Monday, July 2, 2012

Sherlock Holmes and Scripture

Eric McKiddie, a pastor in Wheaton Illinois, read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes last summer and compiled ten quotations he found relevant to the study of Scripture. For instance:
1. The number one mistake to avoid.
Holmes: “I have no data yet. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”
Far too often students of the Bible twist verses to suit interpretations instead of formulating interpretations to suit what the verses say.

Don’t approach your passage assuming you know what it means. Rather, use the data in the passage – the words that are used and how they fit together – to point you toward the correct interpretation.

6. The harder the mystery, the more evidence you need.
“This is a very deep business,” Holmes said at last. “There are a thousand details which I should desire to know before I decide upon our course of action.”
In grad school, one professor gave us an assignment requiring us students to make 75 observations on Acts 1:8. The verse does not even contain that many words!

The professor’s goal was to train us in compiling evidence. Harder Bible passages demand that we collect as much information as possible.

8. Don’t be so committed to a solution that you ignore new evidence.
“I had,” said Holmes, “come to an entirely erroneous conclusion which shows, my dear Watson, how dangerous it always is to reason from insufficient data…I can only claim the merit that I instantly reconsidered my position.”
After you’ve put the hard work into grasping a mysterious passage, the case isn’t necessarily closed. Often you’ll run across other passages that shed new light on your passage. Or you’ll hear someone preach those verses in a different way than how you interpreted it.

Always be willing to consider new insights. This will at least help you nuance your understanding of the passage, if not take a different stance. .... [more]
How about this one, from The Sign of Four:
"You will not apply my precept," he said, shaking his head. "How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?
10 Tips on Solving Mysterious Bible Passages from Sherlock Holmes – Trevin Wax