The Spaceships of Ezekiel
Are there Flying Saucers in the Bible?

 

Interpreting Text and Testimony

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Keywords: UFO, unidentified flying objects, Bible, flying saucers, prophecy, Paleo-SETI, ancient astronauts, Erich von Däniken, Josef F. Blumrich, Zecharia Sitchin, Ezekiel, biblical prophecy, spacecraft, spaceship, NASA, Roswell, aircraft, propellant, extraterrestrial hypothesis, Jacques Vallee, interdimensional hypothesis, Project Blue Book, Condon Report, ancient history, Jesus, Judaism, Christianity, Middle East, end times, engines, rockets, helicopters, space travel, aliens, abductions, alien abductions, crop circles, extraterrestrials, astronomy, economics, biology, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Space Shuttle, Apollo, stars, planets, solar system, scriptures, design, fuel tank, aerodynamics, fuels, hydrogen, oxygen, wheels


 

 

 

 

Textual Analysis - About Blumrich and Bible Text

Textual Analysis
Hermeneutics - Interpreting Text and Testimony

Textual Analysis - Strong's Numbers

  • In interpreting the Bible a number of Principles of Textual Interpretation apply.
     
  • These principles were not developed by biblical scholars.
     
  • These principles were not developed specifically for Bible study or interpretation.
     
  • The same principles are used by courts, historians, literary scholars, editors, news reporters and academicians.
     
  • The same principles are used when examining texts that have nothing to do with religion, ethics, morality, etc.
     
  • The rules are based on logic, experience, and common sense, not religious beliefs.
     
  • This is not a formal set of "rules" adopted by some "Society" or "Association". It is an informal list of the various principles generally used.
     
  • Interpretation of text includes study of jargon unique to the subject matter of the text.

The study of the principles of textual interpretation is called hermeneutics (pronounced "Herman OO ticks").
  


Hermeneutics deals with issues such as:

  • What is the 'formal' interpretation of this text?

  • What is the 'official' interpretation of this text?

  • How do people interpret the text who are experts on the history, politics, culture, life, times, customs, etc. of the writer?

  • What did the author intend to say?

  • What message did the author intend to convey?

  • Is the use of a particular word, grammatical construction, verb tense, etc., significant in this instance?

  • Who were the author's readers or listeners, culturally, etc.?

  • How was the text interpreted by the author's contemporaries?

 
UNLESS THERE IS EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY, ASSUME . . .
BENEFIT OF THE
DOUBT

Unless there is evidence of untrustworthiness, every author is given the benefit of the doubt on truthfulness, accuracy, etc.

REASONABLY
INTELLIGENT

The author is reasonably intelligent.  He is neither a genius nor an idiot.

REASONABLY
EDUCATED

The author is reasonably educated by the standards of his time, place, occupation, and station in life.

REASONABLY
KNOWS TOPIC

By the standards of his time, place, occupation, and station in life, the author is reasonably knowledgeable about his topic.

REASONABLY
WORLDLY

By the standards of his time, place, occupation, and station in life, the author is reasonably knowledgeable about how people act, what motivates them, etc.

REASONABLY
INFORMED

By the standards of his time, place, occupation, and station in life, the author is reasonably knowledgeable about science, literature, religion, politics, community activities, etc.

REASONABLY
NORMAL

Just because the author lived in ancient Egypt or Greece or Rome or Israel doesn't mean he lacked wisdom, intelligence, reasoning, common sense, curiosity, a sense of humor, or healthy skepticism!

REASONABLY
ACCURATE

The author is neither excessively sloppy nor excessively accurate in his recital of information.

NOT TOTALLY
NEUTRAL

It is virtually impossible to write about something without leaning toward a particular viewpoint.

REASONABLY
TRUSTWORTHY

A person with an interest in the outcome of an event can still present an accurate account!  Consider:

  • Does the author seem to present the facts "warts and all"?
  • Does he admit weaknesses in his case?
  • Does he try to respond to his opponents' arguments?
  • Does he try to distract the reader with personal attacks on his opponents that have nothing to do with their arguments?
  • Does he blatantly misrepresent his opponents' positions?
  • Does he use "straw man" arguments that misrepresent his opponents' positions and then disprove the misrepresentations?
REASONABLY
ERROR-FREE

The author has not made any blatant errors in interpreting or reporting information.  He made reasonable efforts to verify and report information but did not get ridiculous about it.

NOT LYING

By definition, a "lie" is a statement which the author represents as being true although he believes it to be false. No matter how blatant or how stupid it is, an error is not a lie.

INTERNALLY CONSISTENT

The author didn't intend to contradict himself and in fact did not contradict himself—even though, at first glance, there is an apparent contradiction.

HARMONIOUS INTERPRETATION

1.  A section of a document can be interpreted two ways.
2.  One interpretation contradicts another part of the document or another of the author's writings.
3.  The other interpretation is consistent with other text.
4.  Both interpretations are fairly reasonable.

The interpretation that produces consistency should be used even if it is less likely or less reasonable.

CONSISTENT IN
TRUTHFULNESS

If a person has a reputation for exaggeration or lying, all statements from that person are of doubtful reliability, even those that sound okay.

On the other hand, if a person is shown to be reliable in most things, he is assumed to be reliable even when it can't be proven.

CONSISTENT IN
PHILOSOPHY

A trustworthy person does not constantly change his views.  If an author has presented a particular viewpoint in previous writings, he probably still holds those views.

ACTIONS AND WORDS
WILL BE CONSISTENT

If an author's actions are contrary to his words, the reliability of his words is questionable.

WON'T LIGHTLY
ACT AGAINST OWN
SELF-INTEREST

The author would not act against his own interest without good reason.  If he makes a statement that is likely to expose him to ostracism, ridicule, public scorn, humiliation, contempt, pain, imprisonment, or death, the statement is likely to be true.

CHARACTER BY
ASSOCIATION

You can tell a lot about the author's character by the company he keeps, the reliability of his sources, etc.

THINGS PROCEED
NORMALLY
Actions, events, etc., follow their normal course.
LAWS OF NATURE
STAY CONSISTENT

Under similar conditions, the laws of nature remain consistent.

REASONABLE
ASSUMPTIONS OKAY

The reader can make reasonable assumptions consistent with logic, common sense, and known circumstances.  (An assumption is not based on the text, e.g., a person gets hungry and sleepy every day.)

REASONABLE
INFERENCES OKAY

The reader can draw reasonable inferences from the text and known information.  (An inference is partially based on the text.)

MUST PROVE
UNUSUAL

The burden of proof rests on the person alleging something out of the ordinary, not on the person claiming the ordinary.

GENERALIZATION
IS NOT ERROR

A reasonable generalization is not a lie or an error, even if it uses phrases like "all" or "every".

APPROXIMATION
IS NOT ERROR

A reasonable approximation is not a lie or an error unless it purports to be more accurate than it is. (E.g., "our income last year was $75,321.62" gives the impression you counted to the penny, not the nearest thousand.)

SIMPLIFICATION
IS NOT ERROR
A reasonable simplification is not a lie or an error.
SARCASM, ETC.
IS NOT ERROR

Sarcasm, obviously blatant exaggeration, for emphasis, etc., is not error. ("They call me 'Elephant' because I work for peanuts.")

WORDS HAVE
USUAL MEANING

Words have their usual meaning.  If we start saying "It says '. . .' but it really must mean '. . .'", we are ignoring what the author wrote and substituting our own text.

GRAMMAR HAS
USUAL MEANING

As with wording, we are not free to "force" an unusual interpretation on a standard grammatical construction.  "And" means both.  It does not mean "at least one". "Or" means "at least one"!

UNCOMMON GRAMMAR
HAS SPECIAL MEANING

If the author uses an uncommon grammatical construction it probably was intentional, either for emphasis or special clarity.

PUNCTUATION HAS
ITS USUAL MEANING

Punctuation has its normal meaning, e.g., commas separate. Note—in Biblical times punctuation was not used.

IDIOMS HAVE
THEIR USUAL
 MEANING

Every language has idioms—phrases whose meaning is different from the words, e.g. in English "a knight in shining armor" means "a virtuous hero". The Spanish equivalent is "un príncipe azul", which, literally means "a blue prince".

SOME WORDS
MAY BE  JARGON
Every field has its jargon.  There are two types of jargon:
  1. Words or phrases unique to that field, e.g., a legal writ
  2. Common words or phrases that have a special meaning in that field, e.g., in criminal law a "not guilty" verdict means "the government failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt."

USE OF JARGON
DEPENDS ON THE
TARGET READER

Whether a word was used as jargon depends on the intended audience. If the author is writing to specialists, he probably meant the word as jargon.  He probably avoided jargon for a general audience.

DIFFERENT VIEW
IS NOT ERROR

Just because someone has a different view or interpretation does not automatically mean that person is wrong.

AIMS AT AVERAGE
TARGET MEMBER

The author is writing for the average reader of his type of material, not someone who is super-educated, super-informed, super-analytical, super-critical, super-skeptical, or looking only for weak points or only for strong points.

SUFFICIENT, NOT
EXHAUSTIVE

The author attempts to present enough evidence and arguments to convey his point, not all the evidence and arguments.

HAS PARTICULAR
AUDIENCE IN MIND

The author is writing for a particular audience.  No one tries to write an article on nuclear physics for both physics professors and second grade students!

TRIED TO BE
UNDERSTOOD

The author was trying to write something his readers would understand. (Of course, this frequently is not the case in wordy legal documents such as insurance and loan agreements!)

OCCAM'S RAZOR

When choosing between two alternative solutions to a problem, all other things being equal, if the simple solution works as well as the complicated solution, the simple solution is probably the correct alternative.

TARGET READER
REALIZES THESE

The author makes similar assumptions about his target reader. He assumes the reader is nearly fluent in the language, can hear, see, is already familiar with the basic concepts discussed, etc.

  • Note that not one of these principles is specific to the Bible.
     
  • Again, these principles apply unless there is evidence to the contrary.

It is important to note that in interpreting certain Bible authors, one or more of these assumptions definitely does not apply, (particularly the only reasonably intelligent, educated, worldly, and informed assumptions): 

  • Moses was raised as Pharaoh's son and trained in the best university in the world at the time.  In today's world he would be the equivalent of a Rhodes Scholar with a Ph.D.

  • Joseph became prime minister of Egypt, the greatest country in the world at the time, on the basis of ability, not by birth or political connections.

  • Daniel was specially selected and educated by the Babylonian government because he was considered among "the cream of the crop".

  • Paul studied rabbinical law and theology under Gamaliel, the leading rabbinical teacher of his time.  On the basis of his writings, Paul obviously was a brilliant theologian with a gift for being able to explain complex theological concepts clearly.


A WORD OF CAUTION ABOUT 'SHADES OF MEANING'

English speakers must be very cautious in hermeneutical interpretation of the Bible, for a unique reason: The English language has more words than any other language—far more words than either biblical Hebrew or biblical Greek.  It has many words from Norman French, modern French, Latin, Greek, Danish and Anglo-Saxon.  In many cases, it has two or three words for the same concept, e.g., royal (French), regal (Latin), kingly (Anglo-Saxon).

As a result, there often are fine shades of meaning in English that do not exist in the original text. For instance, "royal" means "having to do with royalty".  "Regal" gives the mental image of "in a grandiose manner, with lots of pomp and circumstance". Often, an English translator has no choice—he must choose between English words that have narrower meanings than the original language because there is no equivalent 'broad' word in English. In making his choice he is not only translating the text, he is also changing the meaning to a certain extent. For instance, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom." The Hebrew word is half-way between "dread" and "reverence". No English word exists that has a similar meaning.

For this reason, for serious study it is important to have several translations "from scratch", i.e., where the translators translated directly from the source texts without primarily relying on earlier English translations. For instance, the Revised Standard Version (RSV), the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), and the New King James Version (NKJV) all are actually updates of the King James Version, not new translations. And the KJV is an update of the Geneva Bible. For better or worse, each is perpetuating interpretations by prior translators.

It is also important to use literal translations that also show what the original Hebrew or Greek word means. Each biblical Hebrew and Greek word has been assigned a Strong's Number, and dictionaries showing the meanings are available.  A lot of Bible-study software has automatic correlations, so that as you move the cursor through the text (i.g., the NKJV or NIV), transliterated Hebrew or Greek words with definitions appear in another window.
 

 


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