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Myrkhoos

Problem of interpretation of sacred texts

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              There is a domain called hermeneutics , which deals with interpretation, with making sense, how we make sense of things. So, the problem of interpretation is that people interpret sacred texts, be they buddhist tripitaka, muslim quran and Christian bible in wildly different ways. And there seems not be a limit. People would think that having sacred texts puts some boundaries on speculation, but those boundaries are extremely wide and then are subjected to the littlelest details.

             As in, is God trinity, yes because of x y z, no because of a b c, and so on and  so forth. I am not even bringing up the subject of the historical trustworthiness the texts here.

    If you can interpret God's wrath as God's love,  and that God s love is what actually causes the pains, of Hell, so love is Hell, and allegory as reality and reality as allegory, like in the fall of Jerusalem, then the texts themselves are not of too much use in clarification and as a pathway to truth. And so power lies in the interpreter, not the texts. So actually truth becomes - what the priest/imam/zen roshi said, which can be, but not always,  and frequently sounds quite random.

              Long story short. If the text says white, but ACTUALLY means black, why not just say black and throw the text altogether?

 

 

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It's my opinion, from observation, that everyone who claims to follow any religion is actually just following his own personal beliefs with only references to the religion to have an appearance of validity. That applies to Christians in particular, but also Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. And don't even get me started on "Pagan" belief systems! There are no fast rules for anyone.

 

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The church I grew up in was determined to restore the original first century church, and to base everything on the bible alone.  They also taught things like interpreting scripture in context, and a literal-based western-style-of-logic hermeneutic.  But that hermeneutic is not taught in the bible.  When the new testament authors quoted the old testament, they frequently took it completely out of context, as if it were allegorical, and sometimes even seemed to get it wrong.  The early church (or at least some people in it) clearly believed in allegorical interpretaton, as evidenced by writings such as the epistle of Barnabas; and it came to a sort of climax in Origen, who believed that the bible was so special that anything in it was liable to contain multiple meanings.  It is easy to look back on Origen as some kind of weirdo, but the fact is he was very influential in his own day; people believed in his style of interpretation.


And even people who claim to use a literal, logical hermeneutic usually end up twisting the bible around to make it fit their beliefs anyway. “God in three persons,” for example, is not taught anywhere in the bible; the trinity as a whole is something that one puts into the bible, not gets out of it.  (And we were taught that “eisegesis” is a bad word.)  The whole calvinism vs. arminianism, original sin, total depravity, prevenient grace ball of wax is one of the things that started me questioning the whole christian thing; you would think that if it were important, it would be spelled out clearly somewhere; but all the sides of the issue can pull verses out of the bible to justify their beliefs.  Maybe the whole thing is a crock of s*#! after all . . . .

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Agree that interpretation vs literal is a huge issue, particularly when cultural norms of allegory are ignored in favor of literal views. 

 

It is interesting how few believers go back and look at the fundamentals of WHY they first believed any of it, and why they insist that the magic is real despite repeated reality checks. I had so many emotional positives that came from belonging after having been a social reject that "good enough" answers were accepted all the time when I found problems. Add to that mix that most conversions come via a trusted friend talking to the convert at a low spot in life, and people are very unwilling to look at obvious red flags. 

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How can one literally interpret the teachings of Jesus when in gospels he speaks mostly in parables which are not meant literally is beyond me.

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19 hours ago, TEG said:

The early church (or at least some people in it) clearly believed in allegorical interpretaton, as evidenced by writings such as the epistle of Barnabas; and it came to a sort of climax in Origen, who believed that the bible was so special that anything in it was liable to contain multiple meanings.  It is easy to look back on Origen as some kind of weirdo, but the fact is he was very influential in his own day; people believed in his style of interpretation.


 

Good point. And "allegory" is already explicit in Paul. He says, "but the one born from the slave concubine has been born according to the flesh, but the one from the free woman [was born] as the result of the promise. And these things are said as allegory: for these women are two covenants, one from Mount Sinai, born into slavery, who is Hagar." etc., Galatians 4:23-24.

 

When I was in college and on fire for the Lord, my medieval philosophy prof, who was also a rabbi, told some of us that Christianity is based on "an allegorical interpretation of the Old Testament." I thought, no way, it's just all clearly in the texts! But here Paul is explicitly proving what my rabbi professor said. The whole thing is allegorizing of the OT plus stories about a wandering messianic pretender, which may or may not be true. If true, Jesus himself can well have allegorized himself into many a scriptural passage.

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Here is just one example of an out-of-context, apply-it-to-whatever-you-want old testament quote by a new testament author:


Matthew 1:21-23:  “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”  So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:  “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”


Go back and read this verse in context.  Jerusalem is under attack:


Isaiah 7:14-16:  Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.  Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good.  For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings.
Isaiah 8:3-4:  Then I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and bore a son. Then the Lord said to me, “Call his name Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz; for before the child shall have knowledge to cry ‘My father’ and ‘My mother,’ the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be taken away before the king of Assyria.”
Isaiah 8:8:  He will pass through Judah,
He will overflow and pass over,
He will reach up to the neck;
And the stretching out of his wings
Will fill the breadth of Your land, O Immanuel.


This prophecy applied to Isaiah’s child.  And it had nothing to do with a virgin birth.

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