Regardless of the subject matter, all communication needs to be interpreted. Someone with my convictions, how I should be going about interpreting the Bible is vitally important. Let me explain what I mean since it might not be evident. I’m not talking about what a particular passage means, as important as that is. The perspective from where you begin to approach the work is even more important, I think.
Speaking of the Bible for the sake of this discussion, I am of the opinion there is only one correct interpretation. Whether I have it or not is beside the point for now. But my starting point into determining the correct interpretation is dependent on the message the author intended to convey. Just as there is only one correct way to understand this post, there is only one correct way to understand the Bible. This is not to say there isn’t disagreement. More so that when two competing interpretations are offered, both simultaneously cannot be truly said to be correct.
Not everyone shares this opinion. Some might suggest that there are multiple legitimate and correct interpretations of the same passage. I disagree. However, given the nature of the original languages, there is room for more than one reasonable conclusion. This I can agree to. What I can’t concede is that even of there are two reasonable interpretations, they cannot both accurately reflect the author’s intention.
This isn’t the only approach. I’ve had it argued to me that multiple interpretations are all valid in that it is up to the reader to decide what the passage means to them. This post modern approach seems counterintuitive on its face. No one operates this way in their daily interactions, in private contracts, while reading news articles, or anywhere else for that matter. Why then does this method of “interpretation” somehow become a legitimate way of doing things simply because the context is religion?
So what do you think? Which avenue will yield the correct interpretation, or at least has the best chance? Does the proper interpretation lie in the author’s intended message? Or is it in the reader, that he decides what the text means? What is wrong with the point of view opposite your own?