Bible Scholarship and Biblical Understanding


Key Obstacles Presented

“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight” (Luke 10:21).

“For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world” (1 Cor. 1:19-20)?

The question of Biblical scholarship presents no small problem in our attempts to understand the Bible.  Biblical scholarship represents to us the wisdom of the wisest of the wise.  These learned and educated men and women have made the study of the scriptures their life’s work, dedicating themselves to uncovering every detail possible concerning this great book upon which the lives of many rest.  It is scholars who have translated the Bible from its original languages of Hebrew and Greek (Old and New Testaments, respectively) into the language in which you enjoy its reading.  These well-intentioned men and women care a great deal about their work, and about you.

Our libraries are full of the scholarly works (the dossier of historical research, results of archaeological findings, textbooks, commentaries, magazines, articles, etc.) of the scholarly geniuses among us, people who intend to bless us with the value of their scholarly works.  We give these scholars and their Biblical scholarship our utmost respect and admiration.  In many cases we follow them as if they were God Himself; we give them our allegiance, our time, our tithes and offerings, and if they allow us, our problems and concerns, as well.

To these scholars belong the most highly developed of the minds of man.  The application of the minds of these incredible people to the humongous task before them is usually the result of much preparation and training, usually from a very young age, and which has produced very powerful thinking apparatuses, which they use to produce their incredible Biblical scholarship.  Scholars are usually very proud of their works and are generally anxious to put them on display.

There is only one problem with all this.

The Bible is NOT a scholarly work.

It is a SPIRITUAL work.

There is a VAST difference.

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).

“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are” (1 Cor. 1:26-28).

The Problems with Biblical Scholarship

The first problem of Biblical scholarship deals with spiritual understanding.  Because the minds of the scholars translating this great book were not spiritually based but their reliance was on the literal interpretation, the spiritual intent got lost.  In essence, the translators simply did not know what they were translating.

In many cases, Hebrew words are translated into English counterparts that make no sense whatsoever.  A perfect example of this is the Old Testament Hebrew word “chalal,” the definition of which in English means “to be pierced through, or wounded.” You will find in Strong’s Concordance that this one word is translated into 18 different English words/phrases, including “begin,” “profane,” “pollute,” “defile,” “break,” “wounded,” “eat,” “slay,” “first,” “gather grapes,” “inheritance,” “began men,” “piped,” “players,” “prostitute,” “sorrow,” “stain” and “eat as common things.” Now I’m no expert when it comes to language translation, but it would seem to me that the divergence of meaning in these definitions would belie any sense of conformity within the word, even from the literal perspective.  When the average person reads the Bible, she has no idea of the intended meaning of the original word, and ultimately gets lost as it relates to accurate interpretation.  No wonder there are so many religions in existence today. However, the Bible is simply written in another “tongue,” and once we come to understand the language of the scriptures, everything begins to make sense.

The second is one of continuity.  The original Biblical manuscripts had neither chapters nor verses, but were just a series of writings.  The chapters and verses were added much later by the scholars in their attempts to help us understand the texts a little more clearly, and for ease in locating text.  Consequently, and because of their lack of spiritual depth and understanding, this Biblical scholarship resulted in many instances where continuity was broken.

One instance of this is Genesis 1 and 2.  As you will see, Genesis 1 should actually extend to the 3rd verse of chapter 2, which describes the end of the seven-day creation period; thus, chapter 2 should actually begin with verse 4.  The error in this instance obscures almost the entirety of the text, and unless you study very carefully and very diligently (and most do not), it is very difficult to grasp the meaning conveyed by the author.  Indeed, there has been much debate over the alleged inaccuracies contained in these opening chapters of the Bible.  There are many problems of this nature in scriptures, and it extends from the lack of accurate understanding on the part of the scholars as to the spiritual meaning and intent of the vast array of scriptures affected by such lack of understanding.

Further Obscuring the Already Obscure

The problems of Biblical scholarship noted above only further obscure what was already obscure at the outset.

“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter” (Proverbs 25:2).

“But we speak the wisdom of God IN A MYSTERY, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory” (1 Cor. 2:7).

Because there is nothing mysterious and no hidden wisdom in the interpretation of the Bible as literal history, attempting to read and understand it from the literal perspective simply makes no sense whatsoever.  I will give you a few examples, and allow you to come to your own conclusions.

Example 1 – The Law of God — Literal or Not?

The law of God, which David proclaims to be a perfect law which revives the soul (Psalms 19:7), contains the brutal sacrifices of animals for burnt offerings, sin offerings, peace offerings, etc., as well as the oppressive slavery (of course, we don’t call it that) of the Levitical tribe, which was responsible for actually slaying the animals, and was ordained to take the sacrifices and offerings of the entire nation of Israel and offering them to God.  Then later we read, “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering” (Psalms 51:16).  Interesting.  Has God gone mad?  He is the one who institutes the animal sacrifices for offerings, as well as gives the very elaborate instructions regarding the keeping of the law, and then later says He has no pleasure in it.  Further still, David calls this law “perfect.”  How can this be?

In the literal sense, all this makes God look like a madman.

Example 2 – God’s Mercy Endures Forever

Taken literally, and as I have previously mentioned here, how is it possible to even consider a God of love in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible?  God repeatedly slays his people for disobedience.  First, He brings a cataclysmic flood on disobedient man, which, save for eight people, completely annihilates the entire human race from off the face of the earth.  After delivering the Israelites out of Egypt, He gets very angry when they, in the face of unfamiliarity and desperation, seek to return to the familiar territory (back to Egypt) from which they came.  As a consequence, God slays “His chosen people Israel” in the wilderness.  Yet we read:

“Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2).

 

How, then, can anyone be saved, as we are all “born in sin and shapen in iniquity” (Psalms 51:5).

“For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?  And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others]? do not even the publicans so?  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:46-48).

The Purpose of the Scriptures

“All scripture is inspired of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  But again:

The natural man cannot understand the things of God,
neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned.

Contrast Between Spiritual and Physical

One of the great tests of spirituality is to “love God with ALL your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself, for on these two commands hang ALL the law and the prophets.”  One of the many reasons this is of critical importance is that it is very easy, when focusing on our own salvation, to condemn others who aren’t doing what we are doing, or what we think they should be doing.  If you can ask yourself “why would God love me more than any other,” and not be able to think of a good reason in answer to that question, you are well on your way to understanding the unconditional love of God, and that He would NEVER leave his creation (you) in the hands of men, for “cursed be the man that trusts in man” (Jer. 17:5).

We must learn to discriminate when studying the scriptures.  “The simple believe every word” (Prov. 14:15).  Indeed, in interpreting them literally, we create God in the image and likeness of mortal man” (i.e., mad, which the mind of man certainly is in seeking to interpret scripture in the literal vein).  No, there is incredibly deep spiritual meaning and intent, immense wisdom and depth of insight in the spiritual messages regarding the law of God, which we shall uncover in various locations within this website.  Among other things, it is imperative that we bring common sense to the table in seeking to understand the things of God, which are not literally (naturally), but spiritually discerned.  Well, we can understand this perfectly on the spiritual plane, but relying on literal interpretation (which is how the scholars and religious teachers interpret and explain it), “literally” ties us in knots!!!  God help us to understand!  The natural man cannot understand the things of God, neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned.