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Discuss critically the advantages and disadvantages of accepting that New Testament texts are literal.

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Introduction

Discuss critically the advantages and disadvantages of accepting that New Testament texts are literal. There are many different views that can be taken in interpreting any religious text, with three main categories being the liberal approach, conservatism, and finally the literalist view. Each of which having their own proponents and advantages, but also their disadvantages. However, whether a text is literal or not does not just affect a persons understanding and interpretation of the text, but also, their own belief as to where a person might gain revelation of the nature of God. Books from the Old Testament were first written during the time of the Babylonian exile, when there was concern that the Jewish tradition may be weakened during the time away from the Temple, and the New Testament was finalised in around AD130. Some books were included because of claims of authority, and others because they made sense of the faith of the believers. The idea of a divinely inspired and therefore literal text stems from the idea that a person is consumed by the breath of God at birth, and that breath is surrendered at death, with some people (the prophets, for example) being consumed more than others in order to accomplish the mission which was given by God. Therefore, all the authors of the bible are considered to have been divinely inspired in order to complete their tasks. ...read more.

Middle

Yet, there are two separate accounts of this conversion, which vary heavily. Luke, in Acts of the Apostles, and St Paul in his epistles do not portray the same events, leading some scholars (Kummel, Marshall) to believe that Acts is a more historical and accurate text, and yet others believe that Paul's Epistles are historical truths, and Acts is simply a theological text (Vielhauer, Ludemann, Haenchen). Similarly, St Paul's own Epistles do not contain the same message throughout, and many of his key theologies do change dependant upon the audience to which the letter is addressed. Whilst some may argue that Paul was "everything to everyone", it does still present problems for literalist Christians. A fundamentalist approach has also been considered as being too narrow, and has been accused of disregarding, or failing to see any hidden purposes in the texts, for example authorial purposes. It is believed by many that the had many different purposes when writing Acts, ranging from apologetic against Christian dissents to promoting anti-Semitism. Also, the bible tends to anthropomorphise God, with the intent of simplifying the ideas and making the concept of God a much more accessible ideal, yet it throws up problems in doing so. God is portrayed as being a rock, as having a voice, and walking on earth. ...read more.

Conclusion

Yet some modern scholars were less harsh than Bultman. Wiles argued that the bible is neither prpositional nor non prepositional, as God could not intervene in any aspect, as that would make him arbitrary, and go against the traditional interpretation of God. Wiles believed that we can never know the numina only the phenomena; Faith is all that is required. For Wiles the Bible would appear to be no more than stories. The literal interpretation of the Bible does not carry any more faults or truths than any other interpretation of the texts. A person may not argue for or against the interpretation of any text, because it is merely that; an interpretation. The scholar E.P. Sanders argues that there is a problem of interpretation, meaning that we cannot fully translate from the original greek or Aramaic. If one is to agree with the Sanders view, then all interpretation of the Bible is deemed un-necessary, as we will never be able to understand the complete meaning of any text, as biblical scholars have merely been guessing at English translations of unknown words, which will inevitably lead to human errors being found in any text, regardless of whether the original author was divinely inspired or not. A person's blik is also heavily influential on any decision regarding advantages and disadvantages, as for a literalist, there will be no disadvantages, yet for a liberal, there may be many. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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