It is possible to read a text from a perspective that seems unnatural to the text. In doing so what we actually do is critique ourselves as readers and force ourselves to see new things in the text. There are productive and unproductive ways to do this, but it can be useful for Bible study.
In Amos 3:3-8, the prophet uses a series of rhetorical questions to deliver a warning to Israel about the inescapability of God’s coming judgment. But he also tells us about prophecy itself – that it carries with it an implied invitation to repent and be saved from the otherwise inescapable judgment.
The oracle against Judah in Amos 2:4-5 is typically regarded by scholars as a later insertion due to its use of Deuteronomic language and the apparent vagueness of its accusation. This article argues that dating a text late solely because of the presence of so-called “Deuteronomic” language is logically circular, and it proposes a reading of the first two chapters of Amos that makes the oracle against Judah an integral part of the passage’s rhetoric rather than an obligatory insertion.
Amos, Hosea, Micah – An Archaeological Commentary, by Philip J. King, is a commentary about the 8th century BC world of the earliest of the written prophets that takes its data from the field of archaeology. It is difficult to find a similar book that is so accessibly and compactly presented.
Luke 2:14 has well known variant readings (is “good will” nominative or genitive?), and despite scholarship preferring one over the other, the choice between these readings is not clear. How do variant readings and translations affect our understanding of the inspiration of the Bible? What if ambiguities weren’t something God intended to work around but something he intended to work within.
Because virtually all Bible translations strategically use the word-for-word and thought-for-thought methods where necessary based upon a threshold of difficulty unique to that translation, we shouldn’t fall into the error of thinking that there are “word-for-word” translations over here and “thought-for-thought” translations over there, and one category is automatically better than the other. It just doesn’t work that way.
Even someone as awesome as William Tyndale can make a mistake. And even as revered a translation as the King James Version can unthinkingly perpetuate it.
Good Bible interpretation is radically text-centered and moves from text to application. This involves avoiding confirmation bias, letting the Bible determine subject matter, and not insisting that every text be reducible to an ethical “action point.”
An important assumption of close reading, whether or not the text at hand is Scripture, is that every detail matters. Every detail can and should be subjected to scrutiny. One way we can subject details to scrutiny is by asking, “How else could it be said?” By asking this question we attempt to replicate the thinking that constructed the text.
The NLT Illustrated Study Bible, is an update of the NLT Study Bible line of products, which have ranked among the most comprehensive study Bibles on the market. Using the popular and easy-to-read New Living Translation for its text and a tabloid-like style of graphic design, this study Bible is extremely accessible and visually stimulating. Its commentary covers a wide range of theological, hermeneutical, and historical subjects in a thorough and generally responsible way. At the same time, however, it demonstrates a decidedly conservative point-of-view, meaning it avoids challenging fundamentalist Bible interpretation strategies, even where those strategies are most vulnerable and least helpful.