The Reception, uses and Interpretation of Scripture
Uses of Scripture
Each faith tradition uses scripture in similar ways:
The Interpretation of Scripture
If scripture is to be used for instruction and education, it must be interpreted. There are a number of reasons that scripture must be interpreted:
Two examples will illustrate the complexity of interpreting scripture.
|Buddhist Interpretation of Scripture
As noted throughout this chapter there are actually numerous canons of Buddhist scripture. Moreover, each collection is a compilation of a diverse literary types. Consequently, Buddhists generally came to agree on an interpretive guide known as the Sutra on the Four Reliances. This guide creates a hierarchical, ascending approach to interpretation of scripture.
Christian Interpretation of Scripture
1. Through the middle ages Fourfold Method of Biblical Interpretation was widely accepted. According to this method each text has four layers of meaning:
2. During the Reformation, the ideal of sola scriptura (scripture alone) was advanced by Martin Luther. This approach largely rejected the fourfold method. According to Luther and the reformers one must approach the text with three guiding principles:
3. Biblical Criticism: Largely as a result of Luther's emphasis on the importance of scripture, scholars in the 19th and 20th centuries sought to uncover the meaning of Biblical text through a variety of "criticisms" or analyses. Texts would be analyzed by their form, the nature of the text itself, the source of the text, the process of editing and compilation, etc.
4. Reacting against Biblical criticism and science, fundamentalists held to a theory of verbal inspiration and inerrancy. In other words, the Bible is literally true and accurate and without error of any kind because the Spirit "dictated" each word to the original writers. In contrast to Luther who believed the scriptures contained the word of God, fundamentalists assert that the scripture are the word of God.
5. Today a variety of interpretive approaches, including those listed above, are used by various groups within Christianity. Livingston notes a growing recognition of how one's culture and presupposition influence how one reads scripture (reader-response criticism).