Questions concerning Biblical Interpretation

1. Why is Biblical theology a foundation for philosophy?

Philosophy is basically the study of or the love of wisdom. The Bible clearly teaches us in Proverbs 9:10 that the ‘fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’ Therefore, the worship of the true Biblical God comes before one can gain true wisdom. Philosophy should be considered as an aspect of theology itself. The ultimate goal of Philosophical thought is for the greater knowledge of and for the glory of the Biblical God.

2. Why is Biblical theology a foundation for science?

Science means knowledge. It is knowledge gained from study. If you have the presupposition that there is a God and that God is the true Biblical God as described in scripture then you come to the conclusion that Biblical theology is the fundamental truth. Since Biblical theology is absolute truth, the obvious conclusion would be that Biblical theology governs science and therefore provides the framework of worldview with which to begin scientific study.

3. Why is Biblical theology a foundation for worldview?

James W. Sire defines worldview as “A set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially be true, or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the make-up of our world. “ Your worldview begins with circular reasoning that requires an element of faith. On the one hand, you can believe that God exist or on the other hand you can believe that God does not exist, you have to begin on one of those two presuppositions. What you believe about God (Biblical theology) will determine the basis of your worldview.

4. Why is Biblical theology a foundation for epistemology?

The term epistemology deals with the question: how do we know? Only a right understanding of God will help to understand this question. We know what is true because our truth comes from ‘the truth.’ The truth is found in God. He is the truth; therefore, what we know is based on our presupposition that God is the truth.

5. What is the significance of inspiration?

The word inspiration means God-breathed. Dr. Christopher Cone says, “The revelation is what God said; the inspiration is the instrument of revelation.” Inspiration is the vehicle through which God delivered the revelation of His word. If the Bible were not inspired by God, then the Bible would be false. We know the Bible is true without error because of the fact of inspiration.

6. What is the significance of canonicity?

Canonicity is the recognition by the church of the authority of books of the Bible. Canonicity is not the bases for the authority of scripture. The cannon is gives testimony to the authority of scripture.

7. Explain the concept of cumulative revelation.

The idea of cumulative revelation is more familiarly called ‘progressive revelation.’ This concept refers to the fact that the revelation of scripture builds upon itself in a certain progression or order. In keeping with the order of cumulative revelation we find the Old Testament defines the New Testament rather than attempting to take the New Testament in order to prove or define the Old Testament. In other words, understanding the New Testament is built upon understanding the Old Testament. The scripture builds upon itself.

8. Explain the concept of doxological centrality.

The doxological purpose of God refers to the fact that everything is done for the glory of God. The central theme of scripture is to reveal the glory of God. Often times we get confused with the idea that man is the center of creation. Man is not the center, God is. Everything was made for God and for His glory. God’s redemptive plan made available to man is just a part of God’s doxological purpose.

9. Identify and explain the purpose of language.

The basic purpose of language was for God to communicate with Himself and thus communicate with man.

10. Identify and explain the origin of language.

Language was created by God. Dr. Christopher Cone says, “God used language to communicate with Himself before man was created.” He goes on to say, “As God used language to communicate Himself to man it is clear that He intended His revelation to be understood, even in creating the very vehicle He would use to carry His truths. “

11-12. Identify and explain the distinction between Israel and the Church.

In the study of scripture, one must realize and understand that there is a distinction between Israel and the Church. Those who try to replace Israel with the Church must interpret much of the Bible with an allegorical approach rather than the more desired approach of a literal hermeneutic. Arnold Fruchtenbaum identifies six distinctions between Israel and the Church:
1. The church’s birth at Pentecost via the Spirit baptism.
2. Certain events of Christ’s life were prerequisite to the genesis of the church.
3. The four mysteries.
A. Aspects of the church
B. Jew and Gentile united in one body
C. Christ indwelling the believer
D. The church as the bride of Christ
4. The church as the one new man.
5. The three groups are distinct from one another (Israel, Gentiles, the Church)
6. The term Israel is never used for the church.

13-21. Identify and explain the nine different hermeneutic approaches.

Postmodernism: Postmodernism is basically a way of doing science. It is a hermeneutic base. Dr. Christopher Cone gives three characteristics that are evident in a postmodern hermeneutic:
A. Neither universal authority nor absolute truth exists
B. Reality and value are relative and based upon the experiential rather than the rational
C. Meaning is relative and is reconstructed by the subculture of the interpreter
Trajectory/Redemptive Hermeneutic: This particular hermeneutic suggests that scripture is to be gradually redefined based upon cultural circumstances. This view also suggests that the Bible is a guide or a foundation upon which the interpreter must advance his own ideas. Those who propose this hermeneutic believes that you cannot stop where the Bible stops, however, you must go beyond the Bible and make the Bible fit with changes in culture.
Allegorical Hermeneutic: This approach functions primarily in the world of ideas rather than words. This concept will result in many different interpretations of one verse of scripture. There are some who use this hermeneutic in just certain sections of scripture such as Bible prophecy. This method may also confuse Israel and the Church and fails to give a clear distinction between the two.
Spiritualization/Mystic Hermeneutic: This approach attempts to seek a deeper meaning in scripture than what may really be there. Those who practice this method will often use allegorical methods in order to accomplish their goal. Those who believe in and search for Bible codes and secret messages will use this form of hermeneutic.
Genre/Literary Form Hermeneutic: This particular hermeneutic process sees the recognition of literary form as the overriding factor in interpreting scripture. There are five basic literary forms in scripture:
A. Primary Historical Narrative
B. Complementary Historical Narrative
C. Poetry and Praise
D. Prophecy
E. Epistles
These forms are recognizable in scripture; however, to focus on these forms alone in interpreting scripture can prove fatal to finding the real and literal meaning of the text of scripture.

Canonical Hermeneutic: This hermeneutical approach relies upon stated church doctrine as the primary factor for interpreting scripture. The Catholic Church uses this approach as members are encouraged to accept whatever the church says about the Bible rather than learning the Bible for themselves. This hermeneutic tends to place the authority on the church rather than on scripture itself.
Complementary Hermeneutic: This type of hermeneutic suggests that the New Testament makes complementary changes to the Old Testament. Dr. Christopher Cone writes: “Those holding to the complementary hermeneutic may at times seem baffled by distinctions in exegetical conclusions, attributing the differences to other factors, but in reality there is clearly a different hermeneutic in play.”
Theological Hermeneutic: This approach places theological beliefs as the basis for interpretation. This is very similar to the canonical method. The idea is to take what your theological stand says and then attempt to make the scripture support your view.
Literal Grammatical-Historical Hermeneutic: This hermeneutic approach is the most realistic approach. Dr. Christopher Cone states: “This type of interpretation therefore is grammatical in that it properly understands the utilization of words, phrases, sentences, etc., and is historical in that it properly understands the context in which the words, phrases, and sentences are used.” There are eight basic principles in using this hermeneutic:
A. God’s word in its entirety is authoritative propositional truth.
B. Everyone bears personal responsibility to study all of it.
C. The study of God’s word should affect lives, not simply increase knowledge.
D. Man cannot appraise Scripture without the aid of the Holy Spirit and the mind of Christ.
E. It is written in common language, bearing meaning, and should be understood in its normative sense.
F. Context determines the meaning of words.
G. There is distinction between primary and secondary applications, and we must be sure not to confuse the two.
H. Cumulative revelation determines context.

22.-25. Summarize the four pillars.

There are four basics pillars or steps in the interpretation process:
A. Observation (The Gathering of Data)
Dr. Christopher Cone write: “Inductive Reasoning deals with observation and accumulating data to develop rules. This is the necessary approach for unbiased observation as the first step in the hermeneutical process.”
B. Interpretation (The Hypothesis Based on Data)
You must be very careful in this process to make sure we arrive at the correct interpretation.
C. Correlation (The Verification of Data)
It is important to cross reference what we read. Be sure to use immediate context first.
D. Application (The correct use of data)
Be sure to be careful in applying the text. Look for the primary application and then the secondary applications.

26.-30. Explain the exegetical, synthetic, and systematic processes.

These processes form the backbone of Biblical theology. The first of these processes is exegetical. This is the application of hermeneutic principles. Nine fundamental steps are to be taken in the exegetical process: 1. Verify text and translation. 2. Understand background and context. 3. Indentify structure. 4. Identify grammatical and syntactical keys. 5. Indentify lexical keys. 6. Identify Biblical context. 7. Indentify theological context. 8. Secondary verification. 9. Development of exposition.
The second process is called the synthetic process. This process refers to gaining a view of the whole of scripture. In order to properly interpret scripture, you must understand and be able to identify what the entire Bible is about and understand a basic outline of the Bible.
The final process is systematic. This process takes the fruit of your interpretive labor and brings it together into a concatenated system. This approach shows us eleven basic topics of scripture:
A. The Doctrine of God: Theology Proper
B. The Doctrine of Christ: Christology
C. The Doctrine of the Spirit: Pneumatology
D. Bibliology (Bible)
E. Angelology (Angels)
F. Anthropology (Man)
G. Hamartiology (Sin)
H. Soteriology (Salvation)
I. Israelology (Israel)
J. Ecclesiology (The Church)
K. Eschatology (The end times)

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