How the Ancient Church Interpreted Scripture

One of the things that often gets lost in the discussion of inerrancy & how modern Christians should interpret scripture is the question of how the Bible writers themselves interpreted scripture.

I have many problems with the very term inerrancy:

  • It’s more a political term than a theological one.  Seriously: “inerrancy” is mostly used as a club for beating up people one disagrees with, declaring who the truly saved are and aren’t.
  • It’s based on several a priori assumptions about what God MUST have done, rather than any biblical evidence about what God HAS done (i.e., how God MUST HAVE communicated himself, not anything the Bible says about how God HAS communicated himself.)
  • It’s a post-enlightenment concept, which would have been unintelligible to anyone living in pre-modern times.
  • It completely ignores the ways the Bible writers interpreted the Scriptures as they had them.

Which is why I love Ken Schenk’s post at Common Denominator, linked above.  It’s the distillation of a paper he presented at SBL, in which he explores one facet of how the Bible interprets the Bible: similarities between Philo’s use of the OT and the use of the OT in Hebrews.  I did some similar things with Josephus / LXX / Pseudo-Philo / etc. in my dissertation.

One thought on “How the Ancient Church Interpreted Scripture

  1. Pingback: Interpreting the Scriptures (Part 5) | Stepping Toes

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