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The Art & Science of Biblical Interpretation

Learning what I am about to explain is critical if you are going to exegete the bible as God would have you to do. I say it this way because once you learn in depth the correct methodology of interpreting the scriptures, not only will you have a better understand of the bible, but you will know that you know what God is saying in scripture, especially with difficult doctrinal issues.

Hermeneutics is a science because of the principles used within the the discipline. It is also an art in that the more you apply the principles, the better you get at it. I will just go ahead and give you the principles and we will start to explain them later, then we will deal with some scriptures and see how hermeneutics is the factor that decides the correct meaning of biblical texts. You can start with memorizing the acronym L-I-G-H-T-S and what each letter stands for.

 L - Literal principle
 I -  Illumination principle
G - Grammatical principle
H - Historical principle,
T - Teaching/Typology principle
S - Scriptural Harmony principle

L - Literal principle - this may not mean what you think. The literal principle means that you interpret the bible as literature, taking into consideration all the diverse forms and genres of language and figurative speech and so on. This does not mean that you take the bible literalistically at all times. Doing that makes nonsence of the bible.

The bible is loaded with all sorts of different genres of literature and it is vital that you interpret the bible according to the type of literature that you are reading. The different genres include, historical narrative, fantasy imagery, parables, hyperbole and prophetic hyperbole, apocalyptic judgment language, Hebrew poetry, anthropomorphic, typological prophecy, predictive prophecy, biblical idioms, simile, metaphor, truism, kairology, mnemonics, and so on.

We must always remember that all words found in literature are equivocal and they are never univocal. That means you cannot always take a word and look up its meaning. You have to consider the context the word is being used in because that can and does change the definition of a word. If I tell you it is raining cats and dogs, you don't wonder how big are the dogs and what color are the cats. You understand that I am saying it is raining hard. You can clearly see with this example how the context decides the meaning of words. You do not always define a word by itself. You always look at the context. This principle alone will introduce you to many words in the bible that cannot be defined by using the word alone.

I - Illumination principle - the Illumination of the Holy Spirit in my opinion takes time to notice, but is very powerful when noticed. There was a time that I did not know why so many preachers mention that John's Revelation tells its readers that they will experience a blessing if they read and obey the words in this prophecy.

Come to find out, they didn't know why either! Preacher after preacher just mentioned the blessing, but none knew why it would be a blessing or what the blessing was. It was through the Illumination of The Holy Spirit honoring my scrupulous study of interpreting scripture through the art and science of biblical interpretation that I learned why it was a blessing, and what the blessing was! I answered the question myself through the Illumination of The Holy Spirit and that to this day I have yet to see a preacher that has an answer, outside of some of the great exegetes that helped me learn how to read scripture. Not only has no preacher had an answer but the shocking thing is that they are not even asking the question. They just take the wording, then preach it in a sermon, and have neither the answer or have ever been led by The Holy Spirit to ask, "what and why!!!" Fortunate for me, The Holy Spirit answered this one for me and for many others I am sure!

There are other times the Illumination principle is working when we may not realize it, but The Holy Spirit helps us greatly in drawing from scripture that which He put in scripture.

Another point is that the blessing starts the Book of Revelation in the prologue and closes the book in the epilogue! This is a huge clue as to the genre of the book and makes the interpretation of John's Apocalypse even that much easier!

G-H - Grammatical/Historical principles - these two principles are the same as the literal principle with added emphasis on biblical words and social customs related to the original audience, the original language, and there meanings. We must take into account that the bible was originally written in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. When words are translated from the receptor language to our modern language they stand the chance of losing meaning. Studying a word in its grammatical/historical milieu and idioms that may be exclusive to a culture can help greatly. Context must still be the final deciding factor of interpretation due to the equivocal nature of words.

T - Teaching/Typology principles - info pending

S - Scriptural Harmony principle - one of the most important principles of hermeneutics is that scripture interprets scripture! The bible will interpret itself if you have a thorough knowledge of the bible. Also called The "Analogy of Faith" one cannot know the meaning of individual passages of scripture without knowing the bible as a whole. And one cannot know the bible as a whole without knowing the meaning of its individual passages. Difficult or cloudy verses must always be interpreted in light of the clearer, easier to understand verses. The bible will always harmonize with itself and will harmonize with the nature of God.

 L - Literal principle
 I -  Illumination principle
G - Grammatical principle
H - Historical principle,
T - Teaching/Typology principle
S - Scriptural Harmony principle