Keith Hunt - Bible Basics #1 - Page One   Restitution of All Things
  Home Next Page

Bible Basics #1

Keys to understanding the Bible


                A series of studies(2003) by
                 The Church of God (7th Day)
                        Denver, USA 



INTRODUCTION - Hermen Who?

Ever since the Reformation, the common person has enjoyed
unprecedented access to the Scriptures. The Bible's accessibility
has brought both blessing and curse. The blessing is that anyone
may now read and study the Bible for himself. One need not depend
on any other authority than Scriptures' own authority to
ascertain its message. Such privilege requires responsibility.
Unfortunately, the Bible's accessibility has also made it
vulnerable to misuse. Christianity is now under the curse of a
plethora of beliefs, practices, and notions - the tainted results
of individuals mishandling the Word. Especially in the last two
centuries, numerous sects and cults have come into existence
because of some "unique" reading of Scripture. The fault lies not
with the Bible but with those unfamiliar with the nature and
composition of written communication - the very form in which the
Bible came to humanity.

The failure to recognize how the Bible works as literature has
created a piecemeal approach to Scripture. A verse here and a
verse there are taken to prove whatever one wants. The result has
been the proliferation of every wind of doctrine.
This piecemeal approach has also become so ingrained in people's
thinking that they assume this is the way the Bible was intended
to be understood. Consequently, many Christians have unwittingly
substituted their own preconceived ideas, limited knowledge, and
cultural values for the true word of the text.

In this series of lessons, we will take a look at the subject of
biblical hermeneutics, which is simply the science and art of
interpreting the Bible - of determining what the biblical authors
intended to communicate. Hermeneutics is a science because it
adheres to the literary rules that govern written documents, such
as the language, grammar, format, style, and context. But it is
also an art because communication is flexible, and a mere
mechanical application of rules will sometimes distort the
intended meaning. The good interpreter pays attention not only to
the rules but also to the art of knowing when and how to apply
those rules. Proper application of the two is the difference
between sound and sloppy hermeneutics.

Of course, few people set out on purpose to be sloppy
interpreters. Most do the best they can, interpreting intuitively
what they read and thinking they are pretty much on target. What
is missing is not sincerity, but a greater awareness of the
literary principles at work in the biblical text and a conscious
effort to apply them. This is the basis of sound hermeneutics,
and it deserves the interpreter's full attention for several
reasons:

FIRST, for a pure interest in accuracy, honesty, and truthfulness
- if for no other reason. In other words, truth for truth's sake,
or getting the story straight, if you will. The integrity of the
biblical text and the personal integrity of the interpreter are
on the line. Misrepresentations harm both.
This pent also means that the interpreter must check his ego at
the door. He may not always understand things as clearly as he
thinks. In fact, the more he actually knows, the more he will
realize how much more he doesn't know. Of much the good
interpreter can be certain, but sometimes the meaning of a text
may be obscure. On such occasions, integrity will require the
interpreter to admit that he doesn't have enough information to
be dogmatic about the meaning. On other occasions, he will also
recognize that there can be legitimate differences of opinions
about certain texts among honest interpreters. To be as accurate,
honest, and truthful as possible, every interpreter needs an
degree of tolerance, a dose of humility, and a full measure of
objectivity.

SECOND, the sacredness of God's Word makes sound hermeneutics
imperative. If one truly believes God has spoken through the
Scriptures, then he must be serious about how he handles God's
message. He must not be guilty of adding to or taking away from
the Word. He must try to bring out what God has said, not what he
has read into the text. Few people appreciate it when others
misrepresent the things they say or write. Should God feel any
differently when His Word is distorted in similar fashion?
Finally, the principles of sound hermeneutics are important
because they serve as a safety valve - a check and balance -
against improper and fanciful interpretations. Both the method
and the interpretation should rest on solid principles. If the
method is faulty, the interpretation will generally miss the mark
as well. Even if the interpretation turns out to be true, the use
of a faulty method may prevent others from accepting that truth.
If people detect a fallacy in our methods, they cannot be blamed
too severely for rejecting our conclusions. Those seeking to
persuade others of a biblical teaching, especially preachers and
teachers (James 3:1), must pay attention to their hermeneutics.
The end does not justify the means. Methodology does count.

Also, Christians spend much time debating doctrinal beliefs among
themselves, but they rarely examine the methods they use in
reaching those beliefs. It's like playing a game without any
rules or trying to read in unison when people are not on the same
page: the result is chaos and confusion. Instead of illumination,
irritation sets in, followed by condemnation. It's one person's
opinion against another's. Productive discussion is impossible
because there is no common currency - no standard of
communication, no system for weighing and measuring evidence.
This is not to say that the principles of hermeneutics will
guarantee complete agreement on all points. It is feasible,
however, that if Christians would reason together by following
hermeneutical standards, fewer disagreements would occur and
greater understanding could be achieved.

The Bible and hermeneutics go hand in hand. Like a radio
transmitter and receiver, both are necessary for communication.
One encodes the signal; the other decodes it. The Bible delivers
the message; hermeneutics reveals the meaning. May this series of
lessons increase your awareness of and appreciation for the
hermeneutical process. But most of all, may it help you become a
more skilful interpreter and, ultimately, a better hearer and
doer of the Word.

So hang on to your seats: You're about to explore the wonderful
world of hermeneutics! It's a study that promises to be serious,
but fascinating; simple, but complex enough to be challenging;
fundamental, but surprisingly fun! And by the way, be prepared to
discover things in the biblical text you never knew were there.


LESSON 1

The Process of Interpretation
(Part 1)

Know the Lingo: 

Several key terms frequently used in the field of biblical
interpretation are helpful to know. They may sound a bit
highfalutin at first, because most of us don't encounter them
every day. But please don't be put off or intimidated by them. In
reality, they have simple definitions and are handy one-word
labels for important concepts. We use them not to impress anyone
with scholarly jargon, but to ease communication.

Hermeneutics: 
This term comes to us from the Greek word 'hermeneuo,' an
everyday word used in biblical times that simply meant "to
explain, interpret or translate." In its various verb and noun
forms, the word appears 20 times in the Greek New Testament.
The most notable example occurs in Luke 24:27 when the risen
Jesus appears to two puzzled disciples on the road to Emmaus:
"And beginning with [the books of] Moses and all the Prophets, he
[Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures
concerning himself" (NIV). Even back then, interpretation was
necessary for a clear understanding of Scripture.

Today the word hermeneutics has come to refer to the task of
explaining the meaning of any given communication, but especially
written communication like the Bible. For our purposes, we will
use the term to refer to all the disciplines necessary for
accurately interpreting the Bible. Our goal is to make sense of
Scripture - to understand what the biblical authors intended to
communicate.
Some may wonder if all this fuss over hermeneutics is really
necessary. Haven't God's people through the ages just read and
understood the Bible without hermeneutics? Quite honestly, the
answer is "No." A set of hermeneutics is automatically built into
the structure of any communication. Although we may not be
conscious of it, we use hermeneutical principles every day.

Hermeneutics and the Holy Spirit

What is the role of the Holy Spirit in all this? Some Christians
boast, "I don't need no hermeneutics! I just read the Bible, and
the Holy Spirit tells me what it means." Though this may sound
devout and spiritual, it is, as Christian teacher Bernard Ramm
put it, "veiled egotism." It also makes several false assumptions
about the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures.

FIRST, this view confuses inspiration with illumination. From the
very beginning, Christians have believed that the pens of the
biblical authors were guided by the direct inspiration of the
Holy Spirit. They have also believed that the Scriptures, as we
have them today, are a completed canon - the finished record of
God's message to humanity. Nothing more should be added to or
taken away from it. The work of inspiration, therefore, is
finished. No new truths are being revealed; no new Scriptures are
being written.
However, the work of the Holy Spirit continues in the form of
illumination - to provide insight and understanding of the
original inspired text and, most important, to move the hearts of
readers to respond to and apply the message to their lives.

SECOND, the illumination that readers receive from the Spirit
does not work apart from hermeneutics and exegesis. These are
built into the inspired text because the text itself was
transmitted according to the rules of language - the set patterns
of grammar, word meanings, genres, etc. Therefore, it is
inconceivable that the Spirit would use the rules of language to
record the Bible and then throw out those rules when it comes to
reading and understanding it. In fact, the Spirit aids the
interpreter in his study by guiding him in his use and
application of the hermeneutical principles behind the text.

FINALLY, the Spirit also works through the church, guiding the
worldwide body of Christ "into all truth" (John 16:13). This
leaves little place for the individualistic interpretations of
"lone rangers." The Spirit's presence in the church provides the
accountability and perspective by which the validity of all
interpretations can be assessed. If we claim that the Spirit has
given us an interpretation, it only stands to reason that He will
also tell the rest of the church.

Whenever we talk to a friend or read a newspaper, book, or email,
or even watch TV or a movie, we are interpreting what we see and
hear. We are able to do this - without thinking about how we do
it - because we are familiar with these forms of communication.
They are in our native language and cultural context and follow
set patterns and systems, all of which combine to give us a
framework or grid for understanding. It's our knowledge of this
common frame of reference that allows us to comprehend the
communication. Without it, we wouldn't understand anything.
However, when we encounter a communication we are less familiar
with - one from a different time, language, and culture, such as
the ancient texts of the Bible - a conscious use of hermeneutics
is even more important.
Otherwise, without realizing it, we tend to read the Bible
through our modern grid of understanding - the one most familiar
to us - and overlook the original, but less familiar, grid
already in the text. More will be said on this in later lessons.

EXEGESIS: 

This term also comes from the Greek. It literally means "to bring
out." It is the interpreter's task to bring out the meaning of
the text, as opposed to eisegesis, the act of reading his own
ideas into the text. Technically, an exegesis is the actual
explanation that an interpreter, or "exegete," gives to a text,
derived from his application of the principles of hermeneutics.
Hopefully, it's a "bringing out" of the author's intended
message.
"Wonderful things in the Bible I see, most of them put there by
you and me." 
Reality check: When you interpret the Bible, are you an "exegete"
or "eisegete"?

Presuppositions: 

No one interprets the Bible from a blank slate. We all bring to
the table a set of underlying assumptions and preconceived ideas
that have been shaped by hearsay and our grid of personal
experiences, circumstances, training, beliefs, traditions,
attitudes, agendas, prejudices, and biases.
Our presuppositions are what we assume to be true about the Bible
before further investigation. They generally fall into several
categories:
1. Informational - what we already know or assume we know.
2. Attitudinal - the disposition or frame of mind we bring to an
issue or text. 
3. Ideological - our worldview and how we see an issue or text in
light of that view.
4. Methodological - the method or approach we take in explaining
or interpreting an issue or text.

One of the first steps in the process of interpretation, before
we even open the Bible, is to recognize our presuppositions - to
be aware of them and specifically identify them if we can (it's
often hard to see our own blind spots). Then, as much as
possible, try to set them aside and approach the biblical text
with an open mind and a fresh look. Upon investigation, we may
discover that a presupposition was correct after all or that it
turned out to be false. The key is to be open to change and
correction - to adjust our understanding, if necessary, in the
face of new evidence. As Apostle Paul said, "Prove all things;
hold fast that which is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21, KJV).

Class Exercises:

1. The church encourages its members to read the Bible. In fact,
new converts and children are often handed a Bible and told, with
good intentions, "Now study this every day." But rarely does
anyone show them how. It's assumed they will automatically know
what to do or will pick it up along the way.

Have you consciously thought through your own process of
interpretation? How do you go about interpreting the Bible? List
at least three of the procedures or methods you follow.
How did you learn these procedures? From what source?

2. Four models of interpretation:

When people interpret the Bible, they tend to do so according to
one of four basic models. For many, one model or another will
become the predominant lens through which they view Scripture.
Briefly consider the following. 

a. Literal: 
This model seeks a direct application of the wording of the text.
"What the text says is what it means." The literal interpreter is
concerned with the moral of the story, i.e., the moral teaching
of the text. 

b. Historical: 
This model proposes that along with the Bible other ancient
documents should be consulted in order to reconstruct, as much as
possible, the social, religious, and historical settings out of
which the biblical text speaks. The historical interpreter finds
meaning by comparing the biblical text with other similar
accounts.

c. Allegorical: 
This model looks for the hidden message behind the literal
wording of the text. The allegorical interpreter finds meaning by
decoding the text's spiritual or figurative language - by seeing
through the words on the page, so to speak, to the underlying
spiritual meaning they represent.

d. Metaphorical: 
This model views the text as an open-ended metaphor in which the
interpreter personally participates. He finds meaning in the
specific way the text speaks to him or his need. This is the
"iceberg effect." Ninetenths of an iceberg is below the surface.
In this case, the tip of the iceberg represents the wording of
the biblical text. Below the surface, however, looms the
possibility of multiple meanings.

3. Read Luke 14:15-24, the parable of the great banquet.
Summarize the meaning of this parable in one sentence.
Identify which of the four models of interpretation you used - if
not actively, at least subconsciously - to interpret the parable.
Does the class agree that your interpretation matches the model
you've placed it in?
How is it possible that the class has come up with such a variety
of interpretations from the same parable?

When discussing a text with others, why might it be helpful to
correctly identify which model or models you and they are using
to arrive at your respective interpretations?

Reflection: 
How much was your interpretation influenced by the
presuppositions you had about this parable?

Follow Up: 
After performing the above exercise, some may be wondering which
one of the four models is the correct one to use, not just for
this passage but for all passages. That's really the wrong
question. All four of the models have their legitimate usage.
Are there passages that we need to understand literally? You bet.
For example, "Thou shalt not kill." Do some passages truly have
an allegorical interpretation? Yes, such as the parable of the
sower in Matthew 13. Similarly, the historical and metaphorical
methods may also find appropriate application in certain texts.

The better question is not which single model is correct but how
one determines when it's appropriate to apply a given model to a
text. The answer lies in the language of the text itself - in its
literary composition. No one model fits all. 
But there is an overriding approach that helps sort things out.
It's known as the Grammatico-Historica Method of Interpretation,
so called because it takes into account all the grammatical and
literary factors of how language works and the historical setting
out of which the Bible speaks. 
In short, the Grammatico-Historical Method helps us answer two
fundamental questions: "What do the words of Scripture actually
mean?" and "What did those words mean to those who first heard
them?"
Stay tuned. We will flesh this out more in the coming lessons.

LESSON 2
The Process of Interpretation
(Part 2)

Mind the Gaps:
Every time a subway train pulls to a platform in the belly of
London, a recorded message repeatedly warns passengers, "Mind the
gap. Please, mind the gap." The gap, of course, is the narrow
space between the platform and the train that passengers must
step over when getting on and off.
Whenever we read the Bible, the same warning should go off in our
heads: "Mind the gaps. Please, mind the gaps." The gaps here are
those between our world and the world of the biblical text. The
one is familiar to us; the other less so. For too many people the
Bible is a closed book - closed to their understanding. They
often lament, "I've given up on the Bible because I don't
understand what I read." Gaps in understanding are preventing
them from stepping over the threshold between the two worlds.

Let's take a look at some of the main gaps that we must be
mindful of. 

FIRST, there's the language gap. The Bible was written in Hebrew,
Aramaic, and Greek - three ancient languages with very different
structures and idioms than English. Does anyone want to have a go
at interpreting the following verse? 
(The study produced a line of capital letter Greek - Keith Hunt)
(Hint: it's written in the style of the earliest Greek
manuscripts - all capital letters and no spacing between words.
Any takers? Well... OK. Here's a better hint: Try John 1:1.)
How about a line of Hebrew?
(The study produced a line of Hebrew - Keith Hunt)  
It's even harder to read. The block-style letters don't resemble
our alphabet at all, and to us it's written backwards - from
right to left.
Does this mean we have to become Hebrew and Greek scholars to
understand the Bible? No, thank God for our English translations.
Yet even the best translations can't convey some of the nuances
and plays on words present in the original languages. Hence, a
gap.

Hebrew and Greek aside, a language gap can even be present when
we read an English translation, especially the venerable King
James Version, whose English vocabulary, style, and forms of
expression are almost 400 years old. They may have communicated
well in 1611 but are foreign to many readers today.
For example, in 1 Peter 3:1, the apostle advises wives how to win
their unbelieving husbands to the Lord. The King James renders
the advice this way: "[Husbands] also may without the word be won
by the conversation of the wives." This sounds contradictory. How
can wives, without using words, witness to their husbands through
conversation? Doesn't "conversation" involve words? Yes, it does
by our contemporary definition. However, in 1611 conversation
didn't refer to words or talking, but to behavior or conduct,
which is exactly what Peter had in mind. Unbelieving husbands are
to be won over, without a word, by the godly behavior of their
wives. It's a silent rather than an oral witness. 
The reader of the King James Version today must be careful to
mind the language gap, or he may end up with a meaning totally
opposite to what the biblical writer and the translators of the
KJV intended.

SECOND, be aware of the historical gap. We are separated from the
original writers, readers, and events of the Bible by a great
distance in time and place. About 4,000 years have passed since
Abraham cooled himself under the terebinth trees at Mamre. Nearly
2,000 years have come and gone since Peter cast his nets in
Galilee. Needless to say, the world we inhabit has changed
substantially since biblical times. As a result, what was once
common knowledge about people, places, and events when the Bible
was written may barely be known today.
What can a person living centuries from now know of the impact of
Nixon's Watergate as we do? Perhaps no more than we can
understand what Jerusalem's Water Gate signified to the returning
exiles under Ezra and Nehemiah. The historical gap offers a real
challenge to the interpreter of the Bible that goes beyond the
knowledge of mere facts to the emotional and motivational factors
that influenced the lives of the biblical characters.
Also, the historical gap is not just between the modern and
ancient worlds. The Bible itself spans several millennia, and
during that time there were many social, cultural, political, and
religious changes. It's a mistake to assume that these elements
remained constant from the patriarchs to the apostles. The
historical times of Jacob were not the same as those of James,
nor of Joshua or Jeremiah in between. Just as today, changing
factors and forces altered the lives and perspectives of each
generation.

For example, the Old Testament closes knowing nothing about the
Pharisees and Sadducees. Four hundred years later when the New
Testament opens - boom - they suddenly appear on the page,
dominating the religious scene. Who were they? Where did they
come from? What did they believe? Because this was common
knowledge in the first century, the gospel writers mention little
about it. Yet, we are left in the dark, wanting more information
than the thumbnail sketches we receive.

A THIRD gap to watch out for is the cultural gap - the
significant differences between our own customs, beliefs,
practices, and everyday lifestyles and those of the societies in
the Bible. The predominate cultural influence in the Old
Testament period was that of the Near Eastern, Semitic world. It
was spread throughout the Fertile Crescent, but centered
primarily in Mesopotamia, the area known as the cradle of
civilization. In the New Testament we encounter a different
cultural influence - that of the Greco-Roman world with its
western, Hellenistic (Greek) orientation. Though God's people in
both testaments were at home in the larger context of their
cultures, they often found themselves at odds with cultural
elements that were contrary to their religious convictions.

When reading the Bible, we must take care not to distort its
meaning by placing our own cultural grid on the text. For
instance, our western culture values individualism. We stress
individual rights and freedoms. Therefore, when Paul writes in 1
Corinthians 3:16, "ye are the temple of God," we tend to think in
terms of the individual - that each individual Christian is a
temple of God. Paul, however, was speaking corporately, as the
context and use of the plural form of you (ye in the KJV)
indicate. The whole church, the body of Christ, is God's temple.
The cultural gap, in subtle ways, can mislead us.

The sole verse where Paul does imply that each Christian's
physical body is a "temple of the Holy Spirit" is 1 Corinthians
6:19. But even in this verse and in the surrounding context, all
of the words for "you/your" are plural in the Greek. Paul's point
is that the individual bodies of believers comprise the one body
of Christ (6:15).

FINALLY, we need to be on guard for the philosophical gap. The
ancients' outlook on life and their understanding of what made
the universe tick differ from the modern worldview. Because of
scientific and technological advancements, we tend to be
matter-of-fact, rational, head-over-heart in our explanation of
things. The ancients, on the other hand, were more philosophical,
poetic, emotional, heart-over-head in their approach and use of
language in describing the cosmos and life's apparent mysteries.
For example, Psalm 148:4 speaks of "waters above the heavens."
This is phenomenological language. It describes a natural
phenomenon, not in scientific terms, but as it appears to the
naked eye. Since water fell from the sky and the sky was blue, it
appeared to the ancients that a vast reservoir of water existed
above the heavens. Today we know there is no sea of water in the
sky, but the psalmist is not trying to be scientifically accurate
in modem terms. He's coming from an entirely different
perspective. It's the same poetic perspective we still use today
when we speak of the sunrise. Scientifically, we know that the
sun itself doesn't actually rise relative to the earth. It's the
earth spinning on its axis that gives the appearance that the sun
is moving.

Bridging the gaps. How do we bridge these gaps between what the
Bible says and what we understand it to say? Half the battle is
in recognizing the gaps in the first place and by reading the
text with the biblical worldview in mind rather than imposing our
twenty-first century concepts on the text. This improves our
chances of stepping over the gaps and into the sandals of the
biblical figures to: 1) hear the Word of God as they first did
and 2) better apply it to modern life.

Class Exercises:

1. Acts 12:1-4 from the King James Version is printed below. Read
the text, noting the underlined (I will use CAPITALS - Keith
Hunt) words and phrases, which could pose gaps in understanding
for some modern readers. Identify whether each potential gap is
primarily linguistical (language), historical, cultural, or
philosophical. Write your answers ......

1 Now about that time HEROD THE KING stretched forth his hands to
VEX certain of the church. 2 And he killed James the brother of
John with the sword. 3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he
proceeded further to take Peter also. (THEN WERE THE DAYS OF
UNLEAVENED BREAD.) 4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him
in prison, and delivered him to four QUATERMIONS of soldiers to
keep him; intending after EASTER to bring him forth to the
people.

(The following comments are a tongue-in-cheek, slightly
exaggerated illustration of how some people might respond to
unfamiliar terrain in Acts 12. They try to fill in the gaps the
best they can, often by speculation instead of research. However,
before we laugh at the off-the-wall notions of others, we might
recall our own attempts to do the same. It's OK not to know
something about a text, as long as we are willing to search out
the answer. It's better to say, "I don't know" than to make up an
answer and pretend we do know.)

HEROD the king - "What's going on here? I thought King Herod was
already dead. Didn't he die shortly after trying to kill the Baby
Jesus back there in Matthew 2:16-20?" - A ... gap.
VEX - "Vex, hex, sex . . . whatever it is, it sounds bad to me."
- A ... gap.
THEN WERE THE DAYS OF UNLEAVENED BREAD - "Perhaps this is the
result a famine that God sent on Herod and the Jews for throwing
Peter in prison, when all they had to eat for a time was
unleavened bread. Sounds like the Great Depression: 'those were
the days of soup kitchens and breadlines.'" - A ... gap.
FOUR QUATERNIONS - "How many soldiers were guarding Peter? Let's
see ... a quarter is 25. So a quaternion must be like a small
legion of 25 soldiers; 25 times 4 equals 100." - A ... gap.
EASTER - "I didn't realize the Jews also celebrated Easter back
then. I thought it was only a Christian holiday. Well, you live
and learn." - A ... gap.

2. Identify the type of gaps potentially present in these
additional texts. (As individuals, we will come to these texts
with different levels of knowledge. What may be a gap to one
person might not be to another. Remember, it's OK to admit that
you are unfamiliar with a word or reference. See it as an
opportunity to expand your knowledge. So, even though we may
individually experience more than one gap in a text, for the sake
of time, the class should try to identify the one gap in each
text that poses the greatest barrier to understanding for the
majority of modern readers. Also, don't feel. compelled to offer
solutions now. Just identify where the problems lie.)

"wist not" in the KJV of Acts 12:9 - Ruth 4:6-8 -
2 Samuel 3:31 - 1 Chronicles 26:18 in the more literal renderings
of the KJV, NASB, or RSV - Job 40:7 in the more literal
renderings of the KJV, NASB, or RSV - Compare with the KJV of 1
Peter 1:13, which takes the expression one step further - Ezekiel
21:21 - Matthew 23:34, 35 (Why the reference to "the blood of
righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah"?) - 1 Corinthians 8:4,
7-10 - "he who will now letteth will let" in the KJV of 2
Thessalonians 2:7 (to see this gap more clearly, compare with a
modern version).

3. How would you go about bridging these gaps? What basic steps
might you take overall, and what resources might you use for each
type of gap?

Follow Up: 
Diagramming the process of interpretation, of bridging the gaps.
It involves two simple steps: I) listening and 2) applying. In
Lesson 1 we spoke of this same process by using the terms
hermeneutics and exegesis. Both are another way of describing how
to interpret, explain, or bring out the meaning of a text by
listening for its meaning and then applying that meaning to our
lives. In coming lessons we will refine the steps of listening
and applying in more specific ways.

1. Listening: As the interpreter, you must "be quiet" and
"listen" to what the Bible says. To "be quiet," set aside your
presuppositions, and don't impose your world on the text. You
cannot hear what the Bible says if you are doing all the talking.
To "listen," thoroughly examine all the aspects of the text in
its world. This involves using the principles of hermeneutics to
bridge the gaps in your understanding of the text's language and
it's historical, cultural, and philosophical settings. After you
have thoroughly listened to every word of the text, and only
then, may you proceed to step 2.

2. Applying: In this final step, you take all you have learned
from listening to the text and then honestly evaluate how it
influences the aspects of your world (personal, religious,
historical, cultural, and philosophical settings). In step 1 you
learn from the Bible's situation. In step 2 the Bible speaks to
your situation.

Watch your steps: When interpreting the Bible, most people skip
step 1 and jump ahead to step 2. They may quickly read the text,
but they really don't take the time to listen and hear the Word -
to let the power of the original, unadulterated message sink in.
This short-circuits the whole process, and they essentially end
up where they started - reinforcing their own presuppositions
rather than allowing the text to speak to them.

                              ..............

TO BE CONTINUED


  Home Top of Page Next Page

 
Navigation List:
 

 
Word Search:

PicoSearch
  Help