God’s Revelation: the Bible (pt. 2)

How did we get the Bible?

We have seen that the Bible is God’s revealed word, but how did we receive that revealed word? The Bible did not just fall out of heaven, but rather it was revealed over a period of time. Thus, God not only revealed the Bible, but He also preserved it.
Canon

All the books of the Bible have been revealed and inspired by God. These books have been distinguished from other religious writings as being a part of the “canon.” The word “canon” refers to a measuring rod, and thus to be a part of the “canon” a book must measure up to the following criteria:

  1. It must be written by an apostle or prophet –
    “Only those books were received by the early Church which were written by apostles, or at least – as was the case with Mark and Luke – were given to the Church under apostolic sanction.”
    J. Gresham Machen
  2. It must tell the truth about God, and not contradict the rest of the Bible –
    “…were the contents of a given book of such a spiritual character as to entitle it to its rank?”
    Henry Thiessen
  3. It must be accepted by the people of God-
    “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.”
    1 Thessalonians 2:13
  4. It must be inspired by the Holy Spirit-
    “All Scripture is inspired by God…”
    2 Timothy 3:16

Based on these standards, and ultimately God’s preservation, the Bible is made up of sixty-six books.

Old Testament

† Genesis
† Exodus
† Leviticus
† Numbers
† Deuteronomy
† Joshua
† Judges
† Ruth
† 1 Samuel
† 2 Samuel
† 1 Kings
† 2 Kings
† 1 Chronicles
† 2 Chronicles
† Ezra
† Nehemiah
† Esther
† Job
† Psalm
† Proverbs
† Ecclesiastes
† Song of Solomon
† Isaiah
† Jeremiah
† Lamentations
† Ezekiel
† Daniel
† Hosea
† Joel
† Amos
† Obadiah
† Jonah
† Micah
† Nahum
† Habakkuk
† Zephaniah
† Haggai
† Zechariah
† Malachi

New Testament

† Matthew
† Mark
† Luke
† John
† Acts
† Romans
† 1 Corinthians
† 2 Corinthians
† Galatians
† Ephesians
† Philippians
† Colossians
† 1 Thessalonians
† 2 Thessalonians
† 1 Timothy
† 2 Timothy
† Titus
† Philemon
† Hebrews
† James
† 1 Peter
† 2 Peter
† 1 John
† 2 John
† 3 John
† Jude
† Revelation

Transmission

Once a book of the Bible was written by its original author it had to be transmitted to others. This transmission occurred when the autograph (the original copy) was carefully copied by trained scribes. Although these copies contained occasional errors (spelling, punctuation, wrong but similar word, etc.), they were remarkably accurate in transmitting the authoritative Word of God. One may wonder how trustworthy these transmitted copies could have been, however it is reassuring to know that both the apostles and Jesus himself used transmitted copies in their own teaching ministries.

Translation

In addition to being transmitted, the original texts of the Bible also needed to be translated into various languages. This translation is necessary for people who want to read the Bible, but are not familiar with original languages that it was written in (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek).

There are various translations of the Bible that all fall into three basic categories.

  1. Formal Equivalence or “Word-for-Word”Formal equivalence, or word-for-word, translations focus on the actual words of the text and seek to translate each of those words into its equivalent in the target language.

    Examples:
     -NASB
     -ESV
     -NKJV

  2. Dynamic Equivalence or “Thought-for-Thought”Dynamic equivalence, or thought-for-thought, translations attempt to reproduce the meaning of a text. In doing so words of the text may be changed in order to avoid confusion.

    Examples:
     -NIV
     -The Living Bible
     -HCSB

  3. CorruptedThere are translations of the Bible that have been corrupted. These corruptions are translations that change the meaning of a text and undermine the true message of God’s Word.

    Example:
     -New World Translation (Jehovah’s Witness)

In choosing one of these translations one must be wise. It would be most helpful to enjoy multiple good English translations of the Bible. However, a word-for-word translation will prove to be the most reliable and useful for Bible study. Other translations can be used as secondary resources to aid in your study.

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God’s Revelation: the Bible (pt. 1)

God’s General Revelation

No one is born with a comprehensive understanding of the Universe. However, there are certain things that we can all learn from observing the world around us. God has generally revealed His attributes to us simply by creating the world.

Romans 1:20: For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

Despite this general revelation man persisted in rebellion against God.

Romans 1:21: For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

God’s Special Revelation

Because God’s general revelation was ignored by men, speculations about God and His nature abounded endlessly. However, God chose to reveal Himself in a special way. God communicated to humanity truths about Himself that would have otherwise never been discovered. The result of this special revelation is the Bible.

Hebrews 1:1-4: God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.

What is the Bible?

What does the Bible says about itself?

Since the Bible is the special revelation of God, the best way to learn about the Bible is to see what it says about itself. The Bible teaches that, among other things, it is:

  • Complete (Deut 4:2; Rev 22:18-19)
  • Perfect (Ps 12:6)
  • True (John 17:17)
  • Righteous (Ps 119:137-138)
  • Effective (Is 55:11)
  • Directive (Ps 119:105)
  • Valuable (Ps 19:10)
  • Authoritative (James 1:22)
  • Wonderful (Ps 119:129)
  • Helpful (Ps 119:9)
  • Nourishing (Jer 15:16; 1 Pt 2:2)
  • For all people (Rom 16:26)
  • Powerful (Luke 16:29-30)
  • A Means to Faith and Salvation (Rom 10:17)
  • Cleansing (James 1:21)
  • Inspired by God (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pt 1:20-21)
  • Living and Active (Heb 4:12)
  • Purifying (Jer 23:29)
  • Reliable (Prove 30:5)
  • Like a Sword (Eph 6:17; Heb 4:12)
  • The Word of God (1 Thess 2:13)
  • A Good and Perfect Gift (James 1:17-18)
  • A Source of Wisdom (Ps 119:98)

What did Jesus say about the Bible?

Jesus said He came to fulfill the Old Testament.

Matthew 5:17: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

Jesus said the Old Testament pointed to His ministry.

John 5:39: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me…”

Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come and inspire the writers of the NT.

John 16:13: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”

Book Review: Toward an Exegetical Theology

0801021979.gif There is a “crisis in exegetical theology.” This is why Walter Kaiser has written Toward an Exegetical Theology: Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching. In Kaiser’s opinion the field of exegesis, by and large, has failed to accomplish its given purpose. Thus, there is a crisis that must be dealt with. This crisis “exists between the steps generally outlined in most seminary or Biblical training classes in exegesis and the hard realities that most pastors face every week as they prepare their sermon.” Simply put, men are not being trained to translate exegetical work into applicable material for the church at large. According to Kaiser the fields of theology and homiletics have both failed to bridge the gap between exegesis and application. The result is a “message that is so centered on a mere description of detail that it remains basically a B.C. or first-century A.D. word far removed from the interests and needs of twentieth-century men and women.” It does not take a detailed search of evangelical pulpits to confirm Kaiser’s findings. There are pastors and leaders all throughout the church who are not bridging this gap between the context of Scripture and the context of individual lives. This growing problem has had no small effect on the church. As a result of this gap people view the Bible as an antiquated document, and preaching as an academic exercise. Kaiser’s answer to this growing problem is “a loud call for preaching that is totally Biblical in that it is guided by God’s Word in its origins, production, and proclamation.” After defining the crisis that exists in exegesis, Kaiser immediately turns his attention to defining exegesis itself. “[E]xegesis may be understood in this work to be the practice of and the set of procedures for discovering the author’s intended meaning.” Had Kaiser stopped with this definition he would not have trekked any further than other authors before him, but Kaiser did not stop with this definition. Kaiser moves beyond a definition, mapping “out the actual route that the interpreter is to take as he enters the practice of exegesis.” This route is found in Part II of the book where Kaiser presents what he calls the “Syntactical-Theological Method.” The “Syntactical-Theological Method” includes five major steps all of which are explained in detail in their own separate chapters.Contextual analysis is the first step in this method. This step is aimed at viewing a text within its total context. The analysis of a text’s context must occur on four levels: sectional context, book context, canonical context, and the immediate context. By observing the context on these four levels the exegete guards himself from erroneously fragmenting, atomizing, and isolating a text. As Kaiser points out, “If the exegete falters here, much of what follows will be wasted time and effort.”

Syntactical analysis is the second step in the “Syntactical-Theological Method.” As the exegete comes to this step it is of the utmost importance that he understands the grammitco-historical hermeneutic. That is, the exegete must understand the literal sense of words within their historical context. With this understanding in place, Kaiser suggests that exegesis must involve a detailed syntactical analysis which identifies “(1) the theme proposition; (2) the relationship (coordinate or subordinate) of all other sentences, clauses, and phrases in the paragraph to that theme proposition; and (3) the connection of the paragraph with other paragraphs.”

Verbal analysis is the third step in the “Syntactical-Theological Method.” Because “words and idioms are the most basic of all linguistic building-blocks of meaning” verbal analysis plays a crucial role in the exegetical process. On this point Kaiser leads his readers to ask key questions about the way words are used. Kaiser is particularly insightful in the matters of authorial intent, and understanding cultural terms. On the subject of authorial intent Kaiser effectively argues against an over zealous senus plenior method. In Kaiser’s own words the Old Testament prophets “wished revelation had included something about time, but they knew what they were saying about that salvation God revealed.” On the subject of cultural terms, Kaiser reminds his reader that:

The decision must be based solely on those contextual clues supplied by the author himself. It is simply not true that there are as many approaches to the text of Scripture as there are cultures and societies. Squaring such relativism with the high claims made by the writers of Scripture for their text is impossible. The word of the text may not be removed by modern cavalier techniques.

Theological analysis is the fourth step in the “Syntactical-Theological Method.” With this step Kaiser begins to move beyond the science of exegesis to the art of application and proclamation. It is Kaiser’s contention that in order to relate a text directly and legitimately to the present day one must understand it within the theological context of Scripture as a whole. Historically this point has been expressed as the analogia fidei. Kaiser, however, makes the important distinction that interpreters must limit their “theological observations to conclusions drawn from the text being exegeted and from texts which preceded it in time.” Kaiser refers to this approach as “the analogy of antecedent Scripture.” Thus, the theology of a text must be inductively drawn from the text itself rather than imported from later revelation. Using this method Kaiser provides what he refers to as the “canonical center of the theology of this Old and New Testaments.” That is,

It is God’s word of blessing (to use the word especially prominent in the pre-Abrahamic materials) or promise (to use the New Testament word which summarizes the contents of the Old Testament) to be Israel’s God and to do something for Israel and through them something for all the nations on the face of the earth.

Homiletical analysis is the fifth step in the “Syntactical-Theological Method.” In this fifth step Kaiser concludes his proposed method and bridges the gap between exegesis and application. “Exegesis is never an end in itself,” therefore once we have come to terms with the authors intended meaning we must take the necessary steps to communicate that meaning. This is the step that pastors and church leaders will find to be the most useful as they prepare to preach and teach on a regular basis. Kaiser provides six steps that will guide his readers as they seek to move from exegesis to exposition. First, one must “determine the subject of the Biblical passage.” Second, one must “find the emphasis of the text under consideration.” Once one has determined subject and emphasis of a text he can then turn his attention to determining the main points of the sermon he will be preaching. From there he must then consider “the subdivisions of the main points.” Now that the skeleton structure of the sermon is in place one must “import doctrine and theology… to fill out the word we hope to teach and preach….” Here one must resist the temptation to submit to a systematic theology, and refer back to the theological analysis that was done on the text at hand. The final piece of Homiletical analysis is “to give the message a strong conclusion.” Here Kaiser urges his readers to “limit their work on the introduction and to devote that time and those energies of preparation to an expanded and clearly-thought-out conclusion.”

In addition to mapping out the actual route of exegesis in a step-by-step format, Kaiser provides his readers with specific examples of how to implement his process in particular contexts. Specifically, Kaiser includes individual chapters on “The Use of Prophecy in Expository Preaching,” “The Use of Narrative in Expository Preaching,” and “The Use of Poetry in Expository Preaching.” Finally, Kaiser concludes this work with a strong call for pastors to preach with the power of God.

Toward an Exegetical Theology: Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching by Walter C. Kaiser is a must read for the preacher of God’s word. This work was born out of a love for God’s word, and a desire to see that word at work in the Church. Kaiser has laid out the approach necessary to see that happen; now it is up to pastors and teachers all over the world to implement this approach. One cannot help but to echo Kaiser’s closing words:

May God deliver us, the new generation of interpreters, and His Church, from such parochial use of the Scriptures. We cannot be acquitted as scholarly exegetes until we have led the Church to understand how to respond to the very words that we have analyzed most critically and carefully.

In the News

File this one under the “Man that makes me mad” category:

Philharmonic Agrees to Play in North Korea – Adding a cultural wrinkle to the diplomatic engagement between the United States and North Korea, the New York Philharmonic plans to visit Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, in February, taking the legacy of Beethoven, Bach and Bernstein to one of the world’s most isolated nations.

Here something that those of us in Florida don’t fully understand (nor would I want to):

OKLAHOMA CITY – A wintry storm caked the center of the nation with a thick layer of ice Monday, blacking out more than 600,000 homes and businesses, and more icy weather was on the way. At least 17 deaths in Oklahoma and Missouri were blamed on the conditions, with 15 of them killed on slick highways.

File this one under the “I’d rather be hit in the face with a shovel” category:

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Oprah and Obama tour hit South Carolina Sunday, with the talk show host and medial mogul exhorting nearly 30,000 to ignore Barack Obama‘s detractors and help him capture the Democratic nomination and the presidency.

Finally, and most importantly, in the “it couldn’t have happen to a better guy” category:

header_winner.jpg

A Word on the Heisman

At the beginning of this post I want to say that I am a huge Gators fan, and I think Tebow should win the Heisman.  I don’t want to take up half the day telling you why, but I do want to respond to something that I have been hearing over the last few days.  The knock against Tebow is that he is just a running quarterback, and because of that the trophy should go to one of the other quarterbacks who plays the position better.  The logic is that the other two guys are “actually QBs and Tebows is just an athlete.”  (This is a direct quote from a Sports Radio talk show host) 

Here is the problem with that logic; Tebow is the nation’s second-leading passer, having completed 68 percent of his throws for 3,132 yards, with 29 touchdowns and just six interceptions in his first season as a starter.   That is a pretty good stat line for a guy who is just an athlete.  Not to mention the College of Charleston wasn’t on the schedule this year for UF.  

Ok, that is my soapbox moment for the day.  Hope you have a great weekend.

What is the Good News?

It is important that we understand the Gospel in such a way that we can explain it in a simple fashion. With this in mind Mark Dever understands the good news in this way:

The good news is that the one and only God, who is holy, made us in his image to know him. But we sinned and cut ourselves off from him. In his great love, God became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law himself and taking on himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever turn and trust in him. He rose again from the dead, showing that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us had been exhausted. He now calls us to repent of our sins and trust in Christ alone for our forgivenss. If we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God.

Isn’t that Great News?