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Back to BasicsSample

Back to Basics

DAY 1 OF 7


Have you ever been in conversation with someone or sent an email and thought you had effectively communicated your position only to find out later that you were misunderstood? You probably said, “That’s not what I meant,” and proceeded to clarify your position. However, when we are dealing with historical documents, such as those that comprise the Bible, we cannot go ask the author what he meant. Therefore, we need to follow certain rules in order to arrive at the meaning the author intended. Those rules are outlined within the discipline of Hermeneutics, which is the art and science of Biblical interpretation. It allows the reader to access the meaning and significance of what an author or speaker intended to communicate.

There are three people involved in the hermeneutical process. They are the original author, the original audience and the interpreter. We are always in the role of the interpreter and are in essence reading someone else’s mail. Hermeneutics gives us as interpreters the proper parameters through which to read that mail so that we accurately assess the text and convey its true meaning. Here is the general rule for understanding the text of Scripture - The text can never mean what it never meant!

As the interpreter we are to uncover the meaning – not create it. Many false ideologies and heretical doctrines have been formulated by people, because of their inattention or inability to determine the original meaning of the text. We owe it to God to do our homework so as to uncover the truth about what actually occurred or what God was intending to convey.

Although the Bible may contain some lists of rules or principles, that is not what the Bible is. The Bible communicates historically and archaeologically verifiable information through a series of genres, such as narrative, poetry, wisdom literature, and prophecy. The individual books and letters within the Bible each have a unique purpose. In order to accurately interpret the meaning of these books, we must first seek to understand the purpose of the author and gain familiarity with the audience whom the author is addressing.  For example, Paul, one author of the Bible, had a purpose in writing to the churches of Galatia. As the interpreter we need to begin our study by asking questions such as: Who were the Galatians? When was the letter written? What issue was Paul addressing? How does Paul’s history impact what he wrote and how he wrote it?


Day 2

About this Plan

Back to Basics

A proper understanding of what the Biblical text originally meant is necessary for an accurate teaching of the text today. Hermeneutics is the art and science of interpretation. We are not at liberty to invent or inject ...


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