The Black Swan

Elmer, psychoanalytical criticism saved the faith of some of my friends and I am thankful for that. For me personally, I see the value for them without understanding all, but I am too stuck in my shoes to fully try this approach myself. Without psychological knowledge, it’s pretty difficult anyways, at least for me.


This article is bad on two levels.

  1. It does not give a solution to the so called “plain reading” problem. It only points out problems without a solution. He doesn’t want to speak of inconsistencies in his, but only another’s view. Sorry. If you are pointing out inconsistencies in others, better not have them yourself. If you do, your are just being a hypocrite. Get the log out of your own eye first. So, we need to see the author’s hermeneutic, rather than just his rejection of another one.

  2. There is an answer to the OT problems he notes.
    a. We are not under a theocracy, a form of government done away with at he end of the Judges. The laws of the theocracy, (stoning children, pay for rape etc.), thus are no longer valid. You might argue that that is a cop out. But we no longer have a urrum and a thumum or a priesthood, so do not have the privilege of that sort of government. Besides, we have Jesus’ teaching which sould be our guide.
    b. The personal rules would still logically be valid. But we have more modern methods of dealing with menstruation etc.

This is just another in a long series of pro-WO articles that cannot show that scripture supports the view. It does not forbid it, but WO advocates have to go out on a limb to support their view against Paul. I look at his advice as cultural. But that makes WO a cultural rather than a moral issue as well. A position WO folk despise. But I don’t see any other way around it.

This article doesn’t help anything.

This is where it gets interesting.

If someone were a plain reader but refused “all those baffling things in the OT,” then exploring past the “lie” could shed insight as to why people do what they do. This is where applying the psychoanalytic criticism would be beneficial as it seeks to explain religious phenomena from a psychological perspective.

Jesus excelled in this domain as he was able to inject psychological insights. For instance an example would be Matthew 5:27 & 28 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed.“ A plain bible reader will certainly not have come to the same message Jesus proclaimed.


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Yes that would be interesting. If the author had bothered to actually find this assumed person and asked them about even a few of the baffling statements in the old testament. I think the reason he does not do this is because he knows there are so few of these assumed plain readers in existence.that he would not be able to even find one to ask. I mean even anecdotally he could have asked in some sabbath school class. So he simply assumes they are out there and that they simply must be ignoring hard statements, symbolic language and poetry in the Bible.That is quite a leap in my opinion.

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@RonCorson Your Grandpa Simpson reference gave me a excellent laugh! For the last week or so I’ve been battling a dental infection and let me tell you a dental infection in the time of COVID-19 is no fun at all. My good lady wife concurs that I do indeed look like Grandpa Simpson shouting at the sky…

But to your point… I truly wish that my ‘plain reader’ really was a ‘straw man’. I’ve not found this to be the case at all and over the years I’ve lost count of the occasions when a simple ‘the Bible says X’ is seen as the end of the matter. And I think others in this conversation would agree. The intended purpose of my piece is to encourage those who hold ‘plain reader tendencies’ to just admit that their use of ‘plain reading’ is highly selective and that they really truly are doing something else…


If I just point to someone that is using a plain reading somewhere that does not mean they always use it

Then ask them to justify why X gets a plain reading and Y doesn’t. Which was my point…

Usually the answer for X will be ‘because the bible says X and that’s the end of it’. When asked about their reading of Y they might respond with some more subtle argument. In other words the hermeneutic applied depends on the substance of X and Y. Which leads (logically I would hope!) to some understanding of why the hermeneutic depends on the substance of X and Y.


@ajshep To your points…

  1. I disagree that I need to propose a alternative to plain reading! I deliberately didn’t. An example: let’s say a scientific explanation is proposed for some event. It is perfectly acceptable for another scientist to show the incorrectness of that explanation without it being incumbent on that person to propose an alternative.
    As you point out(!) and I readily admit, my personal hermeneutic is confused, hypocritical and most definitely a work-in-progress. As I suspect is yours? Logs in the eye all round…

  2. Yup, I broadly agree. And thus we impose on ‘plain reading’ a more nuanced understanding which takes into account other factors that are not present in the plain text. QED.

And really truly this isn’t about WO! I could have used plenty of other examples. Insert your pet plain reading peeve instead of WO and the argument would still hold. I just want people to stop claiming that ‘the bible says X and that is the end of the matter’. Hopefully my article might help that?!


@elmer_cupino A plain bible reader will certainly not have come to the same message Jesus proclaimed.

I agree. I think Christ’s expansions of OT texts, and particularly his use of parables, forces us to think harder about the point of the words. What truth is being told here? Is it more than might casually meet the eye?


@RonCorson We’re going to have to agree to disagree here! I know many people who assert that ‘plain reading’ is the one true way. I have asked them. The replies are varied. Some are positively scary! Most, when pressed, apply some non-plain reading explanation and live with the cognitive dissonance.


“Plain reading” is the most artful, covert, humble and most virtuous virtue signaling evar.
Here, let me interpret for you the proper plain reading…follow along carefully for an hour, mark your bibles, and add notes…


Sadly if that was your goal it is still a straw man as in the world of hermeneutics plain reading is not a thing. In every method of hermeneutics, it is used in some places and not in others. Just as it is used by people in reading anything in written form. If you want to deal with the hermeneutics that are most commonly used in the Adventist church you are going to be dealing with the historical-grammatical method. As Wikipedia states:

" Many practice the historical-grammatical method using the inductive method, a general three-fold approach to the text: observation, interpretation, and application.[7][8] Each step builds upon the other, which follows in order. The first step of observation involves an examination of words, structure, structural relationships and literary forms. After observations are formed, then the second step of interpretation involves asking interpretative questions, formulating answers to those questions, integration and summarization of the passage. After the meaning is derived through interpretation, the third step of application involves determining both the theoretical and practical significance of the text and appropriately applying this significance to today’s modern context. There is also a heavy emphasis on personal application that extends into all aspects of the practitioner’s life. Theologian Robert Traina, in his 1952 Methodical Bible Study , wrote that “the applicatory step is that for which all else exists. It represents the final purpose of Bible study.”[9]

It is usually seen as set against the the historical-critical method
" The primary goal of historical criticism is to discover the text’s primitive or original meaning in its original historical context and its literal sense or sensus literalis historicus . The secondary goal seeks to establish a reconstruction of the historical situation of the author and recipients of the text. That may be accomplished by reconstructing the true nature of the events that the text describes.

Both techniques will often arrive at the use of a plain reading. It is not just a plain reading tendancy it is the very nature of the way our ability to work with the written language makes sense. What you are complaining about:

The fact that someone ends the discussion with one verse, not taking into account other verses on the subject or that possibly other verses may apply to the situation of the verse used, is what you are pointed to. That is not a plain reading tendency problem that is more likely the confirmation bias I mentioned earlier. Or possibly the proof-texting method. It is the same problem of choosing to end the discussion with one verse, the person has their view and nothing else is needed One verse in a pretty big book is rarely going to be correct unless it is supported by other verses on the subject.

Hey … I love reading for an hour (less feels like just tuned in), mark my bible, add (glitter) stickers and sticky notes, and add notes :upside_down_face: Nothing to be ashamed of being a nerd.

LOL have you seen my library?
My point was-to teach a plain reading ought be just as easy as a plain reading.
As opposed to a straight line monodimensional plane reading…gosh how many dimensions are there?

Hello Ron, and happy Sabbath! Just a small note, isn’t this exactly what the author is saying? There is no such thing as a plain text reader, and the author is asking those who call themselves plain readers to acknowledge that they have a hermenutic. In no way does recognising the problem mean that the author accepts the premise of the practitioners.

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@RonCorson, @elmer_cupino I think we may have slightly over-analysed the premise of the argument, simple put, that when we selectively choose scripture in support of an argument, we are being intellectually dishonest with ourselves, and this article merely asks the reader to “be true to thine own self.”

By way of example, if I was being honest, intellectually or otherwise, I would be forced to confess that I know that the statement, “be true to thine own self ”, read plainly here and now, does not correctly represent what Shakespeare intended his reader to understand. I am no expert on the hermeneutics of Shakespearian text, but others are, and having no particular bias one way or the other regarding Shakespeare’s works, I defer to their reasoned interpretation.

However, that is the point, to defer to a reasoned interpretation seems so difficult for some of us when we don’t like where that interpretation might take us.

Dr. Logan’s appeal to the reader is merely for their honesty and this is not a trivial matter. Intellectual dishonesty is a sin against ourselves and against God, for we wilfully chose a path of deception, for our own vanity and to deceive others.

In my (much) earlier years, a non-Christian friend once said to me that if I truly believed there is a Day of Judgement approaching, then perhaps I should start to act like it.

That hurt; but I needed to hear it. Perhaps Dr. Logan is simply saying the same to the Church. Yes, it hurts; but they need to hear it.

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No please, that is what I am saying. That is not what he is saying! That is why I said at the beginning it is a straw man argument. There is no classification of hermeneudic that is called plain text reading. Thus it is not a thing. It is true that every method of interpretation will at least begin with plain text reading but none of them end there. It simply would not work as the language of the Bible is too varied and too filled with symbols and poetry.

He begins defining plain reader. To which I suggest there are so few as to be something that one does not even find and that is he why he does not reference anyone who holds the plain reader interpretation technique (besides some collective “you” out there). Then he goes on to say well what does the plain reader do with difficult texts. If he can’t explain them by plain reading then plain reading can only be a tendency and not a method of interpretation. Thus he knocks down the straw man.
If his goal was to say there is no such thing as a plain reader why define what a plain reader is? No one else defines the plain reader view of interpretation so he has created it so he can knock it down.

Afternoon all…

@RonCorson : I hear what you’re saying about the ‘science’ of hermeneutics (with refs to Wikipedia articles). But I put it to you that you are not addressing my points anymore and are now talking about something else.

My contention, agreed with by others, is that there really truly are people in Sab Sch classes around the world who operate primarily as what I’ve defined as a “plain reader”. These folks usually have no interest in the ‘science’ of hermeneutics, as defined by you, and would run a mile at any mention of ‘historical-critical’ and the like. They just read the words on the page. I’m not clear why you are denying the existence of such people? And I’m not going to post names and addresses so you can have it out with them!

So I reread your comments from the top and fear that we may have misunderstood each other right back at the beginning.

You mention that nobody does a plain reading of, say, Revelation in that no one thinks there’s a literal dragon about to go to war with some poor woman. I totally agree and if you thought that’s what I meant by “plain reader” then apologies from me. I would have hoped my examples of the ‘difficult’ OT passages would have made that clear. However you appear to have performed a ‘plain reading’ of my literal words. I’m not sure if that validates my case or completely undermines it :grinning:

Let me be more explicit. Look at Leviticus 19. It’s a list of instructions and rules. I have heard v28 as being an explicit instruction from God that forbids tattoos. I’m sure others will have heard similarly. Fine, I don’t want a tattoo - not particularly because of Lev 19:28, more because you ain’t coming anywhere near me with that needle… I fear pain…

Is Lev 19:28 an instruction to avoid tattoos that applies to me? A traditional Adventist reading would say ‘yes’. If that’s then case what about the verse immediately before? “You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard”. Does that equally apply to me? If not, why not? What about the last part of v19?

So I agree with @jen. And probably with you! There are no plain readers. As a hermeneutic it just doesn’t work. But there are too many Adventists who act (and vote and wield influence over others) who pretend that plain reading is perfectly fine.


Sorry, I admit that I don’t really understand what you are saying and therefore can’t react adequately. I know you mean well, and you have said something beneficial, and I probably look like a fool for not getting it. I am sliding into one of the dimensions that you mentioned and prefer to read the next posts until my language ability pops up again. Enjoy your day, Timo.

The problem is that you simply return to the idea that they are using plain reading when in fact they are simply using what they already believe and not looking for other possible interpretations. When you pretend that all these Adventists are using something that they know they are not doing it does no good at all. Thus yelling at a cloud. I dare say if you took your article to any sabbath school class and ask them, do any of you only use a plain reading to interpret the Bible. You will not find a single one. I don’t think you need to point out names and addresses of these alleged plain readers but surely we have, if your opinion is correct, leaders or evangelists or somebody who deals in the public arena to give as an example. But since as you finally agree there are none, that would explain why you don’t give the examples. I think the statement that there are too many Adventists who act and pretend that plain reading is just fine is without merit. It is just castigating the unknown masses as if they do what you know you can’t find anyone doing! That is in terms of logical fallacies is a gratuitous assertion.

Oh well. I don’t know if you’re purposely missing my point but I think we’re not making progress. I assert and you assert and we’re both yelling into the void.

A happy Sabbath to one and all…