Since 2006, I have studied in depth the art and discipline of biblical exegesis and hermeneutics as both a student and a tutor to lay persons over the years.
It has been a tremendous blessing and life-changing journey to go through the Bible in a serious and thorough way.
I have included a new sub-menu category under the “Biblical Studies” menu on top titled “Biblical Exegesis and Hermeneutics” which covers a span from 2006 – 2014.
One of the critical and invaluable lessons learned in my years studying the Bible is the importance of having it speak for itself and focusing on what the original author’s intent was rather than starting from the viewpoint of “What does this verse say to me?” that many persons get in the erroneous habit of – especially when they do private or personal devotions (aka “Quiet Time”). This practice often leads to gross (sometimes narcissistic) misinterpretations of the Bible, which subsequently leads to bad theology. The Bible is not really “God’s love-letter” to you as is often popularly portrayed in many evangelical circles these days.
When approaching a biblical text for the first time, one of the first questions you should ask is, “What was the author of this text trying to convey to the original intended audience in the specific time it was written in?” We often impose our 21st century values and mindset upon the Bible (called “eisegesis”) rather than focusing on the biblical text’s specific geohistorical reference of time and geography.
It is critical to understand the historical context, literary genre, intended audience, and original purpose of why one of the books of the Bible was written, and extract the intended message from there – this is the art of exegesis.
Only afterwards should you then go into how to interpret the original message into your present day circumstances. This is the art of interpretation – hermeneutics. The word hermeneutic originally derived from Hermes, son of Zeus and the herald of the Greek Olympian gods. Hermes was, among other things, the patron god of shepherds, merchants, literature, athletics, thieves, and oratory. He was also the messenger of the gods, and the word hermeneutics refers to the art and science of understanding theological messages. See Joe Edd Morris, Revival of the Gnostic Heresy: Fundamentalism, (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2008), p. 206.
With a solid foundation and continual practice of proper exegesis and hermeneutics in hand, one will develop a robust and mature approach to handling the Bible with the utmost integrity and respect.