About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman
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ignore our increased knowledge of past civilizations and hold to outdated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.
in the ancient world could do nothing but express their understanding of
the all-knowing God and His ways within their limited-knowing cultural
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.