What we as pastors and spiritual leaders of God's flock need desperately in this day and age in the US, is to learn and understand what the New Covenant is and how it works.
This is vital, because we do not live in a covenantal society like those in Jesus' and the Apostles did, most of us have little to no real knowledge of the Covenant nor how it works, and this knowledge changes the way we interpret the NT Scriptures.
Hopefully, any real ministers will have as complete a Biblical Hermeneutic study method in which they utilize in order to bring the intended meaning of the Word of God to their flocks, covenant understanding (particularly of the New Covenant) is a vital aspect of that Hermeneutical study system.
The following is a brief description of the basics of hermeneutics:
The Basics of Modern Biblical Hermeneutics
This appendix describes the basics of the modern day, accepted methodologies of Biblical Hermeneutical study of the Word of God. There are plenty of resources for further study if the reader wishes to indulge themselves, which are far more intricate and detailed than our purpose here. Our purpose here is to give the reader a simple outline of information, summarizing what Biblical Hermeneutics methodologies is all about.
One of the most important aspects of Biblical Hermeneutics is the method of reasoning employed in the search of the intended meaning of the Scriptures, and the method of reasoning utilized here is the Deductive method. Out of all the methods of reasoning, Biblical Hermeneutical study falls under the category of Deductive Reasoning. Deductive reasoning involves using true premises in order to reach a conclusion that will also, therefore, be true. If the rules and logic of deduction are followed, then an accurate conclusion is ensured. The following is an example of employing deductive reasoning:
Premise #1 – Dogs are animals.
Premise #2 – Rin Tin Tin was a dog.
True conclusion = therefore, Rin Tin Tin was an animal.
Deductive reasoning will always give a true conclusion as long as the premises are both Valid and Sound. The above example is both valid and sound, the following example is valid, but not sound because it is not true for every instance:
Premise #1 – Theologians eat steak.
Premise #2 – Paul eats steak.
False conclusion = therefore, Paul is a theologian.
We know that the above conclusion is in error because we can demonstrate that it is false. Premise #1 is not true of all theologians, therefore it is not valid and sound, even though premise #2 is. Another example would be:
Premise #1 – Artichokes come from artichoke seeds.
Premise #2 – Tomatoes come from tomato seeds.
Premise #3 – Cucumbers come from cucumber seeds.
False conclusion = therefore, birds come from bird seeds.
Again, this conclusion is false even though all the premises are true, because we can falsify it by other facts that positively demonstrate it to be false. Next we will look at the Principles, Rules, and Axioms of Biblical Hermeneutics, but we will not be defining the categories:
TenetsPrinciples of Hermeneutic Study
A principle (for our purposes) is a primary, fundamental, or basic rule of interpretation from which Biblical truths are derived, an adopted set of rules or method for application in the process of exegesis (interpreting a text). Vlach, in his hermeneutics study guide, has gathered a number of insights from hermeneutics teachers, of which one speaks concerning the origin of hermeneutical principles:
“These hermeneutical principles. . . are not the result of some unusual genius of a select few individuals. The principles of interpretation are not invented or learned but are part of the very nature of man. . . . the principles for interpreting the Bible are simply descriptions of the way people think and read when they seek to understand the meaning of any writing. They are not inventions, they are discoveries. Rather than being created, they are observed. If they were arbitrarily devised by man, then each person could make up his own rules.” (1)
The following list contains the basic usual principles endorsed by hermeneutic professors and writers; however, after analyzing these endorsements, I place some of them in a different category than most. Some are Principles (those basic and foundational acknowledgments that we must keep in the back of our minds at all times during interpreting the Scriptures), some are methodological rules of interpreting ancient documents written in a different time, place, culture, language, etc. Those rules find their functionality in the employment of certain axioms that the average individual can understand as necessary steps for complete interpretation of a foreign text. Those principles are as follows:
1. Christocentric Principle
2. Full mention Principle
3. Progressive Revelation Principle
4. Human willingness Principle:
"On the other hand, Scripture itself teaches that spiritual commitment, or lack of it, influences ability to perceive spiritual truth. Romans 1:18-22 describes the result of a continuous suppression of the truth as a darkened understanding. I Corinthians 2:6-14 speaks of wisdom and gifts that are the potential possession of the believer but which the unregenerate person does not possess. Ephesians 4:17-24 describes the blindness to spiritual realities of a person living in the old nature and the new realities open to the believer. I John 2:11 declares that the man who harbors hatred experiences a blindness resulting from the hatred. Based on such passages as these, this view posits that spiritual blindness and darkened under-standing hinder a person’s ability to discern the truth regardless of one’s knowledge and application of hermeneutical principles." (2)
5. Typology Principle
6. Application Principle
7. The Contradiction Principle
8. The Covenant Principle
9. The Love of God Principle
10. The Purpose for Creation PrincipleAnalytical Phases of Biblical Hermeneutics
Different phases of analyses should be incorporated into one’s study of the Scriptures in order to gain the best and closest understanding of the author’s intended meaning. In order to correctly interpret a text under consideration, hermeneutics considers what texts not only says, but also what it supposes, does not say, implies, and assumes. There are five different analyses for the explication of the text, the Special Literary analysis, the Lexical-Syntactical analysis, the Contextual analysis, the Theological analysis, and the Historical-Cultural analysis. Each analytical phase comprises a specific Rule and the Axioms that fall under that Rule. The following is a snapshot of the process…
Step 1. Special Literary Analysis
Figures of speech Rule
Identifying figures of speech tenet
Applying individual rules of interpretation tenet
Step 2. Lexical-Syntactical Analysis
Function of words tenet
Correct word substitutes tenet
Greek word analysis tenet
Sentence analysis tenet
God given word definitions tenet
Step 3. Contextual Analysis
Surrounding passages tenet
Entire chapter tenet
Entire book tenet
The whole of Scripture tenet
Step 4. Theological Analysis
Whole Word of God Rule
Harmonizing Scripture tenet
Plainly understood passages to illuminate difficult passages tenet
Text has one core meaning tenet
Most obvious meaning is usually the right one tenet
Scripture interprets Scripture tenet
Step 5. Historical-Cultural Analysis
Social customs tenet
Social religious understandings tenet
After examining the individual phases and the steps incorporated within each one, the above order of analyses is preferred, but not mandatory. The reasoning is that, for example, when an issue of interpretation arises, what is usually the first thing one could do that is the first thing that comes to mind, or is the quickest way to resolve the problem? The first thing preferred is to rule out the possibility of the problem being related to figures of speech, which most of the time (in our experience) is easily spotted and then dealt with. Once that is out of the way, usually the next step is to check the grammatical essence of the text, beginning with the word and verse one is dealing with.
After that the contextual analysis falls into the next logical step, followed by the theological context of the entire Word of God on the subject under study. Finally, the history and culture of the day and age in which the text was produced. There exists no reason why one could not process the given text according to any order, just as long as the person does apply each analysis in his/her hermeneutic methodology.
One of the most important things to remember during any hermeneutic processing, is to memorize the Principles of hermeneutics and keep them in mind as you go through the interpretational processes. For example, the entire compliment of Scriptures within the New Testament originate from the New Covenant, and teach New Covenant doctrines. This, in turn, means that every word in the New Testament Scriptures are bound by the principles of the New Covenant, finding their interpretation according to, and within, those principles.
Special Literary Analysis: several special literary aspects of Scripture require different interpretational principles, different sets of rules that apply to different genres of Scripture. The different genres found in Scripture are: narratives, histories, prophecies, apocalyptic writings, poetry, psalms, and letters. Within these there exists differing levels of allegory, figurative language, metaphors, similes, and literal language. For instance, the apocalyptic writings and poetry have more figurative and allegorical language than does the narrative or historical writings. These must be addressed appropriately, and the genre recognized to gain a full understanding of the intended meaning of the text under consideration.Types of Language
Identify the type of language being utilized in the text under consideration.
The Figures of Speech Rule: that in rightly dividing the Word of Truth, we must take into consideration the use of prose, similes, hyperbole, and other figures of speech as they are used in the Scriptures, and apply their rules carefully.
Most Common Figures of Speech
Allegory, Anthropomorphism, Antithesis, Catachresis, Euphemism, Fable, Figurative, Hyperbaton, Hyperbole, Interrogation, Irony, Literal, Litotes, Metaphor, Metonymy, Oxymoron, Parable, Paradox, Personification, Pleonasm, Sarcasm, Simile, Tautology.
The reason why some scholars and theologians do not utilize every principle and rule outlined herein, finds itself in one or more of the elements of the violation of these principles; in other words, they have a bias or agenda that is not in accordance with sound Biblical Exegesis, and they cannot hold to their bias or agenda if they utilize all of the following outlined herein. All of the following contribute to misunderstandings of Biblical doctrine, and contribute to false teachings and false doctrine. The presence of any of the following demonstrates the presence of self will over and against the truth of the Word of God.
2. Preconceived opinion.
3. Wishful Thinking.
5. Appeals to Human Authority.
6. Appeals to the Popular Opinion.
We must do our dead-level best to avoid all of these attitudes because they are prime reasons why we experience false ideologies, false teachings, and false doctrines in the Church today. This is an application of Systematic Theology.(1) Hermeneutics: Principles of Bible Interpretation; Dr. Roy Zuck; as reported by Mike Vlach, Pages 59-61(2) Hermeneutics: Principles and Processes of Biblical interpretation; Virkler, Henry A.; Baker Book House Publisher Company, 2007, Page 27.