By R. S. Martin
What does the Bible really mean? Jesus got it wrong, too. It is an open question whether Jesus ever existed. This goes for other biblical figures, too. For this article, I will work with the premise that Jesus and the other biblical figures existed.
Is there a chance that today’s Christians know what the Bible actually means? Not one. Why? First of all, even Jesus got it wrong. How do I know? In Jesus’ time, there were many different ways on how to understand Jewish Scripture. Some said you had to take it literally. Some said you had to take it spiritually. Some said both those ways were wrong.
Also, they did not agree which was the right "Bible." Which was most important: the law? the prophets? the "writings?" Which writings were what God meant: psalms? proverbs? Judith? Sirach? other?
Into this confusion Jesus was born. With this confused background, the early Christians made up their own ways or methods on how to understand what Jesus said. None of those methods are used today by any Christians anywhere. The literalists did not take it literally like Christians do today; today’s Christians invented their own literalist methods.
This article is based on the book "Biblical Interpretation in the Early Church," by Karlfried Froelich, published in Philadelphia by Fortress Press, 1984. Not until several centuries after Jesus supposedly lived did the Christians come up with a method resembling what is used today. And today’s Christians think they know what God wanted?
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