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Ten Things to Understand About the Bible

posted Jun 30, 2016, 7:48 AM by Sue Fried
Here are a few things that may be helpful for understanding an ancient sacred writing like the Christian Bible in the modern age that can inspire us to be transformed and transform the world by the Power of Love.

1. We can take the Bible seriously but not read it literally. The Bible is not concerned with what or how it really happened historically, but with people’s or communities’ effort to explore their relationship with what is THE most important aspect of their lives together.

2. God did not write the Bible. We can think it was written by fallible human beings who were inspired by their encounter with what they considered THE sacred or divine. Hence, the Bible is not infallible.

3. The Bible is a story and as such it involves all the aspects of what it is to be human. It contains inconsistencies and contradictions as well as acts of horror that we rightly abhor. But like all great stories it engages our emotions as well as our intellect to move us to compassion.

4. We can read the Bible prayerfully and mindfully yet with an aspect of suspicion asking who has benefited from the way the Bible has been and is being understood.

5. Understanding the Bible today can be done in the context of understanding how it was read in the past, Christian Tradition; it is important to read it within the context of the modern sciences, Modern Reasoning; no one person has a corner on the truth of the Bible but it is best understood as an ongoing conversation within a present day Communities of Faith.

6. There is no “objective, one right way” to interpret the Bible. Everything we read we interpret. A person’s or communities’ social location, education, upbringing, socio-political context, and more affect how we read the Bible.

7.  We can consider the best available Biblical scholarship from those who study it academically and professionally.

8. We can seek to read the Bible with consideration of the historical, economic, socio-political contexts of the ancient world, frequently a time of oppression and occupation, in which the Bible was written.

9. We can employ a hermeneutic of compassion, love, and justice. A hermeneutic is “an interpretive lens” and intentional filter. Such a hermeneutic allows us to see the big picture of the forest rather than focus on a few trees that we may think are the most important in the forest.

10. Reading the Bible can be an art of engaging in a continuous millennials long conversation that is happening among people all over the world of many different faith perspectives. We can read with a sense of humility and hope that the conversation ignites acts of compassion, love and justice inspired not by the Bible, but by the Spirit of Love that infuses the Bible.