Monday, 23 February 2009
Is context that important?
I'm sure you've all heard these sayings before:
"If you take the text out of the context you just end up with a con"
"The first three rules of exegesis are: Context, context, context."
Is context really that important to reading a text?
Below are a few examples of what you end up with if you pluck verses out of thier context:
1)Psalm 14:1b: "There is no God"
Does the Bible really say that there is no God? No. The context tells us that this is what the fool says in is heart!
2) James 2: 25: "In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?"
Now Rahab the prositute was righteous for what she did! What do prostitues do? Have sex for money. So she was righteous to prosituing and then sending the jewish spies away? No, the context tells us that she stoped the spies getting caught and was therefore considered rightous as she trusted God and served him in his purpose and not for being a prostitute.
3)Isaiah 61:5a: "Aliens will shepherd your flocks".
According to the Bible ET will come down ans herd your sheep for you. Isn't that nice! Of course context tells us that 'Aliens' here means foreigners.
4)Ezekiel 23:20: "There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses."
It is good to emulate what you learn in the Bible and therefore it is good for women to lust after large genitals and potent men! No, this is obviously condemned!
5)1 Kings 11:3a: "He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines."
If The wise king Solomon did this then surely it is good for me to do so!....except the context tells us that God forbade Jews marrying foreign women and that they lead him astray.
6)Revelation 22:18 "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book."
Therefore if anyone writes nots in thier Bible they will have plagues added to them? No, obviously the contexts notes that those who teach the prophecy we know as the book of revelation with additions or refuse to teach bits to others, therefore effecting thier safety, God will curse them.
7)Job 4:7: "Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed?".
If therefore you are innocent or upright you will never be destroyed or perish......or so Job was told. We see later that Job's friend was rebuked by God for giving false advice.
I think the idea is across. Obviously there are more serious verses taken out of context but this was just a few silly examples to help you get into the flow of using context in your exegesis.
When you are reading remmeber that there is more then one type of context to be looking at. See here for an introduction.
Happy reading and learning.
Till next time!