On reading Scripture

Thomas

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"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with all thy strength and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself."
Luke 10:27

It occurs to me that by insisting only the first and immediate sense of scripture be allowed, that only the literal meaning might stand, and that because a certain word or phrase or understanding was not used in scripture explicitly, it is invalid, is to say that our understanding of scripture encompasses and actually surpasses everything it has to say.

We are then saying that scripture is everything that God is not.

If you really love something, you want to know its very depths, you want to know it with every fibre of your being, you want to know it with every faculty at your command.

+++

The Catholic and Orthodox believe that Scripture is not the dead record of some distant historical event; that its content is more than ink on paper; that Scripture is a Sacrament, a form of the Body of Christ; Scripture is that rainment which, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, shone forth atop Mount Tabor in the Transfiguration ...

... it is not the record of a revelation, it is itself a mode of revelation ...

... in the Christian contemplative tradition the reading of Scripture is, in a real and immediate sense, an interview with Christ ...

... and anyone who thinks nothing more can be had from it, or that our human whit surpasses it, (or, the most ludicrous notion of the 20th century, that the whole thing is some concoction, a conspiracy), fails utterly to comprehend the depth and profundity of its wisdom, and more significantly, its being.

[Here I am remined of the TV Si-fi series 'Lexx' - they had a very wise rule, No4 in a set of 10: "There are no life forms more intelligent than humans, unless and until such a life form does the requisite script writing." I would say the same of Scripture - show me the person (or more unlikely, the committee) whose intellect surpasses its content (not in part, but in toto) and I might entertain the idea.]

If we but had the eyes to see, then every line, every word, would provide enough wisdom, insight and inspiration to fill the libraries of the world ten times over.

God is limitless, infinite, the source of all wisdom, and we are called to know that which we love, and love that which we know.

+++

In the middle of the last century a Japanese convert to Christianity returned to the Buddhist school of his youth (in a remote country region) and found the headmaster, a monk in the Zen tradition, whom he happened to know had almost no knowledge of Christianity. He recounted to him the beatitudes as recorded in Matthew. "Whoever wrote that," the master observed, "was an enlightened being. That is the essence of my whole life's work."

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In the late 1800s a group of scientists met in council and agreed there was nothing more to be discovered, there was nothing new under the sun, Dame Science had yielded up all her secrets (seriously!). When a young inventor demonstrated the phonograph, they accused him of some sleight of hand, some magician's trick, they accused him of everything, rather than accept the device for what it was.

+++

Thomas
 
Wow! Thanks Brian for bumping this amazing post. :)

Thomas said:
If you really love something, you want to know its very depths, you want to know it with every fibre of your being, you want to know it with every faculty at your command.

That was my thought on the "liberal Christianity" thread. To see only the surface meaning, imo, impoverishes the message. (To be fair, however, most liberal Christians I know don't desire to search the deeper meaning of scripture either.)

... it is not the record of a revelation, it is itself a mode of revelation ...
... in the Christian contemplative tradition the reading of Scripture is, in a real and immediate sense, an interview with Christ ...

I had my first experience with Lectio Divina last night. :) And Centering Prayer.

... and anyone who thinks nothing more can be had from it ... fails utterly to comprehend the depth and profundity of its wisdom, and more significantly, its being.

I admit this is where I get frustrated with talking to both atheists and certain Christians alike. How do you describe the color red to a blind person? <Note, this is not meant to be sarcastic.>

If we but had the eyes to see, then every line, every word, would provide enough wisdom, insight and inspiration to fill the libraries of the world ten times over.

I'm amazed simply by finding out the difference in meaning regarding certain Greek words as compared to how a word has been translated in most of today's English Bibles.
 
I've done a fair amount of digging and interpreting over the past twenty years or so and I wholeheartedly agree with you Thomas. I've said this elsewhere before, but for me the most enlightening aspect to the digging is to trace KJV words to their Chaldean and Greek roots, and then to form conceptual understandings of the word etymologies in the context of the passage(s) I'm looking at. It almost becomes a visual exercise. Brian, this would seem to be a natural product opportunity for the Strong's Concordance publishers for digital development.

I've mentioned this on another website, it's not often discussed, but there also seems to be a number system basis to the underlying organizational structure of both the OT and the NT. This is not the Bible Code stuff, but something different like formulations or algorithms. An excellent article in this regard appeared in the periodical, Biblical Archaeology Review about fifteen years ago. I have misplaced the reference to it, but it is there and BAR is a highly reputable publication that is available in most sizeable libraries. .

flow....:)
 
Wonderful post, Thomas- and I couldn't agree more. Scripture is a sacred "thin" place, a location of connection between humanity and divinity, not just a record of real or imagined events. The Gospel story is not just a way for us to read about Jesus; it is Jesus' own hands stretched out toward us, individually, waiting for our returning embrace. I believe the point of reading scripture is not just to know about God, but for us to know God- and there is a big difference.

Hence, my own emphasis is on experience and transformation of the self (the mystical journey), rather than interpretation. Interpretation is important, but it is not the goal. Knowledge is not the goal. Having the "right" beliefs is not the goal. For me, the goal of studying scripture is an interaction, an exchange. It is a two-way conversation between my soul and the Spirit of God, given by God's grace so that I might gradually be transformed.
 
flowperson said:
I've done a fair amount of digging and interpreting over the past twenty years or so and I wholeheartedly agree with you Thomas. I've said this elsewhere before, but for me the most enlightening aspect to the digging is to trace KJV words to their Chaldean and Greek roots, and then to form conceptual understandings of the word etymologies in the context of the passage(s) I'm looking at. It almost becomes a visual exercise. Brian, this would seem to be a natural product opportunity for the Strong's Concordance publishers for digital development.
I'm not sure what you're saying here, but I know that Strong's Concordance is in digital format because I have it on my computer. It came with a package of other stuff, including about eight different versions of the Bible in English. It's on the toolbar of the program. Just to give you a brief example of what it looks like, I typed in the word "Master" for it to look up. There is a batch of stuff at the top of the list of references that may mean something to somebody and then there are all the listings for the word. I will copy the stuff at the top plus the first few references containing the word Master. Here is it:

Strong's Concordance

master (124), (5), masters (21), Master (57), Masters (1)

KeyLinks

46 H113 אָדֹון ˒adown (105/203)

46 H1167 בָּעַל, בַּעַל ba˓al, ba˓al (5/203)

46 H5782 עוּר, עָעַר ˓ûr, ˓a˓ar (1/203)

46 H7227 רַב, רַב, צִידֹון רַבָּה rab, rab, ṣîdown rabah (1/203)

46 H7229 רַב rab (2/203)

46 H8269 סָרַר, שַׂר sarar, šar (1/203)

46 G1203 δεσπότης despotēs (5/203)

46 G1320 διδάσκαλος didaskalos (47/203)

46 G1988 ἐπιστάτης epistatēs (7/203)

46 G2519 καθηγητής kathēgētēs (3/203)

46 G2942 κυβερνήτης kybernētēs (1/203)

46 G2962 κύριος kyrios (13/203)

46 G3617 οἰκοδεσπότης oikodespotēs (3/203)

46 G4461 ῥαββί rabbi (9/203)



Genesis 24:9 hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that H113 Genesis 24:10 took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods H113
and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, H113 Genesis 24:12 And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me H113
send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. H113 Genesis 24:14 and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master. H113

Looks a bit weird but I'll post it and see what it looks like. Hopefully it makes enough sense for people to figure out what it's supposed to be like. You can always ask questions if something is not clear. Maybe I can answer them. If not, I'll say so.
 
The listings should be more neatly organized. I tried editing it but the edit won't hold so I will try reposting here:

Genesis 24:9 hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that H113
Genesis 24:10 took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods H113
and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, H113
Genesis 24:12 And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me H113
send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. H113
Genesis 24:14 and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master. H113
Genesis 24:27 said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute H113

Still looks messy on my computer but in the real thing it's neat and organized in one line per listing.
 
That was my thought on the "liberal Christianity" thread. To see only the surface meaning, imo, impoverishes the message. (To be fair, however, most liberal Christians I know don't desire to search the deeper meaning of scripture either.)
This got my attention. If it conflicts with their schedule or agenda, it is irrelevent. Is that really Christianity?

I admit this is where I get frustrated with talking to both atheists and certain Christians alike. How do you describe the color red to a blind person? <Note, this is not meant to be sarcastic.>
Close your eyes, and describe all the "reds" you know as you feel and sense them. Sunburned skin (warm to not only the touch, but to proximity), Red and black checkered table cloth at a restaurant (makes for hunger to increase, and anticipation of a good meal). Red stop light (impending perception of oncoming traffic, hair raises on the back of the head, senses go into high alert, cautious approach). Flushed face of a lover (hair raises on back of the head, senses go into high alert, cautious approach) :D
Seeing red, as in through a red haze of anger (hair raises on the back of the head, senses go into high alert, cautious approach).

I'm amazed simply by finding out the difference in meaning regarding certain Greek words as compared to how a word has been translated in most of today's English Bibles.

The difference is in syntax and concept (issues of the time). English is an impediment in that we ennunciate every syllable, and have a sound for every part of a meaning of a message we are tying to get across. Even so, we (english speaking people) still misunderstand what we are trying to say or hear to/from each other. Now we are going to translate a language that we know little about, from a people we know little about, who's lives we know little about, dead and buried two millenia ago?

It is a wonder we can get any message from them at all. I suspect we are doing pretty well considering the handicaps.

v/r

Q
 
Quahom1 said:
This got my attention. If it conflicts with their schedule or agenda, it is irrelevent. Is that really Christianity?

Not what I said. Most liberal Christians I know are deeply concerned with social issues (ie caring for widows and orphans) rather than contemplative/esoteric searching. That's not really a bad thing, imo, as perhaps they are the ones manifesting the Kingdom of God on Earth.

I just didn't want to give the impression that liberal Christianity = mysticism. There are many liberal Christian mystics, but perhaps more traditional Christian mystics.


Close your eyes, and describe all the "reds" you know as you feel and sense them.

My point exactly. We can give sense impressions of what "red" is like and perhaps manage to convey the idea somewhat well, but unless you experience red for yourself, you don't know in your heart and gut what red is.

It is a wonder we can get any message from them at all. I suspect we are doing pretty well considering the handicaps.

I agree. I just don't think we should stop peeling away the layers. Like Thomas said, whats there in the layers could fill libraries.

:)
 
AletheiaRivers said:
Not what I said. Most liberal Christians I know are deeply concerned with social issues (ie caring for widows and orphans) rather than contemplative/esoteric searching. That's not really a bad thing, imo, as perhaps they are the ones manifesting the Kingdom of God on Earth.

I just didn't want to give the impression that liberal Christianity = mysticism. There are many liberal Christian mystics, but perhaps more traditional Christian mystics.




My point exactly. We can give sense impressions of what "red" is like and perhaps manage to convey the idea somewhat well, but unless you experience red for yourself, you don't know in your heart and gut what red is.



I agree. I just don't think we should stop peeling away the layers. Like Thomas said, whats there in the layers could fill libraries.

:)

Ok, I can agree (to a point). But that is not what you said (which brings me back to our innability to communicate clearly, even though we speak the same language...) :eek: :eek:

I'm also not sure where a Christian "mystic" is considered "liberal"...

If one is given "red" as a series of senses they do have, then from their perspective they understand "red".

Actually, have a blind man tell you, what "red" is...you'd be surprised at what you learn.;)

v/r

Q
 
Ruby

Thanks for your response.

I was not so much commenting upon Strong's ability to track a referenced word or phrase through the various passage references where it appears in the KJV. I was thinking of tracing the word/phrase back to the Chaldean/Greek dictionaries and THEN following the trail of conceptual references through other sections of the dictionaries. In this way one arrives at multiple impressions of the meaning(s) of the word(s) based upon the context of the passages(s) in which it is used. I came up with surprising meanings in this way when I was doing a lot of research in the past. The term "ancient of days" is one of the things that really got my attention.

I'm not familiar with the new software tools so I can't comment knowledgeably regarding their features. Thanks again for your efforts.

flow....:)
 
Quahom1 said:
I'm also not sure where a Christian "mystic" is considered "liberal"...
I didn't say that a Christian mystic is considered liberal.

Q, I made my first comment about delving into the deeper layers of the scriptures in the thread on LIBERAL CHRISTIANITY.

When I made the comment in Thomas's thread, I was qualifying my previous statement in that thread by saying that the liberals I know aren't necessarily mystical.

I don't consider myself "liberal" by the way. I'm not conservative in the Evangelical (or social) sense either.

I really get the feeling you like to twist things. :(
 
This is pretty much off topic, but it's a good story.

Y'know, my dear Dad was a wonderfully original guy. He left us last March and we really miss him a lot. Here's an example of his originality.

He always talked about the catchy names rock and roll artists came up with. He was a ballroom dance band road manager and played the "A" circuit all over the mid-section of the U.S. for the better part of thirty five years. Even after he retired to the west coast of Florida he played weekend gigs at the ballroom in St. Pete that was featured in the Cocoon film.

Anyway, he always commented that since there was a Fats Domino making lots of money with his songs, he foretold that in the not too distant future, someone would name himself Chubby Checker and make even more money with even more ridiculous music (Dad was obviously not a lover of Rock n' Roll. I'm an old school R&B fan myself and kinda liked Fats.)

Well low and behold, Chubby invented the TWIST within a year or two, and the rest, as they say, is history; and, I might conjecture, perhaps a TWIST of fate. Anyone remember what year that was ?

Thanks for letting me interrupt, and now back to our serious discussions....

flow....:p
 
flowperson said:
Well low and behold, Chubby invented the TWIST within a year or two, and the rest, as they say, is history; and, I might conjecture, perhaps a TWIST of fate. Anyone remember what year that was ?

Thanks for letting me interrupt, and now back to our serious discussions....

flow....:p
Flow, I'd love to sit and have a discussion with you, and your stream of conciousness mentality, in person. I think you'd make my brain smoke. :cool:

<Commercial on TV: "This is your brain ... This is your brain after a discussion with flow.> :D
 
AletheiaRivers said:
I didn't say that a Christian mystic is considered liberal.

Q, I made my first comment about delving into the deeper layers of the scriptures in the thread on LIBERAL CHRISTIANITY.

When I made the comment in Thomas's thread, I was qualifying my previous statement in that thread by saying that the liberals I know aren't necessarily mystical.

I don't consider myself "liberal" by the way. I'm not conservative in the Evangelical (or social) sense either.

I really get the feeling you like to twist things. :(

I'm going to fix this right here: You said:

That was my thought on the "liberal Christianity" thread. To see only the surface meaning, imo, impoverishes the message. (To be fair, however, most liberal Christians I know don't desire to search the deeper meaning of scripture either.)

My reply was:

This got my attention. If it conflicts with their schedule or agenda, it is irrelevent. Is that really Christianity?

You came back with:

Not what I said. Most liberal Christians I know are deeply concerned with social issues (ie caring for widows and orphans) rather than contemplative/esoteric searching. That's not really a bad thing, imo, as perhaps they are the ones manifesting the Kingdom of God on Earth.

I just didn't want to give the impression that liberal Christianity = mysticism. There are many liberal Christian mystics, but perhaps more traditional Christian mystics.

I stated:

Ok, I can agree (to a point). But that is not what you said (which brings me back to our innability to communicate clearly, even though we speak the same language...) :eek: :eek:

I'm also not sure where a Christian "mystic" is considered "liberal"...

You replied:

I didn't say that a Christian mystic is considered liberal.

Q, I made my first comment about delving into the deeper layers of the scriptures in the thread on LIBERAL CHRISTIANITY.

When I made the comment in Thomas's thread, I was qualifying my previous statement in that thread by saying that the liberals I know aren't necessarily mystical.

No one was "twisting" anything. We appear to have been saying the exact same thing. What I noticed is it appears that we didn't like the way each other WAS stating the same thing.

I think many of our issues about scripture fall into the same category as you and I have just demonstrated (unwittingly) :eek:

Take a look at what I highlighted and tell me what you think about my hypothesis...please? :)

v/r

Q
 
I'm willing to say that we probably were stating the exact same thing in different terminology.

The same thing just happened to me in the thread over on the pagan forum. :eek:

I know that I'm misunderstood quite often. I'm certainly capable of doing the misunderstanding.

Your fellow misunderstood and misunderstanding sister in Christ ... (say that three times fast),

Aletheia
 
Thomas said:
If you really love something, you want to know its very depths, you want to know it with every fibre of your being, you want to know it with every faculty at your command.

- Yeah that is true, but the ways of God in the Bible is very deep. As what Proverbs 25:2 says, It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.

With this in the christian's remembrance, he will surely be contented that God conceals some things, not all of God is knowable, only bit of God is.

Thomas said:
The Catholic and Orthodox believe that Scripture is not the dead record of some distant historical event; that its content is more than ink on paper; that Scripture is a Sacrament, a form of the Body of Christ; Scripture is that rainment which, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, shone forth atop Mount Tabor in the Transfiguration ...

- You have to read the Book of Revelations, and there you will be amazed because there are revelations there which are more than figurative. Within a textual connotation, there are presentations of parallel comparisons (just like the 2 olive trees and the 2 candlesticks [Revelations 11:4], the 10 kings which have received no kingdom as yet [Revelations 17:12] and the 7 heads [Revelations 12:3]) needing the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Thomas said:
... in the Christian contemplative tradition the reading of Scripture is, in a real and immediate sense, an interview with Christ ...
-No, because in Revelations 1:3, it says Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

God is limitless, infinite, the source of all wisdom, and we are called to know that which we love, and love that which we know.

- No, not all wisdom comes from the God the Father.
James 3:15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

[/quote]
 
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