Context of the Scripture

I would like to demonstrate the significance that context holds for scriptural interpretation. Here in Fairbanks where I go to school hockey is very popular. Suppose that you and I go to a hockey game. After the game I turn to you and say “wow! That game was really cool” now a literal historian who finds a record of my words in the future might say “What Ori meant by this was that in the hockey arena it was very cold during the game and he wished he had a coat.” Now due to the nature of the sport this interpretation does make some degree and level of sense. It may have been that I was somewhat cold because in order to play hockey the arena must be kept below ice freezing temperatures. However be that as it may that interpretation although plausible is simply WRONG. When I say wrong, I do not mean that his interpretation was interesting albeit merely subjectively misguided. What I mean is that although his interpretation seemed to fit the situation, he failed to properly interpret it within the context of the culture we live in today. In the time of the future historian, “cool” may not be a common colloquial term anymore. Therefore, it is only within the cultural context of the time I am in, that proper sense may be made of my saying that the game was “cool”. The important point I wish to make, is th existence of an objective idea which I was trying to convey. This is the idea that it was a good game. Any interpretation of my words other than than this is simply wrong, incorrect and fallacious. No ifs ands or buts about it. This is the mistake that many make when attempting to interpret the bible. They will say things like “You can’t take the bible so literally. When you do, it’s self contradictory and full of holes.” People who say this, have fallen into the same error as the historian who took my calling the game “cool” literally. They assume that a rigid literal interpretation, lends itself no flexibility and is therefore unintellectual and shows the bible to be false. However, this is not the case. This line of thinking originates from a misunderstanding of what literal interpretation is. They assume that literal interpretation means taking the words for their face value as exactly what they say. This is in fact not the case. A proper literal interpretation which we should have is taken within the cultural scriptural and other contexts in which the scripture was written. The man who assumed by saying “cool” I meant cold believes he is taking my words literally but in fact he is not because he is filtering them through his own subjective interpretation. A proper literal interpretation has more to do with the message or idea attempting to be conveyed than the strict definitions of the words themselves. Because he refused to understand the meaning of the word outside of its dictionary definition, he developed and incorrect interpretation of the message I was attempting to convey. This is why context is so critical in properly understanding the message of the scriptures.


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