just books.

  18. Kim says:

    OOh you like to light the blue touch paper before the weekend!

    Thank you for adding to the lovely Friday mood by eliciting ear to ear smiling :lol:

  19. Dorian says:

    Jon, I read the intro and was all prepared for one of those cartoons I was sure to disagree with. And then I saw that it was actually hilarious and brilliantly clever. I had to laugh. A lot.

    Peace.

  20. miriworm says:

    Isn’t that just a bit like asking which type of fish is the best to eat? The answer all depends on your tastes.
    Or is that another red herring! :-)

  21. subo says:

    All the best for Mon, Forrest and Kathy

  22. subo says:

    how smug are these tomes. i used to hang about in churches much more than i do now, and have creepy memories of ‘elders’, with big bibles in zip-up pouches, making comments to me that felt like curses

    fortunately i have a goodnews and message copies, but trying to read the old style, black bound, big books, loads me with pervasive, undefined guilt

  23. Caroline Too says:

    I like my bible

    He’s called Eric, Eric the bible…

    I’ve been reading him for more than 20 years

    the brown leather is begining to fade on one side, where he’s been
    in the sun

    his gilt (rite spilling?) is dropping from the pages

    some of his pages are starting to get a bit creased, and there’s
    some ink smudges – how did they get there… and some tear stains,
    I remember how THEY got there…

    Eric has been a friend through traumatic times and then times of
    rebuilding, each time we meet up for a read, I turn him over in my
    hands and am grateful for the journey that he’s been on with me

    I think that he’s holy

    I’m probably theologically incorrect, but I don’t think that
    his Lord will mind too much, he’s used Eric to talk with me many
    times…

    Eric’s NIV, I’m told that the NewRSV is better for scholarship
    and accuracy of translation. Part of me wants to make a change, but

    then I turn Eric over in my hands, feel him, when I start to read him
    and remember the journey of faith we’ve been on

    (and think I’ve got quite enough bibles in this one person house)

    and say, I suspect our Lord can get himself heard through wobbly
    translation

  24. Catriona says:

    Yup, that made me smile/laugh and the comments are interesting follow.

    So how’s about a picture of one with lots of holes in it – surely that’d be the holiest (groan); as the old song Cliff sang said, “when the Bible’s well used the Devil’s not amused”

    As a rev-type person I have around a dozen different versions and love checking them all out to see what new insights God is going to give me. And yay for the (Barthian?) WORD/Word/word understanding which is glimpsed in some of these comments.

    Thanks for making me laugh and think – your bestest talent methinks.

  25. beatthedrum says:

    Understand the bible is one of the key things in growing more like Jesus. To do this we need to have a number of DIFFERENT translations.

    There are three main translation types, Literal, paraphrase and narrative.

    The KJV, NASB fall into the Literal (or word by word), NIV, ESV, NRSV fall into the paraphrase (they change the word order to make it more readable in english, The message, Living etc are narratives, they stay faithfull to what is written but make it more accessable more nvel type of way.

    When studying the bible you need to have one of each of these bibles

    The ‘worse’ bible in my mind is the Amplified, this is a take you pick bible, read it then pick one of the four words we give you as your version. So the same verse can come ut with four or five different (but close) meanings.

    If you want to study the bible more and understand it better can i recommend “How to read the Bible for all its worth” by Stuart and Fee, it changed the way I read and study the word.

    A review of it can be found on my blog at http://beatthedrum.wordpress.com/book-reviews/how-to-read-the-bible-for-all-its-worth-fee-and-stuart

    (Loved the amplified cartoon btw)

    http://www.beatthedrum.wordpress.com

  26. JF says:

    Get a nice old leather-bound copy of the KJV with the thin, gold-edged pages, the tiny writing and the occasional illustrations of an oil-painted, white Jesus knocking at an old wooden door, or tending some sheep. Now close your eyes and smell… it brings my childhood Sundays right back. I have a couple such at home now. One of these is inscribed by my grandmother to my grandfather as a present while they were courting in about 1920. That’s my favourite. Might not be a holy thing, but it means stuff to me!

  27. Carole says:

    Yeah, this make me laugh.

    Caroline Too…I hope you don’t get Eric the Bible confused with Eric the Strat. ;)

    Not only is the Bible processed through the human authors, by the time it reaches us it has been processed by the work of the translators. Now going back to the earliest manuscripts presumably takes you closer to the original meaning…but then there is the whole matter of how WE as individuals associate the word in the mind with the object in the outside world. What shades of grey do we bring into the mix? I think that we cannot assume that we all interprest things in exactly the same way. So taking too literal an interpretation can be frought with problems. But, in most cases I think the great wisdom and teaching will out, no matter which one you use…

    At risk of being binned by WordPress, you might find this raises a wry smile…

    http://www.godtube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=43a7cea8e1e0ca8daaca

  28. Linus says:

    When asked what his farourite version was, NT Wright is reported to have said “I find the original Hebrew particularly good”

    As for the English translations, well, Bible translators talk about writing in a person’s “heart” language – the language they understand emotively and instinctively. I find the New Living Translation helpful because it is written almost exactly in my “heart” language – the exact version of English that i grew up with, am familiar with and use. The Nearly Infallible Version (NIV) and Extremely Stodgy Version (ESV) just don’t do that in the same way. And this is important cos it affects my response to the text in all sorts of ways. I think its always important to look at any translated text in more than one version (where possible) if you want to be sure you understand the exact meaning. We are blessed to have so many versions to choose from – so many people in the world don’t have the books of the Bible (and many other books for that matter) translated into their native tongue for them.

    As for the KJV debate, well this sums it up nicely for me.

  29. darrin says:

    The bigger the bible the better…and therefore most holy…a feature in turned bestowed on its carrier

    I was once in traction for a month after trying to out holy everyone else in church

  30. Carole says:

    Darrin – you carry bibles around in your church? In my church the holiest one is the person carrying the book of raffle tickets… ;)

  31. Karita says:

    I think that the Bible is a useful tool that God gave us to help us. It takes thought and reason to work out what it is saying to us. If we took every word of it literally we would really tie ourselves up in knots.

    Jesus is the Word of God. Not the Bible. I think.

    Disclaimer: Like most other Christians, I’m figuring this out as I go along. The ones who reckon they’ve got it all sorted? They’re the ones to avoid.

  32. Karita says:

    Oh… I should probably have said – it takes thought, reason and prayer to work out what it is saying to us. I always forget about that last one!

  33. Hayles says:

    No-one’s even mentioned TNIV…

  34. jonbirch says:

    that’s because it is heresy hayles! :lol:

    a big “hi!” and “welcome!” and “thanks!” to anyone new, or first time posters! :-)

    some great comments in this thread! :-)

  35. jonbirch says:

    carole, that link is hilarious! :lol:

  36. Hayles says:

    I was speaking to my friend who is an atheist the other day and he expressed his frustration and anger at people arriving at their conclusions with the explanation: ‘Because the bible says so.’

    I think it’s Rob Bell who talks about how the Rabbis used to ‘wrestle’ with scripture. We are in relationship with God and we are thinking, intelligent beings. Our God is a living God, who I’m sure doesn’t mind our questioning! (Just look at how the desciples questioned Jesus…He is afterall the right person to go to with our questions, since he does have all the answers!)

    I’m still ‘wrestling’ with my thoughts regarding particular parts of scripture. I hope that this means my faith is alive and serious, rather than showing that I have doubts or a lack of trust.

    All I know is that when I think about the times I have felt close to God, most of them haven’t involved reading the bible.

    What is other people’s experience?

  37. darrin says:

    I always rather liked Nick Cave’s intro to St Mark Gospel in a series published by Canongate. I particularly like the last bit in regard to the Bible rather than just Marks Gospel

    “The Gospel According to Mark has continued to inform my life as the root source of my spirituality, my religiousness. The Christ that the Church offers us, the bloodless, placid ‘Saviour’ – the man smiling benignly at a group of children or serenely hanging from the cross – denies Christ His potent, creative sorrow or His boiling anger that confronts us so forcibly in Mark. Thus the Church denies Christ His humanity, offering up a figure that we can perhaps ‘praise’ but never relate to. The essential humanness of Mark’s Christ provides us with a blueprint for our own lives so that we have something we can aspire to rather than revere, that can lift us free of the mundanity of our existences rather than affirming the notion that we are lowly and unworthy.”

    (ps i had to look this up and copy and paste…i do not have it ensconsed in my head to recall as the need arises)

  38. jonbirch says:

    hayles… i often think doubt and faith are not opposites, they are bedfellows.

  39. Linus says:

    awesome! The campaign to canonise Nick Cave starts here!

  40. jonbirch says:

    i have the very copy you mention darrin. will read. :-)

  41. Sophie says:

    I like ones with inclusive language – the ones that say brothers and sisters (not just brothers), and people (rather than ‘men’). I really find it helps me to think that this whole business has got something to do with me. I have the contempory english version at the moment. Couldn’t quite get along with the craziness of the amplified one.

    Also, I grew up with the NIV, so often when bits of Bible come to mind, they’ll be NIV, so I also have a little NIV concordance to look them up with. Must confess though it’s been a while since I’ve used it.

  42. Hayles says:

    Yes Jon, maybe you’re right!

  43. jonbirch says:

    wow… doesn’t happen too often hayles! :lol:

  44. Bo says:

    I’m surprised that noone have nominated the LBTP yet.

    But anyhow, you can read it at http://www.lolcatbible.com/index.php?title=Main_Page

    so you don’t even have to spend moar money to read the bestest and holliest translation evar.

  45. John says:

    Well, if you want a literal bible, first you have to decide on what Hebrew and Greek texts are the actual original ones (they are all pretty close to each other, but there are a few differences). Tehn you just read in the original languages! If you must have a translation in your native language, then you run into a lot of choices as far as English goes. If the bible hasn’t been translated into your own native language, then you are out of luck. But for English, we seem willing to spend huge amounts of money making lots of translations, being not-so-wise stewards of what we have been given (maybe).

    If you truly want literal, bet an interlinear. It won’t make much sense, but it is the most literal. For anyone familiar with language translation at all, you know you must change word order and perhaps even add a word or two to make it ‘translate’ into something that makes sense to you. That’s where the problem begins. Or that’s where the money begins. You can do quite well financially by offering new translations, books explaining why your new translation is the best, books explaining why the other translations are not so good. That way we can spend less on translating the bible into languages that don’t even have one translation, and spend less for those who do mission work with people groups who don’t even know about Jesus. Plus we can spend countless hours blogging about bible translations and spend less time spreading the good news!

    Besides, my translation (whichever one I am using today) is the best!

  46. Pingback: Which version of the Bible is the holiest? | The Daily Scroll

  47. sarah says:

    At college,(25+years ago) the RSV was the Richard Stilgoe version, the NIV was the nearly indestructible version; the good news, God’s noddy bible; The King James was the jammie dodger. Don’t ask why! I’m not sure if I can remember who Richard Stilgoe was at the time. Some guy on a TV programme called that’s life??

  48. Kim says:

    He used to play the piano and sing bizarre rhyming songs on ‘Look North’ when I was a child – eek!

  49. Quote:
    “there are many who would go further and say the text ‘is’ holy… phrases like ‘the word of god’ are used a lot…”

    Just to let everyone know, Jesus Christ called scripture “the word of God” (Mark 7:13, cf. 8-9).

    Furthermore, Jesus called his Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible “the word of God”.

    And just to clarify– I am anything but a fundamentalist. I have studied at Bible College and am finishing my degree in philosophy, and I am considered on the very “progressive” wing of theology.

    However, I would like to point out something very, very important.

    Quote:
    “it seems to me, at best, the bible may be argued to contain the word of god as perceived by men.”

    Every ‘school’ of theology has a “hermeneutic,” or method of interpreting and applying scripture. Dispensational theology’s hermeneutic is reading scripture as literally as possible. Postliberal theology utilizes a “narrative” hermeneutic.

    One school of theology is “liberal” theology. The word “liberal” is often used as a subjective term, but in theology it is a very distinct term with distinct meanings (not waffly, such as, “you’re a liberal.”)

    One of the fundamental points of the liberal school of theology (mostly German) is that the Bible is not the word of God, but rather at best, the Bible may be argued to contain the word of God as perceived by men.

    Even though I am on the progressive wing of theology, there is a sharp distinction between “liberal in relation to fundamentalists” (which I am), and “liberal theology,” which is very distinct, and applies this distinct hermeneutic.

    The reason I bring this up is because there are a lot of commenters on this thread that seem like new Christians that are confused on this issue, or still trying to figure out what they believe.

    Wandering Methodist:
    “I look on the bible as being a “useful” tool to help me live a christian life and try and get closer to God and I belive it is Holy (ie special not nothing more)”

    Karita:
    “Jesus is the Word of God. Not the Bible. I think. Disclaimer: Like most other Christians, I’m figuring this out as I go along.”

    Hayles:
    “I’m still ‘wrestling’ with my thoughts regarding particular parts of scripture.”

    JohnFOM:
    “It is, in short, a word of God. [...] (I so hate it when the bible is called THE word of God).”

    Catriona:
    “that made me smile/laugh and the comments are interesting follow.”

    Jesus himself called scripture “the word of God.” That is the simple fact of the matter. I’m not being a fundamentalist on this, I’m being a hard “scientist” on it. That is simply what the facts are.

    PS– Jon, I like your cartoons. I have linked to you on occasion before from my theology blog, so I don’t intend this to be personal whatsoever. As a matter of fact, I am sure you didn’t even intend to promote the ramifications of a liberal hermeneutic. But it would be good to point out to your readers the facts, nonetheless– especially in light of the comments that have followed, in this thread.

  50. subo says:

    hiya Aaron, how cool to find your thoughtful comments here. I guess we need some thoughtful people to ‘debunk’ myths about the bible, sadly the one’s I need debunking are more in the line of ‘this text means this, forever and evermore’.

    having crawled away, almost still in one piece, from some fairly abusive church setups, I need some theologian who are prepared to get stuck in with the stuff thats crushed us ‘women shall wear hats in church, sit down and keep quiet.’ ect

    the bible has it’s own ability to enable those who open it, to connect with God, or maybe it’s God who’s eagerly awaiting our openness to him, and softly speaks as we, the uninitiated, slowly begin to read.

    we may have to shed a ton load of ‘blessings’ from well meaning law promoters, who prescribe specific meanings to some texts.

    doing theology, is about listening, as God demonstrated in the responsive manner he related to Adam in the Garden ‘Ah, it’s not good for man to be alone’, I need theologians who have this responsive, reflective ability to listen

  51. subo says:

    cheers Sarah, the noddy bible, thats the one for me, what might Richard Stilgoe have named the Message?

  52. Linus says:

    The passage that Aaron refers to can be found here, in context.

    Jesus refers to the account of the people of Israel’s encounter with God at Mount Sinai. This is a very direct encounter with God where the text reads as a chronicle of an actual event where God speaks words – ie the text reports literal words of (ie spoken by) God.

    To extrapolate from Jesus’ statement, which refers specifically to these words, that all the writings collected together by the early church and called the Bible are dictated by God and entirely innerrant… i don’t think that’s a fair representation.

    The context of Jesus’ statement is the danger of putting our own words in God’s mouth, and claiming our own ideas/beliefs/traditions are from God when they actually contradict him. Which i reckon should give all of us pause for thought.

    I’m no scholar but i assume Jesus was speaking in hebrew or aramaic and quoting the original text, and it only appears that he quotes the greek translation because Mark’s gospel was originally written in greek and so the writer translates Jesus’ quotes of the hebrew scripture at the same time as they translate his own words into greek.

    hope that helps

  53. darrin says:

    this toon put me in mind of the excellent (long time defunct) winebibber comic particularly gordon bewes out of the good news

    other greats included robin mire kevin humble adrian snail

    anyone else remember it…example below

    http://img201.imageshack.us/img201/4889/p1230969xk1.jpg

  54. JohnFOM says:

    Aaron,

    Fair enough. Admonishment taken.

    My comments regarding ‘the/a’ are to a certain degree hyperbole. They are a reaction to the bibliolatry I encountered growing up and still encounter from time to time. You know, the sort of bible worship that produces people, or is produced by people, who are shocked that you could even consider defacing ‘the word of God’ by highlighting passages, the sort of folk theology that practically puts the bible as a 4th member of the trinity

    My belief is fairly well developed, although I can be accused of failing to articulate it well. I’m glad that you were watching the thread and countered what could have lead to an over reaction to the bible worship I mentioned before. I’ll have to find a better way to articulate my polemic to bible worship.

    BTW, You showed us your, I’ll show you mine: Classical fundamentalist (ie identify with the early expression of the 5 fundamentals) with a primary propensity for post-liberal hermeneutic, though not exclusively. Maybe post-evangelical fits best.

    Now, if I could just pull a Barth and write/draw/sing/video a theology using post-liberal method to arrive at fundamental theology, I’d be set :P

  55. matybigfro says:

    the Gideon’s little free bibles they give out at schools are great.

    my freinds in school certainly thought it was the best for making rollies and having a holy high.

  56. shelly says:

    Now, back to the top –
    Jesus Christ is The Word which brings salvation.
    The Bible is NOT The Word which brings salvation.
    The Bible is words about The Word.
    (Forrest)

    You win the internets! :D Seriously, well said. (People referring to the Bible as “The Word” is one of my pet peeves.)

  57. JohnFOM:
    “the sort of bible worship that produces people, or is produced by people, who are shocked that you could even consider defacing ‘the word of God’ by highlighting passages, the sort of folk theology that practically puts the bible as a 4th member of the trinity”

    Ha! I know exactly what you mean. I’ve heard it once put, “The Bible didn’t climb up bloodily on the cross and die for my sins!”

    I’m thrilled that you know theology, so my post wasn’t just a bunch of mumbo-jumbo.

    I also am sympathetic with postliberal theology. I’m hoping after I finish my philosophy degree to go to Yale Divinity School, where the postliberal school of theology is pioneered.

    Have you heard of “Radical Orthodoxy”? That’s the current thread of thought I am running with.

    Pleasure to read your thoughts,
    Aaron

  58. jonbirch says:

    hi aaron… welcome. haha! i didn’t go to bib school. i’ve done a lot of hanging and debating with mates who are theologians, philosophers, scholars, some of whom lecture in such institutions. i had a good ten year stint of my life learning from some amazing brains. i am what might be described as a neo calvinist in my views on creation, i am pretty orthodox, i have sympathies for the liberal hermeneutic, i am thinking as i go, non emergent (yet connected with), not ‘post’ anything by nature (‘post’ to me seems like more of the same done differently).

    i’ m not sure where you see jesus calling all the scriptures ‘the word of god’… i grant you, he calls ‘the word of god’ ‘the word of god’… but that’s by no means the same.

    in the bible you will find that which can (and would be argued by me) to be the word of god… you will also find the words of the historian… the words of the poet… the words of a worshipper… the word of the eye witness… the word of the propagandist… the word of the prophet (words given to him arguably… again i would argue this) by god… the word of the sinner… the word of the saint… the word of legion. hte idea that jesus called the bible ‘the word of god’ is strange… given that the last half wasn’t written until after he left.
    the word of god may well be the word of god, the word of the lord is reasonably provable to be at least close to the kinds of things jesus said (memory and own motives allowing)… but to say that the bible is wholesale ‘the word of god’, is a mighty step on which makes little sense to me. the argument even seems to undermine the very bits which are god’s word being spoken.
    according to the bible, jesus is the word of god. the bible contains the words of god as understood by the messenger and written down later. it is undeniable that often the perceived or presented ‘word of god’ gives god so many opinions which god’s people actually want him to say. we see it playing out all the time now in our world. ‘let he who has ears hear, and he who has eyes see’… wise words from my saviour. i’m going with him, because he makes a lot of sense. :-)

  59. jonbirch says:

    btw… i’m not liberal. i just don’t agree. :-)

  60. beckyw says:

    Caroline Too @23 I know what you mean. My old battered Bible reminds me of my journey with God and the things he’s said to me.

    Darren @29 hahahahahahaha…[2 mins later]…*chuckle*

    So, John said the Word became flesh, and the beginning of Hebrews makes a distinction between God speaking through the prophets in the past and through his son now. I’m trying to get back to looking at what Jesus said and did first cos I think there’s a danger of becoming a Paul follower when we go on about the Bible being the Word.

  61. Kim says:

    Jon 57. and Beckyw 59. Thank you for those comments which chime with my understanding but I’m not a good enough writer to articulate.

    I think there is a lot of intellectualism around understanding the Bible, but I think undrestanding how Jesus lived his life and what he said and did is accessible to everyone by the Holy Spirit and tells us what we need to know.

    I may go to theological college at some point in future, but I think everyone can live a life with a foundational and simple level of understanding of the Bible and what is reveals about Jesus. I would like the church to become a little less “educated white middle class” in its approach to Bible understanding too.

  62. Will says:

    I find it very difficult to relate to the conversation when it comes arount to what school of thinking i may be. For me it destracts. Perhaps that’s because i don’t have the brain to get my head around it and understand it. Every time i hear an argument that i agree with i think that perhaps i am “post something or other” But then i hear an argument about a different subject and find that i am now something completely different. So i don’t bother and simply call my self a beliver / follower of christ or Will.

    I have had this going around my head since you posted it. Genius cartoon by the way Jon.

    The image i have had has been that of the tv series heroes. The part when people are able to draw the future and their eyes glaze over and when they come around they are amazed by what they have drawn.

    (please no one talk about the series and i am on catch up of the latest series and am a few episodes from the end, thanks) ;)

    The whole “these are THE words from God” way of thinking feels like the heroes picture. I dont believe that God closed the eyes of the writers and made their hands moved to create the words. He could have simply dropped into the hands of someone the entire text.

    So i believe that he used people in their frailty, brokenness, humanness. Each with his own personality, own histrionics, own upbringing, relationships and relationship breakdowns to bring God words to the world.

    If i felt that these were the direct words of God i would feel that i would just have to accept them without deep thought or wrestling of any kind. but when i look at myself in the mirror what do i see (well to start with i am 2 stone lighter than September(couldn’t resist abit of self congratulation sorry)) but then i see that i have not been made to just accept things but to challenge myself to think about what God can say to me through these Texts.

    Do i feel that they are any less of God because i have to look at who wrote it. No. But the perfect examples are the gospels. Surely if direct from God i would need only one but we get 4 from different people with different ways of writing and so we get a fuller picture of Jesus’ ministry.

    Now my unlearned thinking is probably over simplifying this – so please feel free to put me right.

  63. I agree that God speaks to us through the Bible and points us to Jesus but I would still accept the Bible as the word of God. I’d be interested in any thoughts on these notes from a book called Spiration of Scripture which seems to support this point. Do you think there is a distinction between rhema – the spoken word – and logos – the eternal word, perhaps?

  64. Carole says:

    Well said, Will. And well done on the weight loss success – what’s your secret? :)

    I must admit, when something as precious as my faith becomes reduced to competitive theology…that’s when my eyes become glazed over…

  65. Chris F says:

    It seems that memorising scripture has gone out of fashion, which is a pity – I think it’s a good way of getting stuff really inside us. I wonder if it’s because some think, because it’s the Word of God, you have to get the words exactly right,so they feel they can’t even try and memorise.

    But of course you don’t have to be word perfect! – the whole point is to get the gist of it right, the truth contained within the words

    Even the Bible dosen’t quote word perfect – see some NT quotes of OT!

  66. Ben says:

    Brought my youth group TNIV youth Bible (I’m not keen on the simplified language of the NCV youth Bible).

    Got shouted at by a parent who informed me she was completely qualified on the subject as she worked in a Christian Book Shop… Not sure why I bother with this studying Theology lark.

    She suggested the NLT… I use different bibles for different things. If I’m teaching or studying I use (T)NIV (although tempted to move to ESV at some point. If I’m reading cause I just want to soak up some of God’s revelation I use NLT or similar paraphrase. Seems to me we miss the macro-bible – that is the Bible reveals God’s heart over the whole course of the ‘story’ – we prefer the ‘micro-bible’ where we can highlight the verse we prefer.

    In the former I think translation becomes less important.

  67. gilly says:

    Caroline Too @23 Love the way ou talk about your bible! mine hasn’t a name but …in every other way. We’ve shared a lifetime and bless it, it shows!

    And linus@28 I do so love the idea of heart-language. as i get older there’s no point i me readig a very modern version….at all!

    My parents didn’t like anything put on top of a bible….And me? I cover mine with cuttings and pictures, it’s heavy written over and is my friend.

    Oh, loved the cartoons……thanks

    matybigfro@54….Well yes, they had monetary value at our boarding school, for the same reason! When I was a teenager a copy that would fit in my jeans pocket was very useful and it went everywhere with me. Not someting i’d be able to do with a hardbacked copy of the KingAmplifiedMessage.

  68. JonBirch:
    “hte idea that jesus called the bible ‘the word of god’ is strange… given that the last half wasn’t written until after he left. [...] to say that the bible is wholesale ‘the word of god’, is a mighty step on which makes little sense to me.”

    Jesus didn’t say that “the Bible” is the word of God as we know it, but he DID say that “the Bible” was the word of God, as HE knew it– which was the Hebrew Bible, or what we know as the Old Testament.

    However, this interpretation only causes more questions: Does this mean that the Old Testament is in fact the word of God (because Jesus said so), but the New Testament is the words of men?
    Would Jesus have given the thumbs up to the New Testament, had he seen it?
    And finally: Since the early church apostles all considered the New Testament to be “scripture,” equal to the Old Testament scripture confirmed by Jesus, were they wrong?

    One has to go against two thousand years of Christian consensus (“orthodoxy”) to deny the total inspiration of all of the Bible.

    JonBirch:
    “in the bible you will find that which can (and would be argued by me) to be the word of god… you will also find the words of the historian…”

    Here is another problem with this interpretation (or “hermeneutic”): Who gets to decide what parts are from God, and what is from man? The homosexual says that the passages calling his lifestyle sinful are only cultural words of “the historian,” surrounded by “true” words of God.

    With this interpretation, a person gets to pick and choose what is “the word of God.” And in that case, who is truly the ultimate authority? Is it God, or is it in fact the interpreter– you?

    The reader becomes the final authority on what is and is not God’s actual word, which means you are your own ultimate authority.

    JonBirch:
    “according to the bible, jesus is the word of god. [...] ‘let he who has ears hear, and he who has eyes see’… wise words from my saviour. i’m going with him, because he makes a lot of sense.”

    But remember– according to this interpretation, maybe when Jesus was called “the word of God,” that was actually just the words of “the historian.” Because after all, Jesus himself never wrote a single word of scripture. And furthermore, everything that is recorded of his speech might not actually be what he said. After all, Matthew, Mark, and Luke all disagree on the exact wording Jesus’s speech, in parallel passages.

    Did your saviour actually say “let he who has ears hear, and he who has eyes see,” or is this the interpretive writing of the historian?

    You cannot follow Jesus and what he said, without following scripture and what it says. The simple facts are that we only know what Jesus said by listening to what scripture says. Again– I’m not being a fundamentalist on this, just a hard “scientist” on it. These are the simple facts.

    JonBirch:
    “it is undeniable that often the perceived or presented ‘word of god’ gives god so many opinions which god’s people actually want him to say. we see it playing out all the time now in our world.”

    I agree. Interpreting the Bible involves knowledge of linguistics, ancient near eastern culture, textual interpretation (such as judges interpreting the Constitution), history, literature, and much more.

    Interpreting the Bible is not a flimsy art, it is a science. And this happens because so many people are trying to teach about the Bible, when they themselves haven’t even had biblical training.

    I’ll end with one final note–

    To Jon:
    This is your blog, so it is your public platform. Your readers and commenters are favorably inclined toward you. They will listen to you.

    Teachers are told that they are held twice as accountable as normal. Not only are we accountable for our own actions, but we are also accountable for what we teach to others, and what paths we lead others down.

    What you are teaching is not “liberalism in relation to fundamentalists”– this is actual, classical, “liberal theology.”

    To readers:
    Whenever anyone has any conversation about God, it’s theology. “What do you know about God?” Some may say, “I know that Jesus is God, and he is my savior and friend.” This is 100% theology.

    Be careful to dismiss “theology” as some kind of “barrier” to truly knowing God. The entire point of “theology” is trying to truly know ‘theos,’ GOD. Throughout history, theology has always been called “the queen of the sciences,” because it is the single most important thing that we can study.

    God bless,
    Aaron

  69. jonbirch says:

    “Jesus didn’t say that “the Bible” is the word of God as we know it, but he DID say that “the Bible” was the word of God, as HE knew it– which was the Hebrew Bible, or what we know as the Old Testament.” where?

    “Did your saviour actually say “let he who has ears hear, and he who has eyes see,” or is this the interpretive writing of the historian?” it is the writing of an historian about what jesus said. clearly. the gospels are given their writers names even. it’s their account of what he said. thank god for them.

    “Teachers are told that they are held twice as accountable as normal.” like you, i’m no teacher. i try and get discussion going. i’m not a very lofty anything. we do have some pretty wise teachers say all kinds of wise things on this blog though. and for that i am very grateful.

    “this is actual, classical, liberal theology.” it may well be… and?

    “Be careful to dismiss “theology” as some kind of “barrier” to truly knowing God.” fair warning… but no one’s voiced that. i do think our theologies can become an enormous barrier to us relating to others though. which is why i say, relate, relate, relate… more important even than lofty theological pursuit… and i too do enjoy a bit of theological pursuit. :-)

  70. Will:
    “i believe that he used people in their frailty, brokenness, humanness. Each with his own personality, own histrionics, own upbringing, relationships and relationship breakdowns to bring God words to the world.”

    Will, I agree one thousand percent– with every word you wrote.

    Again, I am not being a “fundamentalist” here, saying that the Bible is verbatim God’s dictated scribing. I am on the very “progressive” wing of theology. I am “liberal in relation to fundamentalists.” However, I am simply trying to emphasize that there is a sharp distinction between your (and my) position, and “liberal theology.”

    Chris F:
    “It seems that memorising scripture has gone out of fashion, which is a pity – I think it’s a good way of getting stuff really inside us.”

    I agree. I think that’s why people make comments like “there are many who would go further and say the text ‘is’ holy” and “phrases like ‘the word of god’ are used a lot”, but what these people don’t realize is, the actual Bible uses these exact phrases. But people aren’t getting enough scripture in them to realize what it teaches.

    What these quotes don’t realize is that scripture itself calls itself “holy” (2 Tim 3:15) and Jesus himself calls his Bible “the word of God” (Mark 7:13, cf. 8-9).

    Caroline Too:
    “I’m trying to get back to looking at what Jesus said and did first cos I think there’s a danger of becoming a Paul follower when we go on about the Bible being the Word.”

    Many people don’t realize this basic outline of the Bible:

    Old Testament = Setting the stage for Jesus
    Gospels = Jesus coming on the scene
    Letters/New Testament = Explaining the significance of Jesus

    We cannot become a “Paul follower” by listening to what he says– we can only become better Jesus followers.

    Kim:
    “I think undrestanding how Jesus lived his life and what he said and did is accessible to everyone by the Holy Spirit and tells us what we need to know.”

    I agree. However, we must not forget that one of the tools that the Holy Spirit has given us to understand Jesus better is the rest of the scriptures. The Old Testament helps us understand why Jesus came and the full implications of what he has done. The New Testament explains the significance of everything, how we are to understand it, and how to apply and live it.

    Here is a final scripture:
    “…from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:15-16).

  71. jonbirch says:

    mark 7? … where?

    ‘god breathed’ is a more biblical understanding on paul’s relationship to scripture and what he believes.

    “Old Testament = Setting the stage for Jesus
    Gospels = Jesus coming on the scene
    Letters/New Testament = Explaining the significance of Jesus”
    i think most people here are very familiar with this basic outline, but thanks for the reminder.

    the bible is far more than just that though aaron. it delivers the whole story as it understands it of ‘creation, fall and redemption’…

    you seem to think i want to bring down the importance of scripture. i don’t. actually i want to do the opposite. my opening gambit was a small account of my honest thoughts as i continue to wrestle. and i finished with the line ‘what do you think?’ or similar. i know what your views are now, you know mine. we disagree. i do love the bible. :-)

  72. jonbirch says:

    i think i’m experiencing something of carole’s glazedness now. i’ve put up another cartoon. it’s a nude. enjoy! :lol:

  73. JonBirch:
    “like you, i’m no teacher.”

    I am a teacher– both by spiritual gifting, and by employment. You, personally, are also a teacher, if you are instructing and leading an audience how to understand and interpret the Bible.

    JonBirch:
    ” ‘this is actual, classical, liberal theology.’ it may well be… and?”

    Because you so clearly articulated your position previously, I didn’t expect that you would mind that this is the camp that your position comes from. I was just explaining it’s origins your readers and commenters, so they know what they are getting themselves into, if they buy into everything you’re proposing.

    JonBirch:
    ” ‘Be careful to dismiss “theology” as some kind of “barrier” to truly knowing God.’ fair warning… but no one’s voiced that.”

    Yes, a couple of your readers/commenters voiced that. Scroll up.

    JonBirch:
    “i do think our theologies can become an enormous barrier to us relating to others though.”

    I agree. However, while Jesus said we are as sheep to one another, and should “relate” to each other in that way, he also said that teachers need to protect sheep from wolves. And with wolves, Jesus doesn’t say to relate playfully with one another.

    When people disagree over theology, they can still get along. No big deal. But I am just making your readers aware of the implications of what you’re proposing. No big deal :).

    JonBirch:
    “mark 7? … where?”

    Jon— You, me, and everyone reading this knows that I’ve already given you the scriptural reference twice.

    JonBirch:
    ” ‘god breathed’ is a more biblical understanding on paul’s relationship to scripture and what he believes.”

    If that’s your position, that’s fine. But as for me, whatever Paul believes, that’s what I believe.

    JonBirch:
    “i think most people here are very familiar with this basic outline, but thanks for the reminder.”

    Caroline Too said, “I’m trying to get back to looking at what Jesus said and did first cos I think there’s a danger of becoming a Paul follower.” I was simply explaining that Paul explicitly tells us to be Paul followers, because if you’re a Paul follower, you’re actually just a Jesus follower!

    Paul writes, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Cor 11:1),

    JonBirch:
    “the bible is far more than just that though aaron. it delivers the whole story as it understands it of ‘creation, fall and redemption’…”

    I know :).

    Here’s the crux of the matter—
    While you latched on to miniscule points in my post, you failed to address the 700-pound gorilla in the room:

    Who gets to decide what parts are from God, and what is from man? The homosexual says that the passages calling his lifestyle sinful are only cultural words of “the historian,” surrounded by “true” words of God.

    With this interpretation, you get to pick and choose what is “the word of God.” And in that case, who is truly the ultimate authority? Is it God, or is it in fact the interpreter– you?

    You become the final authority on what is and what is not God’s actual word. You are your own ultimate authority.

    We can go back and forth all day. You seem happy with your position, and I know I am content with mine. But I am taking the time to address your points (and others’) to clearly demonstrate the implications of what you’re proposing. If they are fine with that, God bless them. But for others, this dialogue is simply meant to raise a red flag to what is not seen as orthodox Christian understanding of the Bible.

    Again— I am “liberal in relation to fundamentalists,” but there is a difference between that and liberal theology.

  74. Caroline Too says:

    ho humm, think I’ll go and see Jon’s next cartoon…

  75. Caroline,

    I know my posts were extensive, so I’m not sure if you noticed or not, but I actually made a couple notes explicitly for you:

    Paul explicitly tells us to be Paul followers, because if you’re a Paul follower, you’re actually just a Jesus follower!

    Paul writes, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Cor 11:1).

    I expanded more on this above, as well.

    God bless.

  76. Chris F says:

    Aagh! a 700 pound gorilla! I better get out of here…

    …except when I look again, I see a small fluffy pink rabbit

    Each and everyone of us in the end is an interpreter of the Bible; and in that sense each of us is our own ultimate authority

    I have to surrender to the image of God I have today – which is always false at some point; Lord, lead me to a more true image,and thank you for the Bible, cos it will stop me making an idiot of myself!

  77. Actually Chris, this is where the discipline of “hermeneutics” (interpreting and applying a text) actually comes in.

    Each and every one of us is indeed an interpreter. However, there are some interpretive methods that are more correct than others.

    Again— interpreting the Bible specifically involves knowledge of linguistics, ancient near eastern culture, textual interpretation (such as judges interpreting the Constitution), history, literature, and much, much more.

    Interpreting the Bible is a science.

    So yes— we are all interpreters. However, the “cultural transposition” hermeneutic is more sound than, say, a “literal” hermeneutic. Or, a “historical-critical” hermeneutic is more correct than, say, a “liberal” hermeneutic.

    What I am pointing out here is that a liberal hermeneutic truly and sincerely actually makes you the ultimate authority. Scripture must answer to you. You decide if its God’s word or not.

    Other hermeneutics do not do this.

  78. jonbirch says:

    i’m not one of those, am i? :lol:

  79. jonbirch says:

    in my bible… all versions… jesus never once called ‘the bible’ ‘the word of god’… in the corrupted words of paul daniels… ‘now THAT’s science! :-)

  80. darrin says:

    Should I start an outreach programme for hermeneutics at church? How do I spot one? Do they carry bells? Or have they withdrawn to a solitary life?

  81. Jon— yes, as I have demonstrated, you are advocating what is referred to in theology as a “liberal” hermeneutic.

    And again— Jesus never called ‘the Bible’ (as we know the book today) “the word of God.” However, he did call ‘the Bible’ (as HE knew the book in HIS day) “the word of God.”

    Jesus called his Greek translation of the Old Testament “the word of God” in Mark 7:13, cf. 8-9. This is translated as “THE word of God” in the following translations: NIV, NASB, NLT, AMP, KJV, ESV, NKJV, ASV, Young’s Literal Translation, and the TNIV.

  82. Hayles says:

    #76 ‘Interpreting the Bible is a science.’

    Oh dear. I’m not very good at science – I’m an arts student.

    Jon, maybe this is why I struggle!

  83. Iaincotton says:

    Thanks Aaron for prompting me to actually read my bible closely.
    Mark 7 13
    An English translation (NIV) of Marks account of Jesus words in an argument with Phasisees about using human tradition as a get out clause for not doing what is right.
    The right thing here being “honour your Father and your Mother”
    In this context, Jesus describes the Mosaic command to honour your Mother and Father, as the word of God.
    I may be missing something in the translation or grammer, but how do we get from here to –
    “Jesus called his Greek translation of the Old Testament “the word of God””
    Isnt the word of God in this context the law/command, to care for your parents when they need it?
    JonBirch:
    “mark 7? … where?”
    Jon still deserves a good answer

  84. jonbirch says:

    “However, he did call ‘the Bible’ (as HE knew the book in HIS day) “the word of God.”
    no he didn’t… mark 7 doesn’t say that or anything like… in any version i’ve read… and i’ve now read about 10 versions of that chapter today just to make sure.

    “mark 7?… where?”… iain still deserves a good answer. :-)

    aaron… like iain, i’ve appreciated the prompt. :-)

    hayles… you do great! interpreting the bible was never science for my mum. she read that stuff that jesus said about love and cracked on with it. in the end, that’s what counts fortunately. by grace we are saved, not knowledge or learning i’m glad to say… or i’m doomed! :-D

  85. jonbirch says:

    linus 52… absolutely i agree.
    sorry your comment went astray in the wordpress filter. boo! wish i’d seen it and read it earlier. :-)

  86. Linus:
    “Jesus refers to the account of the people of Israel’s encounter with God at Mount Sinai. [...] ie the text reports literal words of (ie spoken by) God. “

    Iaincotton:
    “Jesus describes the Mosaic command to honour your Mother and Father, as the word of God. [...] Isnt the word of God in this context the law/command, to care for your parents when they need it?”

    You both miss the bigger context of the entire passage. When this text is quoted (literal words spoken by God), Jesus attributes it to Moses— not to God. Here’s why this is important:

    (Read Mark 7:1-13 before reading this)

    (A) The Pharisees ask Jesus why the disciples don’t live by tradition.
    (B) First, Jesus quotes Isaiah, and attributes authorship to Isaiah (“Isaiah was right when he prophesied…”). However, after quoting words that Jesus attributes to Isaiah, he then calls these words “the commands of God.” (v.8).
    Second, Jesus then quotes God speaking in Exodus, but attributes the words actually to Moses (“For Moses said…”). However, Jesus prefaces this quote by first also calling this passage “the commands of God (v.9).

    (C) Finally, he sums up his argument by contrasting the Pharisees’ tradition with the true tradition of scripture, which he just quoted, and finally refers to it as “the word of God.”

    The point in highlighting the context is this—
    Scripture has two authors: a human author, and a divine author—God himself. Jesus demonstrates this multiple times in this passage, by intertwining the authorship between both authors. The first passage he attributes to both human (“Isaiah”) and God (“commands of God”). The second passage is technically God speaking, but Jesus attributes it to the human author (“Moses”), and also God (“commands of God”). He then summarizes this as “the word of God.”

    Linus:
    “To extrapolate from Jesus’ statement, which refers specifically to these words, that all the writings collected together by the early church and called the Bible are dictated by God and entirely innerrant… i don’t think that’s a fair representation.”

    I never once—ever—said any of these things (that we should apply Jesus’s words to the New Testament and our present-day Bible). As a matter of fact, I have said the exact opposite— twice. I specifically pointed out that Jesus was calling HIS Bible in HIS day “the word of God,” not OUR Bible in OUR day.

    And as I just demonstrated, Jesus’s statement did not refer specifically to those words— that ignores the entire context of the passage.

    Also— scroll up and notice that I have never once uttered the word “inerrant.” As I stated before, I am not being a fundamentalist here. I am extremely “progressive” theologically, and am not inclined toward the doctrine of “inerrancy.” It seems more a product of Modernity than what scripture teaches. But also scroll up and notice how many other people have used the word “inerrancy,” and attributed that to my position.

    My assertion that scripture is “the word of God” has nothing to do with whether scripture is considered “inerrant.”

    LInus:
    “I’m no scholar but i assume Jesus was speaking in hebrew or aramaic and quoting the original text [...] and so the writer translates Jesus’ quotes of the hebrew scripture at the same time as they translate his own words into greek.”

    Jesus did NOT quote from the Hebrew scripture here. Jesus is quoting from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), called the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament). We know this because this quote from Isaiah literally only appears in the Septuagint, not the Hebrew.

    Hayles:
    ” ‘Interpreting the Bible is a science.’ Oh dear. I’m not very good at science – I’m an arts student. Jon, maybe this is why I struggle!”

    Hayles, don’t let this talk about “hermeneutics” intimidate you. The whole point of the Protestant Reformation was to get the word of God out of the hands of the priests in the catholic pulpits, translated into the common language, and into the hands of the people of God. We can read scripture and the Holy Spirit can give us illumination, and apply it to our lives and hearts.

    What I am referring to is more theological interpretation. When the Protestant Reformers were translating the Bible into the common language, they knew better than to just pass out Bibles everywhere. They knew that without a proper education in linguistics, ancient culture, history, literature and more, people would come away with all kinds of crazy interpretations.

    So instead, they made what we know of today as “study Bibles.” The teachers helped guide the people of God in how to correctly understand and apply scripture.

    A final point—
    Everyone is in a debate over semantics, such as whether the Bible is “the word of God,” etc. But what every commenter is neglecting to address (aside from JohnFOM) is the real issue at hand here: the ramifications of a distinctly “liberal hermeneutic.”

    If we follow a liberal hermeneutic, scripture only “contains” the word of God. In that case, the interpreter decides what is and is not truly “the word of God.” In that case, scripture must answer to you, and you are the final authority. In that case, you get to decide what is right and what is wrong— not God.

    Ultimately, this is an epistemological issue. If you are already convinced that you are the final authority, then certainly no words of mine will convince you otherwise.

    But again— scripture has two authors, human and divine. Jesus affirms this, and we should adopt Jesus’s teachings about scripture as our own.

    I have made sure to address everyone’s questions and contentions, but I’m afraid I can’t spend any more time on this issue. However, if anyone is genuinely concerned, or would genuinely be interested in hearing my thoughts to any subsequent posts that follow, just click on my name on my posts, which links to my theology blog. You can contact me there, and I will be sure and offer more thoughts on any subsequent posts or questions that any reader may have.

    God bless,
    Aaron

  87. had to google liberal hermeneutic; interesting to have a pigeon-hole, though as a liberal I’ll feel equally comfortable nosing about in other folk’s little boxes

  88. Linus says:

    In reference to Will’s post about labels and Jon’s apparent liberal hermeneutic tendancies (i’m sure you can get some cream for it or something Jon) it occurred to me that i don’t think God looks down on all creation and thinks, oh there goes an anti-post-perspexpulpitist, or whatever. I reckon He thinks: oh, there’s my beloved child Aaron, and there’s my beloved child Will, and there’s my beloved child [insert your name here]

    Jon thanks for your grace demonstrated on this thread, which amazes and inspires me. And thanks for your talent, your desire to build community and show hospitality to all and foster discussion. Its a beautiful thing. And thanks for your kind words on my earlier post

    As Aaron has run out of time and i really don’t have the energy, i won’t count all the ways i disagree with various things he’s written, but i am interesting in addressing what he calls the “crux of the matter” because its something i’ve heard before and been wrestling with for a long time: Aaron said “[when you take a liberal view of scripture] You become the final authority on what is and what is not God’s actual word. You are your own ultimate authority.”

    Now this argument genuinely worries me – the last thing i’d ever want to do is take on any kind of responsibility for anything =].

    No, seriously, this argument did worry me in the past, and i have thought carefully about it. But now i think actually that if someone who is taking a liberal view of scripture is their own ultimate authority, then so is someone taking a conservative view – its still their choice whether to trust it or not, and how much to. The same intellectual process applies whether you decide one way or the other. Each person chooses, of themselves, to make a decision. God likes us to make our own decisions. But he commands us to make them wisely

    At the end of the day, i don’t think its how you define the words of the Bible that actually matters – its how you respond to them and, crucialy, how you respond to Jesus and how you respond to the people around you which really defines whether you are your own ultimate authority or not.

    that’s what i think, anyway.

  89. jonbirch says:

    bless you and thank you linus for your kindness and wisdom. i very much appreciate it. you make me laugh too. :-)

  90. jonbirch says:

    darrin @ 53… adrian snail (the real one) is a good friend of mine. i produced the last few albums of his. the winebibber thing to me was funny because it was sooo wrong. i think he was called adrian (the philosophical) snail or similar. snelly’s more passion and artistic angst. :-) we had this friend who we used to call ‘kevin bumble’ after ‘kevin bumble, he’s so humble’. yep winebibber must have been funny, because i only read one annual about 20 years ago and bits have stuck in my head. bit of a christian take on viz. :-)

  91. Carole says:

    Phew! only managed a glazed skim read on the last few posts, I’m afraid. Not clever enough to argue any of it and frankly just got bored. I do rather think that Robb will have been sorry to have missed it – much more his bag than mine. :)

  92. jonbirch says:

    ‘phew’ indeed carole. :? :-)

  93. darrin says:

    i was in our church cafe this morning trying to engage the odd bods, drifters, lonely etc who came in in a bit of hermeneutic debate…mostly they just wanted milk and real sugar in their tea

    (for an partial explanation of a rather laboured point and stretched pun see here http://www.hermesetas.com/data/en/products/ )

  94. Will says:

    Thank you one and all. Much more to say but time to now move on me thinks.

  95. jonbirch says:

    darrin… hahaha! :-)

    will… yup! :-)

  96. TyTe says:

    Sounds to me like you are splitting hairmenutics Aaron! No offence mate, but of course the Bible has to be interpreted by people. We interpret and re-interpret the Bible and our understanding of the Bible isn’t static. It never has been and never will be.

    The doctrine of the Trinity – although it’s fine for us to say in hindsight that it was there all along – didn’t develop for hundreds of years. Could we say that all the people who didn’t have a full understanding of a triune God were liberal? Rubbish! And if this could happen for such a major doctrine, could it not be the same for other parts of the Bible? Could our understanding of homosexuality, for example, be something that develops with time – along with our scientific, social, historical understanding?

    It seems to me that the answer to the question, “Is the Bible the word of God?” is yes and no. Yes, but it is constantly being repainted and re-told and re-understood in each generation. But perhaps that is what you would expect from something God-breathed – something dynamic and living. Thank God we don’t have a cold, stone-dead Bible.

    (btw: Jesus use of the phrase ‘word of God’ doesn’t refer exclusively to the Hebrew scriptures does it – and you don’t have to be a gifted theologian and teacher to see that!)

  97. ED... says:

    Jon – it did, so well done. ;)

    I was at a seminar in Aviemore for a big scottish youthworker’s conference today where I was startled to see your latest mobile phone cartoon up on a screen in a seminar on the emerging church. Is this fame, do you think?

  98. jonbirch says:

    thanks tyte. :-)

    aw cheers ed… i was jus’ teasin’ ya. but you know that. :-) hey aviemore, cool! weird that things get about so far and wide. weird and nice somehow. it’s great that the cartoons get used. any idea who was using it? the only time i was in aviemore was in the snow 23 years ago. shooting a ski wear advert. you’ve brought back a memory… it was beautiful there. :-)

  99. ED... says:

    Aye – it was Dave Saunders and Chris Hyslop, who were talking about youth and emerging church. Interesting fellows. Very hospitable too: provided juice and jammy pieces, and repaired to the pub.

  100. jonbirch says:

    cheers ed… it’s great to know that the apres conference is as alive and well as the apres ski up there in aviemore. :-)

  101. Kayte says:

    Hey Ed – I was there too, same seminar and everything!

  102. Robb says:

    Sorry – I’m late to the party. Hope that I don’t cover the ground that others have trodden already (and Carole has already mentioned to me that there were fireworks…. but I’m only up to 25 so far)

    #25

    The KJV didn’t even use the original manuscripts in places. Calling it a litteral translation is a bit of a misnoma as it used the Latin Vulgate to make up for the bits where they didn’t have the original.

    What you describe as a paraphrase is a translation. The scholars read the original manuscripts and write down what it means in English. It isn’t possible to give a word for word translation as it wouldn’t make sense. To illustrate, when a German asks for something they say “You will pass that to me”. That is how the german language means. A translation of the German words is “Please will you pass that to me”. Greek/hebrew are langueages that are much further removed from English.

    I’d be interested to see a ‘literal’ translation of “the spirit hovered over the face of the deep”. We have no idea what the word translated as ‘hovered’ is. The best guess is hovered but it could well be hoovered… or something else.

    What you describe as a paraphrase is a translation. Things like ‘the message’ are paraphrases. Taking the story and retelling it in a different way.

    A more important question is how are you reading and what are you reading for. Or an even more important question may be “what is the person who is telling you about the bible trying to tell you about it”?

    If you want a particularly close translation that is difficult to read but is good for scholarship, use the RSV. If you want something a bit more readable, try something else. The NIV tends to come with a load of protestant theology within the translation.

    To see what I mean, try reading the penguin classics version of the Bagavad Gita. It has tonnes of Christian theology throughout a Hindu text. Listen to the words of the ‘Priest’ (for example).

    ***Always make sure you know what the translators want to tell you before they approach the text!!***

    The NRSV is a good translation but then it sticks a lot of politically correct language into the text. This makes it really difficult to argue academic theology (feminist theology particularly). However, it makes it really easy to read for other reasons as those issues don’t get in the way.

    If you want to read to your baby you get “my first bible”.

    Essentially we are looking for the best tools to conect our narative to Gods metanarative. Pick the tool that allows you and others to do that best. Then lets God transform you as you become part of His story…

    Be careful to dismiss “theology” as some kind of “barrier” to truly knowing God

    Ha ha ha!!

    Fantastic!

    [now all these hours of reading later, lets see if I am post 102 or post 132 - it's taken that long to read!!]

  103. jonbirch says:

    “hoovered” hahaha! :lol: enjoy the catch up robb! :-)

  104. Will says:

    tried to leave. Couldn’t. Can we spend too much time in the study of the bible and not enough time studying the bible? I think the destinction I make is clear.?!

  105. Robb says:

    I think you can. However, without much knowledge of what you are reading and why you can come a cropper.

    I just spend my life filling my head with this stuff anyway. At the end of the month they give me some magic beans for doing it (about 5 beans in total). I have heard rumour that if my mother throws them out of the window I will be able to climb up into the clouds….

  106. Will says:

    I agree robb. It’s just that my capacity for learning is not as great as others so I often feel not good enough to enter conversations because I am not as cleaver.

  107. Linus says:

    “anyone who studies with their eyes and debates with their mouth shall be saved”

    “your attitude should be that of Christ Jesus who spent many comfortable years in seminary doing research into the law of Moses”

    “He who has begun a good work in you shall only carry it on to completion if you are arrogant and opinionated and think yourself clever”

    “Can the eye say to the foot ‘i don’t need you’? No, but the theologian can”

    Er, no.

    Robb is correct – we need theologians and academics. They are rightly honoured and respected. We also need caretakers and caterers and pastors and musicians and youth workers and carpenters and counselors and administrators and designers and artists and… each person has a role and no-one should consider theirs unimportant, or define themselves by the things they feel they can’t do.

  108. jonbirch says:

    and a big round of applause explodes in my head linus. that’s it, well said. :-)

    will… you are clever… end of story. you may not be a scholar, but then neither am i. however, you are very clever. :-)

    one could have 10 doctorates, 3 masters, 15 degrees, 24 a levels and a bucket load of gold medals and still be stupid! :-)

  109. Artichoke says:

    Did Aaron leave the room? Such a shame … I felt I was so close to grasping how a classical post-liberal socio-cultural hermeneutic might help me see the deeper and fuller meaning of Jon’s cartoon.

    I’m just thrilled to hear that Jesus endorsed the Greek Scriptures of his day. I’m one of those sad people who actually has a copy. I’ve always enjoyed the memorable passages from Tobit. Maccabbees, the Odes, the Psalms of Solomon, the Letter of Jeremiah, Bel and the Dragon … and look forward to the day when I can buy a Jesus-endorsed English translation which includes all of them (not a circumcised Catholic version, or emasculated Protestant version).

    Of course, if it all turns out really to be “the Word of God”, my greatest problem is the radical dissonance between my life and the words of this book … but since liberal theology explains it away, and conservative theology susbstitutes the Bible’s call to live with a (more palatable) call to hold right doctrines, I may get off the hook yet.

    Can I just suggest to those trying to impress with their scholarly language that if you can’t communicate your ideas without the jargon, you probably don’t understand them well. A cautionary note from an academic who speaks the lingo, and knows its value.

    Some insist that Jesus is “the Word of God.” You are right. In whatever sense the Bible is the word / a word, it is derivative.

    Oh, and Jon? Great cartoons!

  110. jonbirch says:

    artichoke… bless your heart. there were so many things, points, arguments i wanted to make earlier in the thread. i didn’t, because in the end ‘point scoring’ and trying to win the argument feels hollow. i thought of witty ripostes… and then felt bad, so i didn’t use them. i’m not sure what i said above made any sense… i kind of left it after a while and moved on. it wasn’t doing me much good.
    i really am not a teacher. i really am not. yup, i have things to say… i have things i grapple with and am inviting people of all persuasions who are interested to join in the grappling. i love that we have teachers, preachers, artists, businessmen, photographers, dentists, youth workers, social workers etc, etc, on this blog. i’ve loved the wisdom that has come from so many generous people. i loved the genuine warmth of people wanting to engage and relate here. i’ve loved the humility of the scholars who have revealed things about scriptural text, and students who have a youthful wisdom so often clouded and forgotten as we get older and so say ‘wiser?’ :-)
    i have felt so privileged to share in this blog. it has been a surprise and a delight and sometimes a lot of effort.
    thank you for your very thoughtful words. i feel encouraged. :-)

  111. zefi says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen, the Word of God.

  112. jonbirch says:

    great link zefi. :-)

  113. zefi says:

    It’s kinda eerie that it takes science to make many of the things written in Bible sounds not so poetical anymore, but should rather be taken literally.

    If my understanding of the article is correct, for example when God said, let there be light and there’s light, it was not a poetical thingy, nor was it a magical-like thingy; it’s just… physics!

  114. Linus says:

    Physics is just applied theology =]

  115. Robb says:

    Theology is “the queen of the sciences” :D

  116. jonbirch says:

    graham norton is the queen of saturday night tv. :-)

  117. jonbirch says:

    :-) haha… hmmm, the tv helped. :-)

  118. Bob says:

    king james of course. if it was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me…….LOL

  119. Hazel says:

    I’m late commenting on this one, but I love it. I love comment 3 from Becky, on asking the KJV fundies (and I’ve known some in my time) why they think Jesus spoke like Shakespeare! Will have to remember that one!

  120. jonbirch says:

    latecomers welcome hazel! :-)

  121. Pingback: Which Bible translation for you? « Prayers-Poems-Wonderings

  122. karla says:

    Oh my gosh…YES it made me smile!!! Thanks.

  123. seowqj says:

    I thought the bible wouldn’t be the word of God when there’s no holy spirit in us? and I thought that the word of God is the holy spirit?

  124. 5 mistakes says:

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