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Using the grammatical-historical or normative method

Having no method for studying Scripture is certainly a bad thing. But coming up with your own method is not very sensible either. Common sense would dictate that if God gave you a puzzle He would also give you the decoder to the puzzle. So don’t go and try and come up with your own decoder.

But some people have done just that!

I’m not kidding. There is this method called the normative hermeneutic – that is, the so called standard way of interpreting Scripture. It is also sometimes called the grammatical-historical method. It has rules for how to get the meaning of words, phrases, sentences, figures of speech, and so on. It says that more recent text must be interpreted in the light of older text. It gives preference to simplicity, clarity, knowability, elegance and efficiency.

All this may sound very sensible and logical, but the humble man doesn’t go by logic! He looks to the teacher to even teach him how to learn.

So my question is this: where does Scripture back such a strategy?

And did Jesus use such a strategy? The follower of Jesus will also follow Him in interpreting Scripture, won’t he?

Jesus was the master at understanding and explaining the Old Testament. Yet, He never used the grammatical-historical method for interpreting the Old Testament. Do you ever see Him explaining a verse in the Old Testament by expounding on the root of some ancient Hebrew word?

If you want to learn how to interpret Scripture correctly you should study how Jesus interpreted Scripture. Learn from the Master, not from some ignorant so-called scholar.

Further, do you see Stephen in Acts 7 or Paul in various places, or any of the other disciples using anything remotely resembling the normative hermeneutic when expounding the Old Testament? None of the writers of the New Testament used the grammatical-historical method when quoting the Old Testament! So why should you?

Some people proudly say that they are “Sola Scriptura” meaning that they stick to the Bible only, but when it comes to figuring out how to interpret the Bible they don’t get their ideas from the Bible but from some man-made method like the grammatical-historical method. I find that quite funny.

Paul specifically mentions that an accurate handling of the word of truth involves not wrangling about words (2 Tm 2:14, 15). However, the grammatical-historical method inevitably leads to wrangling about words and therefore cannot be the correct way to interpret Scripture.

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