This question pertains to conversation in The Library

The following is expressed:

we are best equipped to help with the historical, linguistic, and literary aspects of texts rather than their theological aspects, although when you ask for the former you may also get the latter. I DV when someone asks for the former and only gets the latter, which happens as well

The poster indicates that he downvotes material inquiring as to theological aspects. (That is his prerogative as a member).

My question: Is what he stated established corporately by the forum, or is this personal opinion. I want to establish if this is stated also with authority and consensus of the forum.

My concern: the site states that it is for experts and for those interested in exploring what the text means. This would naturally include people who believe that Scripture is God's Word. How can a text inspired by God possibly be separated from the study of God by those who believe in God!

  • You've somewhat misrepresented what I said, please quote my actual chat messages. I made a clear delineation where I was giving my opinion versus explaining site expectations.
    – Dan
    Feb 17, 2014 at 18:26
  • 3
    This seems to be a miss-representation of what was said. I was surprised to hear of somebody saying they downvote anything that deals with theology (which is what I inferred from your post here) but in the chat I see something else: they said they downvote when the questioner asks for the linguistic/historical/literary analysis and an answer only (italics theirs) gives theology. Can you see how different those are?
    – Caleb
    Feb 17, 2014 at 18:29
  • My apology. I completely misunderstood what he said. This may be deleted if you wish. I understand.
    – user2027
    Feb 17, 2014 at 19:34
  • 1
    @Sarah-If you read the Metas where Jack and Dan interact, there is a variance of opinion. What is established is that "Theology Questions are off-topic", but even Dan would agree that 'theology' leaks out when we apply basic hermeneutic principles to the text. He has proposed a "NPOV" application which has been countered and resisted-perhaps this is your point of confusion. As to "truth statements", this has been debated as well; the conclusion is to "Show your work", and leave the voting to the community.
    – Tau
    Feb 17, 2014 at 20:26
  • Big difference here
    – user1985
    Feb 17, 2014 at 23:07

1 Answer 1


Since this has already been addressed ad nauseam elsewhere in meta, I will merely quote from other posts.

From "How can we educate new users before they post bad answers?":

BH.SE works best when there is self-conscious awareness and consistency in the language used in its Q&As:

  • historical questions require historical responses
  • linguistic questions require linguistic responses
  • literary questions require literary responses

(The links come from academic sites, and are simply intended to convey the sense that these disciplines each have their own language, set of assumptions, criteria for validity, etc.) These are, probably, the three main types of Q&A that work best at BH.SE. On the other hand:

  • religious
  • theological/doctrinal
  • ethical
  • liturgical

aspects need to be handled as facets of the biblical texts studied by participants of BH.SE in historical, linguistic, and literary terms, and not as aspects of personal conviction, or the belief and praxis of historic and contemporary faith communities (for which see the Mi Yodeya and Christianity Stack Exchange sites).

From "A helpful flowchart for asking questions on BH.SE":

Does your question arise from and focus on the text (and not primarily on those things to which the text applies)?

  • A new guideline for doctrine in questions. What do you think? — "Questions are on topic if they are focused on the text, rather than things to which the text may apply.... Questions that seem to be seeking to apply the Bible are off-topic."
  • How can we educate new users before they post bad answers? — "We don't do 'Bible study'—we study the Bible.... We stop short of application when answering questions about the Bible (which means we don't fully exegete the text in the religious sense of the practice)."
  • How should we handle historicism? — "...questions about whether entity X is the true fulfillment of Prophecy Y are off-topic, unless the answer can be determined exegetically.... "bad questions" ask for an identification that cannot be made from the text. To answer these, the interpreter must go beyond the text and decide that some entity from history did (or will) fit the bill well enough to conclude that this is the true interpretation of the prophecy. The problem is that these interpretations are so varied and depend so much on which hermeneutic you follow (and what your presuppositions are) that the answers can hardly be called exegetical."

From "Does truth have any place on BH? If so, what is its place and how might it be worded so as not to offend unnecessarily?":

...there are other places on the web that welcome modern religious interpretations of texts that focus primarily on absolute truth—this is simply not that place. We offer something different.

  • I am sorry Dan, I did misunderstand/misread your conversation. And thank you for this answer as it also helped me understand where you were coming from in the conversation. I quite agree that historical (as in historical context), linguistic and literary aspects most help to establish the meaning of the text and avoid venturing into doctrinal application of the text, (and also most avoid vain disputing). Thank you for clearing that up.
    – user2027
    Feb 17, 2014 at 21:42