These are the instruction notes from the first in a series of lessons entitled Lessons in Biblical Exegesis.
Reading the Scripture
Believers are persistently told to read their Bibles. While there is no doubt much is to be gained from this exercise, a plain reading of the Bible ignores several indisputable facts:
1) The text that we read is translated from languages foreign to our own. The Old Testament was originally authored mostly in Hebrew with a tiny portion written in Aramaic (Ezra 4:8-6:18 and Daniel 2:4b-7:28). The New Testament is mostly translated from Greek, though there is growing evidence that the authors, being primarily Jewish, authored a substantial portion of the original text in Hebrew.
2) The text of the Bible is, at a minimum, almost 2000 years old. It was authored in a cultural and historical environment vastly different from our own.
3) The text of the Bible has over 200 different figures of speech, most of which are not visible to those unfamiliar with the language(s) of the original authors.
4) Because we are thousands of years removed from the period in which the books of the Bible were authored, there has been an abundance of time for errors in transmission, either due to scribal errors or deliberate deletions or insertions into the text.
In essence, when we sit down to read our Bibles as we are encouraged to do, there’s a good chance that we have very little actual idea about what we’re reading, much less what it means. At a minimum, there’s a lot that we’re missing in the text. To realize this humbles us tremendously.