There are numerous Biblical interpretations, which differ with not just religious affiliations, but also with academic interpretations. Many of these interpretations are as a result of the different doctrinal beliefs. However, each denomination claims to have a similar source from which they have their doctrinal standards. This then begs the question of how it is possible to have a particular denomination employ the same Bible as the other yet have separate doctrines and be distinct from one another. Bible, in some cases, has been read as an allegory, where each person and event is thought to have the representation of a deeper meaning. Various scholars also have their different interpretations of the Bible, based on their comprehensive studies and analytics, which may tend to be different from the other denomination’s doctrines, despite reading their explanations from a similar source which is the Bible.
First, as much as there are many interpretations across the divide, there are similarities between each of the divide. Virtually, most of the persons with different biblical interpretations, mostly the religious affiliations, believe in the existence of God and agree that the Bible is God’s revealed word. They believe that God is the creator and the provider of life and that God is Triune, meaning God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They also have faith in that mankind fell into sin and is not capable of extracting himself from the sin or even its external consequences. They also believe in Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, and is the incarnate Second person of the Trinity, where he lived a sinless life of perfect obedience to his father’s will. Another common belief is that Jesus died on the cross and resurrected for the salvation of the people on earth. They also believe in his return personally, where he will consummate His Kingdom, and later has the humans judged, where the end outcome will be heaven or hell. However, apart from these similar beliefs, there are very many other diverse perspectives of the biblical views on various issues touched on the stories within the Bible, what to believe in and how to live life.
Roman Catholic Biblical Interpretation
The Catholic Church is the only Christin denomination with a substantial body of authoritative teachings. The church emphasizes on the Scripture and traditions as its two expressions of divine revelation. This is different from the Protestants who insist on the principle of Sola Scriptura (Gorman, 2017). This means that the interpretation of the Bible by the Catholic Church is governed by the relationship between the church teachings and the scripture. For the Catholics, they deeply have a sensitivity to more spiritual understanding and meaning of the biblical texts, mostly those under the patristic commentators.
The church avoided conducting significant scientific studies carried by the Protestants and instead focused on the promotion of Biblical research and rely solely on the interpretations of the biblical texts of the church. In the Catholic Church, the Bible has various roles to play. First, the Bible has mainly used for prayers and liturgy, where it is used in obligatory prayers such as the liturgy of the Hours (Gorman, 2017). The Bible is also used to create awareness to the Christians on the fact that the scriptures provide a way of encountering the risen Christ. The Catholic Church also uses the Bible in the celebrating of the Sacraments.
The Catholic Church also uses reinstituted the ancient practice of following the lectionary. This is also common among the Protestants where it entails an extensive collection of excerpts from the Bible, which is formulated to coincide with the liturgical years and its seasons such as lent and advent (Gorman, 2017). The church also ensures that the excerpts from the Bible. Both the old and the new testaments are read in the Holy masses, where they also include a responsorial psalm. The Bible is also used for the Homily, which involves expounding on the Biblical readings of the day and ensuring to apply them in the day to day lives, where the preaching is more Biblically oriented.
The Bible is also used in the professions Biblical studies, Bible study programs, and also in official catholic teachings. Through the biblical teachings, the Bible has become a common feature in catholic life and the rejuvenation of the Catholic Church over the years (Gorman, 2017). To elucidate the text, Catholic scholars employ textual criticism, linguistic, and other historical critical methods. They also employ other contemporary methods, which include reader response, narrative, canonical, and social scientific criticism, among other methods. The current compendium of the catholic Biblical interpretations is the catechism of the Catholic Church. Through the catechism, there are more biblical interpretations, as digested from the teachings of the Vatican (Gorman, 2017).
The Catholics are required to pay attention to both the unity and the content of the scripture, interest the Bible within the living tradition of the church and also pay attention to the analogy of faith as contained in God’s revelation. The Catholic Church always recognized the relationship between the church traditions and Biblical teachings. The church does not have a specific theory of inspiration, where it acknowledges deeper senses of the Bible beyond, though not contradictory to the literary sense. The interpretation accepts the entire human dimensions of the Bible (Gorman, 2017). It also considers the scripture to be the result of the long process, which was directed by the apostolic tradition and is defined by the church, where it gives special prudence to the patristic interpretation. The seven sacraments have roots in the various scriptural passages according to Catholic teachings.
Pentecostal Biblical Interpretation
Pentecostal biblical interpretation is diverse, where there are multiple approaches, since, within the Pentecostals, there are different denominations and churches, which stem from the early 20th century. Pentecostalism mainly focuses on the present activity of the spirit, where according to them, the spirit equips God’s people and their mission to the world. Charismatic renewal is their fundamental belief, where the most denominations under Pentecostalism lively worship and the openness to the spirit have connected strongly with all Christians (Gorman, 2017). Interpretation of the Bible, among the Pentecostals, is affiliated with the need for the illumination of the spirit, which Christians depend on to help in the understanding of the scripture. Pentecostal interpreters from the traditions of the Pentecostalism seek to explore both ancient meanings of the texts and explore the significance of these texts today (Gorman, 2017).
There are various features of Pentecostal interpretation which characterize the readings. A significant feature of the Pentecostal text is that it is a continuationist reading. This is through shaping their expectations of God’s activity based on how they see God acting in the Bible. This means that the Christians read the Bible with eschatological anticipation, such as the people of the new era of the spirit inaugurated Pentecostals (Gorman, 2017). The Pentecostals also have embraced the theological value of the Bible narrative, where they are more interested in the empowerment of God on His people. Thirdly is that they read the Bible with a wide range of global locations, which are sensitive to the variety of cultures in which the texts are conceptualized.
Continuationism means having an interesting the biblical texts not because of what they reach about the ancient times, but rather due to the expectation of sharing a similar experience with God and the spiritual experience discovered in the scriptures. For the continuationist s, the God how is supernatural in the Bible is the present God of the real world. Pentecostals, therefore, believe that there is a very thin line between the salvation history in the narratives of the Bible, and what there is today. The Pentecostal rituals exhibit a worldview that presupposes that worship is more of encountering an all-powerful God. On the other hand, reading with faith means that God will speak to the Christians since He is the God who is active in the narrative world and also in the real world (Gorman, 2017). By reading the Bible, the Pentecostals aim to learn from the models, moral, political, and theological lessons that are in the Bible. They believe that the Biblical narratives teach about the actions of Gods, and also get to provide their positive and negative responses to God. They believe that the character of humans is weak, where they get to learn from the ways of God to improve on themselves. The Pentecostal interpretation of the Bible from the beginning has emphasized the empowerment of the mission, where the Bible’s messages are used to engage humans personally and are used to empower believes of the mission. (Gorman, 2017) . Currently, most of the theologians and religion scholars are either Pentecostal or charismatic.
Both the catholic and Pentecostal interpretation of the Bible has been very important for scholars and believers in understanding more on what is written down in the Bible. Despite the differences, in the approaches and the ways of interpretations, there are many conclusions of the Bible and the nature of God, which are acquired from these interpretations (Gorman, 2017). There are many other interpretations in place which are inspired by various narratives n ad objectives, where the critical issue of all these narrative is to do and follow the will of God as shown in the Bible. However, there are different interpretations of characters or events, where different denominations will have differing interpretations of incidences or events that occurred in the Bible. There are also diverse perspectives of the new and old testaments of the Bible, where some may dwell mostly on what is taught in the Old Testament. In contrast, others will emphasize the teachings that are noted in the New Testament. Others will reject the happenings of the Old Testament to the incidents of the New Testament as a way of interpreting the differing reactions of God on His people who are reflected in the Bible. The two types of interpretations that differ from the Catholic and Pentecostal interpretations are the African and The New Perspectives.
African Perspectives on Bible interpretation
From this interpretation, the African Bible commentary does not always agree with the other interpretations on various issues. The journals interpret and apply the Bible in light of the African Culture and realities, which could tend to be the opposite of what some of the content and beliefs from the Bible are. According to Adeyemo (2006), interpretation of the Bible is very critical, since it helps the Christians in understanding what more is in the Bible and also understanding more about the will of God.
Having the Christian Faith, that does not contradict the African culture is a major theme addressed by this perspective, since the traditional Africa ideas do not always agree with the Biblical concept, more so with factors such as relationships among husband, wife, and children. Some of the sections of the Bible that tend to go against African teachings include the part where the man leaves his father and mother (Adeyemo, 2006). In many African traditions, this may conflict the traditions, and hence the scholars are categorical on such opposing instances, where they feel that ought to be interpreted better by the Christian denominations in the course of interpreting the Bible. Other factors include issues such as making sacrifices, among many different cultures, which may tend to contradict what the Bible requires of a Christian.
The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary
In the contemporary world, there has been constant criticism on the interpretations of the Bible. The New Interpreter’s Bible presents a thorough commentary in the complete Bible, which includes the Deuterocanonical and the Apocrypha books (Keck, 2015). From the Bible, scholars with a fresh wealth of Biblical interpretations are involved in the perspectives where they reflect the various denominational backgrounds, including the Catholic and Pentecostal denominations and interpretation of the Bible. This contemporary commentary highlights issues that these interpretations fail to mention and also criticize some of the interpretations, based on their in-depth studies (Keck, 2015). They are also thoughtful, thought-provoking, and insights that can be sued for modern world applications for teaching, preaching and used by Christians in daily living. These commentaries differ with other interpretations in that they have incorporated contemporary information and a thorough cross-checking of other interpretations, from an in-depth scholarly view.
Over centuries, the Bible has been differently interpreted by various people, where the interpretations have been practiced in a very diverse way. Individuals throughout history have assumed that the Bible means exactly what it says. On some occasions, the Bible has been given a typological interpretation, where some characters and events are seen to foreshadow the later ones. Whereas some people have interpreted the Bible strictly as their guide of moral life, others have had it to be the sole light of the prayerful reading and reflection. In some events, a combination of the various approaches has been integrated by different people, who seek to answer the basics of the question of what it means. There are different interpretations of the Bible ranging from the Catholic to the Pentecostal Bible interpretations, where various aspects of these perspectives differ. Other perspectives opposed to the catholic and Pentecostal interpretations are the African and The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary which have varying perspectives of how to interpret the Bible.
Adeyemo, T. (2006). Africa Bible Commentary. Zondervan.
Gorman, M. J. (2017). Scripture and Its Interpretation: A Global, Ecumenical Introduction to the Bible. . Baker Academic.
Keck, L. E. (2015). The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary. Abingdon Press.