Hermeneutics- study of interpretation of written texts.
Exegesis- careful systematic study of the Scriptures to discover the original, intended meaning, a historical task.
Isogesis- bringing in one's own meaning to the text. This is what must be avoided.
Often when we read or study scripture we simply read it over and grab a thought or verse that jumps out at us. We tend to assign it special meaning, perhaps claiming the verse. This process may indeed yield something meaningful but may not be the best way to get a "word from God."
There are rules for interpretation of scripture, just as there are rules for a legal document, you don't get served papers, read them over and decide what you think it says and act upon it. You must know the language, the usage, the context and the original intent of the document.
When we study the word of God we must use sound guidelines, we must take our time, we must leave our personal opinion behind and we must be teachable, for the study of scripture is for the growth of the Christian and obedience is required by God.
1) Begin with prayer, pray for teachable spirit.
2) Read, reread- slow down, keep a pen and paper beside you. Outline if you like.
3) Context is king!!
Note; who wrote it, to whom, why, when, where,
what type of genre of literature? historical narrative- ex. Genesis, poetry- ex. Psalms, prophecy- ex. Isaiah,
4) Look for and note key words, repeated words and phrases, lists
summary words ; therefore, so, because, for this reason
contrast; but, rather, never the less, yet
comparison; like, as
time; after, as soon as, later, now, until, then, soon
5) figures of speech
simile- figure of speech that draws comparison between two different things, like, as
Rev. 1:14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.
metaphor- uses one thing to mean another
John 6:48 I am the bread of life.
anthropomorphism- attribution of a human characteristic to non-human
Ex. 20:5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I am a jealous God...
idioms- fixed expression with non-literal meaning, natural to native speaker
Matthew 6:22-23 The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness, If then the light within you is darkness, how great is darkness.
A Hebrew expression is a good eye is a generous man, open to see the needs of others, and evil eye is selfishness. www.biblicalhebrew.com/nt/goodeye.htm
hyperbole- deliberate and obvious exaggeration
parables- story which teaches a moral lesson or truth, one central point
Keep in mind, the bible is written by many authors, all guided by God, to an audience of specific hearers in a cultural setting, in a written language that follows grammatical meanings and was accepted or understood in light of it's context.
6) Cross reference
7) Use good proven study guides and commentaries
Things to remember
A text cannot mean what it never could have meant to the author or his readers.
The Bible is one book, made up of many individual books and is to be studied systematically, as a whole.
Analogy of Faith- scripture interprets scripture.Simple interprets the difficult, what we know to be true by the correct systematic study is what we use to interpret the difficult passages of scripture.