A couple months back, our Bible study group went through a series of 2-hour monthly lectures in hermeneutics. Thank God for using Pastor Vic to mentor us in this journey. Our group truly appreciates his guidance and up to now that he continued teaching us to improve on our Bible reading comprehension.
I do not intend to cover what all I learned from that series, the more so I cannot cover them in one article, but what I intend to do in this post is to give readers a quick look at how this foundational principles are guiding me in my Bible reading today.
One important ingredient is to understand the necessity of Biblical interpretation. As you would with other forms of communication, a gap between the sender and receiver can occur; and that is no different in reading the Bible. A gap occurs in one or combination of History, Culture, Language and World View.
During the course of the lesson, we were eventually made to memorize GHIPA as a guide that expands to the following:
G = Genre: the men who wrote the text as inspired by God used forms of literature that people of those time understood, which is why genre is important in our interpretation. Simply put, interpretation would require more than just words and grammar.
For instance, one sentence from a literature says this way “Crocodile got away”:
While you can understand its grammar with subject and verb agreements, if you are not going to consider its literary genre, you could be at lost in trying to determine its real meaning.
If the sentence is found in children’s story book, it could literally mean the actual animal got away from its holding cell or from being captive. But if this sentence is found in the news paper with highlights on current political issues (you might not relate if you are not a Filipino), it is most likely that this is not pertaining to the actual crocodile.
If this example doesn’t suit you, let’s take one from the Bible:
Song of Songs 4
New International Version (NIV)
13 Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates
with choice fruits,
with henna and nard,
14 nard and saffron,
calamus and cinnamon,
with every kind of incense tree,
with myrrh and aloes
and all the finest spices.
15 You are a garden fountain,
a well of flowing water
streaming down from Lebanon.
Surely you wouldn’t think of the wife to be a literal garden that produces plants.
- H = Historical Background: in the 1st example above, History can play a crucial role that eventually how the word “crocodile” can-or-have depicted into a different meaning from either just a wild animal to be a “corrupt individual”.
I = Intention (or Authors Intention): going back to a verse in Songs of Songs 4, if the woman was not aware what the guys intention was in saying the following:
4 Your neck is like the tower of David,
built with courses of stone;
The statement can possibly be taken as insult more than a praise which is the original intention.
P = Principle (Timeless Principle): more than the unfolding story of our redemption, what would make a great Bible reading is extracting the timeless principle conveyed in one or combination of verses, chapters or a book.
One topic we discussed in our OT Survey lecture was “The Fall” and it was a great discussion learning that it was not so much about the blame game between Adam, Eve and the serpent but a lesson on responsibility, accountability, obedience and much more.
- A = Application (Practical Application): lastly, it makes more sense to capture the message, the timeless principle, and bring it to use in our daily lives. Let’s just say, what would have happened if Adam have been a responsible husband and watch over his wife like God had commanded him to. Or Eve would have been more resistant to temptation and have been obedient to her husband and God.
To close, while above does not give an all descriptive and more detailed discussion for each of the points, I hope it would help you discern better on your next encounter of God’s Word. Of course, top it up with a word of prayer to be guided by the Holy Spirit.
Here is a post that may interest you. Have a great day and God bless!