About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman

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Increased Knowledge  


Daniel 12:4 reads:


"But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge."


I believe the increased knowledge predicted in Daniel 12:4 includes recently discovered knowledge of the ancient cultures in which the Biblical text was originally written, edited, and compiled.  Since the mid 1800's, archaeologists have unearthed countless ancient documents and artefacts from across the Middle East dating back to these past cultures.  These discoveries have provided valuable insight that aids Bible scholars and translators to better understand, interpret, and translate the Bible, and that benefits us. 


One rule of Biblical interpretation states that before we apply the Biblical text to ourselves, we must first know to whom and when it was originally written so we can understand the text in its cultural context.  We would be in error to interpret the Biblical text through our modern-day, cultural lens.  This is where recent archaeological discoveries become significant to our Biblical understanding.  If we ignore our increased knowledge of past civilizations and hold to outdated knowledge and traditional biases, we will fail to benefit from the Biblical message as we should.  


With our increased knowledge of ancient civilizations in mind, the word "accommodate," as it applies to God, humanity, and the Bible, becomes important.  When the all-knowing God communicates to a limited-knowing humanity, He is forced to accommodate His communication to humanity's limited-knowing capabilities.  If a university professor, for example, communicates a complex concept to a child, he is forced to simplify his communication, even if that simplification partially diminishes the factuality of the concept.  It's called accommodation, and both God and the Bible accommodate.          


When considering the inspiration and infallibility of Scripture with accommodation in mind, Joshua 10:13 states that the sun stood still.  Did the sun really stand still?  Our increased knowledge says the sun did not stand still.  The concept of the sun standing still was the common cultural consensus of Joshua's day, and the Bible accommodates to that limited understanding without correcting it.  Any correction would have confused everyone back then.     


Genesis 1:6 states that a solid structural floor in the sky held back water from falling to earth.  Was there such a structure?  Our increased knowledge says there was no such structure.  The concept of a solid structure in the sky overlooking a flat earth was the common cultural consensus of Moses' day, and the Bible accommodates to that limited understanding without correcting it.  Any correction would have confused everyone back then.     


Limited-knowing people in the ancient world could do nothing but express their understanding of the all-knowing God and His ways within their limited-knowing cultural capabilities.  Nevertheless, Daniel 12:4 tells us that knowledge will increase over time, and we are beneficiaries of that increased knowledge.  Despite the fact we are still limited in our knowledge, I suggest that we make good use of the increase in knowledge we now have in our attempt to understand the Biblical text.  Let us not be so cemented in the traditions of the past that we fail to comprehend what the Bible communicates to us in the present.                 


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