Home > Bible Topics > Issues in Interpreting Scripture > this page
Site Contents
Daily Readings
Bible Topics
Worship Topics
Ministry Topics
Church Year
Theology Topics
New Additions

The Three Triads
of Biblical Interpretation

Dennis Bratcher

This chart illustrates the various "levels" of Scripture and draws attention to the relationship between the biblical text, the historical events that lie behind it, and the application we make of it today.  The primary focus here is on biblical interpretation and how we go about understanding the biblical text as Scripture.  This chart accompanies another article that explains in more detail the approach to Scripture and the method of biblical study that this chart illustrates:  Guidelines for Interpreting Biblical Narratives.

Three "Worlds" of Scripture

God reveals Himself in the arena of human affairs, events, and history
The written witness to God's Revelation of Himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit
The message told about God, humanity, and our relationship with God


Three Time Frames of Scripture

God encounters people in various ways in particular historical and cultural contexts
The encounter is passed on to future generations in oral or written form in new contexts
We read of those  events as told by the community from within our own community context

Three Levels of Meaning of Scripture

The stories are told in terms of individuals and single happenings in history
Individual events illustrate the growth and identity of the community of Faith
The Bible bears witness to how God responds to human decision and works in  human affairs
Application to Christian Living Today        

History: One of the most distinctive features of biblical faith is its historical nature. Other people of the biblical world understood deity in mythological terms; the gods were the personified forces of nature.  They were totally removed from human affairs, and existed only on a cosmic level. The people of the Bible, however, encountered God as He revealed Himself in the arena of everyday human existence. This grounding of God’s Revelation in history is crucial in understanding the Bible.

Literature: The Bible, however, is not simply historical data and facts reported as we would report football scores. Scripture is the community of Faith’s interpretation of the meaning and significance of its encounters with God in testimony, which most often took the form of story or narrative. Through Scripture, the community of Faith bore witness to later generations who had not experienced first hand God’s actions in history. The Bible is a faithful and reliable witness because of God’s Inspiration in helping them understand the meaning and significance of His Revelation. Since we are far removed from the historical events themselves, and have no direct access to them except through the biblical texts, we begin interpreting Scripture on the level of literature.

Theology: The significance of the Bible is not what it tells us about history, science, or the future, but rather what it communicates about God and how human beings should respond to Him. This is the most important aspect of understanding Scripture: to hear what the Bible is telling us about God, about ourselves, and about our relationship to God. It is this understanding of God that we apply in our lives for spiritual guidance and growth.

-Dennis Bratcher, Copyright © 2013, Dennis Bratcher - All Rights Reserved
See Copyright and User Information Notice

Related pages