Friday, October 28, 2005

In Context

Here's something amusing. Hop on over to Bible Gateway and search the bible for something. "Poor", for example.

Now examine your results, which are broken up by individual scripture. There are three links for each scripture: one that will only show you the single scripture, one that will also show you the preceding and following verses ("in context"), and one that will show you the entire chapter ("whole chapter").

I like Bible Gateway. It's handy for finding things, it looks nice, and it's free. But there seems to be something fundamentally wrong with their labeling. Since when is three Bible verses "in context"? I mean, check out these three verses:

16 "They were the ones who followed Balaam's advice and were the means of turning the Israelites away from the LORD in what happened at Peor, so that a plague struck the LORD's people. 17 Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

Now if you didn't know what was going on in the passage from Numbers, you might think that God was telling the Israelites to massacre a bunch of people, except of course the pretty young virgins. But if you read the entire chapter, you realize that the passage is actually saying that ... um ... God told the Israelites to massacre a bunch of people, except of course the pretty young virgins.

Nevermind. Bad example. We'll talk about interpreting the Old Testament another time.

What I meant to say was, when it comes to interpreting things, three verses aren't much different than one verse. Three verses certainly aren't going to give you any idea about what the author is trying to do in the book at large. The Entire Chapter may not even give you that.

So to be more accurate, I suggest that the Bible Gateway people change their labels to the following:

1 verse:
Prooftexters Click Here!!

3 verses:
Southern Baptists Click Here!!

Entire Chapter:

Suck It Up And Read the Book, Willya?

For more amusement, those of you who searched for "poor" should notice the number of results that returned, and then do a search for "homosexual".


Connor said...

Are you suggesting that Southern Baptist have bad translation skills, or just can't read more than 3 verses?

Also, I don't care what people say, its freaking cold in Virginia and the Mexican foods sucks...

A. Lo said...

Wow, Connor. Then this song is for you:

Matthew said...

Yes, Southern Baptists seem to have bad translation skills. They also run silly things like "judgment house" on halloween. I think the two things are related, but I'm not sure.

Jennifer said...

LOL!!! Just found you from PCBN. Very cool.