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How to Keep Falling Rock Out of Your Bible Study

December 9, 2016

falling-rockWhen my wife was a young girl, her family would travel from their house in O’Fallon, Missouri to Dixon, Missouri, to visit grandparents. Along the journey they passed a yellow road sign that read, “Watch for Falling Rock.” Kristi’s dad always told his three daughters that Falling Rock was an outlaw Indian whom the authorities could never catch—thus the reason for the sign. People needed to be on the lookout for the dangerous Indian, Falling Rock, much like Gus was on the lookout for Blue Duck in Lonesome Dove.

I am not sure how long Kristi and her sisters believed her dad, but I am certain that the highway department never intended that yellow sign to be read in that way. The sign is usually found at the bottom of a steep, rocky incline, warning motorists to be on the lookout for rocks falling down the side, not an outlaw Indian.

This past semester I have been teaching a class at our church on biblical interpretation and application. One of the main things we have talked about during this class is the importance of authorial intent. In other words, the author’s meaning is the only meaning. The reader/interpreter does not have the right to interpret the text in any other way than how the author intended his words to be interpreted.

So remember when you are reading and studying your bible that the question is not, “What does this text mean to me?” The questions are, “What was the author’s intended meaning, and how does that meaning apply to me?”

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