Hermeneutics is science and art of interpretation.  Hermeneutics is therefore the art and science of interpreting the Biblical texts.  This allows us to understand the context in which the biblical writers were writing, to whom, and for what reason.  In his book Introduction to Biblical Interpretation William Klein states, “Interpretation is neither an art nor a science; it is both a science and an art.  Every form of communication uses codes of some sort…We use rules, principles, methods, and tactics to decode them [1].”  The role of the author is an important for many reasons.  Obviously the author was chosen by the Lord to convey a message, but they are not around for us to ask them about that message [2].  The author was writing to a particular group of people to convey a specific message.  Often times these messages were fulfilled in various time periods.  In relation to the role of the author it is important to understand the historical landscape in which he was writing.  Some of the prophets wrote during the Babylonian exile, so it may not be appropriate to force our own interpretation based on current events.  Though some of those writings may certainly apply.  In his book How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth Gordon Fee writes, “We tend to think our understanding is the same thing as the Holy Spirit’s or human author’s intent.  However, invariably bring to the text all that we are, with all our experiences, culture, and prior understandings of words and ideas [3].”

Who the author is has a significant role in understanding the meaning of the text.  The authors had a significant writing style and vocabulary that they used.  As previously stated, knowing the conditions in which they wrote helps us to understand the message they were trying to get across.  Each biblical author has unique life experiences and living conditions that affect the way the write.  Knowing these conditions is a big key to unlocking the message.  This component is very important and must not be overlooked.  To practice hermeneutics properly we must not insert our experiences into the text.  It is the life and experiences of the author that we must preserve.  The meaning of the author is what we are “seeking to understand, not the meaning we would determine based on historical development [4].”

Notes

  1. William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg, and Robert L. Hubbard, Jr., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. Rev. ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 5.
  2. Ibid, 10.
  3. Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for all its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 18.
  4. William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg, and Robert L. Hubbard, Jr., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. Rev. ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 11.
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