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Introduction to Christianity


Methods of interpreting the
meaning of Bible passages

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About biblical interpretation, a.k.a. hermeneutics:

The word "hermeneutics" refers to the art and science of interpreting written texts. Within Christianity, the term generally refers to methods of interpreting the Bible.

The term was derived from the Pagan Greek. Hermes was the son of Zeus and a Maia, the eldest of the seven Pleiades. He was the messenger of the gods, and identified with the Roman god Mercury.

Topics covered in this section:

bulletIntroduction to Bible interpretation
bulletMethod 1. Interpreting passages of the Bible literally as the Word of God
bulletMethod 2. Interpreting passages of the Bible as a historical document.
bulletMethod 3. Interpreting passages of the Bible as midrash.
bulletMethod 4. Interpreting passages of the Bible as folklore.
bulletA brief history of these methods
bulletExamples of interpreting the same passage in different ways

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. book cover image Richard Muller, "Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology," Baker, (1985). Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store
  2. From the "Decrees of Council of Trent," Session IV, and "Dens Theo.," Tom. 2., N. 80 and 81.
  3. book cover image J.S. Spong, "Resurrection: Myth or Reality?", Harper Collins (1994), Page 8-9. Read reviews or order this book
  4. Ibid., Page 11.
  5. book cover image Alan Dundes, "Holy writ as oral lit. The Bible as folklore," Rowman & Littlefield, (1999). Read reviews or order this book.
  6. Ibid, Page 2.
  7. Scot McKnight, "The Hermeneutics Quiz: Your biblical blind spots and what you tend not to see," Leadership Journal, at:
  8. book cover image G.J. Riley, "The River of God: A new history of Christian Origins," HarperOne, (2003). Read reviews or order this book.

Retired Bishop John Shelby Spong talks on the history of religion and its analogy to a flowing stream

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Latest update 2014-FEB-25
Author: B.A. Robinson

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