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Author Topic: At exactly what point did Protestants start taking the Bible literally?  (Read 1924 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: February 13, 2012, 08:13:20 PM »

Was it when the printing press was invented or when everyone was educated enough to read a language?

When I say Protestants here, I don't mean all of them, but those that identify themselves as Protestants who take the Bible 100% literally and as a fact.

I'm just curious on how this all started. Is the simple answer they have no Chuch tradition to fall back on?
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« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2012, 08:27:41 PM »

Was it when the printing press was invented or when everyone was educated enough to read a language?

When I say Protestants here, I don't mean all of them, but those that identify themselves as Protestants who take the Bible 100% literally and as a fact.

I'm just curious on how this all started. Is the simple answer they have no Chuch tradition to fall back on?

Scripture is fact.  It is a mysteriological fact, not "literal" vs. "figurative."  Protestants simply had none of this, as the middle ages had done a number on the west with regard to mysteriology.   Is "behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" literal or figurative?  Neither.  It is a mysteriological fact. 
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« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2012, 09:08:20 PM »

Everyone who read takes it literally, unless you really believe in that speed reading crap.

And I will get to your PM. I've been considering the appropriate answer.

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« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2012, 09:10:02 PM »

Everyone who read takes it literally, unless you really believe in that speed reading crap.

And I will get to your PM. I've been considering the appropriate answer.



Yes, yes, "literally" doesn't mean what most people mean when they say the word.

I thought you said you are a descriptivist?
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« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2012, 09:10:51 PM »

I have trouble defining "mysteriological". Could you please do so?
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« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2012, 09:13:34 PM »

Everyone who read takes it literally, unless you really believe in that speed reading crap.

And I will get to your PM. I've been considering the appropriate answer.



Yes, yes, "literally" doesn't mean what most people mean when they say the word.

I thought you said you are a descriptivist?

So you are proscribing what descriptivism is? Awesome!
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« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2012, 09:14:19 PM »

Everyone who read takes it literally, unless you really believe in that speed reading crap.

And I will get to your PM. I've been considering the appropriate answer.



Yes, yes, "literally" doesn't mean what most people mean when they say the word.

I thought you said you are a descriptivist?

So you are proscribing what descriptivism is? Awesome!

Damn you and your clever retorts.

You've won this time ...

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« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2012, 09:43:51 PM »

Was it when the printing press was invented or when everyone was educated enough to read a language?

When I say Protestants here, I don't mean all of them, but those that identify themselves as Protestants who take the Bible 100% literally and as a fact.

I'm just curious on how this all started. Is the simple answer they have no Chuch tradition to fall back on?

I think it was a result of the fight between liberals and conservatives (which became fundamentalist).  What really baffles me, looking back in my own life, is how could I say that anything God said was a non-essential. 
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« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2012, 09:52:28 PM »

Yo Achronos,

Check out when Christians started bein' compared to Mohammedans. "Literalism" as such is caught up with all sortsa other stuff people mean by it.

Splain, whatcha ref'in zactly.

Really this sorta broad question is probably best whittled down to something manageable by wikipedia.

But in short, the answer to the question is that this ain't been going on long, if I get what you are saying. Less than 200 years.

The philosophical prejudices which would have to made clear and explicit for such a thing to happen didn't arise till the 19th Century. Literalism, logical positivism, and all that other nonsense all came from the same mud pit.


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« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2012, 11:31:04 AM »

Does a definitive answer exist or was it a more gradual progressive practice? I would guess it came about out of Fundamental Christianity as well. Starting in Europe in late eighteenth century? I believe the fundamental movement in the U.S. began to become more organized and gained steam in the early nineteen hundreds.
Worth mentioning I guess that today not all Churches that identify themselves as ‘fundamental’ interpret the Bible literally however. Some use the term to separate themselves from the main stream denominations sharing the same doctrine. An easy example is a ‘Fundamental Wesleyan Church’ is identifying themselves as a strict adherence to Wesleyan doctrine as opposed to the more liberal teachings and practice that the Methodist Church has ‘evolved’ into. No disrespect, judgment, or offence to my Methodist brethren.  Wink

Anyway, a good question for curiosity sake!

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« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2012, 11:41:51 AM »

I don't think Protestants are taking the Bible literally. I became an Orthodox when I started to do that.
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« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2012, 12:15:05 PM »

I don't think Protestants are taking the Bible literally. I became an Orthodox when I started to do that.
This is a good point. I understand exactly what you mean. The longer I'm Orthodox, the more I realize how much the Protestants with whom I'm familiar tend to spiritualize many passages.

When I hear of people "taking the Bible literally", it usually means insisting that Creation took place over six twenty-four hour days, Noah's flood is historical fact in all of its details, the parting of the Red Sea happened exactly as Charlton Heston performed it, etc.

As soon as you get to "This is my body", "all generations will call me blessed", "The Lord grant to (the departed) [Onesiphorus] that he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day" being literal goes out the window.

I really don't think there are any Protestants who would take the Bible 100% literally. Perhaps Achronos could elaborate a bit on what he has experienced and means by his original statement.
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« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2012, 01:05:34 PM »

I don't think Protestants are taking the Bible literally. I became an Orthodox when I started to do that.
This is a good point. I understand exactly what you mean. The longer I'm Orthodox, the more I realize how much the Protestants with whom I'm familiar tend to spiritualize many passages.

When I hear of people "taking the Bible literally", it usually means insisting that Creation took place over six twenty-four hour days, Noah's flood is historical fact in all of its details, the parting of the Red Sea happened exactly as Charlton Heston performed it, etc.

As soon as you get to "This is my body", "all generations will call me blessed", "The Lord grant to (the departed) [Onesiphorus] that he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day" being literal goes out the window.

I really don't think there are any Protestants who would take the Bible 100% literally. Perhaps Achronos could elaborate a bit on what he has experienced and means by his original statement.

It's kind of like that old joke… ‘Put ten Protestants of different denominations in a room and you WILL have ten different theologies.’

Some do, some don't, and many see it as the inerrant and divinely inspired word of God that is both literal and figurative in nature, or perhaps better said neither literal nor figurative. In my understanding John Wesley attempted to clarify this confusion by stating that ‘accurate’ interpretation of scripture must include (come by)  the gift of the Holy Spirit just as the writing of scripture was a happening of  the Holy Spirit working through man.

With that said you guys make a good point for consideration, as even those that claim ‘literal translation’ (to my limited knowledge) reject that communion is literally ‘the flesh and blood of Christ’. Interesting!
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« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2012, 01:17:12 PM »

Nobody really takes the Bible literally, no matter what they claim - unless there are groups out there that believe God is literally a hard inert mineral.
What they really do is interpret, and they don't even do that consistently, much less literally. Of course, we all do interpret Scripture, after all, according to our own biases, knowledge, experience etc. I'd just like to see them be honest about it. Upon what basis and using what criteria do they decide that Genesis should be understood "literally" and John 6 metaphorically?
I have yet to get a good answer, and if someone says "Scripture interprets Scripture" to me again, I'll start screaming.
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« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2012, 09:54:06 PM »

I have yet to get a good answer, and if someone says "Scripture interprets Scripture" to me again, I'll start screaming.
How does one determine which passage interprets which passage? It seems like a system poised to further obfuscate and confuse.
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« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2012, 10:00:35 PM »

I do not know. It was definitely later, I mean, your traditional Lutheran Protestants were nowhere near as, hmm, what is the word? Absurd, as modern day Protestant denominations are. I think that this whole sense of literalism really went mainstream around the late 19th century to early 20th century when your Baptists really gained recognition and began to influence mainstream American Protestant culture.
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« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2012, 10:09:07 PM »

I do not know. It was definitely later, I mean, your traditional Lutheran Protestants were nowhere near as, hmm, what is the word? Absurd, as modern day Protestant denominations are. I think that this whole sense of literalism really went mainstream around the late 19th century to early 20th century when your Baptists really gained recognition and began to influence mainstream American Protestant culture.

Exactly. The first Lutherans probably would not have recognized the 'make it up as you go along' interpretations of today's televangelists. I think the true literalism phase began with the Millenialists and their attempts to pin down the day of the Second Coming. They are still going on about it, no matter how many times they have failed.
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« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2012, 10:40:12 AM »

Nobody really takes the Bible literally, no matter what they claim - unless there are groups out there that believe God is literally a hard inert mineral.
What they really do is interpret, and they don't even do that consistently, much less literally. Of course, we all do interpret Scripture, after all, according to our own biases, knowledge, experience etc. I'd just like to see them be honest about it. Upon what basis and using what criteria do they decide that Genesis should be understood "literally" and John 6 metaphorically?
I have yet to get a good answer, and if someone says "Scripture interprets Scripture" to me again, I'll start screaming.


This is a critical question for me as well. As I am in my infancy of learning I will only offer my understanding of the methodology of Wesleyan interpretive principles. I ask for your patience as I will attempt an educated statement using references I have recently read myself and the included quotations are all John Wesley. A summary statement could be 'John Wesley added the concept of Christian Experience to the Anglican Triad of Scripture, reason, and tradition.'

First and foremost is the need for Divine inspiration; “The Spirit of God not only once inspired those who wrote it, but continually inspires and supernaturally assists those that read it with earnest prayer.” 

Secondly, is Scripture; “The general rule of interpreting the Scripture is this: the literal sense of every text is to be taken if it be not contrary to some other texts” Genres of literature, symbolism, metaphors, and figurative language are of no less significance but our first 'desire' should be the literal meaning unless leading to absurdity, contradicts context or Scripture. According to context; Wesley viewed the Bible as a whole and the various texts as a part of a single theology. At the risk of being screamed at by fellow southern folk Wink he preached interpreting ‘Scripture by Scripture according to the analogy of faith.’ By the analogy of faith Wesley meant interpreting Scripture by Scripture, with special reference to its doctrinal teaching. The Scripture is not a group of unrelated statements. He felt the wholeness of biblical theology was a key. He preached to never accept interpretation of a particular passage that is contrary to the teaching of the whole of Scripture. At least that's how I understand 'Scripture interpreting Scripture'.
 
As secondary (supportive) but equally important in methods of interpretation, is reason, tradition, and experience:
Wesley clearly realized the importance of reason in understanding the Oracles of God. At the same time, he understood that reason was only to be a “hand-maiden of faith, the servant of revelation.” He knew that reason had severe limitations and cannot be trusted alone. “Let reason do all that reason can: employ it as far as it will go. But at the same time acknowledge it is utterly incapable of giving either faith, or hope or love: and consequently of producing either real virtue or substantial happiness. Expect these from a higher source, even from the Father of the spirits of all flesh.”
Though it may be difficult to find in some Wesleyan Churches today I do not think it can be argued that tradition should hold a profound value in both interpretation as well as delivering the Gospel. “From a child I was taught to love and reverence the Scriptures, the oracles of God and next to these to esteem the primitive Fathers, the writers of the first three centuries. Next after the primitive church, I esteemed our own, the Church of England, as the most scriptural national church in the world.” The study of Christian tradition was far more than a curiosity for Wesley. He felt the writings of the Church Fathers prior to the Council of Nicea were to be valued just below the Scriptures themselves as, “containing pure, uncorrupted doctrine of Christ, and so inspired as to be scarce capable of mistake.”
Lastly is Christian Experience. IMHO we could perhaps say ‘fruit of the spirit’. That mere acceptance of the authority of Scripture, reason, and tradition was never adequate until it was seen that the authority was conferred by the Holy Spirit. To examine the spiritual state  as possibilities in living men, to see if the interpretation was true to life. Wesley was convinced that experience, whether contemporary or ancient, could clarify and confirm Scripture, but it would never supersede it. In considering the relationship between Scripture, reason and experience, Christian Experience might be explained as confirmation. When Truth is revealed it shall change lives. 
 
Well, I rambled on a bit perhaps and apologize to the OP if I have gone too far off topic. I’m not sure if this helped answer your question but if nothing else it was beneficial for my growth to write it out like this. Thus, I thank you all for your patience with me.

In Christ,
Scott

 
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« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2012, 06:32:48 PM »

I wonder whether it would be better to say that Protestants think they take the Bible literally, but really they don't. After all, there are lots of bits about trees clapping their hands, and hills skipping, and so on. Before geology, archæology, palæontology &c got under way, I do not think such passages caused any problem, any more than they do now, and no-one (surely?) took them literally. But when those various sciences, and doubtless others, began not only their discoveries but also their theorising, and it all became widespread, it was seen as a challenge to those parts of the Bible which had previously been (and by many people still are) taken literally - like of course (and especially) a six-day creation some 6000 years ago, two bipods made in God's image as a new physical creation, a world-wide flood. [I am not arguing here either for or against a literal view of these: that would be a different discussion.] I think the initial question of the thread is really, When did Protestants decide to retain a literal interpretation of those passages, while others simultaneously were abandoning it?

I am not well enough versed in Historical Theology to give an authoritative answer, but my sense is that it happened from around 1870, at about the same time as the Roman Catholics felt the need to strengthen their dogmas by formally declaring an infallible pope.

A great change came over the Evangelical churches between ca 1860 and 1880 and became a landslide thereafter, and I think it was in the same period that many began to argue for a literal interpretation where it was being jettisoned.
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« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2012, 01:04:21 AM »

I don't think Protestants are taking the Bible literally. I became an Orthodox when I started to do that.

This...

The plain, simple, 'literal' reading of the Bible is Orthodoxy. Just a few things stand out when you read it that knock off 99% of the various denominations, especially those about the Eucharist. Despite Jesus being so adamant about what it is the Sola Scriptura crowd don't believe him, whenever I read those bits I can imagine he is talking to them today just as much as he was talking to people in his own day.

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.

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« Reply #20 on: February 20, 2012, 03:55:23 AM »

Despite Jesus being so adamant about what it is the Sola Scriptura crowd don't believe him, when... Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. ....

I almost agree with you! As one of the Sola Scriptura crowd don't I would dispute your use of the phrase "don't believe him". I know what you mean, but it is a somewhat harsh way of expressing it. It might be better if you were to write that we [in your view mistakenly] see this as one of the passages that are not designed to be taken literally. But God forbid that we should consciously not believe our divine Lord!
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« Reply #21 on: February 21, 2012, 10:42:06 AM »

I wonder whether it would be better to say that Protestants think they take the Bible literally, but really they don't.

Exactly. What they do tend to do is take their own particular interpretation literally. This is a common tendency amongst us all, but Orthodoxy has a built-in correction - the Church.
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« Reply #22 on: February 21, 2012, 10:51:56 AM »

They certainly take some things literally... like the lake of fire.  But as someone else said, they dont take the "this is my body and blood" literally. Its always been interesting to me.
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« Reply #23 on: February 21, 2012, 12:51:31 PM »

Despite Jesus being so adamant about what it is the Sola Scriptura crowd don't believe him, when... Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. ....

I almost agree with you! As one of the Sola Scriptura crowd don't I would dispute your use of the phrase "don't believe him". I know what you mean, but it is a somewhat harsh way of expressing it. It might be better if you were to write that we [in your view mistakenly] see this as one of the passages that are not designed to be taken literally. But God forbid that we should consciously not believe our divine Lord!

Without taking offence, but simply for clarification sake, I wouldn't say 'don't believe Him' either. It's a matter of taking it literally or figuratively. I respect Orthodox seeing a figurative view of this passage as incorrect, but that is significantly different from 'not believing' our Lord Christ.

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« Reply #24 on: February 21, 2012, 01:04:46 PM »

I wonder whether it would be better to say that Protestants think they take the Bible literally, but really they don't.

Exactly. What they do tend to do is take their own particular interpretation literally. This is a common tendency amongst us all, but Orthodoxy has a built-in correction - the Church.

That must be a very comforting feeling! I must confess I can be a little paranoid about interpretation. Forgive my ignorance but what methodology (hermeneutics) does Orthodoxy use to interpret Scripture and determine what passages are to be taken literally and which are more figurative? 
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« Reply #25 on: February 21, 2012, 01:25:42 PM »

I wonder whether it would be better to say that Protestants think they take the Bible literally, but really they don't.

Exactly. What they do tend to do is take their own particular interpretation literally. This is a common tendency amongst us all, but Orthodoxy has a built-in correction - the Church.

That must be a very comforting feeling! I must confess I can be a little paranoid about interpretation. Forgive my ignorance but what methodology (hermeneutics) does Orthodoxy use to interpret Scripture and determine what passages are to be taken literally and which are more figurative? 

As I said, the Church. After all, the Bible came out of the Church and not vice versa. Or to paraphrase St. Vincent of Lerins, what has the Church, the Body of Christ, believed at all times and in all places?
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« Reply #26 on: February 21, 2012, 04:27:48 PM »

I wonder whether it would be better to say that Protestants think they take the Bible literally, but really they don't.

Exactly. What they do tend to do is take their own particular interpretation literally. This is a common tendency amongst us all, but Orthodoxy has a built-in correction - the Church.

That must be a very comforting feeling! I must confess I can be a little paranoid about interpretation. Forgive my ignorance but what methodology (hermeneutics) does Orthodoxy use to interpret Scripture and determine what passages are to be taken literally and which are more figurative? 

As I said, the Church. After all, the Bible came out of the Church and not vice versa. Or to paraphrase St. Vincent of Lerins, what has the Church, the Body of Christ, believed at all times and in all places?

Forgive me Katherine as I may not have asked the question correctly. Please know it is a sincere inquiry. I understand (I think) Orthodox interpretation of Scripture is from the Church. I respect these Teachings have remained unwavering, if not uncorrupted, since its conception. I hold reverence to the oral Tradition of Orthodoxy. Perhaps I should have asked what method the early Church Fathers used for interpretation? Was it solely Divine inspiration and Tradition, or was there a methodology as well. Even considering the Bible came from the Church as opposed to the Church coming from the Bible, at some point did not someone have to decide which passages were literal and which ones are to be taken figuratively?  Again, please pardon my ignorance.

In Christ,

Scott
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« Reply #27 on: February 21, 2012, 04:34:04 PM »

I wonder whether it would be better to say that Protestants think they take the Bible literally, but really they don't.

Exactly. What they do tend to do is take their own particular interpretation literally. This is a common tendency amongst us all, but Orthodoxy has a built-in correction - the Church.

That must be a very comforting feeling! I must confess I can be a little paranoid about interpretation. Forgive my ignorance but what methodology (hermeneutics) does Orthodoxy use to interpret Scripture and determine what passages are to be taken literally and which are more figurative? 

This supposes that the Church accidentally came upon the Bible at some point and has this problem, rather than already knowing from the beginning.
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« Reply #28 on: February 21, 2012, 04:56:21 PM »

Perhaps I should have asked what method the early Church Fathers used for interpretation? Was it solely Divine inspiration and Tradition, or was there a methodology as well. Even considering the Bible came from the Church as opposed to the Church coming from the Bible, at some point did not someone have to decide which passages were literal and which ones are to be taken figuratively?  Again, please pardon my ignorance.
Most Protestants come at it "Bible first," if you will, whereas Orthodox come at it from the opposite. Put it another way, taking the example of John 6: it had to be literal since the Church has always believed, preached and taught that the Bread and Wine are the Body and Blood of Christ.
The Bible is the book of the Church and must be interpreted/understood in that context. That is the hermaneutic.
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« Reply #29 on: February 21, 2012, 05:33:02 PM »

Most Protestants come at it "Bible first," if you will, whereas Orthodox come at it from the opposite.

That puts it very clearly and succinctly, and is well-worth remembering, whichever side of the fence one is on.
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« Reply #30 on: February 21, 2012, 05:35:51 PM »

Quote
Most Protestants come at it "Bible first," if you will, whereas Orthodox come at it from the opposite
I wouldn't really say that, since I doubt very seriously that Orthodox dont hold to "bible last".

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« Reply #31 on: February 21, 2012, 06:23:33 PM »

Quote
Most Protestants come at it "Bible first," if you will, whereas Orthodox come at it from the opposite
I I doubt very seriously that Orthodox dont hold to "bible last".

I don't think Katherine meant Bible last: I think she meant Church first.
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« Reply #32 on: February 21, 2012, 08:42:18 PM »

Perhaps I should have asked what method the early Church Fathers used for interpretation? Was it solely Divine inspiration and Tradition, or was there a methodology as well. Even considering the Bible came from the Church as opposed to the Church coming from the Bible, at some point did not someone have to decide which passages were literal and which ones are to be taken figuratively?  Again, please pardon my ignorance.
Most Protestants come at it "Bible first," if you will, whereas Orthodox come at it from the opposite. Put it another way, taking the example of John 6: it had to be literal since the Church has always believed, preached and taught that the Bread and Wine are the Body and Blood of Christ.
The Bible is the book of the Church and must be interpreted/understood in that context. That is the hermaneutic.
I wonder whether it would be better to say that Protestants think they take the Bible literally, but really they don't.

Exactly. What they do tend to do is take their own particular interpretation literally. This is a common tendency amongst us all, but Orthodoxy has a built-in correction - the Church.

That must be a very comforting feeling! I must confess I can be a little paranoid about interpretation. Forgive my ignorance but what methodology (hermeneutics) does Orthodoxy use to interpret Scripture and determine what passages are to be taken literally and which are more figurative? 

This supposes that the Church accidentally came upon the Bible at some point and has this problem, rather than already knowing from the beginning.

Thanks everybody. If nothing else you have helped me see part of the dilemma is I'm trying to look at this through Protestant eyes. 'That dog don't hunt' does it Katherine?  Wink  Please bare with me all.

If I said Orthodoxy does not really need a methodology to interpret the Bible as the Bible is derived from the  teaching of the Church, as opposed to the Church (Christianity) being taught by the Bible, am I getting closer?

If so, how does the Old Testament come into play as it is translated from Hebrew writtings that existed before the Church? Is it a matter of accepting the established Jewish interpretations? Or the Understanding (Teaching) of Jesus Christ passed down to the Apostles, and so forth, there by the OT is also derived from the Church as opposed to the Church having any need for methodology to interpret what should be taken litterally vs figuratively in the OT as well?





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« Reply #33 on: February 22, 2012, 02:06:18 AM »

Perhaps I should have asked what method the early Church Fathers used for interpretation? Was it solely Divine inspiration and Tradition, or was there a methodology as well. Even considering the Bible came from the Church as opposed to the Church coming from the Bible, at some point did not someone have to decide which passages were literal and which ones are to be taken figuratively?  Again, please pardon my ignorance.
Most Protestants come at it "Bible first," if you will, whereas Orthodox come at it from the opposite. Put it another way, taking the example of John 6: it had to be literal since the Church has always believed, preached and taught that the Bread and Wine are the Body and Blood of Christ.
The Bible is the book of the Church and must be interpreted/understood in that context. That is the hermaneutic.
I wonder whether it would be better to say that Protestants think they take the Bible literally, but really they don't.

Exactly. What they do tend to do is take their own particular interpretation literally. This is a common tendency amongst us all, but Orthodoxy has a built-in correction - the Church.

That must be a very comforting feeling! I must confess I can be a little paranoid about interpretation. Forgive my ignorance but what methodology (hermeneutics) does Orthodoxy use to interpret Scripture and determine what passages are to be taken literally and which are more figurative? 

This supposes that the Church accidentally came upon the Bible at some point and has this problem, rather than already knowing from the beginning.

Thanks everybody. If nothing else you have helped me see part of the dilemma is I'm trying to look at this through Protestant eyes. 'That dog don't hunt' does it Katherine?  Wink  Please bare with me all.

If I said Orthodoxy does not really need a methodology to interpret the Bible as the Bible is derived from the  teaching of the Church, as opposed to the Church (Christianity) being taught by the Bible, am I getting closer?

If so, how does the Old Testament come into play as it is translated from Hebrew writtings that existed before the Church? Is it a matter of accepting the established Jewish interpretations? Or the Understanding (Teaching) of Jesus Christ passed down to the Apostles, and so forth, there by the OT is also derived from the Church as opposed to the Church having any need for methodology to interpret what should be taken litterally vs figuratively in the OT as well?
Regarding hermeneutic as to the Church's interpretation of Scripture, I understand that even within our ranks there were several different schools of exegesis and theology. For instance--I know I'm oversimplifying this distinction quite a bit--the Alexandrian school of thought tended to look for more allegorical interpretations of the Scriptures, while the Antiochene school tended to interpret the Scriptures more literally.
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« Reply #34 on: February 22, 2012, 12:55:17 PM »

If I said Orthodoxy does not really need a methodology to interpret the Bible as the Bible is derived from the  teaching of the Church, as opposed to the Church (Christianity) being taught by the Bible, am I getting closer?

If so, how does the Old Testament come into play as it is translated from Hebrew writtings that existed before the Church? Is it a matter of accepting the established Jewish interpretations? Or the Understanding (Teaching) of Jesus Christ passed down to the Apostles, and so forth, there by the OT is also derived from the Church as opposed to the Church having any need for methodology to interpret what should be taken litterally vs figuratively in the OT as well?

Gross simplication alert! ISTM, the Protestant approach (or hermaneutic, if you will) is to search the Scriptures to find out how to "do church" - what to teach, how to baptize, how to worship etc. The Orthodox approach is to understand Scripture in terms of the Church, the Body of Christ, the teachings of Christ passed to the Apostles. Remember that Scripture and Holy Tradition cannot contradict each other - they are a package deal, so to speak. And the Church came first, before the Bible. Indeed it was the worshipping Christian community, the Body of Christ, that decided on and "ratified" the canon of Scripture.
So that the Body of Christ would not necessarily accept Jewish interpretations willy-nilly, lock, stock and barrel. Why would they? Everything must be understood in the light of the Gospel.
I'm sure that those who are more knowledgeable about the Fathers than I will be able to point out various modes of thinking or styles amongst them - the various schools of thought or interpretative approach. These are secondary to understanding the Scriptures in the context of historic Christianity - I keep going back to St. Vincent - what has the Church always believed, at all times and in all places.


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« Reply #35 on: February 22, 2012, 03:41:10 PM »


Well, yea, I've found simplification works well for the simple minded man!  Grin

I truly thank you (all) for your patience and generosity. This was/is important to me and you have left me with at least enough understanding to progress foreward.

Peace & Grace
Regarding hermeneutic as to the Church's interpretation of Scripture, I understand that even within our ranks there were several different schools of exegesis and theology. For instance--I know I'm oversimplifying this distinction quite a bit--the Alexandrian school of thought tended to look for more allegorical interpretations of the Scriptures, while the Antiochene school tended to interpret the Scriptures more literally.


Much appreciated! I have found what appears to be a couple of good articles detailing the differences between Alexandrian and Antiochene that I bookmarked for later. I look foreward to learning more. Thanks!
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« Reply #36 on: February 22, 2012, 03:45:45 PM »

To divorce the Church and Scripture (or Tradition and Scripture) or to "order" them is to engage in a hermeneutic of naivete.

Each begets the other.

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« Reply #37 on: February 22, 2012, 03:48:09 PM »

To divorce the Church and Scripture (or Tradition and Scripture) or to "order" them is to engage in a hermeneutic of naivete.

Each begets the other.



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« Reply #38 on: February 22, 2012, 04:03:20 PM »

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« Reply #39 on: February 22, 2012, 04:45:53 PM »

Presbyterian James Sawyer reflects many Orthodox criticisms of sola scriptura in his own Protestant critique of what he terms "nuda scriptura." In doing so he traces what he along with the likes of Donald Bloesch, Thomas F. Torrance and others identify as a definite influence of philosophical rationalism in theology to the Enlightenment and the influence of Scottish Common Sense Realism. I would go a bit further back to Medieval Scholastisism where a notion of infallible ethics via discursive reason apart from faith in Natural Law philosophy emerged (cf. also esp. the role of medieval apologetic debate with Islam). Nicholas Woltorstorff has keenly observed these trajectories are all a species of outmoded Classical Foundationalism in philosophy (Wolterstorff also traces much of these developments as originating in the medieval Scholastics, Aquinas, etc.) -the search for secure epistemological foundations of human knowledge, ethics, hermeneutics etc. which led historically to the Enlightenment, the Death of God, the Hermeneutical Revolution from Dilthey to Gadamer to Foucault, Postmodernism, etc. in the West. Classical Foundationalism is essentially dead in philosophy today with the result in theology that the post-Reformation crises of legitimization, fragmentation, and pluralization have not found resolution and are in fact at a crisis point. Attempts to ground theological authority in the more "rationally assured" hermeneutic/exegeses (myth of the infallible interpreter/twin crises of Hermeneutical Revolution and denominatonal fragmentation) and in an infallible man, the pope (pronounced dogma in Roman Catholicism only in 1870 and without even so much as what might be termed a germinal root before the Middle Ages according to Roman Catholic Cardinal Yves Congar and pretty much all major church historians) on the Roman Catholic side.

The mainline of the story is told well by Presbyterian scholar James Sawyer (PhD; link to follow) -it is an extremely interesting read, and I think it succinctly answers the real root of the origins of Protestant reliance upon what Sawyer calls "nuda scriptura" as interpreted individually with the aid of human reason as the ground of theological truth (which in turn has produced some 40,000 new denominations just in the past few centuries by one recent count).  I have had many educated Protestant friends admit to me that Sawyer's "Protestant critique of sola scriptura" is virtually impossible to credibly counter. Sawyer's essay is presented and discussed here: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=37670.0
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« Reply #40 on: February 24, 2012, 02:05:21 AM »

Was it when the printing press was invented or when everyone was educated enough to read a language?

When I say Protestants here, I don't mean all of them, but those that identify themselves as Protestants who take the Bible 100% literally and as a fact.

I'm just curious on how this all started. Is the simple answer they have no Chuch tradition to fall back on?

I wonder if much of this talk about taking the Bible literally can be blamed on the news media. Because we learn much from the media, we tend to use the media's words for repeating what we hear.

I was surprised by the religious-reporting guidelines used by one news service, The Associated Press, when I first saw a copy of The Associated Press Stylebook in 1985. I learned, for instance, that the AP and other news-gathering organizations avoid referring to some Christians as Bible-believers. The Stylebook tells reporters, "Do not use the term Bible-believing to distinguish one faction from another, because all Christians believe the Bible. The differences are over interpretations" (page 239 of 2009 edition).

From reading and hearing news reports for decades, I've noticed that writers and announcers will never say a Christian leader or group does or doesn't believe the Bible. According to the news media, some Christians hold to a literal interpretation of controversial passages that other Christians intrepret figuratively. Thus, when John Spong or someone like him has denied the deity of Christ and the existence of heaven and hell, he's never been classified as someone who doesn't believe the Bible; and when some groups have said they think God created the heavens and the earth in six 24-hours days, they've been classified as taking the Bible literally.

I think Protestants influenced by the media have started using the phrase "take the Bible literally" as a euphemism for "believe the Bible." It would be better if they spoke of believing the Bible. I've not met anyone who interprets every passage of the Bible literally, but I have met people who, as well as they're able, believe the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
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