As mentioned previously, I am starting a new blog series that I’m calling the “Most Misinterpreted Bible Passages” series. This series will take a look at some of the most misinterpreted passages in the Bible—both the most often misinterpreted and the most badly misinterpreted. Ultimately, my aim is to make this series into a book, so these blog posts are something of a trial balloon in that respect. Before I post anything, I figure it would be good to establish how I aim to go about this.
First of all, the order of the passages will in no way reflect any sort of ranking but will be entirely arbitrary, relating only to the order in which they come to mind and the posts are completed.
Secondly, each post in this series will follow a standard pattern (with occasional changes to the order, as needed):
- The passage will be quoted in translation, with notes on any significant textual variants
- The standard/dominant/popular interpretation(s) will be summarized, including examples of mistranslations resulting from or contributing to these interpretations
- A better interpretation of the passage will be established (sometimes including explanations of translation changes), and
- The “so what” question will be addressed, showing why given interpretations of the passage in question matter.
Obviously any claim that I have “the correct interpretation” will not always be persuasive, and it is doubtful that everyone will agree with every post. I am also aware of the problem of formalism (the subjectivity/objectivity of texts and interpreters) and the notion of the autonomy of a text as an object of interpretation, which calls the notion of finding the “point” or “essence” of a passage or text into question. That said, even the theorists most conscious of these issues recognize that some interpretations are better than others, as meaning is nevertheless constrained by the text. As such, I will bracket these methodological concerns throughout these posts, consciously choosing to operate within the idealization of textual autonomy.
Finally, one of the beauties of blogging is the interaction it allows; one is able to do interpretive work and exegesis as a part of a public community. I look forward to the critiques, rebuttals or improved arguments about any passage dealt with in this series, as it will surely only serve to better clarify the sense of the passages in question.