Adventures in Biblical Interpretation

The “Adventures in Biblical Interpretation” series is a set of articles that discuss various approaches to interpretation of the bible using specific examples. The focus of is usually on analyzing the arguments (or lack thereof) presented and looking for errors in reasoning.

Many critics of religion have noted that there are a nearly endless number of possible interpretations. This is true. Yet not all interpretations are equally valid. There are many common pitfalls and mistakes that need to be avoided. There is no denying that searching for truth is a lot of hard work with steps forward and backward. Yet it is quite possible, with effort, to narrow down the list of possible interpretations to a reasonable size.

I take a standard debate approach to these issues, assuming and arguing for either the affirmative[1] or a negative[2] position. I presume, implicitly, that some of my readers[3] will take the opposing position and rigorously argue for it. The goal is to hone in on truth by engaging in honest and constructive dialogue and examination.

I usually propose an alternative, although the alternative is not always deeply researched and/or cited and/or my own belief, so it should be treated accordingly. Deep research can take many lifetimes, which is why we base many of our beliefs on the backs of others. When I’m arguing the affirmative position, I normally assume that the affirmative position is true until proven otherwise.[4] When I’m arguing the negative position, I attempt to refute the affirmative claim and also give a plausible alternative viewpoint.

The following is the current list of articles in the series.

Please leave a comment if there is an issue or scripture passage that you wish me to cover.

[1] This is typically the traditional (and often the most popular) viewpoint.

[2] This is one of many possible contrarian viewpoints.

[3] Assuming that I even have any readers. Many of the articles here are a collection of thoughts that are useful for offline discussions that I might have and are written with that in mind.

[4] This is according to the standard burden of proof which lies with the person making the negative claim. The negative side must show that both the affirmative claim is false and that the negative claim is true. The affirmative side need only show that the negative claim is false.