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Author Topic:   Where does literalism end and interpretation begin?
ReverendDG
Member (Idle past 2156 days)
Posts: 1119
From: Topeka,kansas
Joined: 06-06-2005


Message 16 of 96 (292874)
03-07-2006 12:40 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by nwr
03-06-2006 5:20 PM


I realize one thing, there are no literialists - the more we know about the human body, the world, and the universe, the less people can read the bible literially. Being that you have to willfully ignore things that show what the bible says is factually wrong. so instead you have to interpret it to mean something else or say its not really saying it

or you could be truthful and say its not suppose to be history but a story to give a background to a people that do not have one


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LinearAq
Member (Idle past 2722 days)
Posts: 598
From: Pocomoke City, MD
Joined: 11-03-2004


Message 17 of 96 (292933)
03-07-2006 10:21 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by robinrohan
03-06-2006 9:01 PM


Why not literally?
robinrohan writes:

The parables of Jesus, for example, are not meant literally.


What is it that in the writing that brings about this conclusion?

You mean there really wasn't a Good Samaritan?


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Heathen
Member (Idle past 61 days)
Posts: 1042
From: Brizzle
Joined: 09-20-2005


Message 18 of 96 (292937)
03-07-2006 10:29 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Faith
03-06-2006 9:07 PM


faith writes:

attack on literalism


this is not an attack.. read the OP
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Heathen
Member (Idle past 61 days)
Posts: 1042
From: Brizzle
Joined: 09-20-2005


Message 19 of 96 (292948)
03-07-2006 11:36 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Christian
03-06-2006 5:09 PM


christian writes:

Not interpreting an object. Interpreting a word. The word "heart"


So, the word is being interpreted, (as one would expect, after all it has to be)

I am begining to form an opinion that it is impossible to take the bible literally. there is, was and will be a level of Interpretation involved. I want to find out where this level is.

Can anyone definitively state what the understanding was, in biblical times, of the function, composition, and capabilities of the Heart and the brain?


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robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 20 of 96 (292960)
03-07-2006 12:21 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by Heathen
03-07-2006 11:36 AM


"interpretation" is not the opposite of "reading literally."

Any text has to be interpreted.


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Heathen
Member (Idle past 61 days)
Posts: 1042
From: Brizzle
Joined: 09-20-2005


Message 21 of 96 (292965)
03-07-2006 12:50 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by robinrohan
03-07-2006 12:21 PM


Agreed.

every text has to be interpreted.
We all know the bible is interpreted in many different ways, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.

It's just a matter of knowing when to stop interpreting. and read as written.


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ramoss
Member
Posts: 3099
Joined: 08-11-2004
Member Rating: 6.5


Message 22 of 96 (292982)
03-07-2006 1:35 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by Heathen
03-07-2006 12:50 PM


The problem with that is most people don't read the original hebrew/aremeic/greek. What they are reading is a translation. The translator puts their spin on the text.

The vast number of people won't be reading what is written, but rather reading someones interpetation of what is written.


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robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 23 of 96 (292986)
03-07-2006 1:41 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by Heathen
03-07-2006 12:50 PM


We all know the bible is interpreted in many different ways, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.

It's just a matter of knowing when to stop interpreting. and read as written.

To "interpret" just means to figure out what a text means. One can "interpret" a passage literally or figuratively.


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Heathen
Member (Idle past 61 days)
Posts: 1042
From: Brizzle
Joined: 09-20-2005


Message 24 of 96 (292990)
03-07-2006 1:45 PM
Reply to: Message 22 by ramoss
03-07-2006 1:35 PM


That was going to be anoter issue to focus on...

Firstly we see interpretation within a single language, from little things like dual meanings of words ('Heart' for instance),

next step is when these word are put together into prose. Another layer in interpretation can be applied.

Further to this, the context of a chapter/verse/ entire book can affect the word as read.

And as you mention... start translating the thing into many different languages and there's a whole new level of possibilities for misunderstanding and mis-translation

I appreciate there will be a call to back up the above points with examples... I will try, But I have nothing close to encyclopaedic knowledge of the bible so don't get your hopes up.


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Heathen
Member (Idle past 61 days)
Posts: 1042
From: Brizzle
Joined: 09-20-2005


Message 25 of 96 (292996)
03-07-2006 1:54 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by robinrohan
03-07-2006 1:41 PM


robin writes:

To "interpret" just means to figure out what a text means. One can "interpret" a passage literally or figuratively.

But different people can/will interpret a passage differently no?

Some people Interpret Genesis as a creation myth.. a folk tale.. kind of a "how a camel got its humps" type story

Others Believe the story to be true as written, but "Interpret" on a smaller scale (macro?.. micro?)... like the meaning of God's refusal of Cain's sacrifice or was there othe human life at the time of Adam and Eve... or whether or not there really was free will etc. etc.

at what point does a literalist cease to be a literalist? what 'level' of interpretation takes you beyond the bounds of literalism?


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Faith
Inactive Member


Message 26 of 96 (293003)
03-07-2006 2:03 PM
Reply to: Message 25 by Heathen
03-07-2006 1:54 PM


at what point does a literalist cease to be a literalist? what 'level' of interpretation takes you beyond the bounds of literalism?

What is normally called a literalist is someone who reads the Bible as it presents itself, literal where it presents itself as literal, parable where it presents as parable, metaphor where metaphor and so on -- according to what its writers intended. There is really very little controversy about how the Bible presents itself. Most of the interpretations that insist that huge parts of the Bible are metaphors or parables -- or myth as you put it -- beyond how it presents itself, do so on the basis of their own prejudice against the supernatural -- or in the case of Genesis, against the view of creation it presents.

So for instance, the first chapters of Genesis and the book of Jonah are treated as parables or metaphors, not because there is any clue in the Bible itself that anything other than literal history was intended, but just because the critic can't accept what it actually says.

And this does not deserve to be called interpretation -- it is revisionism.

This message has been edited by Faith, 03-07-2006 02:12 PM


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robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 27 of 96 (293007)
03-07-2006 2:07 PM
Reply to: Message 25 by Heathen
03-07-2006 1:54 PM


But different people can/will interpret a passage differently no?

Sure, but the disjunction is not always "literal" or "figurative," at least not in any obvious sense. People interpret the parts of the US constitution differently too, but the US Constitution contains no parables as far as I know.

The literalist might say that if there is no indication that the passage was intended non-literally--or let's say non-historically-- then the passage is to be interpreted as historical fact. If the text reads, "The Kingdom of Heaven might be likened to" something or other, then we know right away the upcoming details are meant non-literally. But there might be other stylistic aspects which would indicate a non-literal reading as well: for example, a story about someone from God knows where living in an unspecified time and an unspecified place suggests a fable: "Once upon a time . . ."

The phrase "once upon a time" is enough to suggest a non-historical text.

Such clues might exist in certain parts of the Bible. If so, that part could be interpreted non-literally by a literalist.


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jar
Member
Posts: 30934
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004


Message 28 of 96 (293008)
03-07-2006 2:17 PM
Reply to: Message 26 by Faith
03-07-2006 2:03 PM


Clues in the Bible?
So for instance, the first chapters of Genesis and the book of Jonah are treated as parables or metaphors, not because there is any clue in the Bible itself that anything other than literal history was intended, but just because the critic can't accept what it actually says.

But there are clues in the Bible, particularly in Genesis, that it is not to be taken as a literal history. For example, two entirely different mutually exclusive stories of Creation are presented. In one story, GOD creates male and female at the same time using the same methods. In the other story GOD creates Man first and then at a later time creates woman and not, as in the other tale by an act of creation, but by cloning woman from man.

So in the case of the Creation myths found in Genesis, if you accept what the Bible says, it is obvision that the Creation myths are meant to teach lessons about man's relationship with GOD, GOD's relationship with what is created, why snakes don't have legs, why women suffer during childbirth, why we have a seven day week with a day off and why man has to till the soil and work for a living.

It is not preconcieved notions that are involved here but the content of the Bible itself that says the Creation stories are not meant as history but rather explanations of the world around the authors.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
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Heathen
Member (Idle past 61 days)
Posts: 1042
From: Brizzle
Joined: 09-20-2005


Message 29 of 96 (293009)
03-07-2006 2:21 PM
Reply to: Message 26 by Faith
03-07-2006 2:03 PM


Faith writes:

someone who reads the Bible as it presents itself, literal where it presents itself as literal, parable where it presents as parable, metaphor where metaphor and so on -- according to what its writers intended. There is really very little controversy about how the Bible presents itself.

Ok... So for instance.. why do so few (any?)christians live be levitican laws? these laws were given by God, no?

Faith writes:

So for instance, the first chapters of Genesis and the book of Jonah are treated as parables or metaphors, not because there is any clue in the Bible itself that anything other than literal history was intended, but just because the critic can't accept what it actually says.


When the bible mentions 'Heart' in the emotional context "..his heart will be hardened.." etc.
The reader makes a decision to read that in the understanding that 'Heart' here has a particular meaning. To read it any other way (i.e. in the factual sense of a organ that pumps blood around the body) would be wrong. I, the critic, cannot accept what it actually says in this case. and thus interpret the meaning to be acceptable to me.

Is this not similar (albeit on a different magnitude)to reading Genesis, feeling that it does not make sense to believe it as literal truth, and thus 'interpret' the book as being an illustrative tale?

Or.. to take it back a step... could I interpret God's refusal of cain's sacrifice as meaning that he doesn't particularly like vegetarians? to under stand God's purpose here we have to interpret this story, whether we interpret the whole thing as a metaphor or accept it a a real happening but interpret the message depends on the reader.


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nwr
Member
Posts: 5584
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 30 of 96 (293016)
03-07-2006 2:51 PM
Reply to: Message 26 by Faith
03-07-2006 2:03 PM


So for instance, the first chapters of Genesis and the book of Jonah are treated as parables or metaphors, not because there is any clue in the Bible itself that anything other than literal history was intended, but just because the critic can't accept what it actually says.

No, that's absurd.

The Adam & Eve story, the Noah story, the Jonah story all read as fables. If there were neon lights saying "fable" it wouldn't any clearer than it already is. If they were to read such stories in anything other than the Bible, people would have no difficulty in recognizing these as fables.

On a plain straightforward reading of the Bible, these stories would be accepted as fables, not as literal history.

The reason that some people take these stories as literal, is that they have been indoctrinated into the non-biblical theology of original sin, and they find it difficult to make a case for original sin if the stories are fables.


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