Originally Posted by Spiritwalker
Is it a historical record? The word of God? The Gospel of those that wrote the Bible.. "The Gospel according to..."? Is it a guide for our day to day life? the hard rules that are not subject to interpertation?
Yes, to all of the above.
You'll find that most of the Christians on this board are in pretty much total agreement that the Bible is the Divinely Inspired Word of GOD.
However, the status of "Divinely Inspired" does not apply to any English translation of the Bible (not even the King James). To understand the Bible as it was intended to be read, you have to read it within the historical context of the time period it was written in. There are a few questions you need to ask yourself before basing any kind of theological teaching on the manuscript:
1. Who is the human author of the book? If we know who wrote the book, what is their story?
2. Who is the book written to? Is it written to Israelites who have just been liberated from Egypt? In Babylonian captivity? Those believers who were alive while Christ walked the Earth?
3. When was the book written? Most of the books in the Bible can be said to have been written within the life spans of living eyewitnesses to the events described in the book. Which is why we occasionally get statements like, "This person still lives in ________ land to this day." It means that the writers didn't expect the readers to just take their word for what was written, but they were free to go and actually seek out the people mentioned to get their eyewitness accounts. The Bible NEVER requires blind faith on the part of the believer.
4. Where was the book written? In what country and what was the state of the culture at the time? Many of the writers of the Bible were addressing contemporary issues that plagued Israel or the early Church at the time. We can learn from these writings because humanity never really changes and history always repeats itself. Sin destroys cultures the same way every time. We can slow it down by paying attention to what happened to many of the nations in the Bible, but we can never completely stop the moral decay that is a given in this evil, fallen world.