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BT501 BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION STUDY GUIDE

Drs. M. Chung and K. Quesinberry


TERMINOLOGY
Hermeneutics is the science and art of biblical interpretation; the codification of
processes normally used at an unconscious level to understand the intended
meaning of communications. (Virkler)
General hermeneutics is the study of those rules that govern interpretation of the
entire biblical text.
Special hermeneutics is the study of those rules which govern the interpretation
of specific forms, such as parables, types and prophecy.
Textual criticism attempts to ascertain the original wording of a text.
Historical criticism studies the contemporaneous circumstances surrounding the
composition of a particular book.
Biblical theology organizes those meanings in a historical manner.
Systematic theology arranges those meanings in a logical manner or system.
Exegesis is an application of the principles of hermeneutics to understand the
authors intended meaning.
Eisegesis is an application of personal or collective presupposed imposed meaning
to the text.
Throughout history there has been a second set of presuppositions and methods
that have been manifested in a variety of ways. The basic premise has been that
the meaning of a text is discoverable, not by the methods usually used to
understand communication between persons, but by the use of some special
interpretive key. The net result of the use of such interpretive keys has been to
impart the readers meaning into the text (eisegetical reader response).
HISTORICAL-CULTURAL and CONTEXTUAL ANALYSIS:
1. What was the general historical and cultural milieu of the writer and his
audience?
a. General historical circumstances
b. Cultural norms
c. Audience spiritual commitment level
2. What purpose(s) did the author have in writing a book?
a. Explicit purpose statements
b. Repeating phrases or themes
c. Parenetical or hortatory sections
d. Areas of focus or omission
3. How does the passage fit into its immediate (textual/canonical) context?
a. Identify major blocks of material in the book
b. Demonstrate a coherent whole surrounding the text
c. Show how the text fits into the authors argument or form
d. Determine perspective; noumenological (reality) vs phenomenological
(appearance)
e. Determine prescriptive or descriptive nature
f. Distinguish between the fringe and the focus. What items are
incidental.
g. Identify the audiences demographic
LEXICAL-SYNTACTICAL ANALYSIS

BT501 BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION STUDY GUIDE


Drs. M. Chung and K. Quesinberry
1. Identify the general literary form
2. Trace the development of the authors theme and show how the passage
under consideration fits into the literary context
3. Identify natural division (paragraphs and sentences) of the text.
4. Identify the connecting words within the paragraphs and sentences and show
how they aid in understanding the authors progression of thought
5. Determine what the individual words mean
a. Identify the multiple meanings possessed in its time and culture
b. Determine the probable meaning intended by the author in a given
context
6. Analyze the syntax to show how it contributes to the understanding of a
passage
7. Put the result of your analysis into nontechnical, easily understood words that
clearly convey the authors probable meaning.
THEOLOGICAL ANALYSIS
Theological analysis asks the question, How does this passage fit into the total
pattern of Gods revelation? In the broad, key biblical revelation concepts
discussed were
1. A Gods Law demonstrating Gods principles for man
2. Gods grace manifested toward mans failure to keep Gods principles
3. Gods salvation as a means of reconciliation with fallen man
4. Gods work through man by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit
Steps of theological analysis may follow this pattern:
1. Interpreters must continually be developing growing a view of Gods
relationship to man; Gods purpose toward man and mans appropriate
response to God in accordance with personal and professional study of the
Scripture.
2. Identify the presuppositions contained in the interpreters view of the
passage under consideration, guarding against their influence during
interpretation.
3. Assess the theological understanding of the audience and contemporaries of
the audience.
4. Determine limitations of theological applications to the intended audience
5. Identify additional knowledge about the topic available today.
6. Determine any theological premise found in the text for contemporary
application
SPECIAL HERMENEUTIC
1. A Look for explicit references identifying a special literary form.
2. If no explicit reference is present, study the passage for characteristics of
special form
3. Apply special form principles, but not rigidly, outlining
a. Metaphors, similes, and proverbs (finding a single point of comparison)
b. Parables (separating the focal teaching and the story details)
c. Allegories (identifying the multiple points of comparison)

BT501 BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION STUDY GUIDE


Drs. M. Chung and K. Quesinberry
4. Produce a statement of understanding of the special form
5. Check your statement against the immediate context and that of the book for
continuity
6. Compare your work with other commentators

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Discuss the continuity and discontinuity of the three different levels of OT narrative
a. Top level regarding the universal plan of God
b. Mid level which centers on Israel
c. Bottom level short story building blocks for the larger narratives
In what way(s), if any, are the Old Testament and New Testament connected in
terms of
a. Gods revelation?
b. Divine laws?
c. Normative nature?
Discuss NT narrative application to 21C audiences
a. Descriptive in nature
b. Non-normative
How are biblical epistles similar or dissimilar to other ancient epistles?
What is the nature of an occasional letter?
Explain the varied NT use of the word charis, defined grace, thanks, or favor,
using the comprehensive theme of Gods power.
Discuss ramifications of God as Hero in Bible narratives.
a. What positive occurs where God is hero?
b. What negative occurs where God is not hero?
Define and discuss historical precedents for Christian living in the narrative form
a. The Book of Acts as an example of intended precedence for Christian
life
b. The bulk of OT narrative as bottom level to a larger prescriptive truth
Discuss the difference between apodictic and casuistic law
How does presupposition influence biblical interpretation?
a. What types of presupposition are likely for the interpreter?
b. How does the interpreter combat presuppositions?

BT501 BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION STUDY GUIDE


Drs. M. Chung and K. Quesinberry
Identify the major biblical texts concerning the Lords Supper. Then, identify the
important hermeneutical issues and principles that must be addressed and
employed in interpreting them. Write a brief theological conclusion of your thought.
HERMENEUTIC EXAMPLE:
Ro 6:1
a. What shall we say, then?
b. Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?
c. By no means!
d. We died to sin how can we live in it any longer.
HISTORICAL-CULTURAL CONTEXTUAL
THE BOOK: Biblical scholars agree that Romans was written by the Apostle Paul to
explain that Salvation is offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is by far the
longest of the Pauline epistles, and is considered his "most important theological
legacy". The main theme of this letter is the Salvation offered through the Gospel of
Jesus Christ (1:16-17). Paul argues that all persons are guilty of sin and therefore
accountable to God. It is only through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that
sinners can attain salvation. Therefore, God is both just and the one who justifies. In
response to God's free, sovereign and graceful action of salvation, humanity can be
justified by faith. Paul uses the example of Abraham to demonstrate that it is by
faith that humanity can be seen as righteous before God.
THE AUTHOR: For ten years before writing the letter (approx. 47-57), Paul had
traveled round the territories bordering the Aegean Sea evangelizing. Churches had
been planted in the Roman provinces of Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia and Asia. Paul,
considering his task complete, wanted to preach the gospel in Spain, where he
would not build upon another mans foundation. This allowed him to visit Rome on
the way, a long time ambition of his. The letter to the Romans, in part, prepares
them and gives reasons for his visit.
In addition to Pauls geographic location, his religious views are important. First, Paul
was a Hellenistic Jew with a Pharisaic background, integral to his identity. His
concern for his people is one part of the dialogue and runs throughout the letter.
Second, the other side of the dialogue is Pauls conversion and calling to follow
Christ in the early 30s.
THE MILIEU: Jews were expelled from Rome because of Christian disturbances
around AD 49 by the edict of Claudius. The conflict developed because Jewish
Christians and Jews argued with one another over the validity of Jesus as the
Messiah. Both Jews and Jewish Christians were expelled as a result of their
infighting. The majority of people left in the Christian church at Rome would have
been Gentile Christians. These gentile churches developed along a different
trajectory from the Christian circles that grew out of Jewish synagogues.
Claudius died around the year AD 54, and his successor, Emperor Nero, allowed the
Jews back into Rome, but then, after the Great Fire of Rome of 64, persecuted the

BT501 BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION STUDY GUIDE


Drs. M. Chung and K. Quesinberry
Christians. Gentile Christians may have developed a dislike of or looked down on
Jews (see also Antisemitism and Responsibility for the death of Jesus), because they
theologically rationalized that Jews were no longer God's people.
OCCASION: The main purpose of the epistle to the Romans is given by Paul in
Romans 1:1, where he reveals that he is set apart by God for the purpose of
preaching the Gospel. He wishes to impart to the Roman readers a gift of
encouragement and assurance in all that God has freely given them (see Romans
1:11-12; 1 Corinthians 2:12).
The purposes of the apostle in dictating this letter to his Amanuensis Tertius
(16:22) is also articulated in the second half of chapter 15:
1.Paul asks for prayers for his upcoming journey to Jerusalem; he hopes that
the offering collected from the Gentile churches will be accepted there.
2.Paul is planning to travel to Rome from Jerusalem and spend some time
there before moving on to Spain; he hopes the Roman church will support his
mission to Spain.
3.Since Paul has never been to Rome, he outlines his gospel so that his
teaching will not be confused by that of "false teachers".
4.Paul is aware that there is some conflict between Gentile and Jewish
Christians in the Roman church, and he addressed those concerns (chapters
thirteen and the first half of fourteen). While the Roman church was presumably
founded by Jewish Christians, the exile of Jews from Rome in AD 49 by Claudius
resulted in Gentile Christians taking leadership positions.
LEXICAL-SYNTACTICAL ANALYSIS
Identify the general literary form as epistle
Trace the development of the authors theme through redemption,
justification, and a progression toward the crucifixion of the old self and
separation from the slavery of sin.
Identify natural divisions a) reflexive introduction b) propositional closed
question c) emphatic closed answer d) expansion of closed answer to open
question.
Identify the connecting words a) then connotes important immediately
preceding text (reflexive introduction) b) that (in order that) solidifies
connection to previous propositions.
Define words according to context:
Go on: Indication of a continual tense
Sin: Evil, trespassing the law.
Grace: Good, overpowering reign through righteousness over sin.
Increase: A measure greater than the presence of sin.
Means: Measures conditions, methods.
Died: Buried with Christ
Live: Resurrected to a new walk.

BT501 BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION STUDY GUIDE


Drs. M. Chung and K. Quesinberry
Analyze the syntax the emphatic, closed answer is power added to the
statement, no!
A non-technical paraphrase:
Because grace will always defeat sin, should we continue to break the law just to
watch good overpower evil? No way! It is implausible that one resurrected from sin
will continue to break the law.
A non-technical proposition:
God must reign in my life, separating me from sin through his resurrecting grace.
THEOLOGICAL ANALYSIS
Within your growing view of Gods relationship to man; identify any
presuppositions influencing your interpretation. There are no theological issues
too extensive or foreign for the Roman church. This is a contextually transferable
prescriptive truth with historical precedence, to be taught freely to the
contemporary church.
The above propositions remain teachable to the 21C church.