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Encyclopedia > Biblical hermeneutics

Biblical Hermeneutics, part of the broader hermeneutical question, relates to the problem of how one is to understand Holy Scripture. By definition, this is a theological act, ie. part of the discourse of a faith-community. This does not mean that it is of no relevance to those who do not consider themselves to be part of that community, but rather that it is an issue that arises out of the particular needs of that community. Hermeneutics (Hermeneutic means interpretive), is a branch of philosophy concerned with human understanding and the interpretation of texts. ... Theology is reasoned discourse concerning God (Greek θεος, theos, God, + λογος, logos, word or reason). It also refers to the study of other religious topics. ...

Therefore one ought to differentiate between Christian and Jewish Biblical hermeneutics: although there is an overlap between the two (and some form of dialogue), since they share part of their scriptures, they do arise out of different faith traditions and thus developed their own notion of hermeneutics. Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament writings of his early followers. ... Judaism is the religious culture of the Jewish people. ...

It must also be stressed that theological differences within these faith communities preclude any 'definitive' statement on Biblical hermeneutics.

The following concentrates on Christian Biblical hermeneutics.

Until Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher, Biblical hermeneutics was usually seen as a form of special hermeneutics (like legal hermeneutics): the status of Holy Scripture was thought to necessitate a particular form of understanding and interpretation. Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (November 21, 1768 - February 12, 1834) was a theologian and philosopher. ...

Since the days of Schleiermacher, however, it has become increasingly common, at least in academia, to read Scripture 'just like any other book', though precisely what that might mean is by no means without dispute! Schleiermacher argued against a distinction between 'general' and 'special' hermeneutics, and for a general theory of hermeneutics applicable to all texts, including the Bible.

Since Schleiermacher's days, the concept of 'hermeneutics' has acquired at least two different (related but nevertheless distinct) meanings, both of which are in use today: firstly, in the older sense, Biblical hermeneutics may be understood as the theological principles of exegesis; in fact, it is often virtually synonymous with 'principles of biblical interpretation', or methodology of Biblical exegesis. This article discusses textual hermeneutics. ...

Secondly, the more recent development is to understand the term 'Biblical hermeneutics' as the broader philosophy, linguistics, etc. underpinnings of interpretation - in other words, the question is posed: "how is understanding possible?" The rationale of this approach is that while Scripture is 'more than just an ordinary text', it is in the first instance 'text', which human beings try to understand; in this sense, the principles of understanding any text apply to the Bible as well (regardless of whatever other specifically-theological principles one might want to consider in addition to that). Philosophy (from the Greek words philos and sophia meaning love of wisdom) is understood in different ways historically and by different philosophers. ... Broadly conceived, linguistics is the study of human language, and a linguist is someone who engages in this study. ...

In this second sense, then, all aspects of philosophical, linguistic, etc. hermeneutics are considered to be applicable to the Biblical texts as well. There are obvious examples of this in the links between 20th century philosophy and Christian theology: for examnple, Rudolf Bultmann's hermeneutical approach was strongly influenced by existentialism, and in particular by the philosophy of Martin Heidegger; and since the 1970's, the philosophical hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer have had a wide-ranging influence on Biblical hermeneutics as developed by a wide range of Christian theologians. The French-American philosopher Rene Girard follows a similar trail. This article or section should be merged with Rudolf Karl Bultmann Rudolf Karl Bultmann (August 20, 1884 - July 30, 1976) was a German theologian of Lutheran background, who was for three decades professor of New Testament studies at the University of Marburg. ... Martin Heidegger Martin Heidegger (September 26, 1889 – May 26, 1976) was a German philosopher. ... Hans-Georg Gadamer Hans-Georg Gadamer (February 11, 1900 – March 13, 2002) was a German philosopher best known for his 1960 magnum opus, Truth and Method (Wahrheit und Methode). ... René Girard is a French philosopher, historian and philologist. ...

Theological Hermeneutics as traditional Christian Biblical Exegesis

particular form of theological hermeneutics, especially within the mainstream, self-declared 'orthodox' Protestant tradition, considers Christian Biblical hermeneutics in the tradition of explication of the text, or exegesis, to deal with various principles that can be applied to the study of Scripture. If it is axiomatic that the canon of Scripture must be an organic whole, rather than an accumulation of disparate individual texts written and edited in the course of history, then any interpretation that contradicts any other part of scripture is not considered to be sound. Thus Biblical hermeneutics differs from hermeneutics as generally understood. Within such traditional Protestant theology, such formulas include [1]: This article discusses textual hermeneutics. ... Many religions and spiritual movements hold certain written texts (or series of spoken legends not traditionally written down) to be sacred. ... In Western culture, canon law is the law of the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches. ... Theology is reasoned discourse concerning God (Greek θεος, theos, God, + λογος, logos, word or reason). It also refers to the study of other religious topics. ...

  • The Golden Rule of Hermeneutics
"If the Plain Sense Makes Common Sense, Seek No Other Sense."

Theological Group of principles:

  • The Election Principle
  • The Dispensation Principle or The Chronometrical Principle
"During Different Periods of Time, God Has Chosen to Deal in a Particular Way with Man in Respect to Sin and Man's Responsibility."
  • The Covenantal Principle
"We Differentiate Between the Various Contracts that God Has Made with His People; Specifically their Provisions, their Parties and their Purposes."
  • The Ethnic Division Principle
"The Word of Truth is Rightly Divided in Relation to the Three Classes Which it Treats, i.e. Jews, Gentiles and the Church."
  • The Breach Principle
interpretation of a certain verse or passage in Scripture is aided by a consideration of certain breaches, either breaches of promise or breaches of time.
  • The Christo-Centric Principle
"The Mind of Deity is Eternally Centered in Christ. All Angelic Thought and Ministry are Centered in Christ. All Satanic Hatred and Subtlety are Centered at Christ. All Human Hopes are, and Human Occupations Should Be, Centered in Christ. The Whole Material Universe in Creation is Centered in Christ. The Entire Written Word is Centered in Christ."
  • The Moral Principle
  • The Discriminational Principle
"We Should Divide the Word of Truth so as to Make a Distinction Where God Makes a Difference."
  • The Predictive Principle
  • The Application Principle
"An Application of Truth May Be Made Only After the Correct Interpretation has Been Made"
  • The Principle of Human Willingness in Illumination
  • The Context Principle
"God Gives Light Upon a Subject Through Either Near or Remote Passages Bearing Upon the Same Subject."
    • Sub divided Context/Mention Principles:
  • The First Mention Principle
"God Indicates in the First Mention of a Subject the Truth with which That Subject Stands Connected in the Mind of God."
  • The Progressive Mention Principle
"God Makes the Revelation of Any Given Truth Increasingly Clear as the Word Proceeds to Its Consummation."
  • The Comparative Mention Principle
  • The Full Mention Principle or The Complete Mention Principle
"God Declares His Full Mind Upon Any Subject Vital to Our Spiritual Life."
  • The Agreement Principle
"The Truthfulness and Faithfulness of God Become the Guarantee that He Will Not Set Forth Any Passage in His Word that Contradicts Any Other Passage."
  • The Direct Statement Principle
"God Says What He Means and Means What He Says."
  • The Gap Principle
"God, In the Jewish Scriptures, Ignores Certain Periods of Time, Leaping Over Them Without Comment."
  • The Three-fold Principle
"The Word of God Sets Forth the Truths of Salvation in a Three-Fold Way: Past - Justification; Present - Sanctification/Transformation; Future - Glorification/Consummation."
  • The Repetition Principle
"God Repeats Some Truth or Subject Already Given, Generally With the Addition of Details Not Before Given."
  • The Synthetic Principle
  • The Principle of Illustrative Mention
  • The Double Reference Principle

Figures of Speech Group of Principles:

  • The Numerical Principle
  • The Symbolic Principle
  • The Typical Principle
"Certain People, Events, Objects and Rituals Found in the Old Testament May Serve as Object Lessons and Pictures By Which God Teaches Us of His Grace and Saving Power."
  • The Parabolic Principle
  • The Allegorical Principle

[1] This list of 'principles' in conservative evangelical hermeneutics appears to derive from: Hartill, J E 1960. Principles of Biblical Hermeneutics. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Related topics

Biblical studies is the academic study of the Christian and Jewish Scriptures. ... Hermeneutics (Hermeneutic means interpretive), is a branch of philosophy concerned with human understanding and the interpretation of texts. ... Apologetics is the field of study concerned with the systematic defense of a position. ... This article discusses textual hermeneutics. ... Literary criticism is the study, discussion, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. ... Literary theory is the theory (or the philosophy) of the interpretation of literature and literary criticism. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Hermeneutics (4533 words)
Biblical hermeneutics presupposes, therefore, a knowledge of the history of the Canon of both the Old and the New Testament, an acquaintance with the results of the lower or textual criticism, and a study of the dogmatic treatise on inspiration.
Thus, Biblical hermeneutics deals with Sacred Scripture as its material object, furnishing a complex set of rules for finding and expressing the true sense of the inspired writers, while the discovery and presentation of the genuine sense of Sacred Scripture may be said to be its formal object.
Biblical hermeneutics belongs to this second class, not because the universal rules of exegesis are inapplicable to the Sacred Books, but because the sacred character of the Bible demands additional rules of interpretation, which are not applicable to profane writings.
What is Biblical Hermeneutics? (458 words)
Answer: Biblical hermeneutics is perhaps summarized best by 2 Timothy 2:15, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Biblical hermeneutics is the science of knowing how to properly interpret the various types of literature found in the Bible.
Biblical hermeneutics keeps us faithful to the intended meaning of Scripture and away from allegorizing and symbolizing Bible verses and passages that should be understood literally.
A second crucial "law" of Biblical hermeneutics is that a verse or passage must be interpreted historically, grammatically, and contextually.
  More results at FactBites »



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