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Techniques

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Techniques
In the interpretation of a text, hermeneutics considers the original medium as well as what language says, supposes, doesn't say, and implies. The process consists of several steps for best attaining the Scriptural author's intended meaning(s). One such process is taught by Henry A Virkler, in Hermeneutics: Principles and Processes of Biblical Interpretation (1981):

Lexical-syntactical analysis: This step looks at the words used and the way the words are used. Different order of the sentence, the punctuation, the tense of the verse are all aspects that are looked at in the lexical syntactical method. Here, lexicons and grammar aids can help in extracting meaning from the text.
Historical/cultural analysis: The history and culture surrounding the authors is important to understand to aid in interpretation. For instance, understanding the Jewish sects of the Palestine and the government that ruled Palestine in New Testament times increases understanding of Scripture. And, understanding the connotations of positions such as the High Priest and that of the tax collector helps us know what others thought of the people holding these positions.
Contextual analysis: A verse out of context can often be taken to mean something completely different from the intention. This method focuses on the importance of looking at the context of a verse in its chapter, book and even biblical context.
Theological analysis: It is often said that a single verse usually doesn't make a theology. This is because Scripture often touches on issues in several books. For instance, gifts of the Spirit are spoken about in Romans, Ephesians and 1 Corinthians. To take a verse from Corinthians without taking into account other passages that deal with the same topic can cause a poor interpretation.
Special literary analysis: There are several special literary aspects to look at, but the overarching theme is that each genre of Scripture has a different set of rules that applies to it. Of the genres found in Scripture, there are: narratives, histories, prophecies, apocalyptic writings, poetry, psalms and letters. In these, there are differing levels of allegory, figurative language, metaphors, similes and literal language. For instance, the apocalyptic writings and poetry have more figurative and allegorical language than does the narrative or historical writing. These must be addressed, and the genre recognized to gain a full understanding of the intended meaning.

Howard Hendricks, longtime professor of hermeneutics at Dallas Theological Seminary, set out the method of observing the text, interpreting the text, applying the text in his book, Living By the Book. Other major Christian teachers, such as Charles R. (Chuck) Swindoll, who wrote the foreword, Kay Arthur and David Jeremiah have based their hermeneutics on the principles Hendricks teaches.

In his book God Centered Biblical Interpretation (1999), Vern Poythress, Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, presented a hermeneutical technique based on the pattern of "speaker, discourse, and hearer". According to Poythress, the study of the Bible must acknowledge all three aspects: God as the speaker, the Bible as His speech, and the people to whom He speaks. Thus, context plays a primary role in Poythress's study of biblical teachings. He lists three general concepts to understand about any passage of Scripture:

Original time and context: This includes the personal perspective of the writer, the normative perspective of the text itself, and the situational perspective of the original audience.
Transmission and its context: Understanding the transmission of Scripture includes contemplating the message being sent through the text, taking into account the concerns of individual writers/translators as well as its broader role in the unraveling narrative of history.
Modern context: Poythress calls interpreters to understand Scripture as "what God is saying now" to the individual as well as to the modern church.

David L. Barr states there are three obstacles that stand in the way of correctly interpreting the biblical writings: We speak a different language, we live approximately two millennia later, and we bring different expectations to the text. Additionally, Barr suggests that we approach the reading of the Bible with significantly different literary expectations than those in reading other forms of literature and writing.

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