How do you read the Scriptures?

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gospeltangents
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How do you read the Scriptures?

Post by gospeltangents » 02 Nov 2017, 20:38

I really enjoyed Morgan Deane's post at W&T. He gives 3 types of scripture readers: Average Orthodox, Critical History, and Big Picture. Which type are you?

https://wheatandtares.org/2017/11/02/ho ... ase-study/
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nibbler
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Re: How do you read the Scriptures?

Post by nibbler » 03 Nov 2017, 05:50

Left to right.

Being serious...

I find it useful to use multiple different approaches. The big picture approach might help you discover "the spirit of the law," the critical historical approach might help you tease out nuances by helping you to immerse yourself in the narrative, the average orthodox approach might help you get past that one tricky level in Candy Crush during SS. :P

There's also the "what is this guy even talking about" approach. You don't read the scriptures, the scriptures read you. The scriptures only provide a narrative and how you react to that narrative teaches you things about yourself.

In the scriptures cited in the article...

Go Nephi! He kicked @$$ and faced so much persecution but he didn't let that stop him.
If that's your reaction, you might learn that you value perseverance in the face of persecution.

Go Nephi! The wicked take the truth to be hard!
If that's your reaction, you might learn that you have the tendency to interpret people disagreeing with you as confirmation that you were right all along.

Go Nephi! God protects his own.
If that's your reaction, you might learn that you believe god will protect you if you're doing the right thing.

Judge much Nephi?
If that's your reaction, you might learn that you have a lower tolerance for know-it-alls. :angel:

Etc.

AmyJ
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Re: How do you read the Scriptures?

Post by AmyJ » 03 Nov 2017, 07:35

Options:
Average Orthodox - rarely managed that one.
Critical History - very useful at times. I found I got through the Isaiah chapters in 2 Nephi by using a Jewish translation of Isaiah - it was helpful to parse it out from Hebrew to English directly.
Big Picture - very useful.
"Being Read by the Scriptures" - I think this is valid and interesting. I have indirectly applied it when my orthodox Pathways peers made comments that either bored me, or inflicted unintentional hurt because of my current faith transition. If I was able to step back and say, "That is their reading of the situation, or that's what makes sense to them" then I was able to distance myself from their viewpoint while showing respect.

I don't know if these 2 techniques I use are listed, but I want to include them here:
1. "Lens Effect" - I pick a specific principle (this year it is the 2 Great Commandments) and view all scripture through through that principle. There is a lot of "what does this passage teach/give an example of/relate to the 2 Great Commandments"?
2. "Random Developmental Impact" - I apply things I have learned about human development/interpersonal relationships to the scriptures.
Last edited by AmyJ on 03 Nov 2017, 11:28, edited 1 time in total.

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DarkJedi
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Re: How do you read the Scriptures?

Post by DarkJedi » 03 Nov 2017, 11:08

Like all things, I don't think we can pigeon hole everyone into one of the three types. There are probably people who do neatly fit into a particular category, but the majority probably don't. For instance, one could be a literal believer in the Book of Mormon but still read it critically or from a big picture point of view.

Directly answering the question, I fit mostly in the big picture category but I also do critical reading of scripture. I can't say I literally do the orthodox type, but in abstract I could. Isaiah is mostly not about what the church (and some other Christians) teach it is about. One could interpret it the church's way, but I'm not at all sure Isaiah meant it that way and some of it doesn't fit (especially when you do as Amy has done and read other translations and/or put it in historical context). It is also possible Isaiah didn't really understand what he was writing about in that there could be multiple interpretations (sort of related to the conversation in the Nature of God thread).

I tend to study by topic and not as a read through. It has been a very long time since I read the BoM cover to cover, although I have recently been making a new attempt. I'm not really sure what to call study by topic other than study by topic, but it does seem to fit in with the alternative approaches mentioned by Amy (lens effect and random developmental impact).
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Re: How do you read the Scriptures?

Post by AmyJ » 03 Nov 2017, 11:34

DarkJedi wrote:
03 Nov 2017, 11:08
Isaiah is mostly not about what the church (and some other Christians) teach it is about. One could interpret it the church's way, but I'm not at all sure Isaiah meant it that way and some of it doesn't fit (especially when you do as Amy has done and read other translations and/or put it in historical context). It is also possible Isaiah didn't really understand what he was writing about in that there could be multiple interpretations (sort of related to the conversation in the Nature of God thread).
At this point, I am mentally scheduling a sit-down with Isaiah in the next life, pen/paper equivalent in hand and asking, "Ok, what did you REALLY mean by your writings?". Of course, this might not be possible, there might be conflicting schedules, or (gasp> nothing to record his responses with - but it is on my post-mortality bucket list.

One of the biggest shocks I got from the OT Yale lectures was that some of the Isaiah passages prophesying Jesus Christ weren't about Jesus Christ originally - but were about Isaiah's unborn son or someone else entirely. Still processing that one....

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Re: How do you read the Scriptures?

Post by dande48 » 03 Nov 2017, 14:26

"There are X types of Y" is rarely an effective approach.

I'd put myself into a more "literary analysis" category. I don't believe they're historical or "true", but I still enjoy certain sections for the message they teach. Other parts, I skip over. I don't hold anything in the scriptures to be above scrutiny or reproach.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

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SamBee
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Re: How do you read the Scriptures?

Post by SamBee » 03 Nov 2017, 16:05

I could list a few more -

Dipper - occasional small bits here and there, rarely right through. Part of the background. Often is surprised when someone produces something out of the BoM that they've never read.

Jazz player - Reads the chapters out of order to produce a different tune or different effects.

Cynic - Reads the BoM purely to find holes - usually non-members and ex-members.

Solipsists - relates everything in the BoM back to themselves.

Parallelists - reads the BoM strictly in concert with other scriptures not as a standalone.

Drudge - reads out of duty, never takes much in.

Novel readers - actually tries to read the bits with a plot.

Now... surprise surprise, I have been each of these at some point or another. The last one was kind of my first approach to the BoM as a young man.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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SamBee
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Re: How do you read the Scriptures?

Post by SamBee » 03 Nov 2017, 16:17

AmyJ wrote:
03 Nov 2017, 11:34

One of the biggest shocks I got from the OT Yale lectures was that some of the Isaiah passages prophesying Jesus Christ weren't about Jesus Christ originally - but were about Isaiah's unborn son or someone else entirely. Still processing that one....
Not a shock at all.

Firstly, a lot of the influence upon the study of Isaiah these days is Jewish, and so is totally hostile to such a concept as Jews are inured to the idea of Jesus as Messiah before they can even walk. It's very tough for Jews to become Christians and it is even seen as an act of betrayal in some quarters of Jewry. There are some Jews who appreciate Jesus' teachings, but many of them reject them partly on the basis of persecution by Christians.

Secondly, academia rejects prophecy and supernatural matters completely. It is guaranteed that you will NEVER EVER find an academic suggesting that the future is accurately predicted in any scripture. If it does seem accurate, they'll say it must be because it was written after the events or is an interpolation. They will never accept a lucky strike.

So on two major scores there is a bias against any such interpretation in academia.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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Re: How do you read the Scriptures?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 03 Nov 2017, 18:00

Purely as a Social Scientist: to understand how people viewed God.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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DarkJedi
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Re: How do you read the Scriptures?

Post by DarkJedi » 05 Nov 2017, 05:16

AmyJ wrote:
03 Nov 2017, 11:34
One of the biggest shocks I got from the OT Yale lectures was that some of the Isaiah passages prophesying Jesus Christ weren't about Jesus Christ originally - but were about Isaiah's unborn son or someone else entirely. Still processing that one....
This is exactly the kind of stuff I was talking about. As far as I can tell from my own study, which includes using other resources, Isaiah was indeed not talking about the Messiah at all. That's actually pretty clear reading the whole thing in context. The questions in my mind are:

1) Was Isaiah purposely talking about a future son as symbolic of the Messiah, essentially giving the scripture multiple meanings?
2) Was Isaiah only talking about his son but God wanted the multiple interpretations? That is, Isaiah was talking about his son and God was talking about his own son through Isaiah?
3) Are modern humans (Christians mostly) completely wrong about any of it being about the Messiah? IOW, was what Isaiah was writing about just that and nothing more?
4) Did Isaiah believe he was prophesying about anything more than just a few years in the future? Was he doing so and didn't know he was doing so? Or was it just what it looks like and he was only prophesying a few years into the future?

And it's not just the Messiah stuff that has a different Christian interpretation. All the war stuff in the beginning seems to have been about an upcoming invasion everyone knew was going to happen and Isaiah was blaming the Israelites for unrighteousness ("calling them to repentance").

In the church, and I think other churches do it as well, we only tend to look at the parts of Isaiah that fit the narrative and can be made some sense of from out of an Isaiah-loving point of view. In SS school we skip most of it, and some other interesting parts of the OT that don't fit the narrative. And we seem to love taking small passages out of context and never address what they are actually about or any other possible points of view (again that's not just us).
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

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