Original Research - Special Collection: Ignatius van Wyk Dedication

When misinterpreting the Bible becomes a habit

Peet J. van Dyk
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 74, No 4 | a4898 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v74i4.4898 | © 2018 Peet J. Van Dyk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 December 2017 | Published: 11 April 2018


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Abstract

Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) texts should be interpreted against the background of the magico-mythical cosmology of their time, and the Bible is no exception. Earlier scholars were, however, hesitant to recognise this reality as a result of disagreement over how to define myths and because of the problematic idealistic framework that they followed. This framework viewed biblical religion as superior to other ANE religions and thus devoid of myths and the belief in magic. It is, however, argued that the Bible contains both myths and a belief in magic and shares the overarching ANE cosmology. The incompatibility of the scientific cosmology and the magico-mythical cosmology of the ANE causes special problems for modern readers. To prevent modern readers from habitually falling back on their scientific cosmology, and thereby misinterpreting the Bible, it is suggested that a cosmological approach should form the basic framework for all biblical hermeneutics.

Keywords

Cosmology; Cognitive Frameworks; Mythology; Magic; Hermeneutics; Gadamer

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