Most people are unaware as to what “hermeneutic” means. One could not count the times where a person over-simplifies a literary piece by saying “it means what it says and it says what it means.” Let no one commit such a crime; especially with something as invaluable as a relationship with the will of God.
When one speaks of Scripture it frustrates him to be told that there is more to a particular passage than just vaguely reading a few words in the middle of the text. News programs, video games, and social media are an avenue of laziness and apathy in our culture. They teach the learner that he can receive information without putting in much work. In this post-modern society, just simply opening one’s ears and eyes is looked at as the same thing as opening one’s mind.
Literature is not exempt from this disease. One can easily be numb to what is being communicated in any genre of communication. One can also easily become a victim of apathy or misinformation because of an abuse of any genre of communication; especially reading. The core of the problem is a lack of critical thinking. Reading, yes, even reading the Bible, requires work. The name for this work is hermeneutics. Hermeneutics is just a formal way of saying “principles of interpretation.” In other words, a hermeneutic is patterns, philosophies, and theories that one takes to interpret literature. The individual interprets literature so he can understand what the writer is trying to communicate to the reader.
Someone may declare, “I do not need to interpret anything. I’ll just take the Word for what it says.” While the reverence for literature, especially when the Bible is being discussed, is appreciated and valued, it should be argued that this mentality leads to misinformation which leads to misunderstanding. Frankly, it’s lazy! Everything anyone ever does in order to process information is interpretation. When processing any information, even literature, the reader brings baggage. The “baggage” can be: the degree of formal or informal education one has, personal understanding of the definitions of terms, personal background that leads to mental images when certain words or phrases are used, assumed understanding of the background of the text, assumed intent of the author, assumed intent of the original readers, and grammar. True reverence for the literature would be to do what is necessary to understand what the author wants the reader to understand. Next post, we will build off of these ideas. – Jesse