B. DYBWAD BROCHMANN
THE ART OF READING THE BIBLE
How a scholarly and pious man of the Church, with abundant artistic abilities,
misinterprets The Bible due to lack of awareness (light) about our own nature.
The author’s father, diocese priest I.H.H. Brochmann, from Kristiansand S. (a city in the southern part of Norway), was a scholarly researcher in the area of language and The Bible. He was also a natural scientist, a botanist, and an astronomer with life and soul. At the same time, he was a pious believer and a reverent public official with the greatest respect for the Lutheran Church, which he served and belonged to until his death. He was artistically talented in a variety of ways – a lyricist, a stylist, poet, painter and quite a musician. I’m sharing all this so the readers will see before them a well-equipped, very talented and well thought of man of the Church, since this has meaning for what follows.
He didn’t look at the Church in only one-way; he also saw the weaknesses and negative sides. There were disputes in the church between him and the reverent Bishop Heuch in Kristiansand S., in addition, especially, about his Explanation of the Revelation of John, where he clearly foresees and warns of the negative things happening in the Church and of its decay.
We will now quote from his explanation of the temptation of Jesus from “The Bible with explanations, part 5” by I.H.H. Brochmann, pages 14-16, that refer to Matthew 4:1-11.
“After the baptismal experience, Jesus feels a strong need to be alone to speak with His heavenly Father about His great calling and to ask for clarity and strength to be able to do that. Behind the spiritual inclination there lies a divine reason – Jesus wants to have the greatest and most important struggles with the devil undisturbed by the world, so that after being victorious He will be clear and strong enough to meet the masked attack from people. It is a wise idea for every young person, for example, after their confirmation, to have some quiet time to be strengthened in his favor from God and to make preparations against the temptations of life”.
“Jesus spends this time in such a way with the Father that He doesn’t think about food or time, before He starts feeling very hungry. Where will He get food? It’s a long way to people. At the same moment, the Tempter is there with Him and shows Him a way out, namely that He can make use of His position as the Son of God. You may not run aground. God won’t deny You the necessary food, He will naturally that You shall use the capabilities You have received. The Tempter is very cunning. Which was worse - to make bread into stones, later on to make water to wine, or to make 5 loaves of bread to many in the desert? We have to remember here that people sin more often with things that are allowed. What is sinful is usually not in the action, but in the circumstances, where it is done. What was false in the Tempter’s advice was that if Jesus had followed it, He would have served Himself and followed His own will, instead of laying all of His sorrows in the hand of the Father. It is easy to see that had Jesus followed the way the Tempter showed Him, His whole life would have taken quite a different direction than it should have. Then He would have commanded the fig tree to give him figs, He would not have wandered from place to place on His tired feet to find shelter, but arranged for His own shelter. He would never have been able to say such things as the foxes have holes, etc. Yes, He would even, as the Son of God, have come down from the cross, or never even have been in that situation. However, Jesus doesn’t make even the smallest little mistake in that direction, so that He could learn from experience. His life must have been very pure through His youth to have such a fine sense and so great power against evil! He must have been thoroughly permeated with the word of God and His Spirit to be able to act so quickly. (Deuteronomy 8:3). His spirit of service must have been complete. A servant doesn’t make himself comfortable, but waits until he receives something from his master”. (Luke 17:8).
“The devil has the power to take Jesus with him, but not to harm Him. (Compare with Job 1:12), ‘You may not stretch out your hand toward Him’. The temple didn’t have a gable or a tower. The basic text draws either the parapet round on its flat roof or maybe more correctly the roof’s overhanging edge, the most outer decoration of the roof of the temple. The devil follows closely the angel’s protection of Jesus, and in a satanic way tries to tempt Him. He feels the strength Jesus has in the word of God, and tries to talk in those terms in order to outwit Him. He gets his speech from Salomon 91: 11 and leaves out on purpose the words ‘in all thy ways’, (Compare with Luke 4:10), to even better hide his false use. Since Jesus is filled with the Spirit of God, He notices immediately the strange spirit, which now speaks trying to use God’s words. He rejects the Tempter, and will not get involved with a dispute about the correct interpretation of the place, but powerfully uses other words, (Deuteronomy 6:16) that undeniably show its limitations and the correct understanding”.
“Jesus will be involved in other temptations where He uses His divine nature or calls on the protection of the angels to protect Himself. The first victory has strengthened Him against everybody. Jesus doesn’t go unnecessarily into danger (Matthew 4:12, 14:13; John 7:1,11:54), but goes into danger for the sake of others, and when His calling takes Him into danger, He doesn’t stay away (John 11:8, 18:4-11), but leaves it up to God how He will be protected. If He had demanded the service of the angels on the roof of the temple, He would not be able to say: The Son of Man has not come to be served”.
“The third temptation is open and uncovered. Satan asks Jesus right out about a trade. He arranges for everything the world owns of glory and enjoyment to fix their alluring eyes on Him, to see if He possibly can be lured away. Winning is apparently important and is the prize, and genuflection apparently not so important. This temptation clearly shows the Tempter who He is – ‘the prince of the world’. He has to step away after this defeat. ‘Get away from me Satan’! The faith of Jesus and His desire to be of service are not to be shaken. He strikes the Tempter for the third time with the word of God. (Deuteronomy 6:13, 10:20).
“All three words that Jesus uses are taken from Deuteronomy. Researchers can say what they will about the time and origin of this book; Jesus has at least confirmed that these are the words of God. May God use what is necessary to bring us His word. When it is certified for us that it is God’s word, during a time of difficulty, that is all we need to know”.
“The big, exciting struggle between two princes, the prince of this world, and the prince that God has anointed and dedicated for His kingdom on earth, was over for this time. Satan was conquered by the miracle God sent to us, a human condition in our flesh and blood. The angels, whom we can think of as being spiritless spectators during the struggle, now dare to rush forward and serve the winner. ‘To serve someone’ is often used in the New Testament to mean to wait on, to bring food and drink (Luke 10:40, 12:37; John 12:2), and this meaning is also the best one here. Compare 1 kings 19:5. Jesus has experienced this same thing, walked along this way, which was the correct way for Him, and He experiences the truth and the fulfillment in the words that God provides His angels to care for Him”.
“The person who is victorious in a deciding struggle with the Tempter can also feel a joy, like the companionship and service of God’s angels, even if his eye isn’t as open as the Savior’s to see them”.
Comment: 1. People have asked about how to understand the event, if it was only wisdom, an inner spiritual occurrence, or a real outer experience. Evidence against the first opinion, is the simple, straightforward story and the occurrence that angels brought Him what He needed, food and drink. Evidence for the same opinion shows both the moving to the roof of the temple, since you can’t assume that these two shapes were noticed by people who were present, and in addition the showing of all the riches in the world and their glory, ‘in a moment’, as Luke says, since this isn’t seen from any mountain top in the world. It’s clearly stated here that the Tempter came, and took Him with him and went, and that Jesus saw, heard, and answered him. This reminds me of an occurrence in a vision when He didn’t care about how he looked or how things were going with the moving to the temple and the display of the world’s riches and glory. The thing is that it is not possible to distinguish between vision and reality, but that it is a reality with a visionary character, or a vision that has real contents. You can compare the occurrence with what happened with the baptism, where Jesus, with the Baptist also as a witness, saw the open heaven and the Spirit and heard the voice from heaven. It was an invisible kingdom of the Spirit that showed itself for his senses. The spiritual struggle in the desert was also such a physical reality.
2. People have asked if it was possible for Jesus to be tempted. One way to understand it was, that it was not possible, because someone who had so completely given Himself to God, as Jesus had done, and had God with Him, can’t be tempted. Jesus shows us the truth that, who has Jesus with him, has God with him, but no one can have God with him, in the same way that Jesus can, unless he also has Jesus with him. He is certain of victory, and that the power of darkness will fail. On the other side, we have to be careful for the interpretation that Jesus could not be tempted, that He was not receptive for temptation, in such a way that He didn’t need to struggle to win a victory, and that the whole temptation was only an apparent temptation. That would lead to the old so called Docetism, which taught that the suffering and tests of obedience of the Lord were only superficial, and it only looked like He suffered.
(That the sufferings of Christ were an illusion, was a teaching especially widespread among the Gnostics. – from Wikipedia).
Then He wouldn’t have been a real person, not a real second Adam, and the human family would not have risen again in Him, after its fall. We have to stay with the idea that His pure nature was without sin and was receptive for temptation, in the same way that Adam’s nature was without sin, and that during all of His earthly life, He had to continually be alert, pray and struggle with the flesh in order to submit to the Spirit. We see a good example of this in Gethsemane where the Spirit’s struggle with the flesh is so difficult that His body sweats blood. We also see there that it is a mistake if we think that the Lord’s struggle with temptation is easier than ours, and that ours is worse because the Tempter has an ally in our sinful nature. It’s exactly the opposite, where the opposition is weakest, the struggle is less, and where the opposition is strongest, the struggle is the most difficult. A miserable wretch can’t struggle as much as a giant. We aren’t put into such difficult ordeals by the faithful God, as those our Lord is tested with, if we are going to be victorious. (1 Corinthians 10:13). What comparison is there between Adam’s test of obedience, to leave a tree alone, when he had a lot of others, and with our Lord’s obedience test to not take any bread, when He was close to starving to death! In the same way, the scruples and struggles for a more developed believer are more difficult than that of a new beginner; the last temptations for Abraham and Job were more difficult than when their life of faith began”.
“The letter to the Hebrews speaks clearly about our Lord’s temptations and tests of obedience. For example in Hebrews 5:8, it says that He ‘learned obedience by what He suffered, and when He was accomplished, that became the origin to eternal salvation for them who obey Him’; this was the Lord’s human development to perfection during what He had to go through. When it says that He ‘must be like His brothers in everything in order to be a merciful and faithful high priest,…..He is able to help those who are tempted since He has suffered and been tempted Himself’ and ‘have compassion with us in our frailties, because He has been tested in the same ways that we have been tested, although not with sin’. In Hebrews 2:17; 4:15 it says straight forward that in temptation He was in the same position that we were, and the only difference was that he walked away from the temptation without falling”.
The reader will easily see here the big difference between the pious theological interpretation of The Bible and our earlier psychological “explaining” of The Bible’s imagery. My father’s faith was correct and, above all, his will for truth was present. The spirit was also “good” in the biblical meaning. However, this was not enough.
The pastor’s interpretations of the temptations of Jesus are inadequate. What does he know about the “stones” that give bread, or about the centripetal drives with the masses needing a visual leader, and a big and powerful king outside of themselves?
He has some suspicion about the conventional temptations of life on the high mountain, and he is somewhat acquainted with the spiritual prostitution when we see his careful explanation of the revelation of John, where he doesn’t keep quiet about the truth about the “bride of Christ” (the congregation) and the church have become like harlots, according to John. He discusses the possibility of the devil being visible or allegorical, or if they were only “visions”, i.e. inner experiences.
In an explanation of the same thing (in Luke 4), the pastor says (page 267 in the same theological work) among other things:
“In the words of Matthew: ‘The Tempter came to him’, he has concluded that the Tempter came to him in a visible shape; and then asks, in which shape he was shown (as an angel, a scholar, etc)? This kind of thing is hardly found in either the words of Matthew or Luke. For example, you notice that Matthew doesn’t say the devil, but the Tempter, as if to avoid a presentation about a visible shape, and that Luke says that the devil left him for a while (verse 13). Therein lies the thought that he came again, but we don’t hear about him being visible during later temptations. The words: ‘but of every word of God’ are missing in the oldest handwritten records and are therefore left out by many critics. It’s possible that it was easily added after Matthew. Many of the youngest handwritten records have directly copied Matthew: ‘but of every word that comes out of the mouth of God’”.
“Took him up to a high mountain and, in a moment, showed him all the riches in the world, meaning for his inner eye. There is no other way he can see from a simple place and in a moment all the riches of the world. That would also mean that the climbing of the mountain and being taken to the temple was something that happened in the inner eye. It is delivered unto me; this is not a lie. Jesus calls him ‘the prince of the world’. (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11). It is almost as if the world has come into his power when the world allowed him to enter. That doesn’t exclude God sanctioning his power and giving him his power, like in the old pact when He turned over Israel to the power of the heathens, when they went into an alliance with them. (Compare other places as in Romans 1:24, 26:28, and Thessalonians 2:11). Shall everything be yours; for how short a time the devil is able to give these glories of the world, he doesn’t say, as usual, when he tries to tempt someone with it. The world, and its desire, comes to an end. (John 2:17). Jesus is not like the fool in John 12:20”.
“The temple mount. Look at the explanation in Mathew 4:5. Newer interpretations mean that this doesn’t mean the high roof of the real temple building (the holy and most holy, temple), but the temple wall over the dizzy depths down in the valley toward the east. (Page 119). Here we see that the basic texts of both Mathew and Luke do not speak about temple (naos), but about hieron”.
The well-meaning and sincere explanations from my father speak for themselves! If he had experienced today’s mental research, his explanation of the temptation of Jesus would have been fairly different, richer and much more factual, positive, and human.
The difference between my father’s interpretation of The Bible and mine, is only that my father had to be satisfied to believe and only glimpse partially, while I don’t only believe, I am completely conscious that I have experienced all of the temptations of Christ. When you know something, you have come longer than when you believe without seeing! Blessed is he who still does not see, but yet believes fully and completely.
Everyone who tries to help the world along on the right path, and has such strong power of the spirit that they win support and what people call “supporters”, will experience the temptations of Jesus as an objective reality. Then the devil will come to us by himself, inside of us like voices and outside of us, as well meant tips and good council.
The world has to see about coming further than only having faith. We have to wake up to the consciousness about the deep contents of The Bible and about the meaning of life!
We have to learn to experience the Mental Savior of the World inside of us, so that Jesus Christ can come out of the theological “cloud”, where He has been hidden from us. We need to see the glory of the Son of Man so that the Savior is living inside of us, in spirit and truth, in reality and practice. We have to grow past the religious limitation. We also hope that the book about human nature shall give us new light over ourselves, over the Savior, and over “the temptations”.
“The first three books in the Gospels make a group by themselves. If they are compared with John, it is striking how the first three books are similar to each other. At first you could think that the similarity wouldn’t be difficult to explain, but when you get down to it, it is easier to understand differences with various authors, than similarities. Either there has to be something in common between the narratives of the three first evangelists, or they must have known each other’s writings and used them, or both things have taken place. Researchers have painstakingly attempted to explain the relationship between the three first evangelists, however up to now, they haven’t provided complete clarity and agreement. The following basic features are the main result of the examinations and can be mentioned to illustrate the case.
“None of the evangelists sat down right after the ascension of Jesus to write about His life and deeds. In the beginning, they satisfied themselves with verbal stories about Him in the congregational gatherings. These spoken traditions build the foundation for the later written versions in the three first gospels and can explain the similar basic type that these share.
“To begin with, it wasn’t so important to know exactly when each event happened in each individual occurrence. The exact time and the exact order of things is, when a few years have passed, not so easy to remember either. The events, and especially the spoken word, are much easier linked together according to their inner relationship, than to their chronological order. It is easier to remember different places, than different times when an event happened; and the event is often dependent on a place, and is understood only from the place (the synagogue, the sea, the desert, the temple, etc). In addition, it was natural that the stories of what Jesus had said and done in Galilee were told in Galilee, and the same thing was the case with the congregation in Jerusalem. In that way, the stories at each place were mutually linked together, and afterwards for an evangelist to tear them apart from each other, in order to put them in consecutive order, would have done more harm than good. In this way you can explain the grouping of stories, which is common for the three first Gospels; the events in Galilee and Jerusalem were told together.
“The earliest verbal records of the congregation’s gatherings, in most of the first three Gospels, share a short and rounded off form (which has, among other things, made them so suitable for use as the Sunday text in the Church). And by repeating it over and over again, a story receives a concentrated form.
“On the assumption that the spoken traditions were the foundation, one can still understand why they prefer to relate the outer, practical side of the life of Jesus, which is commonly seen with the three first evangelists. First and foremost His actions, and then His words are most to the point, and most suitable to adhere to. However, John, who has released himself from the usual verbal records, doesn’t systemize as Matthew, but turns back to his own personal memories, renders Jesus’ exchange of words in a much richer simplicity, partly with the people, partly with the apostles, and includes many more passionate words of Jesus.
“Finally, based on the same assumption, one can also securely explain which human seasonings of a foreign Spirit are kept out. The Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ was very strong in the first congregation. Face to face with the first congregation, nothing false could be put down without it being felt and later corrected. The stories are tested by the congregation’s use of them, and of course it could be said that the inspiration of the Gospels, namely with Luke, not exclusively is the individual evangelist’s inspiration.
Earlier the Spirit has also used the congregation to organize the material and to lead the way to the truth.
“Little by little, as the stories went further, beyond the oldest circles, and were going to be delivered to the coming generation, the danger of distortion arose, and thereby the need for a written record was necessary.
“One of the oldest authors in the church says that Mark didn’t want to leave out or to add anything; and although not in a strict chronological order, he wrote down exactly and carefully what Peter had preached about the words and deeds of Jesus.
“The same author writes about Mathew saying that first of all he wrote a collection of what Jesus had said in the Jewish language. It is reasonable to think that this is the oldest written recorded Gospel. It was lost when he later wrote his complete Gospel in Greek, which is what we now have. It looks like the Gospel of Mark, with his last work, has served him as a model and as supplementation, if the reverse isn’t true that the plan in the original Hebraic from Matthew had been Mark’s (Peter’s) model. This is also possible.
“Luke tells in his record about why he came to be writing. The most reasonable understanding seems to be that he knew the Gospel of Mark, and used it. There are too many similarities in small things, that it can be explained only from a joint record. Complete clarity and unity about this and how things were borrowed earlier, has not been reached up to now.
“Luke has carefully researched everything and tries to tell in chronological order what he has gathered from reliable stories of eyewitnesses, and he has done this with great concern and fidelity. But, for someone who had not personally known and followed Jesus, it wasn’t possible to write the way that John did later on. Luke only gives a glimpse of Jesus’ repeated visits in Jerusalem (Luke 13:34). The last is also true for Matthew”.
This is the end of I.H.H. Brochmann’s testimony about The Bible.
I am not sure if the misunderstanding and falsifying first happened later in history, as my father maintains. I don’t think that it would be difficult to see how the human insufficiency already began to make its mark from the same moment that the disciples were left to “themselves”. We will come back to that in greater detail in a later book, when we discuss “the deeds of the apostles” and the historical fall of the church of Christ.
I have often thanked my father for his view on the gospel of John in my younger years, and as an older person, the Gospel of John has become a whole bible by itself. It is on a much higher level than everything else that exists in the word of God.
I would like to end this chapter of The Art of Reading The Bible with the following words, which I have partially borrowed from Johan Keppler:
O Father of Light! You, who with the rich variety of nature and the eternal light of day has awakened the longing in my soul after the light of truth! I thank you, my Creator, from my whole heart, because you have delighted my soul and got me to admire the work of your hands, as seen in your flower garden. You have taught me to think because of the strong words of your prophets, and you have awakened me to a higher consciousness than that I was born and grew up with, because of the dramatic contribution of Jesus Christ to human life.
Please see how I try, as long as my abilities and my light stretch, to work in your vineyard, and to pay interest on my pounds with all of the powers and angels of light that live in my soul. I also try to orient others to the glories of your works, and to praise your highest, creation, the Son of Man, who the religious unbelievers try to slander with all means and opportunities. I am trying to imagine our endless possibilities as your children, as the legitimately born offspring of Spirit.
If I, as a limited and still inadequate person, have written or spoken something that is not worthy of You, or have tried to seek my own honor at the cost of truth, please forgive me, You who knows me, and who knows that it has happened unconsciously and unknowingly, because my view is still imperfect. Please understand Lord, your legalities and order of life are my desire and joy to research and explain. I throw out the devil and all of his deeds and all of his being, because I know that his entire kingdom can only continue until the light of truth has clarified everything for all of us, and everything that belongs to human life. This is the way I understand my life’s calling. You strengthen me in the name of Jesus.