University of Oxford’s Richard Swinburne will be the plenary speaker for the EPS annual meeting. The focus of his presentation is on “The Interpretation of Scripture.” Here is a summary of what he will be presenting on Wednesday, November 20th at 3:00 pm (Baltimore Hilton: Key Ballroom 1-8):
To interpret any text we must first determine of which book it is a part, who wrote it for whom, and what genres were then available. That will enable us to determine its genre (especially whether it is history, historical fable, moral fable, or metaphysical fable) and that in turn will enable us to determine which of its sentences should be interpreted literally and which metaphorically. The Church Fathers and Councils who had the authority to determine that some book constituted Scripture, were claiming that God was the ‘ultimate author’ of that book. So we must assume that the whole Bible does not contain inconsistent sentences , nor ones inconsistent with historical or scientific truths. The cultural context of the whole Bible should lead us to think it plausible that it contains much allegory. Origen, Gregory of Nyssa and Augustine followed these rules in interpreting biblical passages in the light of established Christian doctrine including the moral teaching of the Gospels, and of the scientific theories of Greek science. We should interpret them in the light of this doctrine and of modern science.