Forcing a meaning?
The teaching of a "class" of the faithful and discreet slave is itself an example.
The teaching that Jesus chose the WT as it in 1919 has no Biblical base at all. If there's it's so old that it isn't even in the CD-Rom
Exegesis and eisegesis are words I had never come across before coming to this site. Just so apt.
i reckon that if you want to start introducing the terms to a JW you know, it might be better to talk about something non-biblical, such as how Nostradamus's "predictions" are interpreted in an eisegesis fashion.
Thanks to you all. Eisegesis was exactly the word i was looking for.
Shepherdess, I use an example with them closer to home. And it works. From my unpublishes book...
You might open with: Before we discuss any doctrinal issues, I would like to distinguish between what I believe is proper versus improper interpretive practice.... so you know what I can accept as biblical and what I can't accept. (Proceed to show them your `Basic Guidelines for Validating Doctrinal Claims`)
What do you think of these guidelines?
Do you think applying these guidelines might help to reduce doctrinal error?
Note: As stated, JWs do not interpret the scriptures themselves. They rely totally on their leadership to funnel “truth” down from their world headquarters in New York. I have actually had a seasoned Witness offended by the suggestion that there are rules to follow to avoid misinterpreting biblical passages.
How do Jehovah's Witnesses interpret Matthew 13:44?
Again the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hidden in a field;
the which when a man has found, he hideth, and for joy thereof
goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Mt.13:44
Note: This verse is outside the box for JWs.
Listen to and acknowledge any explanation they give and follow up by providing the following totally fabricated example:
- Imagine you are approached one day by two young elders who
see this passage as support for the Mormon religion. They explain
that Joseph Smith discovered a treasure in gold plates while walking
in a field in Up State NY- in the year 1827. He immediately buried/hid these
plates, but later after fully dedicating himself to God's kingdom concerns,
returned to unearth them. They add that these plates were then translated
into what we know today as The Book of Mormon. Then you are asked to
compare Matt 13:44 with Ezekiel 37:16 regarding the stick/book of Joseph.
As a JW, how would you set them straight on this passage?
Note: Once they respond, you can offer your strategy.
a. First I would introduce the four basic guidelines I showed you. I would use these four guidelines to demonstrate that their explanation of Matthew 13:44 is not based on proper interpretive practice; that they are in fact guilty of interpretive abuse not only for ignoring context and arbitrarily linking unrelated passages, but also for tampering with (impregnating) the text by superimposing their own church history, names, dates and places onto the Bible. (eisegesis vs exegesis)
b. Secondly, I would apply the sound biblical interpretative practice of letting the Bible interpret itself. I would explain that this parable is 1 of 4 field parables spoken to the multitudes from a boat. Unlike Jesus' vineyard parables that apply specifically to Israel, these field parables pertain to the church and actually foresee the development of the church through history until the harvest. Then I would show them from the parallel passage in the fourth chapter of Mark, that all field parables are related (see Mark 4:13) as to interpretation. The interpretive keys to the field parables are all provided in Matthew 13 by Jesus Himself, as follows.
The field = the world [verse 38]
The man in field = Son of Man [verses 24, 37 ]
The treasure = Good Seed/ Children of the Kingdom/Church [verse 38]
The Son of Man gives everything he has to purchase field/world to acquire
his hidden treasure (hidden even from the prophets [verse 17]), the church.
Do you agree that these elders have gone beyond what is written when they
teach that Matthew 13:44 is about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon?
Do you think that my pointing out their interpretive abuse might help the elders to see that their teachings here are extra-biblical and merely represent the untrustworthy speculations of men?
Do you think that sound exegesis might correct them and serve to change their minds about this parable?
My take is this: Because their primary faith is in their church leadership and not in the Bible - neither pointing out their interpretive abuse, nor providing sound exegesis is likely to convince these elders that their teachings on this passage are unwarranted or wrong. Besides, if they changed their thinking, they would inevitably be labeled apostates, disfellowshiped and shunned by friends and family and ultimately, in their thinking, God Himself.
Do you agree with me that the elder's teaching on this passage constitutes interpretive abuse and merely represents the speculations of men?
NOTE: Since every doctrine which is unique/ original to Jehovah’s Witnesses is a product of similar if not identical interpretive abuse, you have just clearly established the basis for rejecting their distinctive extra-biblical teachings. At the close of this unit you might want to say something like -
Looking at your religion now: Is it possible that your religion is established by similar interpretive abuse?
Then I ask them to explain how they know that:
a. Peter went to heaven in the spring of 1918
b.Jesus rejected all othet churches in the fall of 1918
c.Jesus appointed an fds in New York in 1919
d. Other sheep were being called in 1935
Vanderhoven, that sounds like an excellent approach in the right setting. I think your reasoning is very sound and it would be very convincing to anyone even partially open-minded.
I am in a different setting, where the only theological discussion I would engage in, would be my wife and her relatives. If I were to try your approach, I would not be able to get more than the first few words into that dialogue before being shut down and accused of something.
I have to take a more subtle approach. For example, I have been able to introduce the concept of "confirmation bias" to my wife as the explanation for what is happening in US politics. We have similar views on US politics and it was easy. She even recently sent me a link to a news article that made controversial climate change assertions, with a joke about it being our "daily dose of confirmation bias". Yay! She got the point. We can look at what other areas in our life we might observe confirmation bias, later.
I think if I was to raise the word "eisegesis" at home in a biblical context, I would be instantly deafened and blinded by alarm bells and flashing red lights. Hence I am trying to think of non-biblical examples such as Nostradamus. The Oracle of Delphi might be another good example. I can't think of any others at the moment.
I have been able to introduce the concept of "confirmation bias" to my wife as the explanation for what is happening in US politics.
I can see your situation requires more subtlety. Material and documentaries now and again on other cult like organizations might be more effective and yet not raise alarm bells.
All the best.
Shepherdless - "I have been able to introduce the concept of 'confirmation bias' to my wife as the explanation for what is happening in US politics."
Talk about making lemons out of lemonade.