Hermeneutics and Exegesis

Theo1689

Well-known member
Too often in this forum different sides throw "verses" at each other, expecting the other side to immediately and magically agree with them, and if they don't, uncharitable accusations of "you're ignoring Scripture" or similar get hurled.

Well, the reason these "proof-texts" aren't convincing for the opposing side is NOT because they are being "ignored", but because they are being interpreted differently. And all too often, one side will not only NOT address the alternative interpretation, but they frequently are UNAWARE of the alternative interpretation, or try to deny that no alternative interpretation exists.

To be an effective apologist, one must:
1) recognize alternative interpretations;
2) make solid, objective arguments why your interpretation is more valid;
3) make solid, objective arguments why the opposing interpretation is not valid;


If you don't do the above, you are not an apologist, you are simply someone who wants to present your own opinion, loudly and repeatedly, without giving others any valid reason to accept it.

Ambiguous Statements

Ambiguous statements are those which can be understood in two significantly different ways. They are often the source of humour, such as in the following newspaper headline:

"Old school pillars are replaced by alumni."

(Were the alumni responsible for replacing the pillars (with new pillars), or did the alumni become the new pillars?)

"Two sisters reunited after 18 years at checkout counter."

(Did the sisters spend 18 years at the checkout counter, or were they simply separated for 18 years, and happened to meet at the counter?)

What makes these humourous is because one alternative interpretation is silly, and that's what brings the humour. We can rule out the ludicrous interpretation, laugh at it, and then accurately know what's going on. But what if one of the interpretations isn't ludicrous?


A Biblical example of Ambiguity

I'll bring a Biblical example, and unfortunately, the point of this post is not to argue the example, and miss the main point. The point of the example is to give understanding to a GENERAL principle, that can be applied in many cases. This came about just yesterday in another forum:

Acts 16:29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.

The next verse, v.34, is ambiguous in the Greek, and can be interpreted in one of two ways:

34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. (ESV)

34 And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household. (NASB)

According to the interpretation held by the ESV, "his entire household" modifies "rejoiced", and so the rest of the house rejoiced with the jailer, who was the only one who believed. Roman Catholics use this rendering to try to argue for "infant baptism", since the entire household (presumably including infants) were baptized based on the jailer's belief.

According to the interpretation held by the NASB, "his entire household" modifies "believed in God", so the entire household was baptized, because the entire household believed (suggesting no infants in the household).

Both are valid interpretations of the text, so you can't just deny one interpretation, or simply assert your own interpretation as true by "fiat".


And the same principle exists in many (most) arguments here in the A&C forum.

Does "world" mean "every single individual", or "all people groups", or "both the Jews group and the Gentiles group"? Arguments for EACH position have to be made.

Does "all men" mean "all individuals", or "all people groups"? EACH position needs to be addressed.

Does "foreknow" mean "see in advance and learn", or "choose in advance"? Both positions need to be addressed.

In John 6:44-45, is verse 45 the reason for the drawing, or does verse 45 EXPLAIN how God draws? Does v.45 emphasize God's teaching action, or does it emphasize man's learning action? BOTH positions need to be addressed in discussion.

It is not sufficient (or the least bit compelling) to simply YELL your own position ten million times, and then call someone an idiot if they don't agree with your opinion.

This is a DISCUSSION forum (and arguable an apologetics forum), not simply a "bluster" forum.
 

Theo1689

Well-known member
One other point to make here....

All too often, doctrine arguers (I can't honestly call them "apologists") will give a "proof-text" for a particular doctrine, and if you disagree with their interpretation, they will insist that you use the SAME verse to prove the opposite doctrine.

For instance, in the jailer example in Acts 16, a credo-baptist would argue that it doesn't teach paedobaptism. Like I said, this issue just came up yesterday, and when I pointed that out, I was challenged to show how THAT VERSE proved credo-baptism.

But the problem is, I don't USE that verse to prove credo-baptism.
I refer to all the passages which teach "BELIEVE and be baptized".
 
T

TomFL

Guest
Too often in this forum different sides throw "verses" at each other, expecting the other side to immediately and magically agree with them, and if they don't, uncharitable accusations of "you're ignoring Scripture" or similar get hurled.

Well, the reason these "proof-texts" aren't convincing for the opposing side is NOT because they are being "ignored", but because they are being interpreted differently. And all too often, one side will not only NOT address the alternative interpretation, but they frequently are UNAWARE of the alternative interpretation, or try to deny that no alternative interpretation exists.

To be an effective apologist, one must:
1) recognize alternative interpretations;
2) make solid, objective arguments why your interpretation is more valid;
3) make solid, objective arguments why the opposing interpretation is not valid;


If you don't do the above, you are not an apologist, you are simply someone who wants to present your own opinion, loudly and repeatedly, without giving others any valid reason to accept it.

Ambiguous Statements

Ambiguous statements are those which can be understood in two significantly different ways. They are often the source of humour, such as in the following newspaper headline:

"Old school pillars are replaced by alumni."

(Were the alumni responsible for replacing the pillars (with new pillars), or did the alumni become the new pillars?)

"Two sisters reunited after 18 years at checkout counter."

(Did the sisters spend 18 years at the checkout counter, or were they simply separated for 18 years, and happened to meet at the counter?)

What makes these humourous is because one alternative interpretation is silly, and that's what brings the humour. We can rule out the ludicrous interpretation, laugh at it, and then accurately know what's going on. But what if one of the interpretations isn't ludicrous?


A Biblical example of Ambiguity

I'll bring a Biblical example, and unfortunately, the point of this post is not to argue the example, and miss the main point. The point of the example is to give understanding to a GENERAL principle, that can be applied in many cases. This came about just yesterday in another forum:

Acts 16:29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.

The next verse, v.34, is ambiguous in the Greek, and can be interpreted in one of two ways:

34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. (ESV)

34 And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household. (NASB)

According to the interpretation held by the ESV, "his entire household" modifies "rejoiced", and so the rest of the house rejoiced with the jailer, who was the only one who believed. Roman Catholics use this rendering to try to argue for "infant baptism", since the entire household (presumably including infants) were baptized based on the jailer's belief.

According to the interpretation held by the NASB, "his entire household" modifies "believed in God", so the entire household was baptized, because the entire household believed (suggesting no infants in the household).

Both are valid interpretations of the text, so you can't just deny one interpretation, or simply assert your own interpretation as true by "fiat".


And the same principle exists in many (most) arguments here in the A&C forum.

Does "world" mean "every single individual", or "all people groups", or "both the Jews group and the Gentiles group"? Arguments for EACH position have to be made.

You ran from John 12:47-48 in which John shows what the word world entails and would not deal with BAGD using common and biblical use of the word especially

So according to your own claims you are not an apologist
Does "foreknow" mean "see in advance and learn", or "choose in advance"? Both positions need to be addressed.
Not only did you fail to deal with the context of the verse it appeared it you also ignored another example by the same writer
you also tried to define the english word foreknew by other than english. The english word does not mean to chose before



In John 6:44-45, is verse 45 the reason for the drawing, or does verse 45 EXPLAIN how God draws? Does v.45 emphasize God's teaching action, or does it emphasize man's learning action? BOTH positions need to be addressed in discussion.

Both hearing and learning are required

John 6:45 (ESV)
45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—
 

praise_yeshua

Well-known member
Too often in this forum different sides throw "verses" at each other, expecting the other side to immediately and magically agree with them, and if they don't, uncharitable accusations of "you're ignoring Scripture" or similar get hurled.

Well, the reason these "proof-texts" aren't convincing for the opposing side is NOT because they are being "ignored", but because they are being interpreted differently. And all too often, one side will not only NOT address the alternative interpretation, but they frequently are UNAWARE of the alternative interpretation, or try to deny that no alternative interpretation exists.

To be an effective apologist, one must:
1) recognize alternative interpretations;
2) make solid, objective arguments why your interpretation is more valid;
3) make solid, objective arguments why the opposing interpretation is not valid;


If you don't do the above, you are not an apologist, you are simply someone who wants to present your own opinion, loudly and repeatedly, without giving others any valid reason to accept it.

Ambiguous Statements

Ambiguous statements are those which can be understood in two significantly different ways. They are often the source of humour, such as in the following newspaper headline:

"Old school pillars are replaced by alumni."

(Were the alumni responsible for replacing the pillars (with new pillars), or did the alumni become the new pillars?)

"Two sisters reunited after 18 years at checkout counter."

(Did the sisters spend 18 years at the checkout counter, or were they simply separated for 18 years, and happened to meet at the counter?)

What makes these humourous is because one alternative interpretation is silly, and that's what brings the humour. We can rule out the ludicrous interpretation, laugh at it, and then accurately know what's going on. But what if one of the interpretations isn't ludicrous?


A Biblical example of Ambiguity

I'll bring a Biblical example, and unfortunately, the point of this post is not to argue the example, and miss the main point. The point of the example is to give understanding to a GENERAL principle, that can be applied in many cases. This came about just yesterday in another forum:

Acts 16:29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.

The next verse, v.34, is ambiguous in the Greek, and can be interpreted in one of two ways:

34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. (ESV)

34 And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household. (NASB)

According to the interpretation held by the ESV, "his entire household" modifies "rejoiced", and so the rest of the house rejoiced with the jailer, who was the only one who believed. Roman Catholics use this rendering to try to argue for "infant baptism", since the entire household (presumably including infants) were baptized based on the jailer's belief.

According to the interpretation held by the NASB, "his entire household" modifies "believed in God", so the entire household was baptized, because the entire household believed (suggesting no infants in the household).

Both are valid interpretations of the text, so you can't just deny one interpretation, or simply assert your own interpretation as true by "fiat".


And the same principle exists in many (most) arguments here in the A&C forum.

Does "world" mean "every single individual", or "all people groups", or "both the Jews group and the Gentiles group"? Arguments for EACH position have to be made.

Does "all men" mean "all individuals", or "all people groups"? EACH position needs to be addressed.

Does "foreknow" mean "see in advance and learn", or "choose in advance"? Both positions need to be addressed.

In John 6:44-45, is verse 45 the reason for the drawing, or does verse 45 EXPLAIN how God draws? Does v.45 emphasize God's teaching action, or does it emphasize man's learning action? BOTH positions need to be addressed in discussion.

It is not sufficient (or the least bit compelling) to simply YELL your own position ten million times, and then call someone an idiot if they don't agree with your opinion.

This is a DISCUSSION forum (and arguable an apologetics forum), not simply a "bluster" forum.

Funny. What you say is happening is against the forum rules.

Personally, I believe the vast majority of what you wrote is nothing more than "bluster". Comment removed, personal attack.

What most people reference as "Hermeneutics and Exegesis" is nothing more "bluster" that often has nothing to do with the fundamental aspects of most any issue.

For example. Consider how Jesus dismantled the teachings of the Pharisees with one simple reference to Scripture and a very simple logical argument.


Mat 22:41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,
Mat 22:42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.
Mat 22:43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,
Mat 22:44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?
Mat 22:45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?
Mat 22:46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

A simple equation. An equation you obviously reject.

I prefer the Scriptures and how they teach us to deal with issues. I personally believe this particular issue is one of often being on the losing side of simple discussions such as this. You're just want to "muddy the waters" with references to proper so called "proper"... "Hermeneutics and Exegesis".

There is beauty in the simplicity of how Jesus Christ handled the false doctrine of the Pharisee.....
 
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praise_yeshua

Well-known member
I never learned how to respond point by point so I don’t lol. I would need to see a video and watch someone fo that so I could learn . I’m a visual/kinesthetic learner.

I may have exaggerated a little... :)

It would have been more accurate to say "point by point".
 

Theo1689

Well-known member
I never learned how to respond point by point so I don’t lol. I would need to see a video and watch someone fo that so I could learn . I’m a visual/kinesthetic learner.

I've said this before, I'm sure, but I learned early on how important context is. I had the "advantage", 30 years ago, of not knowing anything about Scripture. So when someone came with a "proof-text", I was forced to read the entire chapter to understand how the verse relates to the surrounding context. And if it was a verse at the beginning of a chapter, I would have to read the entire previous chapter (especially if the verse began with "for", or "therfore", because those indicates we have reached the end of an argument, a conclusion, and I would want to see the argument that led up it.

That's why when I discuss 2 Pet. 3:9 with Arminians, I go back to v.8, and even all the way back to verse 1, since it's all relevant.

That's why when Mormons quote 1 Cor. 8:5, I go back to verse 1, which leads up to that verse, and context destroys their argument.
 

civic

Well-known member
I've said this before, I'm sure, but I learned early on how important context is. I had the "advantage", 30 years ago, of not knowing anything about Scripture. So when someone came with a "proof-text", I was forced to read the entire chapter to understand how the verse relates to the surrounding context. And if it was a verse at the beginning of a chapter, I would have to read the entire previous chapter (especially if the verse began with "for", or "therfore", because those indicates we have reached the end of an argument, a conclusion, and I would want to see the argument that led up it.

That's why when I discuss 2 Pet. 3:9 with Arminians, I go back to v.8, and even all the way back to verse 1, since it's all relevant.

That's why when Mormons quote 1 Cor. 8:5, I go back to verse 1, which leads up to that verse, and context destroys their argument.
I can in person respond point by point but have not learned how to do that on CARM with all the bracketing and other things that need to be manipulated to respond point by point.
 

praise_yeshua

Well-known member
I've said this before, I'm sure, but I learned early on how important context is. I had the "advantage", 30 years ago, of not knowing anything about Scripture. So when someone came with a "proof-text", I was forced to read the entire chapter to understand how the verse relates to the surrounding context. And if it was a verse at the beginning of a chapter, I would have to read the entire previous chapter (especially if the verse began with "for", or "therfore", because those indicates we have reached the end of an argument, a conclusion, and I would want to see the argument that led up it.

That's why when I discuss 2 Pet. 3:9 with Arminians, I go back to v.8, and even all the way back to verse 1, since it's all relevant.

That's why when Mormons quote 1 Cor. 8:5, I go back to verse 1, which leads up to that verse, and context destroys their argument.

That is true.

It is also true the "dirty" nature of every language and speech of men that has ever existed on the face the earth, leads to situations wherein contexts exists with contexts. Even context external to immediate context.
 

praise_yeshua

Well-known member
I can in person respond point by point but have not learned how to do that on CARM with all the bracketing and other things that need to be manipulated to respond point by point.

I just copy and paste the original bracket quote string around particular areas and then copy and paste closing brackets around the ending of comments and then fill in my responses. Just hit the little "[ ]" symbol beside the floppy disk..... toggle between editors.
 

Theo1689

Well-known member
I can in person respond point by point but have not learned how to do that on CARM with all the bracketing and other things that need to be manipulated to respond point by point.

1) Click on "Reply".

2) You should see the text you're responding to in an indented box (I call it a "quote bubble"), with the poster's name at the top.

3) If you don't see that, but instead see a bunch of HTML tags inside square brackets, then:
........a) click on the three vertical dots to the right of the "undo" icon;
........b) click on the square brackes icon, named, "Toggle BB code";

4) Place your cursor in the text in the quote box, at the point you wish to make your comment, and hit, "enter".

5) The quote bubble should split into two, with space between them for you to type your response after the first section.

6) repeat as necessary
 

Theo1689

Well-known member
I just copy and paste the original bracket quote string around particular areas and then copy and paste closing brackets around the ending of comments and then fill in my responses. Just hit the little "[ ]" symbol beside the floppy disk.....

Yep, that's the alternative if you're in the alternative "BB mode".
 

civic

Well-known member
I just copy and paste the original bracket quote string around particular areas and then copy and paste closing brackets around the ending of comments and then fill in my responses. Just hit the little "[ ]" symbol beside the floppy disk.....
1) Click on "Reply".

2) You should see the text you're responding to in an indented box (I call it a "quote bubble"), with the poster's name at the top.

3) If you don't see that, but instead see a bunch of HTML tags inside square brackets, then:
........a) click on the three vertical dots to the right of the "undo" icon;
........b) click on the square brackes icon, named, "Toggle BB code";

4) Place your cursor in the text in the quote box, at the point you wish to make your comment, and hit, "enter".

5) The quote bubble should split into two, with space between them for you to type your response after the first section.

6) repeat as necessary
I’m on my phone now I’ll try it on my pc tonight or this weekend and give it a try. Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks after all 😎
 

praise_yeshua

Well-known member
I’m on my phone now I’ll try it on my pc tonight or this weekend and give it a try. Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks after all 😎
In BB Code mode, Highlight text Ctrl +C to copy and then click area to insert and Ctrl+Y.

Ctrl + Z to undo. Ctrl + X to cut.

Most all browsers and apps support these basic keyboard combinations. Some keyboards allow you to program hotkeys so all you have to do is click a key.
 

Theo1689

Well-known member
In BB Code mode, Highlight text Ctrl +C to copy and then click area to insert and Ctrl+Y.

Ctrl + Z to undo. Ctrl + X to cut.

Most all browsers and apps support these basic keyboard combinations. Some keyboards allow you to program hotkeys so all you have to do is click a key.

Ctrl+C - "C" stands for "copy".
Ctrl+X - "cut" - "X" looks like scissors.
Ctrl+V - "paste" - "V" looks like a wedge, to force in a phrase or sentence by making space for it.


Ctrl-Z - "undo".... Let me think.... Hmmmm... Oh, I got it!

"Zounds" (or "Zoinks!") - "I made a mistake!" :)
 

Dizerner

Well-known member
I've recently changed my views on how we derive correct beliefs from Scripture.

I used to think that merely parsing logic and grammar correctly would necessarily lead us to the truth... but this in the end led me to interact with people mentally and intellectually, while denying the fact I was engaged in something actually supernatural. Oh, I would pay "lip service" that there were spiritual "strongholds" in people's minds, but when it came down to how I felt I could actually convince them, I considered that a convincing enough logical argument would somehow tear that stronghold down, which in the end I gradually realized I was just making revelation mere intellectual information, and trusting in a kind of pride in the ability of man's mind to "figure things out" and allowing an inconsistent unbelief in my own proposition that there were actual things such as "strongholds," which if true, would require something much more than intellectual energy to bring down. This means every interaction I have with a person attempting to help them see the truth, or even to try to find the truth for myself, would be approached as if it were naturalistic instead of supernatural, putting me at a disadvantage and giving me all the wrong focus.

Some attempt various ways to combine and synthesize logic and revelation by positing that in some degree or other we have to trust the Holy Spirit to be using logic, but by combining such two disparately different things, it seems to muddy the difference between them at all; as if logic were the working of the Spirit, when in fact, the smartest and most logical people in the world can be spiritually blind.

By acknowledging these things, one is forced into a place of humility and dependence that goes directly against the "flesh," the inherit tendency all human beings have—even Christians—to want to find the source of their ability in the self-reliance and independence. Meditation on these truths has helped me to also be less judgmental when someone just doesn't "get" what I'm saying, and helped me also be less frustrated when my points that seem valid to me are constantly ignored or misrepresented.

Another thing the revealing of this truth has done for me, is make me less prone to secretly just want to be right, correct other people, and only desire to look good and be a part of a certain "clique" that I brand "orthodox," and has turned me instead to humbling prayer that God would begin working where my fleshly efforts only constantly made things worse. By extension it's also made me less prone to strife, resentment, offense and anger at people for not agreeing with what seems apparent to me.

My observation has been that once we deduce a belief from some supernatural source, we then feel committed to fit Scripture into that belief no matter what; I've never seen a person actually "derive" a belief in the supposed way. When I read something in the Bible that sounds like something contradicts what the Bible say somewhere else, I have to harmonize those things somehow. I don't and can't literally believe many verses, such as "whatsoever you ask you shall receive." On an intellectual plane I began subconsciously arguing sophisticated concepts like the "probabilities" that a certain verse would be interpreted in a certain way in the light of the whole import of Scripture taken together, but this still had no real effectiveness, and again exalted the intellect as the portal of revelation. How much simpler to practice a dependency and look for that place of revelation internally.

I'm still learning this, but at least I know what to focus on.
 
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T

TomFL

Guest
You're just want to "muddy the waters" with references to proper so called "proper"... "Hermeneutics and Exegesis".
Indeed he begins with the assumption the term world cannot refer to anything but the elect throughout the world

and then denies proper hermenuetics and exegesis

while refusing to address other interpretations which are contrary to his position
 

Theo1689

Well-known member
I used to think that merely parsing logic and grammar correctly would necessarily lead us to the truth... but this in the end led me to interact with people mentally and intellectually, while denying the fact I was engaged in something actually supernatural. Oh, I would pay "lip service" that there were spiritual "strongholds" in people's minds, but when it came down to how I felt I could actually convince them, I considered that a convincing enough logical argument would somehow tear that stronghold down, which in the end I gradually realized I was just making revelation mere intellectual information, and trusting in a kind of pride in the ability of man's mind to "figure things out" and allowing an inconsistent unbelief in my own proposition that there were actual things such as "strongholds," which if true, would require something much more than intellectual energy to bring down. This means every interaction I have with a person attempting to help them see the truth, or even to try to find the truth for myself, would be approached as if it were naturalistic instead of supernatural, putting me at a disadvantage and giving me all the wrong focus.

It seems to me that you are conflating two different things:

1) Determining what Scripture teaches (which comes by the historical-grammatical method);

2) Convincing someone else of the truth of Scripture (which comes by the Holy Spirit).

There is little in Scripture which tells us how to interpret, but since it is written in text, it is implied that those who know how to read will read it according to their understanding the rules for interpreting texts. This is one example where Paul makes the distinction between "seed" and "seeds" to determine the proper interpretation.
 

ReverendRV

Well-known member
It seems to me that you are conflating two different things:

1) Determining what Scripture teaches (which comes by the historical-grammatical method);

2) Convincing someone else of the truth of Scripture (which comes by the Holy Spirit).

There is little in Scripture which tells us how to interpret, but since it is written in text, it is implied that those who know how to read will read it according to their understanding the rules for interpreting texts. This is one example where Paul makes the distinction between "seed" and "seeds" to determine the proper interpretation.
Atheists can use the Historical Grammatical Method but they can't be convinced without the Holy Spirit. Atheists know the Bible teaches the Bodily Resurrection, etc. Since Atheists know the Fundamentals, no one here has an excuse for disagreeing with the Fundamentals...
 
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Theo1689

Well-known member
Since the concept of "exegesis" has come up in another thread as well, it has caused me to think more about it, and to bring to light some ideas that have been previously more instinctive.

1) To be proper exegesis, one has to be wary of projecting your own beliefs into the text. It is absolutely wrong to come to a verse and think to yourself, "How can I fit this verse into my beliefs?", as that is the textbook definition of "eisegesis".

2) To make sure that you're interpreting Scripture based on what the text says, and not according to your theology, it's important to put your beliefs "aside", and engage in some intentional "cognitive dissonnance". Put your beliefs in one compartment, and Scripture in another compartment, and begin studying Scripture in isolation, at the start. This is arguably a difficult thing for most to do, as they want everything to conform to their beliefs. But it gets easier over time.

3) Maybe it has been easier for me because I have come from a background of science, and computer programming. When a scientist develops a hypothesis, his main goal is to try to "prove it wrong". He develops experiments controlling every relevant factor, trying to find one to prove the hypothesis wrong. And if he is unable to do so, then that gives us good confidence in the reliability of the hypothesis. [This is also why science never "proves" anything, as a factor or situation can later prove it false at any given moment.]. And as computer programmer, when you write a program, you need to test it thoroughly before you release it for general use, and throw all kinds of data and input at it, zero values, negatives, every possibility, to try to see if it will crash or provide wrong results. And only when it passes all the tests does it get released with confidence. And even so, everyone knows that tested software is often in need of updating due to bugs found by the end-user.

4) Another example, I'm an avid chess player. And I used to play a lot of chess by myself, trying to play both sides. But I like to win (don't we all?), so when I made a plan as one side, I woudn't play my best as the other side, and defend in the best way, so I could win. At some point I got over that, and learned to play at my best, even against myself. And even though that resulted in more draws, and very few wins, it was beneficial for helping me improve my game.

5) One of the things I think we're seeing less of is debate in schools, as an opportunity for critical thinking. In many cases debators were given a position they didn't personally hold, but had to try to defend anyway. Sometimes this is called, "playing devil's advocate". But it's an important skill to know, IMO, to make sure you've studied all the different possibilities, and don't hold a position simply because it was the first one you were taught, or the first interpretation you came to when you read a Scripture.

6) Another very useful tool is something called "sentence diagramming". It was something taught in schools a hundred years ago, and students would diagram sentences, whether they were in English, Latin, or even Greek. It's a lost art, and that's a shame, because the main purpose of diagramming is to study the relationships of words in a sentence, and determine what modifies what. It forces one to analyse the syntax of a sentence, as separate from being driven by your theology. And diagramming allows the identification ambiguities in the text, allowing for alternative arrangements of the parts of the substance, forcing you to conider each one. I'm actually a member of a Greek NT Diagramming group on Facebook. And even though I don't use it much anymore, BibleWorks has a module which includes every verse of the NT diagrammed.


If you go to the 10:00 mark in this video, you see how the pastor has diagrammed 1 Tim. 1:5:

1Tim. 1:5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

An he first isolates the foundational message in the sentence (subject, verb, object), "Goal is love", and then shows how all the other words fit in, and how they relate to that foundational message. And there are different lines and positions which are standardized to show verb, predicate, predicate nominative, adjectives, adverbs, etc.

In the first 2 minutes, he outlines an ambiguity, two different ways to interpret the verse, and then uses sentence diagramming to try to figure out which interpretation was intended by Paul:

1) But the goal of our instruction is

............ love from a pure heart and
............ a good conscience and
............ a sincere faith.

2) But the goal of our instruction is love from
................................................. a pure heart and
................................................. a good conscience and
................................................. a sincere faith.

This is a really good introductory video, IMO, and he shows how to diagram a number of Bible verses, beginning with very short examples like:
"Jesus wept";
"I and the Father are one"
"A large crowd followed him."
etc.



Once you see how the sentence fits together, and how it is limited, then you can apply theology to it.
 
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