The problem with the “academic” study of Scripture is that Scripture is the Word of God and thus not part of the natural and/or man made world, which makes it something quite outside the range of things that “academic” thought is competent to address. It is not chemistry or literature or marine biology.
Usually, when an Academic talks about the “historical context” of a book or passage, especially when it contains a miracle, they are by their very nature, predicating their statement on the thought; “An ignorant person might read this and take it literally, but since we have modern science and enlightenment to guide us, we’ll clear up their superstitions by showing them that the people who wrote this were primitive savages.”
The same is true of many passages that some Bible Colleges teach their students “are addressed to a certain group of people at a certain time.”
But God exists outside of time, and His Word is Eternal. The idea that this or that passage was “addressed to a certain group of people at a certain time” is quite simply untrue. Parts of the Bible have a specific frame of reference, but nothing in the Bible is FROZEN in its frame of reference.
In Mark 8:33 Jesus said to Peter
“Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
Jesus was saying that for a specific person, Peter, at a specific time and in the context of that specific conversation, but He was also saying it to every person who ever reads it who has a similar attitude.
A certain level of agnosticism cum atheism is absolutely necessary for a classical “academic” study of the Scriptures in order to reduce the Eternal Word of God to something that a carnal, worldy mind (like the one Peter was using when Jesus rebuked him) can accept. A certain amount of pride/arrogance is also very helpful when approaching Scripture from an “academic” standpoint, and it is a rare Academic who suffers from a low opinion of him/herself.
There is no room for faith in the “academic” mindset which, by its very nature, seeks to find a carnal explanation for observable phenomenon and/or historical accounts of them.
Remember Mark 10:14-15:
“But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”
The Bible, says what it says and it says it very plainly. No “academic” study is necessary to understand it, only a heart willing to listen to what God is saying.
Posted by Aaron