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how the ancients interpreted Scripture

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4/22/2015 2:32:02 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
The ancients handled Scripture differently from modern readers. Here are the basic ancient assumptions.

1. Scripture is cryptic - X says X when it really means Y.

2. It's divinely inspired by God

3. It does not contradict itself

4. It is not meant to be taken as history, but living instruction.

Now here is a comparison between the ancient historian and modern ones.

Ancient Historians

1. Record tribal traditions as they interpret them. Ex: Gen. is one unique story of Israelite creation of many near eastern stories with common literary elements.

2. Used oral sources with few written records. Ex: Gen. and the flood myth have examples used in oral stories.

3. Uses several parallel versions of the same story. Ex: Sometimes ancients will repeat a story for clarity like Gen. 1-2.

4. Didn't place many exact details as pattern was considered more important. Notice that very few exact dates are mentioned. Actions are recalled for meaning.

5. Uses common sense to describe human nature not verified by fact. Ex: A man who cannot control his spirit is like a city without walls.

6. Relies on fixed literary forms which can be applied to all situations. Ancient interpreters often looked for creative ways of applying Scripture to their daily walk with God.

7. Uses past examples to explain convictions for the present or future point of view. Ex: N.T writers would quote O.T passages to make Christ more meaningful.

Modern Historians

1. Try to reconstruct the past objectively and accurately.

2. Rely almost on written documents.

3. Sort out conflicting accounts to find the original one.

4. Carefully search out the correct chronology of events.

5. Use critical tools to check the reliability of claims

6. Seek to get behind literary genres to find out what happened

7. Writes history without bias.