Friday, July 27, 2018

Epistemology and the Bible: A Bible Study

* The following is a Bible study I wrote up regarding some biblical passages that have epistemological relevance.

Biblical Passages Relevant to Epistemology

The following biblical passages are relevant to a Christian approach to epistemology.

1.    Romans 1.18-32

a.     Read the passage and note Paul’s use of epistemic language (e.g., know, knew, acknowledge, mind, etc.)

b.     Considering verses 18-23 answer the following:

                                               i.     What is known?
                                              ii.     How is it known?
                                            iii.     When is it known?
                                            iv.     What is the response to this knowledge?
                                              v.     What is the result of this knowledge and response?

c.      What is “exchanged” in verses 23 and 25?

d.     Notice the language of “God gave them over” in verses 24, 26, and 28.

e.     State the epistemic dynamic of verse 28.

f.      What does verse 32 state is “known?”

2.    2 Timothy 2.24-26

a.     According to verse 25 what is needed to come to “the knowledge of the truth?”

b.     According to verse 26 what other spiritual agent is involved?

3.    Ephesians 4.15-24

a.     Note the use of epistemic language in this passage.

b.     How is the “Gentile walk” (way of life) described in verses 17-19?

c.      What does it mean to “learn Christ” (verse 20)?

d.     Where is “truth” found (verse 21)?

e.     What does verse 23 says needs to happen to mind?

4.    Colossians 2.1-8

a.     How is Christ Jesus described in verse 3?

b.     Why is this description (of verse 3) important (see verse 4)?

c.      What is verse 8 saying?  Is this a passage that is “anti-philosophy?”

5.    1 Corinthians 1.18-2.16

a.     Note the use of epistemic language in this lengthy section.

b.     From 1.18-25 describe the relationship between God’s wisdom and the world’s wisdom.

c.      In 2.4-5 what is Paul’s argument?  What is needed for Christian preaching to be effective (verse 5)?

d.     From 2.10-16 describe the importance and function of the Holy Spirit for knowledge of God.

e.     According to 2.14 why does the natural man not accept the things of God?

f.      What do you think it means to “have the mind of Christ” (2.16)?

6.    2 Corinthians 4.3-6

a.     How is the unbelieving mind described in verse 4?  Which spiritual agent is involved?

b.     What brings about “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in Christ” (verse 6)?

7.     Look up the following passages from the book of Proverbs and state how they are individually relevant to the issue of epistemology:

a.     Proverbs 1.7
b.     Proverbs 2.6
c.      Proverbs 9.10
d.     Proverbs 21.30
e.     Proverbs 28.4-5

8.     In the book of Acts there are a number of accounts of the apostle Paul engaging with various kinds of unbelievers.  Look up each of the following passages and write down the epistemic language used:

a.     Acts 17.1-3
b.     Acts 17.10-11
c.      Acts 17.16-17
d.     Acts 18.1, 4
e.     Acts 18.19
f.      Acts 19.8-10

9.     Acts 17.22-34 describes Paul’s teaching in Athens before the Areopagus court with Epicurean and Stoic philosophers present (verse 18). 

a.     Note any epistemic language used.

b.     What do we learn about the object of knowledge (God)?

c.      What do we learn about the subject of knowledge (the knower; the audience to whom Paul is speaking)?

10. Matthew 11.25-27

a.     Note any epistemic language.

b.     Notice the contrast between “hidden” and “revealed.”  Who is doing the hiding and revealing?

11. Luke 12.54-56

a.     How does Jesus affirm empirically based inductions in his statement here?

b.     What is Jesus’ larger point in this passage?

12. Matthew 12.22-29

a.     Try to outline the argumentation Jesus uses in this passage.

b.     Notice that verse 28 has the form: If P then Q  [modus ponens]

                                               i.     P = “I [Jesus] cast out demons by the Spirit of God”
                                              ii.     Q = “the kingdom of God has come”

c.      Jesus has defended P in verses 25-27 against the counter-explanatory claims of the Pharisees.  What is the Pharisee’s interpretation of Jesus’ power and what are Jesus’ counter-arguments.