Dr. Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (my alma mater), has written an excellent and helpful two-part blog post dealing with biblical hermeneutics. Let's face it: this is a critical issue for all of us. If we cannot interpret the bible correctly, we are destined to run into serious trouble in our lives.
Below I've quoted four short paragraphs from the post that stand out to me as excellent points. I conclude with a fifth quote that, I believe, illustrates the struggles we all have in determining how to correctly interpret narrative and/or descriptive passages. Click here and here to read the post in full.
1. "It is important to understand this principle: the individual words of biblical texts have meaning within sentences, paragraphs, and books. A word’s meaning is determined by its relationship to other words within the context of sentences and paragraphs."
2. "When we think about the grammatical content of a passage, we are focusing our attention upon the literary elements that the author chose to frame his discussion. These elements include the author’s choice of specific words and the way he combined them into sentences and paragraphs, as well as the literary genre he selected (i.e., prose, poetry, historical narrative, wisdom, epistle, apocalyptic)."
3. "When a writer incorporates figurative language, often he is using the 'connotation' of a word or words in order to provide a broader understanding of the concept he is addressing. The connotation of a word is what it suggests beyond what it expresses: its overtones of meaning. Connotation is especially important to poets. It allows them to explore and enrich their content, and to do so with an economy of words."
4. "Revelation is progressive, and so we find that the New Testament informs the Old Testament and reveals legitimate instances of sensus plenior. However, we also recognize that the Old Testament informs the New Testament, something some expositors miss or neglect too often."
5. "Interpreters must distinguish between 'descriptive' and 'prescriptive' texts in Scripture. Fee and Stuart state, 'Unless Scripture explicitly tells us we must do something, what is only narrated or described does not function in a normative way—unless it can be demonstrated on other grounds that the author intended it to function in this way.'
I encourage you to read Dr. Akin's post. After you do, please return here and leave a comment telling what you think. What does he describe best? What does he leave out? Does he make any mistakes? Do you disagree with him on any keys points?
I'd like to hear from you because this is such an important topic. We can and should learn from one another.