Biblical Hermeneutics

The most objective tool for Biblical Hermeneutics is grammar. Within this large category exists some very basic axioms that are agreed upon by most everyone.

These should form the foundation of the biblical exegesis of any text.

Arguments based on these axioms must be challenged by other axioms. Here are some things that should not be considered effective against axioms.

One's view of the “context.”
Mere statistics.
Metaphorical interpretations.
Philosophy.

My two cents.

Comments?
 
The most objective tool for Biblical Hermeneutics is grammar. Within this large category exists some very basic axioms that are agreed upon by most everyone.

These should form the foundation of the biblical exegesis of any text.

Arguments based on these axioms must be challenged by other axioms. Here are some things that should not be considered effective against axioms.

One's view of the “context.”
Mere statistics.
Metaphorical interpretations.
Philosophy.

My two cents.

Comments?
Could you list the axioms, or at least some of them?
 
Could you list the axioms, or at least some of them?

I know many linguists would object to a strong term like "axiom" and agree that one can always find disagreement amongst experts.

I would consider anaphora a grammatical axiom. Also equative predicate nominatives. Grammatical concord. Syntax. These provide structure to an exegesis

Is there disagreement even with those? Yes.

That being said, this does not put grammar at the same level as ones view of the context which is often subjective.

I am open to suggestions, and don't consider my description as iron clad.
 
Thanks, that's helpful. I would say that I largely agree with you, with some caveats. Grammar and syntax is the "objective" base from which we begin, certainly, but even they are not always as objective as we like. Greek is a real language, and like all languages, has ambiguities and difficulties form time to time. Part of the problem with many modern exegetes is that they haven't really learned the language as a language, but see it rather as a means of decoding meaning into English primarily to help with certain exegetical and theological questions. Particularly as you get into the more advanced stages of any language, grammar and syntax can become quite thorny indeed...

And context. Context is in part determined by vocabulary selection, grammar and syntax but these things are also determined by context, in that the speaker/writer determines what he wants to say because of the context, and it is context which then clarifies our understanding of what he is attempting to communicate. I think I know what you mean by the subjective nature of context claims, in that sometimes what seem to be crystal clear statements of Scripture will be challenged because of context -- questions of "women's ordination" are rife with this sort of thing in some circles, but we see it elsewhere as well. It also helps to define what we mean by context. There is a difference between local context -- the sentence and discourse immediately preceding and following the text in question, the larger context, the more extended discourse leading up to the text, and what is sometimes called co-text, documents by the same author and other related literature. Then there is historical and cultural context, which can illumine our meaning of the implications of a text. Done properly the last should enrich our understanding and therefore our application of Scripture, but at the same time it shouldn't override the "plain sense."

We can never wholly, I think, eliminate the subjective element in interpretation. We are, after all, subjects who involve ourselves in the process, and we can't eliminate ourselves. What we can do is test and retest our interpretations against the text in order to be as objective as possible, but always with the possibility that we could revise our understanding at some point.

I think I'm okay with "axioms." I resist when people start calling it things like "the laws of hermeneutics." More like guidelines, I should say. It's as much art as science.

Anyway, just some random thoughts inspired by your comments.
 
The most objective tool for Biblical Hermeneutics is grammar. Within this large category exists some very basic axioms that are agreed upon by most everyone.

These should form the foundation of the biblical exegesis of any text.

Arguments based on these axioms must be challenged by other axioms. Here are some things that should not be considered effective against axioms.

One's view of the “context.”
Mere statistics.
Metaphorical interpretations.
Philosophy.

My two cents.

Comments?

It sounds like you want to treat human language as if it will always consistently follow the same rules every single time in the same manner as mathematics does.

That never seemed to be a good idea to me nor a plausible approach.
 
It sounds like you want to treat human language as if it will always consistently follow the same rules every single time in the same manner as mathematics does.

That never seemed to be a good idea to me nor a plausible approach.
Yes.. Rules are learned in your second course after introduction. Five years into to it you forget the rules. Twenty years into it you forget there were ever any rules. You learn to read the language by reading texts. Mountains of text. Hermeneutics isn't about the languages. Different topic. In Jan 1975 took my first course in Hermeneutics from Earl Radmacher. Three hour course 3,000 pages of reading and you had to teach a class on hermeneutics. I taught it in Seattle every other week. Been reading on the topic ever since. OPEN Yale has a course taught by Paul Fry on literary criticism which is free for anyone with access to the web. It is worth your time if you want to understand how texts are handled outside of biblical studies.
 
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Yes.. Rules are learned in your second course after introduction. Five years into to it you forget the rules. Twenty years into it you forget there were ever any rules. You learn to read the language by reading texts. Mountains of text. Hermeneutics isn't about the languages. Different topic. In Jan 1975 took my first course in Hermeneutics from Earl Radmacher. Three hour course 3,000 pages of reading and you had to teach a class on hermeneutics. I taught it in Seattle every other week. Been reading on the topic ever since. OPEN Yale has a course taught by Paul Fry on literary criticism which is free for anyone with access to the web. It is worth your time if you want to understand how texts are handled outside of biblical studies.
Search Hermeneutics Earl Radmacher for youtube lectures.
 
It sounds like you want to treat human language as if it will always consistently follow the same rules every single time in the same manner as mathematics does.
That never seemed to be a good idea to me nor a plausible approach.

I did not argue for invariable rules for exegesis, but for a ranking of evidence.

I agree that there are multiple views of syntax and grammar. I don't agree that one can overturn grammar with a subjective "context."
 
I did not argue for invariable rules for exegesis, but for a ranking of evidence.

I agree that there are multiple views of syntax and grammar. I don't agree that one can overturn grammar with a subjective "context."
You see, that's the issue. Why do you assume, as you seem to do, that all context is subjective?
 
You see, that's the issue. Why do you assume, as you seem to do, that all context is subjective?

On CARM? 99% yes.

I do think that your contextual arguments on Hebrews 1:8 were subjective. You likely believe the context I used in my reply was subjective.

Grammatical arguments can also be subjective. I don't think my use of anaphora was, and I will continue to believe solid grammatical arguments should not be countered with ones view of "context."

That is, until someone convinces me otherwise, which is always possible.
 

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Yes.. Rules are learned in your second course after introduction. Five years into to it you forget the rules. Twenty years into it you forget there were ever any rules. You learn to read the language by reading texts. Mountains of text. Hermeneutics isn't about the languages. Different topic. In Jan 1975 took my first course in Hermeneutics from Earl Radmacher. Three hour course 3,000 pages of reading and you had to teach a class on hermeneutics. I taught it in Seattle every other week. Been reading on the topic ever since. OPEN Yale has a course taught by Paul Fry on literary criticism which is free for anyone with access to the web. It is worth your time if you want to understand how texts are handled outside of biblical studies.
Fantastic response, Stirling.
 

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You see, that's the issue. Why do you assume, as you seem to do, that all context is subjective?
Context frequently turns grammar and lexicography on their head. Context doesn’t need to be “subjective” (that’s such a bad word among religious moralists), but it should certainly take the whole of what is said and its general force into account. If your interpretation of a verse doesn’t take context into account, it can most certainly be rejected.
 
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