Yesterday we watched a teaching by Mr. Ed Stevens of the International Preterist Association (www.preterist.org) on how to interpret the Scriptures (2014 Nebraska Retreat) . Like much of Ed’s stuff, I rather enjoyed this teaching. Also, a woman from our congregation testified that this teaching by Ed helped her better understand the details of Scripture. Glory to God!
In this blog I am going to share some of my notes from that presentation. I pray many reading it would be edified. However, my main reason for posting it to allow review and conversation in our Adult Sunday School on 1/14.
Ed starts out detailing the importance of understanding the 5 W’s (Who, What, Where, Why, and When). Ed said it is easy to understand the Bible once you answer these questions. In utilizing the Gospel according to Matthew, Mr. Stevens detailed how we need to know the author as a tax collector and “what made him tick”. In knowing who is writing (in this case Matthew) and to whom is being written to (exclusively a 1st century Jewish populace), we establish the beginning of “audience relevance”. I thought it was important that Ed highlighted the fact that we must understand some historical/cultural details from that time to understand because the author seems to take it for granted that his audience shares a common understanding of the details (details to us in the 21st century in the Western world are a bit foreign to say the least). This is something that is vital to our understanding much of the Bible and affects our interpretation and paradigms in such profound ways.
Ed’s sharing on the details of dating was rather stimulating (which was no surprise because his book, The Final Decade Before the End, is my go to resource on dating the New Testament). Again, using the Gospel of Matthew, Mr. Steven’s mentioned AD 38 as the date of authorship. He mentioned such an early date for a couple of reasons. First, it seems that Matthew is writing before the conversion of any Gentiles (which takes place in Acts chapter 10, which has been placed historically between AD 35-40). This also seems to be the case, since Jesus Christ tells his followers to not go among the Gentiles and expresses the sentiment that his ministry is not for them (Matthew 10:5 and Matthew 15:24). At least not yet. Mr. Steven’s mentioned the importance of placing the dating of Matthew to before the Roman emperor Caligula attempted to put his statue in the Temple at Jerusalem which was attempted in AD 39. We can look into those details through historical chronicles by men such as Josephus, Tacitus, and Philo. And of course, answering the “where question” seems to be rather simple when reading through Matthew’s Gospel, as Jerusalem is the center focus.
Ed concluded his speaking session by mentioning other “helps” in understanding the Bible. A mention of the Thompson Chain-Reference Bible was made and the value of cross-references. I was overjoyed that a few among our study spoke up and remarked that even a “chain-reference Bible” has bias and that we must be careful in how we utilize such “helps”. Consider that the commentary, the cross-references, and even the translations hold bias in the variety of resources we might use. This should stimulate us to walk worthy of 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
The value of the Reformed concepts brought up by Mr. Stevens at the end of the speech are immense and must be brought up as I conclude this review. “Analogia Scriptura” meaning Scripture interprets Scripture is important and challenges us to become familiar with Scriptures. A good study that was mentioned was the use of the Greek word “stocheia” or elements as translated into English. This study along has challenged the “end of the world” paradigm based on 2 Peter 3:10. Also, “Analogia Fide” meaning the analogy of faith, which demands of us that we become familiar with the entire Biblical story. The analogy of faith is similar to my constant bringing up and obsession with the “Biblical Narrative”, and it highlights that all details within Scripture must be consistent and flow with the “redemptive story”.
I know I am surely appreciate to the ministry of Ed Stevens (despite some of our areas of disagreement). I do trust that if we walk worthy of such “interpretation of the Scriptures” that we will see more advancement in Biblical clarity as well as more and more praise to the glory of God!
- STUDY POINTS (based on Ed’s presentation)
- How does the establishing of the 5W’s better inform your view of details in Scripture?
- Ed mentions that certain details in Scripture require a comprehension of how the “original audience” would have understood them. How has this affected your study of the Bible? Where do you see this as vital?
- What examples of “cross-referencing” different Scriptures has helped you better understand portions of Scripture?
- In a summarized fashion, how would you explain the Biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation? (Try to do so in 3-4 sentences).
Be blessed by His mighty grace,
Pastor Michael Miano
The Blue Point Bible Church (www.bluepointbiblechurch.org)