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Inspirational Image of the Day

G-MM™: Meditation Moment   150317

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Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.

Amen.


1 Corinthians 2:5

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.


Galatians 3:2-4

2-4 I only want you to tell me one thing: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by keeping the Law, or by faith, from hearing and believing the Gospel? Do you really intend to rely on your flesh, which could not begin your salvation, to perfect it? It would be insanity. Would you simply throw away the benefits of the tribulation you have suffered?


Galatians 3

About the Daily Prayer BibleThe “Daily Prayer Bible” is a paraphrase translation. This means accuracy to the original text has been sacrificed, to make it more readable and readily understood. This is especially useful in the Epistles of Paul. Verses are often out of order and often explanatory matter is included in the actual translation.

It is part of a larger work, DP 3-Column Bible, a Bible translation with 3 different levels of literal accuracy, which you can access by clicking the link at the bottom of the Scripture section. We call the most readable and least accurate translation the “Daily Prayer Bible”. The middle translation (“The American Bible”) is what is called a “literal” translation, accurate to the original text but using English grammar and idioms.

The third translation is a unique transliterative text, called “Verbatim Bible”, that has an unparalleled degree of accuracy but is not readable except with difficulty. It gives the non-Greek-reading user the ability to see the inaccuracies and ambiguities that become invisible in even the best so-called “literal” translations, such as the NASB or our own American Bible..


Notes on the Scripture
Implied or Inferred? (Galatians #26)
The Curse of Inference

The Word of God is immortal, inerrant, timeless truth. The thoughts of human beings are not only inherently faulty, but also distorted by a wide range of factors: self-interest, bias, conformity to culture, emotion, etc. How, then, can we know God’s Word? When we read the Bible, we have thoughts about it; and in fact, human interpretation of some sort is required, or we could not read or understand it at all. How can we read God’s Word as He intended us to read it, distorting it as little as possible?

Today we are going to look at one tool that helps enormously: thoroughly understanding the differenceThis goes way beyond the scope of these notes, but it has to be said: There are several very different definitions of inference. In the stringent academic discipline of logic, “inference” means something entirely different from the way we use it in hermeneutics. In logic, it means a correct and necessary truth that follows from previous statements, i.e., it is identical to what we call “implication”. We are using inference in the sense that cognitive psychology uses it; logisticians would call this “inductive inference”. If this interests you, check out Wikipedia’s article on inference. between “implyImply: to suggest something without saying or showing it plainly.” and “inferInfer: to draw conclusions that are not explicit in what is said.”. It takes some effort to grasp, and even more effort to apply, but the rewards are commensurate to the effort. I promise!

I want to use “imply” and in the narrow sense of a “necessary implication.” That is, when interpreting the Bible, an implication must be intentional and, therefore, must be provable by reference to something in the Bible itself. Here is a valid implication: Jesus says sin leads to death. Jesus says that adultery is a sin. The Bible therefore implies that adultery will lead to death.

If an unstated meaning is supplied by the reader, not the book, the reader infers the unstated meaning; the book does not imply it.

Drawing inferences is one of the primary means by which people distort the Bible. When we hear somebody say “this passage implies such and such,” it raises a red flag. Almost invariably what follows is actually an inference the commentator supplies from his own mind: what he wants the Bible to say, or even what he thinks the Bible says, when it does not say that at all.

An inference made by a human being, reading the Bible, is not the Word of God; it is the product of the reader’s mind. He usually does not even realize it; most people have great difficultyPost-structural hermeneutics actually teaches that a text has no meaning except the meaning supplied by the reader, and there is some limited truth to it. But, generally, they are wrong. distinguishing what the Bible says and what their mind adds or subtracts to it.

This is a serious matter. In Galatians 1:6-8, for example, Paul calls a gospel that has been distorted by human additions “anathema” — accursed. (And he probably means that the teacher of such a gospel is accursed, as well.) If this is still unclear to you, an example is provided on the Community page.

We can only say, properly speaking, that the Bible implies something if we can prove the implication by reference to another part of the Bible. The Bible, remember, is the Word of God. It is thus, itself, the only source that can be used to interpret it (unless one is convinced that there has been God-inspired prophecy since the last words of Revelation were written).

The technical term for correctly interpreting the Bible, by reference only to itself, is “exegesis”, which literally means “to bring out.” We correctly take meaning out of the Bible. The opposite term, “eisegesis,” means loosely “to read into.” It is a good term, if you can remember the word, because most people understand what “reading something into” a statement means.
The Importance of Genre

Once we have firmly fixed the difference between implied and inferred meaning, and grasp the dangers of the latter, we can back up just a bit and pick out passages where inference is proper. Parables, by their nature, require interpretation. Where there is an unexplained parable, we must infer the meaning. (Some, notably the parable of the sower, are explained within the Bible; see Matthew 13:1-23.) Christ told us that there would be people able to understand His parables correctly, and others who would not; and I suppose, we will not know the difference until after we die. But He explicitly gave us permission to draw inferences from His parables.

Prophecy, surprisingly, is not such a genre; because to the degree prophecy contains symbolism we are expected to understand, the New Testament interprets it for us. The one exception would necessarily be Revelation, a prophecy where no opportunity for inspired explanation exists.

The most fertile field for eisegatic interpretation is poetry. Poetry (Psalms and The Song of Solomon) actually encourages us to read meaning into it. Wisdom literature (Job, Ecclesiastes, Proverbs) also invites human interpretation.

But there is a critical distinction between such books and, say, a Gospel or Epistle: eisegetical passages cannot be doctrinal. “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Peter 2:1:21) “All Scripture is inspired by God.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

On Thursday, we will take the rules we have learned and apply them to Paul’s great rhetorical introduction to Galatians 3.

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