Posts Tagged ‘hermeneutics’


Richard Taylor. Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature: An Exegetical Handbook.  Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, July 27th, 2016. 208 pp.

4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

This book is part of the Handbooks for Old Testament Exegesis series published by Kregel Publications.  Previously I have enjoyed the work on interpreting Old Testament historical books by Robert Chisholm very much and was looking forward to this volume largely because of it.  I was also excited for this volume since apocalytpic literary forms is one of the hardest to interpret in the Old Testament and as a preacher it would be helpful to think through critically and be equipped in handling passages of Scripture like the book of Daniel.


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Here is a video of Dr. Farnell, a contributer to these books: The Jesus Crisis: The Inroads of Historical Criticism into Evangelical Schlorship and The Jesus Quest: The Danger from Within, is speaking about the dangers of the higher critical method.  It is similar to the message that he gave at one of the seminars from the Inerrancy Summit.  Listen to Dr. Farnell, as he exposes some names, the critical methods, and the danger that the church faces today.  May the Lord protect His church from this false teaching.  If inerrancy is not upheld, there will be no power coming from the pulpit but dead sayings from men who are not armed with the sword of God, but men who are armed with toothpicks.

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Having just finished our Saturday Weekly Series on Hermeutics and the Covenants, I thought it was good to put all in one location the outlines of all three hermeneutics courses we have on our blog.  Lord willing, sometime in the future I want to make a fourth level hermeneutics course on Logic for Biblical Hermeneutics.

I think it’s important for Christians in terms of spiritual life, practical theology, systematic theology and apologetics to be conscious of our hermeneutics.  To that end, I hope this would be helpful.


Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session One: Introduction

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Two: How Should We Study Theology? Issues of Sources and Authority

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Three: Doctrine of Special Revelation

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Four: The Doctrine of the Self-Attesting Word of God

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Five: Doctrine of Inerrancy and Ramifications for Hermeneutics

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Six: Doctrine of Biblical Clarity

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Seven: The importance of Words and Grammars

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Eight: Context Part I: The Immediate Context

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Nine: Context Part II: The Chapter and Book Context

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Ten: Context Part III: The Entirety of Scripture

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Eleven: The Aid of Natural Revelation in Hermeneutics

Introduction to Hermeneutics Series: Session Twelve: Hermeneutics and Apologetics





















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I. Introduction

a. This is the first covenant mentioned in Scripture.

b. We will look at three passages on the Noahic Covenant

c. Question to ask:

i.      How is God’s grace shown in the Covenant?

ii.      Is the way you interpret the Noahic Covenant the same hermeneutical principle you interpret other Biblical Covenants?

II. Genesis 6:17-20 (PRE-FLOOD)

a. Setting

i.      V.17- God will judge the world for their sins.

ii.      V.17- God will flood the world.

b. Recipient

i.      V.18- Noah, his wife, sons and son’s wives.

c. Requirement

i.      V. 19- Two (male and female) of every kind of animals into the ark.

ii.      V.20- Keep the animals alive (“keep them alive”)

iii.      V.21- Gather food for animals and family

d. Promise

i.      V.18- Covenant to protect Noah in the Ark

e. Notes

i.      Note how God’s righteous judgment (v.17) is foundational to understanding God’s grace in the providing of the Ark (v.18).

ii.      Note how God’s grace by providing the ark (v.18) comes before the commands (v.19-21)

iii.      Note Noah’s obedience (v.22)

III. Genesis 8:20-22 (POST-FLOOD)

a. Setting

i.      V.19- Ark open, animals went out

b. Recipients

 i.      V.20- Noah

c. Promise

i.      V.21- “I will never again curse the ground of account of man, for the intent of man’s earth is evil from youth…”

ii.      V.21- “I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.”

 iii.      V.22- Seasons

d. Notes

 i.      V.20- Noah presents an animal sacrifice to God

IV. Genesis 9:1-17 (POST-FLOOD)

a. Setting

i.      After the Flood

b. Recipients

 i.      V.9- Noah and his descendants (cf. v. 8)

ii.      V.10- Every living creature (cf. v. 12)

iii.      V. 12- Successive generation

 iv.      See also v.11-12, 15-17

c. Requirement

 i.      V.1- “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.”

1. Reinstating Genesis 1:28 in the Post-Fall

2. Cf. v.8

ii.      V.  4- Not eat animal alive or with it’s blood still in it

1. Devestating consequences is stated in verse 5

iii.      V. 6- Death penalty for murder because man is still in the image of God

d. Promise

i.      V. 2- Dominion over animals given

ii.      V. 3- Animals can be eaten

iii.      V. 11- No more global flood to destroy the earth (Cf. v.16)

e. Sign

i.      V.13- A rainbow

ii.      V.14- “It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud”

iii.      V.15- Rainbow is for God “to remember” showing it’s fulfillment is dependent upon God (cf. v. 16-17)

V. Conclusion

a. This covenant is God’s Covenant with all creatures for all generations

b. The promises in it still stands

i.      God will not destroy the world through a global flood.

ii.      Stability of the four seasons

iii.      Dominion over animals

c. The requirements still stand

i.      Be fruitful and multiply

ii.      Not to eat animals alive or with it’s blood still in it

iii.      Death penalty for murder

d. Application

i.      Looking at creation and the rainbow should prompt us to praise God for His mercy and Grace


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The Most Misused Verses in the Bible

This is free for a limited time on Kindle.  Thanks to Challies for the head’s up!   It’s always good to be conscious of our hermeneutics in interpreting the Bible and watch for fallacies in our interpretation so this work sounds pretty neat in that regards.

To download, click HERE.

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If you have questions about whether there are negative implications of uniting psychology with the Bible, you will want to read this journal article by Dr. Robert L. Thomas.  He is a very prolific Bible scholar in his own right.

In this article, Dr. Thomas will address general revelation and its implications on hermeneutics.  Consequently in this context, one’s understanding of general revelation will affect one’s hermeneutic and one’s hermeneutic will affect one in pastoral counseling positively or negatively.

Just to wet your appetite, here is Dr. Robert L. Thomas’ summary on general revelation:

General revelation’s noticeable impact on biblical interpretation has resulted from applying a broader definition of general revelation than is justifiable.  Reasons why general revelation should not include such matters as science, mathematics, literature, and music are the following.  First, “general” cannot refer to the content of the revelation.  Second, biblical references to general revelation limit it to information about God.  Third, sin distorts human discoveries of the non-Christian world in secular fields.  Fourth, general revelation is readily accessible to all, not just to specialists in certain fields.  Hermeneutics deals with the principles of biblical interpretation.  Unwarranted definitions of general revelation have led to widespread attempts to integrate general with special revelation.  This step is unwarranted because truth exists in varying degrees of certitude, all truth does not possess the same authority, all truth does not fall on receptive ears, and general revelation does not include the fields of secular study.  The emergence of integrative efforts has coincided with a growing tentativeness in biblical hermeneutics because of the influence of secular disciplines on biblical hermeneutics.  Psychology’s promotion of self-love provides a good example of the adverse effects of general revelation and integration on biblical hermeneutics.[1]

To access the journal article, please click on this link: General Revelation.  You could also access the journal article from the TMS website: General Revelation.

[1]Robert L. Thomas, Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2002), 113.

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Kaiser, Walter C. Toward an Exegetical Theology: Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1981. 


Walter C. Kaiser Jr. does a good job in surveying the current crisis in exegetical theology and the definition and the history of exegesis in part one of his book (Alexandrian [implemented heavy allegory] and Antiochian School [implemented one sense or one meaning of a text]).  In the section concerning the current crises, Kaiser addresses the hermeneutical issues (science of interpretation).  The hermeneutical issue at hand can be found in Kaiser’s question, “Is the meaning of a text to be defined solely in terms of the verbal meaning of that text as those words were used by the Scriptural author?  Or should the meaning of a text be partly understood in terms of ‘what it now means to me,’ the reader and interpreter (24)?”  To Kaiser, the art and science of interpretation (hermeneutics) is critical because it will determine whether one will land at the right interpretation.  And since we want to hear from God, getting the right interpretation should be our aim.

In section one, as stated earlier, Kaiser ventures into the definition and history of exegesis.  Exegesis is a term derived from a transliteration of a Greek word that means “narration,” or “explanation” (43).  Often when the term exegesis is brought to surface, we think of mainly Grammatical-Historical Hermeneutics, but according to Kaiser, exegesis is more than just Grammatical-Historical Hermeneutics, or the master of Hebrew, Aramiac, and Greek, syntax, phrases, clauses, sentences, but also includes the syntactical-theological method too.  The syntactical-theological method consists mainly of a contextual, syntactical, verbal, and theological analysis.  In light of all those features, one major component Kaiser brings to the limelight is the importance of antecedent theology; as well as finding the proposition or sentence of each paragraph.

In regards to antecedent theology, Kaiser believes that newer revelation should be based upon older revelation rather than newer revelation being inoculated into older revelation.  To Kaiser, older revelation stands on its own feet and does not need newer revelation to shed light on it.  Without doing violence to the OT standing in its own feet, I do believe that “progressive revelation” is very helpful and does shed some light on certain areas of Scripture such as the Gospel, resurrection of the saints, etc. without doing violence to single meaning.  Progressive revelation is helpful because it completes the entire enterprise for topics such as the Gospel, eschatology, etc.

I really admired Kaiser’s tone in this book.  He is very passionate about the importance being biblical preachers and teachers; and getting the right meaning of the text across.  Another characteristic about Kaiser that I like is his commitment to hard work.  He pursues excellence in sermon preparation and does not like to cut corners by simply ignoring the Grammatico-Historical Method.  He takes it seriously.  His book convicted me and I pray that it will sanctify me in my sermon preparation when I am tempted to be lazy.


The weaknesses are minimal.  But in terms of weaknesses, the book at times, can be a little dry. The myriad of names mentioned throughout the book got me lost in my reading. At some occasions, it took me a while to figure out who believed what because the names kept jumping one from place to another.  In addition, some of the foreign languages increased the technicality of the book—this made the reading at times difficult to read.

Because the book gets technical in some areas, I think the reading would be clearer if Kaiser used more illustrations and examples to explain his conceptions of biblical exegesis.


Another “possible” weakness; and this is up to debate, is the continual stress that one cannot impart later revelation into an older revelation.  I totally agree with Kaiser on this point.  I agree that the Old Testament stands in its own feet and does not need the New Testament to reinterpret the Old Testament or replace the Old Testament.  However, some argue that there maybe “exceptions” where the  NT writer can go beyond the grammatical-historical sense in his use of an OT passage without violating the single meaning (Robert L. Thomas, “The New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 1).  That gets into the discussion of “inspired sensus plenior application” (ISPA) which treads into an area of advanced hermeneutics.  I can not discuss ISPA in detail because I will need to study ISPA more before I make an official stance.  A good book that I would like to finish reading that covers ISPA is entitled, “Evangelical Hermeneutics” by Dr. Robert L. Thomas.

To wet your appetite or your curiosity for now concerning ISPA, here is how it is defined by Dr. Robert L. Thomas in The Master’s Seminary journal article, entitled, “The New Testament Use of the Old Testament,”

When interpreting the OT and NT, each in light of the single, grammatical- historical meaning of a passage, two kinds of NT uses of the OT surface, one in which the NT writer observes the grammatical-historical sense of the OT passage and the other in which the NT writer goes beyond the grammatical-historical sense in his use of an OT passage. Inspired sensus plenior application (ISPA) designates the latter usage. Numerous passages illustrate each type of NT use of the OT. The ISPA type of usage does not grant contemporary interpreters the right to copy the methodology of NT writers, nor does it violate the principle of single meaning. The ISPA meaning of the OT passage did not exist for man until the time of the NT citation, being occasioned by Israel’s rejection of her Messiah at His first advent. The ISPA approach approximates that advocated by Walton more closely than other explanations of the NT use of the OT. “Fulfillment” terminology in the NT is appropriate only for events that literally fulfil events predicted in the OT.”

I will need to revisit this topic in the future.

Good Quotes

Below are lists of quotes that were insightful and had an impact on me.  I pray that I go back to these quotes as a reference.


One more crisis must be faced before we begin to suggest some solutions of our own: the crisis in the pulpit. For large segments of the Christian Church it is a truism to say that Biblical exposition has become a lost art in contemporary preaching. The most neglected of all Biblical sections is the Old Testament—over three fourths of divine revelation! (36-37)”

Martin Luther—

Origin’s allegories are not worth so much dirt,’ for ‘allegories are empty speculations…the scum of Holy Scripture.’ ‘Allegories are awkward, absurd, invented, obsolete, loose rags.’ Such a method of interpretation, he opined, ‘degenerates into a mere monkey game.’ ‘Allegory is a sort of beautiful harlot, who proves herself specially seductive to idle men.’

For Luther, ‘The Holy Ghost is the all simplest writer that is in heaven or earth; therefore his words can have no more than one simplest sense, which we call the scriptural or literal meaning” (60-61).


Calvin was not one whit softer on the allegorizers. Commenting on Galatians 4:21-26, he blasted every such introduction and foisting of numerous meanings onto Scripture as ‘a contrivance of Satan.’ And in his commentary on Romans, he inscribed a dedicatory letter to a friend in which he said: ‘Since it is almost his [the interpreter’s] only task to unfold the mind of the writer whom he has undertaken to expound, he misses his mark, or at least strays outside his limits, by the extent to which he leads his readers away from the meaning of his author….It is…presumptuous and almost blasphemous to turn the meaning of scripture around without due care, as though it were some game that we were playing. And yet many scholars have done this at one time” (61).


Good exegetical procedure dictates that the details be viewed in light of the total context” (69).


So the problem is not merely the common error of forgetting or disregarding the immediate context. It is, rather, the more serious error of attempting to atomize or fragment the text and then presuming that meaning can be attributed to phrases, sentences, or even paragraphs in isolation from the rest of the context” (70).


The word context is composed of two Latin elements, con (‘together’) and textus (‘woven’). Hence when we speak of the context, we are talking about the connection of thought that runs through a passage, those links that weave it into one piece” (71).


The exegete must feel that his primary obligation is to find this thread of thought which runs like a life stream through the smaller and larger parts of every passage. When this connection is missed or avoided, there is a fair chance that the interpreter may miss the scope, end, purpose, and entire plan by which the author ordered the various parts of his work. Thus the study of scope and plan belong to the study of a work’s context” (71).


Once the exegete has determined the natural divisions and the literary type(s) of the individual book, it is time to get down to examining the passage that has been selected for exegeting. Usually this will be a periscope, or the like, consisting of one, two, or three paragraphs. It becomes evident that at this point the unit of concern must be the paragraph” (95).


How shall we define and delimit the paragraph? Most of the criteria resemble those for marking off a section (see ‘Sectional Context’ in the previous chapter). The list includes the following: 1. The principle feature of a paragraph is a unifying theme. This is often indicated by the repeated use of the same term or concepts (‘love’ in 1 Cor. 13; ‘wisdom’ in 1 Cor. 2:6ff). 2. Rhetorical questions will often introduce a new paragraph (cf. Rom. 6:1). 3. A vocative form of address may commence a new paragraph (e.g., Col. 3:18—4:1). 4. Sudden changes in the text are one of the best ways to detect the beginning of a paragraph. For example, there may be an abrupt shift in the key actor or participant; the mood, tense, or voice of the verb; the location of the action; or the topic. The use of a striking introductory connective, be it a conjunction, preposition, or a relative pronoun, can also be an indicator. 5. Frequently what appears at or near the end of one paragraph is taken up and developed more fully in the next paragraph (e.g., ‘wisdom’ in 1 Cor. 2:5 and 6ff.)” (96).


‘Block diagramming’ must be sharply distinguished from ‘line diagramming.’ A line diagram is what many of us drew in our junior-high English classes. Each sentence was analyzed by itself and basically formed a one-line diagram. The purpose was to aid the student in identifying the parts of speech and the grammatical function of each word in the sentence. A block diagram is much different. It attempts to analyze all the sentences in a paragraph and to put them into a graphic design so as to show how they function together as a paragraph and how the arrangement of that paragraph compares with the arrangement of related paragraphs” (100).


A block diagram arranges all the material, regardless of its length, so that the interrelationships of the whole sentences, clauses, and phrases might be visually apparent at a glance. The advantages of block diagramming over line diagramming are: (1) it forces us to focus on the total flow and thread of meaning throughout the whole paragraph rather than on isolated abstractions of individual words or phrases; and (2) it offers invaluable preparatory assistance for preaching and teaching because we can immediately see what is nuclear in the paragraph (the theme proposition) and what is subordinate” (100).

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