The Complexities of Biblical Interpretation

Anselm01

Active member
In 2011, Doug Beaumont wrote of the complexities (he calls them “qualifications”) often overlooked by those who support sola scriptura. I am curious how those on this forum would address them. Below I will lay out the layers.

The full text is here: https://douglasbeaumont.com/2011/07...gJjg-rBXoDeOlvzrr3aQ83k-UJ7PDK2yO--F59_pH7C6M

To be clear, Beaumont set the parameters of his discussion below:

“It seems clear that all human authority in religious matters would be superseded by God’s. Now, since God is clearly the authority for a Christian, and since the only record of God’s communication that all Christian bodies believe to be inspired is the Bible, the Bible must have the top spot as far as authorities go.”

He then goes on to lay out in detail his 10 Qualifications. I will only list briefly list them. If you want more on each qualification, please see the link above.

Linguistic Layer
The Issue:

“The Bible is actually a bound collection of writings written in three ancient languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and (Koine) Greek. Since our average-Evangelical-in-America-today does not understand these ancient languages fluently, the Bible he holds is almost certainly a translation of the words of God. But there is a plethora of Bible translation “versions” on the shelf of the average book store, and translation issues are not always minor.”

Translational-Interpretative Layer
The issue:

“Even if our average-Evangelical-in-America-today learns the original languages, this does not mean that interpretation is not part of the process of translation. Translation involves far more than simple word replacement. Just like in English, the biblical languages do not come with neat, immutable dictionaries. Even theologically significant words like “save,” “justification,” “sanctification,” and “resurrection” are not always used the same way in Scripture.”

Hermeneutical-Philosophical Layer
The issue:

“Language and translation study may give our average-Evangelical-in-America-today knowledge of what ancient texts say, but understanding what they mean is another issue.”

and

“Hermeneutics is the science of interpretation of meaning. Is there an over-arching hermeneutic that works for the whole Bible? Do we simply take all words literally (at “face value”), or are some non-literal understandings actually more accurate?”

Historical-Cultural Layer
The issue:

“A thorough knowledge of history and culture is necessary to avoid anachronism and other such errors, and to catch subtle remarks that the original readers would have recognized. In the New Testament, for example, we come upon scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, synagogues, and a Roman Government without much introduction or explanation in many cases. Yet none of these are known from the Old Testament. The Bible causes these issues, it does not solve them. But to whom can our average-Evangelical-in-America-today go to learn about these things if not extra-biblical authorities? Unless, of course, he simply becomes an expert on history on his own. A time machine (coupled with an anti-aging device) perhaps?”

Applicational Layer
The issue

“Do the stories of people speaking in tongues in the Book of Acts teach us that believers today must do likewise? Is the head covering in 1 Corinthians a practice that has some parallel today? Does the acceptance of slavery throughout the Bible indicate that it has an acceptable place in the world today? Why do we practice the Lord’s Supper but not foot washing when Jesus commanded both during the same talk? These sorts of questions cannot be answered simply by knowing what the Bible says or means.”

Mystical Layer
The issue:

“The difficulty is the “more controversial” part. For one thing, there are a number of views concerning God’s role in interpretation (sometimes called “illumination”). Some believe that God only steps in to call the “close ones,” while others think they are getting a live feed from God’s mind via the pages of the Bible virtually every time they open it. In either case (and for any in between), if the Bible itself cannot settle a given view, then claiming that God’s aid sealed the deal would be to invoke divine authority for one’s own understanding. The result should be the very kind of extra-biblical authority that sola scriptura seems to seek to avoid. Further, to whatever extent God is helping out, that part of the interpretative process would seem to be free from error. But few will allow (whether theologically or pragmatically) for any infallibility being introduced into the process. For most this would smack of either infallible Catholic papal claims or charismatic prophetic craziness – neither of which comport with sola scriptura.”

Textual Layer
The issue:

“Supposing that our average-Evangelical-in-America-today learns the original biblical languages so well that he can pick up an original Greek New Testament or Hebrew/Aramaic Old Testament and read it as easily as he can an English translation. He has overcome all interpretive and philosophical biases, and has learned enough about history and culture to catch every nuance that an original reader would have. He is also accessing God’s mystical guidance (if it is available) without distortion. No more “Bible versions” for this average-Evangelical-in-America-today, right?

Wrong.

Unfortunately, the Bible version issue does not disappear once one masters the original languages. Now he must also choose which “original Bible” to read. For the New Testament alone he must choose between the Minority and the Majority text traditions (and there are different versions of each of these forms, such as the Nestle-Aland or the United Bible Society’s, or the Textus Receptus – each having had numerous revisions). The Old Testament, too, has some textual issues – the most notable being that the Hebrew manuscript copies (the “Masoretic” texts) that we have are much later than the original writings. There is also the Greek translation of the Old Testament (known as the Septuagint, or “LXX”) which is quoted more in the New Testament than the MT, yet sometimes differs considerably from the Hebrew texts we have.”

Canonical Layer
The issue:

“Despite what our average-Evangelical-in-America-today may have at once thought, he now knows that the Bible is not “a book.” Rather, it is a collection of various writings that are bound together for convenience. But who decided which books are in this collection? And how did they do so?

The official title of the biblical collection is “canon.” Now, the canon of Scripture did not begin to be solidified until the 3rd or 4th century. The Church was teaching from both oral and written traditions before that time, holding authoritative councils, writing the creeds that would determine Christian orthodoxy, and using all of these in the process of canonization. Thus, ironically, it would seem that to ignore this early extra-biblical tradition might also justify ignoring the biblical canon itself.”


Traditional Layer
The issue:

“If the Church’s traditions are not considered authoritative, then not only are its biblical interpretations and extra-biblical teachings called into question – but so might its councils, creeds, and the canon of Scripture itself. For whatever arguments serve to create distrust in the authority of the early Church also makes other areas of orthodoxy open to criticism, and how can sola scriptura survive if we cannot be sure of what counts as “scriptura” in the first place? But many claim that the whole point of sola scriptura is to avoid traditions! Isn’t that what gets the Church into trouble in the first place?”


Theological Layer
The issue:

“It would be incoherent to claim that the Bible alone is a trustworthy source of theological information when the Bible itself does not say that it alone is a trustworthy source of theological information. In addition, it would also turn out to be self-defeating since the Bible itself teaches that other sources of revelation exist (e.g., the principles of natural theology and law found in Rom. 1-2). And, since the Bible actually commands believers to hold to “traditions” that they “heard” (see above), it simply cannot be the case that the Bible’s position is that traditions do not become authoritative until they are written down. Something like this might be argued theologically, but it is not a teaching directly supportable from the words of the Bible. The same could be said for limiting authoritative “traditions” to the words the Apostles left us in Scripture – this is not what the early Church taught, and it pre-dated the New Testament itself.”

These “layers” do present a challenge to those who adhere to sola scriptura. I am curious on how those who do address these issues.
 

1Thess521

Well-known member
These “layers” do present a challenge to those who adhere to sola scriptura. I am curious on how those who do address these issues.
FALSE: another strawman, misrepresenting the other's views_
The Complexities of Biblical Interpretation present a challenge to everyone.

They present a challenge to those who drive Fords, or are left-handed, or like Peanut Butter Ice Cream, or adhere to sola scriptura.

Driving Fords, or being left-handed, or liking Peanut Butter Ice Cream, or adhering to Sola Scriptura
have NOTHING to do with the challenges of Biblical Interpretation.

Neither Driving Fords, or being left-handed, or liking Peanut Butter Ice Cream, or adhering to Sola Scriptura is about interpreting Scriptures.

Sola Scriptura is about the authority of Scripture compared to the authority of the Church
 
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1Thess521

Well-known member
In 2011, Doug Beaumont wrote of the complexities (he calls them “qualifications”) often overlooked by those who support sola scriptura. I am curious how those on this forum would address them. Below I will lay out the layers.
these "layers" are addressed in the book you reviewed: Chapters 10 and 11.
As you don't see a difference between SolO Scriptura and SolA Scriptura; you won't see the error in those points.
I reject SolO Scriptura.
I won't defend it
 

Slyzr

Well-known member
these "layers" are addressed in the book you reviewed: Chapters 10 and 11.
As you don't see a difference between SolO Scriptura and SolA Scriptura; you won't see the error in those points.
I reject SolO Scriptura.
I won't defend it

What is the difference in the bolded words above?
 

1Thess521

Well-known member
What is the difference in the bolded words above?



Sola
Belief that Scripture is the final and only infallible authority for the Christian in all matters of faith and practice. While there are other authorities, they are always fallible and the must always be tested by and submit to the Scriptures.
Solo
Belief that Scripture is the sole basis and authority in the life of the Christian.
Tradition is useless and misleading


with pictures here
 
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Slyzr

Well-known member

From the link.

The revisionist doctrine of “solo” Scriptura has been a source of great damage to the cause of Christ. The magisterial reformers were right to reject the early versions of it that appeared in the teaching of some radicals. Contemporary heirs of the reformers must follow the magisterial reformers here. The fight must be fought on two fronts. We are not only to reject the Roman Catholic doctrine (whether the two-source doctrine of Tradition 2 or the sola ecclesia doctrine of Tradition 3), which places final autonomous authority in the church. We must also reject the revisionist doctrine of “solo” Scriptura, which places final autonomous authority in the hands of each and every individual.


At issue is a "Christ" we do not know.

Will he be for us or against us?

Perhaps .... he will only be for himself.

IMO ...... this is why the "orthodoxy" went with the safe rout.

This is it ..... end of discussion type thing.

Which worked very well for them ........ as they took power and authority over peoples.
 

1Thess521

Well-known member
From the link.

The revisionist doctrine of “solo” Scriptura has been a source of great damage to the cause of Christ. The magisterial reformers were right to reject the early versions of it that appeared in the teaching of some radicals. Contemporary heirs of the reformers must follow the magisterial reformers here. The fight must be fought on two fronts. We are not only to reject the Roman Catholic doctrine (whether the two-source doctrine of Tradition 2 or the sola ecclesia doctrine of Tradition 3), which places final autonomous authority in the church. We must also reject the revisionist doctrine of “solo” Scriptura, which places final autonomous authority in the hands of each and every individual.


At issue is a "Christ" we do not know.

Will he be for us or against us?

Perhaps .... he will only be for himself.

IMO ...... this is why the "orthodoxy" went with the safe rout.

This is it ..... end of discussion type thing.

Which worked very well for them ........ as they took power and authority over peoples.
I embrace Sola Scriptura
and will defend it
I reject SolO Scriptura.
I won't defend it
 

Anselm01

Active member

Sola
Belief that Scripture is the final and only infallible authority for the Christian in all matters of faith and practice. While there are other authorities, they are always fallible and the must always be tested by and submit to the Scriptures.
Solo
Belief that Scripture is the sole basis and authority in the life of the Christian.
Tradition is useless and misleading


with pictures here
What is meant here by the term "other authoritie?" You mean, "church," correct? For Mathison to say scripture is to be interpreted “in and by the church,” no Catholic would disagree. It is in the terms “church” and that is coupled with the term “sole source of revelation,” that the problem occurs. For, if one defines “church” to mean that community which is identical to your personal interpretation, then you have made yourself the ultimate interpretative authority, therefore Solo Scriptura.
 
In 2011, Doug Beaumont wrote of the complexities (he calls them “qualifications”) often overlooked by those who support sola scriptura.

You start out with a false assumption that serious proponents of sola scriptura often overlook the subjects in Beaumont's list. They don't overlook any of them. I don't know who you are talking about and calling them proponents of sola scriptura.
 

Anselm01

Active member
You start out with a false assumption that serious proponents of sola scriptura often overlook the subjects in Beaumont's list. They don't overlook any of them. I don't know who you are talking about and calling them proponents of sola scriptura.
Okay, please address them, then.
 

1Thess521

Well-known member
What is meant here by the term "other authoritie?" You mean, "church," correct? For Mathison to say scripture is to be interpreted “in and by the church,” no Catholic would disagree. It is in the terms “church” and that is coupled with the term “sole source of revelation,” that the problem occurs. For, if one defines “church” to mean that community which is identical to your personal interpretation, then you have made yourself the ultimate interpretative authority, therefore Solo Scriptura.
you have the book: what does it say?

Did it ever say Scripture is the “sole source of revelation,”

this website has pictures:

"Belief that Scripture is the final and only infallible authority for the Christian in all matters of faith and practice. While there are other authorities, they are always fallible and the must always be tested by and submit to the Scriptures.

Notice that the only difference between the sola Scriptura view and the regula fideview is that in the sola Scriptura view tradition is not infallible. It is very important to realize that advocates of sola Scriptura would believe that there were two sources of authority for the first 300–400 years of the Church. Like the previous view, tradition would be understood as a summary of what was written in Scripture that had always been accepted by the universal Church. Unlike the previous view, this summary is not infallible."
--------------
and again
Thirdly, it is not a denial that God’s Word has been spoken. Apostolic preaching was authoritative in and of itself. Yet, the Apostles proved their message from Scripture, as we see in Acts 17:2, and 18:28, and John commended those in Ephesus for testing those who claimed to be Apostles, Revelation 2:2. The Apostles were not afraid to demonstrate the consistency between their teaching and the Old Testament.

At what point will your strawman arguments stop?
 

Anselm01

Active member
you have the book: what does it say?

Did it ever say Scripture is the “sole source of revelation,”

this website has pictures:

"Belief that Scripture is the final and only infallible authority for the Christian in all matters of faith and practice. While there are other authorities, they are always fallible and the must always be tested by and submit to the Scriptures.

Notice that the only difference between the sola Scriptura view and the regula fideview is that in the sola Scriptura view tradition is not infallible. It is very important to realize that advocates of sola Scriptura would believe that there were two sources of authority for the first 300–400 years of the Church. Like the previous view, tradition would be understood as a summary of what was written in Scripture that had always been accepted by the universal Church. Unlike the previous view, this summary is not infallible."
--------------
and again
Thirdly, it is not a denial that God’s Word has been spoken. Apostolic preaching was authoritative in and of itself. Yet, the Apostles proved their message from Scripture, as we see in Acts 17:2, and 18:28, and John commended those in Ephesus for testing those who claimed to be Apostles, Revelation 2:2. The Apostles were not afraid to demonstrate the consistency between their teaching and the Old Testament.

At what point will your strawman arguments stop?
What is the other authoritative source of revelation? Did you read the book?
 

Anselm01

Active member
you have the book: what does it say?

Did it ever say Scripture is the “sole source of revelation,”

this website has pictures:

"Belief that Scripture is the final and only infallible authority for the Christian in all matters of faith and practice. While there are other authorities, they are always fallible and the must always be tested by and submit to the Scriptures.

Notice that the only difference between the sola Scriptura view and the regula fideview is that in the sola Scriptura view tradition is not infallible. It is very important to realize that advocates of sola Scriptura would believe that there were two sources of authority for the first 300–400 years of the Church. Like the previous view, tradition would be understood as a summary of what was written in Scripture that had always been accepted by the universal Church. Unlike the previous view, this summary is not infallible."
--------------
and again
Thirdly, it is not a denial that God’s Word has been spoken. Apostolic preaching was authoritative in and of itself. Yet, the Apostles proved their message from Scripture, as we see in Acts 17:2, and 18:28, and John commended those in Ephesus for testing those who claimed to be Apostles, Revelation 2:2. The Apostles were not afraid to demonstrate the consistency between their teaching and the Old Testament.

At what point will your strawman arguments stop?
Page 4927 (Kindle) of Mathison's book: The Shape of Sola Scriptura.

"Scripture is the Sole Source of Revelation

One of the consistent teachings of the early Church of the first three centuries was that the Scripture was the sole source of normative revelation in the post-apostolic era. There was no hint of a dual source theory of revelation until at least the fourth century. The classical Reformers echoed this ancient teaching, insisting that today we have only one source of apostolic revelation—holy Scripture."

I'm sure I am reading his claim right. It is incorrect in some parts, but this is what he claims.
 

1Thess521

Well-known member
Page 4927 (Kindle) of Mathison's book: The Shape of Sola Scriptura.

"Scripture is the Sole Source of Revelation

One of the consistent teachings of the early Church of the first three centuries was that the Scripture was the sole source of normative revelation in the post-apostolic era. There was no hint of a dual source theory of revelation until at least the fourth century. The classical Reformers echoed this ancient teaching, insisting that today we have only one source of apostolic revelation—holy Scripture."

I'm sure I am reading his claim right. It is incorrect in some parts, but this is what he claims.
"normative revelation" "in the post-apostolic era."

"it is not a denial that God’s Word has been spoken."

see Chapter 1 the section on Apostolic Fathers
Mathison cleary acknowledges the authority of the Apostles.

the Apostolic age is over
 

Slyzr

Well-known member
I embrace Sola Scriptura
and will defend it
I reject SolO Scriptura.
I won't defend it

I read your link ......

not sure what any of that meant.

are you going to take yourself to a dungeon crying sola ... sola ... sola scripturia.
 

Anselm01

Active member
"normative revelation" "in the post-apostolic era."

"it is not a denial that God’s Word has been spoken."

see Chapter 1 the section on Apostolic Fathers
Mathison cleary acknowledges the authority of the Apostles.

the Apostolic age is over
Were the apostles subject to Scripture?
 
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