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H ow to R ead the B ible. Hermeneutics. What does this quote mean? . “As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help.” Q: Where does this quote come from? A: The Koran

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what does this quote mean
What does this quote mean?

“As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help.”

Q: Where does this quote come from?

A: The Koran

Q: What is it referring to?

A: Killing anyone who gets in the way of Islam.

what about this quote
What about this quote?

“…and so the lion fell in love with the lamb.”

Q: What do you think this quote is referring to?

A: Two people falling in love

Q: Where do you think it came from?

A: Twilight

interpreting meanings
Interpreting Meanings

What do you need to know in order to determine meaning?

  • Author
  • Audience
  • Purpose
  • Message

How do these affect how you interpret what you read?

determining meaning
Determining Meaning

Whenever we read anything, we have to determine several different things at once. When you receive a text message, you have to determine who sent it, what they said, why they said it, and what they meant by it.

You do this almost instantly with text messages, because you know who sent them (usually), and you know why they sent it (usually). But what if it’s something written to someone else a long, long time ago, like say the Bible?

This process is called Hermeneutics.


Hermeneutics is “the science and art of interpreting an author’s meaning.”

  • Though you use it every time you read anything, it becomes especially important when reading something you are unfamiliar with.
  • The more unfamiliar or distant you are to the author, the more difficult it can be to determine their meaning.
for example
For Example:
  • In English, we might say someone has “kicked the bucket.” That same phrase in other cultures looks like:
      • Parked the Slippers – Norwegian
      • Eat grass by the root – Portuguese
      • Toss the spoon to the corner – Finnish
      • Give the pipe to Maarten – Dutch
      • Eat dandelions by the root – French
  • Can you see how interpreting these phrases could be tough if you didn’t know the context of that particular phrase?
reading the bible
Reading the Bible

Interpreting scripture is immensely important!

  • It’s the inerrant word of God
  • Its truth is timeless
  • You do not get to decide what its truth “means to you” – the author wrote it to mean what he wanted it to

You cannot rely only on what another person says about what the Bible means – even teachers, parents, and pastors can get it wrong.

hermeneutics and exegesis
Hermeneutics and Exegesis

Hermeneutics = science and art of interpreting meaning. Big picture, 30,000 feet type of ideas. It is the study of HOW to interpret scripture

Exegesis = the study of APPLYING scripture – drawing the meaning out of a passage of scripture

In other words, hermeneutics asks “why do we interpret it this way? How do we interpret it at all?” Exegesis asks “what is it actually saying.”

Hermeneutics is almost scientific, in that there are techniques and methods you can apply

Exegesis is critical in nature – it means this not that.

why do we care about the difference
Why do we care about the difference?

Exegesis is important, because without it, you can’t determine what the Bible is trying to tell you. Without Hermeneutics, you don’t know where to even begin pulling meaning out of a text.

how do you hermeneutic
How do you… hermeneutic?

There are several tools out there for us to use when studying the Bible. The most common are:

  • Commentaries
  • Word Studies
  • Cross References

None of these tools is useful if you do not know how to use them.

There is also one other thing that makes these tools actually work. You could know how to use these tools better than anyone, and still get everything wrong. What is it?