Sunday, December 7, 2008

Principles of Biblical Interpretation

The following material is based on the book:
Walter Henrichsen, Gayle Jackson Studying, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible.

General principles of interpretation:
1. The Bible interprets the Bible. The Scripture is explained by the Scripture.
2. Interpret your experience with the Bible, and not the Bible with your experience.
3. Biblical examples are to be followed only if they are supported by commandments.

Grammar principles of interpretation:
1. The Scripture has only one meaning, and it should be understood literary.
2. Interpret words according to their meaning in the author's time.
3. Interpret a word according to the whole sentence and the context.
4. Interpret any portion of the Scripture according to its context.
5. When an inanimate object is used to characterize a living being, the statement can be considered figurative. When life and action is attributed to inanimate objects or phenomena, the statement can be considered figurative.
6. When an expression does not match the context, it can be considered figurative.
7. Parables have one main idea and details. Take into consideration the main idea.
8. Interpret prophesies in the normal, literal, and historic meaning unless their context or fulfillment clearly indicates their symbolic meaning. Prophesies may be fulfilled part by part.

Historic principles of interpretation:
1. The Scripture has some historic context and cannot be understood apart from its historic background.
2. There is a progress of revelation in the Bible. However, both the Old and the New Testament are parts of this revelation and are one.
3. Historic facts and events become symbols of spiritual truths only if the Scripture defines them in this way.

Theological principles of interpretation:
1. Before you are able to understand the Bible theologically, you have to understand it grammatically.
2. A teaching cannot be considered to be biblical if it does not summarize and does not include everything that the Bible says about this matter.
3. When two teachings of the Bible seem to contradict, receive both as biblical in hope that they will be solved in a higher oneness.
4. A teaching which is just implied in the Bible, can be considered biblical only if it is supported by other texts of the Bible.


dave said...

where did you get the wisdom to provide the reader with your principles?

Borz Löma Nal (Lema Nal) said...

These are not my principles, but the principles of the normal aka literal aka historic and grammar interpretation of the Bible. This way of the biblical interpretation is the most common in the evangelical theology. These principles can be found in many books on the biblical hermeneutics. I did not invent anything new.

The normal interpretation of the Bible is objective and does not depend so much on the ideas of the person who interprets the Bible as the allegoric and typological interpretations.

Actually, my blog is mainly for ex-members of abusive churches and cults. These groups twist the Bible, so ex-members need to find out the true meaning of the Bible texts that were twisted in their groups. I have already written about that in "Psychological and Spiritual Counseling of Ex-Members of Abusive Churches."