Laws of Interpretation

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by Bartimaeus, Mar 11, 2005.

  1. Bartimaeus

    Bartimaeus
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    Please give a brief guideline of the laws of interpretation you use when interpreting scripture.
    If you do not use them or did not know of them you might say so also.
    Thanks ------Bart
     
  2. USN2Pulpit

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    Knowledge of original language adds much to understanding...as is knowledge of historical and cultural background. I'm only just now learning to study in this way. Is this what you were asking?
     
  3. Matt Black

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    Sound exegesis and hermeneutics plus the consensus of what Christians have taught throughout the history of the Church

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  4. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    Rule 1: Since language is universally univocal, the text only has one meaning.

    Rule 2: The text cannot mean what it never meant.
     
  5. Charles Meadows

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    The text cannot mean what it never meant.

    I agree. But many modern day protestants don't seem to have any interest in what the verse actually meant when it was written.

    A poster on another thread told me something like, "I'm just an ol' country boy who reads the bible."

    Is that to say that to approach the bible in a scholarly way is bad? We should read only the bible? Shouldn't we care about what the authors meant when they actually wrote the verses?
     
  6. covenant

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    If the verses in the Bible were ONLY meant to be taken literally, there would be no doctrine of the TRINITY among others.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. OldRegular

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    Simply put there are three rules:

    1. Context
    2. Context
    3. Context

    Expanding on this we must understand that Scripture does not contradict itself since God cannot lie [Hebrews 6:18] and is not the author of confusion [1 Corinthians 14:33]. Also obscure passages in Scripture must be understood in light of clearer ones.

    For example John 5:28, 29 clearly teaches a General Resurrection and Judgment and it was so interpreted historically by Baptists and most other denominations. The passage states:

    28. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
    29. And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.


    Any attempt to justify multiple resurrections using obscure texts violates proper interpretation of Scripture.
     
  8. mioque

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    "Rule 1: Since language is universally univocal, the text only has one meaning."
    "
    Origenes, smarter than pastor Larry [​IMG] (and much crazier as well), had the theory that most texts in the Bible have (at least) 3 layers of meaning. A historical/literal layer, an ethical layer and an allegorical layer.

    He was wrong ofcourse.
    There are actually 4 layers of meaning.

    Littera gesta docet,
    quid credis allegoria,
    moralis quid agas,
    quo tendas anagogia.

    The letter teaches what happened, the allegorical what to believe, The moral what to do, the anagogical toward what to aspire.
     
  9. Pastor Larry

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    I don't know of anyone who said anyhting about only taking them literally (although that is certainly the proper way to interpret Scripture), but why in teh world do you think the doctrine of the Trinity wouldn't exist? I see no possible way to draw that conclusion. The trinity is the clear teaching of Scripture taken plainly at face value.
     
  10. Pastor Larry

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    Origen had some problems, and this was among them. The very nature of language demands that he, and you, are wrong. Language by nature has one meaning, the meaning the author intended. The four things you list at the end (letter, allegorical, moral, anagogical) are both poorly named and irrelevant, since what happened, what we should believe, what we should do, and what we should aspire to are all a part of the single meaning of Scripture.
     
  11. Bartimaeus

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    There are laws in Grammer.
    There are laws and principles in Algebra.
    There are laws in Science.
    Without any of which, the improper use or application will do harm to the work to be done.
    Almost all of the debates incurring on this board are because we are all trying to build the same house with different standards of measurement. I believe the debates would essentially cease if we had the same laws of interpretation.
    Thanks ------Bart
     
  12. Rhetorician

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    Bartimaeus,

    "When the plain sense makes good sense don't look for any other sense." Of course this will not work with Hebrew poetry or Apocalyptic literature like some sections of Daniel, Ezeliel, or Revelation.

    Discover the genre type and read it and apply it like you would any other type of literature. A genre type is like; history, gospel, narrative, law, epistle, etc.

    Use the who, what, when, where, why, and what's the point method.

    Who wrote the material and to whom was it written?

    What was said? That is the Bible you have in your hand. Remember, good interpretation is also good grammar of the English text.

    When was it written? Was the person writing or to whom written in the land, out of the land, in jail, etc. See Paul & Daniel for examples.

    Why was it written? This may be the hardest to ascertain.

    What is the point? After you read the Scripture can you give a summary of what the author is trying to relate? say? meet some need? etc.?

    Look for cultural differences and human universals. Make appropriate applications between the two.

    Ues language helps, commentaries, etc. from good proven scholars of the church. Remember their denominational presuppositions.

    Fee and Stuart's book, How To Read The Bible For All It Is Worth, is one of the best books I have found for the layman. It is what I use for an intro textbook.

    I hope this helps. I teach genre type interpretation on the college level at a Baptist College.

    Of course this is an oversimplyfication. There is much, much more involved.

    sdg!

    rd
     
  13. Charles Meadows

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    When the plain sense makes good sense don't look for any other sense.

    NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

    I was afraid someone would say this!!

    All passages of scripture should be seen in their individual setting as well as in the context of scrpture as a whole.

    This saying about the plain sense is an old one - and a bad one! It is in truth just as arbitrary as any other human scheme of biblical interpretation!
     
  14. USN2Pulpit

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    Yes, but he was saying it in an effort to say, "don't do it that way!"
     
  15. donnA

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    It seems all men are responding to this topic, so I hope you don't mind if I jump in.
    I think we need to look for who it was written to, why was it written what was the point of writting it, what was it supose to mean to the original reader, make sure any interpetation is in harmony with surrounding scripture, verse, chapter, book, and finally with the bible as a whole.
    And remember we don't know it all as much it might pain us to say so. So it's ok to just not know, to just not understand. God gives us inderstanding of scripture, but He gives it when we are mature enough to understand each new step.
     
  16. Pastor Larry

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    Yeah, reading the text for what it says tends to mess up nice theological constructs. Always better to look for what the text doesn't really say. That way one can build his theology around that, and work it into the text under the "deeper meaning."
     
  17. Charles Meadows

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    I guess you're right Larry we shouldn't try to do our best to know what a text means. After all that might end up unseating some of our tightly held man-made doctrines.

    Like the rapture!!

    [​IMG]
     
  18. covenant

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    Well, what Bible verse contains the word "Trinity" or even the doctrine of the Trinity as it is written literally? Where in scripture does it say that one MUST hold that doctrine to be a Christian?

    Even so, if we take you at your word when you say that "the text has only one meaning", then you must apply that standard to this verse where Christ says to the Jews;

    "I HAVE other sheep, that are not of this fold; I MUST bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there SHALL BE one flock, one shepherd."

    Jesus did not say "I might have other sheep.."
    Jesus did not say "The sheep are the Gentiles."
    Jesus did not say "I might bring the Gentiles without the Jews."
    Jesus did not say there may be one flock composed of both Jews and Gentiles with one shepherd for both.

    But, it is a very serious error in interpretation to say otherwise!

    :eek:
     
  19. Marcia

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    Read the passage in context of the wider passage, in the context of the book it is in, and in the context of the Bible.

    Compare scripture with scripture.

    Consider the historic and cultural situation.

    The words have meaning for the time they were written in and for now.

    There is only one meaning but many applications.

    Don't spiritualize or allegorize the text.

    Don't read into the text what is not there.

    There are principles in the Bible that may not be explicitly stated (such as the Trinity) but can be supported with scripture.

    Don't take narrative as prescriptive.
     
  20. Dave

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    I have been looking in this thread for something that I don't see in any of the responses, at least not directly. It is this: PRAY FOR THE GUIDANCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

    Of course comparing scripture with scripture is important, the Bible cannot contradict itself. Understanding comes from taking it as a whole and relating scripture to scripture. That is ALL scriptures that have to do with a subject, not just the ones that some people limit to in order to prove a doctrine. We are interested in truth, not man-derived doctrines.

    Pray over hard to understand passages.

    Recognize that some passages are allegorical and search for the deeper meaning. A case in point is Song of Solomon.

    Don't let pre-suppositions dictate your understanding of the text. The Bible doesn't have to fit your mold, you should be trying to fit the Bible's mold.

    Listen to what others have to say about a passage, but always double check them with scripture to prove if what they say is right or wrong.

    Did I mention PRAY? [​IMG]

    Dave
     

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