First, please allow me to clarify a few terms:
"Hermeneutics" = "Interpretation" - Hermeneutics is the Science and Art of interpretation. At BibleSanity.org, I generally use the term interpretation. By interpretation of Scripture, we basically mean taking the translated Bible in front of us and reading it carefully, utilizing Bible reference or language tools where appropriate, so that we can clearly understand the original meaning.
"Literal" Hermeneutics = "Natural Interpretation" = "Common-Sense Reading" - "Literal" is a commonly used theological term for plain, normal, natural meaning. I prefer to use the term "Natural", because "Literal" sounds like no symbolic language or figures of speech are used. This is NOT what the term means. "Literal" is used in opposition to "allegorical" or "mystical". The idea is that the words used carry their normal grammatical meaning, not some weird spiritually discerned symbolic meaning which can only be understood by some elite prophet, church official, or modern apostle.
"Original Languages" The Scriptures were originally written in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. The Old Testament generally being written in Hebrew, with some books in Aramaic - which is very similar to Hebrew. The New Testament was written in Common (biblical period) Greek. Claims to Hebrew or Pettish language autographs for some New Testament books are not generally accepted by Christian scholarship, or at least have not been substantiated. When we're talking about careful exegetical process of interpretation, we mean working in full consideration of the original languages.
"Grammatical-Historical" - This is a technical term which does not mean normal grammar in context with the original target audience, but rather, it means normal grammar - with consideration to any particularities or differences of the grammatical language of the histroical period in which a given text was written. The historical setting, events, and context are vital to literal hermeneutics, but the term, "Grammatical-Historical," refers specifially to a methodology which respects changes in language over time.
"Canon" (of the Bible) = "Recognized Books of Scripture" - The word "canon" means "rule", as in a standard. Generally speaking, there are 4 canons of Scripture, or offically defined sets of accepted books: Protestant, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Hebrew. When I use the word "canon" without specifying, I mean the Protestant canon. This is what you'll find in most Bibles not specifically identified by denomination.
The Hebrew Canon has the same Old Testament as the Protestant Canon (arranged differently), but does not include the New Testament at all. The Catholics and Eastern Orthodox add what we call the apocrapha and they call the deuterocanonical books (and chapters). It is worth noting these two denominational canons differ from one another. Also, the Eastern Orthodox denomination uses the Septuagint-based OT, instead of the Masoretic-based OT, which results in extensive differences in content from Masoretic-based Old Testaments. There are other denominations (Oriental Orthodox, etc.) with variances in their canon, but the 66 Books of the Protestant Canon are universally accepted among the other canons, with any variations being in regard to the apocryphal/deuterocanonical books.
"Autographs" = "Original Writings" The "Autographs" are not signatures, but the actual original manuscripts. It is universally accepted that there are no extant autographs or fragments of any of the autographs. The work of "lower" or "textual" criticism is researching extant manuscripts, translations, and versions, as well as, archeaology, history, and languages, in order to refine our best-effort recreation of the autographs. References to these originals is usually in regard to statements like "We believe modern translations to be the Word of God, to the extent that they accurately represent the autographs..."
[ Top ] [ Next: The Chicago Statements ]
(C) Copyright 2012 Dainel Stanfield, this document may be distributed freely, but may not be sold or modified.