The Bible is one of the most influential books in human history. It has survived through numerous attempts to destroy it and all it represents. It has been interpreted different ways throughout the years but two of the most important modes of interpretation are the Traditionalist and Modernist views. The Traditionalist perspective has existed for centuries and originated almost as soon as the Bible itself. Modern biblical scholarship’s rise has been more recent, being led by Charles Briggs in the past few centuries. Along with this rise has come much debate about which perspective is right and whether they can coexist. In order to determine if the views are compatible one can examine the purpose of the way of interpretation, the assumptions made by each, the levels of interpretation of each, and the purpose of the Bible in both modes of interpretation.
Determining the purpose of a way of Biblical interpretation is vital because it sets the course. The purpose is the guiding compass for all interpretations that comes. Ancient interpreters have always viewed the Bible as a book whose main purpose was spiritual nourishment and enlightenment. In fact, what the Bible explicitly says is not the most important aspect of it in Traditionalism. Kugel captures this excellently when he says, “that there was something considered even more important, more powerful than the words of the text themselves.” This leaves the question of what exactly is this something that is more important? For the ancient interpreters it was the meaning that was underlying the words, the mission of serving and worshipping God. Knowing this is vital in understanding that the purpose of Traditionalist views is to expound on this mission of service in every part of Scripture, using both the text and the meanings beyond.
The purpose of Modern biblical scholarship was said best by Charles Briggs himself. Biggs stated that Holy Scripture is, “covered over with the debris of the traditional interpretations of the multitudinous schools and sects” and that, “Historical criticism is searching for the rock-bed of the Divine word, in order to recover the real Bible.” These statements show that Modernism is based on refuting Tradition, but even so still sought to find truth. However throughout the years the focus has shifted from looking for the real Bible to only degrading the idea of, “Holy Scripture as given by divine inspiration to holy prophets.” This evolution brings to mind 2 Timothy 3:7 which speaks of people in the last days, “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” With this change in focus, it begins to be obvious that one cannot mix what Modernism has become and Traditionalism.
The assumptions of a view of interpretation are important because they are directly responsible for the worldview that results from following this way of. Facts remain constant but can be interpreted different ways based on what assumptions are being applied to them. ...