Q: #248. What is Biblical hermeneutics?
A: The word “hermeneutics” is derived from the Greek word “hermeneuo” meaning “translate” or “interpret.” So, in short, it is the process of interpreting the Bible. (Some call it, “the art and science of Biblical interpretation.”) To do this properly involves taking many factors into account when reading a verse, chapter, or even book of the Bible. It is not terribly difficult, but it can be time consuming. Some of the payoff for this time and effort is that it can help us to see some verses (or even chapters and books) in a whole new way, make what the author and God intended to say more clear, help us avoid doctrinal errors, keep us from improperly applying certain scriptures to the wrong situations, and several other things. It can also change your mind about some of the things you have been taught.
Some of the principles that should be taken into account when “translating” are: keeping a verse in context, studying the Hebrew/Greek for each word in a verse, understanding the historical/cultural background, and keeping in mind the literary genre of the passage as well as the literary style used.
This question on hermeneutics just recently came up, and as I began to put together this study, I came to find I had already done a study just like this several years ago… (old age forgetfulness creeping in). It is titled:
Q: #167. What does “rightly dividing the word of truth” mean in (2 Tim 2:15)? I explain the principles of hermeneutics in much more depth there, so please click on the link for more details if you are interested.