Friday, May 13, 2022

Hermeneutics Is NOT Dynamic

Summer school starts on Monday. I'll be teaching Greek 2 for three weeks and then Greek 1 for three weeks. We meet daily from 9:00 to noon. When I was in seminary, I loved taking these kinds of "intensives." Personally, I would much rather take 1 course every 3 weeks than 5 courses every 15 weeks. I find that my summer students tend to do very well. The key is to "know thyself." It takes bucket loads of self-discipline to succeed. And don't forget time management skills. After all, the pace is one lesson per day rather than one lesson per week. But it's certainly possible. For 45 years I have cultivated a love for the Bible and have pursued an understanding of it. In teaching Greek 2, I try to help my students do the same. 

Now, my Greek 2 course is somewhat unique. Not only do I teach grammar -- yes, there will be plenty of talk about infinitives and participles and the subjunctive mood and mi-verbs -- but I also teach my students how to use their knowledge of Greek in actually studying and teaching the New Testament, based on my book Using New Testament in Ministry. There are 10 basic, universal steps involved in biblical hermeneutics -- historical analysis, literary analysis, textual analysis, lexical analysis, syntactical analysis, etc. I use to save hermeneutics/exegesis for Greek 3. But not many go on to take that course. That is regrettable. A foundation (Greek 1-2) exists only for one reason -- to build a superstructure on it (Greek 3). That said, I do find that students are open to studying Greek 3 on their own, and I have designed a book to help them do just that. 

Because scriptural truth is foundational for our lives as believers, it's important that our students develop a consistent method of Bible study, one that would lead to accurate and insightful applications of the Scriptures. Unfortunately -- and it is tragic that I even have to bring this up -- some say that the rules of biblical hermeneutics are dynamic. The rules change as they adapt to different cultural contexts. They are wrong. The "rules of the road" are the same whether I am teaching in China, Ethiopia, Korea, Romania, or Ukraine. Biblical hermeneutics is biblical hermeneutics regardless of your nationality, ethnicity, and geography. And we all need to be following the proper guidelines when studying the Bible. 

Truth be told, a day never passes in my life without me using one or more of the principles I teach my students. I never prepare a message without going through these steps. With proper preparation and careful application, our students can come to treasure the Scriptures. The least we can do is teach them how to properly interpret the text. 

Students, are you ready to take the first step?