Hermeneutics simply means the science of the right interpretation of an ancient text. When we’re studying the Bible, we have to bear in mind that we are dealing with translated ancient texts that are strange to us. Therefore, it’s not just enough to quote a verse and make a direct application. A popular misquoted verse in the Bible is Phil. 4:13. Some quote it when they are doing sports or with anything they want to accomplish. Usually, they interpret it in a material prosperity mindset. They are missing the fact that Paul was not in sports of any sort nor business. He was in a Roman prison for the sake of Christ. Our superficial study of the Bible usually leads us to poor application. So, what are the aims of hermeneutics? There are three aims we should learn as we study the Bible.
1. Aim for Historical accuracy.
The first thing to do in studying the Bible is to find out the historical backgrounds of the texts. Without knowing the historical background, we tend to make inaccurate interpretations, and of course misapplication. We have a lot of tools to help us see history in the Bible. One of which is the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Another is Old and New Testament background books and other Bible background resources.
The Bible is ancient literature, and we have to deal with it in its ancient context.
2. Aim for Literary accuracy.
After you established the background of the texts, the next thing to do is to aim for literary accuracy. This is tricky. Usually, readers are tempted to jump to their doctrinal interpretations and explain the words inaccurately. Remember the Bible is ancient literature, and we have to deal with it in its ancient context. It is ideal that an interpreter should learn Hebrew and Greek. But, there are tools that would help the English-only-readers in doing a word study. These are the Hebrew and Greek dictionaries, the Strong’s Concordance, The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, and good exegetical dictionaries and commentaries. Take note also that consulting even good exegetical commentaries can tempt you to jump to conclusions. Commentaries are the last thing you should refer to. Never cite those commentaries just to make you sound intellectual. The aim of studying the literary context is to better understand the authors’ doctrinal implication, not to trivialize words.
A good Christian takes his doctrines accurately from the Bible.
3. Aim for Theological/Doctrinal accuracy.
The last aim of your investigation is the theological/doctrinal implication of the authors. What is Paul’s theology that Christians firmly believe? The theology we find from the author of the texts is what we affirm as doctrines. A good Christian takes his doctrines accurately from the Bible. That means he or she affirms the teaching of the Biblical authors. The aim of theological accuracy is to help us be more founded in our Christian faith and to be able to compare and detect false doctrines.