Addressing Common Mistakes About Reading the Bible 

It’s easy to make mistakes; sometimes too easy. That is one reason why it is necessary to keep learning about new things but also being mindful of the past. 

A recent blog post that delineates some common mistakes that critics make when they approach the Biggest biblical texts, I believe, can be equally applied to those who are not critical of them either, and inform a false, even lacking interpretation of Scripture. 
Just a few points made in the post, then I will follow up with some comments. 

• They fail properly to account for literary and/ or historical contexts
• fail to distinguish ipsissima vox from ipsissima verba
• assume that silence in one account equals contradiction to the non-silence in a parallel account,

The first point is critical because it can lead to a false interpretation/application. Failing to recognize what is being presented and how can lead to either diminishing what is being said or an overemphasis of a point. The type of literary device that the writer is using to present the idea often determines how it should be taken. This is what is I call literary acknowledgement of the text. 

Ipsissima vox and ipsissima verba are also necessary distinctions that need to be made. Ipsissima vox, or “the very voice” refers to understanding that when we read a passage in, say, the gospels we aren’t necessarily reading the exact words of Jesus, but rather hearing his voice because of certain historical context and literary considerations. Ipsissima verba is the contrasting assertion, that the very words of Jesus have been preserved in the gospel texts. I tend to stand somewhere  in the middle, but realizing that what we have in the four gospel presentations is an accurate presentation of the Savior, how he lived, what he taught, and what was done for us, is more important than arguing over whether or not we are simply hearing his voice or his words because I think we have both, because if you can’t hear the voice, you will not heed the words

Lastly, for this post, the assumption of silence and how it can be used to twist Scripture or make it appear contradictory. This has been used by liberals in the church to support controversial issues such as abortion and homosexuality, but the primary focus of this is that because something is said only in one account, that somehow it isn’t authoritative or as important as things that are more stressed by the authors. This simply isn’t true, rather it is something that we should be very careful of because it could be something very important, after all it was important for the author to mention. 

A lot to think about. 


  1. I don’t believe most of us reject Christ because we can’t be convinced that the words He spoke as recorded in the N.T. are absolutely accurate in every case. It is much more simple than that, even for our mighty higher critics. Metzger was as good as they get and he followed the resurrected Christ, trusting in Him for salvation through His shed blood.

    We don’t want Him to run the show. We don’t want to shed every sin that so easily besets us. We don’t believe He is hip enough to be a really cool God.

    For sure, following Him is difficult, but it beats any/every alternative by an eternity

    • “These men ask me to believe they can read between the lines of old texts; the evidence is their obvious inability to read (in any sense worth discussing) the lines themselves. They claim to see fern-seed and can’t see an elephant ten yards away in broad daylight.” CS LEWIS on higher criticism

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