Interpretation is as simple as reading a grocery list or as difficult as reading a textbook. Biblical interpretation seems to be the most complicated for some people. The biggest question people have is “how do we interpret this?” When people ask this question, they are missing the first step. They need to ask, “What is this?”, before they can ask how to interpret it. Let’s take a look at the above photo.
What is this? Is it:
- A bunch of gibberish in really bad handwriting?
- A child learning how to write.
- A really complicated recipe.
- A grocery list.
If you chose 1&2, I’m really offended that is my wife’s handwriting. If you chose 3, that would be really weird because there is a bathing suite in the list. The correct answer is 4. Why do we know that the correct answer is a grocery list? That is because it fits the genre of a grocery list. All of those words and phrases in the text are products that can be bought at the store.
A grocery list fits into a specific type of genre. A genre is a type of literature. Each genre has a specific set of rules that are meant for each work. Different types of genre are poetry, fiction, non-fiction, historical narrative, prophecy, gibberish, and grocery lists. We interpret a grocery list differently than we do a sonnet. The rules of a grocery list are 1. we write down what we need from the store, 2. we take the list with a pen to the store, 3. when we pick up what we need we cross that item off of the list.
We know the different rules associated in each genre; however, we still interpret it literally within its historical and grammatical contexts, and as the author intended. I don’t go to the store when my wife buys bathing suite on the list and come back home with a flat screen tv and cross bathing suit off of the list. That would get me a week on the couch. Misinterpretation has consequences. We have grave consequences when we misinterpret God’s Word. When we take the historical accounts as poetry, the prophesy sections as current events, and wisdom literature as promises, we get all kinds of messed up in our interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. We need to start asking what is it when we read the passage.
I hope this has blessed you. Please feel free to look at the resource page to get resources on how to study the Bible. Please feel free to comment in the comment section. Please no pornography or cursing. Lord bless you.