Historical Research

In one sense, historical research is the only kind of research we can do in studying the Bible.

We can’t put God under a microscope or subject the Holy Spirit to chemical analysis.  But we can study the times, people, and places in which God revealed his Word.

In another sense, I say the main two ways we need to study the Bible are historically and theologically.  Both are appropriate because the Bible is theological (duh!–it’s about God!) and it is historical.  God chose to reveal himself in and through history, so historical and theological analysis are inescapable.

And yet, I suspect many of us are uneasy about both of those concepts.  I am saying that because I think I have a similar background theologically to many of you.   From the introductions many of you have written, we are a pretty diverse class and we have all had unique experiences, but I still think we have a lot in common in terms of how we were brought up to approach the Bible.

So I want to assure you, I don’t have any hidden agenda.  I do have an open agenda.  I want you to get somewhat comfortable with a historical and theological approach to the Bible.  I want you to get close, in your attitude, to a place it has taken me thirty years to get.  The purpose is not to undermine anyone’s confidence in or reverence for the Bible–just the opposite.

I think we will have a better appreciation for what God has done for us when we realize the degree to which he entered the world of human history and entered into genuine encounters and relationships with historical human beings in his work for our salvation and in his revealing his character and his will.

So, I will write maybe two or three short essays on history and the historical study of the Bible.


One Response

  1. It would be foolish of me to think that the historical setting that the scripture was written in would have no influence on what the inspired writer penned. God did not use robots but humans and he gave them the truth to write. These writers then under the influence of the Spirit wrote to their culture as a part of that culture and told them the truth and what God wanted to get across to them.

    So yes, their personalities came through and their culture came through but I sometimes think that we have a arrogant attitude toward cultures of the past and place to much superiority on the present. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes there is nothing new under the sun and from looking at our culture I do not think there is much different today. We still have sexual abuse, sexual immorality, war, divorce, abandonment and a whole list of sins that is not much different than we see in the scriptures. I guess where I am coming from is that I believe God is moving toward redemption and restoration. Christ is the source of that redemption and restoration, but I do not see humanity moving in a direction toward improvement but one that is promised in the Bible to happen to ever increasing evil. From that I think we should look historically at the scriptures and find that many of the same principles that were prescribed at that time in history are just as applicable to our fallen world today, for I, like Solomon do not see anything new under the sun except the hope that Jesus Christ gives.

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