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The Bible as seen through the eyes of . . .

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Would a three-fold amen be the appropriate response to this post?

Thank you, and well done, John. A challenge to us all, especially to those of us who count ourselves as biblical "fans". :)


Good to hear from you, Ryan.

Tony Siew

Thanks for posting this, John. Ian Young's quote is spot on.

Angela Erisman

"The second thing might be to decide whether we agree with Marx, who said that philosophers have only described the world, the point is to change it, and whether the Bible and its tropes are a resource in that endeavor, or a stumbling-block in the way."

That's powerful. I vote for resource, although I often see people stumbling over it. Whether the stumbling is due to the Bible or their use of it is not always entirely clear to me.


Yes, an obstacle or a bulwark against better and profound understanding, as well as a false kind of knowing that takes up space otherwise more significantly occupied. As part of a degree in Biblical Studies at USyd, I'm in the fortunate position of hearing many of Ian Young's insights along with his light-hearted remarks. I was glad you mentioned him :-)


It's great to see the same diversity of opinion on this comment thread that I tried to reference in the post.


Great to hear from you. I trust all is well.

Bill Atkinson

As a retired person now finally really engaging with reading the Bible carefully and thoughtfully (rather than simply devotionally -- which is valuable I know but it does encourage your point that we are reading with our eyes "wide shut") I appreciate both your blog and this specific post. Thanks.


John, here's a similar quote from Paul W. Meyers. (I haven't sourced it yet, but here it is as I received it.)

“No curse lies more heavily upon our study of the Bible, especially in a theological seminary, than the confidence that we already know what is written on its pages. It is worse than ignorance or indifference, for…it is beyond being taken by surprise, even by God himself.” -- Paul W. Meyer

In the ellipse is the phrase "…like the unforgivable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit…," a clause I myself find distracting, at least when I use the quote to make the point in my classroom that we ground our claims about the Bible in the details of its texts.


Hi Brooke,

Very nice quote. It is on page 15 of Paul William Meyer's "The Word in this world: essays in New Testament exegesis and theology," (ed.John T. Carroll; Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2004), the conclusion of an appeal for interpretation that does not obliterate from view the rough edges of biblical texts through escapism into a bland uniformity in which a system lays a wet blanket over the texts and slowly suffocates them.

I'm getting carried away with my metaphors. But I'm guessing we are on the same page.

David Ker

Very glad to hear your voice on an important point. I think my early and devout study of the Bible was spent discovering answers. Nowadays I get far more out of asking questions.


Good to hear from you, David. My top ten verses in the Bible are all questions, not answers:


Many people view the Bible differently, depending on their religion and how strictly they follow the Bible. I agree that everyone must keep an open mind when reading the Bible because they might discover something new each time they read it. Even if one thinks that they know what is being stated in the Bible, try looking at it from another point of view and interpret the message in another way to try and find a complete meaning. There are many times that the Bible refers to people and how they should act. The people who view God as evil may not understand why he is evil. God also has a reason behind things and these people must read the Bible with an open mind and discover more about God than they may have already known.


Hi Nell1,

You caught the point of the post very well.

It is also important for those who believe there is a reason behind things to learn to walk in the shoes of the one who does not so believe.

The paradox is this: the Bible is full of people questioning God and what he does as they understand it.

Perhaps the most famous example is Jesus, who is reported to have said from the cross in Aramaic, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"

There are people who believe that God, if there is a God, has abandoned them. To judge from the Bible, they are in good company. There is even a Psalm in the Bible, Psalm 88, which ends with no resolution to the supplicant's sense of abandonment. There is something profoundly true about that psalm.

 Truman Show 2

Mr. Young’s statement reminds me of my favorite scripture, Job 28:28. Too many people think that they understand everything about the Bible, but are they reading it with a fearful eye? The story of Job is a great example of the lesson being taught here. Everyone is raised differently and they are taught only in black and white. Naturally, this is going to cause problems for everyone no matter what side they are on. We see this when Job’s “friends” are convinced that he is being punished for his sins. Many people who share views with Mr. Dawkins use this story to argue that God is bad because of what he allowed Satan to inflict on Job. Unfortunately they fail to see what really happened. Job never turned against God and in the end was blessed with more than he began with. Even though you don’t believe in the same thing as someone doesn’t mean that you should dismiss them and ignore their opinion. It doesn’t hurt to look at it through their eyes even if they are wrong. It could help you understand them and offer the opportunity to help. Maybe you yourself are lost until you look at it from their eyes. There is always more to learn about God, and if you are lost remember Luke 19.


Truman Show 2,

Well done.

Job 28 is apropos here. The passage makes a distinction between what we do know (that our purpose in life is to fear God and shun evil (=glorify him with our actions) and what we don't know (why bad things happen to good people). Furthermore, even when we do know why bad things happen - a person is run over and killed by an inattentive driver - it doesn't make the fact less bitter. On the contrary.

I read the book of Job a little less traditionally than you do. As I see it, God loses his wager with Job's accuser, since Job does accuse God of all manner of evil.

But God cares more about Job than about Job's harsh words against him - water off God's back. So, although Job sins in his misery, it is the sinner that God saves. If this reading is correct, the book of Job is gospel in a sense close to the New Testament.

For details, go here:

Dead Man Walking 2

I would agree with the statement that the bible has surprises if someone were to read into it, but I would not blame the individual person for having the view that they already do understand it. I would rather say that it is the fault of the church for this thought that people have developed. The way that I personally have always been taught is the repeating of the same stories over and over again with the repeated leaving out of other sections that do not agree with the message they are being taught. This has lead, in my opinion, many people believing that they understand the bible and do not need to read anymore then what is rolled out to them in church.


Hi Dead Man Walking 2,

Lots of truth to what you said.

Teaching in church and synagogue often falls short of being fair and balanced: you will discover that the same is true in the academic world!

It's hard to find someone who is comfortable with rehearsing the inevitable tensions and inconsistencies that run through a global hypothesis. A global hypothesis, of course, is what the Bible offers.

It is noteworthy that many traditions interpret the Bible on the basis of a creed understood to derive from it, a creed which plays up some things and leaves unmentioned many other things. In practice, all interpretation of the Bible subordinates some passages to others.

Beyond that, Augustine (354-430 AD), a great African theologian, elaborated a principle of charity to apply in interpretation of the Bible. It is probably necessary to make such a move if one is going to treat a collection of books written over the course of a thousand years in various places and cultures as a coherent whole.

Remarkably, the Bible is a coherent whole in specific ways; in others, it is emphatically not.

I look forward to you elaborating on the surprises you find in reading the Bible.

shawshank redemption 5

I think its fascinating how all the people talked about in the first paragraph all worship the same God and make his teachings a part of their lives even thought they practice different religeons. Thousands of interpretations are made about our single God and his words, be they negative or positive.
I believe no one person knows how to interpret the Bible "correctly." How could we? Each person's interpretation is based of someone elses', whether its from their church or just from someone they spoke to.
“the greatest obstacle to understanding the Bible is thinking that you already do.” This quote astouds me because i never thought of it in this way, but i totally agree. No one will ever fully understand the Bible no matter how much they try.

Pulp Fiction 3

I believe that to truly understand the bible and its content you have to be open to many different interpretations that can come from the bible and other people around you. Many times when you talk to people about things that are in the bible or what they believe is right and wrong, they will have a whole different interpretation from what you had. They bring about a thinking that you may have never thought of before. Sometimes you will disagree on the matter but other times you will agree with them and be glad that you got to talk about it with them. You end up learning a lot through other people’s interpretations and what they have to say about the different topics.

Nell 5

I remember when I was younger I told myself that I would read the Bible cover to cover. I can guarantee you that if I did chose to actually do this, not much would have been gained except with that fact of saying that I read it. I think that in order to say that you really read the Bible, the person not only has read the words, but understands and interprets it in their own way. Not interpreting as they’re religion interprets it, but deep down how they feel about it. I believe that that’s why there are so many different religions out there off of one book. People took their understandings of it and preached. It’s just amazing to think that one book, such as the Bible, can be turned into many different things. Some people, like the atheists, believe that it’s a horrible book that only teaches bad things; whereas Christians believe that it is filled with life- lessons that they should live by day to day.


Shawshank Redemption 5,

To be sure, there are also people who do not believe in any sort of God; at least, they do not give that name to Aristotle's triad of absolutes - the true, the good, and the beautiful.

It is characteristic of the Bible to claim that truth, goodness, and beauty (AKA holiness) derive from a single source, that that source created the universe and will one day perfect it, and that that source is worthy of worship. If the subject matter of the Bible embraces these things, it is clear, as you say, that it is impossible to fully understand the Bible.

It is however possible to distinguish between reasonable and less reasonable interpretations of the Bible. It is worth thinking about the criteria on the basis of which such a distinction might be made. Feel free to offer suggestions.


Pulp Fiction 3,

You make an excellent point, that learning is an interactive experience. "No man is an island," as a great poet once said (John Donne).

As I noted in the preceding comment, it is however possible to distinguish between reasonable and less reasonable interpretations of the Bible. It isworth thinking about the criteria on the basis of which such a distinction might be made. Feel free to offer suggestions.


Nell 5,

What you rightly refer to is often thought of as a three step process: study, meditation, and application.

In addition, many people work through those steps in the context of a community of faith, in which a particular tradition of interpretation is privileged.

In a context like the UW-Oshkosh, no particular tradition of interpretation is favored; in fact, the assumption is that we can learn from all of them, or at least many of them.

It is also possible to do one's best to understand what the ancient authors of biblical literature were trying to say. To do this is a great adventure, and often leads to surprising results. It is a different kind of learning experience from the one of trading one's first impressions of an ancient text.

We tend to think we know it all. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

Pulp Fiction 4

I would have to agree with the statement made by Ian Young who said “the greatest obstacle to understanding the Bible is thinking that you already do.” I think many people think they understand what the Bible is saying. But everyone has their own way of looking at it, you might understand it one way, but maybe we should take the time and take a different look at it. God works in mysterious ways, I don't think the Bible was written for everyone to read it once and understand it. It is just like life, and how God puts us through things that sometimes we don't understand right way, but when we step back and take a look at it in a different way we might get a better understanding of the situation

Chariots of Fire 5

When I grew up I was never told that there could be other ways of understanding the Bible. As you go through school as a young child you are always taught things as if they are in black and white and, in my opinion, teachers do not give you chance to think about a subject on your own. When you learn in this manner throughout your schooling years it is difficult to try to challenge what you were always taught as a fact. In Sunday school when the teachers would read to us a story from the Bible they would say their interpretation of it and be done. It was never explained how it is possible to interpret each story in another way. Now that I am older I’m just beginning to understand how to question what I am taught and try to make sense of it on my own. I really think that in order to help people believe they understand the Bible, we need to be taught as children that there is more than one way you can interpret the Bible and that none of them are “wrong”.

Dead Man Walking 5

When I was young I always thought of the bible as a way to strengthen the teachings you already know. I was always taught that you had to read the bible every night and there were pretty much no questions to be asked about it. Now that I'm older I realize that everyone has their own unique way of interpreting what the bible has to offer. That is why I think that it is great to hear the opinions of others, because nobody is wrong. Everyone just interprets the word of God how they know in their heart it should be read. I think that with a full understanding of the bible and its teachings, through your own eyes, you will truly get what is being said. To some, the bible is just a book, but to others the bible is a way of life.

Breaker Morant 5

“The greatest obstacle to understanding the bible: thinking that you already do.” This is a great statement that has never crossed my mind, but it makes perfect sense. I just always assumed I understood the majority of the bible because I went to church regularly and listened to readings from the scripture and sermons. Now that I have put in meaningful thought into it, I realize I understand very little about the book. People who have their own opinions about understanding the bible can try to help me understand as well, but I believe that one has to take matters into his/her own hands to really understand it. I wanted to point out this line, (…“do we know how to persuade others that its contents are helpful or hurtful…”) and say that I don’t believe that “persuasion” can be effectively used to help someone really understand the bible. Guidance can help a person, but I think the individual has to do most of the work on their own to reach their own conclusions. If you gain all of your knowledge from other people’s opinions, do you see the truth or just their truth?

The Mission 2

"The greatest obstacle to understanding the Bible: thinking you already do" is, I think, an idea that can be related to everything we read or study. After all, Socrates once said that he was the smartest man because he understood how little he really knew (liberal paraphrasing). This theme has been presented in innumerable stories throughout time. Essentially, we all should just have an open mind anytime we are presented with something, even if it's something we think we know. As a biologist, this is extremely important (as in any science field) to remember, because bias quickly nullifies your results. This can easily be related to any field of study, I'm sure.
This can also be used when referencing to different believers and non-believers. I have heard time and again (often by people in positions where their words are taken seriously like priests, religious authors, etc) Atheists being referred to as these bible-burning heathens that hate everything to do with Christians and all other religions. This is, very often, not the case. While Atheists, by definition, do not believe in the Christian god or any god, it is usually not approached with hate but, rather, indifference. The same way I would imagine Christians approaching the ancient Roman or Greek gods. Many Christians would not meet this idea with hate, but rather with a quality of entertainment; an interesting story that they don't believe to be true.
This particular Richard Dawkins quote, while one I'm sure he stands behind 100%, is merely one excerpt from a lifetime of ideas about Christianity, but is often referred to because it is a very controversial thing to say. Outspoken Atheists like Richard Dawkins or David MIlls use what they consider to be logic and reasoning to denounce any sort of religion, not words of hate (in fact, they would most likely say the religious are more guilty of that).
The very idea of having hate towards any god is contradictory to what any legitimate atheist believes. That is why Dawkins refers to the Christian god as a fictional character. If he just said "God," that would insinuate a belief in him, which he is careful not to do.
I see that I ranted a little bit but my point is that the same quote about thinking you know the bible can be referenced to with many aspects of religious study by thinking you know something, whether it's Atheism, Protestantism, Hinduism, etc., etc. (and, of course, should be held in high regard when atheists are studying the bible as well)

True Grit 1

As I have been reading previous blog posts, there are many ideas that I can relate to and agree with. The topic of this post is one I have thought about before. Ian Young states, “The greatest obstacle to understanding the Bible is thinking that you already do.” People who think that they understand the Bible perfectly seem to be very close-minded and leave no room for additional thoughts and opinions from anyone. Their mind has been made up and their interpretations of the text have been fully developed. The thoughts may have started from the beginning of Sunday School or the way they were raised in their Community of Faith, but regardless I think that everyone could benefit more from stepping back and taking a look at new ideas coming from additional resources referring to the Bible. This will develop a well-rounded student.

I also believe that it is best to study looking at the messages of the Bible from different religions as a part of respect and gain of knowledge. The more learned, the better understanding you have of faith coming from religions other than your own, the more thoroughly you can represent your own viewpoints and beliefs. This includes Atheism.

Breaker Morant 2

This article was very intriguing to me in the fact that I myself am a fairly regular bible reader. There are so many different interpretations of different passages in different bibles not to mention several different religions that use different parts of the same bible. I sometimes have to stop and remind myself that there are people out there who do not understand the bible, and I am one of them. I do think it is interesting that the bible is very openly used in speeches by famous people, like Barack Obama as mentioned and also used in references in TV shows or on the radio in both positive and negative ways. I think everyone has so much left to learn about the bible and all the secrets it may unfold to different believers and we all need to stop and remind ourselves once in a while that we don’t know everything and there is always something new to learn.


This is turning out to be a great conversation. Here are some points that deserve further reflection.

(1) Is it true that one's interpretation of the Bible is best arrived at on one's own? In one sense, certainly: how one understands the God of whom the Bible speaks, the teachings it transmits, these things will either become a part of the one who takes them seriously, or left to one side. Grappling with these texts is a life adventure of the first order. However, it can be argued that this adventure is best undertaken in dialogue with others. The usual way is to explore the texts within the context of a community of faith that builds its life around the texts and understands them to be a compass and light on life's journey.

It is also possible to engage the texts in dialogue with believers and unbelievers, and believers of more than one faith. That is the approach taken in a university context.

(2) Mission 2, whose comments are excellent, raises an interesting point: does the fact of speaking of the "God" (not "god") of the Bible insinuate belief in said God? I would think not. Rather, it is a sign of respect toward those who believe.

In the same way, everyone speaks of Allah and not allah (Allah is the Arabic word for God) whether or not one is a Muslim. "God" in the Bible is the creator and redeemer of all that is; in context, then, it is hard to think of a noun that deserves capitalization more than it. Not to capitalize insinuates disbelief; no wonder, then, that this practice is promoted by some (not the majority of) atheists.

(3) The New Atheists - Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Dennett, etc. - have made a name for themselves by going on the offensive against belief in God. As Mission 2 suggests, other atheists find their attacks misguided. An example is Stanley Fish. For more, go here:"

Aaron Erickson

Truman 1,

I think that Truman 2 really makes some good points about God and the Bible itself. Many people believe that God is evil by some of the acts that he takes throughout the Bible. I understand how they feel this way with some of those actions being very intense. From my stand point I believe that God is giving us opportunities to follow him and he needs to test us in order to know if we can be trusted. The example used with Job is great God is testing Job and seeing how he will react and if he truly believes in him. In Job’s case he is successful even with all of the challenges that God brings on him. I think that if we can keep an open mind we would understand that many of the things that God is doing are to test our character and also to help improve us a whole. In the end the people that pass his tests are rewarded and God remains loyal to them as well.

The Mission 2


I agree that the term "God" should be capitalized, but I disagree with your reasoning. I, myself, will always capitalize the G if I am using the word as a proper noun. The same way I would always capitalize John. That is why "Allah" will be capitalized but "the Islamic god" is not. When I say the Christian god, the g is lowercase because I am not using the proper noun. Now, if I were to say "God is the main character of the Bible," the word should absolutely be capitalized in that it is then used as a proper noun. This is similar to saying "my religious studies professor" rather than "Professor Hobbins" or "Zeus" compared to "the god of lightning."
I wasn't using the lower case "g" as a sign of disrespect at all.
This, however, was not the point I was trying to make. I was trying to say that a belief is insinuated if an Atheist were to say "I hate God, he's a jerk. He took my loved ones away too early." That would insinuate a belief because God is being talked about as a real being making real actions. When Dawkins refers to God in this quote, he is describing the character of God. Remember, he completely disbelieves in his existence. This is an important distinction to make because it changes how many people define an Atheist. Often, Atheists are essentially described as Christians that hate God, so they turn away from him. This is, most often, not the case because merely hating something doesn't make their existence less real. Every Atheist has his or her own reasons for a lack of beliefs but it, most often, comes down to logic and reasoning (what they consider to be anyway), rather than emotion.
Usually, when I have come across quotes like Dawkins', it is more about making the point of "I can't believe you pray to this god" rather than "This is why I don't believe in God."

The Mission 2

To answer your first question, I am not sure arriving at your own conclusions about the Bible is necessarily the best route. I think that the Bible can be very personal to many, so that being able to enjoy it in the comfort of one's own home and making one's own interpretations can be very beneficial but should, perhaps, begin with some sort of guidance.
I think that learning from the Bible on your own is ideal if you have had proper guidance to begin with. Since the Bible means something slightly (or immensely) different to each person, private study is important but, perhaps, only after getting a proper beginning with someone of better understanding. This, however, opens up for bias from the beginning.
As an analogy, I studied To Kill a Mockingbird in high school. We went through each chapter and discussed it and I learned a lot. Every year since, I have read the book on my own and, because of new experiences in my life, I find new meaning in the story.
I think that this same method can be used very beneficially with the Bible.


The discussion is getting better. Probing questions, analogies from experience, and specific examples are always helpful.

I notice that the book of Job continues to be cited. In light of that, I will touch on that book in greater depth than I had originally planned.

I find Mission 2's claim that atheists think they have logic and reasoning on their side to be accurate.

For that very reason it comes as a shock that the New Atheists major in dramatic attacks on core beliefs of Jews and Christians. Cold logic and careful reasoning used to be the public face of atheism. Now we have a show biz model in which the most prominent atheists are drama queens.

In the olden days, when atheism was thought of as something of the mind rather than of the heart, a Christian philosopher of the stature of Blaise Pascal responded as follows:

Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point.

The heart has reasons which reason knows nothing of.

In fact, faith and a romantic spirit seem to go together. Cold logic, less so.

For my money, the most devastating critique of belief in God comes from the pen of a Christian, Fyodor Dostoevsky - in particular, the chapter entitled "The Grand Inquisitor" in his novel, "The Brothers Karamazov." If you are still able to believe in God after reading that chapter and taking it to heart, your faith is very strong.

Link to that chapter:



A question for you to consider further: does the Bible present people as passing tests and being rewarded for doing so, with other people flunking and being punished for that reason? Or does the Bible present people who fail the tests of life as objects of God's mercy?

Perhaps both, huh? For example, it is well-known that Peter flunked test after test, yet Jesus does not give up on him. It also seems clear that Job flunked his test though God praised him for his honest words uttered in pain. Go here:


Mission 2,

I see your point about capitalization. It is still likely that Jews and Christians, not to mention Muslims, will continue to capitalize "God" in contexts in which grammar does not require it to be capitalized. In fact, many Jews and Christians capitalize pronouns that reference God. "It is His will," for example. That is a conventional usage that cannot be disqualified simply because it is an exception to a rule. Actual usage is full of exceptions to rules.

For further discussion, go here:

Devon Hudak

I feel like this article is going in the right direction of understanding the bible. The bible is a very complex work of literature. And while most people would like to think that they understand it completely, I believe that not one person understands fully what the bible means. We all have different ways of interpreting things and this is no different. What the bible is saying may mean something to me and then mean something completely different to someone else. But as long as we take the time to review it and try and comprehend what is being spoken, that is the main thing.

Chariots of Fire 2

I agree with Professor Hobbins point that the Bible is best understood when undertaken in the dialogue with others. I think a good analogy is to compare this to everyday life. Imagine you are watching a movie by yourself. The movie ends and you think to yourself that you understood the whole thing from start to finish. Then the same week you watch it with a friend and they have a completely different interpretation of the movie and point out facts that you totally missed the first time you watched it by yourself. I think this is just like the Bible. It is interpreted in so many different ways and I think that people who want to more thoroughly understand the Bible must see it from other peoples view points and be open minded about it.

Nell 2

The article above intrigues many different points. Before reading it, I thought I understood many aspects and meanings that are inquired within the text of the Bible. However, after looking through the above text I started thinking. I have read the bible within different religious courses throughout my life, but most of the passages inside the Bible have been displayed to me through teachings of another being. I believe in the Lord and his works, as I have believed with words I have been told by God's significant followers (ex. priests, preachers, etc.) I do still reflect on the main concept that I have been told through others' eyes, but now that I am aging I would like to see the context through my own interpretation.

As mentioned in the above article and in lecture by Professor Hobbins, I completely agree with the statement "Unless we have already determined that it has nothing to say to us, good or bad, the first thing to do is to read biblical literature afresh, not with eyes wide shut, but as if it were a mirror in which we might see ourselves, and the conflicts around us." (The greatest obstacle to understanding the Bible: thinking you already do)

A new profound way to interpret the Bible and my faith lies within the above statement. The blog posts and this course are really starting to broaden my religious beliefs and views.

The Truman Show 4

I was actually a little surprised to see this quote, just a few months ago I was at a retreat where one of my peers had said "right when we start to think we understand the bible, is when we need to learn more about it." What he said really affected me and then to read the blog I can say I agree. I feel that the bible is a constant learning experience that should be taken on with an open mind. However, I also believe the bible provides guidance and consolation whether you fully understand the words you are reading or not. A question I have about this quote though is I feel that there is no correct meaning of the passages in the bible. When we go to church or listen to speakers tell us about scripture, we usually do not doubt that what they said was correct. I mean this with complete respect, but are they not just expressing their take on the scripture? For those who believe or not, the messages in the bible will always be open for interpretation.


You have a point, Truman Show 4. But it can easily be taken too far,

For example, let's say you are accused of a crime you didn't commit, and you say, "I'm innocent." If I were to respond, "that's just your opinion; you're free to express it and I'm free to ignore it and charge you as guilty," you would rightly object.

The authors of the Bible make very large truth claims. To blow them off is certainly possible but might be understood as an index of superficiality; to suggest that no one knows what they were getting at anyway is clearly not true in most cases but is tempting; still such agnosticism might also be a sign of intellectual (and perhaps spiritual) laziness.

The Bible is open to interpretation; so is the Constitution. But it might be very important to get the interpretation right and apply the right interpretation. The possibility is worth considering.

Praying With Lior 2

Sometimes I feel as though the Bible is simply a symbolic book for its readers. It is a thesaurus for faith, not an encyclopedia of terms and conditions. Those who have previous beliefs of what the Bible is go into reading it as exactly what their past recites; there is no room for interpretation of what it stands for at the moment in regards to their life. It seems like this is what gets in the way for certain people when they read the Bible. The Bible should not necessarily be one permanent book of teaching, but instead a book that relates to everyone at any given point in their life.
In this sense, I agree with The Mission 2. The meaning behind what the Bible says changes with each individual throughout the basis of life. The Bible will never be a constant message, because it has different meaning to each person. There will always be different views on the Bible at different points in life, and I think that understanding that is the first thing we can do to prepare ourselves in learning more about it.

Pulp Fiction 1

I can honestly say that growing up I was not brought up by religion. Both of my parents grew up going to church every Sunday. However they didn't carry on the tradition. We attend church on major holidays, and I find it a very interesting experience. Some people in my family are very religious and I've experienced how one person beliefs differ from another within the bible. Being in this class i have an open mind to the way I will understand the bible. The bible is a historical piece of work with many intriguing stories behind it and within it. I am willing to have an open mind on understanding the bible in your class.


What I hope you get out of the course is the ability to say, when someone appeals to the Bible to back up their point of view,

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Perhaps the word in question derives from the Bible - a word like grace or election. Perhaps it comes from American civil discourse, a phrase like "separation of church and state," or "equal protection under the law." Either way, it is helpful to go back to the sources, and see what the words meant in context.

Praying with Lior 2

I find it interesting to see how different people interpret various parts of the bible, because hearing their interpretation helps me to think deeper about my own. It is a type of self-examination that I enjoy. Their interpretation brings new ideas to light, which allows me to maybe form a different value or perceive something in a different way than I did before. That is why I think learning about other religions, especially at this point in our lives where we are trying to find out who we really are and who we want to become, can be very beneficial.


@Praying wit Lior 2:

I would agree with you. I think that is also a concept that can be applied to all learning’s. Being open and ready to receive other people's viewpoints and other people's opinions enhances our ability to comprehend what it is we’re reading or learning. It's like they say two heads are better then one. If we could learn everything and teach everything to ourselves without the help of anyone else we wouldn't need schools.

The Bible is one of the most complex and scrutinized books that there is. For one to think that they themselves have it all figured out is foolish. No one will ever be able to say, “This is what is meant by the Bible and this is the way it is meant to be understood.” To me I think that is part of the Beauty of it; that it is something that is left totally to you to read and understand for yourself and something that you can spend your life studying and still find new things about it you never caught before.

The Mission 4

I do agree that the largest struggle to overcome is other people’s ideas of how they interpret the bible. This struggle is a problem because it stops people from accepting new ideas from others. When people become closed off from accepting other ideas or opinions they gain ignorance, especially in understanding another religions customs and traditions. If people stay clear from shutting down others ideas about scripture they might find a better meaning or a clearer picture of the bible and the world around them. I think this happens mainly because a person’s faith is usually built from a very young age which makes the subject very personal. Which is why people can be offended very easily to other ideas on faith.

Lior A

As someone who has recently struggled with their religious beliefs after 18 years of going to church every Sunday and attending a parochial school, I could not agree more with Ian Young’s comment. I feel like people who grow up as a practicing Christian or Jew approach the Bible with a sense of completely understanding it already because they have obtained knowledge from their upbringing and have not looked at the scripture objectively. In addition, there are so many people who choose to interpret the Bible in order to make its teachings correlate with what they wish to believe is the right way to live life rather. The Bible, undoubtedly, is an incredibly deep and complex text; however, it is also a text that is full of wisdom and truth. Whether or not this truth is written in secret messages within the Old or New Testament’s passages or if the truth is staring us in the face, it’s important to approach the Bible with a clear and open mind.

Shawshank Redemption 3

"The greatest obstacle to understanding the Bible is thinking you already do" is true in so many ways. Everyone interprets the world in their own unique way, but there are many things that influence their interpretations along with their morals and values. I think it’s really hard for many people to read anything or look at any piece of artwork and interpret it without thinking about any outside influences. This is probably the reason for many people thinking they understand the Bible when they really do not. Many people who claim they understand the Bible and what God wants from them haven't even read the Bible in its entirety. Even if they did read the Bible in its entirety, their interpretation of it was most likely influenced by the religion they were raised in and their families’ morals, values, and views of the world.

The Truman Show 5

As a person who is a little newer to the faith than most, I believe that I am one of the luckier ones. Meaning that I really don't have a deep understanding of the Bible, I mean yeah I do have my biases but so does everyone else. So in regards to the Bible I want to learn from it, not just look through it and think I understand it all. God will guide me through it, pointing out the prominent things as well as the subtle ones. What I really want to do is explore my faith through this age old text and discover my spiritual side.

True Grit 4

The greatest obstacle to understanding the Bible is thinking you already do is a very true statement. One just has to look at certain controversial issues in today’s society to find that this is true. A lot of people look at things like what the Bible and some religions’ interpretations of homosexuality and you will see that this statement is true.

A lot of people mostly atheist perceive God as a homophobic entity and that he hates homosexuals. This is not the case. God hates sin. God says that acting on homosexual urges is a sin. That is why some religions say that it is wrong to be homosexual. God truly loves all people he sent his son to die for all of us. If he didn’t love all people why would he do that then?

Praying with Lior 2

Lior A,

I somewhat agree with your statement that people who grow up as practicing Christian or Jew feel like they have a complete understanding of the bible and have not looked at the scriptures objectively. I was raised as a Roman Catholic and have gone to Catholic school my whole life. I do not have a complete understanding of the bible, but I do have a hard time reading at the scriptures with an objective mind. When I read the bible I have a somewhat hard time forming my own ideas and opinions about the passages, because my whole life my teachers have been telling me what they mean from a Roman Catholic perspective. I almost with I could forget the majority of what I was told about the bible throughout my life and look at it with a completely open mind, so I could have an easier time forming my own opinions about the scriptures.

The Mission 3

I really enjoyed this thread because it allows a follower of the Bible to see that one is never completely done reading it. Also, I believe that it shows that each individual must read the Bible for his/herself.

Coming from an extremely large church, Appleton Alliance, has allowed me to see that it is not enough to simply read a given passage from a screen behind the speaking pastor. During Sunday service most will leave there Bibles closed, for the simple fact that the necessary passage is always presented on a large projector screen. Instead I believe that each individual needs to physically open the Bible and interpret it how they see fit.

Breaker Morant

This thread has been an interesting read. I have been to church my whole life and still have troubles understanding the Bible. Yes, some things in the Bible have shaped my life but also the way my family has influenced me has affected my faith and what I believe in. It also has been hard to understand who (such as Pastors or other church leaders) is "interpreting" the Bible correctly. Maybe that is why people can get "suckered" into some of these things because they don't take the time to understand and read the Bible themselves. But again, who is perfect? We have to keep an open-mind on what others believe and not to make quick judgments.

Nell 4

I agree with Breaker Morant. This thread definitely was interesting to read. I also have gone to church my entire life and understanding the Bible is quite complicating and hard to get at times. I do feel though when reading and interpreting the Bible, you have to be open to all people’s interpretations and views which that can be hard to do. The Bible is a very complex book, but most people look at the Bible as the way of life through there own interpretation and/or what they’ve learned through pastor’s teachings. I can also see how learning other religions and their views in the Bible would be beneficial to us. Honestly, were not all the same and that makes us really appreciate who we are as an individual and where we come from!

breaker morant

In order to understand the Bible, one must study dispensationally. But what does it mean to study dispensationally or to rightly divide? On the most basic level: It is reading a Bible passage and asking, "Am I in the group of people being spoken to here?" That is, "Is this passage speaking to Christians?" Most commonly, we are taught that the entire Bible is written to us. But that is not entirely correct. The whole Bible is written for us, for our learning, but not all of it is addressed to us.

For example: When God gave the law to the people of Israel through Moses in about 1500 BC, one of the laws was to do no work on the Sabbath. The Sabbath lasts from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. When a man was found picking up sticks on the Sabbath in Numbers 15:32-36, God commanded the people of Israel to put him to death by stoning. Now does that mean if we see our neighbor mowing his grass on Saturday morning that he is committing a sin? Should we round up the whole neighborhood and kill him? Of course not. We must realize that the children of Israel were not Christians. We are not under the law of Moses like they were then. They lived in a different dispensation from us.
To properly understand a Bible passage, it is important to know both the time period to which it refers, and the group of people to which it applies. This way, you can determine which dispensation applies to each Biblical passage.

God has had different rules for different groups of people in different time periods. Not only may the rules be different, but also the punishment for not keeping the rules may be different. The way God interacts with man may be different. Sometimes even the environment man lives in may be different.


Breaker Morant,

As you suggest, interpretation of a text like the Bible involves making distinctions. There are some Christians who find the dispensationalist model helpful; many others do not.

For example: if Christians are no longer under the law, does that mean Christians are allowed to murder and commit adultery? Evidently not.

So how does one decide which teachings in the Bible are still in force and which aren't? Paul thought long hair befitted women and short hair men; this is found in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 11). Is this binding on Christians to this day? Few believe so.

Dispensational thinking is unable to decide even basic questions of interpretation.

The Jewish faith does not imagine that the death penalty applies to Sabbath-breakers today any more than the Christian faith imagines that God will strike down a Christian if she fails to tithe (but see Acts 5).

Nonetheless, it is the case that many Jews and Christians who take the Bible seriously keep the Sabbath and practice tithing (just examples) because they want to be doers of the word and not hearers only.

In short, I think it is obvious that if you come to the Bible thinking that dispensationalism, however much truth that view of things contains, is going to decide even basic questions of interpretation, you are bound to be disappointed.

But you are certainly welcome to argue your case further.

Dead Man Walking 3

I agree with Chariots of Fire 5 who was talking about reading the bible as a child, you hear only one side of the story. The bible is interpreted differently every time the reader looks at it. People go through different life experiences broaden the wisdom on their view of things. When the reader is at a young age they are spoon fed the story trying to get across one point of view on the story. The older they get the more they probably look at it and see other sides of the stories. It’s a shame that at a young age some people are turned away from religion and don’t want to read the bible because the way someone taught them. Some people see it as “Thy word is a lamp onto my feet, and a light before my path.” It’s just sad that some people are pushed away with wrong interpretations by a 3rd grade Sunday school teacher's views do not match their views.


Everyone views the bible differently; everyone learned it differently growing up. You are taught different things from your family and from your religion. You can’t assume that your view is the correct one with so many people out there thinking different things. The way you view it could be viewed as wrong by another person or by another religion entirely. It is good to have an open mind when reading the bible and think about what other people are getting from the passages as well. I do believe that there is a reason we think the way we do when we read the Bible and we just need to learn that what we think is not always going to be correct.

True Grit 1

This was a very interesting blog post and conversation to stumble back upon, especially as the semester with this class is closing in on us. Clearly we have learned many more lessons having to do with the Bible and current events, but also how to pick apart passages from the book. This is the most important lesson I think I have spent thinking about with this class. It’s the lesson that I do not know nearly as much as I do regarding the Bible and there are so many other resources out there to help me out. From the helpful print at the bottom page of the Bible, YouTube videos shown in class, movies with hidden Biblical meaning, or even just tuning in to different people and their opinions. So much more can be taught and learned this way, expanding on the Bible.

Especially after this class, I can already see myself listening to my Priest in a different way, re-reading passages over a few times and paying closer attention, and really discovering this book. The Bible is a large book of many pages with a lot of history and time needs to be spent with it. All in all, it is important to take in all opportunities you come across dealing with God and the Bible.

Shawshank Redemption 4

I feel like this article is going in the right direction of understanding the bible. The bible is a very complex work of literature. And while most people would like to think that they understand it completely, I believe that not one person understands fully what the bible means. We all have different ways of interpreting things and this is no different. What the bible is saying may mean something to me and then mean something completely different to someone else. But as long as we take the time to review it and try and comprehend what is being spoken, that is the main thing.

breaker morant 2

Many people feel the bible is a big book of rules. That it is basically just someone else telling you how to live your life. Although this is "technically" true, it's more of a recommended way of living. We read the bible and try to lead our lives according to how god want's us to. We use the bible as a guide book to life. The answers are always there, we just need to go and find them. Some read the bible daily, some weekly, monthly, yearly or not at all. One reason i feel many are scared of the bible is because it is long, complicated, and hard to understand. Some would argue it says straight forward what "you should do". In some cases, this is very true, and in others, it is fairly complicated. It all depends on the reader.

Corey Schmitz

The great thing about the Bible is that it can be interpreted by many different people across many cultures and time periods. What I find amazing about the bible is that even though the writings in it are thousands of years old, many of the elements of the bible can still be useful in today's society.

Pulp Fiction 2

I find this post to be very spot on. Many Christians (and non-Christians) quote various bible verses, thinking they understand what is written. Often they take these passages completely out of context and misinterpret them. Other times they take the passages for their exact face value and do not interpret the actual meaning behind the words at all. This can be a dangerous road because it can lead to and has lead to many atrocious events in human kind’s past, often in the name of God from a misinterpretation of the bibles messages.

Praying With Lior 1

The Bible is an amazing book. Every word written in this book is completely holy and divine. Because of this fact, we can never understand the Bible completely. I know LOTS of people who think that they know the Bible completely and try to tell anyone that argues with him that they are wrong. It’s a shame that ignorance has the best of them.

The Truman Show 5

I believe that a vast majority of Christians think they completely understand the Bible, but in a reality not many people do. People just don't have the time to sit down and dissect this amazing book. Instead they spend their time doing other activities. Understanding the Bible wouldn't be a problem if people actually took the time to read and actually learn what it has to offer. If people did take the time to read and understand it, I believe our society would be a much nicer place.

breaker morant 2

To go off the previous statement, the bible is a very complicated yet simplistic book. Many have read it several times, and still claim they learn something new each time. It is a very hard book to understand and by reading once cover to cover, won't necessarily guarantee society would be a better place if everyone read it or that everyone in society would read it. For a Christian, reading just one story and breaking it apart, paying attention to the little details, we would begin to understand things more, and maybe change the way we do things or just what we do. I agree on the fact that the "majority of Christians think they completely know the bible, but in reality, not many people do". They think that just because they have read it, they know all there is to know and never open it again. I feel as though the more you read the bible, and the more you concentrate on one story at a time, the more you learn and the better you will become.

Shawshank 4

Being a person who doesn’t consider themselves the least bit religious, the majority of my knowledge and views about the bible is based on the opinions I have seen or heard expressed about the work and which of these opinions I have taken more strongly towards accepting. That being said, I stand very strongly behind the idea of reading the bible with a fresh outlook, in an effort to understand and analyze it in a number of ways. I think the main controversy behind strongly accepting the bible versus strongly opposing the bible lies within a general inability of believers and non-believers alike to present others with a non-biased view of the text. If we as a people could successfully retrain our minds to read the bible setting aside preconceived notions-or perhaps for the more religious, the ideas and perceptions we have been taught and subjected to-then maybe we truly could begin to understand the bible from every angle.


Hi Shawshank 4,

A non-religious reading of the Bible can be profound and liberating. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian imprisoned and then killed by Hitler for his part in an assassination attempt, learned to re-read the Bible in a new way while in prison. His Letters and Papers from Prison are gripping for that very reason.

I struggle however with the ideal of the unbiased individual.

As I see it, the world is in need of people with deep cultural loyalties, that is, of highly biased people, who nonetheless savor peaceful coexistence with other highly, but differently biased people.

The last thing the world needs is more people with shallow to non-existent loyalties outside of a commitment, conscious or unconscious, to conformity to the capitalist system.

Do not be afraid to approach a passage from the Bible with your whole person. Just as you do with the music you love, or a film that speaks to the core of your being.

That said, I agree with you. It is for example typical of people, religious and non-religious, to not really listen to a text, but to force it into a box in which it doesn't fit.

Pulp Fiction 3

Growing up I went to church with the family, but by around middle school I stopped, but not for reasons as in I stopped believing. I went to summer Bible camp every year, and even have been working as a camp counselor there for the past 3 years. That camp is just like this class all over again! It brings a variety of people together with different beliefs and views. A few many of the people I work with are going to seminary and live daily by the Bible, while some I fear only come for the job and money. It can be hard sometimes to get caught up in a place full of different perspectives, but you learn to be open to new things and accept their ideals. I am excited to see what this class will pull from my mind as well.

True Grit 4

This is a very interesting post. I agree with Ian Young's statement about not "pretending" or believing that we know everything about the Bible already. To me, the Bible is one of those books that there are such a large amount of interpretations for that it's almost impossible to find out one single meaning for a particular verse or book. I think his statement also sets an interesting parameter for how we do share our faith and our knowledge of the Bible. Mark 16:15 tells us to "Go out to all the world and tell the good news", but I feel like Ian Young is telling us to stop and think whether we really are telling of the word of God or are we just inanely speaking like we know what we're talking about? That's my take on this. I hope to have a good semester in this class.

The Truman Show 5

I really enjoy the title of this easy, The greatest obstacle to understanding the Bible: thinking you already do. I think you can take this into every part of the bible not just the bible as a whole. As I read the Bible it seams that there many different meanings that you can take away from experts of the bible. Just as some use the Bible for our own gain and just as some use the Bible to spread the word of the lord. The Bible might have far deeper meanings to it that most of use may never know.

Breaker Morant 1

I grew up going to church and I was raised to share God's word with everyone and to preach to people what the Bible means, but in fact it is hard to do that when people have their own opinions and interpretations about the Bible. And with that being said, I can easily say I can't even begin to know everything in the Bible. Someone may choose to believe what someone says about the Bible and go along with it because it sounds pleasing or it is a thought that they may agree with.

There are also people that I like to refer to as "Cafeteria Christians", which are people who pick and choose what they want to hear. For example, we hear something well known from the Bible like one of the Ten Commandments or the verse from First Corinthians, "love is patient, love is kind" and we make our own interpretations from that. I think that I can easily say that we all know that killing someone is not right. And as for the verse from First Corinthians, many people relate it to their own relationships with their significant others, but what does the verse really mean? If someone was to read the Bible for themselves and read the notes that are given in some Bibles, they make think of the quote in a different way. And in this case, the Bible can be used to relate to many different things in our lives.

So overall, people are going to interpret the Bible in the way that they feel is right. People will always have their own opinions and beliefs towards the Bible and they may think they know everything, and it is not always a bad thing to hear someone else's perspective. Being open to thoughts and ideas is a god thing because we are always capable of learning new things. I guess the only way we can prevent information that we don't believe in about the Bible, is to read it for yourself, and to take in other thoughts as well by going to church or joining a Bible study so you can get those interpretations and come up with your own. We can't prevent people from having their own thoughts and opinions, but we can learn from them in a positive or negative way.

The Truman Show 3

I think it is incredible that one book can be interpreted and understood in so many different ways by people all over the world. This one compilation can spark arguments, inspire love, and bring millions and millions of people together. The way in which it is read and understood can vary so much from person to person, yet the general concepts, ideas, and morals are much alike. While the Bible may answer questions regarding almost every aspect of life, it consistently raises just as many questions. With millions and millions of people reading and relying on the Bible, I feel that it is impossible for any one person to have a complete understanding of all the morals and stories within. The Bible truly is a wonder in itself.

Shawshank 2

As a human being and a Christian I respect the views of both believers and non-believers first and foremost. I feel the Bible is not intended to be completely understood but it was made to create questions and also give you answers. I have read the New Testament about two times because I really enjoy it and each time I read, I always find material I didn’t know before. I myself am extremely very far from knowing everything about Bible but I like it that way. I find it both spiritual and interesting to learn something new each time I have read.
Whether you are a Christian or not you can absolutely read the Bible to find personal answers to questions in their life without being “religious” at all. You may be a non-believer and decide to read the Bible to simply find a different perspective in life. As a Christian you may read the Bible to help you through and find guidance with something important going on your life. However someone interprets the Bible I really feel that it can truly help them in the positive direction to living there life in faith or simply living a complete life of self-fulfillment without having faith.

Truman Show 4

I don't think Ian Young was talking to just the average Bible reader with his quote about understanding the Bible. Even the people who have studied the Bible their entire lives shouldn't think they understand it. There is so much to analyze and read into, it really is astounding. And if an "expert" thinks they know what a certain verse or book means, someone else could read and analyze it and have a totally different meaning for it. If someone thinks that they wholly understand the Bible, they clearly are much too arrogant in their intellectual skills.

The Mission 5

First of all, I want to say that this is a great blog post to start out the class. I think it speaks to everyone, regardless of beliefs, and makes everyone feel welcomed. I have no religious upbringing, so it’s nice to see the comments from other students who are opened minded to everyone.

Secondly, this topic is the main reason it is so hard for someone like me to learn to learn about the bible, or religion in general. There are too many people that have their own interpretations of the bible, but they are not willing to accept that there are many ways to read it. This is obviously present in politics and in the media today. It is very frustrating to always have someone telling another how to believe and how they should live their life. I want to learn about the bible in a more positive way and be allowed to have different interpretations of things. I definitely think this class will be a positive experience for me.

Dead Man Walking 5

The Bible can be taken several different ways, depending on a person’s religion and how strongly they believe in their own religion. It is important for people to keep an open mind every time they read the Bible because with an open mind something new can be discovered every time. Even if they think they already know the meaning behind something they could find a new meaning by reading it a different way.


I feel that in order to fully comprehend what is stated in the Bible one must look at it with an insider's perspective or from a religious standpoint. This does not mean that they should be close minded to any other views by any means, in fact they will need to be open to other's point of views. No one person is perfect and able to understand the Bible with all of the exact meanings it is supposed to have and so they should not assume they are doing so. Like Dead Man Walking 5 said in their last sentence, the reader may get something diferent out of the Bible each time they read it.

Shawshank Redemption 7

I think it is very easy to think that we all know exactly what the bible is saying and exactly what we are supposed to get out of reading the different passages. Everyone gets something a little different out of each different verse in the bible because no one looks at it from the same perspective. I think it is always beneficial to discuss what you think you have learned from the bible with someone else and explore other view points on the area. I believe everyone should be able to interpret the meaning of the bible in their own way, whether that be a good way or a bad it is their right to determine their own feelings towards the subject manner. I do not believe that any one persons feelings on the meaning of the bible are correct, I do however think that everyone can determine how they feel for themselves.

True Grit 3

I believe that the bible is your personal book to make of what you want. Everyone can make known how they personally feel the bible speaks to them but when it comes down to it it really matter how you perceive the stories it contains and how you use them in your everyday life.

Schindler's List 8

I agree with the comment above that the Bible is yours to interpret, however I did find it hard to read the part from Biologist Richard Dawkins, and see how negatively he thought about God. I was raised in a Christian home, and most of my friends were Christians and attended church as well. It was something I have never really been exposed to, and was a good eye opener to see how some people perceive the Bible/God differently.

Nell 2

This post is very welcoming for all walks of faith as class is getting started. I myself am a Christian and I do respect other religions and differing viewpoints on religion as much as I respect my own faith. Personally, I find myself going back to the Bible in times of struggle. I am really excited for this class to dig deeper and have some questions answered that may have been lingering that I have been afraid to ask or have never been given the answers to. It seems that every time I go back to the Bible I found things that I have not read or realized before. This class makes me excited cause there are so many other people in class that might have read a passage a different way or may bring some of these passages that I don’t fully understand into the spotlight. The Bible can be used by anyone, religious or not. As a History major the Bible can be used to track different movements of peoples, locations, and natural disasters (such as the flood). Even as a non-believer you may find new direction for your life even if it is not through faith. Many in the Bible are tested, struggle, and doubt. These stories can make anyone feel that they are not the only one to experience these things and can give them a possible outcome or a new way to look at things.

Breaker Morant 3

As a life-long Christian, I find this post to be very interesting, as well as thought provoking. If you would have read this to me five years ago I would have gotten a little angry and felt discouraged by the fact that people so openly and liberally talk about doubting God and the Bible. I grew up in a Christian home, going to a Baptist Church. However, the last two years I was a camp counselor at an ELCA Lutheran camp. I learned that Lutherans have a slightly different view of the Bible than Baptists. Also, just through growing up and encountering various groups of people, I have gotten the opportunity to hear many different views on the Bible. I have begun to realize that even though I believe it is my duty as a Christian to share God's word as absolute truth and a guide for life, it is utterly important for me to understand multiple different views on the Bible. My biggest tool to help me understand the Bible is to try to understand all views. I believe that expressing and exploring doubt is an important part of being a Christian, because faith is believing in something even if you don't see it or understand it. This article is absolutely correct in saying that if you think you understand the Bible, you don't.

Dead Man Walking 6

I was not brought up with any religious leanings. I was born and raised in Vietnam, moving to America at age 15. I consider myself a part of Southeast Asia, where most people believe in Buddhism. However, my family did go to pagoda (a place of worship) on major holidays I always found it interesting. When I was younger, I always assumed that the Bible was only for regular religious followers. I discovered at pagoda that the Bible is for anyone. I was amazed how the Bible is interpreted differently based on one’s thoughts, across the culture view and time period, no matter if one is a religious follower or not. I completely agree with the statement “Unless we have already determined that it has nothing to say to us, good or bad, the first thing to do is to read biblical literature afresh, not with eyes wide shut, but as if it were a mirror in which we might see ourselves, and the conflicts around us.” (The greatest obstacle to understanding the Bible: thinking you already do). From now on, I will allow myself a new open- minded way to read and understand the Bible by stepping back and accepting new ideas coming from additional resources referring to the Bible. I think the more one learns, the better one gains knowledge about different types of faiths.

Praying with Lior 5

Having grown up strict Roman Catholic (Catholic school, Church every day except Saturday and being an altar boy), I thought I knew the Bible, but I was being short sighted. I only knew what my religion wanted me to belive. The different views of what the bible is teaching are refreshing. This class is going to an eye opener.

breaker morant 6

As a Christian, the Bible is a pretty hard book to digest and understand. However, it does have easy texts to understand and put into practice, especially the New Testament. There are many interpretation of the Bible; people use the Bible in whatever way to promote their beliefs and opinions. The Bible has been influential in history to bring change into people’s lives, but it also been use to bring abuse. I am open to everyone’s interpretation of the Bible, since they bring in their own beliefs, opinions, and ideas of what the Bible is saying. Richard Dawkins sees the God of the Old Testament as a horrible God; however, the Jews while reading the Old Testament would see Him as merciful and just. To believers, the God of the Bible is a person of refuge. Various sects are formed because of people perceive and understand the Bible in different ways, so the Bible is really an inexhaustible treasures of knowledge and wealth that can never end. If one thinks that they know their Bible, they do not really know the Bible since it has so much knowledge that we cannot understand.


I attended a Lutheran school from k-8th grade. It was around 8th grade I thought I had a pretty solid grasp on everything the Bible stood for and what it meant. I knew all the stories and events from creation to the crucifixion. But it’s not until you mature and experience things in your life that you can really open your eyes to what the scripture is trying to tell us. Now it seems like every sermon I hear I can relate to or every passage that I was forced to memorize back in school has a new meaning. The Bible was written for all people and for generations to come. That is why I urge all who think they already know about the Bible, stop and give it some additional thought. Maybe even time will help you understand it better than you had ever imagined.

Chariots of Fire 2

After reading the original post and the others that followed, I felt like the Bible could be compared to a painted portrait in regards to thinking we understand the whole message/picture. The Bible itself was once a bunch of blank pages until it was filled with information and stories just as once the canvas was blank. Painters create portraits using their feeling, emotions and ideas and create it into a masterpiece. This reminds me of how the Bible was created using different stories, passages, and information to construct one big product. When you visit a gallery and look at a painting, you may think you know what it is and why the artist created it. Without looking at it with an open mind, you could be missing the whole significance behind the beautiful picture. By taking a closer look, you could see things that you might miss like the expression on the people’s faces and the emotion it conveys. The painting could even be telling a story, but you just see it as two people sitting there. Reading the Bible front to back might be an example of not understanding. Not really taking time to extract the a real meaning out of each bible verse might be one way people read the Bible with the idea “they know everything”.

Overall, I think it is true that no one might ever really understand the entire meaning of the Bible. As much as we would all like to think we do, none of us were really there witnessing what was happening or being written. This is just like when the painter first painted the portrait with a vision and deeper meaning in mind. We will truly never know the original meaning, but we can take from it what we may and attempt to understand it to the best of our abilities.

Nell 3

This article brings out a lot of good points that I really would not have thought about. I was raised a Catholic attending church every Sunday, Sunday school, and a Catholic school until 8th grade. Therefore, religion and the bible has been a big part of my upbringing. I had never taken the time to actually think about how the Bible can be perceived in many different ways and through the many different areas of our world. Thinking about it there are many different eyes that read the Bible on a regular basis and taking the word of God and living by his word in many different ways. There is someone reading the Bible in New Zealand and myself reading it here and if we happen to discuss what he read it is going to be different.
There are many different subjects, areas of life, and simple things that we can all look at and perceive it as being something else. Take for instance the ink blot pictures, one person looks at it an sees something different then the next. This is the same as the Bible, we can all read the Bible over and over a million times and think that we know and understand the Bible, but the questions is, do we really? I think that is just another challenge that God has for us during our lives is what the Bible in our eyes holds for us as individuals, and whether we are coming together as one to understand the Bible together or individually, but still living by the word on God, for those that do.

The Mission 21

This article is correct when saying that many different people view the bible in many different ways. Their interpretation is based on a combination of their own religious back round as well as and how strictly they follow the laws of that religion. I think that its extremely important to keep an open mind when it comes to looking at the bible. The same can be said for anything new or foreign. If you keep an open mind in whatever it is your investigating then you will be more likely to find what it is your looking for. Some of the bibles stories are some what vague. Even though someone might think they know the complete meaning of the bible it would never hurt to look at it from a different point of view. In the old testament god is depicted as a cruel evil being but I feel like many do not fully grasp why, even those strong bible readers. When I was young my mother would always tell me that everything she did had a reason behind it. I later realized that she was right even though I could not see it at the time. I think that is how people who view god as evil should look at things, with an open mind.

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