Herman Newticks?


The definition of hermeneutics according to Gordon and Fee is the simplest. It is “to ask questions about the Bible’s meaning in the ‘here and now.”[1] Hermeneutics is the art and science of biblical interpretation. It requires tools such as exegesis to make an informed decision. It takes the conversation from the reader, the author, and the original audience into one.


The author, second to only the reader, is the most important character in the narrative of hermeneutics. The author has a message they are conveying to the original audience. Though some writers, such as Peter and Paul (2 Peter 3:16) may realize that their writings might be for a broad, later audience, but most have a specific message for a specific audience. Poor hermeneutics happens when the author and the original audience is forgotten. When asking the question, what impact does the author have to say? The answer is the most significant impact. The author conveys the message. Matthew brings the Kingdom of God to the Jews in his Gospel.



The easiest of the listed challenges to overcome is the geographical distance. Not everyone can go to Egypt, Asia Minor, or Palestine, but we can see maps and read the migration stories. Time aside, we can visit or see pictures of what once was.


The most difficult challenge to overcome is that of cultural distance. The biblical world was constantly changing, with the nomadic culture of the Exodus to the established trade centers that Paul preached to. The customs are different from our own and sometimes we can miss that. Our Western ideals and individualism does not translate well to their sense of self.[2]



My emphasis has always been church history, and one of my favorites to study has been Augustine. Augustine put done allegory, but Clement (like Philo) taught that Scripture had two meanings. It had its original meaning, but also had an additional spiritual meaning as well.[3] As well as a spiritual meaning, Clement’s student Origen, taught that aside form the literal meaning, there was also a moral or ethical teaching in Scripture. Unfortunately, modern interpreters use these methods to read their own agendas into the text. [4]


Biblical Interpretation:

Modern Calvinists like R.C. Sproul and James White build upon the work of Jonathan Edwards. Edwards built on the work on the Reformer such as Luther and Calvin. The Reformers built upon the work of Augustine. Augustine focused on the work of Paul. Augustine’s work on hermeneutics to point the reader to God’s love. He defied allegory and went for the literal meaning of the text. Augustine implanted three steps to interpretation still used today. They include consulting other passages. Scripture interprets Scripture. Scripture does not contradict itself. HE also consults tradition to see what other interpreters have found on the text. He also used the context, the surrounding texts to assist in the interpretation process. [5]




Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, 4th Edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014.


Klein, William W., Craig L. Blomberg, and Robert L. Hubbard, Jr.. Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, Revised and Updated. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004.

[1] Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, 4th Edition. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014), 33.

[2] Klein, William W., Craig L. Blomberg, and Robert L. Hubbard, Jr.. Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, Revised and Updated. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 15.

[3] Ibid., 38.

[4] Ibid., 39.

[5] Ibid., 41.

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