The interpretation of the bible began a long time ago and up to date, different people interpret it in different ways. The teachings of the different churches about the bible also differ depending on the church that is doing the teaching. The bible has been criticized for some of the information found in it especially by unbelievers some arguing that those who wrote the bible were authors just like the likes of Aristotle and Plato. Historical awareness is very important for the interpretation of the bible and the teachings of the church. Some of the theories and information found in the bible cannot be understood in absence of the history and cultures of the times when the bible was written by different authors. Historical awareness helps the teachers and interpreters grasp the message that the writer had when he or she wrote a particular message in the bible and therefore help in understanding the bible better. Miracles performed in the bible help in the interpretation of some things that could appear impossible in the absence of these miracles which are only history to many individuals. This paper will seek to analyze the effect of history using historical events found in the bible that affect the interpretation of the bible and the teachings of the church.
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Most of the individuals who teach about the study of the bible use different methods of criticism to help in understanding the bible. Through these criticisms, facts are found in the bible that justify the teachings of the bible where there are criticisms. In criticizing the contents, the meaning of the ancient texts that were written by different authors is found. The cultures that existed when some writers wrote the bible and the events that took place during these periods are the ones that are analyzed to give the justifications (William 2004). Some of the criticisms about the Virgin Mary and the conception of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit raise many questions. The issue of Christ as the savior of mankind and as the promised messiah also raises questions to many. When the history of the Bible is studied, the many prophecies and the events that came to happen are a clear indication of all the truth in the information. To interpret most of the information in the New Testament, a study of the history of the bible especially in the Old Testament is very important. The church in its teaching uses the history of events in the Old Testament to bring the real message to the followers. Historical awareness is therefore very important in the teachings of the church and also in the interpretation of the bible.
The Words of God in the Words of Men
The events in the bible from the Old Testament to the New Testament have a connection and therefore a study of the historical events will make an individual aware of these historical events and therefore help in the interpretation and teaching of the bible. The prophets in the Old Testament talked of a king who was to come and deliver humankind long before Jesus himself was born (Jean 22). The prophecy came to be fulfilled in the new testament when Jesus was born. Jesus himself talked of the many events that were to occur to him before he was killed. All these events took place including his resurrection and ascension to heaven. This only appears as history today and therefore the knowledge of such history is very important in the interpretation of the bible and the teachings of the church. When teaching in the church, such knowledge helps the teacher make his or her followers see reality in the bible.
God’s Inspiration in the Old Testament
The history of the events that took place in the ancient times when the bible was being written can help in the teachings of the church and the interpretation of the bible. The Bible talks of God’s inspiration in some of the individuals who wrote the bible (Gillian 2000). The inspiration of many prophets and individuals who appear in the Old Testament is a proofing history of the inspiration of the modern teachers. The New Testament is written by many individuals who only claim to have been inspired by God but they have no proof for it. The only way that the church can teach confidently about the information by some of these writers is by referring to the events that occurred in the history of the bible, especially in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, God spoke to many people and used them as vessels to pass his information to the public. In most cases, these individuals were used to demonstrate the inspiration of God in their lives. The history of Noah is one such story where God spoke to his people through Noah but the people failed to listen to Noah and laughed at him when he followed God’s instructions. The rains came and the floods killed all other men except the family of Noah and the animals that had joined him. This and many other historical events in the history of the bible are very inspiring historical events and their awareness helps in understanding how God can speak to his people through the words of men. Teaching using such events will convince the followers that the words of God come to his people through the words of men through his inspiration.
The Existence of God
The teaching of the church about the existence of God and the interpretation of the same could be very difficult without the awareness of the history of the bible. As stated earlier, the understanding of the bible greatly relies on historical awareness of events that happened long ago. The Bible presents itself as a testimony of written truths where God revealed himself to many individuals in the history of the human being (The Pontifical Biblical Commission 1994). Most of the present-day Christians have not experienced miracles in their lives and none have had an encounter with God himself. The existence of God can only be explained by the historical events that occurred long in history. Some of the writers of the bible have talked of their encounters with God and the messages that God passed to them. Individuals like Moses encountered God severally and God told him of future events that were to happen and these events took place. Moses had many reasons as to why he couldn’t have delivered the Egyptians from slavery but God had chosen him for a reason. The power and miracles that individuals like Moses performed in the history of the bible cannot be explained in human terms since no human has such powers. God’s encounter with Abraham and the promises that he made to him which later came to occur is enough proof of the existence of God. In interpreting the bible about the existence of God or teaching about the existence of God, such historical events make it really about the existence of a supernatural being who is invisible and whose powers are beyond the human powers.
The history of the bible and the church talks of some holy individuals who existed in history and their holiness helped them perform miracles (Puntel, 2009). The Catholic Church refers to these individuals as saints some of whom were evil people but they were later transformed to become the best. After the resurrection of Jesus, most of his followers suffered as a result of their faith but they at the end of it all conquered. Such information which is history to all the individuals who are living today is very important. It helps teachers in the churches to make the followers see the reality in most of the events that are listed in the bible.
Historical awareness is one of the most important aspects that make positive contributions to the interpretation of the bible and the teachings of the church. It affects the way that different individuals interpret the bible and is very effective in making the events that occur today realistic. Most of the events that took place in the Old Testament are a clear indication of the reality in other events that occur in the present day and many others that took place in the New Testament. In getting the real information in the events that occurred in the Old Testament, historical criticism is used where the truths in the texts by the authors are analyzed. God also used his people to pass his message to the world and this can be traced in the prophecies found in the Old Testament. The existence of God is manifested in the Old Testament where many individuals encountered God in their lives. Historical awareness is therefore important in the interpretation of the bible and the church teachings.
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Gillian, M. B. Primal Religion and the Bible: William Roberson Smith and his Heritage. New York: Sheffield Academic Press Limited, 2000.
Jean, M. H. The Catholic Bible, Personal Study Edition: New American Bible. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2007.
Puntel, A. Teaching Church History, 2009. Web.
The Pontifical Biblical Commission. “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church”. 1994. Web.
William, Y. History of the Bible Interpretation: A Reader. New Jersey: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004.