Interpreting Scripture


All of us—every last one of us—employ some system of interpretation (viz., a hermeneutic) when trying to understand the Bible. For clarity’s sake, let me set forth some pertinent aspects of my hermeneutic—a hermeneutic that’s no different than the one I use to interpret any historical document.

I believe it is possible to discover the true meaning of a given text by following the rules of grammar and syntax combined with the literary context and style of the passage and the historical, cultural context of the author. This is called, for obvious reasons, the grammatical-historical method.

I believe there can be only one correct interpretation of a text which faithfully expounds what the author was saying and that all other interpretations are, therefore, wrong.

I believe one discerns the facts of the Bible the same way an archeologist, for example, seeks to reconstruct a fossil, which is by piecing together the fossilized bones he has discovered. Thus, I believe any reasonable student of the Bible attempts to see (i.e., to connect and relate) any particular passage being examined in light of the rest of what the Bible teaches.

I do not believe the rules of hermeneutics supply the facts to be ascertained. If they did, and this specifically relates to charges that have been bantered about on Facebook concerning the use of CENI, then they are illegitimate. Nevertheless, legitimate rules of interpretation do provide an invaluable service if they lead the interpreter to seek and find the necessary facts and then guide him to the proper use of these facts.

So, is there something to be criticized here? Is there something that needs to be re-thought? Is there something that needs to be jettisoned? If so, enlighten me.

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