Line upon line

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Donkey, Boston Public Library

Donkey, Boston Public Library

Adventists and others often use Isaiah 28:10 to promote a truly absurd way to interpret the Bible.  It allows them to take snippets here and snippets there, piece them together, and come to conclusions that none of the original passages support.

+ For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little (Isaiah 28:10, KJV)

An Adventist pastor has some insight into this method on his blog, showing what the text is really likely to mean.

The context of this passage is an oracle against drunken priests who are unable to teach even infants, who cannot even speak properly. And verse 13 makes it abundantly clear that “precept upon precept…” is something detrimental, not a principle of Biblical interpretation. Taken alone verse 12 might sound like a reasonable teaching, but in context we realize that it is the product of drunkenness.

A comment tells us that in developing their principle of hermeneutics, they have used terrible hermeneutics.

People who use the text as a guide to how to interpret the Bible have turned a mockery of drunkards into wisdom to emulate.

Paul Brydson of the Church of God in Williamstown says [link defunct]:

The NIV Study Bible footnote calls the verses “The mocking response of Isaiah’s hearers.”

Concerning Isaiah’s response in verse 11 he says:

So Isaiah says that this is their condemnation. The word of God will continue to be nothing but “precept upon precept, line upon line” – simplistic, unintelligible babble to their destruction.

Misquotes – Here a Little, There a Little” and “Acts 17:11 Sacred Cow – Precept Upon Precept, Line Upon Line? Commentary on Isaiah 28:10,13” are some useful studies of this verse and its misuse.

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