Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I. Samuel 20: The importance of translation and context

In this chapter we see a hotly debated topic of the bible come to light...I'll go into more detail on that shortly, but  first lets summarize the chapter:

Saul is determined to kill David. As happened previously, we see that this concerns Jonathan so he plots to help David. He wants to help David find out if Saul has cooled off or not. When Jonathan brings up the topic to Saul, he flips out at Jonathan because of his relationship with David. Jonathan secretly lets David know that Saul will stop at nothing to kill him and the two part ways in sorrow knowing that they will probably never see each other again.

And now to the topic of debate. Google the relationship of David and Jonathan and see what comes up. The words of different translations of the Bible are used both for and against a homosexual relationship between the two. The point of bringing this up is not to take sides in the debate. Quite honestly, I don't think it changes the story that much in the grand scheme of things anyway.

The point I want to make about this is how translation and context are used by different people in different ways. It is done in a fashion similar to political polling. A convincing argument can be made for anything when statistics or quotes are used out of context. Likewise, Biblical quotes taken out of context and in different translations can be used quite convincingly to make a point. What drives these arguments though? Agendas. Molly and I have dug into the Bible with an open mind, unaltered by previous pre-conceptions of what it is we are reading. I recommend you do the same. Different translations of the original Greek and Hebrew text were done by different people with different agendas. Different biblical studies and interpretations have been done by people with different agendas. When reading the Bible, DON'T HAVE AN AGENDA!!! In the short time we have been reading the bible I constantly find myself trying to understand things to try to apply it to life. But I also need to keep the safety valve open to not let the wants of my life adjust my interpretation of what we are reading.

In other words, if I want the Bible to convince me that I should act a certain way, I will read it in that light. Let this blog post be a mental check for you. When you are learning about anything new (not just the Bible), ask yourself, am I doing this with an open mind? Or am I just doing this to reinforce beliefs I already hold true. Allowing your beliefs to occasionally be shaken is an amazing experience that will lead you down a path to genuine knowledge.

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