Embrace Interpretation

Embrace Interpretation

multimeterWhen I tell someone that they need to consider how they interpret a particular verse, I often get that glazed-over or eye-roll expression that says, “There you go again. Why can’t it just be simple?”

The fact, however, is that we have to interpret everything. As I look out my window at the branches of a tree in front of my office, there is a great deal of interpretation going on automatically that lets me see this in a coherent way and identify it as a tree. Everything requires some interpretation.

The picture at the top shows a multimeter that I use in my work. It’s a fairly simple piece of equipment as such gear goes. The other day I was trying to measure a simple voltage and was getting weird results. I must have been tired because I didn’t realize immediately that I had it set on the wrong range for the voltage I was trying to measure. I single click of a switch and all was well. The result was in the interpretation.

When we study the Bible we are interpreting a tradition that is thousands of year’s old. It involves the experience of people over a great deal of time. Consider how difficult it can be to understand the culture of people in our own country even centuries ago.

I don’t mean that the Bible is incomprehensible. I just mean that we should be surprised that it requires some effort for us to adjust ourselves to hear what it says. It’s not like reading today’s newspaper, though interpretation is required there as well.

It’s worth the effort.

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