The Bible is the word of God given to human beings in human language (Dei Verbum 12), thus the Bible is not like other human works of literature even though it is in human language.
The Word is both near and far from man. Near, because it speaks to man directly and in ways familiar to him, it is always accessible and always insightful. Far, because it speaks through a culture, people, geography, language, etc. foreign to modern man and is different, from any other human literary works. The scriptures were not written in a mechanical way, as if the words were spoken into the author’s ears. The scriptures are completely divine, but also completely human.
The bible, though, cannot be read divorced from its original context. The error of fundamentalism, is what happens when we fail to understand the bible within its own cultural, historical, and anthropological context. If you want to know the Bible, you must know the world of the Bible, and if you want to know Jesus, you must know the world of Jesus. This is why we need to take a hermeneutic approach to the interpretation of the Bible.
But one may ask as to how can we interpret the bible? or another interesting question would be why does the Bible need a hermeneutic or an interpretation? The reason behind it is that we cannot open, read, and say whatever we want about the Bible. We cannot act after just opening the Bible. Fundamentalists allow themselves to do this. They interpret the Bible as they want. For an accurate interpretation, we need a hermeneutic approach, because it is a text written well before our time. For example, we don't know the language. Nor the culture of the people of the ancient east. Neither do we know their poems. We don't know the canon of readings.
Though called the Bible, fundamentally this is the Word. “Word”, in Hebrew is “Dabar” and it means not only “word” but also “action” or “event”. Dabar was translated into Greek as λόγος (logos). (John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word…”) We have to remember that the contents of this word is the Hebrew word Dabar. Another example would be the word peace which would tie to the Hebrew word Shalom. Shalom does not just mean the absence of war, but is also a salutation which means, “May God bless you in all areas of your life.”
The Word (Dabar) may also be “word” in our usage of the terms. For instance, Jesus said a multitude of things. In order to understand the word of God, one has to understand the word of man. There are three different functions of words corresponding to three different powers.
Christianity and Judaism are not religions of the book. The Bible is a collection of historical moments, witnessing to the active Word of God in human history. Before the book, there is the Word i.e. an event. “In the beginning was the Word” – John 1
In the Bible, we have one Word, one Dabar that gives birth to many stories. This is Israel’s fundamental belief, that God was Someone who intervenes in human history. No other religious books have as many stories as the Hebrew/Christian Scriptures. This belief is perfected in the incarnation.
Beginning 22 August, Bible classes will be held every Sunday at 3:00 pm.