Author's intent hermeneutic

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Is understanding the author's intent the key to interpreting the Bible?

  • Yes. Whatever the author intended, that is what we should read out of the Bible.

    Votes: 3 33.3%
  • No. We should interpret what the Holy Spirit is saying, and not the author.

    Votes: 1 11.1%
  • Some mixture of the two (please post and explain)

    Votes: 4 44.4%
  • I don't understand the question?

    Votes: 1 11.1%

  • Total voters
    9

Dino246

Senior Member
Jun 30, 2015
14,071
7,582
113
#61
Does this truth cancel the law? The Holy Spirit is not telling all Christians the same thing to understand this.
Yes, the Holy Spirit is telling all Christians the same thing. If you're hearing a message contradictory to what other Christians are hearing (and it's a doctrinal matter rather than a personal matter), either they aren't hearing the Holy Spirit, or you aren't.
 

Benadam

Active member
Aug 14, 2019
339
70
28
#62
It will agree with and be verified by the Word. God never contradicts Himself.
Scripture can be useful for that but that project failed. There would be universal agreement among the Sola Scriptura folks if Scripture could authenticate the expression of the Holy Spirit
 

oyster67

Senior Member
May 24, 2014
3,052
2,653
113
#63
Scripture can be useful for that but that project failed. There would be universal agreement among the Sola Scriptura folks if Scripture could authenticate the expression of the Holy Spirit
???????????
 
Mar 21, 2009
770
269
63
New York
#64
Hi,

Quick poll of this board.

So...my preparation for a Revelation Bible study has led me off on a study of hermeneutics. Which frankly might be a more important study, anyway. Learning right and wrong hermeneutics lays the groundwork for studying Revelation.

Let me explain my poll question:

Hermeneutics is basically the "rules of engagement" for interpreting the Bible. Such as, for example, our #1 rule of engagement is that we should sincerely seek God in all our study. After all, if we are not genuinely seeking God in all this, we will never interpret the right meaning out of God's Word.

Now, my question: do you believe it fair to say that whatever the author intended you to read, that is the correct meaning of the book? Put another way: assuming Moses wrote Deuteronomy, do you believe that whatever Moses was trying to say--that is the meaning of Deuteronomy?

OR: is it possible that, once the book became a part of the Bible and 2000 years have elapsed, that the Holy Spirit took over, and now the book, being a part of GOD'S Word, might mean something that the human author did not intend? For example: take Paul's letter to Philemon. When Paul originally wrote the letter, he intended the audience to be Philemon. But then a lot of churches also read the letter, and it became part of the Bible. Now, the letter becomes to ALL of us, and it takes on new meaning. But...does it take on new meaning that Paul never intended?

When I read about hermeneutics, I read that it is the former, i.e. you need to understand the author's intent. And I tend to agree with that. But I am also concerned of the possibility that maybe not everybody may agree with that, and that I am imposing all these "rules" on them which only serve to obscure the Bible's true meaning (which of course is neither my intent, nor that of hermeneutics). I hope I explained my question well?
In Theology the term Sensus plenior is used to describe a meaning that God may have intended that the author was not aware of. It is important to talk about because it seems obvious that the Holy Spirit Inspired word of God has a supernatural element to it and that God speaks to us in a personal way while we read that supernaturally inspired word and that we rely on him to inspire us to understand His word is also a rule of hermeneutics among evangelical bible believing theologians.

Yes there is meaning beyond what the authors intended but never a meaning that would negate, nullify, or contradict what the author intended.

The main message from the Holy Spirit that has supernatural life changing power if understood and applied to our lives will be discovered by understanding authorial intent.

When we use scripture to teach a different principle or truth than what the author intended (even if that principle or truth is valid from other scriptures in the bible) we rob the listeners or reader from hearing the truth that God intended in the context of that verse. "Where there is no vision, the people perish.. " is a classic example of how a verse can be used to teach some good principles about business and accomplishing goals but completely miss the intended meaning about having understanding of the revelation of God (vision) as revealed by the prophets who called men to repentance. ...( but he that keepeth the law, happy is he)


Sensus plenior is a Latin phrase that means "fuller sense" or "fuller meaning". It is used in Biblical exegesis to describe the supposed deeper meaning intended by God but not by the human author. Walter C. Kaiser notes that the term was coined by F. Andre Fernandez in 1927 but was popularized by Raymond E. Brown.
 
Mar 21, 2009
770
269
63
New York
#65
I should probably clarify. I am concerned about the PERCEPTION.

Let's take the first thing: introducing the words, "Hermeneutics", "exegesis", and "eisegesis" to laymen. Exegesis=good. Eisegesis=bad. First thing somebody's going to ask: Do any of these words appear in the Bible? Well...not really. Instantly, they're turned off. We're "no longer studying the Bible". The Bible's supposed to be this easy-to-learn Word of God that we can all understand, but instead I'm using these big words.

Lesson learned: just don't use those big words. But still, the underlying premise remains: what is the correct lens, the correct microscope, to examine the Bible under? Many men have gone before us and formulated a set of rules to go by when reading the Bible. That is hermeneutics. What are bad ways to read the Bible? What are good ways? We learn much faster if we simply learn from other people who have already wrestled through these very issues. Why graduate from the School of Hard Knocks if you don't have to?

So, the intent is not to impose all these "rules" on people which only obscure the Bible's meaning. It's to grease the skids. But I'm concerned about the perception that we are telling people how to interpret the Bible and that "that's wrong." At the very least, yes--I am telling you, you have to interpret God's Word the way God intended it. No apologies for that.

My worry is that if I teach that one rule of hermeneutic is that you need to interpret a Bible passage the way the author intended it, I will get people in the room who don't even agree with that much. Poof, I just turned them off. Thus I posted this poll about it.
Always consider the audience. In your case I would suggest NOT using the short convenient words like hermeneutics in the bible study.

Instead say things like "agreed upon rules of interpretation" Then you would mention

"What was the author intending to say? If we could ask him, "Paul what did you mean by that?" What would he say? Would he say, it can mean whatever you want it to mean? Of course he would not say that.

Then you could mention the rule of "Who was he talking to?" What would they understand him to mean.

The rule of "What meaning did these words he used have at that time? Are they still the same? Have any of them changed?

And you can step through all the rules of interpretation without ever mentioning the word Hermeneutics.

These words enhance communication among those who are familiar with them but they hinder communication with those who are not.

Communicating is the objective and if your audience gets irritated by words not found in the bible then that will require a more verbose, (howbeit exhausting) approach on your part.

However be prepared to be corrected by some students who will get frustrated by your many words and suggest that you use words like Exegesis as a shortcut to explaining the rules every time. LOL..
 

Blik

Senior Member
Dec 6, 2016
2,612
803
113
#66
Yes, the Holy Spirit is telling all Christians the same thing. If you're hearing a message contradictory to what other Christians are hearing (and it's a doctrinal matter rather than a personal matter), either they aren't hearing the Holy Spirit, or you aren't.
This is so true. The Holy Spirit is of God and is truly Holy. But the HS uses the word that we have fed our minds with. If we have let the decisions of men taint that word then we distort that word.

That is why I carefully check doctrines for when they were first accepted and why those men accepted that doctrine. I think it is so important for Christians to stand guard on what their mind thinks about, listens to, and reads.

It would make it so much easier to follow the crowd without question, if the majority was a check on hearing the HS correctly, but that has never been how our world works. Scripture itself is the check on what is true.
 

Benadam

Active member
Aug 14, 2019
339
70
28
#67
I'm sorry Oyster. Please excuse my last post. It was rude. Its difficult to distinguish the spirits. The Holy Spirit really doesn't reveal scripture interpretation to individuals for the Church as a whole . He uses scripture to help in personal matters to individual persons.
 

Blik

Senior Member
Dec 6, 2016
2,612
803
113
#68
In answer to the original question, we need to know what the author's intent was. It is a man reporting on what he hears from the Lord. Language changes over time, and we need to know what those words meant to the author. As an example, salt had deep meaning to men in very ancient times as mixing salt together from each person was like our signing a contract. It could not be separated any more than the grains of salt could be. To modern man salt does not have that meaning.

The true author of scripture is the Lord, the author is only doing his best to express what he learns from the Lord. So true understanding is understanding the intent of the Lord. The HS is the manifestation of the Lord in this case.
 

Benadam

Active member
Aug 14, 2019
339
70
28
#69
The Spirit That inspired the author may inspire a reader. Often there are connections to other inspired text. Sometimes a situation or event we experience can make us aware of a previously unseen dynamic that enlightens a Scripture passage. The Holy Spirit sometimes reveals the hidden past. That. is also prophecy. That it fills a spot and fits like piece of the puzzle isn't proof of it's truth because the psychological and subconscious influences cause our mind to obscure a detail or our lack of prerequisite understanding can obscure truth and confirm a distortion.

Something that should not be said is " no where in scripture is that found" unless one has plumbed it's entire depth it's a statement that betrays a closed heart and ignorance of the testimony of Our Saviour. The astounding complexity of the human heart is why Truth without error is a necessary component of the expression of Faith in Christ. No more on that.
Otherwise the best that can be done with a previously unknown understanding that doesn't violate the original intent of the author or any other truth no matter where it's found, is to allow time. personal growth, the opinion of others who are knowledgeable to uncover a flaw. Also, if the Holy Spirit did Infuse a deeper understanding of the Faith hEhe didn't do it for your consolation but for a reason. Most likely pertaining to a need of the community that hasn't been dealt with before.
So put it in the 'waiting for purpose ' ' , file in your heart. If it doesn't serve that's a sign that it might not be a Grace from the Holy Spirit. It may be a truth that was meant to tempt you to begin something that won't end well. If it's of the Holy Spirit It will fulfill a need and set you and others on a holy journey with Jesus. It will lead to a closer relationship with the Body of Christ.

Sorry for the long post. My primary reason for posting was to share some personal discernment that may be a help to others. .

Often when a spirit acts on our soul be it a personal solution to a problem or the discovering of a hidden truth, there is joy and awe. an intimacy with God a sense ofbelonging to something greater etc. The evil spirit can do that too.

If it's the evil spirit acting on the soul the lower sensitive powers will drive the experience. It will be intense and emotional. A desire to continue in the consolation and even chase and repeat the origin of the experience is present. It is like a drop of water on a rock. Big splash, impactfull onset yet no penetration, it's over quickly with no permanent change to the soul.

If it's the Holy Spirit It will be like a drop of water on a sponge. The intellect will drive the experience. There will be no splash. The water will penetrate the soul and permeate throughout a permanent change. The Holy Spirit sanctifies and conforms us to Christ.

If that doesn't happen the experience should not be considered to be anything of consequence and forgotten
Perhaps a situation down the road will give it meaning and purpose maybe not.

I hope this is helpful rather than vain.
 

garee

Senior Member
Mar 28, 2016
14,726
1,379
113
#70
In Theology the term Sensus plenior is used to describe a meaning that God may have intended that the author was not aware of. It is important to talk about because it seems obvious that the Holy Spirit Inspired word of God has a supernatural element to it and that God speaks to us in a personal way while we read that supernaturally inspired word and that we rely on him to inspire us to understand His word is also a rule of hermeneutics among evangelical bible believing theologians.

Yes there is meaning beyond what the authors intended but never a meaning that would negate, nullify, or contradict what the author intended.

The main message from the Holy Spirit that has supernatural life changing power if understood and applied to our lives will be discovered by understanding authorial intent.

When we use scripture to teach a different principle or truth than what the author intended (even if that principle or truth is valid from other scriptures in the bible) we rob the listeners or reader from hearing the truth that God intended in the context of that verse. "Where there is no vision, the people perish.. " is a classic example of how a verse can be used to teach some good principles about business and accomplishing goals but completely miss the intended meaning about having understanding of the revelation of God (vision) as revealed by the prophets who called men to repentance. ...( but he that keepeth the law, happy is he)


Sensus plenior is a Latin phrase that means "fuller sense" or "fuller meaning". It is used in Biblical exegesis to describe the supposed deeper meaning intended by God but not by the human author. Walter C. Kaiser notes that the term was coined by F. Andre Fernandez in 1927 but was popularized by Raymond E. Brown.
Sensus plenior would seem to support the law of interpretation?

Matthew 13:34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:

Mark 4:11 And he said unto
them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:
 

Reformyourself

Well-known member
Apr 29, 2020
777
256
63
#71
So instead of using "big words" (if you don't want to), then present it like this:

--[for eisegesis, say instead] "reading ideas INTO the text"

--[for exegesis, say instead] "drawing the idea OUT-OF/ OUT-FROM the text" (the one given)


...then they can see for themselves that the concepts do indeed "relate to the [proper] study of the Bible," see.

= )


I think most people are mature enough to grasp the "definitions" (if they are supplied, and if you so choose to supply them), but either way, they should grasp the "doing" of it (which is your goal, I would think)... if that makes sense. :)
Aaaaaaaargh😝
 

acts5_29

Active member
Apr 17, 2020
279
71
28
#72
I think most people are mature enough to grasp the "definitions" (if they are supplied, and if you so choose to supply them), but either way, they should grasp the "doing" of it (which is your goal, I would think)... if that makes sense.
I don't know that it is always a matter of maturity. It is a matter of attention span.
 

Sagart

Senior Member
May 7, 2017
364
29
28
#73
Hi,

Quick poll of this board.

So...my preparation for a Revelation Bible study has led me off on a study of hermeneutics. Which frankly might be a more important study, anyway. Learning right and wrong hermeneutics lays the groundwork for studying Revelation.

Let me explain my poll question:

Hermeneutics is basically the "rules of engagement" for interpreting the Bible. Such as, for example, our #1 rule of engagement is that we should sincerely seek God in all our study. After all, if we are not genuinely seeking God in all this, we will never interpret the right meaning out of God's Word.

Now, my question: do you believe it fair to say that whatever the author intended you to read, that is the correct meaning of the book? Put another way: assuming Moses wrote Deuteronomy, do you believe that whatever Moses was trying to say--that is the meaning of Deuteronomy?

OR: is it possible that, once the book became a part of the Bible and 2000 years have elapsed, that the Holy Spirit took over, and now the book, being a part of GOD'S Word, might mean something that the human author did not intend? For example: take Paul's letter to Philemon. When Paul originally wrote the letter, he intended the audience to be Philemon. But then a lot of churches also read the letter, and it became part of the Bible. Now, the letter becomes to ALL of us, and it takes on new meaning. But...does it take on new meaning that Paul never intended?

When I read about hermeneutics, I read that it is the former, i.e. you need to understand the author's intent. And I tend to agree with that. But I am also concerned of the possibility that maybe not everybody may agree with that, and that I am imposing all these "rules" on them which only serve to obscure the Bible's true meaning (which of course is neither my intent, nor that of hermeneutics). I hope I explained my question well?
 

Sagart

Senior Member
May 7, 2017
364
29
28
#74
Hi,

Quick poll of this board.

So...my preparation for a Revelation Bible study has led me off on a study of hermeneutics. Which frankly might be a more important study, anyway. Learning right and wrong hermeneutics lays the groundwork for studying Revelation.

Let me explain my poll question:

Hermeneutics is basically the "rules of engagement" for interpreting the Bible. Such as, for example, our #1 rule of engagement is that we should sincerely seek God in all our study. After all, if we are not genuinely seeking God in all this, we will never interpret the right meaning out of God's Word.

Now, my question: do you believe it fair to say that whatever the author intended you to read, that is the correct meaning of the book? Put another way: assuming Moses wrote Deuteronomy, do you believe that whatever Moses was trying to say--that is the meaning of Deuteronomy?

OR: is it possible that, once the book became a part of the Bible and 2000 years have elapsed, that the Holy Spirit took over, and now the book, being a part of GOD'S Word, might mean something that the human author did not intend? For example: take Paul's letter to Philemon. When Paul originally wrote the letter, he intended the audience to be Philemon. But then a lot of churches also read the letter, and it became part of the Bible. Now, the letter becomes to ALL of us, and it takes on new meaning. But...does it take on new meaning that Paul never intended?

When I read about hermeneutics, I read that it is the former, i.e. you need to understand the author's intent. And I tend to agree with that. But I am also concerned of the possibility that maybe not everybody may agree with that, and that I am imposing all these "rules" on them which only serve to obscure the Bible's true meaning (which of course is neither my intent, nor that of hermeneutics). I hope I explained my question well?
Paul's letter to Philemon is a real letter written by a real person (Paul) to a real person (Philemon) on behalf of a real person (Onesimus). The letter’s being incorporated into the New Testament Canon does not change any of that. I have here in my study 25 commentaries on Philemon. Of special value are these three commentaries on the Greek text of Philemon:

Fitzmyer, Joseph A. xvi, 138 pages, 2000
Barth, Marcus and Helmut xvii, 561 pages, 2000
Nordling, John G. lii, 379 pages, 2004

The purpose of these commentaries is to establish what Paul wrote to Philemon, what he meant by what he wrote, and the personal, historical, and cultural circumstances involved.

The Revelation to John was given to John that he might “show his servants what must soon take place…” (NRSV)

I have here in my study 36 commentaries on Revelation. Of special value are these four (six) commentaries on the Greek text of Revelation:

Aune, David E. (Ch. 1-5) - W.B.C. ccxi, 374 pages, 1997
Aune, David E. (Ch. 6-16) - W.B.C. xlv, 528 pages, 1998
Aune, David E. (Ch. 17-22) - W.B.C. xlvi, 451pages, 1997
Beale, G. K. - N.I.G.T.C. lxiv, 1245 pages, 1999
Beckwith, Isbon T. xv, 794 pages, 1919
Charles, R. H. - I.C.C. cxcii, viii, 870 pages, 1920

The purpose of these commentaries is to establish what John wrote to “his servants (Greek = Slaves)”, what he meant by what he wrote, and the historical, cultural and theological background pertinent to correct interpretation of the Revelation.
 

acts5_29

Active member
Apr 17, 2020
279
71
28
#75
The purpose of these commentaries is to establish what John wrote to “his servants (Greek = Slaves)”, what he meant by what he wrote, and the historical, cultural and theological background pertinent to correct interpretation of the Revelation.
is that meant to be "His" servants, with a capital H? Substantial difference.
 

Sagart

Senior Member
May 7, 2017
364
29
28
#76
is that meant to be "His" servants, with a capital H? Substantial difference.
There is only one rule that is generally followed regarding the capitalization of pronouns referring to deity:

Follow the style manual of the publisher!

These style manuals vary considerably from publisher to publisher. See, for examples, the following:

Fowler's Modern English Usage
The Cambridge Guide to English Usage
The Chicago Manual of Style
The King's English
, The Oxford Style Manual

Zondervan has its own style manual which says the following:

The capitalization of pronouns referring to persons of the Trinity has been a matter of debate for many decades. Should He be capitalized when referring to God or not? Impassioned arguments have been offered up on both sides of the question. The following paragraphs outline Zondervan’s policy and the reasoning behind it.

In Most Cases, Lowercase the Deity Pronoun. Although both the lowercase and capped styles have long and deeply rooted pedigrees in English literature, this manual advocates the use of lowercase pronouns in nearly all situations.

Reasons for Lowercasing. Many religious publishers and most general publishers have adopted the lowercase style, in large part to conform to the styles of the commonly used versions of the Bible (the KJV, NIV, and RSV). It is the style recognized as contemporary by the greatest number of readers and writers both inside and outside the church.

Because capitalizing the deity pronoun, as well as a vast number of other religious terms, was the predominate style in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century publishing, it gives a book, at best, a dated, Victorian feel, and at worst, an aura of complete irrelevance to modern readers.

Contrary to popular opinion, capitalization is not used in English as a way to confer respect (we capitalize both God and Satan, Churchill and Hitler). . . . Capitalization is largely used in English to distinguish specific things from general. Jesus is no more specific than Peter, and both should therefore be referred to as he.

Some writers argue that the capitalized style should be used to avoid confusion of antecedents in closely written text (for instances, whether Jesus or one of the disciples is being referred to as he in a given passage). Even in this last case, a careful writer should be able to make the meaning clear without capitalization. After all, the writer should be able to distinguish between the twelve disciples without resorting to typographic tricks.

Many readers, especially the younger ones, do not recognize the reason for such typographic conventions, and the capitalized pronoun may actually cause confusion or be read as emphasis when none is implied.

Finally, an insistence on the capped style can introduce unintended religio-political overtones into a publication. When He is capped for God or Jesus, it can appear, to younger readers especially, as though the author is purposely emphasizing the maleness of the deity, in direct response to feminist theologians who argue for the inclusiveness of God. Apart from the merits of either side of that debate, the capitalized deity pronoun introduces a polemical overtone that may wholly detract from the topic at hand.

Is Capitalization Ever Justified? There are some situations in which the capitalization of deity pronouns is preferred, for instance, in books that have a deliberately old-fashioned tone or when the author quotes extensively from a Bible version that uses the capitalized style (such as the New King James or New American Standard). When deity pronouns are capitalized, though, the words who, whom, and whose should not be.
 

acts5_29

Active member
Apr 17, 2020
279
71
28
#77
But they are for sure God's servants--not John's servants?
 

acts5_29

Active member
Apr 17, 2020
279
71
28
#79
Always consider the audience. In your case I would suggest NOT using the short convenient words like hermeneutics in the bible study.

Instead say things like "agreed upon rules of interpretation"
.
Incidentally, Gordon Lee's book DOES use the word hermeneutics sometimes, although not very often. I do think his book is a little technical as well, since he is constantly embedding scriptural references in his text. Ironically, he suggests removing all the chapter-and-verse numbers out of the Bible, to make it easier for you to sit down and read all of I Corinthians in one sitting. But I am getting through his book.
 

Benadam

Active member
Aug 14, 2019
339
70
28
#80
we then infer that New Testament prophets did the same? e.g. that Paul's letters to Corinth were not meant for Corinth, but for churches which did not even exist at the time? And that Paul knew that, and in fact THAT was Paul (the author's) intent?
I think the Apostles all thought that the Gospel would be spread by word of mouth. The letters that became the NT stayed in the locations where the communities they were written to lived.