Bible Review 21:4, Fall 2005

Text and Tradition

Interpreting the Bible vs. Interpreting the Constitution

By Mary Joan Winn Leith

Bible Review

The furor surrounding the appointment of a new justice for the U.S. Supreme Court highlights the similarity between interpreting the Constitution and interpreting the Bible.1 For American citizens, the Constitution is, functionally speaking, their national scripture containing rules they must regard as supreme.2 Yet, like the Bible, the Constitution is not a comprehensive legal code and, again like the Bible, the Constitution was framed in a past vastly different from today’s world. Throughout history, interpreters of both “Great Codes” have faced the challenge of reading their “scripture” in the light of events and circumstances unforeseen by the original writers.

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