I wrote a post called A Life Moment.
After I posted it, I realized that my dear hubby had just handed me a perfect illustration of a life truth. Too often we look at things and forget to take the context into consideration.
“Whites and Lights” can have more than one meaning. How do we know which is correct? By the context. Obviously, when it is a sign on a laundry sorter, it is talking about light colored clothing…not light bulbs!
There is another area in which context is SO important…the Bible…the Scriptures. Too many look at the scriptures and interpret them through modern thinking, through Western idealogies and through a language other than the languages in which they were written.
In order to properly understand the scriptures, we have to look at what the writer/speaker would have meant and and what the reader/listener would have understood. We need to understand the culture and the idioms and symbolism of that culture. We need to understand their methods of teaching. If we do not, we end up misunderstanding a LOT of the scriptures!
There are so many things I could write about this and so many examples I could give. In this post, let me start with one thing. The language. Any good linguist will tell you that translating ANY writing from one language to another is a very difficult task. There are always expressions and idioms that simply do not cross over. There are words for which there is NO word in the other language. There are concepts in the culture of the language that have no equivalent in the language they are translating into.
In order to do a translation that comes any close to being decent, the translator has to know BOTH languages and cultures very intimately. And even then, the translation will be merely adequate. That is why we must never content ourselves with one translation and with not including a study of the culture and, yes, even the language…if at all possible. A lexicon and dictionary are not enough. Many dictionaries have added to the definitions of words over time because they were adding modern, Western thinking into it instead of sticking with the original meanings.
So, my encouragement to you is to find solid resources for your bible study. When a teacher says something is in the scripture and you do not see it, question it. Dig deeper. I hate to say it, but many modern commentaries are very inadequate.They ignore the roots of our faith and inject their own biases into their writings. Plus, there are other issues.
Around the mid 1800’s something called “higher criticism” of the bible came about. People who do not believe in miracles, the supernatural or prophecy. (In fact, looking at the way they lived and what they believed, it is entirely possible they were not true Christians, which begs the question of why their teachings are allowed in seminaries!) They came up with “systematic theology”, which is a very, very BAD idea! For a solid explanation on this, I recommend Tom Bradford of Torah Class.com. The first couple of teachings he has on Daniel are an excellent resource for the history of how this came to be and WHY it is so bad. You can find his Daniel teachings here: http://www.torahclass.com/old-testament-studies/1816-old-testament-studies-daniel.
There is a login, but it is free and it is WORTH it! He is one of the most in depth, solid teachers I have found for going through the scriptures book by book. He is free and online. You can download the teachings, too. He partners with a Jewish Rabbi who is also a believer in Yeshua/Jesus. Rabbi Baruch’s teachings can be found at the same site and also at LoveIsrael.org. Both are excellent teachers and they open up both testaments in depth.