Posts Tagged ‘hermeneutics’

I’d like to share a brief thought on an issue that comes up with surprising frequency. Very often, when discussing the Bible’s teachings with others, I am told that I am going about it the wrong way by trying to understand what the Bible says using my reasoning. There are many variations on this theme:

  • You can’t understand the Bible with your intellect because the Bible is spiritual.
  • You can’t understand the Bible using reason because God is beyond reason.
  • You can’t understand the Bible on your own because you need ______________ (our church, our bishops, the magisterium, a living prophet, additional scripture, the priesthood, a burning in the bosom, revelation from the Holy Spirit, our organization, our literature, etc.).

You get the idea. Suffice it to say, I’m doing it all wrong. Or so I’m told. We’re talking about the Bible, I make some point about what it’s saying in context or some such thing, and all of a sudden a penalty flag is on the field. The ref announces “Offside!” and the ball is taken by the other team. (I almost never use football analogies, so that one’s for my friends in Alabama.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Reading Law and Reading the Bible

   Posted by: Rob Bowman    in Biblical studies

Scalia, Antonin, and Bryan A. Garner. Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts. St. Paul, MN: Thomson/West, 2012.

Antonin Scalia was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States by Ronald Reagan in 1986, making him currently the longest-serving of the nine Justices. Theologically, Scalia is a devout Roman Catholic who prefers the ultra-traditionalist Tridentine Latin Mass to the mainstream post-Vatican II liturgy. Politically, he is conservative in his judicial philosophy and in his viewpoints on specific contentious issues in American law; for example, he considers Roe v. Wade unconstitutional. Opinions about Scalia are generally polarized, with American liberals often scathing in their criticisms of his views.

Scalia’s most recent book, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts, is well worth reading simply within its own intended context of defending Scalia’s approach to interpreting legal texts, called textualism or originalism. He and his co-author Bryan Gardner, law professor at Southern Methodist University, explain textualism as follows: “We look for meaning in the governing text, ascribe to that text the meaning that it has borne from its inception, and reject judicial speculation about both the drafters’ extratextually derived purposes and the desirability of the fair reading’s anticipated consequences” (xxvii). The book is also worth reading for those who are interested in the interpretation of other texts, including the texts of the Bible. Read the rest of this entry »

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