Purpose of Linguistic Method of Bible Study

When Jim Myers developed the linguistic method of Bible study, he was not just creating one more method of studying the Bible.  Based on his many years of the study of and of research into the Bible, the history of the Bible, the languages of the Bible, and the products of the Bible, he concluded that the linguistic method was the only method for arriving at the most accurate meanings of the words of the Bible.  That is, if a person really wants to know what the Bible means, he or she must be willing to be guided by the principles of the motto Jim penned several years ago.

“We believe that the incorporation of factual information into the belief system of anyone who earnestly desires to know the truth and who is willing to allow his/her belief system to be large enough to include all the facts, open enough to be tested, and flexible enough to change will become a more understanding and tolerant person, thus helping to make our world a safer and happier place.

From his studies, Jim came to realize that the study of the Bible by lay people came into play only after the beginning of the Protestant Reformation in 1517, a little less than 500 years ago.  Prior to that time, individual Christians did not study the Bible but knew only what they were taught by priests.  Martin Luther himself was a Catholic monk; his own study of the Scriptures is what prompted his actions that led, albeit inadvertently, to the Protestant Reformation.  After the Reformation was started, however, other leaders began to study and interpret the Scriptures, coming up with new doctrines based on their own interpretations.  That process has continued down to the present day with more and more denominations and independent churches being formed every year based on someone’s interpretation of the Bible.  The reason this is happening is because individuals use a translation of the Scriptures and apply a subjective approach to interpreting the English translation of the Bible within the context of modern culture and thus arrive at all kinds of interpretations, emphasizing now this and now that, and thus create yet another denomination or sect of the Christian religion.

The linguistic method causes us to attempt to understand the words of the Bible from the point of view of the ones who spoke and/or wrote the words and heard and/or read the words.  That is, the method requires that we learn and understand insofar as possible the historical time period, the geographical location, and the cultural realities of the speakers/writers and hearers/readers of the books of the Bible.  This makes perfectly good sense.  Only when we know what the words meant to the very ones who used them can we arrive at an accurate understanding of the meanings of the words.  All of the doctrines and teachings that have developed over the centuries are based not on the original writers of the words but on someone’s “modern” interpretation of what the words meant in their own day and in their own culture and not the day and culture of the original writers.

Some details that will support this method of Bible study will be the topic of future insights.  In the meantime, log on to our web site, tell your friends about it, and forward this e-mail to your list of e-mailers.  Become an Associate of the Biblical Heritage Center (click here).  Thanks.


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