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One of the hardest things for me to wrap my brain around as a Christian is how a God who defines himself as love (1 John 4:8) and defines the greatest form of love as laying down your life for someone else (John 15:13) could lead Israel on a bloodbath in the Old Testament.
The church in Corinth had a problem. One of their own was actively engaging in sexual sin that went beyond the immorality of non-Christian Corinthians (1 Corinthians 5:1). This person was choosing to live in sin, despite being part of the body of Christ. Paul goes on to say that the best thing for both the church and the individual was for the church to remove the man from their fellowship. Then in 1 Corinthians 5:5, Paul puts it another way: “deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh . . .”
To us modern day Christians, Paul’s instruction sounds like a cliche misrepresentation of Christianity you’d see in a horror movie. But that’s not how Christians in Corinth understood it.
Get your copy of Dr. Michael S. Heiser’s latest book, Supernatural—now available!
Dr. Heiser believes that as modern Christians we are “selectively supernatural.” Our modern worldview makes it difficult to recognize the full extent of the supernatural fingerprints on our Bible. While Bible scholars widely acknowledge the presence of “the divine council,” nephilim, and numerous other intersections between our world and the unseen realm in Scripture, passages like 1 Peter 3:19–20 rarely make it into sermons because to the vast majority of Christians, they are simply too foreign.
ChristianDiscourse.com lets you share your ideas, devotionals, questions, and more to start conversations among fellow believers. Whether you’re looking for answers to a tough question, feedback on your latest idea, or you just want to share something that inspired you, Christian Discourse is your canvas for connecting with the Christian world.
Recently, Dr. Mike Heiser, a prominent Bible scholar at Logos Bible Software, shared his personal “Laws for Bible Study,” which he originally shared on his personal blog, The Naked Bible:
Heiser’s Laws for Bible Study:
Bible reading is not Bible study. I have learned, kicking and screaming mind you, that this is where most people are at. Everyone can do serious Bible study and they should.
1. There is no substitute for close attention to the biblical text
You should be observing the biblical text in the original languages. If you cannot, never trust one translation in a passage. Use several and then learn skills for understanding why they disagree. These skills would be things like learning grammatical terms and concepts, along with translation philosophy and the basics of textual criticism.
2. Patterns in the text are more important than word studies
You need to learn to trace threads and ideas through the Bible and observe how the New Testament re-purposes and interprets the Old Testament. If you aren’t paying attention to these things, you’re missing more than you think you’re seeing.
3. The Bible must be interpreted in context, and that context isn’t your own, or that of your theological tradition
The context of the Bible is the context that produced it—ancient Near East/Mediterranean.
In other words, if you’re letting your theological tradition filter the Bible to you, you aren’t doing Bible study or exegesis, and you aren’t interpreting the Bible in context.
4. The Bible is a divine human book; treat it as such
Put another way, God chose people to write the biblical text, and people write using grammar, in styles understood by their peers, and with deliberate intent—and so the Bible did not just drop from heaven. Study it as though some person actually wrote it, not like it is the result of a paranormal event.
5. If it’s weird, it’s important (i.e. it’s there for a reason; it is not random)
Put another way: Systematic theology isn’t helpful (and can be misleading) if its conclusions are not derived from exegesis of the original text. Biblical theology is done from the ground up, not the top down.
6. If, after you’ve done the grunt work of context-driven exegesis, what the biblical text says disturbs you, let it
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The Bible is filled with passages that are so baffling we tend to ignore them. Dr. Michael S. Heiser suggests that the passages that seem weird might be the most important. In his book, I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible, Dr. Heiser visits some of the Bible’s most obscure passages and uses ancient context to illuminate truth for today. With articles like “Why Circumcision?,” “Is My Bible Right?,” and “When Giants Walked the Earth,” Dr. Heiser combines a believer’s curiosity with a scholar’s critical analysis.
Check out this passage from “The Most Horrific Bible Story”:
‘In those days, there was no king in Israel.’ This line, repeated throughout Judges, frames the horrific tale of the Levite and his concubine. The grim details of this story showcase the anarchy and spiritual decay of the period, but this story is not just a cheap thriller.
When reading this story, our attention fixates on the grim details of murder, rape, war, and abduction. But there are crucial, less repugnant elements—tribal affiliations and the locations of events. The story was designed to prompt readers into favoring kingship—the people needed a Messiah, a savior.
The book of Judges does not name its author; it was likely written after the time of David. All of these elements add up to not only a rationale for kingship—but a polemic for the superiority of a king from Judah (David), not Benjamin (Saul) or Ephraim.
Dr. Heiser goes on to say, “The appalling nature of this story provides an appropriate context for God’s plan of redemption. It sets the worst of human nature against the need for divine rule.” Without proper context, we would completely miss the significance of powerful Old Testament accounts. In this brief, easily digestible article, Heiser provides the context we need to connect the dots from Judges to Jesus.
The Bible isn’t boring. Sometimes, though, we make it that way. Thousands of years have passed since the words were fresh, but they aren’t dead. The Bible is living, active, and relevant (Hebrews 4:12). With I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible, context brings Scripture to life in your Bible study, and Dr. Heiser shows you that the Word of God is far from boring.
Right now, you can pre-order I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible for just $4.95—that’s 67% off the regular price! Pre-order yours today before the price goes up.