Understanding The Bible
Part IV - Introduction to HERMENEUTICS


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Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
Circa 1970


  1. QUALIFICATIONS OF AN INTERPRETER (M. S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics)

    1. Intellectual

      1. Sound and well-balanced mind. Such a mind will abstain from hasty judgments and wild extremes.

      2. Ready perception. What is the author driving at?

      3. Critical sharpness. This is the ability to discern between what a passage does teach and what it does not teach.

      4. Imagination. Although it must be controlled, the ability to place oneself in the circumstances of the author is of great help.

      5. Correctness and delicacy of taste.

      6. Use of reason. It behooves the expounder of God's Word to see that all his principles and processes of reason are sound and self-consistent. He must not commit himself to false premises; he must abstain from confusing dilemmas; he must especially abstain from rushing to unwarranted conclusions.

      7. "Apt to teach" (2 Tim. 2:24). He must not only be able to understand the Scriptures but also be able to set forth to others in clear and lively form what he himself comprehends.

      8. Curiosity. The following little poem by Kipling is helpful here:

         I have six faithful serving men
        Who taught me all I know.
        Their names are What and Where and When
        And How and Why and Who."

    2. Educational
      He needs stores of information in the broad and varied fields of history, sciences, and philosophy. His faculties become disciplined and strong for practical use through study of the basic liberal arts subjects. Extensive and accurate knowledge will furnish and fit him to be the teacher of others. Subjects with which the interpreter should be minutely acquainted are: geography of Bible lands, ancient history, archaeology, and the sacred tongues. Other studies such as comparative philology, medieval and modern history, philosophy, and general literature are to be desired.

      "It is not denied that there have been able and excellent expositors who were wanting in many literary qualifications. But he who excels as a master can regard no literary attainments as superfluous; and, in maintaining and defending against skepticism and infidelity the faith once delivered to the saints, the Christian apologist and exegete will find all these qualifications indispensable." (Terry)

    3. Informational
      Tools with which to work (all of these are in the Library)

      1. Bibles - Scofield Reference Bible, American Standard or Revised Version, Centenary Translation of the New Testament, Revised Standard Version, and other versions.

      2. A standard concordance - Young's, Strong's, or Cruden's

      3. A good Bible atlas

      4. A Bible dictionary and commentaries

      5. An English dictionary showing changes in meanings .of words over the centuries (Oxford Dictionary of English Language)

    4. Spiritual

      1. The indwelling Holy Spirit is indispensable to the interpreter (1 Cor. 2:14) "The Bible without the Spirit is a sundial by moonlight." (Coleridge)

      2. There must be a desire to know the truth (Rom. 8:7; Jn. 3:30).
      3. There must be reverence (Prov. 1:7)
      4. There must be communion and fellowship with the Lord.


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