How to interpret the Bible

Throughout the course, we have been addressing the complex question of how to interpret the Bible, especially in light of the recognition that differing interpretations can lead to different conclusions about the nature of the moral life. In particular, we have discussed the difference between interpreting the Bible as “revealed morality” vs. interpreting it as “revealed reality.” In light of this issue, this essay should accomplish all the following tasks: 1) describe the meaning of “revealed morality” and “revealed reality” as it relates to interpreting the Bible; what do the two terms mean (including the word “revealed”) and what are the fundamental differences between the two kinds of interpretive approaches? 2) Choose TWO authors (primary texts only) whom we have read OUTSIDE OF THE BIBLE who take each respective approach to interpreting the Bible; that is, choose one author who you think interprets the Bible through the prism of “revealed morality” and one author who interprets the Bible through the prism of “revealed reality”; explain, with supporting details, how each author represents each respective category. 3) Identify and explain how each author’s interpretation of the Bible leads to his/her distinctive moral viewpoints; in other words, answer the question: How does each author define the moral life and how is that definition related to his/her distinctive interpretation of the Bible? 4) Finally, describe what approach to interpreting the Bible—“revealed morality” or “revealed reality”—YOU find more convincing and why. Note: you may choose any two texts you like; however, because the question examines how early Christian authors USE the Bible as a resource, you cannot choose the Bible itself (that is, neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament).

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