Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Interpreting the Bible with "First Mention"

There are many biblical scholars that I have heard and read (including Dr. James R. White, who can translate an ancient manuscript from the Greek on the spot). They never mentioned the Law (or Principle) of First Mention, so I was surprised to learn that this concept is a problem for hermeneutics and proper interpretation.

There is a concept called the "Law of First Mention" that is used to interpret the Bible. Unfortunately, it has several problems, leads to errors, and should not be used.
The Bible, George Harvey, 1845
I was also startled to learn that some educated biblical creationists actually use this Law of First Mention. Essentially, it means that the meaning of a word is determined by where it first appears in the Bible. That may appear sensible at first, but there are some things to consider. 

First of all, an argument for First Mention may appear more believable if people were reading from the original languages instead of translations. Another problem with the concept would be that the books of the Bible are not laid out chronologically — Job is considered to be the oldest book, Mark is considered to be the earliest Gospel, and John's Gospel is not synoptic, not following the timeline of Jesus' ministry. Also, there is no indication in Scripture that this approach is valid. There are other reasons to reject the pitfalls of First Mention.
Since the Bible is God’s Word, it is of utmost importance that Christians properly understand its message. To do that, one must learn how to rightly interpret Scripture. Sadly, many believers have never been taught basic principles for interpreting the Bible. This oversight has led to many verses being taken from their contexts and too many aberrant theologies based on other unsound methodologies.

. . .
Nevertheless, proper interpretation of the Bible must be held in such a high regard that any deviation from sound hermeneutical principles should be corrected. Young-earth creationists are not immune to mistakes in this area. While Bible-believing Christians may occasionally disagree on the correct application of certain interpretive principles, we can all agree that using a demonstrably poor principle to defend a correct position is unnecessary, inappropriate, and unbecoming of those who are committed to upholding the truth of Scripture.

One such principle has found favor among some young-earth creationists, and it is occasionally used by others who disagree with our view. It is known as the “principle of first mention,” or sometimes the “law of first mention.” Not everyone agrees on exactly what it means.
To finish reading, click on "Is the 'Law of First Mention' a Legitimate Interpretive Principle?"