Friday, June 04, 2010

Fundamental Hermeneutical AHA to have

One can very well hear God's voice through Scripture just fine without the AHA, but you will never understand Scripture as it actually is if you think the meaning you see in it is "in there." Meaning is not "in" a text. Meaning is a function of the way words are used by readers. The meaning of the Bible is not in the Bible. It is in the reader of the Bible.

If the reader of the Bible reads the words with the assumptions of common Christian faith, they will read it as Scripture. They will read it Christianly. If a person reads it with their denominational assumptions, they will read it and see the teachings of their denominations. And if one reads it in terms of the assumptions of the original contexts of each text, then one will read in it in terms of what it actually and originally meant.

1 comment:

Ken Schenck said...

Two important follow-up comments I've made elsewhere:

The first is in response to a question about the Holy Spirit's role in such things. My response:

"The Holy Spirit inspired the original authors to say what He wanted them to say to their original contexts. The Holy Spirit inspired the Church to come to the correct consensual interpretation of the whole. And the Holy Spirit leads specific individuals to hear direct words to them whenever He chooses."

The second is to balance out the starkness of my statements:

"I am admittedly using very stark language here in my wording. I do not really think meaning is a complete free for all. It is not quite so unlimited as I've made it sound. Text is code based on a meaning fixed by an original context, so there are some meanings that are more likely to be decoded than others. But the potentiality is vast because of the ambiguity and polyvalence of these codes. Whether we like it or not, we are the ones that have to do the decoding."