Introduction: The best piece of advice I can give you. LET THE BIBLE BE WHAT IT IS 1. Let the Bible be what it is. 2. Don't second-guess God's decisions in inspiration. 3. Inspiration was a process, not an event. 4. Inspiration wasn't a paranormal experience. 5. Editing was part of the process of biblical inspiration. 6. The Bible is not an exhaustive repository of all truth. 7. Most of the authors of biblical books are unknown. 8. The Bible is a product of its time. 9. The setting of a biblical story wasn't necessarily the time at which it was written. 10. Everything in the Bible isn't about Jesus. LET THE ANCIENT ISRAELITES BE WHO THEY WERE 11. The world known to the biblical writers was a lot smaller than ours. 12. Biblical writers believed that God made the world they knew, not the world they didn't know. 13. Ancient Israelite culture didn't drop from heaven. 14. Biblical people embraced the idea of an active supernatural world. 15. Most people in the biblical world had never read the Bible. LET THE BIBLICAL WRITERS DO WHAT THEY DID 16. Biblical writers were not semi-literate amateurs. 17. The writers of the Bible structured what they wrote to convey meaning. 18. Biblical writers did their homework. 19. The biblical writers were literary artists. 20. Biblical writers didn't always intend to be taken literally. 21. Biblical writers used translations of the Bible. LET THE FIRST FIVE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE BE WHAT THEY ARE 22. The creation stories target the beliefs of other ancient religions. 23. Old Testament genealogies were not intended to be precise indicators of the age of the earth. 24. The covenant sign of circumcision was a theological statement for Israelite men and women. 25. The rebellion at the Tower of Babel frames the rest of biblical history. 26. Neither God nor the Israelites looked at Old Testament laws as equal in character and importance. 27. The biblical concept of holiness includes, but is not limited to, moral behavior. 28. Some of the strangest ideas in biblical law teach important points of biblical theology. 29. Biblical writers took the concept of holy ground seriously. 30. Old Testament sacrifices weren't primarily about individual forgiveness for sin. 31. Deuteronomy is one long sermon by Moses to the Israelites. 32. Ancient Israelites believed the gods of the nations were real. 33. God was present in human form in the Old Testament. LET THE HISTORICAL BOOKS BE WHAT THEY ARE 34. Archaeology can validate, but not prove, the Bible. 35. "Israel" doesn't always mean "Israel" in the Old Testament. 36. 1-2 Chronicles contains propaganda---by design. 37. Most of the cities and towns mentioned in the Bible have not been excavated. 38. The books of Joshua through 2 Kings were likely written by the same person(s) at the same time. 39. Judges weren't kings. 40. God intended all along for Israel to have a king. 41. The events of the book of Ruth are set in the days of the judges. 42. In the historical books, a person's tribe and home town are often crucial parts of the storyline. LET THE PROPHETIC BOOKS BE WHAT THEY ARE 43. Most of the material in the prophetic books isn't about predicting the future. 44. Prophets weren't crazy men . . . mostly. 45. Old Testament prophets preached at different times and places. 46. Most of the material in the prophets has already been fulfilled. 47. The "servant" of Isaiah is both an individual and the collective nation of Israel. 48. Messianic prophecy was deliberately cryptic. LET THE WISDOM BOOKS BE WHAT THEY ARE 49. Proverbs are neither prophecies nor promises. 50. The books of Psalms and Proverbs were edited and assembled in stages. 51. Understanding Hebrew poetry is essential for interpreting psalms and proverbs. 52. The book of Job is not primarily about suffering. 53. The fundamental focus of wisdom literature is character, and the most praiseworthy character comes from the fear of the Lord. LET
Michael S. Heiser (PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison) is scholar-in-residence at Logos Bible Software. An adjunct professor at a couple of seminaries, he's written numerous articles and books, including The Unseen Realm and I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible.