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Ruth L Miller is an eclectic scholar with degrees in many fields of science and the social sciences and is ordained as a New Thought minister - because she keeps on seeking answers to the fundamental questions that make it possible for the spiritual beings we call humanity to live well and in harmony on this planet for generations to come.

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Is it possible to read the Bible “literally” and live by it?

Not in today’s world, no.
Even if our translations were accurate, none of us is in a position to stone our family members for leaving their spouses or to burn an ox or sheep because we worked on the Sabbath or any of hundreds of rules and laws that were included in the first 5 books of the Old Testament (also known as Torah, or the Pentateuch).
More than that, though, even with all the new translations going around, the language that we use today is based on ideas and understandings about the world that are very different from the way the early Hebrews, and even the Roman Jews around Jesus, understood the world. So when we hear a phrase like “agree with your adversary” or “love your neighbor” what we think and what was originally intended may be very far apart, indeed.
For the 500 years that the Bible has been available for the general public to read, there have been–and really must be–as many interpretations as there are readers. Bill Moyers, a well-known journalist in the 1980s and ’90s, is also an ordained Southern Baptist preacher. He did a remarkable documentary called Politics and the Bible in which he traced the process by which a few people took a religious tradition based on “individual interpretation” of the Bible and turned it into a “my way or the highway” authoritarian statement of what the Bible means–which, he makes clear, is not fair to either the ministers or their followers.
Recently, many people have gone through the ancient prophecies of Daniel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah and combined them with the descriptions in Revelation, interpreting various phrases to mean certain things and telling people what’s going to happen in the world as a result.
Well, by definition, an interpretation is not a literal reading. Think about it.

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