The Bible: more interpretation

SIR - Following the spate of letters and article in the Sidmouth Herald over the summer in regard to religion and the Bible, I should like, if I can, to settle much of the confusion surrounding those subjects.

If we try to solve scientific questions by referring to Biblical texts, we are certainly going to come up with some strange answers. The writers of Genesis can have had no knowledge of fossil records or carbon dating, or of modern scientific method. Indeed, they were trying to express in accessible language the underlying realities and the spiritual journey of a person from cradle to grave and beyond.

The Bible is not so much a book as a compilation of books and writings. Even the historical books should be taken as “the saga of the people” and it is said that history is usually written by the victor.

So, strict accuracy should not be expected.

In his epistles, Paul is strict about the role of women – there again we should remember that his ideas reflect the culture of the times in which he wrote.

We should also remember that the Bible did not drop from the sky as a direct revelation by God. The books of the Bible were selected from amongst many writings, by an established church.

That they are divinely inspired may be taken to mean that the writers were good and holy people of great wisdom and, in that way, they were truly the voice of God.

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Neither should we expect the Bible to be sweet and pretty. In Isaiah Ch 45 v 7, we read “I form the light and create darkness: I make peace and create evil. I, the Lord, do all these things”. This is from the King James’ version, generally accepted by most Christians and used in the UK Courts of Justice. We might not find it comfortable; it is “the dark side of the Force”.

So, when reading the Bible, we really need to try and understand the spirit of the times and understand the minds of the writers to see what they are trying to tell us. It is often said that God uses us as tools or willing instruments for his work, even though, as humans, we are flawed. The finest gems contain flaws. God’s power and glory are shown through human agency in holy writ.

Miriam Brown

‘Karenza’, 6 Lennox Avenue, Sidmouth