Aug 11, 2015

Three Dangers Associated with Studying Backgrounds

Duvall and Hays, in their book Grasping God’s Word, identify three dangers associated with studying backgrounds as part of the interpretive process.[1]

1. Use inaccurate background information.
2. Elevating the background of the text above the meaning of the text.
3. Letting yourself evolve into nothing more than a walking database of ancient facts.

This caution is not meant to devalue the study of backgrounds but I believe that Duvall and Hays are right to point out potential pitfalls. I have often witnessed the misuse and misapplication of background material. And this misuse and misapplication is often accompanied with an arrogant spirit of claiming to really know what a given text means.

[1] J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s Word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 123–24.

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