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The Basic Process of interpretation
Always open the Holy Bible with prayer. The Holy Spirit will illuminate the Scriptures, helping us to understand God's Word. Prayerful reading of the Word of God is the whole purpose of hermeneutics!
Get the background information.
Go in with a good scriptural orientation as to the elements such as people, time, circumstance, issues of conflict, and topical content.
References: Bible outlines, basic commentaries.
Carefully read the passage and dig into the contextual foundation.
Make sure you read the surrounding passages, then open the books. You need to be sure to understand the grammatical, historical, and topical context of the immediate passage, as well as the context of any quoted Scripture in the passage. Investigate any historical or cultural elements which seem relevant.
References: Chain-reference study Bible, in-depth commentaries or book studies
Ascertain the textual meanings.
Maybe you need to examine key words in language references, maybe not. The point is to eliminate any doubt or ambiguity regarding the syntax of the passage.
References: Concordances, original language references, Bible dictionaries, alternate or literal translations.
Compare the passage with related Scriptures.
Often, Scripture quotes Scripture or refers to scriptural people or events. Other aspects to be considered are parallel, topically related, or contrasting Scriptures.
References: Concordances, topical references, systematic theologies, commentaries
Determine practical application.
Scripture is God speaking, and merits a response. Whether studying for personal benefit or in preparation for teaching, you're not done with interpretation until you digest what you've read. Always look for pratical application(s). - See step One!
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(C) Copyright 2012 Dainel Stanfield, this document may be distributed freely, but may not be sold or modified.