The Subjective Part of Biblical Interpretation

For centuries the church has properly noted the social location of various parts of the Bible, especially concerning elements like the authorship of individual books. But what about the social location of modern readers? In today’s Seven Minute Seminary, Dr. Mark A. Powell illustrates how our cultural backgrounds color what we see in the biblical text.

Rather than this being a license to make the biblical text say whatever we want it to say, i. e. absolute relativism, this reality acknowledges our limitations, prejudices, and situatedness when we approach Scripture. Indeed, the only person that can be absolutely free from bias is God himself. What our social locations teach us is to read the Bible in community, especially the church universal, and to humbly be open to corrections and other perspectives that complete our understanding of Scripture’s grand narrative, along with individual texts.

Are you interested in six key steps to effective Bible study? Check out this article by Andrew Dragos. If you are looking for more in-depth help in comprehensive Bible study, view our recommended reading page for help in learning how to interpret the Bible. Finally, Biblical Training offers a free course on biblical hermeneutics (interpretation) by Robert Stein here.

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