Context... The Big Picture
One of my favorite words when it comes to studying The Bible is Context; that is in fact what The Minute Bible is all about. Context is 1 : the parts of a discoursethat surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning 2 : the interrelatedconditions in which something exists or occurs :environment, setting(Merriam-Webster dictionary).
Information that is presented out of context can be very misleading and The Bible in particular has been abused (intentionally and unintentionally) throughout history by taking certain verses out of context. When you read The Bible it is important to ‘zoom out’ and look where the verse or verses you are reading fit into the big picture so that you get the proper understanding of what you are reading. Let me give one of my favorite examples to illustrate context…
In my Eleventh grade American Literature class we had a research paper due at the end of the year, no surprise there. We could pick our topic, but we were required to turn our ‘thesis statement’ in for a grade early on in the process. Being the procrastinator that I was, I waited until the last minute to research and decide on my thesis statement. Following a halfhearted research effort, I decided on the following statement “Gliders Make Good Reconnaissance Aircraft During World War 2” (yes, I was on odd child). I submitted my thesis statement and it was approved. There was only one little problem… When I actually didstart to do the research, I found out that my thesis statement wasn’t true at all; what to do. Options: 1. Tell my teacher I made a mistake not knowing what the consequences might be. 2. Just pick a new thesis statement and hope that he didn’t notice, or 3. Prove the thesis statement with the same erroneous information that mislead me in the first place… option 3 it is. I was required to have a certain number of quotes from a certain number of different books, so let the fun begin.
Long story short, I turned in my research paper with the proper number of quotes and books listed in the bibliography knowing full well that it wasn’t true (sorry Mr. W.) and got a B on it. Somewhat dishonest? I guess so, but it did give me a lifelong sensitivity to information presented out of context, and I have noticed it happens a lot, particularly with The Bible.
Many stories in The Bible tell stories of people who did things wrong, so if you read the story without the proper context that points out how wrong they actually were and the negative consequences, you can really get the wrong idea. The book of Ecclesiastes is a great example of this. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon spends the entire book telling about things he tried to find fulfillment, but that didn’t work; hard work, philosophy, wine, women and songs etc. It is only in the last few verses that Solomon concludes that the whole duty of man is to fear God and keep His commandments. If you read Ecclesiastes out of context, without realizing that most of the book is listing BAD examples, you can really get the wrong idea
So the bottom line is DON’T let yourself be fooled, especially if someone tries to convince you of something that doesn’t make sense. Try and ‘zoom out’ a little and look at the surrounding verses, maybe even an entire chapter or two. Trust me, if you want to know the truth, you’ll be glad you did.
Here is The Minute Bible summary of The Book of Ecclesiastes in exactly One minute…
I hope you have found this helpful. I’ll be honest, I need your feedback to keep motivated, so if you have any questions, or comments or you just found this helpful, please leave a little comment... And don't forget to check out my website http://theminutebible.com
The Minute Bible Guy
There's one thing I've noticed from hearing people who've never read the Bible but quote from it to lecture Christians on hypocrisy. That is, without the proper context, you can claim the Bible says anything you want. The big picture is so important to keep in mind while reading scripture. Without it, the verses can mean anything or nothing at all.ReplyDelete