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Bible Interpretation

“Hermeneutics is derived from the Greek word [ἑρμηνεύω - herméneuó] meaning to ‘to interpret’" (Osborn, 5).

There are probably countless ways to conduct Bible interpretation. And for sake of clarity, interpretation is a different idea that translation—some people confuse these ideas. In any case, here are some basics methods of interpretation as a place to start:

It is a good idea to read the passage you will be interpreting in context—that is to say, read an entire book at one sitting, if possible, to get a general sense of its content and message. It is wise to know the genre of the text—that is if you are looking at Historical, Didactical, or Prophetical works (or narrative, poetry, prophecy, epistles, gospels, apocryphal works, etc.).

It is good to use a pencil or highlighter to make notes in the text; or use sticky notes; or even a notepad for “close reading” a text. Ask questions; note key words; look for advice admonitions, warnings, and promises. Look for reasons, results for doing things. Notice contrasts, comparisons, illustrations. Notice repetition and progression of ideas. Notice questions being asked (as well as asking your own). Notice important connectives (prepositions and conjunctions); Study grammatical construction (verbs, nouns, pronouns, adverbs, adjectives). Note this atmosphere and emphatic statements. Notice the literary form (as mentioned above). Note the general structure (how are ideas arranged).

If you want a more specific list of methodologies (and without a detailed explanation), here is a short list of methods:

Inductive, synthetic, analytical, critical, biographical, historical, theological, literary study, rhetorical, geographical, sociological, political, cultural, scientific, philosophical, psychological, and devotional. (See Howard F. Vos, Effective Bible Study, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1956), Table of Contents).

Going a deeper than that (and again without detailed explanation) you might use PaRDS (Acronym for P'shat, Remez, D’rash, Sud). Broken down the meanings are:

• P'shat (pronounced peh-shaht' - meaning "simple") • Remez (pronounced reh-mez' - meaning "hint") • D’rash (pronounced deh-rahsh' also called "Midrash," meaning "concept") • Sud (pronounced either sawd, or sood [like "wood"] - meaning "hidden")

Here is a link for a more detailed information on PaRDS: http://www.yashanet.com/studies/revstudy/pardes.htm

Sources and for Further Reading and Study

Fee, Gordon D. and Stuart, Douglas. How to Read the Bible for All its Worth. Academie Books, 1982.

Klein, William W. and Blomberg, Craig L. Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. W. Publishing Group 1993.

Osborne, Grant R. The Hermeneutical Spiral. Intervarsity Press, 1991.

Vos, Howard. Effective Bible Study. Zondervan Publishing House, 1956.