The Science of Hermeneutics

Many do not know that there is actually a science for the study of Scripture. When it is carefuly utilized, all the while praying that the Holy Spirit be our teacher (I John 2:27), it brings us very close to the meaning that God intends for us to glean from His Word. This is the science of hermeneutics.

Parliament of Wise Owls

Parliament of Wise Owls

Many believe that Scripture is a matter of subjective interpretation, but nothing could be further from the truth. Others believe that if their pastor, or a prominent public teacher declares it, it must be true. Not so.

If the understanding of God’s Word is a matter of subjective interpretation, that is if we “feel” we understand the meaning, it seems logical to us, and it fits into our world view, then we must have figured it out. Not so, once again.

One must use a methodical approach to remove, as much as possible, individual bias in interpretaton. The following is the most concise description we have seen of the science of hermeneutics:

“Hermeneutics, properly speaking is the art and science of biblical interpretation and comes from the Greek term, hermeneuo, which means to interpret or to explain. It essentially incorporates all of the tools and techniques that make up the process of biblical interpretation.

Hermeneutics not only includes exegesis (the study of the Bible to understand a passage in its ancient context), but also includes models for applying a biblical passage to a modern context.

…You cannot jump directly from the biblical passage to our modern context without doing an injustice to the Bible.” (FreeBibleStudyLessons.net)

There also are both General Hermeneutics and Special Hermeneutics. Mr. Gustavo Karakey goes on to explain about Special Hermeneutics, for example, “The Psalms should be read and interpreted very differently from the Gospels. Revelation is apocalyptic literature which has different rules of interpretation than say the Book of Joshua which is mostly historical narrative.” (ibid)

His site does an excellent job of easily explaining this important topic.

We recognize that this is an expansive subject and we cannot do it justice here. We submit to you that studying Scripture is not a happenstance, willy-nilly project. God has given us teachers, some godly and excellent, some not so and some downright deceptive and diabolical.  We have a responsibility as followers of Christ to be good Bereans whenever we listen to any teacher.

As Luke records in Acts 17:10-12 when Paul and Silas are sent to the people of Berea, going directly to the synagogue of the Jews. “Now these were more noble-minded that those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily [remember these were the Old Testament Scriptures that had been translated into Greek], to see whether these things were so.”  Luke goes on to add in verse 12 that, “many of them therefore believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.” (NASB)

Ultimately the responsiblity for accurately handling the Word of God lies with each of us, individually. (II Tim. 2:15)

Don’t be the one to say, “If only I had taken the Word of God more seriously. If only I had studied it more diligently. If only I had been commited to rightly dividing the Word of Truth. If only I had applied the truth more personally in my own life… If only…, if only…”   (“Hermen Who? –Bible Hermeneutics: An Excursion in Fantasy or Exercise in Discipline?” by G. Richard Fisher, The Quarterly Journal Vol. 22, No. 3, 2002)

If you’d like to find a book to help you begin to study the Bible using the science of hermeneutics, go to ChristianBook.com and search for hermeneutics. You will find many books on the subject.  Read the reviews and find one that you believe will be most enlightening and useful for you.

God’s blessings as you diligently study His Word.

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