I’d like to introduce you to some of the teachings of a woman who I admired very much. Her name is Linda Cussen, and for a time she was the Director of Faith Formation at St. Martha Church. I learned so much from her. She was a masterful storyteller and even hard concepts were easy to understand because of her unique style. Linda left this earth to be with our Lord in September 2012. Part of her legacy lives on, though. Some of her teachings and reflections were recorded and are available for us to view. I posted a link below.
Linda taught the Old Testament module for the Formation Toward Christian Ministry (FTCM) program that I told you about in another post. (See Welcome tab) I pulled out my notes today when I decided to write on this “Bible” topic. I couldn’t help but smile as I read and remembered her repeatedly saying, “What does it meeaaannn?” While we could never answer that particular question or cover the different methods of scripture interpretation in 1, 2, or even 5 posts, I can give you a little of what Linda presented to us in that first class. Consider it a teaser and I hope it inspires you to listen to her.
How does the church look at scripture? As inspired by God. A revelation of God to man. Inerrant, meaning those truths we need to know for the sake of our salvation are firmly and faithfully without error. The Old Testament wasn’t even written down until around 1000 B.C. on, so the stories passed from generation to generation prior to that were like our campfire stories. When finally written, some stories were historically factual, and some were just stories. But with any story in scripture, the question we want to ask is, “What does it mean for the sake of our salvation?”
In other words, how do we interpret what we read? Fortunately, we have a wealth of knowledge and study to draw from. One thing agreed upon is that there are different levels of meaning to scripture. So when we interpret scripture, we first look at what the sacred writers intended, and then consider the meaning of the present time. (Dei Verbum, Paragraph 2) So if a story is factual or a myth, it is still true for the sake of our salvation.
So what now? I don’t know about you, but I’m once again excited to open my Bible.
Here is a video of Linda introducing the Gospel of John to our Cornerstone Scripture Study group: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkHluyJMWLM&feature=share&list=PLZdVa_yR1XHCob-YcUqOCT1GnQsBY8q03
Note: You may wonder why the Catholic Old Testament has more books (46) than the Protestant (39). Very briefly, the Jewish Canon was set around 90 A.D. at the Council of Jamnia and they chose to leave out those books that were no longer around or hadn’t been written in Hebrew. The Christian community of the time retained the Septuagint translation of 200-100 B.C., which had the 46 books. Luther went with the Jamnia version. Both Catholic and Protestant Bibles have 27 New Testament Books.