Two Ways to Study and Discuss the Bible.

One of the ways to study the Bible is to work at figuring out what it means. Studying it in this way has led to hundreds, maybe thousands, of different branches of Christianity. New versions of the faith appear every year.

I hate to say it is a complete waste of time to discuss what the Bible means because I do some of this  myself.  Nevertheless, discussing what any particular part of the Bible means is close to being a zero sum game.  If you advocate one interpretation, someone will advocate another that is exactly the opposite.

Clearly, there will never be an absolute conclusion about what the Bible means.  If there were some agreement we would have found it in the last 1500 years.

There is another kind of Bible study.  It is to study the Bible with the intent of finding whether those who wrote it had any information or insight other than what any ordinary person might have had who was wealthy enough at the time to read and write.  This kind of Bible study gets us somewhere.

Through carbon dating, other historical records and hints left in the writing, we can find out a lot about these wealthy ancients.  Variations of the same story let us know different authors had different motives.

Trying to get into the heads and behind the scenes of the Bible’s authorship is the fastest growing branch of Bible study. It is where we can find the most testable ideas and fewest mere opinions.

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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20 Responses to Two Ways to Study and Discuss the Bible.

  1. great post! you and all the Red River Freethinkers are invited to join our bible study group – we’re just north of you at HAAM (Humanists, Atheists, and Agnostics of Manitoba). No need to live here, details are in the pinned post. We just started at the beginning of June, so you’re not too late to catch up, or just skip the beginning and join in now. Please pass this on; and i’ll share this on the fb page.

  2. Adam Heckathorn says:

    Jon I just missed You today. I had a dyslexic moment writing down directions and showed up pretty late at the potluck. had a nice visit.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Adam 5:29 Sorry I missed you as well. Our atheist friend, soon-to-be-100-years-old Katharine, held court for quite a while telling stories of politicians she has known and passing judgments on those she knows now. She remains on top of her game.

  3. entech says:

    Do you study it to try and find the truth? Or assume it is true and study it from that perspective?

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      entech 6:15 “Do you study it to try to find the truth? Or assume it is true and study it from that perspective?”

      Well said. We have so many recommendations here to read certain books and authors. I, myself, am not interested in reading books by authors who claim to know a god exists and then spell out the world from that perspective. The word “if” would be so refreshing to hear from some believers.

    • Jinx says:

      Entech, I read to see what it has to say with an objective, open mind, then I read other sources to see if the bible is corroborated…..exactly how I would research any other topic. After years of research I have concluded their is no proof any god exists or does not exist, but I do agree with Jesus teachings about how we treat others. If Jesus was not a god, he sure was a great prophet/teacher.

  4. Michael Ross says:

    BIBLE STATISTICS (King James Authorized): Number of books in the Bible: 66 Chapters: 1,189 Verses: 31,102 Words: 783,137 Letters: 3,116,480 Number of promises given in the Bible: 1,260 Commands: 6,468 Predictions: over 8,000 Fulfilled prophecy: 3,268 verses Unfulfilled prophecy: 3,140 Number of questions: 3,294.

    Written by 40 different authors in three languages over a period of about 1500 years.

    Writing styles include: Epistle/letter, genealogy, Law/statutory, history narrative, parable, poetry, prophecy, Proverbs/wisdom, Psalms/musical.

    “Clearly, there will never be an absolute conclusion about what the Bible means. If there were some agreement we would have found it in the last 1500 years”

    I believe that as history continues to unfold the scriptures will become will be revealed to all who seek God’s wisdom:

    “But the path of the righteous is like the new light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day” (Proverbs 4:18)

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Michael 12:11 “I believe that as history continues to unfold the scriptures will be revealed to all who seek God’s wisdom.”

      I have to agree that the scriptures will be revealed to those who think they came from a divine source. It must seems to me if they have something important to say it would be revealed, and obvious, to everyone.

      I recall you saying a day or so ago intellectuals are the elite, separated from common folks. Here we see the faithful are the elite. The wisdom should be made available to common folks like me.

    • entech says:

      Things interpreted as prophecy lots. realised zero.
      Science predictions lots, realised quite a few.

  5. Adam Heckathorn says:

    Michael 8,000 Fulfilled prophecy. How do You know this? I’m going to assume You read it some where that probably it was quoted by some honest individual Who got it from some one and eventually We’ll find some one who counted these in the Bible. We don’t have to assume any deception on any ones part going back to the ones Who had perceived that a prophecy had occurred as it occurred. I’ve seen People sawed in half with My own eyes. I ordered a nice hardware kit from Jannd to make kitty litter bucket panniers and a washer disappeared. I would have sworn it was a supernatural event I had laid everything out to make loss impossible. I looked and looked then I discovered I had put two washers on where I meant to put one. Is it not possible even likely that superstitious People living thousands of years ago interpreted things as supernatural because They had no other way to interpret Them? In school I loved it when We played Telephone The Teacher had Us sit in a circle and one Child would whisper some thing to the next Child ’till it got back to the first Child who would read what was originally said and We would all laugh at how much the story changed.

  6. Patrick morrow says:

    Yes,great post Jon I’m with HAAM also our next project coming up is our annual summer outreach in the heart of the Manitoba Bible Belt ,the Morden Corn & Apple Festival . It’s the largest small town festival in the province attracts 50.000 plus . It puts us in the middle of creationist central we get to interact with many people who’s only understanding of atheists and humanist is what they’ve got from their preachers. We also meet a surprising number of supporters and closeted atheists.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Patrick 1:10 Welcome to the comment page. We are seeing a few new folks regularly from Manitoba and that is great.

      Please tell us more, the full name for HAAM (I think I remember but better to get it correct) and what town/city the festival is in? What kinds of things will you be doing in outreach at the festival?

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Patrick 1:10 Welcome to the discussion page. Tell us more about what you are doing. What town is the Apple Festival held in and what kind of outreach activities are you planning? Also, please give us the full name of HAAM (Humanists and Atheists of Manitoba?)

    • Henry says:

      Atheist proselytizing at its finest. They claim they are not a religion.

      • entech says:

        Henry, you do keep coming up with the most outlandish things. Do you really think if you keep repeating the same stuff you will convince anyone except yourself and a few others that already believe anyway? Let’s see; not having a belief in your God is a religion; not having faith in the existence of your God is faith; lack of belief is belief; 6 days was enough to create everything but there will never be enough time for evolution.

        Still as your basic belief system is pretty outlandish I suppose you can believe a few more outlandish things.
        The main difference is that your religious thoughts, while highly improbable and unlikely are possible, the other stuff you keep coming up with are either wrong by definition, plain wrong or desperate attempts at maintaining your beliefs.
        Or all of the above.

  7. Todd says:

    Great article, Jon, thanks. HAAM (Humanists, Atheists and Agnostics of MB) will be in Morden at the Corn and Apple festival near the end of August. A town of close to 10,000 people about an hour’s drive SW of Winnipeg. I would say the main purpose is to let non-believers in that area know they are not alone and are welcome to join our group and discuss topics they may not feel comfortable discussing in their own community.

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