Top 10 Myths about Bible Study:#3 Words Mean Many Different Things in Each Verse Dr. Michael Heiser
Video from Dr. Michael S. Heiser
What is Hermeneutics?
"Hermeneutics is any effort to interpret the meaning of communication, particularly communication that is being interpreted in a different cultural context.
In the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, Bernard C. Lategan says about hermeneutics: “Although language presupposes shared conventions between persons, the unique experience of the individual cannot be expressed adequately through this medium. The receiver therefore needs help to reproduce the meaning of the sender in his or her own consciousness. The task of hermeneutics is to provide this help.”
In other words, every time we read or hear something, we absorb the info using language. But even when we’re speaking the same language, we can misunderstand what someone means because their context is different from ours. That’s what hermeneutics does—it helps us understand what the original speaker/writer means by what they say.
Biblical hermeneutics is the method of interpreting Scripture so we can bridge the gaps between modern-day readers of the Bible, its original audiences, and God as its ultimate author.
Hermeneutics is foundational to theological study. Whether or not they know it, every biblical reader interprets the Bible through their own hermeneutic. Developing a clearly communicated biblical hermeneutic helps Bible students to understand the biases they bring into their interpretive work. Without effective (and faithful) methods of interpretation, we can’t understand the meaning of the text and therefore build cohesive biblical theologies, and therefore, a Christ-honoring, mission-driven Christian life. Steve Bond, in his article on hermeneutics for the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, notes that how we interpret the Bible has much in common with how we interpret other texts, but “the difference between biblical texts and texts from law, literature, and the sciences is that despite the 66 biblical books having been written by many people over a period of 1,500 years, the Bible claims God as its ultimate author.”
Why is biblical hermeneutics important?
The church today faces many important issues as technological innovation transforms everything from communications to family structures to social relationships. We need the wisdom from God himself to properly engage and understand the world we live in. Yet the primary way we learn what God has to say is the Bible—a book written between 2,000 to 3,500 years ago.
How we interpret the timeless Word of God shapes how we answer the important questions we face as we pursue God’s mission in the world today.
In this article, I’ll help you to think through issues of biblical hermeneutics so you can better interpret God’s Word. Through this article, you’ll discover:
How biblical interpretation has changed from the biblical period to the modern age
Which key issues to consider when interpreting the Bible
Why hermeneutics strategies are used differently in different biblical genres
from the article: What is Hermeneutics?