introduction to the Bible and its interpretationIf there is feedback on the topic so that I don't leave any stones unturned If possible. One doesn't have the breakdown of the topic yet but kindly...
If there is feedback on the topic so that I don't leave any stones unturned If possible. One doesn't have the breakdown of the topic yet but kindly unscrumble as much as you can thank you.
There are two basic first steps to Bible interpretation before it becomes advanced and controversial. A purely academic approach to Bible interpretation will leave out questions of denomination unless you are attending a denominational school/university in which case the denomination will be the guiding light of all interpretation.
To start with, interpretation will answer textual questions related to the definitions of words, both the definitions of translated words and original language words (Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament). Next you'll examine a passage or sentence for overall meaning with all the defined words strung together for joint meaning. Then you'll examine it for meaning within context of the greater passage or section.
The next step in interpretation is to understand historical context along with usage precedent (i.e., has this word/phrase etc historically been used/defined this way?) and logical context (i.e., does a given interpretation flow logically from one passage to another, and if not, why not: digression, illustration, or a mistaken interpretation?). Then comes higher order historical-critical interpretation and various branches of deeper interpretation such as structuralism and materialistic exegesis.
This is a "hot topic" among theologians. There are many different interpretations of the scriptures. Add to that the knowledge that allegedly not all of the books written and available were included, there is even more controversy. A great deal of what is in the Bible is irrefutable. Amazingly, many cultures kept records from thousands of years ago, even before the birth of Christ. There is a great deal of correlation regarding rulers, lands, customs, etc. Interpretation is present when one is asked to define what the scriptures mean to the individual. This is difficult when different "flavors" of religions discuss the meaning and significance of the Bible. Some of it, like things that exist in the world all around us, you take on faith. In some cases, you will probably be asked to gather information and draw your own conclusions. Like any piece of literature, what is written speaks to different people in different ways, based on personal experiences. This should be a fascinating study, if indeed it is a class you are taking.
I would recommend approaching a tutor or the institution that you are studying with for a list of recommended books. The problem with this topic is that it is so vast and there are so many approaches to Biblical interpretation--some of them controversial--that you need to have some guidance in terms of where to start. Ask them if there is a good introductory text that the course will be using that you can get hold of to study and read. This will help you gain an appreciation of this topic and also introduce the myriad of different perspectives that there are on it.
I find it helpful and interesting to relate Biblical events to the history of what was going on in the world at the same time, where in the world the events were occurring, etc. Connecting the Bible to place names on my contemporary maps is a powerful way for me to think about the foundations of my faith and how I can preserve the continuity for coming generations. The geography and cultural settings of the times when the stories were taking place (and later recorded) certainly did affect the presentation and interpretation in Biblical times.
Depending upon the theology of your professor (I am assuming a class like the previous poster), interpretation of the Bible will vary. Perhaps it would help you to look at how different faiths interpret the Bible prior to beginning the class. If you have grown up following a specific denomination, your faith's interpretation will help you.