Misinterpreted Bible Passages Series: Introduction

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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):

  1. The passage will be quoted in translation, with notes on any significant textual variants
  2. The standard/dominant/popular interpretation(s) will be summarized, including examples of mistranslations resulting from or contributing to these interpretations
  3. A better interpretation of the passage will be established (sometimes including explanations of translation changes), and
  4. 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.

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16 Comments. Leave new

  • […] *If new to this series, please see the introduction.* […]

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  • […] *If new to this series, please see the introduction.* […]

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  • […] *If new to this series, you might want to check the introduction.* […]

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  • Marvin Haffner
    October 10, 2012 10:45 am

    enjoyed your blog

    Reply
  • Hi Jason, You are sure correct about many misinterpreted Bible passages. Isaiah 29:9-12 tells us that people who believe a false idea or theory have ‘blinded themselves, so they will stay blinded’. Only by clearing the mind of all preconceived notions and by fervent prayer, can those who are stuck on wrong doctrines, actually get to the truth of Bible prophecy.
    I note in your article about 1 Thess 5:1-4, you correctly state that it is only those who are ‘not His friends’, that will be taken by surprise on the Day of the Lord.
    What you misinterpret, however, is what Day Paul is talking about – the glorious Return or the great and terrible Day of the Lord’s vengeance and wrath?
    If you care to look at my website; http://www.logostelos.info, you will see my articles on the fact that there are two Day’s of the Lord, first when He comes in wrath and judges/punishes the enemies attacking Israel and affecting all the world, then much later, He Returns for His Millennium reign.
    keras

    Reply
    • Thanks for your kind words, Bruce.

      Nevertheless, those who split the Day of the Lord into two are making a serious error, one that the earliest Christians most certainly did not. The idea of two separate comings derives from the mistaken foundation of dispensationalism.

      Reply
  • Hi Jason,
    I stumbled across your post on “Judgement” and learned something from it. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Dora Baker's Bridal Alterations
    December 30, 2016 11:30 am

    Judgement! A good eyeopener! Judgement is good with a pure heart or as a matter of fact looking inwardly!

    Reply
  • I am definitely no scholar when it comes to bible verses. but I will never forget when a friend of mine, who is Lutheran, told me if a child dies they are going to hell.
    I was in shock and asked how could she think such a thing.

    She said a verse in the bible stated a child is “born into sin”. In her church’s interpretation, this meant if a child died before they reached an age to personally choose God, they were going to hell, having been born “sinful”.

    I went to my priest (Greek Orthodox) a very learned man who explained that the Greek language used when the bible was created is not the one used today. Those that do not know the difference are continually misinterpreting key phrases.

    The passage she had wrongly quoted was actually “children are born into a world of sin”. Children are the most innocent of us and obviously (for most) not going to hell if they die young, but her church believes otherwise.

    Obviously a single word can change an entire meaning, especially when some interpret things as they want, and not as they are.

    Thank you for shining a light where it is desperately needed.

    Reply
  • Jim Morrison
    May 21, 2017 3:46 am

    I’ll play devils’s play toy. It’s a battle. Sometimes a lifelong one. Forgiving AS we forgive ourselves. The hardest part for people’s hearts, for good Christians, is to forgive THEMSELVES. Nobody knows the deep pain they feel for having sinned. All in all, the superior conciousness sees, knows, loves and forgives all. I’ve forgiven countless times, yet I get kicked when im done by people who don’t really know me at all. The mass attacking one. One who’s heart is constantly breaking over their sins, is a blessing in disguise. I LOVE Jesus, I’ll add. Everyone else thinks you’re to be stoned to death. But thy’re the ones who have to look in the mirror every day. What will be will be.

    Reply
  • Chad Wagner
    July 16, 2017 6:38 am

    Thank you very much for the time it took to clarify these passages. I hope to see more in the future. Will you be addressing the following?
    Fornication
    Speaking in tongue
    What it really means that Jesus died for our sins.

    Reply
  • To the person who quoted I Corinthians 2:9 that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard …..what God has prepared are doing what I did many years ago until verse 10 was pointed out to me {10} But God, hath revealed them unto us by his spirit…. I like your blog and hope to correspond with you more as I study Revelation–it has been a difficult book for me.

    Reply
  • I like your interpretation of Christ’s admonition against adultery. It is compelling and throws traditional Christian interpretations into the category of errant and harmful nonsense, in my view. It is very good work Jason, and goes some way towards explaining for me why children have been abused in christian institutions in Australia.

    Reply
  • What about where 2 or more are gathered in my name? I’ve heard this one thrown around a lot to excuse a small congregation- as if God is still powerful even if there’s just a few of us here- does that make sense or No? Your thoughts.

    Reply
  • Darrick Ozell Linton
    August 2, 2018 10:36 am

    When u publish your book, I will be eager to purchase a copy. My email address is dswimmerman@yahoo.com. Please let me know. I enjoy your blog. Darrick Linton

    Reply

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“Whoever Looks at a Woman With Lust”: Misinterpreted Bible Passages #1
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