Michael Heiser on the Proper Context for Interpreting the Bible

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Think Apologetics. Tabernacle of David considers this resource trustworthy and Biblically sound.


For some people, Michael Heiser’s book “The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible has become quite a game changer. This is a helpful part of the book. Heiser says the following:

“We’ve been trained to think that the history of Christianity is the true context of the Bible. We talk a lot about interpreting the Bible in context, but Christian history is not the context of the biblical writers. The proper context for interpreting the Bible is not Augustine or any other church father. It is not the Catholic Church. It is not the rabbinic movements of late antiquity and the Middle Ages. It is not the Reformation or the Puritans. It is not evangelicalism in any of its flavors. It is not the modern world at all, or any period of its history. The proper context for interpreting the Bible is the context of the biblical writers—the context that produced the Bible.1 Every other context is alien to the biblical writers and, therefore, to the Bible. Yet there is a pervasive tendency in the believing Church to filter the Bible through creeds, confessions, and denominational preferences. I’m not arguing that we should ignore our Christian forefathers. I’m simply saying that we should give their words and their thought the proper perspective and priority. Creeds serve a useful purpose. They distill important, albeit carefully selected, theological ideas. But they are not inspired. They are no substitute for the biblical text. The biblical text was produced by men who lived in the ancient Near East and Mediterranean between the second millennium BC and the first century AD. To understand how biblical writers thought, we need to tap into the intellectual output of that world. A vast amount of that material is available to us, thanks to modern technology. As our understanding of the worldview of the biblical writers grows, so does our understanding of what they intended to say—and the mosaic of their thinking takes shape in our minds.”-The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, pgs 15-16.

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