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Issues and Methods
in Interpreting Scripture


Revelation and Inspiration of Scripture

Brief explanation of the dynamic theory of inspiration, showing its relationship to other theories of inspiration and in relation to the concept of revelation. An Excerpt from The Modern Inerrancy Debate.

The Problem with Autographs

An analysis of the logical and theological problems with positing inerrant autographs for the Bible. An Excerpt from The Modern Inerrancy Debate.

The Three Triads of Biblical Interpretation

A chart showing the relationship between the historical, literary and theological dimensions of Scripture.

Guidelines for Interpreting Biblical Narrative

Basic principles for reading and understanding biblical narrative on its own terms as literature that communicates a theological message.

Community and Testimony: Cultural Influence in Biblical Studies

A contrast of ancient tribal cultures' concern with community and communal ways of thinking with modern individualism, and its implications for understanding Scripture.

The Keys to the Kingdom: Binding and Loosing, and Biblical Interpretation

A concise contextual analysis of the church's responsibility to 'bind' and 'loose' related to modern ethical application of biblical principles within a Community of Faith.

Biblical Evidence beyond Doctrine: Dealing with the Content of Scripture [ Available in .pdf Adobe Acrobat symbol ]

A brief survey of the rise of modern critical study of Scripture and its value for the church today.

Devotional and Exegetical Reading of Scripture [Available in .pdf Adobe Acrobat symbol ]

A brief examination of the differences between these two ways of reading Scripture, and the problems created when they are confused.

Problems with "Plain Sense" Reading of Scripture [Available in .pdf Adobe Acrobat symbol ]

Examines three major problems with assuming that the literal or "plain sense" of the text is the best way to read and interpret Scripture, also noting that the classical "plain sense" reading was in opposition to allegory and dogma, not careful biblical study.

Evangelicals and the Bible

Some issues evangelicals face in interpreting Scripture, including assumptions, lack of historical knowledge, misunderstanding of the nature of Scripture, and lack of critical engagement with the text, along with suggestions for how to overcome some of these issues.

The Development of the Bible [Available in .pdf Adobe Acrobat symbol ]

Short article dealing with the span of time in which the Bible was written, as well as some of the issues raised in thinking about the development of Scripture as authority for the church.

Sacred Words or Words about the Sacred? A Basic Introduction to Text Criticism [Available only in .pdf Adobe Acrobat symbol ]

An examination of the role of textual criticism in the church, especially in light of the claims of the inerrancy of Scripture; detailed explanation of the issues involved in the textual study of the Old Testament, with charts and examples.  This article is available only in Adobe Acrobat .pdf format.

Biblical Languages Study Aids

Various charts on word usage and grammatical features to aid in the study of biblical languages.

Hearing Old Testament Advent Texts

The problems of interpretation in subsuming the Old Testament to the New Testament; applies to wider texts than just Advent readings.

A Model for Biblical Exegesis

A brief survey of the steps of exegesis, including beginning assumptions about the nature of Scripture and the basic questions to ask about a biblical passage.

Guidelines for Exegetical Papers

Detailed guidelines to aid in the interpretation of a biblical text, especially intended to assist the writing of exegetical papers in an educational setting.

Biblical Languages

Understanding Words in Scripture: Words for Biblical Studies

Brief introduction to the importance of understanding the meaning of selected biblical Greek and Hebrew terms that lie behind English translations. This new section of the site is being developed.

Transliteration of Biblical Languages

Basic issues in writing words from biblical languages in English characters, with transliteration charts for both Hebrew and Greek.

Hebrew/Aramaic Terms: Word Meanings for Old Testament Theology and Study

The importance of correctly understanding the Hebrew and Aramaic terms used in the Old Testament, especially considering cultural context, rather than depending on English words for biblical study; a list of some key terms with links to articles.

Old Testament

Canons of the Hebrew Bible [Available in .pdf Adobe Acrobat symbol ]

The various canons of the Old Testament, including a chart comparing the arrangement of biblical books in Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant traditions.

Demons in the Old Testament

A detailed analysis of Hebrew terms in the Old Testament that are sometimes translated 'demons,' seen against the background of ancient Near Eastern culture.

Satan: Context in Biblical Interpretation and Ministry

An examination of some facts about the use of satan in the Old testament, reflections about cultural context, concluding with observations about the relationship of cultural context and ministry.

JEDP: Sources in the Pentateuch [Available in .pdf Adobe Acrobat symbol ]

A brief explanation of the "documentary" theory of the traditions or "sources" that lie behind the final canonical form of the Pentateuch.

The Hardening of Pharaoh's Heart

A list of passages in Exodus that relate to the Hardening of Pharaoh's Heart, as a resource for Narrative Theology in Exodus.

Hexateuch, Tetrateuch, and the Deuteronomic History [Available in .pdf Adobe Acrobat symbol ]

Brief review of the various ways scholars have understood the literary and theological relationship between Deuteronomy and the surrounding biblical books.

The Date of the Exodus: The Historical Study of Scripture [Available in .pdf Adobe Acrobat symbol ]

A brief survey of the evidence for establishing a date for the Israelite exodus from Egypt, with summary of the role of historical methods of Bible study.

Criteria of False Prophets: Notes on Deuteronomy 18:22

A brief analysis of Deuteronomy 18:22, examining the claim that it proves that Old Testament prophecy is primarily predictive.

Prophecy and Prediction

Essay on the role of Old Testament prophets as covenant mediators and interpreters of history rather than seeing prophecy as absolute prediction of the future.

History and Theology in Joshua and Judges [Available in .pdf Adobe Acrobat symbol ]

A survey of the historical problems encountered in comparing the biblical books of Joshua and Judges, suggesting that the differences in historical details arise from the different theological focus of each book as part of the larger canon.

The Prophetic "Call" Narrative: Commissioning into Service

Short article dealing with the form and theology of the commissioning narratives, especially the prophetic "call" narratives.

Parallelism in Hebrew Writing

Definition and examples of this common feature of Hebrew writing.

Isaiah 7:14: Translation Issues

An analysis of the Hebrew words and syntax of Isaiah 7:14 to arrive at an accurate translation.

"Lucifer" in Isaiah 14:12-17

Examination of the cultural and historical context of this passage, showing how misunderstandings can arise when issues outside a biblical text or a  misuse of the "Scripture interprets Scripture" principle influence how we read it.

Nazareth and The Branch: Matthew 2:23 and OT Interpretation

Study of how Matthew connects Jesus' hometown of Nazareth with the Branch metaphor of Jeremiah as a theological confession; addresses the issue of New Testament use of Old Testament texts and implications for interpretation.

Immanuel in Isaiah and Matthew

A detailed analysis of the theological relationship between the Immanuel passage in Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew's use of the idea of Immanuel in his Gospel.

God's Immutability: A Proof Text?

Examination of the word "change" in Malachi 3:6-7a as a proof text for the immutability of God.

Psalm 139:16 and Predestination: Text Criticism and Interpretation [Available in .pdf Adobe Acrobat symbol ]

A detailed analysis of Psalm 139:16 dealing with the textual and interpretive problems of the verse.

New Testament

Greek Terms: Word Meanings for New Testament Theology and Study

A list of some key terms with links to articles. (This section is not yet available)

Various Interpretations of the Kingdom of God

Brief summary in outline format of the three ways on understanding the "Kingdom of God" in the New Testament; on a larger scale it relates to millennial theories and how the Time Frame of  Book of Revelation is understood.

Nazareth and The Branch: Matthew 2:23 and OT Interpretation [Available in .pdf Adobe Acrobat symbol]

Study of how Matthew connects Jesus' hometown of Nazareth with the Branch metaphor of Jeremiah as a theological confession; addresses the issue of New Testament use of Old Testament texts and implications for interpretation.

Immanuel in Isaiah and Matthew

A detailed analysis of the theological relationship between the Immanuel passage in Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew's use of the idea of Immanuel in his Gospel.

The Shape of the Gospel Story: The Synoptic Gospels

A summary of the basic narrative story line of the Synoptic Gospels, noting similarities and differences in how each tells the story.

The Gospels and the Synoptic Problem [Available in .pdf Adobe Acrobat symbol]

An analysis of the literary relationship of the first three Gospels in terms of both shared material as well as material unique to each; surveys the various source theories and includes observations on the nature of the Gospels.

The Formation of the Gospels

A brief survey of the process by which the New Testament Gospels were compiled and written. (Excerpt from The Gospels and the Synoptic Problem)

The Gospel of Thomas

Information on the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, and its relationship to the canonical Gospels of the New Testament; includes English translations of both Coptic and Greek versions in a chart with Gospel parallels.

The Time of the Crucifixion: Chronological Issues in the Gospels

A brief article dealing with the differences in chronology of the events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus, especially the differences between Mark and John.

Jesus' "Cry of Dereliction" and Psalm 22

Brief comments about Jesus' cry from the cross, suggesting that the traditional interpretation that God abandoned Jesus is inadequate.

New Testament Letters and Epistles

Summary of the genre and form (structure) of New Testament letters and epistles, and the implications for interpretation.

The "Appearance" of Evil: Mistranslation in 1 Thessalonians 5:22

A brief analysis of the mistranslation 'appearance of evil' in 1 Thessalonians 5:22, with suggestions for a better reading.

To the Ends of the Earth: Proclamation and the Second Coming

Short essay dealing with the misperception that every person must hear the Gospel before the Second Coming of Jesus can occur.

For other topics that might be relevant,
See Bible Short Topics

-Dennis Bratcher, Copyright © 2018, Dennis Bratcher, All Rights Reserved
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