Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Interpreting Narrative

"It is a general maxim of hermeneutics that God's Word is to be found in the intent of scripture. This is an especially crucial matter to the hermeneutics of historical narratives. It is one thing for the historian to include an event because it serves the greater purpose of his work and yet another to thing for the interpreter to take that incident as having teaching value apart from the historian's larger intent... This does not mean that what is incidental is false, nor that it has no theological value; it does mean that God's Word for us for us in that narrative is primarily related to what it was intended to teach."

[From the oldie but goodie How to read the Bible for all it's worth by Fee and Stuart, 1982, p98-99. Although I see on Amazon there is now a 2003 edition available]


  1. The more I learn about ways to unravel Scripture for its true meaning, the more its mystery and beauty unravels and it becomes just another book.

  2. hmmm. not sure what you are getting at here George. Do you think we should not talk about interpretation or meaning and just let the text mean whatever we think it does on first impression whatever that may be??

  3. No not at all (tho I can see how my comments can be seen that way), I realise that it is only through study and exegesis that we can see what God is saying to the church today .... guess I just dont want to see some of the mystery lost. Its nice sometimes to just read it for what it is.

  4. agreed, in fact I would want to say the only way to read scripture honestly, is to read it for what it is, not for for what we might want it to be. For example we might want it to be a handbook for 21st century western middle class neurosis, or a textbook on the scientific origins of the planet, but it just aint!
    sorry to have misunderstood you.