Hermeneutics

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

2 Tim. 2:15

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Subsection

On Scripture Using Accommodated Language

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Order of Contents

Articles  6+
Books  6
Dictionaries
Quote  1

History of Biblical Interpretation  1
Linguistics  3
Rules of Interpretation
Legitimate Allegories
Psalms  1
Latin  10
Bibliography  1


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Articles

1500’s

Cranmer, Thomas

‘A Confutation of Unwritten Verities’  in The Works of Thomas Cranmer, 2 vols.  (Cambridge: 1844-46), 2:1-67

‘A Prologue or Preface made by the Most Reverend Father in God, Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury, Metropolitan and Primate of England’  in The Works of Thomas Cranmer, 2 vols.  (Cambridge: 1844-46), 2:118-25

‘A Fruitful Exhortation, to the Reading and Knowledge of Holy Scripture’ in Certain Sermons, or Homilies, appointed by the King’s Majesty, to be declared and read, by all persons,vicars, or curates, every Sunday in their churches, where they have cure  Ref  (London: 1547)

Calvin, John

Commentary

On Acts ch. 8, vv. 28-31
On Gal. ch. 4, v. 22
On 1 Cor. ch. 2, vv. 10-16
Epistle Dedicatory to the Book of Romans
Preface to Isaiah

Bullinger, Henry

‘Of the Gift of Interpretation’  in A Most Godly and Learned Discourse of the Worthiness, Authority, and Sufficiency of the Holy Scripture: also of the Clearness and Plainness of the Same and of the True Use Thereof  trans. John Tomkys  (London: 1579), fols. 77v-82r, xvii

‘Of the Sense and Right Exposition of the Word of God, and by what Manner or Means it may be Expounded, the Third Sermon’  in The Decades of Henry Bullinger  ed. Thomas Harding, trans. H. I.  4 vols.  (Cambridge: 1849-52), 1:70-80

Whitaker, William – 1st Controversy, Question 5, ‘Concerning the Interpretation of Scripture’, pp. 402-496  in A Disputation on Holy Scripture, Against the Papists...  (1588; Parker Society, 1849)

“…I will divide the whole course of this question into two parts, treating, first, of the authority and supreme tribunal for interpreting Scripture, with whom it is lodged [that is the Scriptures themselves and the Holy Spirit, ch. 8]; next, of the means to be used in the interpretation of Scripture [ch. 9].  But first we must premise something in the way of prolegomena [chs. 2-3]…” – p. 403

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1600’s

Bucanus, William – Body of Divinity or Institutions of Christian Religion
trans. Robert Hill  (London: 1606; 1659), IV.20-23, pp. 45-46

Leigh, Edward – Bk. 1, ‘Of the Scriptures’, ch. 9, ‘Of the Interpretation of Scripture’  in A Treatise of Divinity, consisting of Three Books  (London, 1646), pp. 171-192

Hall, Thomas – ‘Rules to be Observed for the Right Interpretation of Scripture’  in Vindiciæ Literarum, the Schools Guarded...  (London, 1655), pp. 71-146

Hall (1610–1665) was an English, presbyterian, puritan minister who was ejected at the Great Ejection of 1662.

Bridge, William – ‘Sermon III’  in Scripture-Light, the Most Sure Light  in Works 1.441 ff.  on 2 Pet. 1:19

Turretin, Francis – Institutes, vol. 1, 2nd Topic, ‘The Holy Scriptures’

Question 19, The Sense of the Scriptures, ‘Whether the Scriptures have a fourfold sense: literal, allegorical, anagogical and tropological.  We deny against the papists.’, pp. 149-154

Question 20, The Supreme Judge of Controversies & Interpreter of the Scriptures, ‘Whether the Scriptures (or God speaking in them) are the supreme and infallible judge of controversies and the interpreter of the Scriptures.  Or whether the church or the Roman pontiff is.  We affirm the former and deny the latter against the papists.’, pp. 154-162

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1800’s

Cunningham, William – Theological Lectures  (1878)

ch. 45, ‘Nature, Difficulties & Necessity of Searching the Scriptures’, p. 551 ff.  7 pp.

ch. 47, ‘Right of Private Judgment & the Necessity of Personal Study of Scripture’, p. 569 ff.  10 pp.

chs. 48-49, ‘Scripture its own Interpreter & the Historical & Grammatical Sense’, p. 580 ff.  20 pp.

Terry, Milton – ‘Hermeneutics & the Higher Criticism’  in The Old Testament Student, vol. 4  (1885) pp. 204-209

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1900’s

Steinmetz, David C. – ‘The Superiority of Pre-Critical Exegesis’  in The Theological Interpretation of Scripture: Classic & Contemporary Readings  in Blackwell Readings in Modern Theology  (Blackwell, 1997), pp. 26-38

Steinmetz is a Romanist professor and here argues for the superiority of the common Medieval hermeneutic of distinguishing multiple levels of meaning in the text.  This is here for reference and is not endorsed.

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2000’s

Haines, David – ‘Biblical Interpretation & Natural Knowledge: A Key to Solving the Protestant Problem’  in Reforming the Catholic Tradition: The Whole Word for the Whole Church  ed. Joseph Minich  (Davenant Press, 2019)


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Books

1600’s

Cartwright, Thomas – A Confutation of the Rhemist’s Translation, Glosses and Annotations on the New Testament, so Far as They Contain Manifest Impieties, Heresies…  (W. Brewster, 1618)

Byfield, Nicholas – Directions for the Private Reading of the Scriptures wherein besides the number of chapters assigned to every day, the order and drift of the whole Scriptures is methodically set down: and choice rules (that show how to read with profit) are likewise given: the use whereof is showed in the preface  (London: 1618)

White, John – A Way to the Tree of Life:  Discovered in Sundry Directions for the Profitable Reading of the Scriptures: wherein is described occasionally the Nature of a Spiritual Man…  (London, 1647)  ToC

White (1575–1648) was a puritan.

Boyle, Robert – Some Considerations Touching the Style of the Holy Scriptures: a Treatise  (London: 1663; 1825)

Boyle (1627-1691) was a devout and pious Anglican and Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor.  Boyle is largely regarded today as the first modern chemist (a title some give to 8th century Islamic scholar Jabir ibn Hayyan) and one of the pioneers of modern experimental scientific method.  He is best known for Boyle’s law, which describes the inversely proportional relationship between the absolute pressure and volume of a gas.

Lukin, Henry – An Introduction to the Holy Scripture, Containing the Several Tropes, Figures, Proprieties of Speech used therein, with other Observations, necessary for the right Understanding thereof  (London, 1669)  222 pp.  The preface ‘To the Christian Reader’ is by John Owen.

Lukin (1628-1719) was a puritan.

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1700’s

Brown of Haddington, John

A Brief View of the Figures: & Explication of the Metaphors, contained in Scripture  GB  (1782)

An Introduction to the Right Understanding of the Oracles of God  (d. 1787; Edinburgh, 1793)

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1800’s

Beck, Christian Daniel – Monogrammata Hermeneutics of the Books of the New Covenant  (1803)  tr. Charles Hodge  in Biblical Repertory: a Collection of Tracts in Biblical Literature  (Princeton Press, 1825), pp. 1-122  This appears to only be a portion of Beck’s work.  Here is the whole first part of the Latin.

Beck (1757–1832) was a German philologist, historian, theologian and antiquarian, one of the most learned men of his time. This work seems to have been in some manner endorsed by Charles Hodge, the translator.

Stuart, Moses – Elements of Interpretation  (Andover, 1822)  ToC

Stuart (1780–1852) was a congregationalist minister and a professor and biblical scholar at Andover Theological Seminary in Massachusetts.  Stuart has been called the father of exegetical studies in America.  Stuart was a preterist regarding prophecy.  The foreign missionary and skilled translator, Adoniram Judson, was a student of his.

Fairbairn, Patrick – Hermeneutical Manual, or, Introduction to the Exegetical Study of the Scriptures of the New Testament  (Edinburgh, 1858)  ToC

Fairbairn was a reformed professor in the Free Church of Scotland.

Gaussen, Louis – Theopneustia. The Bible: Its Divine Origin and Inspiration Deduced from Internal Evidence and the Testimonies of Nature, History and Science  Buy  1867  422 pp.  It is also here on HTML

While the topic of this book is the inspiration of the Bible, it also contains many principles of hermeneutics.  One highlight among many is Gaussen responding to the objection against inspiration that the NT writers often misquote the OT.  Gaussen lists and superbly analyzes the dozen or so ways in which the NT writers reference the OT (literally, in paraphrase, summarizing, interpreting, applying, giving the spirit of, combining the teachings of, etc.).

Terry, Milton – Biblical Hermeneutics: a Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old & New Testaments  (NY: [c. 1890])  ToC

Terry (1840-) was a Methodist minister and professor at Garrett Biblical Institution, Illinois. He is known for this standard, conservative textbook on Biblical Hermeneutics.  He was an evangelical and something of a forerunner of fundamentalism in that he had a certain Biblicism and an emphasis on Christian fundamentals.  He was not reformed.

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1900’s

Berkhof, Louis – Principles of Biblical Interpretation  Buy  (1950)  169 pp.

A classic introduction to Biblical hermeneutics by a reformed theologian.  Filled with Biblical references and examples.

Ramm, Bernard – Protestant Biblical Interpretation; a Textbook of Hermeneutics for Conservative Protestants  (Boston, 1956)  290 pp.  ToC

Ramm (1916-1992) was an American baptist theologian and apologist within the broad evangelical tradition, and a prolific author.  During the 1970’s he was widely regarded as a leading evangelical theologian as well known as Carl F.H. Henry.  Most of his academic teaching took place at the American Baptist Seminary of the West in California.

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2000’s

eds. te Velde & Visscher, Correctly Handling the Word of Truth: Reformed Hermeneutics Today  Pre  (Lucerna; Wipf & Stock, 2014)

te Velde has been a professor of Church history and polity in the Theological University of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands.  Visscher has been a professor of New Testament in the Canadian Reformed Theologial Seminary in Ontario, Canada.


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Dictionaries

1900’s

Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation, vol. 1 (A-J), 2 (K-Z)  ed. John H. Hayes  (Abingdon Press, 1999)  Very Liberal

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2000’s

Dictionary of Biblical Criticism & Interpretation  ed. Stanley E. Porter  (Routledge, 2007)  410 pp.  Liberal


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Quote

Hilary of Poitiers

On the Trinity 1.18

“. . . he is the best student who does not read his thoughts into the book, but lets it reveal its own; who draws from it its sense, and does not import his own into it, nor force upon its words a meaning which he had determined was the right one before he opened its pages.

Since then we are to discourse of the things of God, let us assume that God has full knowledge of Himself, and bow with humble reverence to His words. For He Whom we can only know through His own utterances is the fitting witness concerning Himself.”


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On the History of Biblical Interpretation

Simon, Richard – Bk. 3, chs. 5-24  ToC  in A Critical History of the Old Testament  (1682)

Simon (1638–1712) was a French priest, a member of the Oratorians, who was an influential biblical critic, orientalist and controversialist.  Simon represented the height of Romanist Bible scholarship in the early modern era.

“Moreover, he presents to his readers an astoundingly complete history of biblical exegesis, Jewish and Christian alike, from its beginnings to his own day.” – Marius Reiser, Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theology, p. 81

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On Linguistics

1900’s

Barr, James – The Semantics of Biblical Language  (Oxford Univ. Press, 1961)  332 pp.  ToC

Cotterell, Peter – Linguistics & Biblical Interpretation  (InterVaristy Press, 1989)  345 pp.  ToC

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2000’s

Grelot, Pierre – The Language of Symbolism: Biblical Theology, Semantics & Exegesis  (Hendrickson, 2006)  245 pp.  ToC


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Rules of Interpretation

Antoine de Chandieu

Theological Works…  (St. Andrew’s, 1593), Preface, pp. 704-5  trans. Michael J. Hunter  Chandieu was reformed.

“First rule: “We must consider the primary idea of the whole passage, and we must gather this idea from what precedes and from what follows. For as a building without a foundation is weak (as Chrysostom says), so Scripture is useless unless we discover its aim.”
Second rule: “We must carefully examine individual words to distinguish words used figuratively from words used in their proper sense and to come to know their more usual and more proper meaning; Augustine advises that we must do this. But if a word has many meanings, we will have to investigate, from the circumstances of the passage, what is the more suitable meaning.”
Third rule: “We must pay attention to phrases, especially Hebrew phrases, that are scattered throughout the Scriptures, including the apostolic Scriptures, and we must draw their meaning from the Hebrew sources, as Jerome, Augustine, and many other very educated men have determined.”
Fourth rule: “We must carefully distinguish between types of allegory. We must explain them not according to however someone wants to explain them, but from the circumstances of the passages and from other passages of Scripture, so that we might produce firm arguments from these passages. This was the opinion of Jerome, Augustine, and other very educated men. We will have to observe the same rule in regard to words that are taken metaphorically.”
Fifth rule: “Interpretation is to be directed toward the primary sense of the whole passage and to other passages of Scripture in which the same subject is treated, and so to the very analogy of faith, so that everything will be concurrently true. For Chrysostom correctly says that Scripture is like a chain, since the whole of Scripture is consistent with itself and since everything in it is most fitly coherent. Augustine not only teaches that Scripture is to be explained according to the rule of faith, but also forbids us to explain any passage in such a way that it contradicts other, clearer passages of Scripture.”
Conclusion: “If the interpretation agrees with the primary sense of the whole passage and with the course of the context itself, and if nothing appears in what precedes or what follows that it contradicts, if it depends on the true and proper meaning of the words and phrases, if it corresponds to similar passages of Scripture, and, finally, if it agrees with all the heads of Christian doctrine, it follows that an interpretation of this sort is analogous to the faith and to the context, which is the quality of true, genuine  interpretation.”


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On Legitimate Allegories

About Andrew Rivet

Willem van Asselt  in Theology of the French Reformed Churches (RHB, 2014), p. 261

“Accordingly, Rivet rejected the medieval quadriga [four-fold interpretation] and argued that the source of all theological conclusions was the literal sense of the text ([Isagogue] chap. 14[:1; C.f. 15:20]).

At the same time, he recognized that the literal sense of Holy Scripture included various figures and types; yet allegories, tropes, and anagogy he understood as false readings when they were imposed on the text rather than being identified as integral to it.”


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On the Psalms

Allix, Pierre – The Book of Psalms, with the Argument of Each Psalm & a Preface Giving Some General Rules for the Interpretation of this Sacred Book  (London: 1701)

Allix (1641-1717) was a French, Protestant pastor and author.


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Latin Articles

1600’s

Polanus, Amandus – Some Investigations on the Interpretation of Sacred Scripture, Explained by Theses  (Basil, 1603)

Beck, Sebastian – Theological Theses on the Interpretation & True Sense of Sacred Scripture & on the Judgment of Religious Controversies  (Basil, 1613)

Reichel, Friedrich – A Diatribe on the Interpretation of Sacred Scripture in which Questions on the Use of the Light of Reason, the Authority of the Church… the Judgement of Private Discretion in the Interpretation of Sacred Scripture are Shaken Down [Discutiuntur] by the Spirit of the Truth, the Author of the Sacred Scruptures, Breathing  (1644)  50 pp.

Reichel (1608-1653) was a doctor of theology and professor of sacred languages on the faculty of philosophy at Frankfurt.

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Latin Books

1500’s

Calvin, John – ch. 9, ‘That Authority which the Libertines may Attribute to the Most Holy Scripture’  in An Instruction Against the Fanatical & Furious Sect of the Libertines, which Call Themselves ‘The Spiritual Ones’  in The Smaller Works of John Calvin…  (1563), pp. 163-169

On the literal sense against the allegorical senses of the Libertines.

Hyperius, Andreas – On How Sacred Sermons Ought to be Formed, or on the Popular Interpretation of the Scriptures, in 2 Books…  (1553; Basil, 1573)  204 pp.

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1600’s

Rivet, Andrew – A General Introduction to the Sacred Scripture of the Old & New Testament  (Leiden, 1627)  519 pp.  ToC

Rivet (1572-1651) was a French Huguenot theologian who was called in 1620 to be a professor of theology and Old Testament Exegesis at Leiden, Netherlands.

“His most famous work in this field [of OT exegesis] was his Isagogue…  which, according to Honders, may be considered a precursor to modern Biblical hermeneutics.  This work was based on his lectures on the doctrine of Holy Scripture, and comprised thirty chapters in which he discussed questions brought forward by Roman Catholic controversialists regarding the status of Scripture.” – Theology of the French Reformed Churches (RHB, 2014), p. 259  See there for an outline of the work in English.

Strang, Johann – On the Interpretation & Perfection of Scripture…  (Rotterdam, 1663)  ToC

Nethenus, Matthias – A Tract on the Interpretation of Scripture, or a Critique of the Book of Ludwig Wolzogen…  Containing First the Orthodox Doctrine on the Interpreter & Interpretation of Scripture…  (Herborne, 1675)  312 pp.

Sohn, Georg – On the Word of God & its Handling, in Two Books, in which is Discussed the Word of God Written & Not Written, the translations of Scripture, the Scholastical & Ecclesiastical Interpretation of the Same, the Method of Theology & of Theological Disputations; a [23 pp.] Methodical Delineation of Universal Theology is Added at the End.  (Heidelberg, 1688)  99 pp.

Sohn was a reformed doctor of theology and professor at the academy in Heidelberg.

de Raey, Johannes – Thoughts on Interpretation, in which the Nature & Right Use of the Human Sermon are Vindicated: in Viewing its Use in the Common Life & in Disciplining unto Life, & in Philosophy from the Error & Confusion of this World  (Amsterdam, 1692)  676 pp.  ToC

de Raey (1622-1702) was a Dutch reformed professor of philosophy at Leiden and Amsterdam and an early, dedicated and pioneer Cartesian.

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1700’s

Turretin, Jean Alphonse – A Tract on the Interpretation of Sacred Sctripture, Put Forth in Two Parts  (Frankfurt, 1776)  408 pp.  No ToC

This is not recommended.  Jean was the son of Francis Turretin in Geneva, but he went in a latitudinarian and rationalist direction, being a fore-runner of the enlightenment.


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Bibliography

Sytsma, David – A Bibliography of Pre-Critical Protestant Hermeneutics, ca. 1520-1750  (2019)  57 pp.

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