Understanding The Bible
Part IV - Introduction to HERMENEUTICS


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Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible



    1. Definitions

      1. Hermeneutics is the science of interpretation. The term is derived from the Greek verb hermeneuo, which means to interpret or explain. The name of the Greek god Hermes (the messenger of the gods) comes from the same stem.

      2.  Exegesis is a term closely associated with Hermeneutics. While Hermeneutics indicates the theory of interpretation. Exegesis denotes the actual practice. Hermeneutics supplies the tools; Exegesis uses them.

      3. Exposition is a term commonly used as a synonym of Exegesis.

      4. General Hermeneutics embraces the entire science and lays the foundation of the true method of interpretation and establishes the general principles of all interpretation. (Weidner)

      5. Special Hermeneutics seeks for rules and solutions applicable to the different types of literature within the Scriptures.

    2. Importance of Hermeneutics
      It is sometimes difficult to understand a contemporary author writing in one's own language. Witness Peter's statement concerning the letters of Paul (2 Pet. 3:16). However, this difficulty is intensified when the reader is separated from the author by the barriers of time, political and social conditions, and language. We find ourselves in this position in regard to the writers of Scripture. Hence, to understand the Scriptures, more than a superficial reading is necessary. Interpretation according to consistent, valid principles or rules is necessary to a real comprehension. Hermeneutics supplies those principles. "It aspires to nothing less than to be the key of Sacred Books." (Weidner) It should be obvious that without true understanding of the Bible there can be no valid theology nor any vital preaching.


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