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For Self Examination Coverby Jared Byas

As many of the bible scholars in America return from SBL/AAR and take back up their posts, this passage from the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, in his short book For Self-Examination (published in 1851) came to mind:

“My listener, allow me to make a confession about myself here. I still do not dare to be utterly alone with God’s Word. I don’t have the honesty and courage for it . . . Being alone with God’s Word is a dangerous matter. Of course, you can always find ways to defend yourself against it: Take the Bible, lock your door – but then get out ten dictionaries and twenty-five commentaries. Then you can read it just as calmly and coolly as you read newspaper advertising.

With this arsenal you can really begin to wonder, ‘Are there not several valid interpretations? And what about the prospect of new interpretations? Perhaps there are five interpreters with one opinion and seven with another’ . . . So you calmly conclude, ‘I myself am not absolutely sure about the meaning of this passage. I need more time to form an opinion.’

Good Lord! What a tragic misuse of scholarship that it makes it so easy for people to deceive themselves!

Yes, it seems as if all this research and pondering and scrutinizing would draw God’s Word very close to us. Yet this interpreting and re-interpreting and scholarly research and new scholarly research is often but a defense against it.

Herein lies the problem. It is not a question of interpretation, but action.”

Jared Byas, M.A.

As a former teaching pastor and professor of philosophy and biblical studies, he speaks regularly on the Bible, truth, creativity, wisdom, and the Christian faith. Tweets at @jbyas