Archive for the ‘hermenutics’ Category


The topic of the historicity of Adam as the first man is a hot topic today in theology since some Evangelicals have come out to deny the historicity of Adam. The following is an outline from a bigger series I have going through a Biblical view of man.  I hope the following is helpful to think about how various genre that is unquestionably literal found in the Bible interprets the meaning and genre of Genesis 1-3 literally.

Purpose: To consider the arguments for the historical Adam as the first man God created.

I. Special Creation of Adam and Eve according to Genesis 1-2

a. “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-31)

i.      This is the more general account of the creation of man, Genesis 2 will be more specific.

ii.      “Man” here is literally “Adam” in the Hebrew.

iii.      Notice here the plurality within God creating man

1. “Let Us make

2. “in Our image

3. “according to Our likeness

iv.      Notice the role of man in God’s creation in this verse.

b. “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)

 i.      This account is more specific than Genesis 1.

 ii.      Again, “man” here is literally “Adam” in the Hebrew.

iii.      Two details of Adam’s creation

1. Formed from the ground

2. God breathed into his nostril

c. “The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.” (Genesis 2:22)

i.      This account is the creation of the first woman, later named Eve in Genesis 3:20.

ii.      Note Eve was made from Adam’s rib.

II.  There have been those who have questioned the historicity of the Bible’s account of the creation of man with Adam being the firstMan.  For example:

a. Tremper Longman III[1]

b. Bruce Waltke: From a headline of the news, “OT Professor Bruce Waltke resigns from RTS Orlando Faculty amid historical Adam and Eve controversy”[2]

c. Peter Enns: “Likewise, Israel’s story was written to say something about their place in the world and the God they worshiped. To think that the Israelites, alone among all other ancient peoples, were interested in (or capable of) giving some definitive, quasi-scientific, account of human origins is an absurd logic. And to read the story of Adam and Eve as if it were set up to so such a thing is simply wrongheaded.”[3]

III. Objections comes down to an issue of hermeneutics

a. In his book against the historical Adam, Peter Enns writes, “One cannot read Genesis literally—meaning as a literally accurate description of physical, historical reality—in view of the state of scientific knowledge today and our knowledge of ancient Near Eastern stories of origin.”[4]

b. The role of presupposing evolution in shaping interpretation of Genesis 1-3: “If evolution is true, one can no longer accept, in any true sense of the word ‘historical,’ the instantaneous and special creation of humanity described in Genesis, specifically 1:26-31 and 2:7, 22.”[5]

IV. Why we should interpret Genesis 1-2 and Adam literally and historically

a. Genre of Genesis 1-2 is narrative and hence it should be treated as revealing literal information.

i.      The essential elements of Hebrew narratives include[6]:

1. Scene

a. This is probably the most important element.

b. Scene involves sequence of event in the narrative.

c. In the Hebrew text, the component of scene can be established by the pattern of wayyiqtol.[7]

i.      Wayyiqtol is a syntactical construct of a conjunction (wow consecutive) + prefixed form/preterite/imperfect verb.

ii.      Wayyiqtol is often used to establish temporal or logical sequence.

2. Plot

This concerns the beginning, middle and ending of the development of the narrative.

3. Character

Who is involved in the narrative?

4. Setting

Where in space/time does this narrative takes place?

5. Point of view

ii.      Genesis 1-2 has the element of the literary form of narrative

1. Scene:

a. Sequences of days (Genesis 1), Creation of AdamàGod’s dialogueàCreation of Eve (Genesis 2)

b. Genesis 1-2 has many Wayyiqtol is a syntactical construct of a conjunction (wow consecutive) + prefixed form/preterite/imperfect verb.

2. Plot: Five days of creation then the creation of man on the sixth day and then rest (Genesis 1); Lonliness of Adam then creation of Eve (Genesis 2)

3. Character: God, Adam and Eve.

4. Setting: The newly created world (Genesis 1), Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:10-14)

5. Point of view: God’s point of view of creation chronologically (Genesis 1), God’s point of view of creation of man specifically (Genesis 2)

b. How does the rest of the Bible interpret Genesis 1-2?

i.      Methodological consideration

1. Since some say that Genesis 1-2 was originally not intended to be interpreted literally, that it’s meant to be understood as symbolic, so we have to ask the question of how the rest of the Bible interpret Genesis 1-2.

2. If the rest of the Bible as God’s infallible Word interpret Genesis 1-2 literally such as believing in a literal Adam and Eve, then we ought to see this data as God’s perspective on Genesis 1-2 and purpose of writing it is literal.

 ii.      Within Genesis

1. Note: Adam and Evil is presuppose as historical lest the rest of Genesis becomes nonsensical.

2. Narrative of the fall in Genesis 3 presupposes a literal Adam and Eve.

3. Those that have children are real, historically existent people.  Adam and Eve had children and therefore historically existed.

a. Adam and Eve is described as having children such as Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-2).

b. Adam described in a genealogy (Genesis 4:25, 5:1)

iii.      Book of Job: “Have I covered my transgressions like Adam, By hiding my iniquity in my bosom,” (Job 31:33)

At a minimum, this presupposes the story of Genesis 3 and a reference to Adam.

 iv.      Book of Hosea: “But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant; There they have dealt treacherously against Me.” (Hosea 6:7)

1. Here the sin of God’s people are compared to Adam’s sin.

2. Only a real person can transgress a covenant.

v.      Genealogies: 1 Chronicles 1:1, Luke 3:38.

1. Genealogy as a literally form is meant to refer to real people.

2. Adam is referred to in genealogies and therefore God’s Word is here attesting to the fact that Adam was historical.

vi.      Reinforcing the historicity of genealogies, Jude 14 as a straight forward epistle indicating God’s own Word interpreted genealogies literally.

vii.      Both Adam and Eve are presupposed as real in 1 Timothy 2:13-14.

1. Paul could have just invoked his apostolic authority concerning how women ought to behave.

2. The event of the fall of Adam and Eve is invoked here as the basis for Paul’s admonition.

viii.      Paul’s preaching of the Gospel to Athenian philosophers presupposes Adam as the father of all: “and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,” (Acts17:26)

1. Note that the Greeks did not believe God made all man from one person.

2. They believe that their own race (Greeks) had nothing to do with others since they were far more superior.

3. Yet Acts 17 is Paul’s sermon that lays the foundation to make the Gospel intelligible and he found it important to bring up Adam as the first man of all.

 ix.      Adam is presuppose as historical figure in the underpinning of the Gospel.

1. Just as Christ was historical and imputed righteousness for justification so too was Adam presupposed as historical imputing sin (Romans 5:12-21).

2. Just as Christ was historical and gave us life so too was Adam presupposed as historical giving us death (1 Corinthians 15:20-58).

[4] Peter Enns, The Evolution of Adam, (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2012), 137.

[5] Peter Enns, The Evolution of Adam, (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2012), xiv.

[6] The following essential elements are found in Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., “Narrative”, Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1995), 69-76.

[7] The discussion about the wayyiqtol is from Robert B. Chisholm Jr., From Exegesis to Exposition, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999), 119-120.

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I. Identifying other Hebrew Wisdom literature

a. There are other Hebrew Wisdom literatures in the Bible besides Proverbs (Session Nine).

b. Remember that Hebrew Wisdom are concern with[1]:

i. Divine reward of good and punishment for evil

ii. Living responsibly or recklessly

iii. Knowing the truth of God’s creation

iv.Good citizenship.

c. Other books of Hebrew Wisdom Literature in the Canon of Scripture include:

i. Job

ii. Ecclesiastes

iii. Song of Solomon

d. Importance of the fear of the LORD in Non-Proverbial Wisdom literature

i. “The concept of the fear of the LORD infused Hebrew wisdom tradition with religious and ethical dimension as well, distinguishing it to some degree from its ancient Near Eastern counterparts.”[2]

ii. Where the concept of the fear of the LORD as the beginning of wisdom is reaffirmed:

1. Job 28:28

2. Psalm 111:10

3. Ecclesiastes 12:13

e. Hebrew Wisdom can invite readers to be extra reflective of what is written

i. Unlike the direct forwardness of Proverbs, Non-Proverbial wisdom literature can be more indirect in getting the message across.

ii. It can get more illustrative in describing something than straight forward propositions.

iii. Example: Song of Solomon describes a relationship between lovers instead of just saying, “Lovers should be in love with one another”.

f. Non-Proverbial Wisdom literature can also deal with ultimate foundational issues of meaning and life.

i. In other words, Non-Proverbial Wisdom literature can be quite “philosophical”.

ii. Example: Ecclessiates discusses about the vanities of life.

II. Principles in interpretation

a. Remember that the Fear of the LORD is foundational in Non-Proverbial wisdom literature.

i. The fear of the Lord is what keeps the “shrewdness of Proverbs from slipping into mere self interest, the perplexity of Job from mutiny, and the disillusion of Ecclesiastes from final despair.”[3]

b. Sometimes Non-Proverbial wisdom literatures require extra care of the greater context of the book in interpretation.

i. It is especially obvious of the danger of quoting verses in such literature without the context to teach something that the verse or the entire Bible really does not teach.

ii. It is important that one interpret a verse in light of the development of the thought progressing throughout the bo

iii. Example: Was Job’s friends correct in their assessment of Job?  Has it been revealed in the book what God thought about the perspectives offered by Job’s friends?

c. Expect disturbing propositions to be brought up, but not necessarily endorsed.

i. Since Hebrew Wisdom literature does deal with deal with ultimate foundational issues of meaning and life, and Hebrew Wisdom literature are creatively written to be thought-provoking, expect disturbing propositions to be brought up.

ii. There exists the literary device of counter-wisdom or anti-wisdom wisdom, where the “use of tension is the real genius of speculative or discussion wisdom”[4]

iii. Are all ideas raised necessarily endorsed by the author as the right view?  Remember to see the entirety of the book, and how it flows!

d. Pay attention to repetition

i. What is repeated again and again does have some importance.

ii. The question to ask about Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes would be: What is the repeating theme in these two books?

[1] Donald K. Berry, An Introduction to Wisdom And Poetry Of the Old Testament, (Nashville: Broadman And Holman Publishers), 4.

[2] Andrew E. Hill, “Non-Proverbial Wisdom” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 256.

[3] Derek Kidner, An Introduction to Wisdom Literature: The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes, (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press), 17.

[4] Andrew E. Hill, “Non-Proverbial Wisdom” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 271.


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I. Identifying praise poetry

a. Introductory note:There can be many more various sub-genre of Psalms (Messianic, Royal Psalms, Creation Psalms, etc), but for the purpose of this course in dealing with the broader genre of Scripture, some of the sub-genre can be seen as a type of praise poetry.

i. Some of the praise hymns include declarative praise (thanksgiving) and descriptive praise.[1]

ii. Some of the forms of Psalms can also be divided into further sub-genre groups.

iii. Of course, there might be Psalms in the Psalter that does not fit in neatly into the categories given.

b. Definition: “Praise is primarily a reciting of the attributes of God and of acts of God, and then praising God for both.”[2]

c. Two broad types of Praise and their elements

i. Declarative Praise

1. Definition: “These psalms are called songs of thanksgiving or declarative psalms, because the psalmist was praising God by publicly declaring his mighty deeds.”[3]

2. “Such psalms expressed joy to the Lord because something had gone well, because circumstances were good, and/or because people had reason to render thanks to God for his faithfulness, protection, and benefit.”[4]

3. Elements[5]

a. Proclamation to Praise God

b. Summary statement

c. The Report

d. The Praise

4. Sub-genres of Declarative Praise:

a. Individual thanksgiving

Examples: Psalms 18, 30, 32, 34, 40, 66, 92, 116, 118, 138.[6]

b. Community thanksgiving

Examples: Psalms 65, 67, 75, 107, 124, 136.[7]

ii. Descriptive Praise

1. Definition: These are Psalms “praising God primarily by describing his character, with a focus on the attributes of God—who he is and what he is like—these psalms are frequently called hymns of praise or descriptive psalms.”[8]

2. “These psalms, without particular reference to previous miseries or to recent joyful accomplishments, center on the praise of God for who he is, for his greatness and his beneficence toward the whole earth, as well as his own people.”[9]

3. Elements[10]

a. Call to praise

b. Cause for praise

c. Call to praise again

4. Sub-genres of Descriptive Praise:

a. Creation Psalms

Examples: Psalms 8, 19:1-6, 104, 148[11]

b. Enthronement Psalm

i. These “speak of a future coming of the LORD to his people or to the earth, or that speak of a future rule of the LORD over Israel or over the whole earth”[12]

ii. Examples: Psalms 47, 93, 95-99[13]

II. Principles in interpreting praise poetry

a. All the principles in Session Six apply here as well.

b. Identify whether the Psalm is a Descriptive or Declarative Psalm.

i. Is the Psalm about God’s attribute?  If so, what does it say?

ii. Is the Psalm about what God has done? If so, what does it say?

iii. Note:Why knowing the genre is half the battle in interpretation

1. Attempting to identify the sub-genre means looking for important elements within the text.

2. By identifying the elements, the elements show what the text mean.

c. If possible, see if the Psalm fit into the appropriate sub-genre within the Descriptive or Declarative Psalm.

i. Similar to the note given above, testing to see if the Psalm has a sub-genre will be fruitful in helping the reader to interpret the Psalm more fully.

d. If the Praise is declarative, try to identify the historical context.[14]

i. Not always easy, especially in the Psalms.

ii. These answer the question more richly of what God has done that is worthy of praise.

e. Concentrate on what the text teach about who God is.

i. It is always important to be theo-centric in our interpretation.

ii. Praise is not so much of what God has done, but who Yahweh is.

iii. Within those Psalm, often there is not much details given of exactly what Yahweh has done; rather, there is more detail of who Yahweh is.[15]

f. The why is the what of praise

i. The Psalms sometimes gives the reason for the writing of the Psalm.

ii. This reason is also the content, or the what, that is being praised about God.

[1] Keith Essex, Bible Exposition 502 Syllabus, 46.

[2] Kenneth L. Barker, “Praise” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 218.

[3] Ibid, 222.

[4] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 194.

[5] Modified from Keith Essex, Bible Exposition 502 Syllabus, 46.

[6] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 195.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Kenneth L. Barker, “Praise” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 219.

[9] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 195.

[10] Modified from Kenneth L. Barker, “Praise” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 221.

[11] Kenneth L. Barker, “Praise” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 221; and Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 195

[12] Kenneth L. Barker, “Praise” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 220.

[13] Ibid, 219.

[14] Kenneth L. Barker, “Praise” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 227.

[15] Idea as taught by Professor Keith Essex, of The Master’s Seminary.



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This outline is one of a series on Basic Hermenutics.

PURPOSE OF SERIES:  To lay the foundation of good interpretation of the Bible.


I.                    Definition

a.       “How to read the Bible”

b.      “How to properly interpret the bible”

c.       “The method one has of Biblical interpretation”

II.                 Why is hermeneutic important?

a.       With a proper interpretation, you can know what the Scripture says

b.      You can have the right method to protect you from misinterpretation

i.      Be sober with this instruction: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2Timothy 2:15)

III.               Course Overview

a.       Hermeneutic in the context of Systematic Theology

i.      When one learns how to read the Bible, they desire to know what the Bible really teaches

1.      In this sense, there is a relationship between theology and hermeneutics

2.      This presupposes that the Bible should be the source and authority to be read.

a.       How should we study theology? This is the topic of Session Two

b.      Foundational Biblical Doctrines for Hermeneutics

i.      The Bible as God’s special written revelation

This is the topic of Session Three

ii.      Is the Bible the authoritative source for theology?

1.      Does the Bible teaches that the Bible is authoritative for theological truths?

This is the topic of Session Four

2.      Does that mean that the Bible is without error?

Ramification of this doctrine in the areas of Hermeneutics is explored in Session Five

iii.      Is their clarity in the Bible to even interpret it?

This is the topic of Session Six

c.       Principles in interpreting Scripture

i.      Principles of personal and ethical criteria of studying theology is the topic in session seven

ii.      A critical pivotal point for hermeneutics is the issue of the importance of words and grammar

1.      This is the topic of session eight

iii.      Interpretation in light of Context

1.      Immediate context- this is the topic in session nine

2.      Chapter and Book context- this is the topic in session ten

3.      Entirety of the Bible context- this is the topic in session eleven

d.      Hermeneutics and the relationship with other discipline

i.      Hermeneutics has a relationship with Systematic Theology

ii.      Hermeneutics has a relationship with other disciplines involving natural revelation

This is explored in the session twelve

iii.      Hermeneutics has a relationship with Apologetics

This is explored in session thirteen


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