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What is the Bible? Why do we say it's God's Word? How did we get it? What makes it so special?
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I am reading the Bible and don't understand it

Postby Psycho Lord » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:29 pm

I am trying to read the New Testament as an adult to see if I can understand or "grok" it. The problem is that I just don't understand most of it.

My belief system is somewhere around non-theistic, deistic, possibly Buddhistic. I am trying to get into Christianity. I used to be openly atheist, but the way I am looking at Christianity now is: regardless of the factual basis of his miracles, what exactly did Jesus say and what did he mean, and does it have resonance with me.

The problem is, going through the bible, I feel like I am missing out on something. I feel like there is some other prerequisite text that I am missing out on. I don't know what these words "Son of Man," "Spirit," etc. mean. I'm a very scientifically literate person. So, I am not the kind of person who is satisfied by a gut feeling of the Gospels alone. I don't feel from reading the Bible, that it is self-evident that Jesus is God: it doesn't "ping" my spiritual radar.

This is sort of always been my problem with Christianity - it seems that much of the original meaning has been lost, and that our actual extant explicatory texts are missing. I don't mean the actual evidence for Jesus' miracles, I mean the actual explanation of the Christian Theology-what exactly did Christ believe in regards to the Trinity, afterlife, etc. For the sparse amount of Jesus' statements on theology that we do have, I want to understand the exact meaning of what Jesus is saying, but it almost seems like he is referencing something I don't have access to.
Psycho Lord
 

Re: I am reading the Bible and don't understand it

Postby Octavian » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:32 pm

The new testament is based on the old testament. It's virtually impossible to understand the new without the old. There is so much terminology and theology that most of it makes no sense without understanding the basis for the need that Christ fulfilled.
Octavian
 

Re: I am reading the Bible and don't understand it

Postby Mateo » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:35 pm

> I'm a very scientifically literate person.

Then you understand that you can't pick up the textbook on an unfamiliar subject, and have any hope of understanding it. It must be taught and explained.

> it seems that much of the original meaning has been lost

It hasn't; it's there. You just can't understand it yet. When I first became a Christian, what helped me immensely was getting a good Study Bible with copious notes relating the scriptural and historical context of the text, and getting into a good, long running Bible study group. A group I used to be involved with would pick one book of the Bible, and spend the better part of a year on it, going into details, referencing callbacks in other books, etc. I had a lot of "Aha!" moments during that time.

As others have mentioned, many of the books of the Bible are "preaching to the choir", so to speak. They were written to existing believers (Jewish or Christian) who already understood a lot of the context. Coming in as a non-believer, I'd recommend reading Romans. It was written to Gentile Christians who had no real experience with Judaism, so it does a good job of breaking down the theological basics. And skip around. The Bible wasn't exactly meant to be read cover-to-cover. It's an anthology.

> it almost seems like he is referencing something I don't have access to.

Jesus almost always references something from the Old Testament. A good Study Bible will tell you the exact book, chapter, and verse.

Good luck! Serious Bible study is extremely important in understanding the faith.
Mateo
 

Re: I am reading the Bible and don't understand it

Postby Robot by Day » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:38 pm

Have you looked into stuff beyond the gospels? Like, the Church Fathers' writings? The letters of Paul?
Robot by Day
 

Re: I am reading the Bible and don't understand it

Postby Allissa » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:42 pm

I think you are missing the Old Testament.
Allissa
 

Re: I am reading the Bible and don't understand it

Postby Go Away » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:45 pm

Context is what you are missing out on. Life is vastly different today than it was in biblical times. Try Craig Keener and John Walton's Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. Or try Zondervan's NIV Study Bible.
Go Away
 

Re: I am reading the Bible and don't understand it

Postby jimwalton » Thu Oct 19, 2017 6:16 pm

It's good you have come to this forum. It's where you can ask your questions. The Bible is far more than it seems on the surface. There are always layers of symbolism and meaning, especially in the story of Jesus. While you can take Jesus at face value, there are always layers of meaning below the words. Much of those layers come from the Old Testament. "Son of Man" is from Daniel 7.13ff. "Spirit" goes all the way back to Genesis 1.2, and is all through the OT.

> I don't feel...it is self-evident that Jesus is God.

John's Gospel targets this subject head on.

> This is sort of always been my problem with Christianity - it seems that much of the original meaning has been lost, and that our actual extant explicatory texts are missing.

Not really. Some is lost, inevitably, but hardly anything. There are so many resources available to help a person who is trying to understanding, but it's overwhelming for someone starting out. That's where a good church with a good teacher can be of great help, or a forum like this one. Since you can't just read copiously in a short amount of time, sometimes a forum like this, unless you have a knowledgeable Christian you can talk with, or a good class to attend, is a good place to get your questions answered.


Last bumped by Anonymous on Thu Oct 19, 2017 6:16 pm.
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