Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How to interpret the Bible - Hermeneutic

Component 3: Historical Analysis

Correct biblical interpretation must always include historical analysis. This helps us to appreciate the times and seasons of the period in which the Bible was written and why. Whether secular or not, historical accuracy is important. Although we cannot put God in a test tube and determine His existence, historical accuracy where possible strengthen our faith in the Word, hence God, that it is not a book of myth.

Therefore where possible, take note of the time period and the historical nuances. A good study bible or commentary will give you a good run-up to the history of the time. Look into the belief systems of the day and social norms. Understand for example why God was particular about the Israelites not intermarrying with foreign women when they enter the Promised Land. Examine the worship of foreign Gods and their practices, for example the worship of Baal, where sexual acts with both male or female temple prostitutes were understood to please Baal who then brought rain to make Mother Earth fertile, represented by a female consort, Asherah, where you get the Asherah poles that were worshipped.

Exodus 34:13
Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles.

Prophet Elijah challenged the wicked king Ahab that there will be no rain because of his idolatrous ways. This is a direct challenge to "rain making". 1 King 16:29-32.

We see the same warning by Apostle Paul to the Corinthians about temple prostitutes in 1 Corinthians 6.

Key questions to ask:
(1) Where and why is the book or letter written?
(2) What are the political, economic and social climates they are facing, both author and readers?
(3) What are the cultural practices of the time?

1 comment:

  1. Very true. It will shed much better light on the context. BTW. I did now know what Ashera poles looked like, thanks!