How can one cite any verse in the Bible without being guilty of "taking it out of context"?


Reference: I was just accused of taking verses "out of context"

Bonus Question: When an Islamic answers a question by copying and posting [almost the entire) Koran, are they doing us a favor by not "taking things out of context"?

25 Answers

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    "You're taking it out of context" is fundie speak for "I don't like what you said".

    Strangely enough, almost never is the accusation of "you're taking it out of context" accompanied with a) an explanation of just how it is out of context, and/or b) any effort to provide the context.

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  • 4 years ago

    Citing the Bible is no different than citing any other text in support of an argument. You need to understand the quote within its immediate context and in the larger framework of the author's beliefs and the rest of the work being studied. You also need to examine the source material for accuracy and to understand the social and ethical atmosphere of the time in which it was written. Quoting from the Bible is a matter of understanding how research and literary criticism are done. Whether you agree with the content or not has no bearing on citing a reference work correctly. That's a matter of logic and how well the person builds their case.

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  • 10 years ago

    Taking something out of context would imply that they have extracted a verse from an entire chapter, story or composition. Cherry picking verses happens a lot, because people want to believe it says what they mean, and not what God says. When people say for example, the Day of the Lord, they decide it means Sunday. Further reading within the context of the chapter shows clearly it refers to the return of Christ and His wrath on the wicked. Big difference. So it is important to look at these chapters and verses as wholes, for that is the way they were written. Study of Scripture is so important for this reason, as Christ new people would do this. In your case, I do not know how or why someone said this to you specifically, I am only addressing where the accusation comes from.

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  • 10 years ago

    Here are some suggestions for avoiding contextual errors:

    Always read a number of verses before and after a text you choose to use in making a specific point. Read enough to allow you to make a short, 2 or 3 point outline.

    Look at the basic background information of any book before you draw conclusions about the meaning of one part.

    Spend more time reading the scriptures in order to hear what they are saying to you than you spend searching the scriptures for texts to support a particular point.

    When someone says you are taking a verse out of context, ask them to tell you what the context is, and show you how you have used the text incorrectly.

    Look at the conclusions that other people have drawn about a scripture. Don't give up your own judgment in favor of simply believing what someone else says, but do look at their reasons for their position, and use them to check your own conclusions.

    Share what you have learned. Expect others to question your conclusions. Be prepared to look at your facts and reasoning again.

    By carefully investigating all elements of the context, and by reading more than just a single text when you study, you can generally avoid errors of context.

    BQ: Well, I'm a christian so I don't no the answer to this one. Apologies.

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  • John S
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    D Uncle,

    I understand your frustration...

    Perhaps the person who DOES quote a large section IS doing us a favor, though we may not realize it initially. At least they are trying to not simply single out 1 part without showing how it relates to the others.

    But I understand that Y!As is supposed to be about short Q&A and not books.

    As for your question...

    Perhaps so long as you are referencing the entire section which deals with that topic, rather then singling out a single verse. Thus you are showing that verse and the surrounding ones which deal with the same topic.

    Perhaps if you consider and refer to the "classic" interpretation of those scriptures.. how MOST Christians and probably even Jewish people (if dealing with the Jewish Bible, AKA OT) have traditionally interpreted those verses or taken them to mean.

    Perhaps if you try to consider OTHER verses on that same topic or line of reasoning and not just consider ONLY the author, chapter or verse you are referencing, but instead, attempt to see how that 1 verse works in concert with all the others.

    For example, if the verse says "God is a jealous God" -- fine, but what about the other verses that talk about God as well... perhaps, considering ALL the verses about God.. will help you to put the one you are referencing in proper "context"

    Perhaps by interpreting the bible as a "compiled text" and realizing that no ONE verse can supersede or override another, since they were compiled together and realizing this.. find a way to interpret them or at least consider them together as "in context" of one another.

    Lastly, IDEALLY, not that even I myself can do this.. but ideally, knowing a bit about the culture, the history, the events of those times...the Audience being written to (not modern day people but Corinithians, Philipians, Thesolonians, or even Israelites) and understanding a bit about Koine Greek or even perhaps Hebrew, one can further understand the "context" the verses were written in.

    IF one could do ALL that...then they'd be putting these verses in proper "context" I believe, OR, at the VERY least.. be able to SHOW others that they are not taking them entirely OUT OF Context.

    You asked how you can avoid someone saying that to ya... I'm simply answering that question.

    As a Catholic.. I think the difficulty of this and the fact that despite all this.. people may STILL say that about you.. is a STRONG case AGAINST "sola scriptura" or "bible alone" doctrine which all too often de-evolves into personal interpreting scriptures that the person may not fully understand.

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  • 10 years ago

    You may be accused of it, but that doesn't mean you are guilty of it. Don't forget that Jesus said he would 'now speak clearly', meaning that he didn't always make plain what he meant to say. It is easy to misinterpret the bible so naturally, some people don't know what it means and they will accuse others of taking things out of context.

    Of course, there are people who quote single sentences or even a fragment of a sentence and when you go read the whole chapter, you can see that the person really did take those few words out of context.


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  • ?
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    I suppose that you can always ask how putting it "into context" would change the meaning.

    When I see these long religious quotes being copied and pasted as an answer, I give it a thumbs down without reading.

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  • 10 years ago

    Absolutely. Best way not to take something out of context is to post the entire thing & bore your opponent into submission.

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  • 10 years ago

    Sadly, the term "taking it out of context" has become the standard answer when a person doesn't want to hear what a scripture has to say. However it doesn't mean that a scripture cannot actually be taken out of context.

    The best thing to ask when someone says that is ask them "really? how so?". Often that do not have an answer. If they do have one, and if they are reasonable people, then you can discuss it rationally.

    Source(s): I am a minister
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  • 10 years ago

    The very act of quotation is by definition taking something 'out of context', so you're stuck there.

    If it was in context then you'd just have to post the whole Bible.

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