Sunday, October 26, 2008

7 Principles of Biblical Interpretation


7 Principles of Biblical Interpretation
from The Episcopal Cafe

By Greg Jones

Episcopalians share a common "book" of prayer, worship and wisdom with Christians of every age and place. This common book is not the Prayer book. It's not the English language. It's not even the Western literary canon. No, of course it's the Bible - which forms the common sacred library of all who follow Christ. But, in a Christianity so global and diverse, we Episcopalians need to be able to understand for ourselves, and explain to others who inquire, "What do we think the Bible is, and how do we engage it?"

I believe that most Episcopalians would agree with the notion that just as God has called forth the Church to exist as the Body of Christ, inextricably bound with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures are likewise inextricably bound to the Church. We do not understand what the Bible is apart from its being woven up from and into the fabric of the Church, nor can we interpret it apart from a location within the life and activity of the Church. That being said, what guidelines can be found to clarify things a bit? Well, I think the Diocese of New York teaching document Let the Reader Understand is excellent, and from it, I think the following seven points should be taught across the whole Episcopal Church.

7 Principles of Biblical Interpretation

1. The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are "the Word of God" and "contain all things necessary to salvation." They are called the Word of God by the household of faith, not because God dictated the biblical text, but because the Church believes that God inspired its human authors through the Holy Spirit and because by means of the inspired text, read within the sacramental communion of the Church, the Spirit of God continues the timely enlightenment and instruction of the faithful.

2. The Holy Scriptures are the primary constitutional text of the Church. They provide the basis and guiding principles for our common life with God, and they do so through narrative, law, prophecy, poetry, and other forms of expression. Indeed, the Scriptures are themselves an instrument of the Church's shared communion with Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, who uses them to constitute the Church as a Body of many diverse members, participating together in his own word, wisdom, and life.

3. The Scriptures, as "God's Word Written," bear witness to, and their proper interpretation depends upon, the paschal mystery of God's Word incarnate, crucified and risen. Although the Scriptures are a manifestly diverse collection of documents representing a variety of authors, times, aims, and forms, the Church received and collected them, and from the beginning has interpreted them for their witness to an underlying and unifying theme: the unfolding economy of salvation, as brought to fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

Read the entire article HERE.

1 comment:

fatherjones.com said...

Peter,

Thanks for the repost. I don't remember how to log in to Episcopal Cafe, so I don't ever comment there.

Probably for the best anyway.

Thanks for your comments.

Peace,
Greg+