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Interpretation
(Hermeneutics)


is very important to all Christians as we read and live out God's Word in our lives. We present to you the Historical-Grammatical Method which, as the title relates, uses the history and context of the biblical author, combined with the grammar of the context to achieve harmony.


Historical‐Grammatical Method

The Historical-Grammatical Method of interpreting Scripture uses the author's historical context, grammar and the analogy of Scripture (analogia scriptura) to determine the meaning of the passage. Remember these two maxims.

FIRST MAXIM - The author's context must control interpretation!!
Why? - Because the message was given to a specific audience, at a specific time for a specific purpose. The message given speaks to the same issues of humanity we have today, depsite our technological advancements.

SECOND MAXIM - No Biblical passage can have two conflicting, or contradicting interpretations.
Why? - Because it is impossible for God to contradict Himself. God would then be wrong, and not perfect, and therefore, not God.

RIGHT WAY TO INTERPRET


Since the Bible is written by human beings (WE are NOT denying supernatural inspiration here), it must be treated as any other human communication in determining the meaning intended by the writer.

Base the study on historical, physical and cultural settings.
Research each unclear and important word or phrase.
Analyze the sentence (the basic unit of thought), paying particular attention to structure and verbage. This includes grammar, word order, pronouns, verbs (tense, voice, mood), adverbs, adjectives and objects.
Examine the immediate context: the passage as a whole; the book as a whole.
Identify figurative language and determine its literal, intended meaning.
Use the parallelism of Hebrew poetry to gain insight into meaning.
Interpret parables strictly according to the special principles required by this type of literature.
Find the single meaning of the parable, what is the one central lesson the speaker/writer is teaching and communicating.
Find the context of the parable: intended audience, timing, context of parable.
Find the relevant details (not all the details are relevant to the meaning)
Find the irrelevant details (Yes, there are some!)

Since Scripture is God-breathed and true an all its parts, the unity of its teachings must be sought, and its supernatural elements recognized and understood.
Use the parallelism of Hebrew poetry to gain insight into meaning. Compare Scripture with Scripture for light on each passage, and discover the unity of its teaching.
Establish the coherence of revelead truth. It is impossible for God to contradict Himself, so there are NO true Bible contradictions. Seek unity within the immediate context and then move out from there.
Since we hold the Bible is God-breathed and true in all its parts, when a statement appears to be in error, we are committed to seek an explanation.
To understand predictive prophecy in Scripture, faithfully observe Biblical guidelines.
Seek meanings of symbols in immediate context. Many New Testament symbols have their meaning in the Old Testament. (See Revelation 10:7)
Predictive prophecy was to deal with the issues of our hearts, just as much as dealing with future events.

Since Scripture is God-breathed, it is absolute in its authority for doctrine and life.
Every teaching of Scripture is to be received universally, unless the Bible itself limits the audience, either in the context of the passage itself or in other biblical teaching.
Previous revelation is superseded by later revelation in the written Word.
God desires the response of faith and obedience to both the direct teachings and the principles of Scripture.

More Interpretation in PDF...

WRONG WAY TO INTERPRET


In opposition to the Historical-Grammatical Method is the fourth century teaching of Origen called the "Quadriga". The "Quadriga" was based on Greek philosophy such as Plato's allegories and Origen used this method of interpretation on the Scripture. Origen taught that each passage simultaneously has a four-fold method of interpretation (hence the name Quadriga). The fourfold methods are as follows:
1. Literal (plain-sense meaning)
2. Moral (tropologic) - moral lesson which the passage is trying to teach.
3. Mystical (allegorical) - some hidden, underlying meaning, usually symbolic or figurative. Attach meanings to the symbols.
4. Prophetic (analogic) - foreshadow of future events, prediction of future events.

[An example might be "Jerusalem": Literal - city of Jerusalem; Moral (tropologic) - the human soul; Mystical (allegorical) - the Church; Prophetic (analogic) - the heavenly city. This method of interpretation leads to subjectivism and heresy. Beware!]

Hermeneutics Guide
PDF to be printed front and back landscape