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What Is Hermeneutics In The Bible

What Is Biblical Hermeneutics

What is Hermeneutics?

The Bible is big, and it can be hard to know where to start. We can easily feel intimidated and leave the hard work of studying the Bible to the professionals. With so many different opinions on the Bibles interpretation, it may seem impossible to draw the right conclusions. However, just as God desires to communicate with mankind, He also intended for His Word to be understood. Biblical hermeneutics can help you grow confident in studying Gods Word and interpreting Scripture.

Digressing On What Says Means

logical deduction

By now I suspect many readers are in the“how can we get aroundwhat the Bible says”mode. Given that the feminist culture tends to be predominant in much of Christianity today, I purposely chosesuch a passage to invoke such a reaction. Bad hermeneutics often comesfrom a “how can we get around what the Bible says” type of mentality.Popular theology is often in conflict with Biblical theology.

Here’s an example of using the possible versus probable hermeneuticto interpret an “ambiguous” verse.

What Is The Definition Of Biblical Hermeneutics

Biblical hermeneutics is the study of the principles of interpreting Gods Word.

A Discipline: The study of Gods Word must be conducted within the context of our relationship to and dependence upon God. View the hermeneutics process, not as an avenue to conquer Gods Word, but to properly understand Gods Word that it may conquer our hearts.

A Science: Biblical hermeneutics follows certain processes, resulting in an understanding of the text. Through systematic study, we can find consistency as we seek to understand Gods Word.

An Art: We gain a feel for the significance to ascribe to certain parts of the hermeneutic process, and gain skill in recognizing where our attention will prove to be most beneficial.

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How Do We Study Hermeneutics

You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.

Absolute truth has been given to us by God and written down in the Bible. It is simply this: Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

With the Bible being written over thousands of years, and in different cultures, how can someone today understand it correctly? The Bible needs to be interpreted through the eyes of the authors and the readers for whom it was originally written, so that we can understand the intended meaning in a way that makes sense for us today. This allows us to better understand what the Bible means, Gods purpose for us, and how we should live our lives according to His will.

Through the centuries, several hermeneutical methodologies have been proposed.

One common approach argues that there are three ways to understand the Bible, each complementing the others:

Another popular methodology, building on Origens hermeneutical principles, argues in favor of three different types of Hermeneutics:

All together, these methodologies provide a comprehensive interpretation of the word of God. We teach our students about all styles of hermeneutics so that they can understand that reading the Bible intelligently is essential to the growing life of a Christian.

I Hermeneutics Is The Science And Art Of Biblical Interpretation


The word hermeneutics comes from a Greek word, hermenuo which means to interpret. And we can define hermeneutics as the science and art of biblical interpretation. It is a science in that there are methods, there are rules, there is a measure of objectivity, it is not just a science it is also an art in the sense that it is a skill that is learned.

Now, the first question some of my students ask is do I really need hermeneutics. Some people say I dont interpret the Bible, I just read the Bible. But, of course, every act of reading is also an act of interpretation you cannot read something without interpreting it.

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What Kinds Of Hermeneutics Are There

Today, there are many kinds of hermeneutics, and many of them can be used in tandem. Each emphasizes different approaches to Scripture. Some focus on approaching the Bible from a historical or archeological standpoint, while others see the meaning of the Bible as shifting and adapting with culture.

A hermeneutic approach depends on the goal in mind. As Dr. Ellen White writes for the Biblical Archaeology Society,

These methodologies range from historical-critical, to post-colonial, to rhetorical, to cultural-critical, to ecological to canonical-criticalFor example, if you want to understand how Mosess life in the wilderness differed from daily life in the ancient Levant, you would use an archaeological/anthropological hermeneutic. However, if you want to understand the gender politics between Miriam and Moses in the wilderness, you would use a feminist or womanist approach to the text.

Different hermeneutical approaches can sometimes lead to wildly different interpretations. This is why, even among noted theologians , there is a wide variety of opinion and teaching.

Photo Credit: ©Sparrowstock

Here At New Tribes Bible Institute

Here at New Tribes Bible Institute, we understand how vital it is to have a biblical hermeneutic in place. We know that of all the skills we could teach, this is one of the most important, because the way you interpret the Bible will greatly affect how you view God, how you live your life, and the way you minister to others. Because of this, we seek to instill a deep knowledge of how to interpret the Bible well. From our core freshman class of Hermeneutics, where we learn to ask questions, make observations, and connect different themes in the Bible, all the way to senior papers, our students are taught and pushed to utilize a biblical hermeneutic.

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Liberal Hermeneutics Grew In Unison With The Social Gospel Movement Aka Theological Liberalism


1. It is rationalistic.

2. Inspiration and supernatural are both redefined. For example, since the mind of man cannot explain miracles, the miracles of the Bible must therefore be discounted.

3. The presupposition of human accommodation redefines, if not erases, much historically accepted Bible doctrine.


With a liberal hermeneutic, man quickly and arrogantly becomes the judge of Scripture, versus Scripture being the judge of man.



Neoorthodoxy is an interpretive approach which denies propositional, objective, authoritative revelation. In justification of that premise, proponents of this school believe that the Bible is only infallible when revelation was given to the writers of the Bible, i.e., when God actually spoke it. And in its forward look, inspiration then only occurs subjectively when God speaks to you through it now. It follows that Neoorthodoxy states that the Bible has instrumental authority because it is an instrument pointing to Christ, but it does not have inherent authority.


Recognizable names associated with the germination of Neoorthodoxy are Karl Barth . Now splintered into several movements, other names associated with it are Emil Brunner and Reinhold Niebuhr.


1. Denies the Bible is the Word of God claims it becomes the Word of God when God speaks to a man and he responds.


Guidance For Grinding Your Lens

Hermeneutics – What is Biblical Hermeneutics?

Neither is really a wise hermeneutical approach. Why? Here are a few basic guidelines that inform the lens with which we should read any Bible text.

  • Read with the assumption that Scripture is coherent. God doesnt lie , knows all things , and is unerringly consistent . I speak untruths, know less than all things, and am inconsistent. Conclusion: If I find something in the Bible that is difficult to understand or seemingly contradictory, I assume there is something defective in me, not the Bible.
  • Read any given text with an awareness of where it fits in the story. You wouldnt plunk down in the middle of a novel and expect to understand a sentence without awareness of whats happened before and interest in what will happen after. So why would we do that with the Bible?
  • Read the way Jesus did. He said the whole Old Testament is about him . And the New Testament is obviously about him . So the whole Bible is about him. The climax of the redemptive-historical story is Jesus .
  • Read with a prayer for the Spirit to illumine the text. Paul tells us that believers have been given the Spirit that we might understand divine truth . Reading the Bible without the Spirit is like stumbling around an art exhibit with the lights off. Theres beauty there, but it cant be seen and felt.
  • So: read humbly, redemptive-historically, Christocentrically, and Spiritually. Grind your lens in those four ways.

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    What Does The Bible Mean By What It Says

    That is the vital question the science and art of hermeneutics attempts to answer. Likened to proper and improper exegesis of the United States Constitution, there needs to be a learned and practiced discipline in order to be effective and congruous in discovering what the author meant by what he or she said throughout Scripture.

    During the Supreme Court nomination process, the words originalist and textualists are often discussed and defined. Justices who hold to this philosophy of interpreting the U.S. Constitution are disciplined to discover authorial intent relative to what they have written: understanding what the author meant by what the author said or wrote is the goal of originalists/textualists. In a similar way, Bible interpreters in the same camp are those who ascribe to the Grammatical-Historical-Normative school of biblical interpretation. They are intent on discovering what the Bible author meant by what he recorded. This school of biblical interpretation will be the final one that is explained in this study.

    Now add to this explanation our past studies of the book of Proverbs. You may remember that Solomon often categorized people into three general groups when it came to wisdom : the simpletons, the scoffers, and the wise. As you study what follows, can you apply those monikers of distinction to the lives of those who subscribe to each of these hermeneutical schools? Keep that thought in mind as you work through this study.


    B Exegesis Without Contextualization

    The opposite is also true, however. Some people do exegesis without contextualization, or they might understand what the text meant, but then they misapply it to their life today in some way.

    Let me give you a couple examples of that. A liberal error related to exegesis without contextualization is not allowing the Bible to transform your life. Reading it, understanding it in its original context, but not allowing it to change us.

    I have read many commentaries that are very well written, that quite fully understand the original context and culture and background and language, but then the author is not a true believer, the author does not allow that message to change his or her life.

    Hebrews 4:12 says, For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Gods word is meant to be read and understood and ultimately applied, it is meant to transform our lives. So, we cannot fully interpret Gods word until we allow it to change us.

    That might be a liberal error associated with exegesis without contextualization, but there are also conservative errors that misapply Gods word. And one example is confusing eternal principles with cultural applications. Sometimes in Scripture what we have are specific cultural applications of eternal principles, but God never intended those things necessarily to apply for all time.

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    How Do You Pronounce Hermeneutical

    0:050:21How To Pronounce Hermeneutical – Pronunciation Academy – YouTubeYouTubeStart of suggested clipEnd of suggested clipHermeneutical hermeneutical hermeneutical hermeneutical thanks for watching if you like this videoMoreHermeneutical hermeneutical hermeneutical hermeneutical thanks for watching if you like this video please subscribe to our Channel. And help us pronounce every word in the world.

    Hermeneutics In Ethical And Political Philosophy


    Hermeneutics, since Heidegger at least, claims a special affinity withpractical philosophy. Both Heidegger and Gadamer, for example, upholdAristotles ethics as an important source for their respectiveapproaches to interpretive experience. Gadamer, in particular, develops the implications of his hermeneuticsfor practical life. Although Gadamer provides no systematic ethical orpolitical theory, he maintains the significance of interpretiveexperience as a counter to the alienation produced in modern,bureaucratically managed society, he develops a hermeneutical approachto the ethical significance of friendship as well as a relatedapproach to political solidarity . Moreover, Paul Ricoeur has arguedthat an important test of the universality of hermeneutics is theextension of hermeneutical considerations to the practical sphere. Inthis, he clarifies that and how interpretive experience, especiallythe interpretive experience of narrative, plays an important role noless in practical agency than political critique .

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    Why Do We Study Hermeneutics In Our School

    Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding irreverent and empty speech and contradictions from what is falsely called knowledge.

    We study Hermeneutics because we believe that a Christian life is impossible without the study of the Bible. Our students must be confident in their understanding of the Bible. By developing their independent comprehension of the most important text in their lives, students will be able to lead a life that follows Christs example.

    Students in middle and high school are determining the foundation upon which they will build their lives. The wise and discerning study of the Bible can help them establish their lives on an accurate understanding of Gods word. How could they lead a Christ-filled and meaningful life if they dont know Gods instructions for Christian living and His will for their lives?

    Hermeneutics helps Christians draw direct lessons from the Bible and apply these to their daily lives. In Hermeneutics class, our students are equipped to draw on Gods truth and lead a fulfilling Christian life. Once our school has taught them how to study and interpret scripture, the Bible can be their compass, helping them navigate life.

    Discover more about classical Christian education at Providence Classical School on thePCS blog.

    The Art Of Interpretation

    Schleiermacher indicates that discourses can be differentiated bywhether they are predominated by the grammatical orpsychological and he develops methodologicalconsiderations appropriate to these sides. At the same time, though,he recognizes that the interpretation of each side is reciprocallyinformed by the other . Interpretation aims at thereconstruction of the meaning of a discourse, but, inthis, the task is to understand the discourse just as well oreven better than its creator, a task which, accordingly, isinfinite .

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    The 8 Rules Of Bible Interpretation

    Here are the eight rules:

  • The rule of DEFINITION: What does the word mean? Any study of Scripture must begin with a study of words. Define your terms and then keep to the terms defined. The interpreter should conscientiously abide by the plain meaning of the words. This quite often may require using a Hebrew/English or Greek/English lexicon in order to make sure that the sense of the English translation is understood. A couple of good examples of this are the Greek words allos and heteros. Both are usually translated as another in English yet allos literally means another of the same type and heteros means another of a different type.
  • The rule of USAGE: It must be remembered that the Old Testament was written originally by, to and for Jews. The words and idioms must have been intelligible to them just as the words of Christ when talking to them must have been. The majority of the New Testament likewise was written in a milieu of Greco-Roman culture and it is important to not impose our modern usage into our interpretation. It is not worth much to interpret a great many phrases and histories if ones interpretations are shaded by pre-conceived notions and cultural biases, thereby rendering an inaccurate and ineffectual lesson.
  • Hermeneutic Or Interpretative Archaeology

    Hermeneutics (Interpreting the Bible) Part 2

    Hermeneutic or interpretative archaeology draws off many of the principles of critical theory, most crucially the assumption that all knowledge is socially constructed. They likewise share a general rejection of scientific determinism or any variant of logical positivism or empiricism. Hermeneutics is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as the art or science of interpretation. Beginning at least with the philosopher Collingwood , hermeneutic approaches to history and culture generally reject scientific epistemologies.

    C. Strenger, in, 2001

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    Articles On Hermeneutics Or Related Topics

    • Discernment, the act or process of exhibiting keen insight and good judgment. An ApologeticsIndex resource. The Bible teaches that all Christians should grow in spiritual discernment. That means discernment is not optional it is part and parcel of the Christian life.
    • Scripture Twisting: 20 Ways the Cults Misread the Bible, by James Sire. An ApologeticsIndex resource. How cults of Christianity 1 misinterpret and misuse the Bible in support of doctrines and/or practices that are outside the boundaries of the Christian faith.
    • Why Does Doctrine Matter? Some Christians see doctrine as a dull and dry subject that is of little to no importance. But the Bible teaches that doctrine sound doctrine matters. Another ApologeticsIndex resource.

    Symbol Metaphor And Narrative

    Contemporary hermeneutics receives further contour from PaulRicoeurs considerations of language, and especially oflinguistic forms such as symbolism, metaphor, and narrative. Ricoeurtakes orientation from the claim of the early Heideggershermeneutical phenomenology that self-understanding is, in the end, tobe grasped in ontological terms: self-understanding is theself-interpretation of human existence, grasped as the enactment ofthe distinctive possibility of such existence. Ricoeur, however,proposes a hermeneutical phenomenology that, as he puts it in animportant early essay, grafts hermeneutics tophenomenology in a different manner than Heidegger proposes . Heidegger believes thatfor the self-interpretation of human existence, the interpretations ofthe human condition found in the human sciences are derivative whatis called for is an analysis of the sense of being, or, the structures,of human existence as these are disclosed through our own individualbeing in the world. Ricoeur criticizes Heideggers proposal as ashort route, or perhaps better, short cut, that bypassesthe significance for our self-interpretation of the multiple and evenconflicting interpretations of the human condition found in otherdisciplines and areas of philosophy . He proposes, instead, a hermeneuticalphenomenology that embraces a long route ofself-interpretation, one that is mediated by passing throughhermeneutical considerations of these multiple and conflictinginterpretations .

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